Day 9 A Whale of a Time Kayaking!


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Mike and Bone rose early to get out of the craphole they had spent the night, refreshed from the long drive the day before, they headed up to Anacortes, a city 20 minutes north that has ferry service to the San Juan Islands. Getting to Anacortes an hour before the Ferry the Boys dealt with the Covid-decimated restaurant scene, they only found one lone restaurant open at 7:00 AM in what was probably a fairly busy restaurant area downtown, pre-pandemic. Fortunately the breakfast was good and the coffee particularly awesome, preparing the Boys for their "Voyage of Discovery of the San Juan Islands!

Driving to the San Juan Islands?!

 Fortunately the breakfast was good and the coffee particularly awesome, preparing the Boys for their "Voyage of Discovery of the San Juan Islands!


Wazzup with the San Juan Islands!?!

The San Juan Islands are an archipelago in Puget Sound (also called the Salish Sea) in the United States that lie between Washington and Canadian Vancouver Island.

The name "San Juan" was given to the islands by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza, who charted the islands in 1791, naming them Isla y Archiepelago de San Juan. The expedition sailed under the authority of the Viceroy of Mexico, Juan Vicente de Güemes Padilla Horcasitas y Aguayo, 2nd Count of Revillagigedo and Eliza named several places for him, including the San Juan Islands, Orcas Island (short for "Horcasitas") and Guemes Island. San Juan Island's first European discoverer was one of the officers under Eliza's command, Gonzalo López de Haro, for whom Haro Strait is named. The Spanish had found the islands a year earlier during the exploring voyage of Manuel Quimper on the Princesa Real, but it was not clear to them that they were islands. José María Narváez, one of Eliza's pilots, also helped explore the San Juans in 1791, and went on to become the first European to explore the Strait of Georgia.

In 1792 the British Vancouver Expedition under George Vancouver explored the area. At the same time a Spanish expedition under Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés y Flores was also exploring. Shortly after leaving the San Juans the British and Spanish ships met and cooperated in exploring areas to the north.

In 1843, the Hudson's Bay Company established Fort Camosun at nearby Vancouver Island. The 1846 Oregon Treaty established the 49th parallel as the boundary between Canada and the U.S. west to the middle of the Strait of Georgia, and then by the main channel south to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and from there westwards to the open ocean. While both sides agreed that all of Vancouver Island would remain British, the treaty did not specify which channel the boundary should follow between the Strait of Georgia and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, resulting in a boundary dispute. This dispute, though simmering immediately in the wake of the treaty, escalated in the 1850s. In 1852 the Territory of Oregon created Island County, defined to include the San Juan Islands (or "Haro Archipelago"). In 1853 Island County became part of the newly created Washington Territory. Washington Territory's legislature created Whatcom County out of parts of Island County in March 1854, including the San Juan Islands. The islands were finally split off Whatcom County into present day San Juan County on October 31, 1873.

In 1855, Washington Territory levied a tax on properties of the Hudson's Bay Company on San Juan Island, which they refused to pay. Washington Territory then advertised and sold the properties to satisfy the unpaid taxes. This led to talks between the governors of Washington Territory and the Colony of Vancouver Island. It soon became clear that the US claimed Haro Strait as the international border, while Britain claimed Rosario Strait, with both sides laying claim to the San Juan Islands. The escalating dispute led to the Pig War in 1859 and the resulting San Juan Dispute, which was really nothing more than a protracted diplomatic confrontation. The current border, through Haro Strait, was finally established in 1872.

Mike and Bone read about this history during the 20 minute wait in line to board the ferry. The with a quick, efficient load process, the cars were on the Ferry, and the Boys were off !


An Early Morning Cruise in the Salish Sea!


The brisk ride over in the breezey 50 degree morning weather was so different from the broiling mornings in Oregon only a few days before. The ferry passed through the thick of the mountainous islands rising out of the dark green water. After a fascinating 45 minute ride,  the Town of Friday Harbor peered out of the mist!


Landing in Friday Harbor on a Saturday!

The Town of Friday Harbor is one of the major towns in the San Juan Islands. In the past had a history of fishing and farming, these days it is tourism. Or in Mike and Bone's case Eco-Tourism.


Landing in Friday Harbor on a Saturday!


One of the very cool things the Boys had heard about the San Juan Islands is that there is a large Orca (AKA Killa Whales as they say in da Hood!) population in the area, and that there are outfitters that will take you out with the whales.It just so happens that over 95% of all orca whale sightings occur in just one narrow corridor along the western edge of the San Juan Islands. This is where the killer whales do nearly all of their hunting and playing. Sea Quest who Bone selected, pioneered orca whale watching kayak tours in the San Juan Islands over 30 years ago and their trips are guided by biologists, environmental scientists, and naturalists that can tell you about the lives of the Orca. With typically Mike and Bone drama, the only trip of the day due to the late fall season was at 9:30 in the morning. The Ferry landed at 9:10 which made the Boys have to scramble and make a special arrangement with Sea Quest by meeting them right outside the Ferry entrance, then following them to the site they put in.


Landing in Friday Harbor on a Saturday!

Putting in turned into an interesting affair. The rain storm the day before blew an incredible amount of seaweed and washed out trees (it was about knee deep), being the gentlemen that they were (not!), they helped the Sea Quest Team negotiate the slimy seaweed and washed up logs to bring the kayaks to the shore and into the very cold drink!


Hunting the Great White Whale (or just one little orca)!

The Guides put everyone in double kayaks. In the Boys Kayak, it was a nervous Mike in the front and a befuddled Bone in the back. It took the Boys, (mostly Bone) a minute to get their seal legs and steer correctly without continuously over-steering, especially into a set of heavy tidal waves that almost tipped them do to Bone poor steerage. After a while it smoothed out and they kept up with the Guides enjoying the gorgeous weather, and all the flora and fauna , , , , , , except there was not one damned orca to be seen in any direction!!

Apparently there are two types of killer whale pods that inhabit these waters. A small set that lives there year round, and a larger group that follows fish movements (like spawning salmon) through the waters. When the fish are moving, so are the orca's. After a couple of hours they put in on a little island with a park for kayakers for lunch.


Mike and Bone Lunching on a little remote island in the Salish Sea

The little modest lunch they gave the Boys with waters hit the spot,  and gave them time to dicker with some of the other guests. After half an hour, the Sea Quest Guides led Mike and Bone, with the other voyagers back on the water, looking for a whale of a tale!


On the "Road Again!"

The Sea Quest Guides were responsible leaders, clearly marine biologist, and could not find a damned killer whale that day! They led the kayakers in all the waterways that the orcas typically roam in the fall, but none were out that beautiful afternoon. They did see several pods of porpoises (dolphins with a reason!), lots of sea birds and even fish, but never one orca. Despite the lack of killer whales, the Boys did have a killer time, except when Bone almost tipped them over in a tidal surge! Around 3:00 Mike and Bone landed with the guides, where they again, waded through the swampy seaweed and logs to take out the kayaks, once done the Boys made their adieu and headed to probably the nicest joints in town.


A Place for the Tuckered Out, The Tucker House!

As a end of trip treat, the Boys stayed and questionable (and probably!) the nicest B&B in Fridays Harbor, and absolutely on the trip! The Tucker House is actually a complex of restored Victorian Houses just up the hill from Downtown Fridays Harbor. Mike and Bone met the very nice couple that ran the complex, they were very gracious, when told that the Boys would be out the door early the next morning on the first ferry so they would catch their flight in Seattle in time, they promised they would put a gourmet breakfast to go in brown bags in the unit's Refrigerator.


A Very Fancy Digs

Tucker House was simply amazing. There were individual bathrooms for both Mike and Bone, and amazing living room and amazing veranda. After checking out (and marveling at) the cool digs. They decided to check out the rest of the Island!


A Very Fancy Digs

The Boys jumped into their car and decided to check out the rest of the beautiful island. They drove around the island checking out the National Park with its amazing vistas of the Sound and dozens of hilly islands. They checked out all the little coves till about 6:00, as the day began to wane, the lite lunch that Sea Quest served gnawed at the Boys stomachs, so they parked the car at the B&B to check out the local Bar scene for food, drink, and College Football!


Doin' Downtown Friday Harbor

"You can drink your beer in here, but the food must be togo,

After you eat outside, you can come back in!?!"

Covid continued to follow the Boys into Friday Harbor. With it being off season for tourist, and Covid affecting EVERYTHING, there were only two places open. The first place was just stupid, it was a large sports bar Haleys Sports Bar and Grill. They had 3 100 inch TV's, each with different football game, and only a few patrons. Which Mike and Bone figured out why quickly.

They would let you order a beer and watch a game, but,,,,,

If you ordered food, they would bring it out to you in a to go bag. You needed to take it outside on the street, eat it, then you could come back in and drink again. 


Mike and Bone had no idea how this would prevent Covid, but it would reduce the Bar's daily cash receipts cause after one set of beers, they were out of that stupidity!


Cash & Schooner's Beers and Wings!

They went straight across the street to the Cask and Schooners, which was packed. Mike and Bone went to the Bar order a around of beers and chicken wings, while watching the University of Washington (Michigan's opponent from the prior week) play Montana on the Pac-10 Game of the Week. The beers were delicious, the wings, spectacular! They had found their spot!!! Mike found a good local non-alcoholic beer and Bone a good local amber ale.  They spent a good part on the evening munching and sipping watching the University of Washington Huskies acquit themselves from their beat down the week before in Ann Arbor by trouncing the University of Montana, just across the bay in Seattle. When the game ended the Boys headed back to the Tucker House. They needed to be out of the door by Oh-to-early (5:30 AM) in order to ensure they were on the 6:00 AM Ferry back to Anacortes.