San Juan Islands Tour Report
This year's tour of the San Juan Islands was a topper! Read on to find out all the great details!
DBC Tour of San Juan Islands July 28-August 5 2012
by Marsha Arnold
My husband Doug and I are fairly new members of Davis Bike Club. This was my 3rd trip lead by the Deweys, and Doug’s second. We have quickly learned that you can’t possibly go wrong when signing up for a tour led by them! Before we began the trip, we received maps of all of our destinations with detailed bike routes, as well as lodging information and a phone list of all tour participants. Very organized!
This trip did not require a support team, as all accommodations were within short biking distance to the Ferry buildings. The lodging was above average, we were so pleased with every place we stayed.
Following a 2 day car drive to get there, the tour officially began in Anacortes, Wa. The group arrived at various times, and enjoyed the sights and restaurants of this charming small town. There were paintings of early citizens and public servants on many of the downtown buildings which added to the town’s appeal.
The following morning we cycled a short distance to the Ferry, where Bruce and Marilyn met us with their van loaded with our luggage. The rest of us were able to park our cars at a lot close to our hotel for the week, free of charge! We then settled in for the Ferry ride to Sidney, Canada. During the ride we met our fellow travelers- The Deweys,, Jeff and Nancy Hall, Dan and Sharon Cucinotta, Dan and Cid Barcelos, Alan and Wei Long Hill, Larry and Dee Burdick, Steve and Terry Macaulay, Susan and Audrey Ashdown, Frank and Rosie Vidales, Lori Jennings, Carolyn Regan and Jim Brannen, Diane Richter, Rick Waters, Roger Wilmarth, and Barry Bolden.
Day 1 Once we arrived in Sidney it was too early for most folks to check in, so the group scattered in search of lunch, sight seeing, or shopping. Many of us started off for Butchart Gardens. What an amazing place. The gardens are immaculate and bursting with color. A photographers dream! On our return to our Inn we were treated to beautiful vistas. Since the group was so large, small groups would gather to sample the various restaurants- there were many to choose from.
Day 2 found some of the group heading to the Gardens, some to Victoria, and others to meander around the town of Sidney and north island by foot or bike. There were many who set out on the Lochside trail which was a mostly packed gravel trail with a wonderful shade from a canopy of trees for much of the way. Close to the intersection with the similar Galloping Goose trail was the Recyclista bike repair shop. We were advised that this place is a MUST SEE, and it is true. There were dozens of old bikes in various states of disrepair, and a plethora of bicycle art. It was an amazing place to see! We then continued to Victoria. We were joined by Barry Bolden and Rick Waters and were treated to a free tour of the Parliament building. Several people had High Tea and others had lunch at the impressive Empress Hotel, Still others headed down the Galloping Goose trail to enjoy a scrumptious meal at “My Chosen’ restaurant in the town of Mechosin.
Day 3 was more of the same- small groups would head out to the Gardens, Lochside or Galloping Goose Trail. Doug and I were joined by Roger Wilmarth and headed down the Galloping Goose trail and lunched at the My Chosen restaurant that was so highly recommended by the Macauleys. Outstanding!!
Day 4 was our last day in Canada. Again small groups formed and explored the island by foot or bike before we headed to the afternoon ferry that would take us to Friday Harbor. We opted to explore as much on foot as we could, and were joined at various times by others. We then walked our bikes and luggage to the Ferry and arrived in Friday Harbor in the late afternoon. Here is an example of the excellent planning and attention to detail that define the Deweys. Find accommodations for 27 people within walking distance to the Ferry? No problem! We were divided into 3 different places. 1 was a B&B run by a very friendly couple, Doug and Roxie, just four months into their business. Another was the Tucker House, run by a petite dynamo named Anna Maria who not only owned the inn, but also a restaurant and second inn. Anna Maria also arranged for whale watching boat tour and kayaking tours for those interested., The 3rd place was San Juan Island Suites. Right on the water, kitchen and laundry, great location!
Day 5 The group was now divided among 3 different lodges, so it was hard to keep track of how everyone chose to spend their days on San Juan Islands. I can only share our experiences. We had been sent maps of Lopez, San Juan and Orcas Islands in advance, so we opted to explore Lopez first. After a delicious and filling breakfast, we headed to the ferry to catch the 8:25 departure. There were lots of young kids, and quite a few Backroads Vans and T shirts. We felt so fortunate to be part of a club that offers the same type of trip for a fraction of the cost! Lopez Island is sparsely populated, very picturesque, with rolling hills and stunning vistas.
Day 6 We spent on San Juan Island because we had planned to go an afternoon kayak trip. That was one of the extra options offered during this trip, and arrangements for kayaking or whale watching were handled by one of the Inn and Restaurant owners, Anna Maria. We spent the morning exploring ‘English Camp’ which had a very interesting living history demonstrations, and got to spend some time petting a camel named Mona and her side kick llama named Lisa. After returning from the ride, we were joined by Roger, Barry and Rick and taken to the place where we would spend the next 3-4 hours exploring the coastline by kayak. Doug and I were in a tandem, and Roger, Barry and Rick were in a triple. It was quite enjoyable to meander around the coastline. We were treated to sighting a Minke whale, several sea lions, a bald eagle and starfish. And if that weren’t enough for one day, the Deweys had arranged for us to all dine together at Coho Restaurant. This was an excellent choice owned by the local dynamo Anna Maria. The food was excellent!
Day 7 and several of us took the ferry to Orcas Island for what was the culmination for many- A ride to the top of Mount Constitution. 4.7 miles of approximately 10% grade. Larry, Barry, Alan, Carolyn, Jim, Bruce, Marilyn, Steve, Terry, Doug and I took on the challenge. Whew, I wasn’t quite prepared for that!! It is one of the hardest climbs I can remember doing!!! Doug was waiting at the top, camera clicking away, to record the accomplishment. Then some group shots followed with the breathtaking view in the background. As we headed back, we found a great deli to reward ourselves for the effort. Sadly, the ferry was several hours late in picking us up, but we made the most of it by enjoying snacks, dinner or drinks together.
Day 8 came much too soon. Has a week already flown by? We headed out for the ferry after a leisurely breakfast and after another brief delay, were transported back to Anacortes. Nancy and Jeff’s daughter lives in Seattle and invited the group for dinner at her house Sunday evening. We were sorry that we weren’t able to join them, but we heard that it was a wonderful meal in her beautiful home..
Thanks again to the Dewey’s for a first class trip!
Some other tour members had thoughts to share, so I’ve included them below:
Thank you very much for joining us on the tour, for bringing sunshine and smiles, for providing camaraderie for all.
Bruce and Marilyn Dewey
The highlights for me were 1) the natural beauty of the region, 2) the 3-hour kayak tour out of Roche Bay (Dick, Barry and me in one kayak) where a minke whale motored past us, and 3) the informalevening get-togethers. And, of course, meeting new people
I particularly enjoyed the pastoral back roads on San Juan Island taking me to Roche Harbor , Cattle Point Lighthouse and the Lavender Farm.
Traveling through the lush valleys and beautiful hills and mountains, I had a lot of time to think about what lay ahead for all of us on the San Juan Island Bike Trip. Once we arrived in Anacortes and watched as all the DBC members arrived with bikes on top, inside and on the bumpers of vehicles, you could sense the anticipation for the adventure we were all about to enjoy. We greeted our current DBC friends and new friends. This region of the US and Canada are absolutely breathtaking. Riding on dirt to gravel, paved streets or through forest-like paths, each new turn in the road revealed amazing sites and sounds. We were never ever far from a view of the surrounding crystal blue waters and sky. Each day brought me joy and calm, certainly two things we each need in our daily life. To date, this was one of my best 'holidays' (as the Canadians' say), and I enjoyed it with wonderful people who shared constant smiles, biking stories, encouragement, and laughter. Don't hesitate to sign up with this amazing DBC sponsored bike trip the next time it is offered. I think you too will come back with wonderful memories and a peaceful heart.
Great to be back in the heat. I left last week for Hartford just ahead of the heat wave. Since we rode to the high point together on Orcas, the only thing you missed was a all-day/night drive from Seattle on Monday. We got home about 0300 after being stuck in a traffic mess north of Shasta. A truck stalled and no one could pass because it was single lane due to construction. We were there for over an hour. We left Seattle about 1000 after having breakfast with Rick's daughter. Hope your trip home was less eventful.
This was the best San Juan Island tour I've been on so far. We had such a variety of riders in our band of 27; there was someone for everyone to ride with, no matter the preferred pace. And the weather! It was magic to have sun every single day we rode, to be able to see Mt. Baker in the distance, to watch the beautiful colors on the water each day, to be able to have Spring all over again with poppies and sweet peas covering hill sides. On the ride from Sydney to Victoria, Dan B. locked his tandem to a light post, and didn't have the key when we were ready to leave. Someone suggested he take the tandem top tube apart (it's a Commotion tandem); that got the bike free from the lock. But leave a perfectly good lock and cable? Again, magic. A fellow with a ladder on top of his van drove up, unloaded the ladder, climbed up the lamp post, and with the help of Dan and others, lifted the cable cleanly (just barely) over the light fixture. Later that day, as 3 others and I got turned around leaving Victoria, I flagged down a resident cyclist for directions. Not only did he give us directions, he rode with us until we were firmly on the Lochside Trail headed for Sydney. Canadian angels, eh?
Riding on San Juan Island was lovely, especially coming over a hill and seeing the lavender farm in full bloom; acres of beautiful color at its peak. Orcas Island still has steep hills, even without climbing Mt. Constitution. I suspect the hills are steeper than last time, due to subduction plates. (I plan to check with Ken Verosub about that.)
A wonderful farmer's market in Eastsound made it worth getting to that point, and I got directions to the Seadoc Society headquarters, a collaborative marine research station run by UCDavis. Unfortunately, it was closed on Saturday.
My favorite memory occurred while we were waiting for the ferry back to Anacortes. We heard an annoyed peeping sound overhead; it was a bald eagle! Being harassed by a sea gull! And the gull won, chasing the eagle from the area.
I hope everyone had as great a time as I did on this trip; Marilyn and Bruce lead a great tour once again.
There were many highlights. From getting to cycle in wonderful surroundings at reasonable tempatures to great ocean views to great fellow travelers to friendly people everywhere we stayed. Our tour of the capitol building was a highlight, but then everything about that day was great,the ride, the food and most of all the people.