Goodbye San Juan

On Wednesday, I fell in love. A little bit. I was sitting on a deck overlooking a marina filled with boats of all sizes. The sun’s warmth and the delicious halibut burger digesting in my stomach made it impossible for me to move. Next to me my sister was reading something on her phone, probably off the FIFA app. Across the marina from us was a picturesque hotel, fronted with three stories of balconies and the words “Hotel de Haro” painted in caps just under the eaves. Looking down the deck (or does it count as a wharf?) there’s the awning of the cafe we ate at, a sign that says “Laundry at the Wharf– Change machine” (so I guess it does count as a wharf) and another reading “Roche Harbor Sportswear”. Beyond that was a tree-covered hill, a fluffy white cloud peaking from behind it like a mountain top and the beautiful blue sky.

The view from our table.

The view from our table.

That morning I’d woken up to bright sunshine and glass-like waters of a tiny inlet of the Pacific Ocean. I’d made pancakes and a smoothie for breakfast, read the lovely comments and likes from you all on my last post, and gone for a run. Originally I was going to stick to the roads since I had pretty much no idea where I was in relation to anything else, but as I reached the end of our winding lane and started on the faster road (not really busier, since there weren’t really any cars on that one either), I decided to do an about-face. I didn’t much fancy the idea of running on the narrow, 25 mph, sidewalk-less road that ran through the grasslands on the face of a hill. It would feel too much like I was a flamingo in the desert– quite obviously out of place and impossible to miss.

But I wasn’t yet ready to end my run, so I ran down another road, which I knew was a dead end, thinking I may have to just run in little circles. Luckily, though, I found a hiking trail through a shady forest (making me feel much less flamingo-like). I ran along that for a while, then just stood in the greenery for a minute, looking out at the beach with the tide out and listening to the nothingness of rustling leaves. When I started getting cold, I did another about-face and headed home– well, vacation home, I suppose.

After a shower, we all (my parents, sister, grandparents and me) piled into the car and were off. We drove the “scenic” way to Roche Harbor– quotes because as far as I saw, the entire Island was scenic. It included mystical forests, breathtaking views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, and a stop at the English Camp. Camp as in military; the host of one side of the Pig War. No, that’s not a typo, there really is a war named Pig. It started when a pig was shot on the island, which gave the Americans and the English, who were still confused about who the island belonged to, to fight. However, I’m not so sure how much fighting they did, since there were no casualties, but (if I remember correctly– please correct me if I’m wrong) the war lasted something like 12 years.  We walked some trails there, one which lead to the British cemetery, which commemorated 7 who died around the time of the War, most from accidentally drowning. After the Camp, we drove a bit more to Roche Harbor.

From our hike to the cemetery.

From our hike to the cemetery.

Which brings us back to our love story.

Roche Harbor… Well, it’s not so much of a town, I’d say (you know, in my very professionally opinion), but a little grouping of…settlements? buildings. There’s the Hotel de Haro, and some condos, most of which, I get the feeling, are rented out to tourists (like me!),mostly in the summer months. The condos are colorful and perched on the hillside leading up from the water. There’s also a small church building, an airstrip, a (rather quirky) little sculpture park and a restaurant building. The harbor used to be a center for Lime production (the stone not the fruit) and there are still big, retired old power plants there that you can see today. There’s a little square area with a shop and two bocce ball courts.

“Emma just wants to live here,” Fiona, my sister, said as we ate our lunch.

“I do!” I replied, smiling.

You’ve probably figured out that I didn’t fall in love with a person on Wednesday by now. Have I done my crush justice? It was one of the most charming places I’ve been. Peaceful and beautiful in its simplicity. Surrounded by water and boats and trees. The thought of it makes me smile; just sitting on that wharf, watching the laziness of the harbor on that sunny day, seeing the history of the place through its new paint and storefronts, I couldn’t help but fall a little bit in love with the unique setting.

However, despite my “I do!”, the love was not meant to last long. Ice cream (a much longer and more steady relationship of mine) called from Friday Harbor. So we loaded back into the car and drove into town. After walking through a shop or two, we found ourselves in one of the four (at least) possible places to buy a cone. Sadly, I don’t know the name of the shop we were at, but it was the one on First Ave, next to the lavender shop, in case you want to ever drop by there. They serve Lopez Island Ice Cream. My dad ordered first, the cinnamon– no surprise for me, since he’s told my sister and I many times about working at an ice cream shop in college making delicious cinnamon ice cream. After trying his, Fiona and I got the same thing. It was spectacular. I highly recommend that if you should ever get the chance, TRY CINNAMON ICE CREAM.

It was so good, I forgot to take a picture until I had already eaten half of it.

It was so good, I forgot to take a picture until I had already eaten half of it.

After walking around with our cones for a little longer, we piled into the car again and headed back “home”. On our way, we thought it was only fair that, since we’d stopped at Camp Britain, we stop at Camp USA as well. We drove off the main road, into the parking lot, and decided that we were too tired of walking trails at this point. So we just drove through the parking lot instead (so American of us). When we got back to the house we sat around reading in the sun on the deck for a while, or taking a nap.

I made tacos for dinner and we watched the US v Mexico game. (When my grandma heard the TV on, she said “Are they watching soccer again!?” To which I answered “Yes!” and she said “Oh my goodness!”. She couldn’t believe that after playing in a total of three games that weekend and having practice everyday we’d want to watch more. I told her it’s a lifestyle.) It was a great game and the first US goal was scored by Morris. It was his first start for the team and first goal, and he’s only 20 years old. I love watching young new soccer players, I get so excited for them. Plus he’s from just outside of Seattle, which was even cooler.

Alright. I got a little sidetracked there, but I’m back. All in all, Wednesday was a great day.

Thursday morning we cleaned  the house, and then lazed about a bit. Dad and I went stand-up paddle boarding on the eerily calm waters. We headed toward a buoy some distance out, but when we were about half way there, I heard a big splash from behind me, and turned to see that something roughly me-sized had just gone under. This is not normally a calming thing to see when you are out in the water balancing on a ten-foot styrofoam board.

“Dad! What was that?” I called to him.

He turned around. “I don’t know. A seal maybe?”

“Ahh! Please don’t follow me!” I said to the water. “Please don’t attack me!”

I was scared. I mean, I knew it probably wasn’t going to attack me. I also knew that seals don’t eat humans. I was more just afraid that it would pop its silver head up right next to my board, scare the living daylights out of me and that I would fall off the board into the water. Then I’d be swimming with it, and be cold and in shock. I wasn’t really planning on taking a dip today.

As we continued to paddle towards the buoy (it was too late to turn around– not that I would have anyway), we had four other curious seals poke their heads out of the water to check us out. They really are amazing creatures. Their silky smooth skin and powerful flippers are impressive and their dark shining eyes seem to look at you in a friendly way.

After the paddle and lunch we drove back to Friday Harbor to get in the ferry line and have another ice cream. I got salted caramel this time. It was good, but I’d stick with the cinnamon. The ferry ride was stunning. My mom found a nice spot on the stern deck in the sun, so we leaned against the ferry, protected from the wind, and she read while I looked out the the water.

My view from the ferry.

The ferry ride.

An hour and a half long car ride (and nap) later, I found myself back at home in sunny Seattle (yes, in fact, we do get sun in Seattle). It was a wonderful trip.


PS: Props and thanks to you if you actually read all of that. I plan on picking up the ol’ Food or Thought again on Monday, so stay tuned!


One thought on “Goodbye San Juan

  1. Beth says:

    Again, thank you Emma for the wonderful and vivid description.. You have opened my eyes to not only new and interesting places, but more so that your experiences are truly appreciated. And I am grateful to share in your adventures. AB


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