One Year on the Road

La Conner and the San Juans

Barn outside of La Conner.

We left Seattle on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend and drove north to La Conner, a small town on Skagit Bay in the Northwest corner of Washington. It’s also close to Anacortes, where you can catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands.

La Conner RV Park

We were lucky to get into this Thousand Trails park on a holiday weekend, and by the time we got there Saturday afternoon, there were only a few straggly sites left. Actually, most of the sites in this park are cramped and dank, especially on a cold rainy day like our first there. But the half mile of rocky beach, just a short walk from us, made up for it. And a sloping green lawn between the lodge and the beach was filled with families playing outdoor games.

Osprey hovering.

We walked Bailey and Gypsy the full length of the beach. Toward the end, I stopped to watch an osprey dive for fish in an inlet. When it went into a hunting hover just overhead, I got so caught up taking photos that it didn’t occur to me that Gypsy might be threatened. In fact, she was terrified, and she wrenched the leash free from me and took off at an erratic gallop down the beach.

When I finally caught up with her, Gypsy refused to be carried back in the direction of the osprey. Only then did I consider just how giant that bird was – wings spanning five feet, talons that would fit just perfectly around a cat’s torso. Poor Gypsy hid under Kate’s jacket for some time before she was brave enough to venture back to the safety of Bessie.


La Conner

Sculpture in La Conner.

After a morning of steady rain, Sunday turned bright and beautiful, and we drove the short distance into La Conner. Tourists had come out with the sun and there was live music downtown, children dancing, people sipping wine, dogs on leashes. Kayaks and sailboats rolled up the canal that runs the length of the town. People queued up for ice cream. It was a lovely place to just hang out and enjoy the fortunate change of weather.

After a while, we drove into the countryside and went to a farm and seafood market we’d seen on the way in. We splurged on a fresh Dungeness crab and a tiny sliver of King Salmon for me (Kate doesn’t like fish). Back in Bessie, we feasted – using pliers instead of crab crackers, and I think both the crab and salmon were the best I’ve ever had.

San Juan Islands

I love these low, subdued islands between Washington and British Columbia. We camped there twice when the kids were small. And once we boated there overnight with friends. La Conner campground was only 15 miles from Anacortes, where the San Juan ferry leaves from. So on Monday, we drove to the ferry terminal, parked the car, and jumped on a ferry just before it took off. The boat was nearly empty and we spread out on comfy booth seats and scanned the sea for whales (no luck) while the ferry chugged, stopping at Lopez and Shaw Islands before depositing us on Orcas Island.

View of the harbor from a park.

When we got to Orcas, there was a throng of walk-on passengers, hundreds, waiting for the ferry back to Anacortes. I hadn’t really thought about how crowded it would be on Memorial Day. We only had time to pick up a to-go lunch before catching the inter-island ferry over to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

In Friday Harbor, we spent a couple hours window shopping and wine-tasting and watching sea planes land and take off in the harbor. We didn’t have any agenda for the day, and it was just perfect to hang out in the sunshine in this sparkling place.

The boat back was pretty crowded, but we still had comfortable window seats where we could recline, read, and watch the scenery drift by. Not a bad way to spend Memorial Day.

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