Lopez Island was a good warm-up for San Juan, because our next camping destination, San Juan County Park, is a very hilly 10 miles from the ferry drop-off at Friday Harbor. There was also heavier traffic, but the strawberry house along the way made up for any hardship.
We eventually made it to the campground and set up.
The views are incredible. The shared campsites on the other hand are pretty tight with zero privacy and no hammock trees. Two things I normally look for in a campsite.
But the whales made up for any discomfort.
That was amazing. We watched at least four Orca pods breach, splash, and swim by just as the sun set. I could have gone home happy then. But it was only day 3.
There were other perks at the park, including a small island reserve just off-shore with Black Oystercatchers.
And the noisy Pileated Woodpecker in the old apple tree.
While on this island, we also made a point to bike to Lime Kiln State Park because it is “considered one of the best places in the world to view whales from a land-based facility.” Even though that meant riding 6 more miles of hills.
We found a lighthouse and White-crowned Sparrows, but no whales this time.
It was a pretty pleasant bike ride.
Plus, we saw more whales from South Beach, and a lovely trio of Harlequin Duck.
At this point, I figured we may as well bike another 8 miles to Friday Harbor. Easy peasy. Because then in Friday Harbor, we can take the bus (!) with our bikes back to Roche Harbor, check out the Sculpture Park and come full circle. Gotta love public transit.
Roche Harbor has great shops and ice cream, but the best thing about this fancy marina destination is the public showers. No joke. Private, clean (cost a handful of quarters). And after 3 days of bike-camping we really needed one. It was rejuvenating as we mentally prepared to bike the 7.5 miles back to San Juan County Park.
On the way out we visited the sculpture park where I learned something new about Hooded Mergansers.
Immature males have all black bills and bold yellow eyes.
Female on the right below for comparison (yellow bill, dark eyes).
It gave me food for thought as we meandered our way back to the campground. No whale sightings that final night, but I did get a terribly backlit view of a bird I’d hoped to see at some point on the trip, a Rhinoceros Auklet! Trust me.
Later that night the skies opened up and it poured rain through morning. With no bus until noon and an early ferry to catch, we hesitantly packed up a wet camp then slogged through the 10 miles back to Friday Harbor.
We had another island to get to and hopefully more birds to see on Orcas Island!
Tweets and chirps,