Saturday, March 16, 2013

Romance on San Juan Island

Another year of life and marriage has flown by. (Time goes faster the older you get...if you're over 30, you're nodding your head in agreement.) Last year, in honor of our 25 years of marriage, I wrote a post called "25 Dates, 255 Apologies, and 5 Romantic Trips in Year 25"; (trying to be clever and play off my blog title) and even though I was being tongue-in-cheek, the 5 romantic trips actually sounded like a good idea. (Duh!) I'm happy to say this trip to Roche Harbor to celebrate our 26th a little early makes our 6th getaway since Miami. (We are such over achievers! I'm not sure if they would all qualify as "trips"- but I'm always happy just to have a night away from our house filled with tween/teen/and adult children.)
Beautiful Roche Harbor
My husband is a very out-doorsy sort of person; much more than me, actually. We've gone on a couple hikes together, and there's a part of me that wishes he wanted to hike more often with me. I have to admit though, there's also a part of me that's glad he doesn't. I like having a hobby that is sort of "mine." I'm really thankful that Ken gets this; in fact, he encourages it. Hiking has given me a sort of confidence I never had before; and I know he sees and appreciates that. Although, it doesn't mean (as I just noted) that he's unwilling to go with me every now and then.
A great way to start the day
I ended last year's marriage post by saying I would transform a hike into a "date" by bringing a bottle of wine and picnic lunch. It took me the whole year, but on this trip I got that accomplished as well. (Was it our "25th" date? I doubt it.) There's not a whole lot of good hiking on San Juan Island, and the best trail (Mount Finlayson) I had already done a few years back with my youngest, Summer. (This was before I started blogging. I'll just say it was yet another experience to confirm that she can be a real pain in the ass to hike with ;)) This meant my best option was the trails at English Camp; and so Bell Point and Mount Young it was.

There is some very interesting history on San Juan Island. Either I never paid attention in school, or the 'pig war' was something that never came up in history class; which is hard to believe considering it happened in our own backyard. Let's see how concisely I can summarize for those of you who didn't pay attention in school either: "Oregon Country" (more than just Oregon--much of Washington and extending into Canada as well) was jointly occupied by both the US and Great Britain until 1846, when a treaty was signed to declare the 49th parallel as the border line. The problem was the treaty verbiage was not specific enough to clarify who owned San Jan Island. When an American farmer killed a pig that wandered onto "his" land, and it turned out the pig belonged to the British owned company Hudson Bay, then all hell broke loose. Troops were sent in from both countries and camps were formed and stayed formed for the next 12 years, prepared to kick some butt if need be. Thankfully though, war never did break out, and the dispute was finally settled when a three man arbitration commission from Germany ruled in favor of the U.S. And so this "war" ended with only one casualty...the poor pig. (Hopefully somebody at least got some good bacon out of it.)
Even when preparing for war, the English need their gardens

The view from where the officer's quarters were
Needless to say, visiting English camp turned out to be much more than just hiking. (Look how much I learned!) Neither hike is very long or difficult, but it took us awhile because I really did read every single informative sign. (History can be romantic--honestly!) 
The blockhouse. Used for defense with guns on top, and as a jail on the bottom.
Told you I read the signs!
We did the Bell Point Loop first, and halfway through parked ourselves in the sand for our picnic. I forgot to bring something to lay on the ground, so I thought we could use the emergency "blanket." (Bad idea... emergency tin foil would be a better name!) Oh well, at least I remembered hiking essential #11 to open the bottle.
Can you believe this is a wine opener?
I wish we would have done Mount Young first, because the picnic spot options on top were far better. But considering I thought this whole day was going to be a rained out bust, I was just thankful for the sun and fabulous views. A tip for those who do this hike: when you get to the "lookout" spot, just keep following the path to the left. The map doesn't show a trail, but it leads you to the top, and it's much more scenic.
A perfect picnic spot. Dang it.

The trail to the left.

The top...and more informative signage!

A few recommendations for anyone planning a trip to San Juan Island:
--Doughnuts at Lime Kiln Cafe
--Pig War martini at McMillin's Dining Room
--Free pool tables at Herb's Tavern
--Wine tasting in town at San Juan Vineyard's Piano and Wine

And if you miss your ferry, just take the wine you bought at the tasting room and head up to end of West Street. Sit yourself down on one of the nice park benches, enjoy the amazing view of Friday Harbor, and make a toast to "island time". And while your at it, why not throw in a "cheers" to the pig war; a lesson that every once in awhile arguments can be settled peacefully. We can all drink to that.
A late (but happy) ride home