Roche Harbor – A Step Back in Time
Day 2 3/4
We left one historical site on San Juan Island and headed for another. One of the many joys of visiting the San Juan Islands is the feeling of being in another world or era. Even though modern cosmopolitan Seattle is less than two hours away, it feels like it is across the ocean. Time seems barely to have touched the tranquil beauty of the islands. Some places on the islands feel anachronistic, as if they belonged to another generation.
Roche Harbor is such a place. It is located on the northwest side of the island about an hour drive from Friday Harbor, more if you take your time to enjoy the trip. The natural harbor is widely considered among boaters to be one of the best moorages on the west coast. It must be because we saw some very expensive yachts in the marina. Seriously, who needs a 200 foot personal boat? OK, I would buy one if I could too.
Fact: Local Seattle-ite Paul Allen’s Octopus is 413 feet!
The marina has a customs house for all of the visiting foreign boaters along with personal attendees to help moor your boat and confirm your booking. We had fun walking along the dock gawking at the over-sized luxury toys and wondering who could possibly own them. I was a little jealous, but Mish reminded me that I have a boat too, albeit I have to paddle mine.
Tip: You can rent kayaks and paddle around the harbor!
On the shore is the historic Hotel de Haro built in 1886. It has hosted President Theodore Roosevelt and actor John Wayne, who had a personal extra-large bathtub installed in his regular room for visits. Outside, is a magnificent English garden where you can have afternoon tea. In the evening, you can eat in its elegant dining hall and enjoy days past. We opted for a romantic pick-nick on a bench overlooking the marina.
Around the hotel is the quaint village of Roche Harbor. We got ice-cream cones and strolled around the area. During the summer, there are artisan booths set up along the water where local artists showcase their crafts. There is also the old school house and Chapel to the Lady of Good Voyage, a popular wedding site. Also, check out the historical sites and learn about the history of the area. There is also a very cool sculpture park!
We left Roche Harbor and meandered back to our bed-and-breakfast house. Along the way we stopped into Lime Kiln State Park. This park has the reputation of more Orca spotting than anywhere else on the west coast. We were not disappointed! Off in the distance, we saw two different pods of these magnificent creatures jumping and rolling in the water. No matter how many times I have seen them, seeing them free in the wild still gives me goose-bumps. We also saw some Dall’s porpoises, a Steller sea lion, and many birds.
Fact: Orcas are not “Killer Whales,” they are actually dolphins.
Mish and I did something we rarely do, just sit and relax. We were in no hurry to go anywhere. As the setting sun slowly sank in the horizon, we simply enjoyed letting the natural beauty, tranquility, and serenity engulf us. Sometimes that is all it takes to recharge your soul and put life into perspective.
We thoroughly enjoyed our last night on the island. We toasted our 20th anniversary with some champagne back at the guest house. It was the perfect present.
Tomorrow, back to reality…
…and another family adventure!