We spent Sept. 11th on an island at the furthest reaches of the country. We were in a cabin with no phone, no television, and no internet service about as far from Washington, DC as we could be. It wasn’t intentional, but it was ideal. No forced contemplation or reinvigorating our nationalist spirit. No memorializing or campaigning or finger-pointing. Just us and a bucolic little segment of our country. And Canada taunting us from across the water.
On Tuesday, Sept 12th (Day 4), we woke up in high anticipation of our kayaking trip. We squeezed in a quick visit to the alpacas and sped off to the meeting point at San Juan County Park. We booked the trip through Outdoor Odysseys and our guide was a mellow musician/bird-dude named Dave. There were about ten people in our group with varying levels of experience. All in all, I think we paddled about 4 or 5 miles, from the launch at the park to just past Lime Kiln Point State Park and back, with a stop at Dead Man’s Bay for lunch.
This was a little different from our last kayaking experience when we rode one-person kayaks down Potomac River near Harper’s Ferry. This time we were in two-person sea kayaks with a rudder and on fairly open water, which meant sometimes the current was with and sometimes against us. But I think I prefer it. I felt like we were a part of everything around us. There’s something about being right down in the water with the sea stretching out in all directions. The clear arctic waters, the conifers going straight up the hillsides of the island and the incredibly quiet clean air.
The area where we were kayaking is billed as a hot spot for whale-watching, but we missed the local orca pods by a couple weeks. No matter. We were visited by leaping porpoises just 30 feet away. And just as we were squinting to see some harbor seals lounging on rocks in the far distance, we turned to see a little seal head pop up from the water and scan the horizon from the behind the cover of floating bull kelp. Dave also pointed out a couple bald eagles’ nests, but I couldn’t quite make them out.
The other form of wildlife we encountered were tankers, freighters and aircraft carriers. The Haro Strait is a major shipping channel for big boats coming in from the Pacific. These girls are monsters. We could hear the low rumble of their engines even several miles away and, though it took nearly ten minutes for their wake to reach us, it was enough to capsize us… if we hadn’t been paying attention. So kayaking across the shipping channel is perhaps not the smartest way to sneak across to Canada (especially when shorter hops of two miles or less exist between other islands).
After our return, we stopped to say hello to the alpacas one last time, then went back to the cabin for a nap before dinner. We dined at Duck Soup Inn, which we found to be yummy but a little over the top. It was like the chef was trying to compensate for the high prices by adding fifteen devilishly new garnishes and sauces and side dishes to every entree, which had the effect of totally dwarfing the flavor of the item ordered. Oh well. The ambience was good and they played St. Germain and, as we’ve come to expect on this coast, the wine and beer selection was awesome.
Mat drove back as I took one last look at the island through my alcoholic haze. I love this place. So amazing.