Yes, Sur

We’re more than a week behind in posting to our blog, so I’m going to play catch-up here, as we have a few down days in Boise, Idaho.

After leaving Kevin in San Simeon, California, we had a short day’s ride to Big Sur. We had a reservation for a camp site the following night at Pfeiffer State Park, but we didn’t have a reservation for tonight. This turned out to be our first wall: everything along the Pacific Coast Highway was sold out and fully booked, except for $300+ hotel rooms, which will never be in our budget (one night’s stay at $300 takes away ten to fifteen nights camping at $20-$30 a night. You can see how we can extend our travels significantly by “sleeping cheap”). We started at San Simeon State Park, where we were told “Sorry folks, park’s full. Try Plaskett” (an hour north). We checked several others along the way, but all were full. At Plaskett we were told “Sorry folks, park’s full. Try San Simeon.”

Kevin had mentioned that a friend of his told him about a place to wild camp above Big Sur, so rather than drive hours north and inland, we decided to try it. The road was dirt, but fairly good condition, though in places it had some fairly deep silt. We climbed 3,000 feet up in seven miles to a ridge that looked out over the ocean. At that height, the marine layer (think coastal fog) was below us, so while it was 60F when we left the coast, it was 84F up here. It felt much warmer. We cooked dinner and went to bed early, but it never cooled off, so we didn’t sleep much.

At 5:30am we were up and packing. Our descent got interesting in a hurry when I overheated the rear brake until it faded away (did I mention we are overloaded?) on a steep downhill silt section. With no rear brake and the front ABS still active, we managed to build speed downhill until the embankment on the outside of the corner at the bottom of the hill provided some serious stopping power. From the outside it probably looked like a small atomic bomb had detonated. The silt mushroom cloud completely covered us and we were suddenly a brown bike and two brown riders. No damage and no injuries, thankfully. I was able to pull the bike upright away from the embankment and let the brakes cool, and we continued down to the coast at a slower pace.

After our dust cloud explosion.

There was moisture in the air as we got lower, which turned some of the dust to a light coating of mud.

The rest of the day was spent riding up the coast to Carmel, then back to Pfeiffer State Park. The dense marine layer limited visibility — and photos — and kept the temperatures in the low 60s.

It was difficult to get good photos of the coast, between the marine layer and the traffic.

This one pretty much sums it up: beautiful coastline, twisty road, extreme overcast, chilly temperatures. Overall a great day of riding.

I was reminded of the term commonly used by TV meteorologists on the news in Los Angeles: “June Gloom”. The marine layer doesn’t burn off until nearly noon, and some days later. Diana just kept saying, “This is not what you see when they show you California on TV and in the movies.”

Nope. That’s Hollywood. This is reality.

Family Time

We left the Big Sur campground and went north again to Monterey, then inland and back into the heat. By the time we stopped for lunch in Los Banos it was 100F. At a convenience store there, I saw something I had never seen before: the handles for the front doors were wrapped in towels and taped. Apparently since the doors face directly into the sun, they get so hot that people burn themselves just opening the door.

After lunch we continued north on the 5 Freeway to Stockton, where we headed east to my sister and brother-in-law’s home. A week earlier we had been only 150 miles from here, but we had done a 750 mile loop instead to get to this point.

We spent the next two days relaxing at their beautiful home and enjoying some great meals and conversation. I also mounted a new set of tires that we had shipped to their house. It turns out the original tires probably would have taken us all the way to Boise, but we weren’t sure at the time, and the front was beginning to show some considerable wear. The new tires were extremely stiff and a bear to mount with hand tools, but I eventually got them on.

Diana said their home felt like a really comfortable Bed and Breakfast. I reminded her not to say that to them, as I was pretty sure we couldn’t afford the room rate!

I only see my sister about once every ten years or so, and we didn’t really want to leave so soon, but we had another reservation already booked further up the coast.

We had a great visit with my sister Debbie and brother-in-law Dick. We don’t get to see them very often, so it was great to catch up.

I checked the air pressures in the new tires one last time before heading out that morning. Still, about ten miles down the road, the rear tire suddenly went flat. It appears that I had somehow pinched the tube in a folded position near the valve stem when installing it, and while it held air overnight in the garage, once it heated up, it let go. The tire was hot and much easier to dismount and reinstall on the side of the road this time. Within an hour we were back on the road and headed to Napa.

Passing through Fairfield, I saw one of those “Adopt A Highway” signs that announce people and companies who clean the litter from the sides of the road. This one had the famous “Jelly Belly” logo on it. Over the intercom, I said to Diana, “I think this is where Jelly Belly is located.” About thirty seconds later we saw the large corporate sign on the opposite side of the road with “Factory Tours” on it. A sudden detour was in order.

Can’t pass up this opportunity. We were only a short distance from our day’s destination, so why not take a break from the heat and have some jelly beans?

I’ve forgotten exactly what the sign said now, but it was something like “this room when full of trays holds over 200 million jelly beans.” Those stacks of trays are around six feet tall each. They “rest” here until being printed with the logo and packaged.

A short ride later and we were at our campsite at a city park in Napa. We had passed by a lot of vineyards in Napa, and the Sonoma Valley the next morning as well. But since we were on the bike, we didn’t stop to do any tastings. I’m sure we’ll return in the future, and perhaps do the Wine Train.

Avenue of The Giants

The next day it was back to the coast and cooler temperatures again. We hit Highway 1 at Jenner, and continued north all the way past Fort Bragg to Leggett, where we jumped back on the 101 to Myers Flat and Hidden Springs campground in the Humboldt Redwoods State Park. I had never ridden this northern section of Highway 1, and it was beautiful. Much less traffic than further south, few if any RVs clogging the road, and stunning scenery.

We had two nights reserved at Hidden Springs, and it allowed us to cruise the Avenue of the Giants and marvel at the giant redwood trees and the beautiful lush surroundings.

Riding down the Avenue of the Giants north of Myers Flat, CA.

They knew we were coming?

A tip from a local sent us down a dead-end dirt road, where we parked the bike and hiked through the trees to the “Lost Bridge”.

Parked the bike at the end of a dead-end road and hiked into the woods…

Suddenly we noticed that if you kicked the pine needles away, there was pavement and even striping under it. Then we saw the bridge.

There’s a pretty sizable piece of road missing just as you approach the bridge, but the bridge itself is intact.

The “1938” date in the rail almost looks like a tombstone for the old bridge.

We had two nights of great (cool) sleeping temperatures, and met some neighbors who gave us some good tips about Alaska. After two nights, it was time to head north again, and we continued along 101 though Eureka and into southern Oregon. The winds were strong, but the temperatures never exceeded 65 degrees.

Not far into Oregon, we stopped to meet another long-time friend. Darren and I go all the way back to kindergarten, though we lost touch for nearly two decades when I moved to Texas in the 1970s. When we reconnected in the 1990s, we found that we shared similar interests in motorcycles and airplanes. Back around 2012, when he needed a place to keep his Beech T34, he offered to let me plane-sit, and for a couple of years I flew it on a regular basis. Just before I left on my Round-the-World ride in 2015, I flew it back to Southern California and returned it to him. Not long after that, he sold it.

So it was not only great to see Darren in Oregon, but it was great to suddenly see the T34 sitting in the hangar as well. He had re-purchased it, and it brought back some great memories (we actually flew the plane from New York to California together when he first bought it around 2002).

I loved flying this plane. As soon as I saw it again I wanted to fly it.

Darren is doing his own tour on his BMW, although he’s doing it Darren-style: quickly. We may cross paths again in Idaho or Washington.

We spent the afternoon with Darren, then got back on the road and headed for Eugene. It was our first time riding after dark in quite a while, and while I try not to do that, especially where there are Elk Crossing signs, we arrived at our hotel safely just after dark.

Three Unicorns

I’ve had multiple friends and others refer to the Yamaha 700 Tenere as a “unicorn”, since they are rare and you almost never see one on the road. In the last seven thousand miles, we’ve seen two others: one in Big Sur, and the other on Highway 1 in Oregon.

This week I was privileged to take a ride with two other unicorns…another T7 and a new Harley Davidson Pan America (which until now I wasn’t even aware was available to purchase yet, much less already sold and available for rent).

Tom and Erin, friends from Tennessee and Ohio respectively, flew into Boise and rented two motorcycles so we could go for a ride. Tom ended up on a nicely appointed 700 Tenere, while Erin chose the Pan America, a bike we were all curious to see and experience.

Erin had planned a route for us, and I plugged some GPS coordinates into my Garmin. The temperatures here have been over 100 degrees nearly every day for more than a week, so we agreed to meet at 6am and get an early start, as it looked like the loop might take the better part of the day.

We left out of Meridian and headed south on I-84 for about 20 miles before turning off and heading east onto dirt and into the mountains. We were all happy that the morning temperatures were hovering around 66 degrees.

“So, that’s a dual-sport bike, eh?”

Two T7s and a Pan America. Fun on the Idaho BDR.

We climbed up to Pine, Idaho, a tiny little town with a gas station and a cafe, and had a late breakfast. We met several other riders here who were doing the Idaho Backcountry Discovery Route, or BDR. Our loop would include a portion of the BDR, and surprisingly we covered the majority of it without encountering another vehicle of any kind.

On the way into Pine, we stopped overlooking the Anderson Ranch Reservoir.

That is not a beach on the shoreline of the lake. Well, it isn’t supposed to be anyway. The lack of rain here and the record heat has caused the water levels in many of the rivers and lakes around here to drop by as much as fifty feet. In the distance, people are parked and fishing from the now-exposed peninsula that is slowly making its’ way all the way across the lake.

We rode our bikes all the way down the boat ramp, then off the end and another 100 feet or so down to the water’s edge.

We stopped at the Pine Cafe for breakfast, about a third of the way through our ride. While here, another group of riders came in. One of the guys said “No wonder nobody can get a 700 Tenere. You guys have them all!” It must have been unusual to see two in the same place.

We turned off just past Featherville on a smaller dirt road that took us north towards Rocky Bar. This is a view from near the top of the pass.

The Three Amigos, near the Middle Fork of the Boise River and Dutch Frank Hot Springs…about 150 miles into our loop.

By the time we reached the Middle and North Forks of the Boise River and began our trek west back towards Boise, it was getting warm. Once or twice we saw 102 degrees on the bikes’ air temperature readouts. The last part of the ride was hot, and the dirt road was corrugated for about 50 miles and rocky in places, making for a bit of a jarring ride.

Along the North Fork of the Boise River.

Returning to Boise, we had covered around 220 miles, about 150 of which was off-road. It was a great day of riding, and we all felt like the bikes had done well. I have a feeling not many retailed Pan Americas have been ridden as far in the dirt — and in one day — as Erin rode this one.

It was a great day of riding and just getting to hang out with some good friends.

Diana and I have a couple of more days in Boise to relax and catch up on some chores before heading northwest. This is our first house-sit since we left home, but not our last, and we’re enjoying the luxuries (and cost-savings) of a home, while also getting to hang out with some fun fur babies.

Sitting in Boise

As we’ve discussed in earlier blog posts, one way that we help lower our overall travel expenses is to house-sit. There are several advantages to this for us:

  • It saves money on lodging (hotel, campsites, etc)
  • It gives us a chance to relax in a home with pets (we miss our own pets and this gives us some comfort, even if they aren’t our animals)
  • It allows us to have good internet to sit and plan our next moves
  • It gives us a space to do maintenance to the bike and gear
  • It allows us to do laundry
  • It allows us to cook a broader range of meals than we can do with our camp stove

For the homeowner, there are of course also advantages:

  • Their pets get to stay in their familiar surroundings while the homeowner travels
  • The pets are well cared for, and we report (usually via text) daily on their activities
  • The house has a “lived in” appearance while they are gone, so it’s less of a target for thieves
  • Any potential problems that may occur at home are caught early by the sitters
  • Plants and/or gardens are watered and cared for

Since we knew we would be in Boise for a few days, we decided to search out a house-sit opportunity for an extra few days there while we planned the coming week or two. We found a sit on that matched our dates and applied, and were thrilled when the homeowners quickly selected us to be their sitters. We ended up spending a few days with some of the most mellow, laid-back pups you could imagine, as well as a great cat, all in a comfortable home that was near groceries, restaurants, and other supplies.

These guys were great companions for a few days.

So after a few days of research, bike maintenance, and relaxing in Boise, we headed out into the heat once again. Destination: The Pacific Northwest.

Half a Load in Flour and Fifty Pounds of Bacon

“The Trail of romance, adventure, hope, faith, and achievement as well as the Trail of misery, tragedy, hardship, despair and death.”

This is not a description of our ride, thankfully, but rather a quote from Walter E. Meacham describing the Oregon Trail, the route from Missouri to Oregon in the mid-1800s that emigrants, moving west, followed. It was a difficult journey, made even more so by greedy trading post merchants in Missouri who knowingly convinced pioneer families to seriously overload their wagons with unnecessary supplies. The trail was littered with personal items, broken wagon parts, and often new merchandise that families abandoned as they continued their drive west.

Esther Lockart described her journey across the Oregon Trail in 1851 this way:
“We came across many evidences of the jaded conditions of the cattle in the trains preceding us. Feather beds, cook stoves, chairs, tables, bedsteads, dishes…all in good condition, strewed on the ground…left to decay and rust among the lava rocks.”

Emigrants along the Oregon Trail.

Captain Medorem Crawford, an experienced Oregon Trail team leader, issued a letter “To Emigrants” full of helpful advice on how to make a successful crossing, including how many men it would take to support each wagon, how many days it should take, and what supplies should be taken. In it he advised, “Each person should take 250 pounds of provisions; one-half of which should be flour, fifty pounds bacon, the balance in sugar, coffee, tea, rice, dried fruit, etc.”

We are camped this night in Emigrant Springs Campground, along the Oregon Trail. Of course, this wasn’t a nice, civilized campground with restrooms, showers, water spigots, and paved roads in 1851. But it was a stopping point along the Trail. The Civilian Conservation Corps began to develop this camp area in the 1930s. Sitting here tonight, looking at our motorcycle, it’s easy to imagine it as a wagon and oxen or mules, with all our supplies attached to it. It is much harder to imagine the intense daily strains the emigrants encountered on their more than one hundred day journey across this rugged land.

And it’s even harder to imagine how much I would weigh after eating 125 pounds of flour and fifty pounds of bacon.

PNW and the San Juans

After a couple more days of 100 degree weather, we arrived in the Pacific Northwest. We rode through Seattle to get to Camano Island, where we camped for a night, not only because it’s a nice place, but because it set us up for an easy day the following day to Anacortes where we caught the ferry to Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. We were traveling too fast again, and wishing we could stop for more than one night, but due to the huge number of RVs and summer tourists, there were no campsites available. We were lucky to find one site for one night at Moran State Park on Orcas. We pledged to work harder at trying to book some of these places a little farther ahead.

We stopped for fuel on the way to our campsite on Camano Island, and the clerk at the station became very animated when he saw us, asking lots of questions about the bike and where we had come from. Then he pulled out his phone and showed me a photo of his Harley back in Dubai. He was in Washington working on his PhD in Chemical Engineering after having completed his Masters here earlier. He was a great reminder of how incredibly friendly people from that part of the world actually are, versus the stereotypes that Americans are fed.

This guy was our companion at our campsite on Camano Island.

Looking out from our campsite. It’s been a lovely 67 degrees most days since Camano and Orcas.

Unlike on the Outer Banks in North Carolina (where motorcycles go to the front of the line at the ferry dock, but board last), motorcycles are sent to the front of the line here and board first. So while we were waiting for the ferry to Orcas, a Harley pulled up, and we spent a good while chatting with Johnny Mudd, an Orcas resident. Johnny is in his mid 70s, looks a bit like Billy F. Gibbons of ZZ Top, and was quite entertaining to talk with. While Johnny mentioned at one point that his family was the same Mudd family from the Harvey Mudd College and the La Brea Tar Pits in California, he gave no hint at just how entertaining he and his twin brother Jimi really are. I’m not going to go into detail here, but if you have time and want to head down a fun rabbit hole, Google “Jimi Mudd” and click on the second article that pops up.

Once on Orcas, we set up camp at Moran State Park and set off to do some touring. Two suggestions from our conversation with Johnny were high on our list: the view from atop Mount Constitution, and clams at Buck Bay.

Our camp on Orcas Island.

The view from atop Mount Constitution, with Mt. Baker covered in snow in the background. It’s a great road, and worth every bit of the climb.

I wasn’t aware there was an island named for me out here.

Just a little bit past the turnoff to Mt. Constitution is a little town called Olga, and just past that is Buck Bay. And on the far side of Buck Bay is the Buck Bay Shellfish Farm, which serves some delicious and extremely fresh steamed clams and other local seafood.

The crab mac n cheese is incredible.

This place is mostly just a bunch of tables under the trees in a farm yard. And so worth it.

Be prepared to share your dining spot with the farm animals.

Leaving Orcas Island, we headed south from Anacortes and caught the ferry in Coupeville to Port Townsend, where we spent a night with my niece and her husband. David prepared a fantastic dinner for us, and we spent the evening around the table talking about everything from our trip to their recent purchase of a sailboat that will soon be their new home. Once again, we were gone too soon as we had a commitment in Seattle, but we hope to return very soon for at least one more meal. I mean visit. 🙂

In line for the ferry to depart Orcas Island. I can say with full certainty that this is the first time I have ever boarded a ferry with a guy on a Vespa carrying not one but TWO chainsaws, and a guy on a KLR650 carrying a rifle.

Unfortunately I forgot to take the photo before David had to leave for work/school that morning. Another reason to return!

The steps from “downtown” (literally) where the shops and businesses are, to “uptown” (literally) where people live. Diana says avoiding this climb alone is reason to order everything on Amazon.


Having arrived in Seattle, we settled in at our next house-sit, a beautiful three level Craftsman home built in the 1920s and restored in the 2000s. We had two super cool cats as roommates for the weekend.

Brothers. Inseparable.

As we began to unload the bike into the house, two neighbors walked up. They introduced themselves as Peter and Jack, and said they had just recently gotten into adventure touring , he on a Kawasaki KLR650 and she on a Yamaha XT250. I laughed and mentioned that my first round-the-world trip had been on the same model as her new bike. We talked for a while about bikes, gear, travel, etc, and I walked two doors down to their driveway to look at their bikes.

As we talked about her XT, I could see the light of recognition on her face. Suddenly she said, “I know you! I’ve read your blog, looking at modifications for my XT.” It was funny to have someone reading my blog, and then for us to randomly show up on their street.

Jack & Peter. Great people. I hope I can help them to enjoy adventure touring.

Peter had reminded me that the US headquarters of Touratech is not only in Seattle, but literally a mile and a half from where we are staying, so we decided to drop by on Friday. We have a couple of their accessories on our 700: a one gallon fuel can and our locking GPS mount. While there I purchased a map of the Washington Backcountry Discovery Route that runs from Oregon to the Canadian border. We may or may not do part of this route, depending on timing and weather.

One of two Tenere 700s on display at Touratech. The other will be given away in a drawing.

I had two tours planned for Saturday in Seattle: first up was the Chihuly Gardens and Glass exhibit. Dale Chihuly is a local artisan but is known worldwide for his incredible blown glass art.

Hard to believe, but a lot of what you see in this photo is blown glass. Outside in the gardens, and inside. Obviously they don’t have the hailstorms here like at home.

That Medusa-looking tree behind us? Hundreds of pieces of blown glass. Amazing.


For perspective, these pieces are sitting in a real boat that is probably twelve to fourteen feet long.

This piece took up an entire room; the art itself was probably ten feet wide and thirty to forty feet long.

After visiting the Chihuly exhibition, which is next to the Seattle Space Needle in the World’s Fair park, we walked to Pike Place Market. This of course is one of Seattle’s biggest tourist attractions (something I usually try to avoid), and on this Saturday it was absolutely packed. We wandered the market and had lunch, then took off on our next walk.

This place is interesting, but way over-crowded.

Across the street from the market, and behind that crappy looking van, is the original Starbucks. The line was out the door and down the street to get a coffee. I’m sure there’s something special about the coffee at this first location, but there’s one on every other block here, in addition to a ton of other coffee houses.

Next was a visit to the Spheres. This horticultural phenomenon is actually three large spheres creating one huge space. Inside there are four levels of walkways, meeting areas, and general areas to relax and confer. There are over 400 species of cloud forest plants in the spheres, many from South America, but others from around the world. There is also a 50-foot tall ficus tree. This building is in the middle of Amazon’s downtown Seattle complex, and is only open to the public the first and third Saturdays of each month, by reservation.

Four stories tall and a block long, with open-space meeting rooms and a cafe inside.

Much of the Amazon rainforest grows in here.

That evening we took the light rail back into Chinatown/Japantown for dinner. I think we spent more money this day than in the past week or two of our trip, but it was all worth it. And our reduced lodging and food expenses over the past weeks helped make this possible.

Questions From The Road

Wherever and whenever we stop, even just for gas or to stretch, people approach us. It’s probably the amount of stuff we have on the bike. We’ve actually watched people slam on their brakes when they see us mounting up, just to watch Diana get on the back of the bike. I think they are convinced that there is no way someone could possibly fit in that space between me and all that stuff. Mostly though I think the large amount of gear and two “old” people on what appears to be some sort of large dirt bike seems to make people curious. It could be that they expect motorcyclists our age to be on a Harley, or a Gold Wing, or maybe an RV. And of course the Texas license plate attracts a lot of attention.

So here are the top two questions we get from random people:

1. By far, the top question is: “Did you ride that all the way here from Texas???”

Okay, it is around two thousand miles or so from home to the Seattle area, although we’ve done almost eight thousand miles to get here. And it is half way across the country. So for many people, I guess that’s a long way to travel on a motorcycle. On the other hand, having already ridden the equivalent of one and a half times around the equator on the last trip, through 34 countries and across four continents, our trip to the Pacific Northwest seems like a ride to get coffee. It’s hard to explain this to someone at a gas station that just happened to see the Texas license plate, so usually our answer is simply “Yep.” And often that’s the end of the conversation. Sometimes they look at Diana and say “You’re brave.” I’m not sure how to take that, personally, but I’ll give her credit for being brave enough to be stuck between a lot of luggage on the back of a smallish motorcycle, with no real control over her destiny.

2. The second most popular question so far is: “Is that your dog on the back?”

Yep. Fur Real. Multiple people have asked if that’s our dog strapped to the bag on the back of the bike.

To be fair, if you just glance at it as you drive past, I could see how you could think that. Sometimes the straps make the outside corners stick up like little furry dog ears. But no, we do not have our dog bungee corded to the back of the bike. Nor did we stop and adopt a piece of road kill. We started the trip with a piece of sheepskin that we bought at IKEA to use as a seat cover, but Diana kept sliding forward on it, so after just a few days we took it off and strapped it onto the gear bag. And it’s ridden there for most of the trip, getting filthy in the process. I’m not really sure why we’re still carrying it. I’ve used it a couple of times as a seat cushion on a campground picnic table bench, but otherwise it has served no purpose. Other than a source of amusement to us and others.

I’m sure that as we continue, the list of questions will get longer, and I will update this post accordingly.

Friday Harbor, on a Wednesday

From Seattle we headed back to the San Juan Islands, this time to Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. We spent a night at Bay View State Park near Anacortes in order to set us up for an early ferry to Friday Harbor the next morning. It’s a small campground, and pretty much no-frills, but nice enough.

At the ferry terminal in Anacortes, we met a family from Spokane on motorcycles: Dad on a BMW GS, Mom on a Honda CB500X, and son on a Triumph Tiger. They were headed to the island for the day, and they gave us some good insight on places to go and see, both on San Juan Island as well as Washington state in general. We ended up running into them again at lunch at Roche Harbor, and we spoke a bit more. Connor (the son) had looked up our blog page, and it turns out Dad and I both raced at Willow Springs in Southern California about the same time.

Roche Harbor. Oh, the money sitting here. Fun to just sit on the dock and watch though.

Homes above Roche Harbor. Has a bit of a San Francisco look to it.

Sunset at our campsite at San Juan Island County Park, looking across to Victoria, BC. Each evening, people would drive up, pull out their lawn chairs, and sit and watch the sun set, then drive away.

The next morning we joined a whale watching tour. We were told that the resident Orcas hadn’t been seen for over 100 days (they look similar but eat differently than the transient Orcas; residents eat salmon, while transients eat seals and sea lions), so we prepared ourselves to enjoy an expensive boat ride. Instead we got lucky: the transients had been spotted by another vessel and we headed that way.

Very impressive, even at a distance.

Tail slap. By the way, that building in the back, and the beach, and most of the land back there, belong to Paul Allen of Microsoft fame.

Just their dorsal fins are six feet tall.

We ended up spending an hour watching these huge creatures surface and tail-slap the water. It was an incredible sight. Federal regulations require that the boats stay two hundred meters away from the whales, but even at that distance it’s good viewing. At one point one of the whales surfaced very close to the boat ahead of us. The captain shut the engines down, and the whale went under the boat and came up on the other side. Watching dozens of people run from one side of the boat to the other, we had visions of the boat just rolling over.

We spent a few days exploring San Juan Island, and stumbled on the San Juan Island Distillery and Wescott Bay Ciders, a small distillery on a back road. Being a cider fan, we stopped for a tasting, and ended up shipping a few bottles home.

San Juan Island Distillery and Wescott Bay Ciders. Very friendly and gracious owners, who took the time to discuss their processes while offering us tastings, even on a day they weren’t officially open.

Friday Harbor is a lot like Avalon, California. It’s a small harbor town that mostly attracts tourists. People catch the ferry over for the day to wander the town, and eat and shop. Others sail in. Roche Harbor is the more upscale side.

After a few days camped on the island, we headed back to the mainland and towards Tacoma for another house sit. It was time to do a little more bike maintenance, and wait to see if Canada would open to US tourists.