San Juan Island feels a lot like Nantucket to me. There are no traffic lights and no commercial stores, but thereís a lot of history here. In the 1800's, the British jointly occupied the island with American settlers, resulting from The Oregon Treaty of 1846, which settled the nationís boundary at the 49th parallel. The treatyís wording left unclear who owned the San Juan Islands. A crisis arose on June 15, 1859, when an American settler named Lyman Cutlar shot and killed a pig belonging to the Hudson Bay Company because it was rooting in his garden. The dispute over who really owned the island erupted and both British and American forces amassed on the tiny island. Five British Warships mounting 167 guns and carrying 2,140 troops opposed an American force of 461. A war was about to erupt over the death of a pig!
Cooler heads prevailed and a settlement was eventually reached. The island remained under joint military occupation until 1872 when Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany was asked to settle the boundary. The line was drawn through Haro Strait and San Juan became an American possession.
I tour around the island, visiting both the British and American camps, now part of the San Juan National Historic Park. I stop at Lime Kiln Point State Park on the western shore to check out the lighthouse. I walk down the path to the rocky shore and there a couple from Ohio asks me "Did you see them?" "See what?" I ask. "The whales!", they exclaim. "Oh, those whales!" I reply. A group of three killer whales entertains us for about 20 minutes as they feed off the coast known as Deadman Bay.
By noon Iím heading back to Anacortes, on another ferry. Itís so easy to travel around on these boats by motorcycle. They just move you right to the head of the line and zip you right in. No waiting in the long line of cars. Cool! I ride down Whidbey Island and stop in the tiny town of Coupeville, the center of Ebeyís Landing National Historical Reserve. The area here preserves an unbroken historical record of Puget Sound exploration from the 19th century to the present. The stamp for Ebeyís Landing is hard to find, as there are no federal facilities here, just the Island County Historical Museum. The stamp is hidden inside. But I have no problem finding the French Apple ice cream at the Hole in The Wall Ice Cream Parlor, located at 21 NW Front Street. Good stuff.
At Clinton I take my last ferry of the day across to Mukilteo and then down into Seattle. Thereís a lot of traffic here on the interstate and Iím not used to riding with so many other vehicles. Itís a little strange after being out on the open road for so long.
I decide to splurge a bit, to regroup in comfort. So I check into a nice hotel with lots of space, indoor parking, and of course a laundry room. I do my laundry for the 6th time. This is getting a little redundant. Maybe I should just turn my underwear inside out.
For dinner I head downtown to the Stars Restaurant where my dear friend Juliet Sampsonís sister Jenny works as a line cook. In 1985 I met Juliet and Jenny, with their parents and brother John, on the Island of Moorea, near Tahiti. They were on vacation and so was my family. We all hit it off. I havenít seen Jenny in 13 years, but she looks the same. Sheís lived here in Seattle for five years now, and just loves the place. Itís a lot like her hometown of San Francisco. She also enjoys working at Stars, and I can understand why. The restaurant is visually striking and the food is just as impressive.
Jenny spent four months on the road last year, traveling around the country by herself in a VW Vanagon, taking some extraordinary pictures along the way. So weíve got a lot to talk about and catch up on. Before we know it, itís four in the morning. But who cares, all I have to do is ride down to Mt. Rainier tomorrow. But oh, Iím supposed to camp again. Weíll see how that goes.
My BMW motorcycle is quiet, and thatís the way I like it. Frankly, I donít think loud pipes save anything and in fact they are the main reason why many people donít like motorcycles. Many Harley owners take off their mufflers as soon as they get the bike and put on straight pipes, making their bikes environmental nuisances. Loud pipes are the reason I couldnít ride into Baxter State Park on Day 4. There are few things on the road I find as annoying as an absurdly loud motorcycle cruising down the street.
Teresa, you can keep your loud pipes and your Harley. Have fun and stay safe. For me, I prefer the quiet purr of a well-tuned machine from the Bavarian Motor Works.
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