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Planning SJI's stay in May

Stevens Point...
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Planning SJI's stay in May

We are coming to the ONP and SJI in May. I have ONP planned out but struggling a bit with the timeline for SJI. We are leaving ONP on Tues May 14th and heading up to SJI for two nights (14 and 15th) Then we are planning to head to Orcas Island on Thurs May16th. We have a 7a flight out of Seattle on Sat May 18. Should we spend the night of the 16th on Orcas and then check out Whidbey on our way back down to Seattle on the 17th, or should we try to get over to Whidbey on the evening of the 16th and then spend some time in Seattle?

Port Townsend...
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1. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

I'd spend Thursday night on Orcas. As long as you're out there you might as well enjoy as much as possible.

Stevens Point...
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2. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

What would u during the day on Fri? We will spend all day Thurs on orcas then, would u spend Fri on whidbey or in Seattle?

Port Townsend...
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3. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

I would make my way to Seattle via Whidbey. It's up to you how much time to spend in Seattle. I would spend the Friday night, eventually, in Seattle so that you can go to the airport in the morning.

Friday Harbor...
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4. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

I suppose it all depends on what you'd like to see.... Seattle has the science center, aquarium, the music project place, and other big city offerings. I'd see the most of the islands with my time personally.

Indian Harbour...
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5. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

Normally if you tour the ONP and go to the SJI, you will want to take the ferry from Port Townsend. If you are planning on taking the Port Townsend - Coupeville ferry you should make reservations.

https:/…SailingSchedule.aspx

You will be on Whidbey Island when you get off the ferry and can hit old Coupeville and then drive right over Deception Pass (the big draw on the island) on your way to Anacortes. There is also a nice state park near the pass where you can get down to the water. I expect you will need the Discovery pass in order to park at the park (If you don't already have it). It's $10 per day or $30 per year. If you are going to Orcas you will no doubt be driving up to Mt Constitution which also requires the Discovery pass. (Don't just do the mountain. Deception Pass park is also a nice short hike to a beautiful secluded beach.) On SJI, i expect Lime Kiln also needs it so it might be worth it to get the yearly pass. If you buy it from the rangers you don't have to pay the $5 surcharge. Anyway, Whidbey is not that big so you will have seen most of the good parts on your way to Anacortes so stay the night on Orcas and then catch the 8:50 to Anacortes. That will allow you time to visit Pike Place in Seattle and see the Space Needle which are the two famous Seattle landmarks. (You should also make a small detour to see the Fremont Troll. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fremont_Troll )

No reservations at Anacortes. Best to get there an hour early. We usually get there about supper time so we stop at the Safeway in Anacortes (on the right at the light on Commercial where the road to the ferry makes a left turn) and get takeout and eat in the car while we wait for the ferry. The ferry ride is one of the best parts of visiting the islands so you want it to still be daylight when you take it so I'd try and get the 6 PM ferry at the latest.

Gas on the islands is about $1 more per gallon so fill up before you get on the ferry. Safeway has a gas station across the street from the store which is usually a bit cheaper than the 7-11 which is the last gas before the ferry.

I live on Orcas so if you have any other questions let me know. I'm leaving to go to a wedding the day you get to Orcas so won't be around or I'd offer to show you some of the lesser known sites.

PS If you get over to the ocean side of the Olympics, Second Beach (near La Push) is really neat tho it's a bit of a hike from the parking area.

Stevens Point...
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6. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

Wow, that was great information thank you. Here is my plan for SJI's: I have a 630a reservation on Tues May 14 from PT to Coupeville (looks like they are having construction and we have to be there really early according to ferry schedule), once we get to Coupeville I thought we would get a big breakfast (any good suggestions?) Then drive up to Deception pass and go through the park, and be to the ferry landing by 830 to catch the 930 ferry to SJI. We are spending 2 days on SJI (extended whale watch tour with Maya Whale tours, then heading over to Orcas on Thurs am to spend the day/ night. We are debating if we should make stops at Lopez? Shaw? islands to drive around before hitting the final ferry back to Anacortes then back to Seattle fri night.

San Juan Island...
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7. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

As I said before to you in another thread when you asked about the morning ferry schedules you only have somewhat over an hour of time to drive from the Coupeville ferry terminal to the Anacortes terminal if you are going for the 9:30 am ferry really as normally one has to wait about an hour in advance at the ferry loading area to be assured of getting a place on the ferry for your car. You could not safely have breakfast in Coupeville after your ferry docks at 7:15 then has to unload all the cars and you then have the drive all the way to the Anacortes ferry and wait there in the large lot especially if you want to stop even briefly at Deception Pass Park.

If you want to stop at Deception Pass at all also you should just plan on eating at the Anacortes terminal where there is a little cafe inside the old terminal their daily operating hours are from 7:00am - 6:00pm and on Friday's they are open until 9:00pm. Also on the ferry themselves the galley serving food is open beginning on Sunday, March 24 through Saturday June 15 2013,the galley hours on all vessels operating in the San Juan Islands will be as follows: #1 Vessel: Sat.-Thurs. 6:00am-2:30pm. Friday: 6:00am-8:00pm #2 Vessel: Mon.-Sat. 8:00am-1:30pm

Sunday: 8:00am-3:30pm #3 Vessel: Daily 10:00am-5:00pm

Indian Harbour...
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8. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

It's about an hour to the Anacortes ferry from the time the ferry lands you in Coupeville which should be about 7 AM but you have to add time to unload. If you plan to be there by 8:30 you would need to really rush breakfast and skip the park. Might have time to park right after the bridge and walk back to look over at the pass but that's about all.

I've never been to Coupeville early enough for breakfast. I think we've only eaten at Toby's and they are not open for breakfast. I think the locals probably eat at Coupeville Coffee and Bistro 200 S. Main Street Coupeville, WA 98239 but it's out west of 20 and won't have much atmosphere. (The picture on Trip Advisor for Coupeville Coffee House which is not the same place actually shows Kim's Cafe. Not sure if Kim's is open for breakfast. but it might be more what you are looking for. ) I'd park the car in the ferry lane in Port Townsend then walk a block and pick up some bakery items and coffee and eat on the ferry if you can find something open that early. Cheapest way to get a waterfront view. There is also a little cafe right near where the ferry lets you off. Keystone Cafe. Otherwise I guess you will have to just drive into Coupeville and east to the water and cruise Front St. and see what's open. (That's the historic district so expect to pay tourist prices.)

I'm not real fond of the food at the Anacortes ferry terminal and the food on the ferry is pretty expensive. I'm sure the bakeries would be open in Anacortes and I'd quickly grab something and eat in the ferry line. If you need something to do while waiting, get out of the car and go to the right. There are little paths you can follow and a couple of them (but not all) will let you get down to the beach. If you walk to the right (and the tide is out enough) you will eventually come to a little boardwalk which takes you over the marsh.

I wouldn't bother with Shaw. Not much there other than the only beach in the islands which gets warm enough to swim in the ocean. (But only just when the tide comes in and only in the summer and only for about an hour each day. The sun heats the sands and then the sands heat the water as the tide comes in.) Lopez is worth a stop but most of the really good sites are a bit of a drive. Around the bay from "downtown" is the Fisherman Bay Spit Preserve which is nice. I really like Sharks Reef. A short walk through the woods to the water. Lot's of tide pools with hermit crabs and other critters then if you walk to the left to the edge of the park you can see the seals on their little island. (Binoculars are helpful.) Spencer Spit State Park is sort of neat. It's a little spit of sand that sticks out into the water. Popular place for picnics and during the summer a lot of boats stop there. The best spot and prettiest spot on the island is one that is not listed on Trip Advisor. It's called Watmough Bay. Absolutely beautiful beach with high bluffs on each side. See http://www.lopezisland.com/parks.htm for how to get to Watmough and the other sites. One more stop of interest is their version of the Exchange. On Fisherman Bay Rd. next to the County Road shed. Open Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 12:00 to 4:00 PM. Also referred to as 'the Dump', 'Neal's Mall', 'Take it or Leave It' near Lopez Village.) You park on the side of the main road and walk in. On your left is a large metal roofed structure. This is where you bring stuff that is too good to throw away. Unless it's changed since I was there last, if you see something you like you can just take it. Good place to pick up used books. We used to have a similar setup here on Orcas called the Exchange but it burned down a month or two ago and hasn't been rebuilt yet.

Come to think of it, if you miss the 9:30 ferry you could get the 10:40 to Lopez.. Tour Lopez a bit and catch the 1:05 to Friday Harbor which should get you there by 2. You would have to pay for both the Anacortes to Lopez and Lopez to Friday Harbor rides. Between the islands ferries almost never sell out so you only need to be there about 15-20 minutes before sailing.

Where are you staying on Orcas?

Stevens Point...
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9. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

Yeah, I think we will skip Deception Pass on the way to SJI's and catch it on the way down to Seattle during the day Friday. We will try to see if there is a bakery open early in PT. I really want to hit the 930 ferry to SJI as the ferry docks around 1045? in Friday Harbor. That only gives us about a day and a half on SJI and good chunk of the next day is dedicated to a longer whale watch/ boat tour.

I currently have reservations at the Rosario for our Orcas overnight.

Indian Harbour...
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10. Re: Planning SJI's stay in May

I expect you will have enough time to park after you cross the bridge and walk back and check out the pass and take a few pictures. That's all we've ever done. If you hit it on the way back it's faster to go back north and take 20 over to I-5. Going south you have to wait for the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry which can be a long wait even tho they go every 30 minutes. They don't have a large parking area in Clinton. Instead they have you line up on one side of the street but you have to leave a gap at the end of each block and people have been known to take advantage of the gap and butt in. If you do take the Clinton ferry take the northern route when you get to the other side. It takes you right by the Boeing factory and usually they have the doors open to the big hangers and you can see them working.

One warning. When you get in the ferry line to come to Orcas from Friday Harbor, be sure and read the sign at the entrance and get in the correct lane. If I remember correctly Orcas is around lane 9 -11. When you get off the ferry you (and most everyone else) will turn left. Stay on the main road until you get to the right turn to Eastsound. Take the turn in to Eastsound. That's Indian Island on the right. At really low tides you can walk out to it without getting wet. At the stop sign go straight. You will go down a hill and then back up. (There's a small parking area on your left where you can park if you want to check out the beach.) At the top of the hill turn right at the stop sign. (this saves you a couple of minutes over the truck route.) Follow the road. When the speed limit drops to 25 mph start looking for the Rosario turnoff. It's the next one after Tomihi. It's marked with a big wooden sign so shouldn't be a problem to find but if you get to the park's gateway arch you have gone too far.

Make sure you tour the mansion at Rosario. It's free and it's pretty neat. It will mean a bit more to you after you have been up to Mt. Constitution. There is a display in the lookout tower that explains Moran's role in the park (and how he got to Orcas). They used to have a 360 view from the lookout tower but the trees have grown up on the west side. Most days you can see Mt Baker. On really clear days you can see Mt. Rainier. (There is a webcam http://friendsofmoran.com/webcam Good idea to check it before you drive up to the top. Really frustrating if it's fogged in.) There is a trail that starts behind the bathroom that takes you out to a ridge walk which is quite nice. It's a one way trail so you have to come back the same way unless you take the fork to Cold Spring and then walk back up the road. Stop in and checkout the Summit Learning Center. It just opened last year. It's part gift shop and part nature exhibit. (I've got to get up there as soon as the road opens to rework two of the interactive exhibits.)

To see the view to the west the best spot is a small parking area on your way down. It's where the road makes a sharp left. Park on the right. I think it's a better view than from the top. We like to take visitors up there and picnic. You can usually see an eagle or two flying around.

Most people stop at Mountain Lake and like to take pictures of the island on an island. It's about 4 miles around the lake so would probably take too much time to do the whole thing. If you drive past the first parking area there is a one lane road that continues on. You can drive down to a second parking area where there is a picnic table and a couple of camp sites. That's the end of the road but I think you can see the island from there.

Another must see is Cascade Falls. Pretty but not Niagara. The parking area on the road up the mountain is the best place to stop. Less altitude change than climbing up from the main road.

If you go through the park you will come to the town of Olga. If you go into town there is a dock you can walk out on. If you turn left instead of going into town the road will go down a hill and cross a bridge then make a sharp left turn. If you stop where E J Young road cuts off and look out over Buck Bay you will see one tree on your left that leans out. Most mornings and evenings there is a Bald Eagle (or two) sitting in the tree. If you see him (them) you can drive down E J young to mailbox 371 and stop and get a closer view. (I walk the dog down E J Young every morning and evening and usually there is one there.)

Continuing on the main road you will come to the Obstruction Pass turnoff. If you turn there and keep your eyes open you will find the entrance to Obstruction Pass park on your right. (Where the main road makes a sharp left) It's about a mile of dirt road to the parking area. Then a short hike to a really pretty beach. (Take the right fork - the left one goes to the same place but goes over a hill to get there.) Pay attention when you get to the beach and look back the way you came so you will know how to get back.

Back on the road if you keep going south you get to Lieberhaven which is where the road essentially ends. There is a public dock and parking area.

Going north you get back to the main road. Turn right and go a few miles to Doe Bay resort. Park and walk down to the beach. It's a very pretty setting. There is also a vegetarian restaurant which isn't bad.

There is nothing much past Doe Bay worth spending any time on.

Going back into town if you stay on the main road you will eventually comes to North Beach road. You can turn in there and drive to the end. There's a public beach and a small amount of parking. Another photo op.

On your way out of town you will see some stainless steel mobiles hanging in the trees. If you turn right and go up the hill the artist has a whole yard full of the things. If he is open you can walk among them for free.

When you get up to the Crow Valley road turn off if you look to the left you will see a small road called Fowler's way. Turn down it and park at the gate and walk the rest of the way to the water. This is the Judd Cove preserve complete with restored Lime Kiln. (In much better shape than those on SJI.) Another very pretty spot and usually you will be the only ones there. There is a short loop trail that takes you up the hill to the right and past the old quarry.

Coming back to Crow Valley road turn off, you can go down it. It takes about 15 minutes to get to the water then you turn right and the road follows the water for a while. Very pretty but the driver does not get to look at the view as the road is very twisty and there is no guard rail. When you get to Deer Harbor it's time to turn around.

If anyone in your group is interested in Model A Fords: On the main road going back to the ferry on the left you will come to Indralaya Rd. If you turn left and then turn into first driveway on the left the lady who lives there has a whole barn of Model A's for sale. Her husband collected them but now he can't drive.

Starting to ramble so I'll stop now.