Friday, May 11, 2007

San Juan Island Flying Adventure

We picked a nice spring day to fly from Bellingham to Friday Harbor Airport (KFHR) on San Juan Island. We hadn’t been to Friday Harbor for many years, so we thought it was about time to return for a visit.

When we landed at the airport we were pleasantly surprised with the improvements. Services, fuel and the charter terminal are on the west side of the runway. If you are on an international flight plan, you can arrange for customs and US entry clearance. Transient parking is on the northeast corner. There are individual paved pads for both singles and twins. From here, it is a short walk to the town and the marina. If you want to stay overnight, the fee is $12.00. Otherwise, it is free.

Don’t have an airplane? Take San Juan Airlines from Bellingham, Seattle or Anacortes. You can also get there by ferry from Anacortes. Walk on or bring your car. Have a boat? The town is right next to the ferry terminal and marina. It couldn’t be easier.

We wanted to see more of the island so we rented bikes from Island Bicycles. Our first stop was lunch. There were lots of places to choose from, but we picked Downriggers Restaurant overlooking the marina for a Caesar salad and fried oysters.

We then took Roche Harbor Road out of town. It is about 10 miles to the other end of the island, but the road has mostly rolling hills that can be ridden up and coasted down. Along the way you will pass Lakedale Resort with a lodge, cabins and lakeside camping. On previous trips, this is where we camped. The road passes through lush green pastures and timbered properties. One unusual sight is Mona the camel. A woman who grew up in Egypt wanted a camel, so Mona has retired from a petting zoo to live with her.

At the end of the road is Roche Harbor Resort with its own private airport (WA09). Prior permission is required. A large marina awaits the summer rush of local and Canadian cruisers. The Resort has lodging, restaurants and a small store.

This was our first bike ride of the season. We took several rest stops along the way, but when we got to Roche Harbor our legs (and rear-ends) were a little sore and tired. Rather than turn around and ride back, we called San Juan Taxi (also known as Bob’s Taxi) at 360-378-3550. They dispatched their van to pick up two weary travelers and both of their bikes. The service was greatly appreciated.

Now that flying (and driving) weather is nice, go to Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands for a visit. If you go now through June (except for Memorial Day weekend) you will find good weather but fewer crowds. And that’s the way we like it. -- Margy

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