Friday, April 03, 2009

Lopez Island Landings

This time of year, when the sky turns blue, you need to take to the air. We headed for the airport and got 997 out of her hanger. She was excited about another chance to head out and explore Washington's nearby San Juan Islands. It isn't good for pilots or airplanes to sit on the ground too long. Both can get "rusty."

We've flown over Lopez Island several times, and last month Wayne made a reconnaissance visit. Today, we both returned for a hike and dinner. Most people arrive on Lopez by Washington State Ferry or boat, but you can also arrive by air. If you have a plane of your own, you can land at the 2904' runway at the Lopez Island Airport (S31). It is carved out of the trees, so be sure to watch density altitude and winds. You can also arrive by air using Kenmore Air from the Seattle area or San Juan Airlines from Bellingham or Anacortes.

Lopez is the most rural of the San Juan Islands. Leaving the airport, you walk by pastures dotted with cows. This time of year, they are shared by very vocal Canadian Geese. Forested areas shade your walk until you head downhill to Fisherman Bay. Because there are no taxis on Lopez, we needed to walk.

We opted to stop at the Galley Restaurant on the bay rather than walk all the way into Lopez Village (about 4 miles). If you're not flying out the same day, they have a great pub with entertainment. We had the crab wonton appetizer and the special of the day, a seafood rich Coquille St. Jacques. Everything was superb. The 2 mile walk is a little harder on the way back, but the hills aren't too bad. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!

If you plan to stay the night, there's a motel and several bed and breakfasts. Lopez Village is the hub of activity, but the rural nature draws you away to enjoy it's parks and vistas. Summer is busy and crowded. But why don't you try it like we did on a warm Spring day. -- Margy

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