Lopez Island – San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands, famous here in the Northwest and beyond as a haven for boaters, those seeking solitude, and hippies. Surprisingly enough, neither Jim nor I had ever traveled there before. We were told the week of July 4th was not the optimal time to to travel to the islands, with stories of 10 hour waits for the ferries and overcrowded campgrounds but we decided to take the chance.

Eager to be on the road we headed north after work on Friday. Maddy, exhausted from a week of supervising our packing, couldn’t even stay awake for the rush hour traffic out of Portland!

With limited options in our price actually near Anacortes, site of the ferry departure, we had booked the Marriott Townehouse Suites in nearby Mukilteo for just $44/night. We’d stayed at another of their properties in Bend in March for Jim’s birthday so knew what we’d be getting and it made for a restful first night of vacation…. cable TV and pizza delivery. NOT camping but a welcome respite after a long drive from Portland. There aren’t a lot of benefits left in the travel industry but bless Marriott for their certificate program! Our journey began on Lopez Island, one of the smaller islands of the archipelago. Fabled as being the friendliest island, Lopez did not disappoint! Months earlier we had booked a beachfront site at Odlin County Park. The campground is basic… seven beachfront sites with a dozen or so more scattered throughout the surrounding forest. The park employees were so casual they seemed nearly catatonic and we soon found out that Lopez residents lived up to their reputation of being extremely friendly; the literature doesn’t lie, they DO  wave at every passing car and biker. Although the day was a bit grey and dreary, the view from our site was overwhelming. Set directly on the beach, with uninterrupted views of the bay and some of the surrounding islands. 1 mile from the ferry and 3 miles from town, it was also an ideal location for sightseeing. This was the view that greeted us throughout the morning. Days were spent biking, long walks on the beach, and enjoying meeting fellow travelers. We had been sorely in need of a holiday to recharge our batteries and Lopez was the perfect spot for it. With our current situation of only two weeks of vacation per year, we’re finding it difficult to appreciate our life occasionally and spending several days doing almost nothing was exactly what we were looking for. Lopez is the flattest of the San Juan islands, making it an excellent destination for bikers and made for an easy trip into town for new tires for Jim’s bike. Unfortunately, in our time on Lopez, the weather was mostly overcast but we did have one day of extraordinary sunshine. Our cold bones soaked up the sun which made it even harder to wake up in the middle of the night to one of the worst rainstorms we’ve ever encountered! Packing up in the rain we said goodbye to new friends and we headed off to Orcas island for the remainder of the week, but we will certainly be back to Lopez Island and Odlin State Park!

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