Sunday, September 02, 2007

2007 Vacation with friends - Part 5

Thursday, July 5, 2007. Esprit Heestand, my field assistant for the South Africa trip in 2006, was out at Friday Harbor for much of the summer doing a course in marine biology. When she found out that the Laidlers were going to be with us in Seattle, she asked if we could come out to the San Juan islands to visit her at Friday harbor. Steve and I hadn't been out there, and the Laidlers were keen to see that area, so we headed up to Anacortes early in the morning to catch the ferry.

Lucky for us that there was an unscheduled ferry going out just after we arrived at the terminal, so we gained a couple of extra hours to spend out on the island with Esprit.

The ferries that run out to the islands are pretty large, carrying cars and passengers. They also carry commercial trucks (18 wheelers). The trip to Friday harbor takes about an hour from Anacortes.

Dennis and Gigi were up on the observation deck while Steve and I were on the platform at the front of the ferry. It's windy right there.

The views from there are pretty amazing.

From the back of the ferry you see the wake and a view of Mt. Baker on the horizon.

Dennis, Gigi and Steve as we approach Friday Harbor.

The approach to Friday Harbor. . .

and the ferry terminal.

Ready to dock.

Wow! The marina is pretty spectacular with all the sailboats.

Esprit borrowed one of the school's row boats to come and fetch us. The research station was about a mile away from the marina.

Dennis was pretty happy about the row boat - he insisted on taking the oars. He spent a lot of time on the water when he was growing up in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe in current times).

Row boats aren't very friendly in terms of being able to see where you're going, but Dennis didn't have too much trouble keeping us on course.

Wow! What a nice day we had on the water.

That's a better view of Mt. Baker.

The next ferry coming in to Friday Harbor.

The dock at the marine biology field station. That's the research boat that takes students out to sea.

Here's where Esprit spent a lot of time this summer. She learned about phyla of marine invertebrates. The students study the life cycles of different organisms and culture them in this lab.

Esprit was very enthusiastic about explaining things to us.

This was her work station for the summer course.

The whole setup brought back a lot of memories for Dennis during his zoological studies at 'varsity.

Esprit took us up a trail that started on the campus grounds. The forest is second growth, but maturing here.

A different vantage point of the research station's pier.

It's not too bad a view from campus. . .

After our tour of campus and the surrounding area, we climbed back into the row boat and went back to the marina.

While we were out on the water a seaplane landed in the harbor.

I enjoyed this view of the marina. It was very peaceful being rowed across the harbor. Of course, we had perfect weather and conditions for a leisurely row.

I can imagine the fun people have in doing the commute out to the islands by sailboat.

We still had a couple of hours before we had to get back on the ferry to return to the mainland so we took a walking tour of the main roads of Friday Harbor. This house was sure decked out for the 4th of July holiday.

We arrived at the local art gallery after it had closed, but the display visible through the windows sure looked interesting.

The old elm tree in the garden certainly was interesting.

This sign tells you a bit about the tree.

Friday harbor is a dog-friendly town. . .

The main road is full of specialty shops.

Here's another view of that street.

Dennis liked these Harleys.

One of the many, many souvenir T-shirts available in Friday Harbor. Gigi wanted to find one of these for Chris, but they didn't have any in adult sizes.

The sign for this store certainly was interesting.

All good things must eventually come to an end and so we said goodbye to Esprit.

Back to the ferry for another hour's ride. We spent a big chunk of the ride up front looking for sea birds. We saw tufted puffins, rhinoceros auklets, and lots of gulls and terns.

We watched the cars being parked on deck. Some of the drivers spend the entire ride in their car - that seems kind of weird to me.

It's much more pleasant to be out in the open where you can see the scenery. It did get a bit cold up there when the sun started to set, though.

The scenery was worth a bit of chill - especially when we started seeing the interesting birds.

Even the other ferries are interesting sites against the backdrop of the San Juan Islands.

Last scenery shot before the light faded. I was ready to go inside for a cup of coffee anyway - brrr!

Not as nice of scenery as outside, but it was much, much warmer inside.

What a fun day!

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