There aren’t many places in Washington that are more beautiful and relaxing than the San Juan Islands. Unfortunately there many places in Washington that are more expensive than the San Juan Islands. Round trip fare for one passenger and one small car on the ferry is about $40. Hotels are well over $100 per night. Why not save some money, leave your car at the ferry terminal, take your bike on the ferry and go camping.
On a cool summer morning I took the first ferry from Anacortes, WA to Lopez Island. For the first time ever on a WA ferry, I had an entire parking platform to myself… well… we had it to ourselves because my dog Moustache came with. I had hitched a Croozer pet trailer to the back of my bicycle and clamped my camping gear to my rack with bungee cords. Moustache was okay with the set up but only because we had done some practice trips around Seattle before he and I felt completely comfortable with the situation.[su_gmap height=”300″ address=”Lopez Island, WA”]
I had visited Orcas Island and San Juan Island previously but both times with a car. I had never been to Lopez Island before. Upon arrival I had underestimated one thing: the ferry terminal is at the bottom of a steep hill. Moustache and I were quickly initiated to the joy of bike camping. But once we crested the top of the Ferry Rd it remained relatively level until Spencer Spit State Park. The roads were empty. The pavement was smooth. And after coasting through forest roads that straighten into rectangular grids of farmland, the sweat and aches from climbing that first hill quickly became worth the work.
Spencer Spit is now one of my favorite State Parks. There are quite a few campsites for car camper that are big and spacious, be we went with the walk-in only campsites that are small, cheap, secluded and perfect for loners like Moustache and me. After the early start, the long drive to Anacortes and the steep bike ride to Spencer Spit, it was time for a quick snooze. And snooze we did. It was tough to leave the relaxing bubble inside the tent, but we didn’t come to Lopez Island to sleep.
The first order of business was to explore the shoreline. We made our way through the needle covered paths that wind down from the campground and spit you out onto a rocky shore covered in driftwood, driftwood that is now covered in Moustache’s urine. This is the point when I noticed the luckily souls who had grabbed the waterfront campsites. And those same luckily souls have their sailboats sitting in the harbor. Someday Moustache, Someday.
After soaking up the little bit of sun breaking through the overcast sky we decided to get back on the road to explore the “town” of Lopez Island. The “city center” is across the island from Spencer Spit and is home to… stuff? Honestly it was so unmemorable I can’t remember what it had to offer. I think there was a bank. There was a probably a small grocery store. There might have been a few boutique shops. And I’m sure there are a couple restaurants there as well. If isn’t abundantly clear, we didn’t stop. We just kept peddling through.
I didn’t come all this way to go shopping or to dine in restaurants. So after looping around Lopez Island for a bit we found ourselves back at Spencer Spit. And we stayed there for the rest of the trip. The beautiful thing about the San Juan Islands is the opportunity to feel so separated from the mainstream world, despite being on an island in between to major cities on the west coast of North America.
Leaving my car behind made the escape from reality that much more surreal.