Puget Sound is a huge tidal basin with 450 islands at low tide, sheltered by Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and Canada’s Vancouver Island. The Washington State Ferry that serves the islands, including a stop in Canada, is the largest ferry system in the world. It is extremely efficient and completely free for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling between islands.
Lopez Island, more agricultural and less hilly than San Juan and Orcas Islands, is an angler and sailor paradise, not to mention forager, farmer, kayaker, and bicyclist heaven. As a San Francisco bicyclist I was very impressed at the drivers on Lopez Island. They all “shared the road” with bicyclists. They also wave…at each other….at strangers….every car….every contact. Usually a laconic one finger salute (NOT THAT one finger salute, the index finger kind!) but they do it at every contact with bikers, drivers, and bicyclists.
After biking to Spencer Spit, we tried to join a wild food foraging class taught by the Northern Cascade Institute this exceptionally low tide weekend, but they were too full. We then had a good excuse for sitting at the water’s edge watching a HUGE bald eagle grabbing lunch out of the water in front of us. Too bad I was too slow to get him on camera. We contented ourselves with tennis and a visit to the farmer’s market, where there were four week old goats to pet. We got to see two young musicians we had met the night before at a chamber music concert, perform a variety of music on their violins. The school system is small on the Island. Only 18 students attended graduation this year, but over 600 members of the Island community attended the graduation. Now that is a show of support!
Lopez is also quite literary. The designated, waving honoree in the lead car in the 4th of July parade is NOT the mayor, but the Librarian. The Library is a beautifully renovated building with fireplaces and lots of natural light; it has won the NY Times and Publisher’s World awards for programming several times in the last ten years. Two well known authors (Garth Stein and Pam Houston) are giving readings at the Library this summer, and one of my book group’s favorite writers, Ruth Oseki, will read at the local bookstore next month.
We found wonderful art and sculpture in little studios all over the Island. Driftwood art and other “found materials art” is the basis of much of the public art. One local had filled the beach in front of her house with animals and birds (see feature image). We also attended an early music concert in a local church featuring instruments from Beethoven’s era and performance by three members of the Victoria Symphony orchestra traveling around to small venues performing chamber music this summer.
Add in beautiful sunsets, rain forests with moss and fern for gorgeous hikes, an Amish farmer plowing his fields with draft horses, and small town/Island charm, and you have a recipe for a good fantasy about moving here. In fact, we met at least 10 couples here looking at property to create a summer home.