We Bicycle Camp San Juan Islands


Preparing to set up camp
Don and Jeanne setting up camp

On August 1 - 5 we went bicycle camping with our dear friends Don and Jeanne Jovag. They stayed the prior night at our house and the next morning we got up early and headed for the Anacortes ferry. Don and Jeanne found a parking place near the terminal, unloaded their tandem bicycle, and then wheeled it onto the ferry. We drove our car onto the ferry with our two single bikes and all our camping supplies. After about a 50-minute trip, we unloaded from the ferry at Lopez Island and headed for Odlin County Park where we had previously reserved a "bicycle camp site". This place was a little less than two miles from the ferry dock, but we managed to check in just before Don and Jeanne arrived on their tandem. Our camping site was up the end of a road near the beach and then about another 100 yards up a trail. We parked our car temporarily at the end of the road and then made several trips back and forth carrying our gear to the campsite. After pitching our tents and settling in, we then decided to hop in our car and get a few food supplies. We ended up at Fisherman's Bay where we found a grocery store and bought what we needed. We settled into our camp and had a fine steak dinner that evening cooked on the barbecue. As darkness settled in we all retired to our tents and a quiet slumber ensued.

Our view of ferry boats from camp

The next day, we got into our riding clothes and headed out toward Fisherman's Bay. Riding in the San Juan Islands is really great. The local residents are quite friendly and they are used to having bicycle riders on their back roads. When cars meet you on this island the drivers always give a friendly wave and we waved back in return. This particular island is popular with cyclists because it is the f latest of all the islands. We cycled past the grocery store where we had been yesterday and then traveled in a clockwise direction around the bay to where there was a stretch of road where the road and a beach separated the bay from the waters that surrounds the island. This was a real pleasant section to ride on as the views on both sides of the road were beautiful, the sun was out, and there was just a slight breeze. We then back tracked part of our route and returned to our campsite after about 15 miles of riding. We then quickly grabbed some clean clothes, jumped into the car and drove back to Fisherman's Bay where there is a public shower located in the middle of the village. There was no line up for the shower, so we were all able to quickly get back to clean bodies. On the way back to the campsite we stopped at the Lopez Island vineyard and winery where we sampled their selection of fine wines and purchased bottles of those that appealed to our taste.

Having lunch at Roche Harbor
Riding ferry to San Juan Island
Jeanne and Diana
Don repairing tire at Roche Harbor

The next day, we again got into our riding clothes, had breakfast, and then rode our bikes to the ferry and headed for big San Juan Island and Friday Harbor. After arriving at the island, we then cycled to Roche Harbor. Don and Jeanne set the pace on their tandem and we followed closely behind their rear wheel making good time over the ten miles. About a 1/4 mile before reaching Roche, Diana started to get a flat tire and she ended by walking her bike the last few 100 yards. The thing that is really nice about riding with these great friends is that they are total bicycle experts, having recently owned Stanwood Velo Sports bicycle shop, and Don is an exceptional bicycle mechanic. Guess whom patched Diana's tire and put her bicycle back to riding order with a few additional adjustments? We then did lunch out on the marina pier under an umbrella-covered table in the warm sunshine with a backdrop of busy boating activity and luxury yachts to look at. After strolling one of the long piers and perusing the various yachts, we then got back on our bikes and headed back to Friday Harbor at a clip that must have averaged 18 to 20 miles an hour. At times, Dave needed to slow down a bit as he carefully monitored his heart condition (see the page regarding his Angiogram Procedure), but he did surprisingly well in maintaining the pace most of the time. After arriving at Friday Harbor, the ferry had not yet arrived, so a stop was made at the popular ice cream shop where we all enjoyed delicious ice cream cones. Later, we had a restful ferry ride back to Lopez Island and then had a short bicycle ride back to the campground. After arriving at the campground, we again took the car and headed to the public shower at Fisherman's Bay. And then later in the evening, we took a stroll through the campground and down to the beach where we enjoyed the peaceful scenery, the salt air, and watched children catching fish from a small dock that jutted into the water.

Hiking trail to Shark Reef
Jeanne, Don, and Diana at Shark Reef

The next day, we again donned our riding clothes and headed out south down the island for a 30 mile round trip jaunt. We stopped briefly at Fisherman's Bay to buy some sandwiches to take with us, and after a few more miles we reached the trail-head to Shark Reef. Here we found many bicycles parked, including some from commercial tour groups. We parked our bikes and then headed down the half-mile long trail. It was not long before the thick woods opened up into the sweeping vista of San Juan Channel. This is an area of fast running tidal water, which separates Lopez from San Juan Island and overlooks American Camp and Cattle Point at the south end of that island. Below and around us at this overlook were some rugged rocks where we found a comfortable place to sit and enjoy the view. It was not long, however, before we were off again on our bikes and continued south to Agate Beach near the southwest end of the island. Here we found a picnic table with a great view and proceeded to eat our sandwiches as a light rain started to fall. After finding shelter under a tree for a few minutes, we decided that the rain was going to stay and that we would just "enjoy" the rain on our bikes. We took a route back to our campground that traversed the middle of the island and later pulled into camp thoroughly wet with sun just beginning to appear. We took off our wet clothes and draped them around our camp area in hopes that they would dry in the sun. We then headed out for our needed showers. Later in the evening, we headed to dinner at Fisherman's Bay where we found a great restaurant at the marina, and where we indulged ourselves in some great food, excellent music from a pianist, and good conversation with our dear friends. We concluded that the 65 some miles we rode during this bicycle trip was a perfect outing for us and that we needed to consider making this an annual event.

That night, we awoke to the sound of rain on our tent. At morning light, we noted that the sound had tapered off, but as soon as we got up the rain had started up again. Rather than trying to make breakfast in camp, we again decided to head for Fisherman's Bay where we found a cafe and dined on french toast. After arriving back in camp we hurriedly took down the wet tents, packed our gear in the car, and then set out for the ferry. Don and Jeanne climbed on their tandem and met us there. It was not a pretty sight as we were all quite wet, especially Don and Jeanne, even though we had some rain gear. This particular day seemed like a typical day in November, even though it was the first part of August. Later, after the ferry ride, we stopped at a country inn outside of Anacortes for a warm lunch. Despite the rain on this day, we agreed that we had a wonderful few days and we would do it again someday (or make it a yearly event); perhaps without having the luxury of the car.


Note: All photos on this site are Copyright © 2006 - 2012 by David Schindele