the Inside Passage the San Juan Islands

Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

Tuesday, May 31, 2011S.V. CAMBRIA

Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

David received an e-mail from a friend in Canada saying his band would be performing Saturday at the Pender Harbour Blues Festival.   So, with decent weather and manageable currents on our side, we decided to get motivated and move north.  But not before taking a quick look at Roche Harbor.

We left Garrison Bay at one o'clock and made the short trip to Roche so we'd have the afternoon to walk around before checking out of the US in the morning.  With little or no expectations, we were pleasantly surprised.  Unlike it's counter-part, Friday Harbor, which is busy year-round with boats, ferries, sea planes, road traffic and people, Roche is small, quiet (this time of year) and picturesque.  The waterfront is lined with simple white buildings – the general store, hotel, church – and beautiful formal gardens which were all originally part of the Tacoma and Roche Lime Works, the largest lime producers west of the Mississippi.   From the 1800s to the Great Depression, it was a flourishing industry, employing hundreds of workers who lived in the small cottages along the beach which are now rented out to tourists. Roche Harbor is, in a word, quaint.

We walked through the Wescott Bay Reserve Art & Sculpture Park where there are approximately 100 pieces on display set in a large grassy field and along a trail in the woods. Modern art isn't really our“thing” but this worked and we enjoyed strolling along the paths looking at the sculptures in the beautiful pastoral setting – at one point even seeing a fox sitting perfectly still and mistaking it for a statue until our movements scared it away.  Afterwards, we walked to the Afterglow Vista Mausoleum where the company's founder, John McMillin, and members of his family have their ashes entombed.  A strange thing to do on the surface, but the mausoleum resembles an ancient Greek ruin being overtaken by the forest and truly has to be seen to be appreciated.

All and all, it's been a great side trip to the west-side of San Juan Island through historic Garrison Bay and Roche Harbor; one which we hope to do again soon.  But it's time to move on, and tomorrow morning we'll check out of the US and cross the border into Canada where we'll stay for the next five or six months.

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