Friday Harbor

The sea sloshed against the ship’s sides as the ferry weaved in and out of the heavy criss-crossed waves. I stared through the window for a glimpse or a peek of a whale, but the glass steamed from the mist. Someone shouted that a Bald eagle nested in a tree across the way, but the gloom covered it from my sight. I wondered if I had made the right choice for my weekend vacation. I had never been to Friday Harbor and I had wanted to experience the sight of one of the magnificent sea beasts. To my disappointment, the whale search was postponed because of the fog until the afternoon.

As the Victoria Clipper eased into the harbor, I wondered what to do with my extra time and the burden of carrying my luggage. The captain made my day by storing my luggage for me. I strolled up the hillside, expecting to find fanciful shops, but everywhere I turned was a place to eat. I had already eaten aboard the ship. I needed something to occupy my time for two hours.

After walking a spell, I finally found a few shops that engaged my interest. A shop. painted in bright colors, beckoned me inside. I found a long-sleeved shirt with a picture of a fox on it that my daughter would love. The material felt softer than a cat’s paw. I frowned after turning over the price tag. A hundred and six dollars for a shirt was outrageous! Everything else in that shop was just as expensive and I walked out. It wasn’t that I didn’t have the cash, but why waste it?

I dashed across the street and entered the Island Studio. Beautiful pieces made from glass into trinkets, vases, and paintings amazed my eyes. Then I trekked to the back of the shop and met an elderly man, with a wry smile, that waved me outside to his unusual garden. Plants grew out of old telephones, a giraffe statue stood in the center of geraniums, glass globes paraded through stalks of snapdragons, old car parts twisted into fountains, hyssops popped out of old metal springs, and mermaid figurines coiled out of cochlea shells. The old man watched the expressions cross my face and hooted with laughter. I thanked him for sharing his work of art with me, before I headed out the door.

The sun had come out and I hurried back to the waterfront. The captain informed his passengers that the whale hotline had spotted a few humpback whales. I had expected to see orcas, but I was told they were feeding on salmon near some bay. The ship romped through the strait and we arrived in time to see a humpback plunge sideways into the choppy, gray sea. A naturalist on board announced that humpbacks dive for a twenty minute span. Everyone waited with their cameras ready, but when the whale surfaced, I found it hard to steady the camera and hang on at the same time. Over and over I tried to get a decent shot, but nothing worked out and I gave up. I decided the memory of it was the best part. How often does anyone get a sight of a humpback? At the end of the whale tour, my shuttle and luggage awaited me.

I stayed at the Best Western Hotel, located atop the hill from the marina. Yes, there were plenty of bed and breakfast places, but I didn’t want to interrupt someone else’s life with my coming and going. The Best Western served a delicious free continental breakfast and had a Jacuzzi on
sight. I had dinner at their Mexican restaurant. Later, I ventured outside to the Jacuzzi and relaxed in its warmth. Various birds flinted from tree to tree and kept me entertained with their song.

The next day, I decided to go for a walk and I found out the San Juan Museum was located across the street from my hotel. A bell, the size of the Liberty, guided the pathway to the entrance. The museum reflected days of old with its 1880’s style charm. Pinafore curtains graced the windows and antique knick-knacks lined the window sills.

I wandered the neighborhood and noticed the architecture of old buildings, including the old fire station. A house, with a window in the shape of a tree, amazed me. I stumbled upon an old toy shop, jewelry stores, and an unusual art store. By the time I finished browsing, the Whale Museum had opened. It was worth the wait. Displays of history, videos, and whale skeletons amazed my eyes. I picked up a few souvenirs from the gift shop before I left the museum.

My stomach implored me to follow my nose and locate some food. Several choices awaited me from hamburgers, sweets, ice cream, a sandwich shop, and fish and chips. I opted for a burger since the place was less crowded, even though I craved fish and chips. I took my lunch to the waterfront
and sat by the dock. This way I had a place in line for the tour back to Seattle and I could enjoy the view as well as the brief sunshine.

Finally, the captain boarded the passengers, one by one, onto the ship. I slid into a booth near the window. After everyone was aboard, the ship took off. When the ship reached mid-sound, the naturalist called out for everyone to glance out their windows. The captain circled a small island where sea lions and seals sunbathed so everyone could get a good look. I wondered what these creatures thought of us humans snapping and clicking our cameras and smart phones. After a few minutes, the ship left the island and continued on its route. Out of the blue water appeared a rock island covered in a dozen sea birds. Each of them clamored for a small patch of space. If one flew off, another took its space.

The sun streaked a line of orange over the top of the clouds as if to remind everyone that night approached. Children, lolled by the rocking of the sea, soon snuggled in their parent’s laps and quieted down for the remainder of the trip. Teens played a game of cards across the way while others finger-danced their smart phones. I tried to read, but found myself unable to concentrate, and watched the sky change instead.

The Seattle skyline, with its many lights reflecting off the water, came into view. A cheer went up from the crowd as the ferry pulled into the harbor and I realized I was smiling. It had felt good to get away and I had enjoyed the sights, but Seattle will always be home no matter where I am.

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