I spent the last week exploring the San Juan Islands with my parents. Unfortunately, my sister couldn’t make the trip, and we all missed her terribly. Despite that, we still managed to get quite a bit of touristin’ done. My parents have explored these islands before, and while I have (technically) as well, I was much too young to remember it: being three months old at the time. As such, I have a few impressions about these islands, the life style, and the subtle differences between those which we visited.
Our first stop was Moran State Park for two nights, spending time at the upper campground in a very nice campspot. While highly exposed to road traffic, it was peaceful enough and had a view of a local lake. However, this island was a little weird. There weren’t any major parks besides Moran, and none that actually offered hikes or walks along the supposedly rugged coast. There was one park that offered, literally, a 20 foot section of beach that the public could walk on. Orcas seemed rather indifferent to tourists, and while Eastsound was clearly set up to support visitors, they were often standoffish and rude to anyone who didn’t live there. I got a really weird vibe from Orcas Island.
Our second stop was the island that had the friendly reputation, and Lopez didn’t disappoint. The scenery was calmer, the people were much nicer (and really do wave to you when you’re driving or walking past them), and there was a great abundance of organic co-ops and farmstands. The residents of Lopez were clearly proud of their earth- and people-friendly nature, and was a great place to visit.
Friday Harbor / San Juan Island:
Friday Harbor is tourist-y, but still manages to retain the island charm that was present on Lopez. We stayed on a small cabin that a nearby family offered as a rental. It was quaint, comfortable, and friendly. The historical parks were fascinating, and the island offered a wide range of activities to see and do.
We didn’t actually visit Shaw Island, but they seem like uptight pricks who hate outsiders even more than Orcas citizens.
Okay, so I guess I didn’t really have too many astute observations. But I really wanted to have something where I could say the following without seeming like a total eco-hippie who tears up when reading about whale abuses. But…
(Begin poorly worded rant)
We visited the Whale Museum on Friday Harbor today, and that is one of the most powerful yet depressing places I’ve ever visited. Anyone who has spent any time with me or reading my assorted brain dumps knows that I’m a huge supporter of animal rights and become visibly disturbed when I witness or read about animal abuses or suffering caused by humanity. Our reprehensible behaviour towards whales has always been a particular pain point to me, but it was hard not to tear up after reading the stories of our treatment of these marine creatures, especially Orcas. We trapped them in bays, kept them in nets for months, and shipped them to aquariums to live their lives in solitary confinement. We harass and kill them with our boats. We hunt many of their fellow whales (yes yes, I know orcas are not technically whales), and have decimated their species. What right do we, humans, have to torture, capture, and enslave these intelligent creatures? It’s absolutely abhorrent and disgusting the behaviour that was tolerated by those who ripped pods apart so they can later perform for our amusement at some cramped and dingy marine park. It’s simply disgusting and I’m truly ashamed that we not only participated in this behaviour in the past, but continue to hunt whales in the modern day and age.