Friday Harbor is reminiscent of a Murder, She Wrote set. Is it the isolated quaint village encompassed by an alluring Puget Sound? Could it be the sheriff hanging out and talking to locals under a crystal blue sky? Or maybe a picture perfect downtown that feels like you’ve been transported to a purple tuliped, cherry blossomed, orca refuged utopia? Perhaps it was the very friendly, smiling locals or the happy dogs. Hard to know for sure, but I was expecting a run-in with the quick-witted Angela Landsbury wielding her typewriter and a penchant for inquiry. All the boys think she’s a spy. She’s got Bette Davis eyes.
Lame Haiku Alert
loved Friday Harbor
this is my only poem
The Whale Museum is a natural history museum founded to “promote stewardship of whales and the Salish Sea ecosystem through education and research.” The folks there are working their tails off to get greater protection for the Southern Resident Orcas. Thanks to the whale museum leaders, the kibosh was put on capturing wild orcas for the amusement of humans. Orcas have been protected since the late 70’s but their numbers continue to decline, most likely because of toxins like PCB’s and yes, the enduring resilience of DDT. Now at an all time low of 70, the Orcas, at least, are no longer used by the military for target practice.
Friday Harbor Arrival on Monday
For the top 25 things to do according to San Juan Island travel guide, click here. We spent a day tooling around the island and its numerous state and national parks learning about a war between English and American encampments over the death of a pig. One of the few wars that ended without death, if you factor out the pig. When you go, you must check out the Lighthouse at Lime Kiln State Park. She’s a beaute. The park is also known as Whale Watch Park because it offers a near perfect vista for spotting whales.
Scooting Around San Juan Island
Town Comparison Criteria Spreadsheet
*The criteria details are explained on the first post of this series.
Friday Harbor House
130 West Street
Rated 1 – 6 (high)
Cleanliness (floor, bathroom, bedding): 6
General Accommodations (comfort, space, service, amenities): 4.5
General Environs (location, quiet, nearby restaurants): 6
The King Suite with partial harbor view was quite lovely. The room, very comfortable, was spacious and included a fridge. A couple of critiques: First off, we are not impressed by the Keurig machines we found in our room and a number of others on this journey. We don’t like the taste, and the waste is ridiculous. Then again, I am on an anti-plastic crusade, and Keurig is my latest adversary. (Did you know that the inventor of the plastic disposable Keurig cup is sorry that he invented it? Now that the number of empty disposable cups would stretch from here to the moon and back a few dozen times?)
My biggest gripe is about breakfast. If you’re a meat eater, you’ll be satisfied, even joyful over the breakfast. Your whole body will jump for joy until your arteries collapse in an animal fat-induced hangover. But if you lean toward healthy or care deeply about the lives of animals or the health of the environment, you’ll be disappointed. Eggs with cheese, bacon, sausage, all of this rendered me sad and hungry. There weren’t even any potatoes. Wha? Who doesn’t make potatoes in a breakfast buffet? I can almost always count on a plate of potatoes. Not here. Otherwise, the room was truly lovely, had a great view and the location was ideal. Close enough for us to walk to town and find plant-based fare.
Vegan Wanderlust in Friday Harbor
Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar
Quel surprise! A vegan restaurant in this little town of barely 2300 residents. Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar located within leap-frog distance to our lodging at Friday Harbor House offered us the best restaurant meal we’ve had in ages. Dining with style in a rustic harbor setting about sums up the atmosphere, and tastebud-happy-dance sums up the experience. Mike, the down-to-earth, personable and engaging owner, came around to visit his guests. He spent a few moments with us sharing how he evolved from Olympic swimming coach to wine maker to commercial wine maker and distributor eventually to restauranteur as a way to market and sell his wine. Being vegan since 2003, naturally, he would have none other than a plant-based restaurant.
Mike’s initial concern was that a vegan restaurant would diminish the wine market, but quite the opposite has come to light. It’s been a mutually beneficial relationship, conjunctive is how he described it. The foodies come in for, well, great food, and they discover his fabulous wines; and the wine drinkers (winies?) while sniffing, snorting, and tasting his wine (okay, maybe not snorting) discover his fabulous food. Now after several years in the biz, Mike has patrons from all over who find their way to out-of-reach San Juan Island for a refined vegan meal in the idyllic town of Friday Harbor. There are two patrons who fly in from Portland, because they love the food that much.
Mike told us about Pasado’s Safe Haven, a Seattle farm sanctuary. Click the link if you want to read a truly heart-wrenching story about a donkey, Pasado, abused and viciously murdered by three young men. It’s very sad, so be prepared to hate humanity for a moment or two before you learn that this tragic tale leads to a safe haven for other animals in need.
THEN, wait for it, Mike shared with us a vegan cheese plate, which he will soon be introducing as an expansion of his current menu. Wine and cheese, right? My mouth is still watering over the thought of Miyoko’s Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash, and the Aged English Smoked Farmhouse was quite delectable as well. It was the first time I had a vegan cheese that had a texture and taste like cow’s cheese but without the cholesterol and torture! Check out Miyoko’s Kitchen blog to learn more about their cheeses and for vegan cheesy recipes.
And how was the food at Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar ? I’m still dreaming about the ChickN Riesling and that jaw-dropping chocolate mousse. I *love* (insert heart symbol here) the fact that I can look at a menu and know that anything and everything listed is an option. It’s the first time I ever had vegan Spanikopita. Made to perfection. Add to it, the food was presented with artistic flair. Each dish along with stunning composition had an edible flower. That I ate. The dishes were as flavorful as they were colorful as they were fairly priced. Should I ever find myself within 2 hours of Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar, I shall again find myself at Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar. The end.
A Poem For the Orcas
Check out this video of school children from the Devonshire Road Primary School in Bolton, UK, as they share their moving poem and plea to free all Orcas in captivity. They were touched by the documentary, Blackfish, and sprung into poetic action. I adore young activists. These kids and their exceptional level of awareness give me hope. They presented their poem at European Parliament this past March. Another group of children went to Taiji, Japan, after watching The Cove. Writer Elizabeth Batt tells more. Well done little ones. If all children had your gumption, the world would be a sweeter place – especially for the animals.
Our voyage back to the mainland via ferry ended with a marine mammal display of whales, dolphins, sea lions and big smiles.
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Poetic Passage Through the Pacific Northwest
Post #1: Poetic Passage through Pacific Northwest Washington
Post #2: The Gig is Up Gig Harbor
Post #3: The Not-so-slick Limerick of Bainbridge Island
Post #4: What’s at the End of Town in Port Townsend?
Post #5: Some Bunny Loves Langley on Whidbey Island
This is Post #6: Monday at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
Post #7: It’s Always Sunny and 82 in Edmonds, WA