Bicycle Touring in San Juan Island – Part 2

Lime Kiln Point State Park

Read Part 1 of the Journey here.

We met our hosts from Tucker House Inn, Glenn and Susan the next morning at breakfast. Glenn is from New York, and Susan is Canadian– together, they were such a fun couple! We were in a room where breakfast was served in the B&B’s cafe, so we were excited to meet others who were visiting the island. Since it was off-season, and a Thursday morning, we were the only ones!

Glenn and Susan greeted us and guided us to a set table, where a plate of glistening baked Honeycrisp apples were waiting for us. Glenn presented the dish as if we were at a five-star restaurant, describing each ingredient and its local origin.

breakfast at Tucker House

Breakfast at The Tucker House always includes a two course meal: seasonal fruit, homemade yogurt and granola for course one, and some sort of filling, fresh hot dish for course two. The two breakfasts we had at Tucker House were some of the best I’ve ever had! Not heavy, but natural, substantial and filling. The Tucker House is no stranger to good food. They also own Coho Restaurant, one of the high-end restaurants on the island that serves sustainable, local ingredients. 

The yogurt was homemade by Susan. It was deliciously thick and creamy, and I could taste the fresh cow’s milk. The granola was also homemade, sweetened with only honey and a mix of organic oats, nuts and seeds. I ended up buying a bag of their granola before we left!

The main course was a twice-baked sweet potato with peppers, asiago and a few other garnishes.Rob laughed, knowing that I have a love affair with sweet potatoes! 

twice baked sweet potatoes

Bellies full, we sat around and talked to our hosts about biking around the island, about bike racing (Rob), triathlons (me), Canada and island living.

Then Rob and I departed for our long day of riding. We planned to hit several stops on the island, and in all our trip took about 5.5 hours, including stops, and covered about 32 miles.

Strava Ride File 

I edited a video from the GoPro footage of our journey. Check it out below!

**Note on traveling in the off season- check to see what is open or closed. We encountered a few places that were closed for the season. The good news is the roads are much less crowded, making riding stress-free.

Our stops

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Our first stop, Pelindaba Lavender Farm, happened to be closed for the season (open from May through October), but Rob and I still walked through the fields of lavender, smelling it’s relaxing scent. The name, Pelindaba, translates from South African roots and means “Place of Great Gathering.”

The farm features more than 25,000 lavender plants, and 50 different varieties! Since 2001, Pelindaba has been open to the public to demonstrate the wide diversity of lavender. Be sure to check out Pelindaba’s website for what you should see when visiting the farm. We definitely missed most of these, mainly because it was closed!

The peak time to visit for “peak purpleness”, as the company calls it, is July and August. If you can’t make it out to the farm, or it’s closed in off season, you can stop by the shop in Friday Harbor. Both the farm and shop sell a variety of lavender products, essential oils and plants. We ended up buying some lavender products-  room spray to put on the pillows at night, facial toner, and essential oil. You can also check out the farm’s webcam during the season to see the different seasons on the lavender farm. 

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Lime Kiln Point State Park

Biking toward the Southwestern coastline along West Side Road, we stopped at Lime Kiln Point State Park to see the lighthouse, and hopefully catch orcas or seals on the banks. The park is supposedly one of the best places in the world to spot orcas! Bikes aren’t allowed on the hiking trails, so we walked our bikes down the gravel path to the park’s overlook and whale watch site, scanning the water for wildlife. We didn’t see anything (not living up to its expectations!), except for a brief moment where what looked like a seal head popped up for air, before disappearing under the water again. The lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point State Park was built in 1919, and still serves as a beacon for vessels in the Haro Strait. We didn’t have time to hike the full 1.6 miles of trail, but the trail loops around the park, meandering on the coastline and dipping into the lush, moss-laden woods. 

 

Lime Kiln Point State Park
The lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point
The overlook at Lime Kiln Point
The overlook at Lime Kiln Point

 

Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm

We departed the park for our next leg of the journey. After several rolling hills on Mitchell Bay Road and West Valley Road, we arrived at San Juan Island’s Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, in search of the warmest socks on the planet (according to our hosts at Tucker House). Several different fields were full of Alpacas, and while buying our socks from one of the owner, Kris,  she explained that she keeps the males and females separate. Turns out, only a few of the items in the store are produced by the Alpacas on the island, while the rest are from Peru. I bought a pair of socks made from San Juan’s Alpacas.

So what is the key differences between llamas and alpacas? According to Krystal Acres, “Llamas are pack animals, and about twice the size of the alpaca. Alpacas grow a prized coat of fiber, and are too small for use as a pack animal. And we think the alpaca is much cuter than its cousin, the llama.”

I tried to get at least one of the farm’s 70-plus Alpacas to walk over to the fence so I could pet their head, but none listened, so I admired their soft, crazy fur from afar. 

krystal acres alpacas

alpacas

Roche Harbor 

At this point, it was about 1:30 in the afternoon, and we were hungry. We biked two miles to Roche Harbor, one of the private seaside resort and residential communities on the island. This part of the island, according to Glenn, and Susan, was home to the yachters. The community was quaint and very quiet in the off-season. There were only two restaurants in Roche Harbor that were open: a breakfast and lunch place (Lime Kiln Cafe), and then when that closes at 3 pm, a dinner place called McMillans opens at 5 p.m. One of Lime Kiln Cafe’s specialities is their donuts, made in-house every morning, but they have a good cafe-style menu of sandwiches for lunch. Our lunch sustained us through the last leg of our long day.

Roche Harbor

The lime kilns at Roche Harbor.
The lime kilns at Roche Harbor.

San Juan Island Distillery

Rob and I discovered yet another stop on our route was closed: the San Juan Island Distillery. The distillery is only open on weekends. Bummer! Rob had wanted to try the island-made spirits, and I had been working up a craving for the small-batch hard cider. The distillery makes 12 different gins, liqueurs, an award-winning apple brandy (which we had in a cocktail that night), and cider from their Westcott Bay Cider orchard.

San Juan Distillery uses French techniques to produce their apple brandy. We really should have bought a sample of that instead of the Lavender and Wild Rose Liqueur from the Distillery that Rob bought at the grocery store in Friday Harbor that night! We can at least try the Lavender and Rose Shrub  recipe that the distillery suggests on their website, before we write off the purchase. 

Mona the Camel

Just before we reached the winery, we biked by… wait, is that a camel?! Both of us stopped to find out that yes, there was a camel sitting in the files on San Juan Island. Turns out her name is Mona, and she’s a well-known character for anyone who drives (or bikes) on Roche Harbor Road.

Her story is fascinating– her original owner, J. Ward Phillips of Roche Harbor Skyways, raised her on Whidby Island. Once he moved to Canada, the camel began to act up (separation anxiety?) because she only saw him every two months. He sold Mona to a new owner, who then advertised for her sale in a local newspaper, and now, Steve King and his wife own the camel, and she’s a mainstay on Roche Harbor Road. 

Mona the camel
Mona the camel

San Juan Vineyards

Luckily (for me), my drink of choice is wine, and the San Juan Vineyards was open and just along our route back to the inn. While Rob isn’t a wine drinker, he still indulged me to stop there because, well, he knows better. The winery was only about three miles outside of Friday Harbor, so I knew (well, hoped) I could manage a tasting and ride back.

The winery’s two estate grapes, Siegerrebe and Madeleine Angevine, account for about 20-30 percent of the total annual production, while the rest of their wines are produced on-site from grapes shipped in from the Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills Appellations of Eastern Washington.

The tasting room is an old schoolhouse from 1895, and was renovated when the winery was purchased in 1996.  Tastings are a bargain- three wines for $5! They even had a red and a white blend named after Mona the Camel! Our favorite was the Siegerrebe wine- it was fruity and little sweet, which is how I like my white wine. In fact I ended up buying a bottle…not thinking of how to would add extra weight in my pack for the return trip!

San Juan vineyards

wine tasting

 

 

The last three miles were smoother than I expected.. I guess the grape juice kept me going! Back at The Tucker House, two delicious white chocolate macadamia nut cookies were waiting for us!

Our final breakfast at The Tucker House was another one of my favorite foods.. pumpkin porridge! I was in heaven if they could cook for me forever!

I already miss Glenn and Susan, they were two of the nicest and most gracious hosts I’ve had the pleasure of meeting! Rob and I hope to run into them again, either on a return trip to the Inn or on another journey!

San Juan Island