Harrison House Suites was host to the Travelling Red Chair this past month. It arrived by ferry and left the same way a week later, off to be hosted by another member of the Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild. The Red Chair is on its fourth year of journeying around the United States, and has become a symbol of the warmth and hospitality offered by a bed and breakfast inn such as Harrison House Suites.
It was my pleasure and privilege to accompany the Red Chair around the island to a number of events and sightseeing opportunities. In the process, I came to see how placement of a common household item into wild and offbeat surroundings created a work of art, a moment of contemplation, and a unique experience for all of us.
The Red Chair (I began calling it “she” somewhere along the middle of the week) and I had an ambitious schedule, and it was, after all, the “quiet time” on the island. It seemed a pretty straightforward project: haul the chair somewhere, set it down, take pictures, then off to the next site. It just never worked out that way.
People stopped and asked questions, sat on the Chair, covered it with dogs,helmets, scarves and cups. The wind at Lime Kiln State Park tried to take the Chair into the Strait of Juan de Fuca one morning.
We were all envious of the Chair when it went whale watching with Maya’s Legacy Charters and saw NINE humpback whales on the trip.
I met the Red Chair as it was sitting in the Harrison House Suites Garden Room Café, where the guests meet up and have their gourmet breakfast each morning.
Waiting for Breakfast at the Harrison House Suites Cafe
I admit I was not that impressed, knowing that this chair had been in a Vermont wedding, atop mesas in Santa Fe, and hanging out with the Oregon Coast Guard.
Dave and Anna Maria took “Red” out that afternoon to South Beach and Cattlepoint Lighthouse at American National Park.
Monday morning I set out with “Red”to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, located on the west side of the island. The weather was imposing, but as I posed the Chair in various ways, the wind was robust, the waves were banging against the rocks, and we had complete solitude – it was wonderful. The creative idea of posing Red on top of some windswept rocks near the lighthouse resulted in me climbing down the cliff to rescue her from an unplanned dip into the sea.
The week was full of adventures; an early morning drive to Roche Harbor to sit in a kayak with San Juan Outfitters, hike to the McMillian family Mausoleum, and tour the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park; back to Friday Harbor to pose with the whale tail, visit the Island Museum of Art, and hang out with Red’s elders.
Red Chair and I visited the Friday Harbor Airport, attended a Friday Harbor Town Council meeting, watched the ferries from the end of the docks, and took a trip up Mt. Grant with a San Juan Preservation Trust Board Member.
On another day, we visited with Susie of Susie’s Mopeds, waved at some Trumpeter Swans, met up with Elaine and her five dogs,
Quick stop at IMA
and soaked up some culture at the San Juan Museum of History.
We did some bird-watching and sat for awhile in the peace and quiet of the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites gardens.
Tucker House Inn
When we saw something interesting along the side of the road, we stopped!
It’s FALL for Cow and Pig
There was Cow and Pig, the Teddybear Tree, The Rock, The Brickworks Pig, Friday Harbor Seafood and Popeye’s statue.
Paying respects at the Mausoleum
Respecting our Elders
When Red and I walked into the Whale Museum, the lady at the counter said, “Oh, yes, everyone brings their own chair in here.” While the Chair was visiting, our local online newspaper San Juan Update published a long article about her. When we came out of the Town Council chambers, two women on the sidewalk said “Oh it’s the Red Chair!”.
I know this sounds a bit corny (a bit?) but when the Red Chair left on Friday morning, I was sad.
We had been to 33 different places and events in our short time together, but we missed so many other delightful spots! Mona the Camel, the Red Strawberry and Yellow Submarine, Spike Africa, the Alpaca Farm….oh well, maybe next trip.
For more details on the adventures with me and Red Chair, keep checking this blog!
Something about the beginning of Fall and Winter makes me want to set aside a stack of good books to read when the sun sets early, on that occasional afternoon when the weather doesn’t allow a long hike in the woods, and when I feel the need to escape for a few hours into another world.
This year, I am on a special quest: novels based in Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. I am amassing a list to submit to the San Juan Library for inter-library orders, posting a request for suggestions on Facebook, and performing a number of internet searches to uncover the stories. Please help!
Harrison House Suites Bed and Breakfast offers such wonderful spots to curl up and immerse oneself in an author’s rendition of a Friday Harbor mystery, a San Juan Island romance, an island pioneer’s memoir , or the Salish Sea as seen through the eyes of a Southern Resident Killer Whale. Each room has a cozy couch or comfortable bed in which to retire for a few hours of reading. Stepping outside in the bright crisp fall or winter afternoon only requires the addition of a warm wrap or soft throw; find a sunny spot on the community deck or lay out a blanket on the lush green lawn of the adjacent Tucker House garden area under the willow tree.
I have begun my list of books! Feel free to add your favorites of those set in Friday Harbor and/or San Juan Island. Reviews will be coming!
Lisa Kleypas romance series – several novels set on San Juan Island.
A Fine Mess of Things – L. A. Buday
Friday’s Harbor – Diane Hammond
My Champion – Sue Carnes
Forward Passes – Jami Davenport
China Rock – Laura Kelly Robb
Mystery of Daisy Doe – Charlotte Carter
You May Now Kill the Bride – Deborah Donnelly
Folly – Laurie R. King
The Blood Cries Out – Karl Bjorn Erickson
Looks like I have some work ahead of me, along with many hours of thrills, romance, murder investigation and fact-checking! Join me?
Coho Restaurant is opening on this special day so you can enjoy a relaxed holiday meal with family and friends. Our six course fixed menu -with choice of appetizers, entrees, and desserts plus optional wine pairings – is surely a feast worthy of this special day. $60 per person, $30 optional wine pairings. 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Call 360-378-6330 for reservations today!
Here is Chef Bill’s working menu.
Smoked Salmon Deviled Egg, Pickled Beets
(Blanquette de Limoux – Cuvée Berlène – France)
Soup & Salad
Spinach & Radicchio, Blood Orange, Hazelnut Crusted Goat Cheese
Celeriac Soup, House Made Bacon
Warm Potato & Celery Salad, Dijon Mousseline
Parmesan Cream Sauce
(Bruno Giacosa Roero Arneis 2010 – Piedmonte – Italy)
Mashed Potatoes, Turnips,
Kale, Apple & Stoneground Mustard Jus
Pan Seared Arctic Chard
Warm Shrimp Salad, Braised Fennel, Saffron Shrimp Nage
(Erath Vineyards Pinot Noir Estate 2010 – Dundee Hills – OR)
Gingerbread Torte, Cream Cheese Frosting, Candied Pistachios
Chocolate Gianduja Bûche de Noël
Chateau Haut Mayne Sauternes 2010 – Bordeaux – France)
Archived San Juan newspapers are stored at the San Juan Island Historical Society and Museum on Price Street in Friday Harbor. As a volunteer and part time researcher for the Society, I have the opportunity to review some of these newspapers, dating back to the late 1800’s. So I am now transporting you back in time with some snippets of news stories from days past on our Island:
July 1955 – “Dial Telephone Service coming to Friday Harbor”
Before dial service, residents would pick up their phone, an operator would answer, and the resident would ask the operator to connect them to a number.
December 1971 – “John Wayne and Dan Blocker were seen at Roche Harbor Resort“
A number of celebrities dropped into the Roche Harbor Resort, located on the north end of San Juan Island over the years. Reports from 2014 and 2015 reveal sightings of Jon Bon Jovi and Tom Hanks
June 1957 – “Family Circle article results in 300-500 letters to Orcas Chamber of Commerce”
A travel piece about the San Juan Islands, highlighting the beauty of Orcas Island, brought a flurry of requests for information from potential tourists. The tone of the article hints this attention from the mainland was not that welcome.
December 1971 – “Jaywalking becomes illegal on Spring Street”
The Town Council decided to no longer tolerate pedestrians crossing busy Spring Street in Friday Harbor where they weren’t supposed to cross.. People were wandering about, holding up traffic, stopping in the middle of the street to talk to neighbors, and the Town Council decided to take action. Glancing around Spring Street in the summer of 2015, I would imagine that 44 year old law has been less than effective.
December 1961 – “The Postal Service asks Island residents to check for mail during the tidal changes.”
The Mail Boat sank.
January 1921 advertising – “Dinner prices start at 35 cents”
The Tourist Hotel (now Bird Rock) is one of the few buildings in Friday Harbor that was built in the late 1800’s as a hotel, and has never been anything but a hotel.
November 1971 – “Hi Diddle Diddle seen at Erbe’s Toggery”
Friday Harbor has always been a pet friendly town. Hi Diddle Diddle was the community cat and made a visit to the local dress store (and yes, that was news).
Visitors to Harrison House Suites will find the San Juan Island Historical Society and Museum at 415 Price Street in Friday Harbor. Call 360-378-3949 to make an appointment. If you are interested in having assistance in tracing your family tree to its San Juan Island roots, there are researchers available.
If you have any San Juan Island history to share with us, please let us know – we might be able to arrange a historic tour and meeting with some local historians. In the meantime, become part of the Island lore by making your reservations at Harrison House Suites today!
Want your dog to have something to brag to their friends about when they return home after your stay at the Harrison House Suites in Friday Harbor? Yes, they’ll ooh and aah over the Pupcakes and peanut butter biscuits waiting for them when you check into your Suite…how are you going to top that? Take your treasured friend to Eddie & Friends Dog Park!
Take a nice stroll up Spring Street, turn left on Mullis. Go past Browne’s Home Center and you will see the park entrance on the left. It is a two acre lot with plenty of room to run, unleashed. There is a gazebo and benches, and areas for small dogs as well. Development of this park was a cooperative project of San Juan Island Park and Recreation District (Island Rec), San Juan Rotary Club, and the Dog Park Steering Committee. The Park is open from 7 am to Dusk, and the rules are posted at the entrance.
I was at the Grand Opening of the Dog Park in 2009. Currently owned by two cats, I hadn’t been back to the Park until this past week. I was so touched to see that all along the fences that surround the park are memorials to beloved pets who used the Park all these years. I felt their spirits and their joy around me.