In 1859 the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over possession of the island, the crisis ignited by the death of a pig. The territory in dispute was the San Juan Islands, and the confrontation began when an American farmer shot a pig that belonged to Britain’s Hudson Bay Company. The “Pig War” ended 12 years later with the American’s gaining control of the San Juan Islands. English Camp also known as British Camp, is situated on Garrison Bay on the northwest corner of San Juan Island.
Bell Point Trail is one of Grover’s favorite hiking trails, mainly because it’s shaded and a leisurly walk. Make a 1-mile loop around Bell Point under big madronas, taking in splendid coastal scenery. No need to hurry along this splendid loop, the resident eagles, ravens, and kingfishers don’t mind if you linger.
There is also a splendid garden that was once a vegetable garden for the English soilders, but then was turned into a victorian garden to please the officer’s wives that had accompanied their husbands to the San Juans, leaving the comforts of home behind.
The Harrison House Suites and the Tucker House Inn offer complimentary kayaks to our guests. This is a great family adventure activity! The San Juan Islands offers some of the best sea kayaking in the world. For novice kayakers or those with small children, launching at Jackson’s Beach is a nice way to spend your day paddling. For experienced kayakers, launch from San Juan County Park on the west side of the island, where you might spot orca whales! Our kayaks are available on a first come, first served basis and we have a single and two doubles. We provide tie downs so you can easily load the kayaks onto your car or if you prefer a cab will happily take you and the kayaks to Jackson’s Beach for $30 each way. Sign a waiver and you and your family are off to sea!
If you prefer a guided trip or more of a group experience, there are many outfitters on the island that we work with. Let us know the type of trip you are looking for, whether it is an afternoon sunset, family outing or daylong adventure that you are seeking, and we will take care of all the booking details for you. What a way to create many fond family memories.
Wenda has been tending our gardens for over a year now and the fruits of her labors couldn’t be more evident this spring. Everything seems bigger than life – the tulips taller with large structured heads, the rhodie flowers bigger and more vibrant and the herbs in our vegetable garden more prolific. The chives are so abundant that we have been making chive pesto by the bucket. The lower tier of our chef’s garden is full of red potatoes, the strawberries have set fruit and our first crop of lettuce is on the cusp of harvest.
The hanging baskets have been in place for the last 3 weeks and with the warm May weather are way ahead of last season. She has been digging and planting new beds and every time you turn around there are more flowers and plantings to enjoy. There is a new hedge of yellow and pink forsythia that will greet guests each spring at check in. She also added a witch hazel. I remember fondly my witch hazel in my Maryland Garden. It sent out yellow confetti type flowers to hearken the beginning of spring – some years with snow and ice still on the ground. This upward growing tree has heart shaped corduroy leaves and Wenda found a strategic location for so its showy wispy flowers will be seen from many perspectives throughout the property when it blooms. There is also a new pear tree in the front lawn.
So when you visit Friday Harbor take some time to stroll through and enjoy the various pocket gardens at the Harrison House and Tucker House. The lower shade garden under the weeping willow tree’s ground sweeping fronds is a tranquil setting for an afternoon of reading or napping. The shade garden between the Garden Café and main Harrison House has two specimen Japanese maples within a bed of ferns. I can’t help petting the maple and ferns every time I walk by. The camellia at the end of the path has just finished blooming and the petals from the bright cotton candy pink flowers filled the side walk for the last few weeks. The landscape roses and lavender by the picket fence on C Street are in full bloom. Inhale a huge breath of relaxing lavender while enjoying the accents of orange, white and pink from the roses that add a splash of color to the sea of purple.
I have fond memories going to the drive in as a child. We put on our footie pajamas and piled into our station wagon with blankets and sleeping bags. Sitting in the back seat with snacks and drinks in hand, we watched the movie on the big screen listening to the sound track with the crackly speaker perched precariously on the wing mirror of the car. There was a car hop that sold popcorn, candy and soda throughout the show. Ahh the good ‘ole days.
Now you can relive that same experience at the San Juan County Fair Grounds on Fridays through fall. And the admission prices are retro too – $5 per person or pile your family into a car for $20!
Here is the summer and fall schedule:
June 6 – Karate Kid
June 20th- Willy Wanka and the Chocolate Factory
July 5- Back to the Future
October 3 – An American Tail
October 17 – Hook
October 31 Beetle Juice
If you forgot your blanket, the concession sells these cozy fleece hoodies in pullover or zip styles, designed by Jennifer Rigg from Loea Design. Proceeds support the fairgrounds.
Harrison House Suites, Tucker House and Coho Restaurant banded together for some high adrenaline fun… Ziplining! Thanks to Zip San Juan for providing us with competent, humorous guides for our day of team building! We gathered together before the busy season begins to appreciate our team and have a little fun! A few of our staff had fears going in, but by the end they were fearless!
Our team is like a big extended family. We have our differences but always find ways to communicate, compromise and seek common ground. Our compass is always you our guests and what is best for your comfort and enjoyment.
We have an amazing team and we work hard at it. It is like any relationship. It needs constant nurturing – feeding and watering – literally and figuratively. During the quiet season we make time away from the Inns to spread our wings and try something new together. And no matter what we do there is always the common denominator of food and libation.
After our memorable kayaking outing last year, there was a unanimous vote for zip lining. So on a sunny Monday in May, 15 of us packed into Zip San Juan’s vans to begin our adventure. Some of the team had the ‘be careful what you wish for’ expression on their faces but stayed the course. Sunglasses covered tears welling in some eyes. Unfortunately, we had to leave Janeth behind as she is expecting. (Zip San Juan wouldn’t let those that are pregnant or have high blood pressure participate.) Last year sister Elsa braved our kayaking trip at 8 1/2 months heavy with child.
So after getting into our harnesses and listening to the safety briefing we were ready for the two practice lines. It was amazing to watch how the team instinctively worked together – translating the safety briefing into Spanish so those that those who were too nervous to count on their English wouldn’t feel any more intimated than they already were. We intuitively sensed members that were hesitant and ensured they were never left on a platform by themselves so they wouldn’t have an easy out to turn back.
Confidence grew slight butterflies quickly dissipated after each member made it through the two practice lines. All received encouraging high-fives once their feet touched safely on the platform.
Everyone’s confidence grew slowly. After a short walk through the forest, the rest of the course came into view. We would indeed be flying through trees some 40 feet above the ground and walking across suspension bridges. We proceeded as a group from one line to another. Fear quickly turned into confidence and finally smiles and laughter. We all conquered the 8 lines and everyone felt a huge collaborative sense of accomplishment.
Then it we set off to Jackson’s beach for a barbecue.
It was a perfect evening – the water was like glass. We fired up the barbecue and made quick work of a bonfire. We met up with Janeth and her “world-famous” guacamole. Everyone brought their dogs that almost outnumbered all of us. And as always, there was lots of food, libation, and good company – a perfect way to end a perfect day. And then the conversation immediately turned to next year…sky diving? Stay tuned!
p.s. If you wondered how we all left the Inns with a full house of guests on a busy spring day, it took a village. We have a good friend who was one of our former innkeepers many years ago. She came over for the afternoon to welcome our new arrivals and keep an eye on the Inns. Thank you Diana.
p.p.s. We know after reading this you can’t wait to include Zipping on your itinerary when you visit. Just let us know when making your reservation and we will be happy to set it up for you.