My adventures and mis-adventures as I travel here and there

Friday Harbor on a Thursday

Today I visited Friday Harbor with my Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory Phycology class. We left from the ferry port in Anacortes, WA. Leaving our cars in the paid parking by the docks, we all walked on the ferry. It was nice to have the school footing the bill for walk-on passengers ($11 round trip).

Ferry Parking

Ferry Parking

The ferry left a bit late and arrived at Friday Harbor in just over an hour. I spent the entire ride playing Dutch Blitz with my fellow classmates. I didn’t win. 😦

Dutch Blitz winnner

Dutch Blitz winnner

Friday Harbor is the port town on San Juan Island, the second largest and most populated of the group of San Juan islands. It’s a popular tourist destination and a great place to go for an afternoon of restaurants, souvenir shopping, ice cream, and some supreme boat-viewing. It’s also, if you know where to look, a great place to discover hard-to-find algae.

Our group boarded a research vessel from Friday Harbor Laboratories (a world renowned marine biology research station of the University of Washington) waiting for us at the marina and we took off. The boat was fairly large and I sat on a upper deck with a great view of the islands we passed. It was also fun to poke around inside the boat. I liked the beds that they crammed into one tiny room and the stools that swung out from beneath the table.

Your bunk at sea

Your bunk at sea

We passed another island called Canoe Island where the Canoe Island French Camp is located. Apparently there’s an immersion French experience there where nothing but French is spoken. There’s also a really cool clock. It made me miss France.

Our purpose for being on the research vessel was to do a dredge for algae that we maybe hadn’t seen before. A dredge is basically a bucket with a rope bottom at the end of a cable that we drag behind the boat as we pass Canoe Island. It scrapes everything off the rocks and out of the mud about fifty feet under the sea. After this has been going on for 10 minutes or so, we bring it back up and dump it out into a metal table on the boat to see what we’ve found.

Spoils of the dredge

Spoils of the dredge

Sorting through the mud, decorator crabs, and giant red urchins, we find algae that we haven’t seen in the intertidal zone or in other places and put it in some saltwater so we can bring it back to our classroom and press it for our collections. We love algae. We’re a bunch of algae nerds. You’d be amazed to see the exquisite algae we pulled out of that mud.

When we left the boat after the dredge, a few of us poked around on one of the docks. Stretching ourselves out on our stomachs and looking over the side into the water beneath (that really hurts after awhile), we found some types of algae that are usually difficult to find because they can’t live in the intertidal zone. These algae, however, are always submerged because they rise and fall in the water with the dock. I guess I just told you where to find the “hard-to-find” algae.

The next item on the agenda was a walk around town. Some of my classmates went to Friday’s Crabhouse for some burgers and fries.

One of my classmates takes a GIANT bite from a Friday's Crabhouse burger

One of my classmates takes a GIANT bite from a Friday's Crabhouse burger

I, on the other hand, went for some ice cream at the place I traditionally always get it when I go to this town. It’s the place right by the ferry. You walk through in the line that perpetually fills the small shop, picking your flavors as you go. $4.00 later I was holding a cup with a scoop of black cherry and a scoop of huckleberry. They were delicious, but not as delicious as I’d hoped. That was probably due to the fact that I didn’t have chocolate ice cream. I’m testing a theory that I’m allergic to chocolate and the testing period is not over yet… Still, I would recommend that you try some ice cream from this place. It is delicious. Another option would be a shop on 1st street which advertises homemade ice cream containing zero hormones. If you’re going to eat ice cream at all, that would probably be the better choice.

One of my classmates posited this question to me: “Does Friday Harbor have its own kind of character or does it lose its life when the last ferry leaves and all the tourists have disappeared?” I’d like to stay a night and find out.

August 5, 2009 - Posted by | Puget Sound, Travel, United States | , , , , , , , , , , ,

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