San Juan Weekend

Each year Kelly and I join my sisters and family for an extended outing. We have hiked the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim and have run/walked the Monterrey half marathon. Most of us are not very athletic except sister Laurie, who can’t plan a family barbecue without including a family triathlon before dinner. I am not kidding, an actual run, bike and swim. Our outings are not about the activity or how poorly we perform, they are about bringing family together for several days to reconnect and spend time together. It is about morning coffee, a game of cards, or a glass of wine while watching the sunset. Time together that you don’t experience when you only gather for a holiday dinner or birthday party.
This year we chose a 3 day kayak trip through the San Jaun Islands with Savor Seattle in conjunction with San Juan outfitters. Advertised as a Gourmet trip with fine food and wine, the food was good, definitely a step above camping fare and the wines were great. For those considering this trip remember it is still a kayak/camping trip with 3 to 4 hours paddling a day, sleeping in a tent and if you are lucky you have access to a pit toilet.
Friday was another early morning departure from Seattle for Kelly and I to catch the 9 AM ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island where we met the rest of our group, 12 in all, half family and half strangers. Our guide and chef Dom drove us to Roche Harbor where he served us a great lunch and then packed us all into kayaks for the 4 hour paddle across Spieden channel and around to Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island where we would spend the next two nights in tents. It was a truly beautiful setting, but for those who know us we are generally not tent campers. This trip was once again pushing our comfort zone, which tends to be a common theme to the annual family outing. Four hours of paddling a kayak was about 4 times longer than we had ever paddled, but we survived and even excelled at times. After dinner and a few glasses of wine we slipped into our deluxe tent accommodations, where I quickly fell asleep on the luxurious one inch thick pad that separated me from the cold hard ground.
The Dock, the boats, the gear the Family
Saturday morning we enjoyed breakfast prepared and served by our guides before heading out to kayak around Stuart Island past the lighthouse to a secluded beach where we enjoyed lunch.
We returned to our camp after lunch where most enjoyed an afternoon nap followed by a friendly game of cards. Appetizers, dinner, more wine followed by a six mile forced march. We were told it would be a casual hike on a flat trail but they lied. Ok, it was not that bad but the pace was a bit excessive to make it to the lighthouse for sunset. Kelly and I are not going to pass up on an adventure so we joined the hike while four of our camp mates decided to stay behind. We were rewarded with a fantastic sunset while our guides served us a dessert of cheesecake and port wine. We then made our way back to camp lighting our way with headlamps.
Sunday morning was filled with taking down the camp and packing the kayaks. It is truly amazing how much they can squeeze into a kayak. We made our way back to Roche in record time according to our guides. Which I think meant record time for a bunch of old people. A great trip, great weather, and a great time with family. But I think my vote is that our outing next year will not include a tent.
The Food of chef Dom
The costs:
Ferry to Friday Harbor round trip $13.50 per person
Two nights three days Kayak, all gear, tent, sleeping bag, deluxe food and plenty of wine $849 per person. You can book a similar trip through San Juan outfitters with basic food and no wine for about $649 which in hindsight is probably the better value.
Kelly leading us into Roche Harbor
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