In early spring of 2007 I decided to quit my job, sell my house along with nearly everything else that I owned, and to live out of my car while traveling the country. These are my stories (and pictures) of life on the road.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

San Juan Islands

Tim, who I'm staying with in the Seattle area, invited me along on a 4 day bicycle trip into the San Juan Islands and I took him up on it. He's a youth minister and was leading a group of mainly college age kids on this trip. He made some calls and found me a bicycle I could borrow and I was all set. We ferried out to Lopez Island where we spent a couple days camping and then ferried over to San Juan Island to finish up our trip. Tim was driving a truck and trailer that carried all our supplies so it made it really easy since we didn't have to lug around all our camping gear. Food was provided by the church and no one went hungry by any stretch of the imagination.

The islands are kind of interesting in that they have some gorgeous coast line but once you get into the interior it kind of reminded me of being back in the midwest (except there were a lot more hills on the islands). It's pretty rural with lots of acreages and farm houses and a lot of people are growing crops of some sort. Personally I've seen plenty of farms, acreages, and fields so I spent the majority of my time around the coast.

The trip was just what I needed. It was great to just be alone on a bicycle, taking in the scenery and going wherever I wanted. I spent a lot of time on the beaches were I saw plenty of jellyfish (both alive and dead) as well as herons, bald eagles, and all other sorts of sea life. I also found plenty of nice places in the sand to lay down for a nap, which just can't be beat. There were also plenty of berries along the road side that were just getting ripe and were begging to be picked.

One day while hanging around the dock I helped a guy dock his little dingy and he unloaded about three 5 gallon buckets of crabs that he'd caught that day. He proceeded to clean them right on the dock and in no time had a bucket full of cleaned and ready to cook crab. He comes out here every year for a week or so with his family and they pretty much live off of crab while they're here. It seems everyone has some sort of Iowa connection that I talk to and he was no different. His grandfather grew up in Des Moines (Iowa, not Washington) and went to school at the U of I.

One of the days we were on Lopez Island I walked (my loaner bike was broke) to Spencer Spit where I found a couple of the girls who were along on the trip had biked to. We hung out there for a while together and while we were walking along we kept getting squirted on the legs with water. They said it was clams spitting the water, which I'd heard before but didn't quite believe because when I was in Maine a few years back I'd dig a little in the sand and never find any of the offending clams. They said that you have to be very quick and that the clams would dig down very fast. I never would have guessed that a clam could do anything quickly but they seemed to know what they were talking about.

Just as I was walking down the beach to leave the spit I saw a big squirt of water about 10 feet away and I could see the tip of the clam just sticking above the sand. I lunged for it and as soon as I started to move it disappeared from site. It was right on the edge of the water so the sand was very easy to dig on. I dug down and immediately felt the clam just an inch or two under the surface but before I could grab ahold of it it had already dug down farther. We both kept digging and digging and it kept just ahead of me. I was finally able to get my finger tips wrapped underneath it but I still couldn't pull it up out of the sand. My fingers were hurting from digging so hard in the sand and the muscles in my hands hurt but I was finally able to dig underneath the clam and pry it out. I was amazed how strong they were.

It was a pretty amazing creature. It kept its shell partially open nearly the whole time I had it so I could see inside of it a little. It's muscles looked huge and I could even see a tiny crab way back inside waving his tiny pinchers around, apparently trying to get my attention so I'd free him. No such luck for him though. After having my fun inspecting it I put in back in the sand to let it get back to whatever it is that clams do.

All in all it was a great time and a big thank you is due to Tim and Grace Lutheran Church for letting me join them on their outing.

To see the rest of the photos from the trip you can check out this Flickr Set

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You've reached the end of the page but that's not the end of the stories. If you want to read more (and who wouldn't!?) then click on the archive links to the right hand side of the page. They're listed by month; the adventure starts in May.

The February archives aren't actually from this trip but are previous adventures I've had, which are worth reading as well.