**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 5 – June 11, 2008

Our Trip Route - Day 5

Our trip route for Day 5

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Image courtesty of
KayakSuccor (aka R. Darling)


This morning dawned cold and grey (again) as we prepared to leave Ganges and return to the U.S.  By law, you are required to check into US Customs as soon as possible after entering our waters, or you may suffer up to a $10,000 fine.  Yikes!  So you can bet our first stop was Roche Harbor since none of us happened to have that kind of cash just sitting around.  And anyway, if I did, I sure as heck wouldn’t be spending it on customs fines!  Fine customs, maybe.

We reached Roche Harbor (on the northwest corner of San Juan Island) after about an hour of travel and tied up to the Customs dock to await clearance.  My FIL took all our paperwork up to the booth while we waited on board the boat and then came back with a Customs Agent in tow.  The agent asked us if we purchased anything in Canada and when we answered, “Some soap,” I think my FIL almost had a mini-stroke right there on the dock.  “And a bottle of wine,” he quickly interjected as we were laughing with the Customs Agent about the importance of being clean (not like we’d know anything about it, having only had one shower in 5 days).  “Oh right.  And some wine,” we said.  Turns out, FIL had told the Customs Agent about the wine, but didn’t know about the soap, so when our stories didn’t match up he got a little nervous.  ‘Cause you know, R. Darling and me, we look like some pretty shifty characters.  But luckily the Customs Agent didn’t think so and we were free to go.  I’m sure if he’d decided to detain us though, we could have easily overpowered him with our collective stink and gotten away.

As we approached the fuel dock, not a soul was in sight except for Sarge, The Fuel Dog (R. Darling gets credit for that one), who greeted us rather nonchalantly and then via some secrety doggie signal, alerted his human peeps to our need for fuel.  While FIL fueled the boat, we snapped some photos and walked up to the historic grocery building for some refueling ourselves.


Sarge, The Fuel Dog

Sarge The Fuel Dog
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Church in Roche Harbor

I loved this adorable white church
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Hotel de Haro

Hotel de Haro
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Roche Harbor Grocery store

The historic grocery building
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And I do believe I mentioned in a previous post that I’m about as mature as an 8 year old and anything to do with poo, or funny names for its disposal is guaranteed to make me laugh.  So for all you fellow 8 year olds, here’s a funny shot of something I saw cruising around in Roche Harbor:


The Phecal Phreak

Gotta love that tagline!
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With customs and fuel out of the way, our next stop was Sucia Island.  I decided to ride out the trip in the cabin again because it was just too cold on the flybridge with the boys.  How cold you ask?  Well, when we were in Roche Harbor a local newspaper headline caught our eye:  “Colder Than Siberia!”  It was a sad day to read that headline.  How often is it 61 degrees in Siberia vs. 59 degrees in Seattle?  Brrr…..

By the time we arrived at Fossil Bay on Sucia Island it was starting to warm just slightly.  We tied up to the dock and decided it would be fun to have a look around the island.  It’s a large, hospitable island and I could envision people settling here at the turn of the century.  We did read at some of the vantage points that there had been sandstone mining, homesteading and logging here at various points in time.  In fact, we saw quite a few massive stumps that bore the signs of early logging techniques.  What struck me most was the sheer number of eagles populating the island.  I remember a time, not that many years ago really, when seeing an eagle was a rare and wondrous occasion.  Here, their presence was constant, from massive wingspans soaring across the horizon, to whistling cries in the distance.  I was sorely tempted to take a feather home with me, but it’s illegal for someone non-native to possess one here in the U.S.  Though I am of native descent, I don’t have the proper paperwork to prove it and figured I could do without a fine and a black mark on my record, so I refrained.  But we did take a photo for posterity.  I have to thank FIL for this one as it was his idea to hold them so artistically against the wild roses.


Eagle feathers from Sucia Island


We saw so many other lovely things on our walk around this charming island.  Sucia was, by far, one of the most enchanting places we visited during our trip.


A really interesting rock formation

Hamming it up under a giant madrona tree limb

R. Darling

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But I have saved the best for last!  After our walk, we relaxed at the boat a bit while FIL socialized with the newcomers.  The Park Ranger had arrived and was chatting with him when we noticed something moving around in the water.  Since I love the creatures and all, I had to get closer to investigate and R. Darling busted out the “good” camera just in case.  Swimming around the boats was a river otter.  He appeared unfazed by all us humans hanging out watching him, and seemed very intent on having himself some lunch.  We watched him, fascinated, for quite a while as he swam around catching fish (at one point swimming under the dock beneath my feet and then surfacing so I could hear his breath under my toes) and later, as he climbed onshore to roll in some mysterious ecstasy on a muddy patch of land.  It was really amazing to see one so up close and personal like that.  Sooooo cuuuuuute was all I could say the rest of the day.


Mr. Otter

Mr. Otter

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After a nice dinner, we ended our day the way any good day in the islands should end:  with an island sunset…..


Sunset on Sucia Island

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6 thoughts on “**Our Gulf Islands Trip: Day 5 – June 11, 2008

  1. I *love* otters. They had an exhibit at my local aquarium when I lived in VA Beach, and I could watch them for HOURS. Soooooo cute, indeed!

  2. Your photos are fantastic…..I especially like the family of waterbirds in the sunset picture.

    Otters are extremely cute, on one canoe trip a few years ago(pre-children), we had one follow us throughout the entire trip. It was playing with us, flapping water at us and darting under/around the canoe.

  3. Got to love the otters, they’re pretty common around here and they’re always so friendly. Our aquarium has 2 and the kids (and me!) love to watch them play. I like the photo of hubby by the big rock. :)

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