Roche Harbor on July 4th, 2020

Mom and I decided to go on an adventure for the July 4th weekend this year. With COVID having much of the country still on lock-down, we decided to keep it small and visit family in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. This was my first trip to Roche Harbor, and I LOVED it. There was some driving, a ferry, some more driving, but well worth the trip!

We got an early start and headed out on the morning of the 2nd. We stopped at Fiddler’s Coffee in Centralia, and I want to give them a shout-out for the great Americana feel of the place, the comfort, and the REALLY GOOD coffee and breakfast sandwich. If you get a chance to stop by, you should!

We arrived in Anacortes, WA after about a four and a half hour drive. Traffic was pretty good, and Google Maps routed us around Seattle to avoid a crash. We toured downtown Anacortes (very cute town!) and stopped at the Safeway for some lunch makings and picnic-ed in the car while waiting for the ferry.

The ferry ride was definitely an interesting experience. We drove the car on and were stopped on a down ramp. There were a few times where it looked like we could just roll into the water! As it turns out, I get a little motion sick on the ferry. My mother found this HIGHLY amusing, but was nice enough to go up on deck and walk with me and take pictures on the trip. This part of the world is really beautiful. Even with the grey skies.

We arrived in Friday Harbor and then drove across the island to Roche Harbor. We got there late afternoon and visited with family, walked down to the village to see the retirement of the colors, and do a little explore. This town is small and cute, and the harbor is gorgeous.

There is so much history on the island. Roche Harbor is actually a designated US Port of Entry, with US Customs and Border Protection. It was a joint British and US military post in the mid 1850s, and became a large limestone quarry in the later 1800s when John McMillin started the Tacoma and Roche Harbor Lime Company in 1886. John McMillin and his family lived on the island, as well as all the workers. There is a lot more history there, but if you are interested, go visit and look it up! The Hotel de Haro still stands (pictures below show some of the original construction, and how the hallway looks after the building has settled for a hundred plus years), and so do some of the lime kilns, but a large fire burned many parts of the original town. The McMillin mansion was also burned, but the gates and the foundation of the carriage house still stand.

Several members of the McMillin family are interred in a family Mausoleum on the island. The mausoleum has quite a bit of symbolism (blow up the picture of the sign and read it), but the part that I like the best is that he created it as a table and his family is interred in the chairs surrounding the table. I like to think of them as sitting around the family dinner table together. There is also a very old cemetery on the grounds that you can wander along the pathways. The stones are very old and hard to read, but a lot of them have small sculptures next to them of forest animals.

There is a very charming sculpture garden in Roche Harbor, and even though it was very rainy, Mom and I explored it anyway. I have included some of my favorite pictures for you here. The bear was really impressive, and I had to take a second picture with my mother next to it so you can get an idea of how big it actually is! A lot of the sculptures are for sale, so if you are into having some art in your space, you should check it out!

We did some more touring, including stopping for some gin and liqueur tasting at the local distillery, found a cute fairy garden at the base of a tree, explored Quarry #9, which used to be an old limestone quarry and is now used as a swimming hole, complete with a rope swing. I am told, however, that the water is VERY cold! We enjoyed the scenery, and took a picture of an extremely festive man!

We watched the fireworks from the top deck of the house, and it was a really beautiful show. They light them off from a barge out past the harbor, and we could also see some being lit off from a few boats and from Pearl Island across the way.

We headed home the next day, catching the ferry out of Friday Harbor and stopping at Rockfish in Anacortes for lunch, and then heading home. It was a really wonderful trip, and I thank you for letting me share some of my favorite parts with you!

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