After days of sunshine and warm temperatures, the “raincoast” delivered some authentic fall weather today. The day started with a thick fog as we cruised into Friday Harbor and cleared Customs. By the time we reached Lime Kiln Lighthouse on the west side of San Juan Island, the fog had lifted, giving us picturesque views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Vancouver Island silhouetted along the horizon.
We were able to tour the gorgeous lighthouse that, in addition to still being operational, serves as an interpretive spot for the southern resident orca whales that frequent the area. In recent years, this unique population of whales has shrunk to 73 individuals due to a variety of reasons, especially decreased salmon populations. In the evening, two members of the Center for Whale Research came aboard to discuss their most recent findings and what must be done to ensure that these intelligent and charismatic animals continue to populate these waters for generations.
The San Juan Islands are also home to a little-known piece of U.S./U.K. history. Known as the Pig War, a nonviolent confrontation over the border took place between the two countries. It was settled after much dispute. For twelve years, American and British camps occupied opposite sides of the island until an arbitrator ruled in favor of the Americans, and the border was drawn in Haro Strait, west of San Juan Island.
The sites of the two camps are now national parks, and the eerie fog that drifted up the treeless hills added to the overall environment, reminding us that, despite the dry weather, fall and Halloween are right around the corner.