Lopez Island is the first island on the Washington State Ferries route into the San Juan Islands from Anacortes. It is the third largest island, looks like the letter “L” from the air, and is known as the “friendly” island. Residents wave to motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians, often catching visitors by surprise.
Speaking of bicyclists, Lopez is the most cycle friendly island in terms of terrain and sponsors an annual spring event, usually in April, called the Tour de Lopez. Another activity visitors enjoy is sea kayaking. I had the pleasure of circumnavigating the island while attending college, tent camping at Odlin Park (within walking distance of the ferry landing) and on an offshore islet in Lopez Sound. And there is hiking to Shark Reef. Doesn’t that sound intriguing? It is a beautiful spot, but there is more opportunity to see harbor seals and seabirds than sharks!
When I received my first teaching contract in 1978, my husband and I came to the island to celebrate, spending a day touring the rolling farmlands and walking the beaches of reef-strewn bays before eating dinner at the Lopez Islander Resort restaurant on Fisherman Bay. As we ate, a couple arrived at the dock in their sailboat. Talking with them further ignited our dream to sail and live on the water before we were fifty years old. But the only plan we knew that might work at our young age was to save money for a sailboat and live aboard—something we did for the first five years we owned SV Kelpie.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV)
Do you have a dream? Pursue it! In the Bible, God gave the Jewish people the Promised Land, but it took effort for them to settle there. What steps are you taking to turn your dream into reality? Living without regrets is never disappointing.
Shaw Island is the smallest of the four ferryboat islands. For many years, nuns of the Franciscan Sisters of the Eucharist operated the ferry landing with its historic Little Portion Store and post office, but they relocated to Oregon and a local island family became the proprietor in 2004. This is the place everyone gathers to exchange greetings and news.
Without restaurants, hotels, or a gas station, the island attracts people who like a quiet lifestyle. But if you do long for company, the island’s community center holds an interdenominational church service that is well attended and there are always school events. One of the easiest ways to know what’s happening on the island, besides word of mouth, is to read the islanders’ bulletin board at the ferry landing.
Seeking to escape cabin fever or to stretch our legs, we’ve taken many long walks on the island’s 13 miles of mostly paved public roads to Shaw Island County Park (limited camping), Neck Point, and Broken Point.
Halfway to those destinations, in the middle of the island, stands The Little Red Schoolhouse, a one-room (now two-room) building listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Built in 1890, it is the longest and continuously running school in the state of Washington. Since I’m a former public school reading teacher, remote schools pique my interest. Always!
Next? A peek at some of my favorite remote, non-ferry islands.
Thanks for reading!