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About Us Here on
offered as a public service so you won't feel dumb when you visit here
culled from past issues of the Update....
Where we are & where we are going: When we who live on the island go places, we say we're going "off-island," a designation that means anywhere in the world but here, even if it's another island. Off-island means "I'm not here, don't even try and contact me," for most of us that don't have cell phones. Off-island implies "I'm gone for a long time, like, at least all day," since with the ferry trip & all, even the smallest & shortest trip takes a long & relaxing while.
On-island, of course, means on-island. There are a few of us who refer to going to the mainland as "going to America," which takes into account the differences between us & the rest of the country, mainly the number of fast food outlets (here: 0 - we prefer slow, thoughtful food), number of malls (here: 0 - we got beaches with tons of driftwood instead), and traffic lights (in Friday Harbor: 0). We do have good restaurants & good shops & lots of traffic, especially when our friends the tourists come each year.
Going off-island for us requires an adjustment, which is why it's good the ferry takes a while to get to Anacortes.
Driving is a much less laid-back affair on the mainland. We have to remember to take the keys OUT of the car when we park it, and we simply have to buy gas over there...it's usually about 20-30 cents/gallon more here. The lines in the grocery stores are longer, and the traffic makes you wonder why anyone would live there.
Rules for visitors, reminders for us: Remember when we were having a drought back in the summer of 1994? We got out of it OK because we all chipped in: not watering the courthouse lawn or the football field (games had to be scheduled away), not washing cars, serving bottled water at restaurants, watching showers and flushes to reduce water use, and more.
It worked. We got out of what could have been a really difficult situation by pulling together.
One of the things we did at that time was hand out leaflets to visitors at the Anacortes Ferry explaining we were short of water and explaining what we hoped they would do to help us with the problem.
I've always thought that was a great idea. Since we're not short of water this summer, maybe we could hand out a similar "here's how we do things" pamphlet that notes:
- Slow down and enjoy the island. Isn't that the whole point of coming? It's going to take a few minutes to get off the ferry, and you can't go faster than about a mile per hour through town anyway. You don't need to hurry to catch the ferry when you're ready to leave, either...it'll leave when it's ready, anyhow.
- In a similar vein, when crossing the street, cars here usually wait for pedestrians, so it can take a while just to get through the few blocks we call town. Don't hurry, be happy.
- We don't have fast food here. Better for digestion. Enjoy your meals.
- Leave your jetskis at home. They really, really don't fit in here, and they're neither safe for you or our marine animals.
- If you bring garbage (or pre-garbage) on to the island, please pack it off when you go. We don't talk about this much 'cause we're trying to be polite, but it's pretty expensive for us to deal with 300,000+ people's leftovers, and there's only 8,000 of us to do it. And, no, we can't flush it out into the sea....
- Watch for all those people on bikes, especially on the winding roads of the west side. Bike folks, ride single file so car folks can pass you without making it a near thing.
- Don't watch tv while you're here. The sunset (currently around 9:15pm, check here for the updated times) is far more memorable, best seen from anywhere on the west side, and hiking far more interesting. Notice the difference in the greens of the trees, in the flight of the eagle, in the rhythm of the small waves on the beach. Reality surfing: much better than channel surfing, and no commercials.
- The most common questions asked by our visitors (this is true) are these: (1) What time do the whales come by? (They don't - it's all a myth perpetrated by The Whale Museum and the thousands of people who have claimed to see them). (2) What time does the 1:30 ferry leave? (1:30). (3) Usually asked on boat trips and kayak tours - how high above sea level are we? (Not very...that's it, the wet stuff there.)
They also ask if we like living here. Yes, we do.
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