San Juan Island Update - serving San Juan Island, Friday Harbor, and Roche Harbor

February 26, 2009

Those are the trees behind the fire station this morning after last night's dusting of snow...the Town looked nice & white at 5:30am when I took my son to the ferry for a field trip.

Rising temps should melt most of it away throughout the day....

Become a part of history....
We all kinda have history on the brain because of the 100th birthday and all's a cool way you can jump in.

This Saturday, the Library is shooting pictures (or scanning) things so that people will remember what 2009 life was like. Here's more from their press release, which explains it way better than I just did (click here.)

The Spring Street International School's Discovery Speaker Series presents Dennis Willows....
It's tonight at 7pm at Friday Harbor's the writeup from SSIS about one of the island's more memorable people, who has had a quiet but sure hand in shaping the ways things are here:

A Focused Life: Dennis Willows
Neuroscientist and Research Biologist

Interviewed by:
Grant Schwinge Spring Street International School, grade 12
Robin Lohrey Spring Street International School, grade 10
Austin Scheffer Friday Harbor High School, grade 12
Host: Mark Anderson, CEO, Strategic News Service

Dennis Willows has spent his life researching how nerves, acting in groups, lead to specific behaviors. Today, his research has 'advanced' from studies of escape behavior in marine nudibranchs to how nerve nets can help us weed out the extraneous and focus on 'high-value' sensory inputs.

What's happening on the island!
click for more info:

After getting a Yale University degree in Physics, and a PhD in Neuroscience at University of Oregon, Dennis focused his research lab on how brain cells interconnect and communicate chemically, to generate coherent patterns of electrical/chemical activity that drive behavior.

After a stint as Director of the Neurobiology Program at U.S. National Science Foundation in Washington DC, and later as National Institutes of Health-Jacob Javits Scholar, he gained a sense of the roles of the federal government in support of research in the United States. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a William Hoar Lectureship (University of British Columbia), and is a University of Oregon Distinguished Alumnus.

Dennis has written over 100 scientific publications and several books on nervous system processes underlying learning. He SCUBA dove under the Antarctic ice at McMurdo Station and enjoys flying, music, and volunteer time as skipper of the University of Washington research vessel RV Centennial. He was Professor and Chair of Biology University of Washington and Director of Friday Harbor Laboratories from 1972-2005.

All interested students and adults are cordially invited! ADMISSION IS FREE!
Donations are welcome with proceeds to benefit Spring Street International School

Canadians love 'em, too....
We call ours the Endangered Species Act, Canada calls theirs the Species at Risk Act, but people on both sides are working to protect the Southern Resident killer whales' habitat. Here's more from the CBC, with a nice picture of the new calf by Mark Malleson (by the way, I spelled his name correctly.... :)

Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
Amelia Earhart

It's tonight at the Community Theatre...."Our Town" opens!
Here's more about the show.
Photo by James Krall.

February 25, 2009

Debbi Fincher reports how last night's drum event went:

Tuesday the "school community" of FHES felt the power of the drum and their voices as they were treated to this special assembly, Rhythm Power: DrumPowerment for the Youth. 327 drums were used to help teach the values of respect, courage, diligence, and the meaning of "community". This powerful program was sponsored by the San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, San Juan Island Community Foundation and other private donors.

An evening program was also enjoyed by over 150 family members and friends of San Juan Island Community. The sponsors for this event include the San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, San Juan Island Community Foundation, Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor, United Way of San Juan County, Harrison House B & B, Leos Club and grants.

Thanks... Debbi

Rain & snow & rain & snow.....
In this morning's downpour lay both the glimmer of hope that we won't have a drought this summer (that's good), that spring will come soon, well-watered (also good), and that there may be a tiny bit of snow tomorrow (there was snow mixed with the rain this morning - you could feel it.)

Off to Olympia tomorrow....
A bus or two of islanders is off to Olympia tomorrow to lobby for better formulae for the way schools are funded...since the present method guts one of the better state systems in the country, you gotta hope they can improve on that.

I know a bunch of people going, so I'll report to you what they find out.

Men are only as loyal as their options.
Bill Maher

February 24, 2009

Famous whale movie star is filming in Victoria....
The most famous whale-related movie besides the Free Willy trilogy (which didn't even make the trilogy meter - check here), was Star Trek IV, where they transport a couple of singing humpbacks to the 23rd century.

It was a fun one - and not just because of the whales. Catherine Hicks plays the biologist/love interest in that one, and she went on to be a big deal in 7th Heaven, a TV show.

Now she's in Victoria filming Stranger with My Face, which is set, kinda, in the San Juan Islands (although apparently they're using Vancouver Island as the backdrop). Here's more....

They have 300 extra drums, so you don't have to bring one.....
Debbi reports:

Just a friendly reminder, it’s finally here, Rhythm Power: Feel the Power of the Drums. Please join us on Tuesday, Feb. 24th at 6pm in the gym at FHES.

Light refreshments will be served. Childcare provided. All welcome. 300 drums provided, so everyone drums!

This event is free, sponsorship by San Juan Island Prevention Coalition, San Juan Island Community Foundation, Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor, private donations and in-kind donations by San Juan Island County Fair and San Juan Island Work Crew. Donations are accepted to continue further quality programs for our community, tax-deductible to the San Juan Island Prevention Coalition.

Kenya Masala will facilitate a high energy, rhythm collaboration programmed event. Build and strengthen relationships while having fun! Hope to see you there.

The big vote is on!
KING5 TV in Seattle has a deal they call "The Best of Western Washington" in which folks vote for different things they think are the best - b&b's, food, places to go, whale watching, all that. I mentioned last week that Naknek Charters was in there, as is the Whale Museum; and Tim Thomsen tells me his San Juan Kayaks is also listed.

Here are some others I found:

under Great Getaways:
Best B&Bs: The Inn on Orcas Island, Tucker House, Trumpeter Inn, Wildwood Manor
Best Hotel: Friday Harbor House, Bartwood Lodge
Best Motel: Earthbox
Best Resort: Roche Harbor, Lopez Islander, West Beach, Rosario

under Local Excursions:
Best Island: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez
Best Tourist Town: Friday Harbor, Orcas
Best Place to Kiss: WSF

under Outdoor Adventure:
Best Whale Watching: Western Prince, San Juan Safaris, San Juan Excursions
Best Marinas: Friday Harbor, Deer Harbor

Another new islander.....
Proud grandma Nancy Fusare (right) checks in:

Hi Ian,
Since you announced my daughter Jessica Chaffee's pregnancy online last June, I thought you might like to see the end result. Sienna Rose Bartlett (proud papa is Tim Bartlett) was born last Wednesday, February 18th at Island Hospital and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. Mommy and baby are home now and doing fine and Grammy Nancy's got her brag book with her all the time!
Nancy F. Fusare

People DO come here to write...
I am pretty convinced we have more writers and artists per square inch on this island than anything....just look at the wide variety of art at Island Studios (over 135 artists) and the other galleries in town and you get the idea; look at the wide selection of local author books at any of our bookstores and you know we're downright literary here.

Here's the online journal of Judith Hougen, who has moved here from St. Paul to spend the next four weeks writing.

You don't have to be rich and famous. You just have to be an ordinary person, doing extraordinary things. I'd like more people to know that it's there. Women's achievements still aren't recognised enough in many areas.
Joan Armatrading

February 23, 2009

Open house this coming weekend.....
Heather & Ken are off to a great start at Xtreme Fitness, which opened late last month - but now they are ready to show the place off to you... here's more from Heather:

Yes, Ian our grand opening event is to take place Saturday and Sunday (Feb 28 and Mar 1) from 8 am to 4 pm each day. We will have lots of giveaways, including a free one year gym membership! Please stop by if you are able to, Ken and I would love to see you there. And if any of your readers are curious to see the new fitness center on the island, please let them know that the grand opening event is the perfect time to check us out. They can find us 3/4 of a mile past the library on Beaverton Valley Road in the Beaverton Business Park. Thanks again for your website, I do enjoy its positive contents!

Giving to Kiva....
Dan & Andi Zehring had told me about Kiva before - it's a chance to give so-called "micro-loans" to dependable folks in developing countries to help them help themselves. Here's an example of the program in action - Chem Phon has a boat-building business in Cambodia. Check it'll want to help.

Sustainable San Juans.....
There's only one way to go, and that's sustainable. Sam Jacobson has started a site to help spotlight concerns here in the islands, as well as chances to make us more sustainable. It all starts here - way to go, Sam! Click here for more information.

"Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist."
Kenneth Boulding

February 20, 2009

That's Brian & Rachel Goodremont (right), who swung by yesterday to say hey - Brian's getting San Juan Island Outfitters (here's yesterday's blog posting) ready for the upcoming season, while he & Rachel are getting ready for the birth of their first in mid-April. Rachel is a gifted artist who creates beautiful things (see her website), so the kid is lucky to have her as a mom, creating him.

Talk back, kinda......
I'd like to thank those of you who wrote in to ask if my voice is back.

Most of this week it's been more than a little sketchy, but I thought I was doing OK when my pal Joe said it was cool, I sounded like Wolfman Jack. When someone said yesterday that I sound like Marge Simpson's sister, and someone else said it sounds like I just quit smoking (which I did when I was 8, when Mom busted me for nickin' cigs from her purse), I knew I was ready for this to be over.

Going for the gold....
Peggy and Kurt from Naknek Charters are up for an honor, and you can help out:

We are so excited that Naknek Charters and Diving has been nominated for The Best of the Northwest in the Scuba Diving category. The contest is sponsored by King 5 News and Evening Magazine. The diving in the San Juan Islands is the best in the region and we welcome this opportunity to make more divers aware of how great it is. We would like to ask your readers to please vote for us. I have included a link - just click here. Thanks for the support!
Peggy Long

The end of the run....
That reminds me - Peggy has her last day at Garuda & I tomorrow, with 80%'s the scoop.

It looks & feels like a flying house...over at the Historical Museum, Kevin tells me they're putting a new foundation in under the farmhouse, as you can see.
Click on the picture for larger version.

Let's call it what it is: The Marine Highway System.....
At Wednesday's rally for the ferries at Olympia on Wednesday, they proposed that we quit calling it the Washington State Ferries and call it what it is - the marine highway system. Maybe that'll help folks who don't use ferries remember this is how we get around....

Several speakers made reference to the ferry system being a big tourist draw. “I’ve never met anyone who said they came to Washington state because they wanted to drive on I-5,” said said state Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-San Juan Island. Here's more, with video, from the Kitsap Sun.

Obama visits, Canadians go nuts....
All the Canadians I spoke with yesterday (well, THE Canadian I talked to) said it was really cool that the President went to visit Ottawa is video & audio back to the 1930s from the CBC of Presidential visits through the years. (Click here.) Listening to the different Presidents through the decades is a history lesson of its own....

One couple's take on the San Juans....
Here's what David & Rachael say in their blog, after their visit here.

Octopi fight....
Wow...where do they get the video? Richard Rodriguez has a video of a couple of octopuses engaging in what looks like a fight....check it here.

Tuck & Patti are coming tomorrow....
Jan from the Community Theatre has more:

Extend those Valentine sentiments a week and check out Tuck & Patti when they bring their smooth and romantic jazz and guitar mastery to San Juan Community Theatre THIS Saturday, February 21 at 7:30 p.m.

The Northwest couple has a motto: “You are either a fan - or you haven’t heard them yet.” Islander and SJCT friend Carolyn Haugen and her daughter, Krissy, have heard them and like them so much they generously agreed to underwrite the concert to make sure the husband and wife team could make their first appearance at the Theatre.

“Krissy and I find their music enchanting. It speaks to our hearts,” said Carolyn

Tuck & Patti’s discography began in 1988 with Windham Hill Jazz’s Tears of Joy. Their most recent release is “I Remember You,” a selection of love songs, of course, inspired by Ella Fitzgerald and Joe Pass. More about their songs can be found at

In addition to the Haugens’ underwriting, Wildwood Manor is supporting this performance as our Business Partner.

Another spot of island coverage, this time in French....
The DVD isn't exactly available, but it was on French TV in late January, and there should be an English version coming - here's more from Jerry on the westside of the island:

Dear Ian:
Remember the French film crew that was here in the Spring? You put a photo of them in your Update. They have completed the film that they were making and it was shown on TV last month on France5, a French equivalent of our NPR. The entire hour-long program was filmed in the state of Washington. The first 30-minute segment was filmed in the San Juan Islands and focuses on the life style of Bruce Gregory and Colleen Howe at Mitchell Bay Farm. It includes an interview with Ken Balcomb, a whale watch tour and a portion of a county council meeting dealing with global warming. Colleen and Bruce have already received e-mails from admiring viewers who saw the program in France and Belgium. Great photography. Great PR for the San Juan Islands.

Your international news reporter,
Jerry Rassmussen

Where does it all end?
Yesterday, Steve Dubail & Warren Jones from the Town called to let you & me know that Mullis Street starts at Friday Harbor Espresso, and ends right past where the guard house is at Browne's Home Center, after which it quietly turns into Cattle Point Road. (Town has streets, the county has roads.) Meanwhile, that sign I posted below of the Turn Point/Pear Point break actually is where the "section" divider is for that part of the county.

Now you know!

What's that lake called....
Louise Dustrude has the scoop on that lake we posted earlier this week (click here to see):

Hi Ian -- Westside Lake is part of the Land Bank's Limekiln Preserve. There is a beautiful little loop trail that goes along the shore of the lake (parking lot on the east side of the road just a little distance south of your picture).

From the same parking lot you can cross the road, and cross a little bridge into the main part of Limekiln Preserve, a much larger and also beautiful area open to the public. It adjoins and wraps around Lime Kiln Point State Park (Whale Watch Park) and has trails leading into the park as well as down to Deadman Bay.

There is more information about Land Bank properties throughout the county on their web site:

There are maps of these trails (and other public trails on the island) on the San Juan Island Trails Committee's web site:

Louise Dustrude

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbors, kindle it at home, communicate it to others and it becomes the property of all. - Voltaire

February 19, 2009

That's Dennis Willows and his daughter Grace going into Town & up the hill on Argyle Street, right before the Fairgrounds on a beautiful sunny Sunday last weekend.

Restaurant news - openings, closings & major moves....
From Sasha at the BK: Backdoor Kitchen is re-opening for dinner on Thursday, Feb. 19th! We will be serving dinner Wednesday thru Saturday from 5:00 pm and we will also be doing "Noodle Bowl Mondays" for lunch from 11:30 to 2:30 every Monday. Please check out our new menu at

From Madden at Steps Wine Bar & Cafe: Hello everyone, do not worry we are not leaving the islands, we are simply moving to a better location. The opportunity has arisen to move Steps to a phenomenal water view location in the new 123 West complex (across from Downriggers). Thanks to the hard work and generosity of Misty Todd, her family, Paul LeBaron and my business partners we are going to relocate to the front suite directly above the parking garage with all the windows.

We will be closing the doors on the current Steps location next Saturday (the 21st) and are hoping to be able to have our grand reopening on May 13th, our four year anniversary date. I am extremely excited about the move and what it will mean for the restaurant, myself, the 123 West complex and all of you, our loyal patrons. We are planning on doing lunch and dinner as well as Sunday brunch and a happening cocktail bar.

If you are on island please stop by next week, even for just 1/2 glass of wine, to say farewell to the home that has served us so well. Thank you all for our current success and for what the future holds. Thank you, Madden

The name of that pond or lake or puddle....
Joy wrote in (for yesterday's question):

Hi Ian: I live right above West Side Lake on Mt. Dallas. I found that name on Google Earth, I think. I might even have found it on another map online or something.
Joy Franks

Kenmore Air announces its Spring Economic Stimulus Package: throughout March and April, all seats on all flights to and from the San Juan Islands are only $95 each way every day with 14-day advance purchase! The special is available for seaplane and Express flights. Book online at, by phone at 866.435.9524, or in person at Friday Harbor Airport.

Don't get lost, now.....
What did you expect from an island where you start on Second Street, and when you pass the Community Theatre, it quietly turns into Guard Street, and then turns into Beaverton Valley after the library?

I have no idea where Mullis Street begins & ends, and that's where my office is. I DO know it's nowhere near the Mullis Center.

But I can tell you this - if you you leave to go around the Pear Point/Turn Point Loop from Town, it's Turn Point Road, and if you take off past Jackson's Beach, it's Pear Point Road. Somewhere in the middle (right) it switches.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein

February 18, 2009

Rachael's got us on TV....
Remember when Rachael Ray (right) came to visit late last summer so she could tell the world how great the islands are? (I think that was the idea....)

Well, the show she made out of all that is gonna be on this Friday...Here's the scoop, from the Visitor Bureau's Robin Jacobson:

This Friday evening, the Food Network will air the San Juan Islands episode of “Rachael’s Vacation” in which Rachael Ray and her husband John Cusimano visited Orcas Island and San Juan Island last summer.

Local air times may vary according to service provider, but the following times are scheduled for the following networks:

DISH Network: 8:30 p.m. Pacific on Channel 110; 10:30 p.m. Central; 11:30 p.m. Pacific and East

Direct TV: 8:30 p.m. Pacific on Channel 231; 10:30 p.m. Central; 11:30 p.m. Pacific and East

Cable TV Companies: Check local listings.

The program also repeats in the early hours of Saturday morning (2:30 a.m. Pacific).

San Juan Island locations included the Backdoor Kitchen, Duck Soup Inn, Krystal Acres Alpacas, Pelindaba Lavender Farm (also featured in the magazine Everyday with Rachael Ray), Roche Harbor and Steps Wine Bar & Café.

For more information, see the show’s website at

Republican National Committee Vice Chairman Jeff Kent to speak for Lincoln's birthday....
You probably know that Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican president AND that this year is his 200th birthday (last week on the 12th) the local GOP has invited the National Vice-Chair to this year's festivities (he's from Custer, WA). Here's more about the dinner, which is at 6pm on Saturday at the Grange.

Blues for the blues....
Tom Doenges tells me Blues Night for tonight at Bella Luna has been cancelled, because almost everyone who usually play there has called in sick...back again next week!

On Saturday Cynthia Elliot had a surprise party for her twin boys Adam & Aaron D'Errico over at the Grange, with about a zillion people dropping in - it was fun to see the look on their faces when they swung in. It's hard to believe they're 30 years old!

The night before, Isaac Taylor's mom Alene & Aunt Christine had a surprise party for HIM for his 18th...wahoo!

On golden pond...
You know that pond I shared with you yesterday? (Click here to jog your memory....) Do you know the name of that body of water? Tell me & I'll tell's a note I got, asking about:

Hi, Ian!

I do ..."know that pond off the side of the road when you're traveling south towards Lime Kiln after you've passed San Juan County Park?" except that we usually are heading north from Lime Kiln to the county park.

I was there yesterday, February 17 (it was my Valentine's day since my Valentine had to work on the 14th). We always stop there to see what we can see when we come to the island (and we do come as often as we can afford the ride). We can usually count on at least a pair of Hooded Mergansers. So it really does not have a name?

Hey, since I am in a mood, thanks so much for the Update! I like it with coffee before I transition into my day.

Deborah Hagerty
Currently spending nights and collecting mail in Everett, Washington

Dogs are still around, from that puppy mill....
Told you there were pups from those puppy mills at our local shelter - here's a picture from Dot Vandaveer with a bit of a story (I always like her pictures, because they always help tell the story):

Ian, here is a photo of my husband. Dave, walking two of the dogs at the Animal Shelter. Dave walks the animal shelter dogs three days a week regularly without fail. The dogs that are being fostered by the local shelter are so beautiful and are in need of human contact. The community has responded beautifully, but the need it still there to give these animals the love that they deserve.

Great Island Giveaway and Social.....
It's a community recycling/swap meet at the Mullis Center on Saturday, February 21. Marie DiCristina has more (that's Chairman Pat Hansen with Soroptimist Phyllis Davis preparing for event, right):

Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor has come up with a great community event. The premise of the event is that people will bring good, clean, functional items that they no longer need or want, and in exchange, they can take home other things that they do need or want. Community item donations will be accepted between 8:30 and 9:45 am. Stay and enjoy coffee with homemade cookies or leave to return for the Giveaway Event.

The whole concept is to promote recycling, re-use of things and share the wealth so to speak. The items must be clean and work, in the case of appliances or tools. No computers, clothing or shoes. Soroptimists will monitor doors and deny items if they don't fit the criteria. Please bring no more than five items.

At 10:00 am the event begins and we will allow people to take items in exchange for items they brought. Persons who have nothing to donate will not be denied entrance. People without items to donate will be asked to make a small monetary contribution to help defray our costs for space rental. This is the 2009 Soroptimist Saturday of Service Project for San Juan Island. For more information about Soroptimist please visit: For information about this event please call Pat Hansen at 378-3537.

Today's Quote:

Ian Byington sings

The information here is simply stuff we here at By Design think is important around Friday Harbor or on San Juan Island.

Some of it is news, some of it is old news, and all are just things we wanted to mention, with most of it about the things that make living here great.

There will be more next week, if anything happens.

Ian Byington

This site prepared by our friends at By Design in Friday Harbor.
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2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 and next year, too
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in the USA.

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