When we conceived of this trip, we wanted it to be spontaneous, open to change, and very much unplanned. But, the first couple weeks, we wanted to see friends and family, go to a wedding, check out some particular areas. We’ve been taking our time getting to all these places and people, but the trip hasn’t been quite as open-ended because we’ve been focused on hitting all these particular destinations. Well, the last sort of destination on our list was the San Juan Islands (particularly Orcas Island)… and now that we’ve been there and are meandering around some of the other islands, we’ve noticed that we’re feeling much more free to do whatever, as if we’ve finally hit that true vagabonding part. We still have people we want to connect with around the country and places we want to go, but there’s not the same pull to do it now… and we are very much enjoying this!

The first moment this hit us was two days ago, when we first pulled into San Juan Island. We had gotten an email from some lovely readers who were also heading out to San Juan and wanted to know if we would still be there when they got in. We had thought we’d be here for just a night… but then we realized… we don’t have any time constraints… we can do whatever we want… let’s stay and meet them and hang out! And we did and it’s been wonderful. And this is really one of the biggest reasons for an open-ended trip… being able to choose on a day-to-day basis how long we want to be in one place… and opening up opportunities for serendipity.

San Juan Island has been a beautiful place to spend a few days, anyway. We camped at San Juan County Park the first night we were on the island. It’s a beautiful park, right along the coastline. And the hiker/biker spots are in an open area, practically right on the bluff. We had a prime orca-watching spot, although we never saw more than a few seals. And we shared a campfire and stories with some fellow bike tourists who were camped next to us. We also rode around pretty much the whole island, exploring the little village of Roche Harbor and stopping to picnic on a very small public dock on a very small lake on a very under-traveled road. Lovely.

We also had our first real weather of the trip. Camping at San Juan County Park, we were awakened in the wee hours of the morning by some sprinkling. Russ climbed out of the tent to cover up the Brooks saddles with plastic bags to protect them. We went back to sleep, only to be awakened an hour or so later by a large crash of thunder. We unzipped the tent and looked out to the water and watched the storm move slowly past us… large flashes of lightening followed by really loud thunder crashes… and big dark clouds illuminated by the nearly full moon. A few hours later, the sky broke open and buckets of water came tumbling down upon us. And, again, I was amazed and impressed by our little REI tent. No leakage, no problems. We fell back asleep to the sound of the driving rain and woke up in the morning to a really strong wind at the tail end of the storm. It shook the tent and rattled all the zippers, but we were safe inside. A small storm, in comparison to what we will no doubt run across in other parts of the country, but a good introduction… and some peace of mind that our gear might just hold up!