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We attract a great deal of attention as we wait for the midday ferry. Loaded down with all our toys, our Jeep Cherokee looks top-heavy with two mountain bikes perched on the roof and our yellow and red kayaks nestled between them. We are heading off for a long sports-filled weekend on Lopez Island, Washington, our favorite getaway. Even though it is our 14th year to vacation on this jewel of the San Juan Islands, we are as excited as if it were a new adventure. We have found a new Bed and Breakfast to call "home" for the next three days.

Our ferry ride, just a short 45 minutes from Anacortes is picture taking time. Colorful sailboats skim the blue waters of Puget Sound, and Mount Baker, in her snow-covered gown, looms in the distance -- a beautiful escort to our island respite.

Lopez Farm Cottages

The place to rest our heads this holiday is a unique Bed and Breakfast, Lopez Farm Cottages, built in 1996 on a 19-acre historic family farm. The four individual cottages, nestled at the edge of a cedar grove, are just three miles from the ferry dock on Fisherman Bay Road and two miles from Lopez Village, the center of island life.

As we reach the cottages we are greeted by a white kiosk and phone to notify the owner, John Warsen, of our arrival. We unload our bags into a cart and make our way down a short footpath, past a 100-year-old apple orchard to our cottage. John and his partner, Ann Warsen, designed the units to have little impact on the environment and the community.

Light and airy, the cheery cedar cottages are elegantly decorated with queen poster beds, gas log fireplaces, kitchenettes with microwave, refrigerator and sink, and private bath. Outside, two adirondack chairs are a comfortable place to sip wine while we enjoy the tranquil meadow at the front of the cabins.

Around 7 p.m. our breakfast for the next morning is delivered in a basket. Muffins, fruit, juice, coffee, tea and biscotti are tasty treats. We really enjoy these informal meals which we can take at our leisure.

When asked why he picked Lopez for his B & B, Warsen remarked, "It reminds me of yesterday; stepping back in time when you could leave your home open. Lopez has a feeling of an extended family." Warsen’s Lopez Farm Cottages are indeed a "step back" in time. Visitors feel they are on grandpa’s farm. There’s even an old Craftsman style farmhouse on the property that is being renovated. Plans for the future include four more cottages, including one planned for easy handicapped access. Hot tubs on the back porch of each cottage are also in the works. This is a great place for couples who want to share a romantic rendezvous.

The "Slopez" Way

Lopez has been dubbed "The Friendly Isle" and for good reason. From a two-fingered salute to a full hearty wave, you’ll find the natives waving at both the locals and visitors alike. Life on Lopez is relaxed and a vacationer’s paradise. Is there any reason to do more than beachcomb, take a scenic bike ride to the village for a cappuccino, or hike to our favorite spot, Shark’s Reef? On Lopez, it's easy to get used to the "slopez" way; a mellow pace that allows plenty of time to drink in all the delights of its rural landscape.

What first attracted us to Lopez was its scenic beauty and its relatively flat ribbons of roads that we could enjoy on our bikes. Country roads stretch for miles and wind through a patchwork quilt of farmland. Old cedar and fir groves dot the landscape while cows, sheep, horses and goats graze in the fields that end at the sea. This spring we were delighted to see the new births: young foals, fawns and baby sheep. I even saw my first pheasant strolling on a country road.

Road and Water Sports

Biking! That is what we came to do. One of our favorite trips is along Fisherman Bay Road via Airport Road to the Shark Reef Recreation Area. Located on the southwest side of the island, this Sanctuary for marine mammals and bird life overlooks the San Juan Channel. We leave our bikes at the trailhead and walk the forested path for about a 1/4 mile to the bluff overlooking the strong currents of the channel. Four hundred feet offshore lies a rocky reef that is a breeding ground for harbor seals and sea lions. Even without binoculars we can see them basking on the rocks. More pictures, a good book and sun, and an hour flies by.
Day two of our journey finds us at Hummel Lake, a small pond about 3/4 mile east of Lopez Village. There are lots of anglers trying their luck on the stocked trout and bass. We’re here to get a little sun and reading in before heading out to Mackaye Harbor, on the south shore of Lopez, for a bit of sea kayaking. It's a great day to explore the bay. We see a blue heron, sandpipers and lots of other marine life, and an old shipwreck. Sitting in our kayaks we watch the sun slip below the horizon -- a golden ending to a peaceful day.
Village Life

Four miles from the ferry on the east shore of Fisherman's Bay lies Lopez Village, the center of island life. Gotta get our cappuccino fix at Caffé Verdi and finish it off with a dolce at Holly B’s Bakery. There are lots of stores to tantalize the shopper in me: Panda Books, Sheepskin Imports, art and antique shops, and gourmet restaurants like Gail’s and The Bay Cafe. A short distance from the village, near Lopez Farm Cottages, is the Lopez Island Vineyards tasting room. We enjoyed their Late Harvest Siegerrebe as a light, fruity dessert wine. The local market closes at 7 p.m. -- the Slopez way of doing things. Hey, who needs to shop at night anyway?

Night life is quiet on Lopez: a stroll on the beach to watch a sunset, or a nightcap at our cottage. This is the life! We can’t wait to return and enjoy The Friendly Isle and Lopez Farm Cottages next year.

Click for details to plan your own trip to Washington's Lopez Island

                         Rita Furnanz

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