Tuesday, July 24 – A long and stressful day with a good ending

I realize I never posted about our last day in Vancouver, which included finally finding Gastown. But that will have to wait as today was … quite a day.

The plan for the day was to leave our hotel in Vancouver at 9:30, drive about an hour to the US border, wait on a line, then go to the airport in Bellingham to rent a car. From there, drive about an hour to the 2:00 pm ferry to San Juan Island. And check into our harborside hotel in Friday Harbor. We should have had plenty of time (he said, giving away the punch line).

Ferry to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, July 2018

So we did leave the hotel at 9:30. We had a reserved a car and driver through the hotel, and it turned out to be Matt, our guide from Saturday. About 30 minutes into the drive, we hit standstill traffic on the highway. At first I thought we had reached the line for the border already, but after a while Matt told us that this was some traffic problem. We crept along for quite a while, but after about 30 minutes of next-to-no progress, we started investigating alternate routes. Matt and I discussed some options (1) and we exited the highway and took a loop around the jam.

Once we were back in motion, we checked the helpful website that the Canadian Border Patrol maintains showing wait times at the crossing. They said no wait at first, then later changed it to 20 minutes.

We wound up waiting about 45 minutes.

We finally got to Bellingham International Airport about 11:50 am, and we had been told we needed to be on line to board our reserved ferry by 1:00-1:15. And it was about an hour away. I rushed into the terminal to the car rental desk, hoping there was no line. The only customer was saying thank you as he left, and the clerk got me set expeditiously.

Throwing our bags in the car with help from Matt, we said a hurried goodby, set our destination in Waze, and took off.

We pulled up to the ferry toll booth at 1:00 pm exactly.

After boarding and departing precisely at 2:00, we took a few deep breaths and started to relax and enjoy the smooth one hour ride out to San Juan Island and our hotel, the Friday Harbor Inn. Little did we know that the day had more surprises in store.

Shortly after checking in the Inn a few hundred yards from the ferry dock, we knew we had another problem. Rather than a narrative, here is a summary of why you should never stay there:

1. There was loud construction going on outside our room from 9-5 each day, unless they work late.

Partial Harbor View, Partial Construction View, July 2018

2. The bathroom had a water closet for the toilet. The rest of the room – sink, large tub, etc. – was open to the bedroom across the tub. . Yet there was a a door into the bathroom through another wall.

Notice the door coming into the open bathroom from the left!, July 2018

3. There was a room safe in the closet, about 7’ off the floor; Sally couldn’t reach it and I couldn’t see what was in it.

4. The room was advertised as a “Partial water view”; it included a “partial parking lot view” and a “partial construction site view”.

5. We had a 2nd floor room. Getting there involved climbing narrow stairs, and there was no help carrying our bags up there (the room was $419 per night).

6. The room was very small: no storage space to put our stuff away, and barely enough room to open our bags on the floor.

7. Room looked like a motel but at resort prices.

8. They offered a “special dinner” at this mediocre motel for $160 pp plus drinks, tax and tip.

9. In-room A/C was a free-standing unit standing in the corner. You could get a headache from the noise. If you didn’t already have one from the construction.

Like everything, there are positives to the Friday Harbor Inn:

1. It’s right in Friday Harbor, the main town on the island.

2. The desk clerk was nice and helpful – he found us a room at the Roche Harbor Resort. Which is where we are now, and which is great. We got the last room in this very large resort, and it’s a great room, overlooking the marina. Thanks, Morgan.

Roche Harbor Resort: Full Marina View, no construction, July 2018

So that’s all for now. I’m tired.


(1) I obviously have no idea how to get anywhere in BC, but Waze and Google Maps are ever present.

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