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By Jane Cassie
(For Travel Writers’ Tales)

The continuous archipelago of the San Juan Islands extends along the ocean’s bed from the southeast tip of Vancouver Island to the northern part of Fidalgo Island. Orcas Island claims centre stage and is our first of two stops during this weekend escape.

Deer Harbor
Aerial photo by Mike Shubic

There are a number of ways to check out the treasures on Orcas. Kayaks come lashed onto car tops, road bikes are geared by pedal pushers and, as we discover, there are some mighty mopeds that will go anywhere we please.

San Juan kayakers.
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

“It’s like driving a car,” John instructs, as he takes us through our crash course (no pun intended) of ‘Moped 101. Although my iron pony is a far cry from a Harley, I feel a rush of adrenaline as soon as I straddle its saddle. Then with a kick-start and a throttle thrust, we’re off, and before I know it, I’m feeling like a motorcycle mamma.

Scooting down a country road
Photo by Lisette Wolter McKinley

Our winding road bisects pastoral settings where cattle roam and farmland grasses billow in the breeze. It parallels the craggy seashore hosting gnarled Arbutus trees and rock-hugging firs. The setting is serene, the pace is relaxed, and under cloudless skies we mosey along on island time, letting our cares wash away in the salty air.

Deer Harbor Marina sign
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Peninsulas and inlets are a frequent lay of the land and one of the most picturesque is the little nook of Deer Harbor. Terraced on its hillside and overlooking berths and boats is our home for the night, The Resort At Deer Harbor. As well as capturing the shoreline view, our romantic abode and private hot tub boasts key ingredients to keep us ensconced for days…if not for our yearning desire to hit the open road!

Deer Harbor Marina
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

The restaurant at West Sound serves up scrumptious pie, and the island’s hub of Eastsound offers a farmer’s market. There are artisan galleries to browse, gift shops to explore and a choice of culinary options at our fingertips.

San Juans Moped riding under the Moran Entrance
Photo by Brent Cassie

Moran State Park is one of the best places in the San Juans to trek the trails. While embracing over five thousand glorious acres, it offers everything from a lake stroll to the escalation of Mount Constitution’s six hundred metre summit where the panorama is pristine. As well as forty-eight kilometres of hiking routes, this fourth largest Washington state park offers five lakes, a hundred and fifty campsites and just about every outdoor adventure you could imagine.

The day goes quickly, and by the time we re-trace our tracks, I’m feeling pretty comfy on my almighty moped. The balancing act between throttle and brake are well co-ordinated, my shoulders have detached from my earlobes. As we putt putt into Orcas Village I’m humming ‘Born To Be Wild.’

A similar euphoric experience is provided the following day while we tour San Juan Island in a scootcar. What’s a scootcar, you ask? Best described, it looks like a stubby-nosed beetle bug on training wheels. The hybrid is actually a cross between a car and a moped and travels at a maximum of 50 km an hour. While harnessed in, we cuddle side by side and once again experiencing the island offerings at our own pace.

Lime Kiln Point Lighthouse
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

After zooming to San Juan’s west side we dismount and take time to check out the living museum at Lime Kiln Point State Park. A short gravel path leads to the rocky promontory where orcas, otters, and other sea life hang out. The aquatic-loving creatures are drawn to the area’s deep water wall and the strait’s exposed rocky point. In spite of our eagle eyes, we have to depart somewhat disappointed.

Poppies and Hotel de Haro
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Before heading back to Friday Harbor we stop for lunch at the seaside village of Roche Harbour. Brick paved pathways take us on a tour of the beautiful English gardens that spill over trellises, planters and pots. They wind around to a Victorian style mansion that was once home to the McMillin family, lead to the Historical Victorian Hotel De Haro, and take boaters back to their marina berths.

Roche Harbor Store Cafe Marina
Compliments of San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

Vibrant California poppies border our return country cruise and with the pedal to the metal, we rumble past Friday Harbor House where we’ll later retreat. We scoot along the main Spring Street where a string of trendy gift shops unite with funky galleries, and finally zip into the local service station to re-fill. Over the entire seventy km round trip, people have looked, waved and chuckled. Maybe they were intrigued, or some even envious. By the look on our faces, it was obvious. We had a blast. And all on a measly gallon of gas!

Our means of transportation
Compliments of Susie's Modpeds



The Resort At Deer Harbor
Web Site:

Friday Harbor House

Susie’s Moped Rentals
Web Site:

Photos compliments of photographers (name on each photo caption) and San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau

#6_San_Juans_ Moped_riding_under_the_Moran_Entrance_photo_by_Brent_Cassie

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