Now THAT’S Camping!

OK, so I liked the place....a lot!

We’d had reservations to camp at a county park up in the San Juans for months.  When we went on-line to make our reservation, there was only one campsite left and it was only available Thursday and Friday, which added to the perfection of this trip.

You see, ferry traffic to God’s little corner of the northwest gets a little dicey on Fridays and Sundays.  I mean, heck, who wouldn’t want to go up to the San Juan Islands for the weekend.  Shaw Island is the smallest of the islands served by the ferry system. For years, the only store on the island was run by three nuns, but a local couple bought it a few years back and now operate it during the year, including the busy tourist months.

Shaw Island has a store, a school, a library and 235-ish year ’round residents.  There are lots of areas posted “Private Property”, so at times, you almost feel like you’re trespassing on a private island.  But almost every single islander we encountered was as friendly as could be.   And the county campground was as good as a camping spot as I’ve ever pitched my tent.

Just another day on Shaw Island

Now, the site may be a little too primitive for some.  No flush toilets–what they call “vaulted ceiling” toilets.  A member of our group had described where we were going for the weekend to a co-worker and she replied, “Why would you want to go live like homeless people?”  But this was pure Northwest camping:  surrounded by trees, the smell of cedars, the lap of the water from the waves.  There were lots of kayakers, so this spot wasn’t a secret to them.  The fire pits allowed us to have fires at night and the quiet let us sleep like babies.

We walked, we talked, we drove around and explored the 7 square miles of island.  There was a little or as much as you wanted to do.

Some of the campsites with the water view also were quite a bit windy, which prompted putting up wind breaks which kind of defeated the purpose of having a view.  The best sites, in our opinion, were that amazing spot 7 we got lucky enough to grab this time and the one across the road, spot 1, which had a partial water view, but enough trees to block the wind.

For the past couple of years, our summers got away from us and before we knew it, all of our weekends were spoken for or campsites weren’t available.  This year, we managed to pull off two trips and somehow manage to save the best for last.

Two of the year-'round residents of Shaw Island

Tim Hunter

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