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Rosario Rendezvous on Orcas Island results in Mt Constitution Thrill Ride

Rosario Rendezvous 2010
        The best cruise yet!  I'm sitting in my home gazing out the window at my land locked nautical variation of a  RV camper, (my boat on a trailer) I drift off and begin day dreaming again.  This must be the 100th time since New Years that I have imagined our upcoming summer cruise.  The trip is planned for July right after the fourth and we are going to cruise the Washington San Juan Islands again. This trip our focus will be whale watching, (the last trip was whale watching too), but we were sidetracked meeting up with our daughter at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island.  As I remember we supplied the trailerable yacht, cheese and wine, she supplied the car that seats four, and two friends. It turns out we had no cell phone service so we were glad we had earlier made plans to meet this afternoon. The weather was pleasant, and balmy with hardly a breeze in the air.  It’s just about sundown when they wave to us from the parking lot at Rosario.

Boat camping at Jones Island Marine Park in the San Juan Islands

Rosario marina and gas dock - anchor area to right out of picture
           We leave “Sunshine” our  25 foot sailboat, tied to an anchor buoy.  The three of us  quickly paddle the dinghy ashore.  Soon we are six in a Subaru that seats four.  I’m a happy camper I get a front seat, we are heading for the top of Mt Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands. At about 2400 feet I expect to have a fantastic view and see a gorgeous sunset.  But, like whale watching, it was not meant to be. When we arrive at the summit, the sun has been blocked and was settling into a thick blanket of fog that seemed to cover the western half of the world, the temperature felt like it had dropped to minus 50 and the wind was a howling gale the likes of which only arctic explorers are capable of surviving.  I was glad we didn’t walk from the boat as I had once planned, if the seven miles of winding uphill switchbacks didn’t kill me, I’m sure the elements would’ve done me in just the same. We quickly scan the fog free remaining eastern views to spot Anacortes, Bellingham, Mt Baker, and  Lummi Island.  Ocean freighters and Ferries far below look like toys. The swirling currents of Rosario Strait are clearly visible.  South of us we can see the Strait of Juan De Fuca and one edge of the fog bank. The frigid cold wind is biting into us. It had never occurred to me to bring a coat. We soon leave Mt Constitution to the only other people around, two lonely cold but hardy tourists.  Climbing back into the Subaru is the beginning of a fast and scary bobsled ride back to sea level. Coming down I don’t remember near so many switchbacks or how steep the road is.  In minutes we are back at Rosario.  I invite everyone out to the boat for wine and snacks.  It takes three dinghy trips to get the six of us on board, and it’s just about dark when we hang a dim flashlight from the back stay and break out a cheese and cracker assortment, along with a 1.5 liter bottle of fine (read cheap) Merlot.   Before long, we are lost in conversation and story telling. Jaiden enjoys being Sunshine’s wine and cracker steward.  A second bottle of something just as red but decidedly different appears and the night is fast upon us.  The darkness is almost total without the moon. even though the dock is only a short distance away, it can’t be seen, nor can the half dozen or so other boats anchored nearby. Eventually our daughter and her friends decide it’s time to leave and that our dinghy for three can take four of them in one trip. After all, the water is flat calm and its not far to the dock, even if you can’t see it. Why not give it a try.

Dinghy ride at Rosario resort
Freeboard is a relative term.

           They carefully cast off and paddle in the direction of the dock; the silence is complete as we listen for problems.  A few minutes later, our son reappears without his passengers.  Linda and I are both relieved, even though we know they are quite capable, it’s still unnerving having your children paddle off into the darkness in a boat overloaded and only a few inches above the water.  That night I slept very well indeed, I always do on board. . In the morning we go ashore to stretch our legs and check out the new sites.  In earlier years we have toured Rosario, so we skipped the mansion tour, didn’t play outdoor shuffle board, skipped the swimming pool, ignored the gardens where they hold weddings, but we did read the new CafĂ©'s menu and decided we couldn’t afford to eat out.  In the little store, we noted the inflated price for a bottle of propane and felt we shouldn’t be cooking either.  In the tourist souvenir section I try really hard to find something I want enough to be willing to pay a premium for it, and finally settle on some post cards. Post cards are a good way of assuring I get  quality pictures.  In good time we step back into the warm morning sunshine and stroll the manicured Rosario lawns just in time to watch Jaiden petting a deer and scratch its head. After awhile I’m sure I must have said “it’s time to go” but it really wasn’t, it was time to stay.