Wednesday, August 7, 2013

San Juan Islands: Roche Harbor Blues

"I can live without money, but I cannot live without love." -Judy Garland

Tucked away in the northwest corner of San Juan Island is Roche Harbor. A boater's paradise and a rich man's playground, the average visitor to this lovely port is by no means average. During my short, sunset stop here, I saw several people who painted for me a picture of life at this magical resort:

  • Teenage boys in dress shorts and designer polos playing boccee ball along the shore.
  • A father roasting fresh oysters in his yacht's onboard grill for his children's dinner.
  • Small groups of preteen girls strolling carelessly around the docks in their Sperry Top Siders.
  • Red-carpet-ready couples heading for dinner at the local hotel.
  • Lap dogs prowling on their owners' decks or riding about in designer handbags

But I saw one person who told me a different kind of story. A young woman, probably about twenty, wearing a work apron and jeans, was breaking down what had obviously been a catered event for maybe 100 people. White canopies still stood over a wide section of dock in the middle of the marina; the tables were already gone but this person was working alone to stack the chairs and move them down the docks toward the shore.

My daughters and I approached her as she was wheeling one of these teetering towers. She hesitated when she saw us, obviously trying to decide how best to get out of our way. However, common sense clearly dictated that we yield to her bulky load, and without a word, the three of us stepped to the edge of the dock to let her pass. I watched her face, hoping to make eye contact and offer her a smile of understanding and commiseration at her difficult task. But she never lifted her eyes. As she moved past us, she murmured a quick apology for inconveniencing us, and pushed her load on down the dock.

The evening sun was still filling the sky with color as we headed back to our car and drove out of town. Roche Harbor is a breathtakingly beautiful place to visit, but I definitely don't belong there.

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Read more about my adventures on San Juan Island:

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