If you're looking for a getaway, an island is always a great place to start. On rural islands, there is a thing that I call "island time." I'm sure someone else coined that phrase, but it basically means that the frantic pace of the city gets left behind as soon as you step onto the ferry. In Friday Harbor, Washington on San Juan Island, it's a little harder to sense island time because Friday Harbor is touristier than other places in the San Juan archipelago. There's even a movie theater and a shopping district.

But if you want the best of both worlds -- a bit of island time while still having things to do when rusticity and quiet get to be too much for you, then Friday's Historic Inn (built in1891) might be a good place to start. It's quiet and tranquil while still being only two blocks from the ferry terminal and next door to restaurants and shops.

The owners have menus from all the local restaurants and can point you to the best restaurant for your mood or diet. Since I was on a high protein diet that week, they sent me to a place called the Back Door Kitchen, which not only had wonderful food, but helped me figure out what I could order and how I could swap things around on their menu to get a nice meal without too many carbs for the same price.

The Sucia Room.
The Matia Room.
The Salt Spring Suite.
The Lopez Suite.
Here you'll find rooms from $90 to $255 a night -- all decorated with handmade furniture from driftwood found on local beaches. My room had a driftwood headboard, but other rooms had more elaborate touches. The lobby/parlor is decorated with a hand-stamped tin ceiling (reproduction) and boasts a book and movie lending library as well as a fireplace and comfy couches.

But the rooms are where you'll really start enjoying your stay. All of the deluxe rooms have Jacuzzi tubs; one has its own hot-tub. Most of the rooms have balconies, and some have water views. All were furnished with king-size beds and kitchenettes (for the less deluxe rooms, the hosts have put in shared kitchenettes so that all guests have access to the same amenities). My room was spacious and quiet with a small desk and a huge bed. I had a shared bathroom, but I never encountered anyone else using it, so it felt private. And you have high-speed Internet access -- albeit at a Mac workstation, so this poor reviewer who works for a nameless computer company in Redmond was a little baffled about how that strange operating system works.

But what makes this inn a place I would recommend is the service. The host was informative without being intrusive. His recommendations for restaurants and places to stock up for a kayaking trip were very helpful. Better yet, the day I arrived there was an island-wide, planned power outage, so the host provided us each with flashlights. Since I had to be up early, he even leant me a battery-operated alarm clock.

Since I was on a high-protein diet, I didn't sample the continental breakfast that was set out the next morning, but it looked good. Fresh-baked scones, strong coffee, and juices seemed to be the focus.

A day on island time is more relaxing than an ordinary day, and I felt refreshed and ready to go. - By Kevin Fansler, Seattle Correspondent. REad Pam Mandel's Jetsetters Magazine feature, Sailing With The J-Pod.

The most common complaint about visiting any of the San Juan Islands, including Friday Harbor, involves the Washington State Ferry. Not the cost, which at $5 per person round trip is incredibly inexpensive. Not the trip, which lasts 90 minutes through some of the of the most beautiful scenery anywhere. Not the schedule, which is on-time often enough to set your clock by it. Not even the food, which is pretty fair for cafeteria grub. No, it is the legendary 5 HOUR wait for a ferry. As with many legends, there is more fiction than fact. P
resented here are the facts:

Ferry service between Friday Harbor and the mainland (Anacortes) operates year round. Depending on the season, there are between 7 and 9 round trip sailings every single day. Except for the trip to Sidney, B.C., the ferry service does not accept reservations. First come, first served is the rule.

If you are willing to avoid "rush hour" traffic, you can always find space for your car. The first sailing in the morning and last sailing at night are never full. If you walk, ride a bike or a motorcycle, you will always get on the next sailing.

If you show up 20 minutes early for the 1:20pm sailing on a sunny summer day your car will get bumped to the 5:00pm departure and you to can add to the legend of the FIVE HOUR wait.

Within Washington, you can get an updated recording of the ferry schedule by calling (800) 84 FERRY

Driving to the ferry terminal in Anacortes is simple. Take Exit 230 from Interstate 5 and following Hwy 20 West approximately 20 miles into Anacortes. Turn left at the stop light in front of the Safeway grocery and proceed another 3 miles to the terminal.

"San Juan Islands, WA Recreation Map"

"Great Pacific Recreation & Travel Maps produces this great map of Washington State's San Juan Islands. Complete with recreation finder map and guide, this product has full coverage of San Juan County & Anacortes, WA.

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