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Access: To get to the American San Juan Islands from Vancouver take the Tsawwassen Ferry to Swartz Bay. [See Getting to Tsawwassen.] From the ferry follow traffic along Highway 17 towards Victoria, watching for directional signs to Sidney, BC. Follow the signs left on to McTavish, proceed one block, then turn left on to Lochside. Peddle north along the sea shore to Ocean Avenue, across from the Information Center. Turn right on Ocean Avenue continuing to the terminal entrance at 2499 Ocean Avenue. The route is well-marked from the Highway 17 turn-off to the terminal entrance.

There is only one ferry daily from Sidney to the San Juans. Leaving at just before noon, it makes one stop at San Juan Island before proceeding to Anacortes, Washington. Upon arrival at 3 PM it is necessary to clear customs before turning around and lining up to reboard the ferry an hour later. This time the destination is Lopez Island. From here cyclists can island hop at leisure. Frequent sailings on the inter-island ferry provide links to Shaw, Orcas then San Juan Island in turn with the cycling becoming more demanding as each island is conquered. At the end of it all, pick up the international run at Friday Harbour on San Juan Island for the crossing back to Sidney.

Contact: Washington State Ferries Sidney, BC: (250) 381-1551 or (250) 656-1531 USA: 1-888-808-7977 (Washington only) or (206) 464-6400 Internet: Washington State Ferries

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Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Though not in themselves palatable, skunk cabbage leaves had a zillion uses around the aboriginal kitchen. The unusually large leaves were ideal for lining and covering containers, lining steam pits, making fruit leather and sun drying seafood. Bears are known to bung themselves up by ingesting copious quantities of mud just prior to settling in for that long winter nap. Come springtime they seek out the laxative properties of skunk cabbage to -- stand back -- flush the system.

Illustration by Manami Kimura