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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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Fireweed

Fireweed

Gashes in the forest caused by fire, blowdown or human intrusion are quickly filled in by pioneer species such as fireweed or salal. Quick growing red alder and maple soon take over, being themselves supplanted in turn by Douglas fir once soil has stabilized. Eventually shade tolerant climax species such as western red cedar and western hemlock will come to dominate. The whole process can take centuries if not millennia. Immature fireweed plants can be cooked whole like broccoli while the young leaves can be used as salad greens. Fireweed is high in both beta-carotene and vitamin C. During pre-contact times fireweed seed fluffs found utility as pillow stuffing.

Illustration by Manami Kimura