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Our one-week journey takes us to an archipelago in the Puget Sound, just off the United States’ northwest corner: the San Juan Islands. It’s a perfect trip if you don’t mind taking on a cooler climate.

Actually, the weather’s relatively pleasant, since the islands are protected by mountain ranges on the Olympic Peninsula – giving them over 250 days of sunshine a year and half the rain that Seattle receives some 60 miles away.

In addition to temperate weather, the islands’ scenery and seclusion make them a popular draw for vacationers.

Each of the islands here offers a different look and personality. San Juan Island has the largest town, Friday Harbor, located right at the ferry landing. Surrounded by forest, the town provides an excellent base for hiking, biking, swimming, fishing, kayaking, boating, bird watching, beachcombing and scuba diving.

Cycling seems to be one of the most popular activities. Bicyclists can be found along unpopulated roads that embrace the coastline and wind through rolling hills dotted with century-old pastures and farmhouses.

Another popular sport is whale watching – nothing tops a seaside encounter with the giant orcas. As my wife and I are hiking, we’re stopped in our tracks by the sight dozen of black-and-white orcas leaping in and out of the frigid waters. There’s excitement with each whale’s sigh and blow.

Perhaps the best sport in the San Juan Islands is fishing for trout in lakes atop beautiful Pacific Northwest Mountain. Around noon, we stop by a stone observation tower that offers a 360-degree panoramic view. On a clear day you can see forever: Vancouver to the north, Bellingham to the east, Victoria to the west and the Olympic Range to the south.

Island-hopping by ferry and land-hopping by bicycle was something to remember!

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