More Shocking San Juan Facts

These are the FACTS that other San Juan Web pages WILL NOT tell you!

Gas Prices

This fall gas costs about $1.67/ Gallon.
This summer (tourist season - by co-incidence ) it was $1.74.
Mainland prices run about AT LEAST $ .25/ gallon cheaper.

Food Prices

Food prices have been known to make strong men cry here.
Without a stock market ticker it would be hard to keep track of
changing prices, and a lot depends on what you buy. But in my
own experience my food dollars go about 40% further on the mainland.
WHEN and IF I get there. See FERRIES below.

Yellow Jackets

Did you know that the local hardware store sold over 500 yellow jacket traps
in August alone - at $13 a pop?

What does this say about your safety, or that of your loved ones????

What does this say about local prices?

Did you know that Yellow Jackets out-number humans in
the San Juans by many orders of magnitude?

Salt water Access

Legal waterfront access is extremely limited in the San Juans,
with Orcas Island the worst offender.( Don't even ask about Shaw)
Although Orcas is the largest of the islands, with a long, convoluted coastline,
there are about 6 public access points to salt, water, some with limited or no
parking. One requires a walk of 1 mile, although the path is admittedly scenic.

As an island resident, you don't really expect me to tell you where they are located, do you?

The coin's other side

People approching the island shores don't exactly get met with shotguns, but
it's basically all private property (above the high tide line) except at the
above mentioned sites. Kayak groups seem to be especially not welcome,
sometimes with good reason, given the past behavior of some folks.

Real Estate Industry

There are over 40 Real Estate Agencies listed in the current phone book.
A large part of the local economy is driven by land sales, or construction.
How long can that sort of thing keep up before what you came here for
is over and done with?

Newsflash! At last count there were 60 real estate agents on Orcas alone, or about
one for every 50 or so inhabitants depending on your population data.
Population information is sensitive information too. For years the Gazette on
Martha's Vineyard claimed a summer population of 12,000 when the actual figures
were 3 to 4 times as large.


Most logging on the islands is the result of land clearing for development.
"Opening up" views seems to be a favorite pass-time for new arrivals, and is
often a code word for clear cutting the lot or acerage.

Number of consecutive days this author was passed by a loaded log truck:

Home Economics

Average yearly wage in San Juan County :

Average home price :

With these numbers it would take 3 full time workers, with good credit, to qualify for one mortgage.

The Ferries

General Information

The current Fall schedule shows 5 Eastbound (back to the mainland) ferries
or about one every 3-4 hours. In summer there were 8, if you count the 1:30 AM
which technically sails on the next day.

In fall and winter, at least for the morning sailing, which is about the only one
that gets you over to the mainland in time to accomplish anything, you need to be
in line about an hour ahead of time.

In the summerthe waits are quite a bit longer. On sundays getting
off-island is an all day affair.

Specific Examples

Lets say you live at Obstruction Pass, and you have a doctor's appointment on the
mainland at noon. This means the red-eye, which leaves Orcas at 7:15 AM. It's about
a 40 minute drive to the terminal. You don't dare miss the appointment - it could take
weeks to get another so you decide to be in line an hour ahead of time. Depending
on your own pace you need to get up somewhere between 5:30 or 6 AM. That's if you decide to eat breakfast at the landing, or risk ferry food. If the boat is on time - not always a sure thing - you arrive in Anacortes
at 8:30 AM. If the Doc is in Seattle you will have enough time to make it - provided the traffic on
I-5 isn't jammed in it's customary manner.

The Return

With a noon appointment in Seattle, you will be hard pressed to make the 3:30
afternoon sailing. No problem, there's the 5:20 which arrives Orcas at 6:20.
You'll probably be back home a little after 7 PM. Hey, it's only a 14 hour day.


If you arrive well in time for a boat with priority loading for another island, you can still
have the singular pleasure of watching other cars who arrived well after you being
loaded, while you are cooling your heels. This happened to a friend who was
bumped into overloadwhen she was the 14th car in line for Orcas.

Don't worry - the story has a happy ending - she got a place on the 6:40 and was home before 9. That's why they run a "sweeper" in the summer around 1 AM, to pick up any and all stranded souls where ever they are.

Man's Best Friend

Hippie to dog ratio

In the San Juan Islands the hippie to dog ratio is approximately as follows:
1 hippie - 2 dogs
2 hippies - 3 dogs
3 hippies - 5 dogs
It is presumed that this progression continues ad infinitum.

Name Recognition

Number of Dogs that know their own name: 75 - 90%.
Number of dogs that come when called: 10-25 %.

Local Media

Broadcast TV:

Number of people moving to the SJ's that are guaranteed to be able to recieve
at least one Canadian Hockey game:

Number of people moving to the SJ's that will probably be able to recieve
the audio portion of the occassional PBS show:
30 %
Probability when this show is a re-run:

Print media

Chances that your child will be mis-identified in any news photo they appear in:

Chances that your child will be mis-identified in any front page picture

Percentage of ideologically driven letters to editor:
50%, except during elections -then it's 90-100%
Probability that the writer of such a letter will claim that "the other side" gets all the coverage:
Probability that this writer has been making the same point for the past 5-10 years

Further additions can be expected as our reporters uncover them!