Arriving on Lopez, time slows down. So do the people. Cars drive slowly in harmony with bikes. Even visitors give and receive the infamous Lopez wave… you’ll see.
Just off the ferry from Orcas, we hurried to the Spencer Spit State Park to try and find a campsite. No luck. So we turned around and ended up at the campground around the corner from the ferry terminal, Odlin County Campground. It suited us just fine for our weekend getaway, especially on the first night when we secured a waterfront site and could watch the glowing ferries and boats pass all evening long.
Across the road from our site was a lovely couple from Oregon. One of the pair, Marcello, visits annually, so he took it upon himself to set us up with a list of his favorite spots. It was a bright, sunny day, as it would be the rest of the weekend, so we began our tour.
The thing about Lopez is you can’t make a wrong turn, not really. And everything is beautiful… farms everywhere surrounded by the sea… a little village in the center with a bakery, restaurants and small shops. So, if you’re wondering what to do there? Just be. Explore.
We did just that and had some special experiences. We walked through the forest to Shark Reef Sanctuary and perched ourselves on a rock to watch its wild display of sea lions swimming and lounging on the hot rocks. We hiked the short distance to Iceberg Point and soaked in the 360-degree view. We discovered an abandoned homestead with a field of unidentifiable varieties of pears and apples and picked a few for the road. We ran into a man selling homemade salmon jerky from his truck. We dove into the icy waters at Watmough Bay after our perfect morning harvesting grapes for the year’s wine harvest.
That was, to be sure, the highlight of our time here and perhaps our trip… the day spent volunteering at the annual grape harvest. A group of thirty or so volunteers gathered together at Lopez Island Vineyard and set to work picking. Bucket and clippers in hand, we were stationed throughout the vineyard. We worked our way down the rows, stopping only to deposit the contents of our buckets in the huge crates at the end of the row. The work went quickly, and before long we were standing in a circle holding hands giving thanks for the work bringing us all together. Then we feasted– a homemade meal made by one of the owners and glass after glass of delicious wine. “We” consisted of people from everywhere–vacationers, locals, old, and young– we’d all found our way there, to Lopez, and were all the better for it.
A note on volunteering at the vineyard: The community wine harvest is usually held at the end of September on a Saturday (or two Saturdays). They will post information on their Facebook page as the time nears. When we volunteered, it was a half day of working (with a snack break) and a family-style lunch after. If you have the chance to do this, please do. We will absolutely be back.