The social whirl of a San Juan Islands winter

Lynn Thompson walks Lopez Island’s Iceberg Point, looking out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across to the Olympic Mountains.

VISITS WITH FRIENDS count double when it’s mid-winter, you live on a remote island, and you might not see another human some days.

So I didn’t hesitate when my chums Lynn and David invited me over to their Lopez Island digs earlier this week.

There was talk of lunch, and maybe a Scrabble game. And if the weather was conducive to an outdoor trek, their holiday home is barely more than a puddle-jump from the trailhead to Iceberg Point, one of the most popular and scenic hiking spots in the San Juans.

I got lazy and left my boat, WeLike, stored on its trailer, choosing to hire a water taxi for the 2.5-mile crossing of Lopez Sound on Monday. But I did get the chance to give a good run to Ranger Rick, my Ford pickup that is parked at Lopez’s Hunter Bay County Dock. As of this year, Ranger Rick is old enough to vote. He needs to stay limber.

A lenticular cloud caps 14,411-foot Mount Rainier as seen from Iceberg Point.

I trundled some trash and recycling to the Lopez Dump, one of the island’s social centers, sipped a coffee on the deck at Isabel’s in the village, and picked up a few items of fresh produce at the market before heading to my friends’ place.

Lynn had cooked up a tasty carrot-ginger soup, served with some good Barn Owl Bakery bread. I contributed a bowl of my famous blueberry-apple-walnut cole slaw, of which David ate thirds. And we sipped some nice wine while I admired their newly renovated kitchen, deck and carport.

David asked for tips on blogging, because he’s helping his octogenarian father publish some writings about vintage family photos, a nifty idea. I offered a few strategies, not all of which worked. The sky outside was cloudy but dry and the wind pretty calm, so Lynn and I then took their energetic Springer spaniel out for a hike on Iceberg, which we had all to ourselves.

The southernmost point of Lopez (and of all the major San Juan Islands), Iceberg Point offers a stunning view across the 21-mile-wide Strait of Juan de Fuca. Surprising on this overcast afternoon, on the far side the Olympic range was clearly visible below the clouds. To the southeast, Mount Rainier peeked (peaked, should we say?) over the top of Whidbey Island. I’ve rarely seen it from here in summer; winter parcels out its little surprises.

Scrabble had to wait until next time, as I had a water taxi to catch.

As January met February, that was my social whirl for the week. Today, winter gales are back, the trees are dancing a bugaloo, and nobody’s coming or going from Center Island in the San Juans. Stay warm, friends.