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     San Juan

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San Juan, the biggest island in the San Juans, is stuffed with public places and parks that welcome families, first-time visitors and history fans. Its only a slightly longer trip from Anacortes, and walk-on ferry riders will have more than enough to keep them busy in Friday Harbor. For those taking cars, the island is a perfect day-trip adventure, from its vineyards to its American and British military camps to its tiny county parks and city picnic areas.

Roche Harbor, the historic village roughly at the island's north end, is in the midst of some of the most spectacular shoreline, including Lime Kiln Point State Park, with its resident eagles and wild-bluff overlooks. Most visitors notice the wildlife first, especially if they venture toward the island's center. San Juan Island is very agricultural, and it has been since homesteading Americans supplanted the Native American population.

Two national parks dominate, just because they are tied to a bit of history that prompted an international incident in the 19th Century. The Pig War, as it is commonly known, broke out in 1859 when someone fired on the swine and the British and Americans argued about whose country owned what. Separate encampments, now nicely called the San Juan Island National Historical Park, were established at the southern (American) and northern (British) ends. It took several years to iron out the differences, and the upshot is that the two sites have been preserved, much as they were nearly 140 years or so ago.

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