Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Jones Island Shrimp Fest- San Juan Islands, Washington

It just sort of happened, the way some magical times do.

 (View from the dock on Jones Island)

Jones Island is a state park island in the Washington's San Juan Island group, basically a 188-acre marine camping park with 25,000-feet of saltwater shoreline on the channel.
It's pretty popular and has a small dock... maybe 8 boats at the dock, plus some extra to raft on the outside of their friends on the dock, if you're lucky. We were part of a group of three boats that scored two dock spots, and rafted together for the last night of our San Juan boating adventure.  We've boated together before many times, but this time was kind of special.  The rest of the dock was fully loaded with other boaters.
The whole dock converged to be a fantastically compatible group, like a super fun dock cocktail party, and progressive dinner all rolled into one. 
But, I get ahead of myself...

The island is amazingly beautiful with two distinct "lobes" that attach in a narrow low spot on the island.  We hiked about 4 miles around one lobe one day, and all agreed it was one of the prettiest hikes we've ever taken.

The fun part though?

Coming back from our hike we met this woman.  Somewhat intense, box in hand, asking questions of us gals. In her box was about 8-10 huge ziploc bags of freshly cooked prawns, ready to peel and eat.  She was about to become our new best friend.

She mentioned that they came to Jones Island every year as an extended family vacation, with about 30 people coming and going over the couple weeks they were on the island, camping and staying on boats.  We met many of them including some of their soon to be Portuguese "in laws".  Happily, this gal and her husband gave us a bunch of shrimp! Immediately, they jumped on their boat and went out to check their other pots in the deep waters of the sound.
Apparently the joy of this was catching the shrimp, first and foremost.

Our group gets ready for our dinner, starting, of course, with our new gift of fresh  shrimp and cocktail sauce.  

Before we can start, In comes the returning boat of our new found friend.  What do they have, but another two huge tubs of fresh caught shrimp.  Nothing doing, we all immediately start helping to clean the shrimps. I mean, it's like "pay back" you know?

There is lots of squealing and fun as we learn the best way to make this happen.

Cleaning is basically twisting off the head of the prawn and setting aside the tail for steaming or boiling.  You can eat shrimp sashimi, if  you are up for it.  Seems a little hard hearted to eat a newly dead shrimp.. but we did it.  Just needed a little soy sauce and some wasabi too.

Here's a shrimp with some barnacles on it... now, how does that happen? 

Everyone brings something for our impromptu potluck dinner on the dock. 

Wine is opened, bourbon appears out of nowhere, conversations and new friends are made.  It was a night like no other.
I feel a little bad as this isn't some destination that you can add to your bucket list.
I mean you can GO there, but I can't promise you all of this.

No matter when you go, you will something to love on Jones Island.  Beautiful madrona trees, large fir trees, white tailed deer, raccoons, beaches, rocky cliffs and beautiful water vistas with other islands in the background.

At the very least, find a little beach and spend some quiet time with a loved one.
Enjoy having most of this island to yourself.

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