Harrison House Suites was host to the Travelling Red Chair this past month. It arrived by ferry and left the same way a week later, off to be hosted by another member of the Washington Bed and Breakfast Guild. The Red Chair is on its fourth year of journeying around the United States, and has become a symbol of the warmth and hospitality offered by a bed and breakfast inn such as Harrison House Suites.
It was my pleasure and privilege to accompany the Red Chair around the island to a number of events and sightseeing opportunities. In the process, I came to see how placement of a common household item into wild and offbeat surroundings created a work of art, a moment of contemplation, and a unique experience for all of us.
The Red Chair (I began calling it “she” somewhere along the middle of the week) and I had an ambitious schedule, and it was, after all, the “quiet time” on the island. It seemed a pretty straightforward project: haul the chair somewhere, set it down, take pictures, then off to the next site. It just never worked out that way.
People stopped and asked questions, sat on the Chair, covered it with dogs,helmets, scarves and cups. The wind at Lime Kiln State Park tried to take the Chair into the Strait of Juan de Fuca one morning.
We were all envious of the Chair when it went whale watching with Maya’s Legacy Charters and saw NINE humpback whales on the trip.
I met the Red Chair as it was sitting in the Harrison House Suites Garden Room Café, where the guests meet up and have their gourmet breakfast each morning.
Waiting for Breakfast at the Harrison House Suites Cafe
I admit I was not that impressed, knowing that this chair had been in a Vermont wedding, atop mesas in Santa Fe, and hanging out with the Oregon Coast Guard.
Dave and Anna Maria took “Red” out that afternoon to South Beach and Cattlepoint Lighthouse at American National Park.
Monday morning I set out with “Red”to Lime Kiln Lighthouse, located on the west side of the island. The weather was imposing, but as I posed the Chair in various ways, the wind was robust, the waves were banging against the rocks, and we had complete solitude – it was wonderful. The creative idea of posing Red on top of some windswept rocks near the lighthouse resulted in me climbing down the cliff to rescue her from an unplanned dip into the sea.
The week was full of adventures; an early morning drive to Roche Harbor to sit in a kayak with San Juan Outfitters, hike to the McMillian family Mausoleum, and tour the San Juan Islands Sculpture Park; back to Friday Harbor to pose with the whale tail, visit the Island Museum of Art, and hang out with Red’s elders.
Red Chair and I visited the Friday Harbor Airport, attended a Friday Harbor Town Council meeting, watched the ferries from the end of the docks, and took a trip up Mt. Grant with a San Juan Preservation Trust Board Member.
On another day, we visited with Susie of Susie’s Mopeds, waved at some Trumpeter Swans, met up with Elaine and her five dogs,
Quick stop at IMA
and soaked up some culture at the San Juan Museum of History.
We did some bird-watching and sat for awhile in the peace and quiet of the Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites gardens.
Tucker House Inn
When we saw something interesting along the side of the road, we stopped!
It’s FALL for Cow and Pig
There was Cow and Pig, the Teddybear Tree, The Rock, The Brickworks Pig, Friday Harbor Seafood and Popeye’s statue.
Paying respects at the Mausoleum
Respecting our Elders
When Red and I walked into the Whale Museum, the lady at the counter said, “Oh, yes, everyone brings their own chair in here.” While the Chair was visiting, our local online newspaper San Juan Update published a long article about her. When we came out of the Town Council chambers, two women on the sidewalk said “Oh it’s the Red Chair!”.
I know this sounds a bit corny (a bit?) but when the Red Chair left on Friday morning, I was sad.
We had been to 33 different places and events in our short time together, but we missed so many other delightful spots! Mona the Camel, the Red Strawberry and Yellow Submarine, Spike Africa, the Alpaca Farm….oh well, maybe next trip.
For more details on the adventures with me and Red Chair, keep checking this blog!