Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Bachelor Party On Saddlebag Island Led Me To Learn America's Biggest Boondoggle Still Preserves Feral Cats

Over the weekend Spencer Jack's dad, he being my Favorite Nephew Jason, aka FNJ, and several of his high school buddies floated out to Saddlebag Island State Park to have a bachelor party for one of the buddies who is about to get married.

I saw pictures of the Saddlebag Island Bachelor Party this morning on Facebook. That would be a pair of the aforementioned buddies, standing on Saddlebag Island, looking out at Dot Island.

All these islands are among the hundreds of islands in the San Juan archipelago.

I saw the above picture of Dot Island and thought it might be useful for education purposes.

At my current location much fuss is made by what is known as America's Biggest Boondoggle over something referred to as Panther Island. The Boondoggle slaps the Panther Island nomenclature on all sorts of things.

Calling a chunk of land an island does not magically surround it with water, making it an island.

This is sort of embarrassing, at  least to me, but, apparently, a lot of the locals are okay with an imaginary island. But then, one has to keep in mind those same locals, for decades, were okay with Fort Worth confusing its few tourists by having signs in its downtown pointing to Sundance Square, where there was no square.

Soon upon being in Texas I was in downtown Fort Worth, pretty much being one of those rare out of state tourists. I was confused by the signs pointing to Sundance Square. I had walked all over downtown Fort Worth, which does not take too long, unable to find Sundance Square. Eventually I asked a local  where Sundance Square is. The local pointed to the parking lot under the Chisholm Trail mural and told me "I think that parking lot is Sundance Square."

Years later I learned that a multi-block area of downtown Fort Worth, years before, had been designated Sundance Square, as part of some sort of downtown revitalization project.

A couple years ago Fort Worth finally ceased confusing its few tourists by turning those Chisholm Trail mural parking lots into an actual public square, goofily named Sundance Square Plaza.

Apparently no lesson was learned from the decades of confusing Fort Worth's few tourists with a non-existent Sundance Square, so now the town is confusing its few tourists with an imaginary island.

I do not know how a local answers the "where is the island?" question when asked by one of those few tourists.

Regarding Saddlebag Island State Park, I had not heard of this island or park before, so I Googled it to find myself surprised it was so close to my old home zone. In the lower right of the above map you see the Skagit River wiggling through Burlington and Mount Vernon. Burlington is the town I grew up in. Mount Vernon is where I lived before moving to Texas.

A red balloon marks the location of Saddlebag Island, just to the right of Guemes Island, which is due north of Fidalgo Island, where Spencer Jack's dad's Fidalgo Drive-In is located in Anacortes.

Above Saddlebag Island and slightly to the right is Samish Island. Samish Island is like a Fort Worth island, in that it is not really an island. But, unlike a Fort Worth island, Samish Island used to be a real island before early settlers diked off the sea so as to make a lot of fertile farmland.

The Washington State Park website has a good description of the things one can do on a real island, along with several pictures of what a real island looks like. From the WSP website...

Saddlebag Island (including Dot Island) is a 24-acre marine park located in Padilla Bay with 6,750 feet of shoreline. The park is named for the two rocky knobs separated by a narrow “saddle” of land that form the shape of the island. The park is a boat-in camping park within the San Juan islands, popular for its crabbing opportunities. Beautiful wildflowers bloom on the island between April and May, much earlier than other sites in the San Juan archipelago. The park is a popular site for wildlife viewing, with harbor seals and river otters abundant in the surrounding waters. Visitors frequently report sightings of bald eagles and peregrine falcons in the area.

Wikipedia also has Saddlebag Island State Park entry....

Park activities include boating, crabbing, diving, saltwater fishing, swimming, water skiing, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing, though there are no mooring buoys or docks. The campground has five primitive campsites, one of which is reserved for human- or wind-powered visitors on the Cascadia Marine Trail.

I was shocked to see that Wikipedia has no Panther Island entry. Wikipedia does have an article about America's Biggest Boondoggle, titled Trinity River Vision Project. The article is mostly a propaganda puff piece, so pitifully bad that it causes Wikipedia to ask readers to help improve it because the article has multiple issues. The following paragraph from the Wikipedia Trinity River Vision Project article is an example of those multiple issues....

The goal of the master plan is to preserve and enhance the river and its corridors so they remain essential greenways for open space, trails, neighborhood focal points, feral cats and recreation areas.

No mention of the imaginary island, rockin' the river, wakeboarding, three bridges being built in slow motion, but preserving feral cats is still part of the project......

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