San Juan Island and the Great Pig War!

Ahoy, everyone!

I’ve just arrived in Seattle, Washington, jewel of the Pacific Northwest, to attend the wedding of my good friends, Whitney and Brad! When I stepped off the plane, I ran right into a familiar face. It was Bigfoot, and he was posing for selfies with folks! I’m glad to see he’s taking his life in a new direction, and if this is how visitors get greeted at the airport here, I can tell that Seattle and I will get along just fine.

I had until 8:15 before I had to catch a boat to the San Juan Islands, so, cliché though it may be, my first stop on this first visit to the Evergreen State was the famed Space Needle! Installed for the 1962 World’s Fair, this tower is, like the CN Tower in Toronto and Pearl TV Tower in Shanghai, a major attraction for folks wanting to take in sweeping views of the city!

Today, the Space Needle was mobbed by runners participating in the Seattle Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon, so going up to the top was out of the question for this trip. Instead, to pass the time until boarding time, I found a really neat, and equally futuristic, playground to frolic away the chilly dampness on this late spring morning!

At last, departure time rolled around, and I climbed aboard the San Juan Clipper, bound for the sea beyond Puget Sound! These shellfish-rich waters are home to seals and grey whales, who feast on the clams, oysters, and Dungeness crabs that make the Seattle area a seafood smorgasbord! Over the course of three rainy hours, we didn’t see much in the way of wildlife, but I was pretty jealous of the folks living on the shores of the gorgeous islands we passed all along the way. Sure, it’s remote, but the scenery can’t be beat!

After passing between Orcas and Lopez Island, the Clipper reached San Juan Island and docked at Friday Harbor! The wedding wasn’t going to be for another five hours, which gave me plenty of time to catch a local taxi down to the first of two important national park sites on this island: American Camp of San Juan Island National Historical Park!

With no phone reception at this end of the island, I had only one hour to see American Camp before the taxi driver—a retired special ops agent who talked about the time he had to stage a car crash and a house fire in order to kidnap a KGB officer—came back to pick me up! That meant I had to learn as much as I could, as quickly as I could. Luckily, I’ve gotten pretty good at that over the years!

San Juan Island National Historical Park is special because it is where a war almost broke out over a pig! See, the San Juan Islands were part of disputed boundary between Britain’s Canada and America’s Oregon Territory. The two countries signed the Oregon Treaty on June 15, 1846, declaring that the two territories would be split along a major channel in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The only problem was, the treaty never specified which channel!

So both Britain and the US started stationing troops on different ends of San Juan Island. Tensions were high, until 1859 when a British pig (actual pig) wandered onto American territory and got shot! One thing led to another until both the British and American navies were stationed en masse at the island, prepared to go to war over this pig!

Luckily for all, the military leaders were not so brash as to actually go to war over this pig. Instead, they appealed to Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany for arbitration. It took twelve years to take this step and another year of meetings in Geneva before the Kaiser ruled in favor of the USA, and San Juan Island became part of Oregon Territory and later Washington State! It was the first instance in world history when a war had been prevented by third-party arbitration!

I’ll have more on that tomorrow, but first, I have to run! The taxi’s here, and I have to get dressed for the wedding!

Must be San Juandering off!

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