Lopez Island , WA – August 2012


Helen signed up for a three-day seaweed foraging and cooking weekend seminar, taking place on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands in Washington. Camping in a group site, the idea was they would collect seaweed during the day and then cook delicious seaweed cuisine at night. I was skeptical but decided to come along and kayak while Helen did the seaweed thing; I haven’t been to the San Juans for a while and it’s a great kayaking area.

Early the following morning, I was up and on the water early for the 12 mile circumnavigation of Shaw Island. Calm seas and full sun, a great day to explore the undeveloped rocky shores of Shaw. A wonderful leisurely paddle dodging pleasure boats sneaking in and out of the harbors and inlet along the coast. I made good time and was back on shore by mid afternoon.

Kayaking lopez with harbor seal in the background.

Kayaking lopez with harbor seal in the background.

When I arrived back at the campsite, it was a-buzz with activity as the foragers prepared for another excursion; apparently it was low tide, prime time to find the elusive nori seaweed. As Helen ran from the campsite she yelled, “can you hang up the rest of the kelp?”. I wandered over to the tent to find a sagging clothes line with a few pieces of kelp on it and a big wet trash bag of seaweed sitting in front of the tent door. Alone in the campsite, like a good boy scout I strung up the line properly and began to hang up the slimy kelp thinking, “how did this happen?”

I got screwed.

the kelp clothes line

the kelp clothes line

On the final day we began to load up the car with multiple hefty bags full of seaweed. Helen informed me that she’d been told it was beneficial to put ground up seaweed in your condiments. I said ” you’re not putting seaweed in the ketchup.” I love my ketchup. She replied, “But it’s good for you and you won’t even notice.”

We had to wait a few hours for the ferry and took a walk along the beach. It was a clear and hot day, and the sun was beating down on our car full of trash bags of seaweed. As the ferry approached, we returned to the car and opened the door, the smell was overpowering, like a fish cannery.

The following day back at the house we set up a large blue tarp in the backyard and laid out the seaweed to dry in the sun. We hung a twenty-foot line to hang the kelp. The neighbors must have wondered what we were up to now; luckily, they think we are crazy anyway.

And yes, I spotted some foreign particles in the Heinz the other day, small black flakes!

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