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Hey, Ever Been to Port Townsend?

We spent the weekend on Hood Canal south of Port Townsend. I was glad to revisit old habitat as I lived around Puget Sound including Seattle and Bainbridge and Vashon Islands and had boats and friends with boats and we frequently explored the area.

It was short-sleeve sunshine weather and Jeff scuba dived with a group from Oregon while I wandered around. After his dive on Sunday, we walked the beach, saw crab and minnows in the shallows and picked up oysters and ate them right there sitting on a driftwood log as we watched otters frolic offshore. We ate blackberries and saw mushrooms that might have been edible and marveled at the bounty where one merely had to rummage around to eat gloriously well. We did not, however, find any Tabasco, horseradish or tequila.

We would have explored Hood Canal more on Saturday, except the scuba group left Jeff in Port Townsend, an hour’s drive from where we were staying at a little motel/senior center (motel rooms on top; senior center below) in the middle of a one gas station, one grocery store, one café, no post office town. At the motel were the fussy woman manager, her adult gemologist ”Oh, I could talk jewelry forever” daughter and a secluded husband who watched TV in their curtain drawn living quarters behinds the office, only to appear once when I was getting ready to drive off in the pickup. He needed to make certain I knew what I was doing with the can of ether to start the engine and to ask what year my rig was and if it was diesel and what kind of mileage I got.

The phone call to the office from Jeff (no cell phone service) was apparently the most exciting thing that’s happened at the motel/senior center in decades.

“They left him!” the thin, worried manager, said, part glee, part horror, wringing her hands as she imparted the news to me a gathering group of seniors. She just couldn’t get over it. After tsk tsking with the group, I imagined her busy on the phone, the news rushing through town like wildfire.

The dive group did notice he was missing after a half-hour’s drive and a stop at a scuba outfitter to refill their tanks. Oops, the guy Jeff told he was going across the street to the bank and to not leave without him left without him. This is what happens perhaps with excessive scuba experience. Jeff was found and all was well, although he was hoping they wouldn’t return and I would drive up to get him so we wouldn’t have to spend the evening with the other divers prone to wandering thoughts and long pauses between connections. Oxygen deprivation is a marvelous thing, no?

We share a potluck dinner with the divers. I am enjoying some fresh fried oysters when one of the divers walks up and asks me how I like it up here.

“I like it a lot,” I say. “I used to live in Seattle and we fooled around in boats near here and Port Townsend, so I’m familiar with the area.”

“It’s beautiful, isn’t it?” he says. Pause. “Ever been to Port Townsend?”

“Yes,” I say, “ I’ve been there a few times and really liked it.”

“You should have come with us, you would have liked Port Townsend.”

“Uh, huh. I like it. It’s a really nice town—the harbor, all the shops and the Victorian houses.”

“It’s beautiful up here isn’t it? Have you ever been to Port Townsend?”

I smile.

Long pause, he’s thinking.

“You really should have come with us. You’d like Port Townsend. Ever been up here before?”

I smile again, but now I’m thinking, gosh, maybe I should shove the fried oysters up his nose until he stops breathing.

He wanders off and another diver sits next to me.

“Hi, Ever been up here before?”

“Yes I have. It’s beautiful.”

“It’s beautiful isn’t it? Have you ever been to Port Townsend?

I consider shoving the fried oysters up my own nose until I stop breathing.

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