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West coast, Olympic Penninsula


Dandylions, Sequim Bluff

Olympic Peninsula, Washington


It wasn’t snowing when we hiked to the bluffs overlooking the Straits of Juan de Fuca, but we awoke to snow glazed in ice. No matter, we had Arctic gear from Alaska years — tent and down sleeping bags. Got up, chipped the ice off the tent, a fire under frozen water for coffee and tea and enjoyed a stunning sunny morning. Forgot one thing: Had to hike back out in the deep freeze. Too far and too long for three toes. Now, when it’s cold, those toes burn in screaming pain. Yeow. And always recall the searing beauty of that sunlit morn overlooking the Straits.

Then there was the bee sting on one of the empty western beaches, my boyfriend’s arm swollen way too fast and huge. I remember running across sand dunes to the car, and driving to where? Forks? A doctor at home somehow on a Sunday? Odd, I only remember the panic and the trying to run in sand. I do know he got an epinephrine shot. And we drove home. A long, long drive home to Seattle.

A couple years later, we explored the waters and islands of Puget Sound and Hood Canal in our boat. A real cruising classic, 40-feet, teak decks, sleeps six. Home-built in the 1930s or ‘40s by some master crafter. We didn’t know the provenance, but my suspicions are a Joe Dyer design (see similar boat, Merrimac http://www.geocities.com/crodhull3/gallery_5.htm).

Our first outing into Hood Canal, we read our navigation maps carefully, but somehow didn’t read the tide. Late at night, three of us playing cards (our fourth in the bunk mildly seasick), moored safely about 200 yards off shore…maybe it was the beer, but were we tilting? Naw. Another half-hour. Oh, yeah, no doubt about it, we’re really tilted. We hop up, hold on, and there’s Magee, fallen out of the bunk, bleary-eyed, staggering, what happened? We’re uh, sitting on mud. We make a pact not to tell anyone and wait up all night for the incoming tide to set us free. We since can laugh about it. But not then.

Cruising for days, stopping at docks for fuel and beer, we always had all we could eat by fishing or heading to shore to scavenge clams and oysters. Walk the beach, rake for steamer clams or pluck oysters (one of the guys with a mini-bottle of Tabasco sauce in a back jeans pocket), shuck right there and slurp. Lunch. The steamers we’d save for dinner. Ah, yes, those were the days....

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