Monday, July 27, 2009

His Name

This "silver fox" if you will, in the middle, is Robert Redford, not Long John Silver, whom I'm pretty sure is a pirate.
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Back in Seattle

Spackle seems to be perfectly comfortable back here at home, but Hoover and I are having some difficulty readjusting. I was telling Ian last night, as I walked around the yard in the dusk, watering some things, and Hoover was grrrrring and rrrrrowfing at the people passing by less than 3 meters away from him, that Hoover was definitely a country dog living a city dog life. I paused, and sighed, and Ian said "Poor Sweetie-pie! You are a country girl living a city girl life."

It's true, I am. And for all the things I do love about the city (and there are many), the quiet, restful, natural independence of the country is definitely more to my taste.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Winding Down

Everyone is tired now. Mom and I went back up the mountain today for our walk with the dogs, and saw several people doing various things. There were some people camping, with a tent and an RV, up near a trail we were considering walking down. A young boy, maybe 12, came over from the camp (we hadn't gone too close), and we asked him some questions about rumored log house ruins in the area, and the state of the trails. Turns out that what he knew about was farther than we wanted to walk, plus it was all downhill going, and all uphill coming back. So we drove to our second choice, which was a lovely, relatively wide and grassy trail. On the way to the trail we saw a couple guys with 4-wheelers and trailers that they had some sort of hounds in—K&A say that they were out treeing bears with their dogs, which doesn't seem very nice for the bears, but keeps the bears afraid of dogs, which is good for those of us who walk and ride with them. We also saw another moose (well, Mom's first), a young bull. We think there must be more wildlife around this year because there's no logging. Have I said that before? Well, I still believe it.

The trail that we ended up on was just our speed for the day—relatively wide, sun-dappled but not dark, relatively level. I kept kicking sticks into the toes of my sandals, which really pissed me off—two bits of evidence that I was tired. Some cows had evidently found this lovely place just moments before we did, and Spackle rolled energetically in a green cowpie so soupy that when he shook, from five feet away, cowshit landed on my foot. This also pissed me off, which I think didn't have so much to do with the fact that I am tired.

Although there were several small rills of water that we passed, none of them offered a deep enough pool to do us any good as far as cleaning. I managed to keep Spackle out of the pie on the way back, and the heat and dry air had dried him enough that he just looked like he'd had his hair spiked with green hairspray. He (and the other dogs) did a lot of pond fetching when we got back, and then he had his second bath of the trip (and possibly the year), although this one used a cold water hose outside.

This afternoon I got to have a ride on Shadow, who not only survived carrying people almost 80 miles in 5 days; she seems to have thrived on it. I rode her bareback, which I usually do . . . but it's been about 3 years since that last happened, and my legs were really aware of it. Shadow loves to be out, and she loves to go fast—she wanted to gallop, not just canter, practically the whole time we were out this afternoon. Hoover and Sadie, also winding down, came along, but pretty much followed the path of the horse the whole time. No gallivanting off into the woods looking for wild turkeys or ground squirrels, or racing after fast-retreating deer. Hoover looked like someone had hit his face with a powder puff after an hour on Shadow's galloping heels.

Mom and I are going to hit the road late tomorrow morning, and I have to say, I think part of my fatigue today is simply the impending return to all the noise and static and light of the city. This is a singular place, and I am lucky to be able to be here.

Friday, July 24, 2009


Now that I've developed a real sense of where I'm going around here, I am obsessed with mapping my moves and my trails. Completely obsessed. I mean, I can't get to sleep at night because I'm trying to figure out which trails will connect up for me to do the big, long ride I'm interested in doing when I'm back in September. And then, when I do get to sleep, Gold Hill (I think it's not actually called Mountain, after all) figures in my dreams. Coupled with Spackle taking over 2/3 of the bed and Sadie continuing to protect us by barking at 1am (although not for as long as when she was down on the porch), I am not actually getting a lot of sleep. Keppra is supposed to make me drowsy? Not so much.

Anyway, in September when I come back, another riding friend will be with me, and we're going to take a trip that might take five hours and will include lunch (I mean, we'll pack a lunch and take a break to eat it). I am very excited, and have many of the legs already worked out in my mind, both from rides I've taken and walks with the dogs. Today, with Mom added to my posse of dogs, another leg was achieved by car and on foot—and lo and behold, our destination today was a place I'd been to, years ago, very accidentally. I've always wondered just what it was, and now I know—the summit of East Gold Hill. At the time, I was staying here alone and rode that day (possibly bareback) a sweet mare named Toby who is now the elderly horse to an elderly woman. I just kept following a trail up and up, and it kept going up, and suddenly we were very high and everything was level and there was a fire ring and the sun was starting to set.

There was still light by the time we found a gravel road, and Toby seemed pretty confident that it was a road that would take us home, and it did. By the time it was completely dark.

Anyway, it was exciting to find the place again today and, once and for all, set the destination for my ride in September with MS.

K has several Forest Service maps of the surrounding areas, complete with FS trails and roads identified, and topography. They're from maybe the mid-70s, so there are a few details that I'm finding are no longer correct—such as the trail we were on today does not actually connect, on the map, with the East Gold Hill summit. To make my obsession easier, when I was in Moscow the other day getting Mom (and a cowboy hat—I'll have to post a picture), I had some enlargements made of the maps of the Jerome Creek Road and Gold Hill and environs. I've been poring over those maps, drawing in my jaunts, reveling in the satellite feature of google maps (although the pictures, some of them, are very out of date. There are new clearcuts as well as older growth that are both misrepresented), and really, REALLY dorking out on the cartography. I've even taking to carrying a compass.


Having Mom here has been charming. I've enjoyed getting to show someone all my explorations, and she's been very good at entertaining herself when I'm off horsing. She took me to dinner at the Hoo Doo last night where I had the gravy-smothered Hot Meatloaf Sandwich with mashed potatoes and a Bud. I've been mostly eating salads and fish and organic beef, which I've enjoyed a lot, but the gravy-smothering was a nice change.

And, sighted today, no bears, but a big coyote, stalking across the path a couple hundred yards in front of me. Sikem, Sadie and Hoover didn't see him.

Everyone just arrived from their ride, and the dogs are going crazy (it's 11:30pm), so I'm going to sign off.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Before My Peace Is Shattered

My mother arrives in Moscow today on the 11:15 commuter plane from Seattle. I know that part of the impetus for her coming is to ride back to Seattle with me in the car (or at least to her house in Maple Valley), because, logical or not, she is worried about the dopiness associated with recently beginning Keppra again. She wasn't available to come with me when I drove out, when it might have mattered, but she's coming now. Frankly, even though I really did feel in perfect control of the vehicle—and I'm not protesting too much here, remember, my drive was uneventful—I would rather ride with me on the return leg, too.

I love my mother very much, and I am excited that she's coming. I didn't, in fact, get my cowboy hat when I went in to town on Monday, as I really didn't feel like doing anything but the grocery shopping. Tri-State, Idaho's Most Interesting Store, is on the way from the airport, though, so I'll take her with me and we'll see what we see.

Anyway, what will change is that there will be someone likely wanting breakfast before 11, shorter walks than two hours, lunch before 3, and dinner long before 10:00pm, when I finally sat down at the table last night (I didn't get back from my ride until 8, then I had to clean up and put away the horse, then water the lawns, then chase a cow out of the yard—it all just added up.). And tomorrow night, since the three who are on the Chief Joseph Ride will be arriving late, late in the night and wanting their own beds, she'll be sharing mine. We actually share pretty well—both of us tend to sleep practically without moving all night long, and she's not much of a snorer—but Spackle will be sad. He's not such a good sharer, and there is absolutely no room on the queen-size bed for three of us.

But mostly I wanted to remember just a few more events before they are banished completely from my mind by the need to be a hostess.

First of all, on the drive home from our hike yesterday, almost at the bottom of the mountain, we came upon two moose! (mooses? meese?). They were a mother and a baby, and were, unfortunately, out of the road and up into the trees long before I could get my camera out. Even though it's digital and I wouldn't be wasting film, there didn't seem much point in a photo of russet hide through thick underbrush. The baby looked to be about Great Dane size, and had a very nobbley and eary head. The first time we were here, almost 8 years ago, we saw a young bull moose, but they're pretty solitary creatures. It was very exciting.

Second, Sikem does not come when I call him to go for a ride. K seems to think the horses come when called; I have never found this to be true. And so I begin every outing dragging myself up the hot, steep, western-facing hill. He at least doesn't run when I finally get to him, and he did allow me to make rudimentary reins out of my lead rope, jump on bareback, and ride him down. No, I was not wearing my helmet. He has also learned to stand, more or less still, next to the newspaper box so that I can collect the paper without getting off, on our way back home. He does not like the rustling of the paper or the fact that my hand disappears and then appears with something in it. He was actually quite good at letting me do this leaning off to the left, which I have done with him in the past; leaning off to the right was an entirely new experience, however, and one that he has not been keen on. He really is a chickenshit.

Third, after the ride, Sadie got Hoover to chase her around the yard in some sort of agility test. He is as fast as her, I think, with no obstacles, and I think she figured that out as well, because she started leading him under fences and through the horse pens. She is just enough shorter than him that she doesn't have to squeeze quite so much, and therefore doesn't have to slow down quite so much. After a couple minutes at top speed, never quite able to pass her (they were neck and tail, mostly), Hoover started to cry out his distress, making these plaintive mini-howls as he galloped: "Eee! Arr! Eee! Ooo!". Spackle then, either fed up with the shenanigans, or annoyed that this little upstart was messing with his family, interposed himself in front of Sadie as she flew by and growled. She immediately stopped and flung herself to the ground at his feet, on her back, in total submission.

I tell you, these creatures. Never a dull moment.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Photos July 22, Midday Walk and Evening Ride

Our walk up on the mountain today was only about 1 1/2 hours, but it was hot, and there was a lot of climbing. Back home, looking at the topographical map, it appears that we only climbed about 800 feet in elevation--that seems low to me. I'm sure it was more like 10,000 feet. Here, the dogs are cooling off in one of the many springs.

This is definitely a fire ring. It's fun to come upon something like this in the middle of nowhere. Is someone camping here, or going to? What is this for???

After our walk, I drove up to the top of the mountain on a different road, and took this picture, looking east over K&A's riding grounds. I think the clearcut slightly to the left of every other pale part is where I got lost with my inlaws several years ago. Shadow got us home, though.

Here is another clearcut, from somewhere up on Gold Mountain (or Gold Hill?).

And here is the same clearcut, from my evening ride. I am finally, finally, beginning to understand the layout of this place. After riding here, mostly cluelessly, for the last six years.

They Are Good For Something, After All

I was just on the phone with Marsh, at 9:00pm for my evening "I've returned safely from my ride" call. I'm supposed to call them by 9, and I tried several times, but Mom was talking to my brother. Real worried about me, I guess. So Marsh took over the worrying and called me from his cell phone. I told him I'd fallen and broken my leg and was stranded in the woods far from home. He gave only a feeble laugh to my joke.

Anyway, in the middle of the call, Tessa, who I had noticed did not seem to be in the house, barked. I went to the door and called out to her, and then saw, dimly because it's night time here on the east side of the time zone, what looked like the outline of a cow in the yard. There are a lot of range cattle in the area right now, and the same gate that keeps K&A's horses in the yard keeps unwanted grazers out. When, that is, the gate is closed. Which it was not, because I remembered to water the new grass this evening after my ride instead of remembering to close the gate.

I quickly hung up with Marsh, borrowed a pair of rubber boots from the mud room (I'm still wearing my riding clothes and socks and all I have downstairs are flip flops), called the dogs (each by name, like Santa Claus), and ran outside as fast as I could. The cow was, fortunately, not too far into the yard, and she hauled ass back across the creek and through the open gate when she saw, and heard, the five of us, screeching like banshees.

In honor of their contributions to the functioning of this exclusive health spa, as I've been thinking of it (in the context, primarily, of "whoever's in charge of trail maintenance at this health spa has not done a very good job of clearing all of my favorite trails"), I have given each of the dogs a matching rawhide bone. Spackle, true to form, is sleeping with his, untouched, tucked in the crook of his tail. The other three are very much going to town.

Update on the Sea Man

Ian said that a couple of the details were not quite as he remembered them (he's very diplomatic, even to me), such as, he was sick on Friday, not Thursday, but for the most part I got it right. He says the boat is maybe 60 feet long, so not huge (compared to yachts in Roche Harbor on San Juan Island). And the first sailor, the one who simply didn't show up, was also in jail (that's what they do to you if you break into the Coast Guard station . . . although how do you do that?), just not in Morro Bay. Somehow, he'd gotten further afield. There is no alcohol allowed on board the boats.

Ian also wanted to point out that it wasn't so intuitive to simply call 20 minutes apart, but that he had been out of cell phone range for almost 5 days, and I hadn't known (indeed, he hadn't known) when he was going to be back in range. And so for me to guess, from mountain Idaho, that he was close, was pretty cool. While we were on the phone at 10pm last night I heard coyotes and he saw a skate swim by, on the surface of the water (the guys decided not to swim after dark, when they had finished counting all their fish. Which, incidentally, includes cutting them open to see if they're male or female and cutting their heads open to remove their otoliths, or ear bones, which show yearly ridges similar to a tree's rings. And then they had fish and rice for dinner.). We are in very different environments at the moment.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


When we were on Sucia, I kept saying "can we just go down this trail? How about this one? Just a little way?" Ian finally said that, if there was one thing he'd learned about me in the last 8 years, it's that I always want to see what's around the next bend. This is certainly true out here, where the woods and usta-woods are criss-crossed with trails. I like to see what's around the next bend on foot, and I like to see what's around the next bend on horseback. I choose to believe that it's never going to be a bear around the next bend.

Today, the dogs and I tried something new, which paid off beautifully. I remembered seeing a numbered Forest Service road somewhere up Gold Hill along the (state? county?) Jerome Creek road, and so we all piled into the car and drove up to it, where we left the car parked off on the side of the road and set out on foot. We walked for about 2 hours, passing woods and springs. We saw what I believe was a firepit, or at least a ring of stones where a firepit might have been (come to think of it, there was no evidence of ash, but then, the stones were no longer quite a ring). We also located what I believe to be a connector route for a long horseback ride, later on when I'm here in September with other riders. And most importantly, I finally made a successful complete circuit of the JC road, and discovered many other Forest Service roads that will need to be explored in the upcoming days. Never time to be bored here!

The possible connector trail . . .

Two roads diverged in a wood and I, I chose both of them, and got very tired.

Even this pristine wilderness isn't pristine. It's far worse than litter in the city, because there are maybe only 20 people who travel this way in a year. Shame on you.

Back at the car.
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The Three Beeves

I think this one must be Butch Cassidy, showing off his tasty flanks.

And these are clearly the Sundance Kid on the right, and maybe Long John Silver on the left? I'll have to ask . . .
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Notes on the Man at Sea

Just got a phone call from Ian—in the way of spousal intuition I had left him a message a scant 20 minutes before, just as he was coming into cell phone range. He's currently off the coast of San Diego (there's a dim gray line along the eastern horizon that is claimed to be land), and the sea is glassy calm. This was not true on Thursday, his first day out, when he felt, unfortunately, a little vomity. He wondered a bit why, in fact, he came on one of these boats again, but then the fun part of sorting a plethora of dead fish returned and he remembered. I guess it's about 80 degrees today, and the people on the boat are talking of throwing a ladder over the edge and going for a swim. Presumably no sharks have been sighted.

There are two boats participating in the survey at the moment, and each lost a sailor (as opposed to a biologist, as Ian is) in their last port, Morro Bay. In the salty, tarry, rummy tradition of seafarers, these sailors got very drunk and disorderly. One maybe just failed to return to ship the morning they were supposed to sail (and was replaced by an extra crew member already on board for some reason); the other spent the night defacing businesses in Morro Bay, then somehow broke into the Coast Guard station and tried to steal a dinghy. He was replaced by a random sailor down on the docks, unaffiliated with the boat, who had participated in one of these surveys about 8 years ago, for the same reason.

The survey has had a couple problems—on one of their net settings, they evidently caught something too large for the boat to pull in (giant squid? Gray whale? Russian submarine?), and spent quite a while hoping it would dislodge, because a net large enough to go down 1500 fathoms (9000 feet) is expensive to replace. Eventually the thing fell out and they brought in the net, but it set them back a little. There may not be, after all, time for an afternoon on Catalina.

And that's all I know!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walks and Rides July 20th

Today we mostly took it easy--a stroll around the 80+ acres in search of cows (or steers, more specifically)--no luck. This was a pretty flower, though.

At one point, we lost the path and walked through this. I didn't think too much about poisonous spiders or snakes (thank you, Sonja) as I clambered through the undergrowth in my Keen sandals.

Some trees that I helped plant a couple years ago.

Four dogs in Northern Idaho.

More dogs in Northern Idaho.

Gratuitous Northern Idaho shot just for Joel.

The gate . . . to nowhere.

Northern Idaho shots attempted through my sunroof as I drove down 95 to Moscow.

My entire pack. Since we'd had a relatively easy morning walk, and I planned a relatively easy evening ride, all the dogs came, and they loved it. I have occasionally wondered how Sikem would respond to an injured dog lashed to his saddle.

An arty shot of myself. Note the averted gaze and the oblique angle. Mom, note the helmet.

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As the pack leader and only human of my social circle right now, I am enjoying observing the similarities and differences between members. The members consist of three cows, whom I have observed so obliquely that they barely count as pack members; one horse, who I have spent a few hours with over the last couple days, primarily on his back; and four dogs: two chocolate Labs, an Australian shepherd, and a Hoover.

For today's walk, I intend to hike around the pasture that the cows are in—I have to go in to town for some supplies (a cowboy hat from Tri-State, "Idaho's Most Interesting Store," for one), and so I thought that an easy walk, and perhaps this evening an easy ride, would be in order. Anyway, I will presumably at least observe the cows, of whom there are three, as more than just glints of hide: Butch Cassidy (named because, as A says, he looks like he's already ready to be butchered), The Sundance Kid (who is golden), and one I can't remember the name of.

Sikem is a sweet boy, but he's very mopey. This is the first time in his life that he's ever been without other horses longer than a couple hours, and he doesn't like it. He eats disconsolately, ignores Hoover's apprehensive grrUFFing disconsolately, trots and canters, eventually, if I make him, disconsolately. The first two days he whinnied with great frenzy, for several hours. Today, he is standing silently, disconsolately, in his pasture. He is funny when we're out on rides—I take Hoover and Sadie, the shepherd, and they bound endlessly across the trails from one side to another and into the woods where they rustle and crackle about, and occasionally dislodge huge wild turkeys. Sikem insists on forgetting, the moment they're out of sight, that they were with us in the first place, and looks anxiously about him at the noises, ears pricking this way and that. He was distinctly unhappy with the giant turkey that flew—somehow—right across his face the other evening.

The dogs I get to understand the most. Tessa, a chocolate Lab about six years of age, is a new addition to the family here. She is the former dog, from Seattle, of one of K's nieces, and was banned from the city for nipping toddlers. She is a lunchmouth who evidently takes food off the counters if any is left, and bullies her way into eating Sadie's food once she's finished with her own. She likes to sit by the new front door in the evenings. The door is mostly glass, and whenever Tessa moves, she sees a dim reflection of herself, which she interprets as a threat from outside, and she goes off into a volley of loud, frantic barks.

Sadie, maybe about three, is more of an observer in the house, although after we've all gone to bed her protector instinct comes out and she barks hysterically at nothing. At 11:30pm. And then 12:30am. I finally went and got her last night, and brought her upstairs to my bedroom, to sleep with me and my dogs, and she seemed to calm down. She did try to get me up at 7:30 this morning, but I told her in no uncertain terms that any dog waking me up at 12:30am does NOT also get to wake me up at 7:30am. She went back to sleep, and we got up at 9. She and Hoover are a very good match, both for playing together, and for simple energy. I cannot believe how much they can run around on our walks, and then on our rides, and then around the yard once we're back home in the evenings. I know that I estimated the walks that I've been on at around 3 miles; I'm sure they've done at least three times that.

Hoover is in his element. He's not on his leash, so there's no threat to him. Two stranger dogs came into the yard yesterday, and he greeted them cordially. He has also discovered the joys of swimming, and surprisingly, is perfectly willing to sleep on his bed on the floor of our room, even while Spackle is on the big bed with me. I somehow managed to leave his collar in Seattle and so he could be a feral dog, but I decided to put Spackle's collar on him and let Spackle be feral instead. The second night here, after our first full day of insane racing around, Hoover had a bit of an allergic response that led me to call the emergency vet (who Spackle visited almost 8 years ago when he caught a stick in the back of his throat, jamming a big hole into his soft tissues). His eyes were red and puffy, he was snorting and wheezing, and he threw up part of his dinner (which he found on the grass and ate the next day). He was very unhappy, and I freaked out a bit. He's a rough-and-tumble dog, though, and by the time I was speaking with the vet, maybe 10 minutes after I noticed his distress, he was already rolling around on the living room floor, play-fighting with Sadie.

Spackle is also in his element. He gets to run around in nature, then swim in a pond, then towel off in a manure pile (which led to him getting a shower our second night, which seems to have led to him avoiding the manure pile since then). Yes, I'm a proud parent, but he's a remarkably smart dog, and sweet, and funny, and calm. While Tessa is barking at her reflection, Hoover and Sadie are on high alert, growling a bit, ready to bark if need be. Spackle sits on his bed and looks wonderingly at Tessa. His back legs are not as strong as he'd like, I'm sure, and he's worn out by the end of the day when we go to bed. When I invite him up on the bed, he puts his front legs up and stretches out, but can't quite find the strength to get up completely. He looks at me ingratiatingly, wagging his tail, until I scoop up his hind end and deposit it on the bed. He then walks up to the head and curls himself up on my pillow. As soon as I am done brushing my teeth and ready for bed, I push him aside.

Anyway, I am certainly not bored or lonely with all these different creatures to observe, interact with, be annoyed by, love.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Ride on the 18th, walk on the 19th

As you see, Hoover learned his lesson well about getting lost in the woods. He is not going to let Sikem out of his sight. Actually, he's probably too close to see him. I think Hoover is relying on touch.

Dogs in a sylvan spring. The spring is bubbling from mud, not rock, so it's not actually very pretty to humans. But it sure is to dogs.

Back at home--the legs of a supremely happy human.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Way Overestimated

I just used google maps to do a rudimentary sketch of my routes today, and it appears that each circuit, the one I did on foot, and the one I did on horseback, was about 3 miles, not 5 or 6. Still. It was hot. And dry.

First Walk

Get the water while you can, folks! Indeed, this was the last water we saw for probably another hour. Yes, the thermometer says 96.5. No, I did not wade in the mudhole myself, nor did I drink from it. No, I was uncleverly not carrying any water with me. We walked about 1 3/4 hours, so I'd guess 5 or 6 miles. Tomorrow I'll carry water.


Proof that Hoover can swim, and did swim--all of his own volition! Helps for it to be in the 90s.
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Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Road Home

One might have expected me to sleep soundly and longly in the fancy bed at the Kingfish Inn, but, alas, it was not to be. Sure, most of our trip was finished. Most of my need to be alert and aware had ended. I no longer had 10-year-olds sitting in the bow of my boat going through rough water. I no longer had a hundred miles to go on one paltry tank of gas, hoping I wouldn't run out. I didn't have to worry any longer about how low the tide would be, and about getting the boat back onto the trailer. Our food hadn't run out (although it pretty much had run out of vegetables).

But, we still had 100 miles to go, many of them on the freeway, towing our boat at high speeds, and then when we arrived in Seattle, we had to put that same boat back in the water at the Sunnyside dock, basically in the middle of the business district as far as potential traffic went for 5:45pm. And then we had to deliver the trailer to Lake Union Sea Ray before 6pm when they closed up and went home.

So, when I wasn't dreaming about Christina Aguilera being in bed with us (quite modestly dressed, actually. I asked her if she was going to have any more children and she said yes.), I was lying awake playing over and over in my mind a video of me backing up the boat, and how I would turn the steering wheel of the car to get the boat to go where I wanted. I finally came to a conclusion that made sense to me—turn the wheel the way you want the back of the boat to go—and went to sleep.

Our breakfast the next morning was lovely, and after a bit of time spent tidying up the land, locking the outhouse, and pulling up a bunch of thistle (just in time, too, as our land was hayed today), we headed for the ferry, Ian driving. There was a slight hitch at the ferry dock where the woman in the booth wouldn't let us get in line, even though there was space to park, because the ferry we were going to get on wasn't the one that was leaving next; Ian managed to drive back around the booth without crashing into anything and we took a trip around the large block by our land. Everything there was still fine. When we got back to the ferry line the woman explained that, in a cost-cutting measure, she was the only one working in the upper lot for the day, and she simply couldn't tell people when to stop and when to go for boarding, and do her other job. We agreed with her that there are some costs that should not be cut.

Anyway, we made it onto the next boat without quite the squeeze of the first one, and after a brief visit to the bathrooms upstairs, came back to sit in the car.

"I think I've finally figured it out!" I said to Ian, about backing the trailer. "When you want the trailer to back around to the right, you spin the steering wheel clockwise. And when you want it to turn left, you spin the wheel counterclockwise!"

"Um . . ." said Ian gently, "I think that's actually backwards. I think you have to spin the steering wheel counterclockwise to get the boat to go right."

I burst into frustrated tears. "I will never figure this out!" I sobbed. "I'm used to being able to do things like this immediately! I know it's only fair that you should get to do things better than me, BUT I DON'T WANT YOU TO! I WANT TO BE BETTER!"

We did laugh then, because it's true that Ian should be able to be better at some things than me, and it's completely true that I shouldn't care. But I'm a 4-year-old and heart, and I do care.

We stopped for a meal at our new favorite place in Mt Vernon, Mexico Café, I practiced backing in the giant parking lot with some success, and then Ian asked if I would be willing to drive the freeway part.

I was perfectly willing, but my anxiety reached such a fever pitch within a few miles that I almost had to pull off and let him take over. I'm not sure what it was, except perhaps simply a week of high alert that was finally starting to have a more serious physical effect. I hadn't felt anxious at all earlier in the week, but I had been hyperaware, and hyperawake about everything going on around me. Finally, on I-5, with nothing but 3 other lanes of hurtling steel boxes to dissipate my stress, it almost became too much. I took deep breaths, though, and chose to stay at a speed I felt was safe, over on the right side of the road (very unlike my single-car driving style), and we made it without mishap.

I wanted to back the boat into the water at Sunnyside, with Ian's direction, and the rain (which had continued down to Seattle) had kept most people away from the water. There was one man waiting, trailer in the water, for a friend to bring a boat around; when he saw us begin our maneuver, he kindly moved out to the non-dock side of the ramp, and let us have the dock. His friend appeared with their boat, they got it loaded up, and were long gone before we even had ours quite unstrapped and ready for launching. But we didn't hit anything, and I did manage to get the boat in. Ian whizzed the trailer around the lake to Sea Ray, I putted the boat around to Seattle Boat where I left it and walked home; Ian and I met at our garage, spent.

You might think that we would collapse in heaps at this stage, leaving the car full, and sleep for the next 15 hours. That would've been smart, but instead we unloaded and Ian took off for a work do, and I, being me, started the laundry. Both of us supremely happy.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pictures Part IV and final, of the Islands, I hope

Old driftwood on the beach. This really would've been a leviathan before it washed up on shore.

Another perspective of the same log. Ian is good with perspective. In lots of ways.

Not so much driftWOOD as driftTIRE SHOP.

The little islands around Ewing Cove.

Loitering by Shallow Bay.

Being smuggled into the US via the China Caves.

Our little boat, first one on the dock.

It doesn't look like we're actually safe from falling, does it.

Buoy in Reid Harbor. "Look, it's a C gull!" Ian said, and guffawed.

The fateful place.

Hey, that looks familiar! The top of the rainy grassy place is ours!

Trailer expertly maneuvered by Ian into the water in Deer Harbor, with me approaching from the distance, Kleenex glasses-wipers on high speed.

The view of a dark and stormy night. From inside.