Retreat (noun or verb, you pick)

The choice seemed to be either the details of my trip were a bit disjointed and out of focus, or they didn’t show up for ages and ages.  I made the executive decision that quick and scattered was better than late and ordered.  For those of you in need of something more structured, my apologies.  For the rest of you, read on.

Monday the 4th, I headed out bright and early (this is a lie, it was so early nothing was anywhere near bright).  I clipped myself into a flying sardine can and had a truly uneventful trip west (when it comes to airplanes, uneventful is by far the best sort of trip to have).  I arrived, many hours later, at Lakedale and caught up with my cabin mate, Brenda Dayne.

Brenda had grand plans to forge ahead on Welsh for Rainbow before the retreat began, so I snuck out early the next morning and headed to Orcas Island.  Hint, you have to get there on a boat.  This means you really do need to match up your travel plans with the ferry schedule.  This takes some getting used to.

Once on the island, I felt like I could use a bit of a walk after the enforced sitting of the day before (they don’t like it if you pace around on the plane).  I headed out to Obstruction Pass State Park.  The directions included a bit about going down a gravel road for a mile or so.  They weren’t kidding, it was a rather narrow, rather bumpy, gravel road.  About three quarters of the way down it, I was faced with a bit of an obstacle (just for scale, that is both wider and longer than my car.  Think back yard pool, not puddle).

I stopped.  I stared.  I remembered all those stern warnings one hears about not driving through puddles of unknown depth.  I faintly recalled horror stories about shorting out your car’s electrical system and getting well and truly stuck.  This sounded unappealing (rental car, island, dodgy cell service, narrow dirt road).  I got out of the car and surveyed the puddle.  The ground on either side of the road was hugely boggy (the sort of boggy that involves an inch or two of standing water on top of a nice stinky layer of mud).  Going around wasn’t an option.  I grabbed a reed and did a bit of puddle poking to see if I could determine the depth of the puddle.  It didn’t seem to be more than about three or four inches deep, but the bottom of the puddle was made of an astonishingly gluey muck.  Turning back would have meant both admitting defeat and backing down a twisty gravel road for three quarters of a mile, neither of which appealed at all.  I decided to press forward.  Better to try and get stuck than to slink home untested.  If you’re going to fail, do it in a way that makes for a good story.

I called The Boy to discuss puddle fording techniques (the question being whether it was best to back up, develop some momentum, and attempt to outrun the puddle’s grasping tentacles, or to creep by slowly and hope it doesn’t notice your approach).  We agreed on a middle ground that, while rendering the car truly and utterly filthy, did get me across the boggy bits unhindered.

Then I found myself at the park.  Now there seem to be two sorts of state parks.  The kind that come with visitor centers and tea rooms and toilets and gift shops, and the kind that come with a rustic sign and a large notice board covered in stern warnings detailing all the ways you might die and a host of questionably-marked, slippery trails leading you along precarious routes that you need to be part mountain goat to navigate with any grace.  This was the latter.

I picked the trail that said it led to the beach.  Somewhere along the way I also picked up a walking stick, because it was that or wear half the park home on my britches (pro tip, rocks covered in moldering leaves are slippery).  I made it though, and it was indeed quite lovely.  Menacing, but lovely.  Alas, I can offer you only low-quality photographic proof of my success.  I realized early on that this was not the sort of path I wanted to traverse while holding expensive electronic equipment in my hands (I needed those to catch myself as I stumbled and flailed) and so I left the camera in the car and tucked my cell phone in my pocket.  You’ll have to make do with a pic from that.  If you want better pictures, I cordially invite you to lug your own camera down there.  It really was that green though.  I have no idea how that part of the world does it, but they seem to manage to get both water and plants to exist in a whole different color scheme than they do around here.  I must say, I’m a fan.

After basking a bit in the pretty, I headed back up the path (key word here being up, there was a bit of a hill) and off for lunch.  And, as this has gotten shamefully long, that is where I will pick up tomorrow (hint, there will be teeny tiny baby lambs).