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Quartering the Kitsap

13 Oct 03

Lake Crescent, WA

I left Olympia in a blowing rain, under sullen skies. By the time I got up 101 to where I had to decide between Aberdeen and Port Angeles, things had lightened up a bit, and so had I.

I stopped at a place called The Place for breakfast. Prime rib, eggs, and hash browns, for nine bucks. Not bad. The management, not content with educating my palate, also wanted to sell me a little chicken soup for the soul. Scattered around the table was a side dish of homilies:

"Growing old is inevitable. Growing up is an option." (There's no guidance, though, as to whether it's a desirable option.)

"If you want the fruit, you've got to climb the tree." There you go. Hard to argue with that, especially with your mouth full.

While I was eating, I used the rest of the table to sort through all the accumulated mail my brother had sent me. Been gone since July 15th . In all that time, only 23 letters deemed worth forwarding. Only one really worth looking at.

Amazing how little of this stuff matters, once you get the bills paid automatically.

They are changing up my health insurance again. Needless to say, it's not an improvement. I had believed, naively, that leeches were no longer an approved form of medical practice.

Nonetheless, somewhat mollified by a fine breakfast, I made my way up 106 to Hunter Farms, where I stopped to pick up some pears and plums. The plan was to spend the day circling the Kitsap peninsula, looking for the perfect camping spot. Just as I was getting into Union, Julie Kendall came on the radio, singing "Heaven's just a Sin Away". I pulled over to give her my full attention, and found myself in front of a curious squat ramshackle structure, with a tilted rusty wheel of welded buckets sticking out of one end.

The Dalby Water Wheel was built in 1923, and was "one of the first hydroelectric plants on the Hood Canal". It looks like something you might throw together in your back yard, but apparently was useful enough to warrant rebuilding in 1927.

I passed through Twanoh State Park. There was an ominous sign: " Park closes 10/13". Tomorrow. I think they're trying to tell me something. Everybody respectable has gone back to work. I may have to get more creative about where I'm camping. Perhaps light a candle to Our Lady of Walmarts.

There was no such sign at Belfair State Park, but it didn't appeal to me particularly, despite the handy liquor store right at the entrance. Besides, it was early, and the highway along the hook of the Hood Canal was narrow, slow, sunlit, and charming. So I rolled on down to the bend at Tahuva, where the roadway narrows to a primitive wet one-lane gravel track that hugs the bluffs all the way up to Dewatto.

North Shore Road. There were times I was not sure I was ever going to get out of there, winding back and forth interminably between mossy trees and shafts of sunlight, under an intermittent drizzle of yellow leaves. But it sure was a fine slow crawl through the rain forest. The sort of road that is itself a destination.

On the map there's a Harvey Rensland State Park in there somewhere, but I never saw it. Perhaps I was distracted by the falling tree. Luckily I had the windows down, and heard the premonitory "cre-e-e-ee-kk-k-k-k-k...." I came to an abrupt stop, which was not much slower than I had been going. Then !Bam!Whap!... there it was, 30 feet in front of me, covering half the road. Not a large tree, but large enough.

Timing is everything, up here in the Kitsap.

Finally I came onto pavement again, along the Dewatto River. It was a smooth and unmemorable drive, all the way to where the Canal opens up at Seabeck. There I found the perfect camping spot, at Scenic Beach State Park. It was closed.

I walked around down there anyway. It is a gorgeous spot, right on the water. The weather was perfect. Arrgh. I'll have to save it for some future spring.

Some future spring. Reminds me of the poem by Judith Viorst:

"Why does some future spring
Collapse my heart with longing when
I will not feel a thing?"

I went on to Kitsap Memorial State Park. It's a letdown after Scenic, and the dump station was closed. Claude, the camp host, told me with a sort of grim satisfaction that they'd capped it off. They're going to put in a new one. Some day.

Claude and one of the maintenance guys woke me at 9 o'clock the next morning, standing next to my truck, discussing at the top of their lungs how much work there was to do around there. Forty-five minutes later they were still at it, shifting from one foot to another, bitching about the burdens they bore.

I got up, finally. I was just sitting down at the dinette to write you guys when outside my trailer there arose such a squeal, that I jumped to my feet to see what was the deal. No, it wasn't a jolly old elf. It was Elizabeth, the black Vietnamese pig. The woman two sites down was taking her pig for a walk, and Elizabeth didn't want to cooperate.

Diva syndrome. Apparently this pig is about to be a superstar of children's books. Look for "Busy Lizzy", the pig with panache.

I didn't get the lady's name, but she had driven up here from California in a truck camper with this pig, a German Shepherd, a rabbit, and a husband. The dog looked a bit embarrassed, standing there with a pig. The rabbit and the husband were in hiding.

RV the invisible rabbit. Where've I heard that before?

All of them ride up front in the cab of the pickup. Lizzy takes the console area, between the seats. The rest arrange themselves in whatever space is left. Miss, despite her diminutive stature and dainty feet, is a Ham with Heft. She weighs in at close to 150 pounds. I asked what she ate. Turns out Purina manufactures Sow Chow. Liz will eat it, though she prefers raw fruits and vegetables.

In fact, Elizabeth has a tendency to get excited whenever someone says the word "apple". I found this out when I was telling the lady she ought to get a bumper sticker that says "I brake for fruit stands."

Elizabeth squealed and started grunting, pulling at her harness. All that time wasted in the fire department, when I could have had a fine career as a motivational speaker for hogs. Who knew?

Gotta watch it, though. This pig understands more than you'd think. I wonder how she'd react to less pleasant words?

Like "bacon"? Or even "spam"?

I sure didn't want to find out.


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