“Huh”, I thought to myself, “so that’s Canada”.
I sat and watched the submerging sun begin to streak the sky in dim yellows, burnt oranges, fading into cool turquoises, and calm violets. It reminded me of so many of the beautiful, transcendent paintings that I often would gaze upon in art museums. I always wondered how the artist managed to capture that elusive, natural beauty. It seems quite obvious now. They must have been looking at this. While I was enraptured in my own swirling thoughts, my more marine minded compatriots scurried over the nearby rocks looking for all manner of biodiversity that might be nestled between the shoreline’s stones.
Early that morning, I had begun my excursion by climbing aboard a litany of buses that carried me through northern Seattle to Mt. Vernon, followed by Skagit station, until finally depositing me at Anacortes to await my aquatic transport to my final destination: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island.
I have been “working” very “hard” over the last two weeks and thought it was high time that I saw a little more of the Evergreen State. And what better way to do so than go to a remote island that is close enough to Canada to smell the poutine. A friend of mine, working at the Friday Harbor marine biology lab, invited me to come up for an island getaway. How could I possibly refuse?
The morning slowly drifted past, fir tree after fir passing by my window as if on an endless conveyor belt. The burden of travel was easily lifted by my phone’s music library and some special caramel chews I picked up specifically for the trip. Before I knew it, I was waiting at the ferry dock in the Cheesecake Cafe which, lo and behold, sold cheesecake.
One short inhalation of cheesecake later, I found myself on a metal behemoth chugging its way towards my intended destination. Small craggy island coastlines blended into one another as I absentmindedly gazed out the window. Before I knew it, the PA system was announcing our impending arrival at the harbor. I joined the rest of the throng heading towards the vehicle deck, waiting to disembark. As I stood among that mass of people, I suddenly thought back to my ancestors arriving at Ellis Island. Heading to a new world, with little understanding of what awaited them on the other side of the voyage, a single familiar face waiting for them at the dock. I felt at one with my roots. But, hey, maybe that was the weed talking.
The gangway was lowered and, as one, we surged forward onto new land. Before I had time to begin searching, I heard my name cried out over the crowd. I turned and saw my friend moving against the tidal wave of bodies towards me. On a trip where I spend most of my time alone or talking with strangers, seeing a familiar face is quite the happy sight. As we walked towards the labs, I got a quick tour of the town of Friday Harbor. I’ll describe it to you as it was described to me: a place that cannot decide if it is a small town or a tourist local.
The rest of my evening was spent wandering around Friday Harbor Labs. I was introduced to “The Squad” and their various marine projects. Within the span of a single hour, I saw more species of aquatic life than I knew existed. I was a theatre major out of water, which, I have to admit, was quite refreshing. The rest of the evening was absorbed by the sunset hike, observing the social behavior of college marine biologists, swapping of stories, and the spinning of yarns.
The next morning, I was left to my own devices as my friend has some egg sacks that needed to be counted. Being a Northwestern student, I am very unaccustomed to this thing called “unstructured free time”. But, here I was, with several hours of it. I used this very rare and valuable time to have my own private dance party on the shore of San Juan and to start reading a book…for pleasure. What a wild concept. The rest of the afternoon was absorbed by a free tasting at a cider and gin distillery. Lavender and Rose Liqueur=a slice of heaven.
We returned to Friday Harbor and meandered around, awaiting my ferry to dock. We perused some used book stores and I somehow managed to restrain myself from taking half their play sections along with me. Once the ferry arrived, we said our goodbyes, parted ways, and I headed for the mainland.
Disembarking the ferry, I hastened to my bus stop for I knew that, due to circumstances completely out of my control, I was lagging behind schedule. Upon arriving at the station, I discovered that the bus had left without me. The final Saturday bus. Actually, the final bus for the entire weekend. Fighting the feeling of panic beginning to well up inside me, I examined my plan to get home. If I could just find my way to Skagit station, I could resume my intended route. Whipping out my phone, I tried using Lyft. “There is no service in your area”. Well, shit.
I was going to have to go old school. I dialed up the nearest taxi service, Mert’s Taxi. A frazzled dispatcher took down my ride request and said that they would have to call me back. I found the most comfortable bench that I could and began to ponder what I would do if I ended up being stranded in northern Washington for the rest of the weekend.
Thankfully, I did not have to ponder for too long. Dispatch called me back, informing me that a cab was on its way. Shortly thereafter, a car with Mert’s Taxi emblazoned across the side pulled up with none other than Mert himself behind the wheel. A father and his two young children approached the car with me, for they had also called Mert for a ride. Although the car was for me, I didn’t want the little ones to have to wait around so I offered to share.
That was how I met Briton, father of two, returning to his car bound for, you guessed it, Seattle. Instead of my hodgepodge assortment of buses and trains, my generosity landed me a free, and expedient, ride back to my homely attic.
This trip has been primarily comprised of me stumbling into adventures. What’s one more.
Your well-rested playwright,