Sunday, June 06, 2010

The Weekend Away

Not this weekend, but last weekend (that is, Memorial Day weekend) I traveled back to Seattle. I left Thursday night -- and for the first time the plane was delayed -- and came back Tuesday morning, so it was a nice, long stay.

A couple months earlier, Julia's parents quizzed us kids about how interested we'd be in a weekend away as a group and we all said that sounded good, so her dad rented a house on Decatur Island. It's in the Puget Sound and is one of the San Juan Islands.

Friday morning we headed to her parents' house, transferred all the things from our car to theirs, and drove the hour-and-a-half to Anacortes where we loaded our gear and ourselves onto a small "personal" ferry. This ferry was pretty cool (I thought), except I see on their site that they call it a water taxi. Anyway, the front end is flat and they can lower it to bring on supplies, bikes, people, whatever -- sort of like the Army's personnel carriers that you see in films about landing at Normandy. The ride took about 30 minutes, maybe more, as we dropped off a couple of people, picked up a couple more, then landed at our dock at around 4:30, I'd guess. We quickly unloaded our stuff, and wow, did we bring a lot of stuff! It wasn't much fun unloading it and it was especially not fun to then have to carry it up to the house -- even though there was a cart to help us out.

Julia's sister and brother-in-law were coming later in the evening, but we'd brought their two kids with us (Jason and Madison), so as we moved everything up to the house, Julia kept the kids from underfoot and checked out the house. When we all made it inside we were very impressed! Initially it was a bit cold, but we lit some fires and it warmed up quite well. The layout was fun, too. There was a loft over the front porch, a loft over the entry area, a full bedroom upstairs, another full bedroom underneath that, and "the honeymoon suite" just off the living room. Julia and I were in the honeymoon suite.

The house was equipped with a computer, Internet access, a TV with Dish or some kind of service, but we only used it to watch some movies we'd brought along. Jason, it turns out is a big super-hero fan, so loved watching the Spider-Man movie and some Spider-Man cartoons.

A couple hours after we arrived, Matt and Sara were dropped off on the pier by the same people who brought us. They'd already eaten and we were in the middle of the first of many tasty meals. I think it was spaghetti that first night.

Saturday we walked and/or rode bikes up to the farmers' market a couple of miles away. On the way there we passed by the single general store on the island -- closed for the weekend due to a death in the family, so it was a good thing we brought everything we needed. The farmers' market itself was literally nine tables set up underneath a big lean-to. The people were selling baked goods, jam, plants, homemade oil candles, and a handful of other things. I think we all picked up something or other, but again, it was a good thing we brought everything we needed.

The one thing that really amazed me, that I learned later Saturday afternoon, was that the tide was so significant on the island, and the bottom of the Sound was such a gradual slope, that for a good six hours toward the center of the day the water retreated out to a good 40 feet past the end or our roughly 40 foot-long dock! That was pretty remarkable. To go from standing at the end of the pier and being about eight feet from the bottom at one time of day, to being able to step off the pier onto the muddy floor of the Sound a few hours later.

We took advantage of the retreating water on Sunday when we went to dig up clams. We grabbed some shovels and buckets and wearing our boots, we dug into the mud to find them. It wasn't hard, because like you've heard, they spit water out of the holes they're hiding in when they retract their "foot." With a bit of digging we found maybe a half-dozen decent-sized clams and threw them in buckets. I found a really, really disgusting-looking sea-centipede about an inch-thick and maybe two feet long. Creeped me out, quite honestly. I think Julia found a hermit crab, but I don't think they saved that. I started walking out into the water a little ways and pretty quickly stumbled upon two nice-sized grabs (the yummy kind!) and Julia's dad told me to bring them to shore, so, using the shovel, I scooped them up and carried them in.

Crabs are very aggressive.

Even as I was carrying them they were fighting the big, nasty shovel and even raised their claws at me when I'd "threaten" them with my boot. Anyway, once they were on shore we flipped them over and Julia's dad was able to identify the males from the females (females have a wider triangular-shaped section on their underbodies than the males. It's pretty obvious when you compare them.) After we found those two -- oh, we let the female go, the other was a male, so we kept him -- we found five or six other crabs hiding in the small seaweed beds, three of which were males, so we kept those, too. We took our catches back to the house and Julia's dad set about getting the gear together to cook them all. He found a crab pot in the house, a propane can, and a cooking unit to hook up to the gas.

So, yeah, we cooked up the crabs and ate them with our steak dinners. They were good.

I should mention that most nights we all sat up and played Catchphrase or a weird hybrid of Catchphrase and Charades, which was a lot of fun and often had us in stitches. The mornings were often taken up with working on puzzles. I think Julia put together four of them with help from the others. Afternoons were reserved for reading; my favorite part of the day!

Monday pretty much consisted of packing up to leave and then a long drive home. Since the water taxi couldn't get to us until the water was high enough, we didn't leave until 6:00pm, then stopped for pizza dinner, and headed home. Julia and I didn't make it to bed until 11:00 and we had to be up at 5:00 to get me to the airport for the trip back to California. I was very tired that day.

And that was our fun weekend away! Now, I am tired and am going to bed before 11:00. Good for me!


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