Editor’s Note: This is the first of two columns from Tim’s summer travels. The second will run two weeks from today.
HOODSPORT, Wash. – The road to Hoodsport, Wash. is so familiar my car could almost drive there without me. I’ve driven it over a hundred times.
Hoodsport is the closest town to the Woodward family getaway, a cabin on a finger of Puget Sound. When my wife’s folks were alive, we’d go there to swim, fish and otherwise enjoy ourselves. With their passing, the cabin passed to my wife. Now we go there to weed, paint, replace the deck, replace the flooring … We liked it better when we could lie around like slugs, but there you are.
This summer, we decided to fly there instead of driving. It’s a beautiful drive through the Blue Mountains and the Columbia Gorge, but it takes all day. We had lot of hard work ahead of us, so we figured we’d treat ourselves and save time by flying.
“Maybe we’ll fly over Jenny,” our son joked as the plane taxied to the runway.
A reference to our younger daughter, who was driving home from the cabin with her family the same day.
“It’s going to be a rough departure,” our pilot announced. “Be sure to buckle yourselves and any children in tightly. Make sure all loose items are securely stowed so they don’t fly around. Flight attendants, remain seated. There’ll be no beverage service. We’ll be lucky to escape with our lives.”
He didn’t really say that last sentence; I made it up. But you get the idea. We were in for a rough trip.
In more ways than one. Hoodsport isn’t on the beaten path. Getting there by air involves taking a train from the Seattle-Tacoma airport to downtown Seattle, a ferry from Seattle to Bremerton, Wash., and a “foot ferry” (passengers only, no cars) to relatives’ home in Port Orchard, Wash., where our older daughter had left her car a few weeks earlier. From there, it’s an hour’s drive to the cabin.
The walk from the train station in downtown Seattle to the ferry dock is normally a pleasant one. Without luggage to haul, it’s an easy 15 minutes or so. We had enough luggage for a soccer team.
Did I mention the dog? Our daughter’s dog had made the trip in the plane’s cargo hold. In addition to multiple suitcases, backpacks and assorted bags and packages, we were pulling a dog crate the size of an air conditioner. The only one not working like a dog schlepping baggage was the dog itself.
Huffing, puffing, sweating like pigs, we arrived at the ferry terminal in the nick of time to catch the ferry. We would have caught the ferry, that is, if the Boarding Nazi hadn’t stretched a rope in front of us just as we were getting in line to board.
“Sorry, line’s closed,” he said, clearly enjoying the moment.
“But the ferry hasn’t left yet! And you just put the rope up two seconds ago.”
We considered throwing him off the dock, but settled for cursing him and his ancestors while waiting an hour and a half for the next ferry.
The next ferry was 20 minutes late. It’s supposed to connect with the foot ferry, but being late it pulled into the dock as the foot ferry was pulling out. We’d missed two ferries by a total of less than minute and were looking at yet another wait.
That said, the second wait wasn’t without entertainment. One of the couples waiting for the foot ferry had to have been the friendliest people in Washington.
“Hi!” they said in unison. “Are you having a nice day?”
“Now that you mention it, no. Almost everything has gone wrong, and …”
“Great! Glad to hear it. We’re having a wonderful day, too!”
With this they were off to accost other passengers.
“Hi! Are you having a good day?”
“Great! We sure are!”
Then, back to us again, “Have you met Mister?”
“Uh … no. Who’s Mister?”
This struck them as inordinately funny.
“Can you believe it?” the man asked his girlfriend. “They don’t know who Mister is. This is Mister!”
With this he produced a plastic skeleton with glowing eyes.
“We bought Mister in Seattle today. Isn’t he amazing?”
While he regaled us with Mister, his girlfriend danced off to annoy other passengers. It was at this point that we decided they weren’t merely friendly; they were stoned out of their minds.
“Let’s get a picture of Mister with your dog!”
He helped Mister straddle the dog for a cell phone photo, which reduced them both to peals of shrieking laughter. Luckily, the foot ferry was pulling into the dock, sparing us further examples of their finely honed wit. It was a good thing, because we weren’t in a laughing mood. It had been a long, frustrating day. We were weary, grumpy, snapping at each other.
Murphy’s Law, however, wasn’t finished with us yet. When we arrived at our relatives’ house to get the car …
Its battery was dead.
Here we’ll draw the closing curtain over our trip to the family cabin, except to say that by the time we arrived there it was well after dark.
Our other daughter – who had left the cabin to drive back to Boise at about the same time our flight left Boise for Seattle – had been home for hours.
Next: An unforgettable character – Harley Bob McFarland.