Drying Wings

A break in pissing rain calls for a road trip. For a tent. For a hike to a hot springs. It calls, damn it, for checking shit off your Washington Lifestyle checklist. (That’s its new name, deemed as of now!)

N and I took Thursday’s steady stream of sunshine as the eternal word to get out of dodge. We packed a cooler and a Volvo and headed west–as west as we could go in the continental United States. It feels good to go the farthest one can in one direction.

We hopped on the ferry at Coupeville on Whidbey Island, charted across the Puget Sound and ended up at the Dungeness Spit. At five miles, it is the longest natural sand spit in the nation. On a clear day, you can see washed up driftwood, the lighthouse and Vancouver Island across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. If you didn’t take the time to say that name out loud, I’ll wait a minute: San Juan de Fuca. About as good as: “My name is Inigo Montoya…”

Down on the sandy bar itself, there is plenty to do, mostly involving drift wood, stones or a silly partner-in-crime:

The Olympics, the Pacific and driftwood

Up here, on a clear day, it just doesn’t get better. Colors scream and cloudless horizons chase away memories of rain-studded skies.

To continue west from the Spit, you have to head out on

We nestled ourselves into the Elwha River valley for the evening, surrounded by birds and buds bustling in springtime revelry. In the morning, against a cerulean sky, flowers caught light and sunned themselves.

We headed up the valley to the Olympic Hot Springs, where trailhead signs warned of nudity. Fearless, we forged ahead.

Despite the snow, we stripped into our bathing suits (why yes, a bandeau top is perfect for hiking in, thanks for asking!) and watched the sulfur of the hot springs oxidize my toe ring in seconds.

As we loaded onto the ferry,  headed back to the mainland, the clouds rolled in and covered the sky gray. We made it home in time to discover the world’s finest clam chowder and a pint of Supergoose IPA. Now, there’s a car to unpack, a tent to dry out and papers to grade.

No matter–as Tim McNulty says in Olympic National Park: A natural history, “And when the skies clear, as they eventually do, we all emerge as a from a chrysalis of cloud, and dry our wings in the sparkling light of a world newly made.”

My wings, recently dried and stretched, are again tucked close against my body, waiting out another storm. Or two. Nevertheless, the scoach of time they had to spread was worth every cloudy day.

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