Sunday, July 23, 2006

Travels through Washington

I packed up my bug spray and sunscreen, and took my last cold shower. I said my goodbyes, collected my scribbled up manuscripts, and promised to write as I drove the 15 mph speed limit, top down, out of Port Townsend Centrum writer's camp. I did not want to leave. I could have lived on that cot, using a bathroom that smelled of mold, if it meant I could wake up to my laptop and a desk overlooking the Pacific.

At the ferry dock, I was scolded by the Sheriff for having almost-expired tabs. Not knowing if the DMV had sent the tabs to San Francisco, Iowa or Washington, I shrugged and offered him half my sandwich. He smiled and offered me a warning.

I was the last car the orange-vested ferry workers shoved on the boat. Blonde in a California convertible-they hated me already, rolling their eyes as I struggled to fit into the half millimeter space they were directing me. I squeezed between a RV called "Expedition" with every cheesy retirement bumper sticker you can imagine, and a minivan with a license plate that said "gotrealestate?" and either a trampoline of midgets, or an eight year old birthday party going on inside.

The ferry started to pull away, with half my car's ass hanging on to the dock. I yanked on the parking brake, and pushed over a hippie biker accidentally with my car door. "Hey!" I yelled at the Orange Vest ferry lady, who was waving her arms like an air traffic controller. "My car can't swim!"

"Oh, that," she said eyeing the back of my car and calling another Orange Vest over. "Set your parking brake. We'll just throw this net around the back."

"And these blocks under your tires," Orange Vest guy said.

My car seemed to be stable, and I was quickly distracted by the view pulling out of Port Townsend. I went up to the upper deck, wondering how I could have seen this before-the midnight blue water and mountains, historic buildings, cliffs and sailboats- and never really have seen it.

I drove off the ferry onto Whidbey Island to visit my Aunt Julieann and Uncle Pete in Oak Harbor. I drove on Highway 20, through farmlands along the water and past hidden trailer park cultures that fixate in my writing. Everything seems bigger and older to me. The evergreens and hills, the antique stores and farmhouses. Or maybe it's possible that this is now visible since I've lived in places like Brooklyn, San Francisco, Colorado...where these things exist only in fiction, and aren't nearly as beautiful.

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