Sunday, April 24, 2005

Landslide-sliding - How we celebrated Dirt Day

` Phil and I went on vacation to Whidbey Island... which is within view of our window, but, whatever. We did have some fun - while Butters stewed at home with lots and lots of food.

~ Basically, the trip started yesterday morning, which quickly turned into afternoon when we realized we weren't getting on the ferry any faster than if we were to go around The Long Way, which merely involves a bridge. I was having a seriously hard time waking up.
` We checked into our Really Neat Island Inn and asked for directions to the nearest beach. We went there, seeing a young mule deer along the way, and found that we didn't have exact change for five dollars in order to park the car.
` So we went east into a village called Coupeville. Tiny towns like that are cool, though there are usually no places to park. I can't imagine what it'll Be Like in Tourist Season!

~ We went into a chocolate shop where we got five truffles - for about three dollars each. Well, they were attractively tied in a gift box... whatever. Surprisingly, one actually looked kind of like a real truffle.
` There's a cool Japanese shop there, where we got some placemats that the owner brought back from Japan herself. (She's awesome!!) They're made of bamboo or something - I think we can use them as sushi-rollers (and incidentally, we did make sushi the day before when we Actually Got to See Our Friends, Jason and Andie). Still, I was pretty bored.

~ With a five-dollar bill now on us, I suggested we go back to the beach at Ebey. I was still bored and jaded, however, as we stepped over the Sea of Driftwood and up to the surf. It was still very dull, though, and I began to fall asleep.
` I forget what we did there, though I do remember sitting on a dried-out tree and eating truffles, watching an intriguing scene of completely still mountains and a buoy clanging to and fro on the waves. Occasionally, there was a boat or some birds going past.
` So then, we went up through this path, up and down through the pine forest. I'm sure it was beautiful, but I was so bored and un-energetic that I stared at the ground while listening to the birds all around and the buoy in the distance.
` Unexpectedly, we got to a gun turret from World War II. It was slightly neat. Then, a break in the trees revealed a clifftop view of - again - the buoy and a tanker chugging loudly in the distance. I was still very closed off to the world when the forest broke (crack!) and there was this hill we were walking along the side of.
` Then, there was an entire fortress that said it was used in 1942. Um, not verbally, though - it was carved above the doorway. Inside, there was nothing to see, unless I used the infrared function of my video camera.

~ Then I followed Phil down the hill and over to the sound, where he was standing on a little pinnacle of land jutting out on a cliff about sixty feet above the water. Beside it, I very boredly noticed a little switchbacked footpath that seemed to lead down to the beach. We decided to follow it, and it was kind of nice - a narrow, solid path going one way, then the other down a steep, grassy slope, little yellow flowers here and there.
` BUT THEN... the dirt became very loose and the path very steep, and before we knew it, we were sliding through a thin mist of dust. It was kind of fun as I slid on my heels - until I had to hang onto a Plant of Very Fine Pricklies to keep myself from falling off a sharp turn. It was actually somewhat level again at that point, but then it became Very Steep and Dusty again - and then Ended Abruptly!

~ Recently, it appeared, there had been a landslide, and so the entire side of the hill was gone from under us at this point. Apparently, this was the cliff that Phil had been standing at the top of. From only seven or so feet above the lumpy soil that still ran down the side, I could see that it was probably very soft and safe to land on. Kind of like the stories Jerry used to tell me (and I actually think they're true!) about jumping off sandstone cliffs onto slanted walls of sand as a child, I thought. It looked perfectly slideable all the way down.
` So I had Phil hold my video camera and jumped down. I sank right into the dirt and rolled diagonally. I was like; "This is fun! Give me my camera and come on down! The dirt is fine!" So Phil plunged into the dirt and he basically managed a kind of escalator-type ride down. (There's a mountain-climbing term for this...[glissading]) By this time, I had really begun to wake up (turning on the camera as well!), so I basically used the cliff as a dirt-slide, sitting in the fine soil and kicking my way down.
` In other words, we had to propagate a miniscule landslide for about seventy feet to the crashing water. Once there, we dusted off and rinsed our hands while talking excitedly and listening to the buoy and the sea birds. And yes, ironically it was Dirt Day, which is what my mom's beercrafter boyfriend calls Earth Day.

~ It wasn't long until we were trudging along the tricky-to-walk-on, brightly-colored rocks, occasionally encountering logs of driftwood and long, whiplike tentacles of what had been a plant at some time. The sun was nearing its setting point - it must have been after eight - and we managed to get back to the beach as I was on the phone, telling my mom about what we'd just done. (Yes, either of us could have called for help on our cell phones, but I decided to jump down the face of a cliff...)
` Mom said she had done the same thing at the strip mines on the hills of West Virginia when she was young, actually, because it was of the Utmost Fun. Just one of those things in life I'd been missing until now, I guess.

~ After a thorough shower at our Really Neat Island Inn, we managed to get tables at The Mad Crab in Coupeville, and I had fun drawing on the paper covering the table. Their vegetable lasagna - and their service! - was the best, despite the understaffment - the host was also bussing tables to get people seated and all. Phil tipped lots.
` Then we went back to our room - at Captain Whidbey's Inn. It appears to be made entirely of logs and masonry - the electrical wires are in pipes that run along the wall. The rooms all have a feather bed, antique-looking dresser and bedstand, a sink with the very mismatched 
Tom's of Maine toothpaste, Bath & Body Works shampoo, etc (though, no bathroom), Stash teas and hot cocoa, a coffeemaker, robes hanging on the wall, and fun Swingie-Outie Windows That Need Propping Open With a Stick.
` Some overlook the intricate garden, but ours had a view of the elaborate patio and the sound - which is full of Annoying Geese, handsome cormorants, and loons. The bathrooms are fairly nice, though they are out in the hall. But it's a very nice hall - with shelves full of old books and National Geographics, with a Big Dictionary on a Book-Holding Thingy, and the whole place is full of very old-fashioned furniture (some of it authentic!), and weird paintings of people I neither know nor necessarily care about.
` Though the rooms were small, this was actually the first place I'd been in where the smallness only added to the coziness. It wasn't actually what I'd call claustrophobia-inducing - more like Tolkien's picture of The Shire.

~ If you don't know what The Shire is, you are probably not into 'geeky' reading - open another web-browser window and look it up if you like. Speaking of such, I read to Phil from Harry Potter's fifth year at Hogwarts (The Order of the Phoenix) after talking to George from Writer's Club at 2 a.m., his time. Harry Potter rocks, by the way, and so does Geo - more on them some other time. So, we got to sleep fairly easily, even after drinking some of our complementary teas and finishing the truffles off.

~ Next day, we got up and had a wonderful breakfast of blackberry bread-kuchen-stuff, sauteed apples with caramel and toasted, candied pecans, and French Toast made with baguette, powdered sugar, and syrup with blackberries and blueberries in it. It was truly worth twelve or thirteen dollars, along with the fact that we got to watch birds catching fish in the sea, which was sparkling in the sun.
` Then we went back to -Coupe- 'Tourist Trap' ville where we saw that the tide was out, revealing brilliant orange-yellow starfish in the shallow water, as we walked across a bridge to a building on stilts. It was rather like a barn that housed glittering, cooing pigeons underneath and a young gray whale skeleton in the main room, complete with baleen!
` I was bored stiff because Phil had gone behind a locked door (of a restaraunt that's coming soon) and neglected to tell me, but when I got through, we decided on a neat map for framing that was hanging in there.

~ It was beach-time next, where Phil held his cell phone up to the water so his mom could hear it. Meanwhile, on my phone, I babbled on to our friend 'Jonathan' about all the boring things we were coming across, such as dead whip-plants, a cement-thingy that had crumbled and sunk into the beach, a dead crab, and a dead sand-flea! Oh, joy!
` A little later, I was videotaping some more interesting things - squeaking oystercatchers that were hanging out on the rocks. They walked on their long, red legs and probed with their long, red beaks, and otherwise blended in with the dark, round rocks.
` After I gave up on trying to get a better shot of them while slipping all over the place, I sat down on a large, smooth rock that was mostly obscured by sand and began to play with a living sand-flea as it hopped feebly around my feet.
` Suddenly, the oystercatchers flew away and I looked behind me - Phil was flying his Starfire in the very weak wind. It wasn't too successful, though, so we went back to the place were you can get up the hill/cliff (across a boardwalk through the Sea of Driftwood).

~ As there was utterly nothing to do under the hot, burning sun, Phil was feeling rather creative - so he made a Sand-Mr. Murphy. He's a Vacuum Cleaner Salesman coming out of the beach that has a speech-bubble saying; 'Would you like to buy a vacuum cleaner?' in letters made out of pebbles.
` Well, he did manage to sell an Invisolux to this one guy for a shell, and I must say I was impressed by Phil's ability to make such a talented sales representative!
` By then, though, the edge of the water was creeping up to the sandy patch between the rows of rocks where it sits at high tide and low tide, and I'm afraid, our Mr. Murphy was probably drowned in another half-hour. We couldn't bear to watch, though, and as we were heading back to the car, our old friend Emily called - from the same timezone as us! Apparently, she's taking a vacation in Ventura, California. Neat!

~ Well, we had 'linner' at the place next to The Mad Crab called Toby's Tavern. Predictably, Phil and the pilot who I noticed was sitting next to us at the bar had much to say to each other about airplanes and what it's like to make and fly them. I listened attentively as I ate my sandwich.
` Apparently, this guy is a Real Pilot - he doesn't get bored sitting up there all day. I guess it would be more fun to fly an airliner than to sit in a cubicle, staring at a computer screen at any rate. The bar itself, by the way, was ancient, grooved by Various Implements for several decades.
` After that, we checked out a half-antique, half-pet stuff place, where I saw a mostly-black cat named Freddy, the Biggest Cat I Ever Saw. Twenty pounds! From there, we got a new collar for Butters, as she's partly destroyed and ripped off the old nylon one because it Greatly Bothered her.
` She's wearing it now and even though she could take it off easily (it's velcro and stretchy!), she isn't tearing at it. That's good to know, considering I had to fasten it properly and then slip it around her neck before dodging Angry Cat Claws. I hope that with this collar, the silver-dollar-sized patches of fur she's dug out around her neck will eventually grow back in unhampered.

~ Otherwise, she is very happy because We Came Home. That's a big deal for a cat. Just ask... a cat. She meowed with happiness and enjoyed being fooded by me again, although all I did was pick up all the pieces of Eukanuba that had spilled on the placemat while we were gone and put them back in one of the bowls. Good to know she's not mad at us for leaving like that.
` I regret to say that it's late now and I've neglected to read Harry Potter [using hilarious British accents] to my Philly-boy and he's gone to sleep without it. Awww... poor boy didn't get a story. Anyhow, I need to get sleep before midnight. I've got boring things to do tomorrow.

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