Tuesday, September 17, 2013
In just four days in the San Juan Islands we actually had a number of memorable moments. Places always make a big impact the first time you see them. I remember far more about my first visit to Mexico than my most recent.
Kathleen has been working with Charlie to get him socialized with other dogs. He has no issue with people – loves them all with enthusiasm. Last night, while waiting for what became a spectacular sunset (more on that later) we were wandering about with Charlie along the beachfront where a line of cabins sits on the edge of the Salish Sea (we’re in No. 12). It sort of reminds me of what it might have been like in the Fifties to spend the summer at a lake in the Catskills (see “Dirty Dancing”).
Anyway, there was no shortage of dogs big and small, young and old, and Charlie, initially wary, decided he would play tag, only all the other dogs were always “it.” He would race up to a dog (always choosing a small one), bark in its face, then start running figure eights through the trees and around the dogs. Mostly they just stared at him like he’d lost his mind. Finally, one joined in and Charlie ran like a dog crazed. Then he took a poop and was done for the night. That was a memorable moment for us. It was a generally frolicky day for Charlie, who spent part of the afternoon chasing peach-flavored bubbles blown from a wand that Kathleen had purchased earlier at a pet store. Spoiled? His Royal Puppyness?
The night before Kathleen got permission from the owner and chef of Allium, a fine restaurant in Eastsound here on the island, to bring Charlie in for dinner. She graciously agreed, then promptly fell so in love with him that she brought her smart phone out for pictures. The food – polenta and vegetables topped by two sunnyside-up eggs for me, scallops for Kathleen – was truly, delightfully, well, memorable. It was so good, in fact, that we returned the next night and I ordered the same dish, while Kathleen had a steak. The chef came out before we left and Charlie gave her a couple of goodbye licks on her cheek.
We drove to the top of Constitution Mountain (the highest point in the San Juans at more than 2,000 feet), but we hit fog about halfway up and the famous view from the top was completely smothered in clouds. We might try it again this afternoon. Allium is closed on Tuesdays, so we’ll be looking for a different dinner spot.
Some people come here every year for weeks at a time. I understand that, though Kathleen and I probably prefer seeking out new experiences to repeating old ones. The San Juans remind me oddly of Maine, with the steep, rocky shorelines, tree-covered hillsides and delightfully quaint villages. The beer is hoppier and there are no lobster rolls (too bad), but otherwise there’s a similar sense here.
Tonight is our last night here and we’re starting off the day quietly, breakfasting on the gigantic chocolate chip cookies we brought home from Allium instead of picking something up from a bakery in town. We might try Constitution Mountain again later, but who knows. It’s hard to imagine a better sunset than last night’s, so we’re not getting our hopes up. We already have plenty of memories of this place.
It turns out the local phone book was sitting on the heated stove, moments away from bursting into flames. On top of the phonebook was the ironic plastic sign, “Thank You For Not Smoking.” I grabbed the smoldering book and carried it onto the front porch, stupidly placing the sign gently on the hot stove. I got back to it before it completely melted. Crisis averted, lives saved, Kathleen and Charlie were still snoring away. Back to the Scotch while the room airs out. The next day Kathleen found a stack of local phone books outside an office in town, so we brought one home and used the damaged one to light last night’s fire.
I would submit my name for some sort of award for heroism (I slightly burned two fingers in the act), but I don’t reckon you’re eligible if your own stupidity leads to the crisis.