I hadn't been to Lopez Island since February 2012 and, eleven months later, I was stoked to be returning.
Lopez Island is one of those towns, islands, that feels like home, regardless of how many times you've been there or how disorienting the road layout is. It also just so happens to be the home of my dear friend, and most loyal penpal, Hannah. Hannah G.
|Straighten your wrists, child!|
|From last year's Lopez Trip in 2012|
We had a lot to catch up on.
We've been in constant written communication, so luckily we weren't too out of touch. But it was encouraging to have the back and forth banter that you get from face-to-face communication.
I get to talk about a lot of, well, real things with Hannah. Conversations I don't sink into with strangers on the bus (usually). I let my guard down completely with her. She reminds me to put the lid back on her toothpaste.
Despite my five days on the ferry last week, the 40 minute ferry trip from Anacortes to Lopez Island was luxury. I enjoyed the views as the sky darkened and read about curling in the newspaper, excited to see folks I knew and recognized from the club.
Finally we docked.
HEY! YOU GUYS! WE'RE ON AN ISLAND!
Hannah drove me the winding way home and her parents, John and Martha, graciously welcomed me into their home. She made a delectable dish of rice, lentils, and onions (mujaddara - مجدرة - apparently it's the Arabic word for "smallpox") and I felt satisfied.
The next morning I joined her at her nanny job with Jack and Kate. I got to hold a baby! Goodness! Babies are so swell! I like them. I like making them laugh. They make me laugh.
Later that night (actually, this happened the next night) she spun wool... and we watched Full House. It's my favourite.
I decided I wanted to go to San Juan Island the next day. Lopez and San Juan Island are all a part of the San Juan Islands. They're my favourite archipelago we've got in Washington and I've got a decent pitcher-full of memories there. There are a bunch of the islands, including Swirl Island, Willow Island, Deadman Island, Little Island, but the ones that most folks visit are Lopez Island, Orcas Island, Shaw Island (populatin 240), and San Juan Island. Those are the islands that the ferry service visits. There's also islands like Waldron. Waldron doesn't provide power and water to the residents via the government, but 104 people still live there.
San Juan Island has 6,800 residents - a pretty large town in my book. It's even got a town that isn't "San Juan Island," Friday Harbor.
The night before, I hopped onto Couchsurfing and contacted a few people who seemed genuine and engaging. Two of them texted me, they were away for the day, and I waited for the third. I went with Hannah to work and 30 minutes later, started hitching my way to the ferry. Within 10 seconds (literally - instantly) of sticking out my thumb, I was picked up. It took two rides to get me to the ferry.
As soon as I left her house, Travis, from Couchsurfing, contacted me. I was surprised when, 10 minutes later, someone at the ferry terminal asked, "Mägi?"
I could summerize Travis as a paragliding bagpiping paramedic... I could. But that doesn't really cut to who he is. Travis is the sort of lad you always hope you'll run into when traveling. It was encouraging to hear about his aspirations, life-path, goals, thought process, and views on different manors. We could relate in a lot of ways and he quickly felt like someone I had known for a while.
He had his automobile and asked what I wanted to do. I wasn't quite sure, so we crafted a plan that suited us both. He wanted to practice paragliding. I wanted to try and find someplace, a specific beach, I had visited back in 1998 when I was seven years old.
Fourth of July Beach. Other beaches. We visited them all, looking for the beach I had visited as a child. We walked each one, but none of them were it.
The beach he wanted to go to was Cattle Point. There, the wind would hopefully be right for him to practice. We got there and I gave it a look. It looked familiar. Felt right. Was this it?
It certainly felt a bit smaller... but it was. We had found it. It was at the southern point of the island, this wee lil' blurb of a blip.
He practiced. I played. I like playing...
and then I decided to try and find the cabin I had enjoyed from '91-98. Thing is, I hadn't been there since I was 7 and, well, I wasn't sure how my navigation skills were back then.
I let go of my mind and started walking. Bends, turns, and trees looked familiar, but more than anything, it felt right. I took a few turns and eventually stopped when the feels stopped. I looked around and saw a few deer and felt. It felt right. I felt like it was either here or I was in a completely wrong area of the island. The house didn't totally fit my memory in relation to the garage and so I left. Within 20 seconds I met up with a man. I asked him where the Froelichs lived and he told me that that house I had stood in front of was it.
I said a quick, "Hey!"
We traveled back to the ferry and went to Lopez. Back at his home he played the bagpipes and we listened to podcasts. Soup. Soup. Soup.
I returned home to where Hannah, sadly, was feeling ever poorer than she had in the morning. We had a relaxing evening with an early bed time. That was just what I needed. Through this entire time on Lopez, I was still recovering from the flu.
Thursday, I got to go back to San Juan Island with Hannah for a dentist appointment. She wasn't feeling any better.
While she was at the Tooth Ferry, I met up with Avery - a like-aged lad who had been born on a ferry.
We wandered a few miles and I got to learn about what made him tick. A chef. A pursuer of knowledge and education. He got me thinking about education and the value of it and how some folks pursue it for the sake of just learning, they enjoy the process of it. I like the process but the debt that comes with a formal education just isn't attractive to me.
After the dentist appoint, Hannah felt too sick to go dancing so we went to catch an early ferry that would take her home instead of straight to Anacortes. On Lopez, we got some honey mints and then she returned me to the ferry that took me to Anacortes.
Cindy was there again!
She picked me up and took me out for delicious food (I got a salmon wrap -- Washington has fresh salmon too) and then we drove the remaining 75 miles to Kenmore, Washington (1.5 hours of rainy transit). I valued the time I got to spend getting to know her and was grateful to have a wonderful travel companion for the last stretch of this trip.
526 miles traveled in the first week in the Lower 48 after a 1,000 mile ferry trip.
The entire time, my ear was all plugged up.
Life feels a bit back to normal.