TRAVELS WITH GREASE AND PADDLE
Monday, October 29, 2007
Day 12-East of Deception, West of the Town of Gibraltar
We've entered US roads and waterways again, where kilometres are miles and rivers are no longer recorded in cubic meters per second but cubic feet per second. Also,where six-packs are reasonably priced, the grease is soy based and the water tastes like wine.
Our return to the Lower 48, or Outside as it's called by Alaskans, has been calm, with time spent in the idyllic hamlet of , eating beets, gathering squash and making homemade applesauce. Some displaced southerners, Joe and Heather, and their daughter Pearl and dog Lusa, have taken us into their wonderful home. We've been eating the last of the garden's bounty and enjoying the temperate climate of the Pacific Northwest.
Today's adventure was a trip along the coastal route out to Deception Pass, where Natcho and I paddled the thin waterway separating the mainland of from Whidbey Island. We caravaned to the water in the family minivan, a perfect advertisement for , as Natcho put it. The family with the kid in the , kayaks on the roof and the two dirtbag friends in back.
A calm day, with glassy seas and a hazy sunshine breaking through the clouds, made for perfect paddling. "I guess this is my introduction to urban paddling," I said, as we paddled under a major bridge and past waterfront homes. But compared to Natcho's experiences in , suburban or pastoral might be more apt. We approached the straits tentatively, running the passage left of the island. Current pushed kelp flat, the blades like the hair of an underwater medusa, and we shot past rock walls and tidepools and into the relative calm of the bay. We played in the currents, ferrying across eddy lines and catching swirling back pools, getting used to our big boats again. Birds not seen since my time last exploring the Northwest in 2004 swam and dove around us: cormorants, murres and grebes. Seals and sea lions were our companions again and we enjoyed an afternoon in new waters, having fun and getting excited as we talked about potential adventures on Washington's Olympic Peninsula next weekend.
The family met us in Gibraltar, west of Whidbey, east of Deception and Joe, who works on large ships, shared with us his knowledge of the oil and gas industry in the region. Huge networks of boat lines, refineries and pipelines bringing crude from to , where it is off loaded and refined. He pointed out "the eternal flame" burning at the Anacortes refinery while we drove back to town.
We had pizza and good northwest beers at a restaurant downtown, across from where we had scored grease the night before, filling our tank for free and listening to the on the radio. We've tapped into our own eternal flame with the Fried Piper.