Ease it Down Now

 It’s fitting that we opted to return to Anacortes for the last month of our travels.  This is where it all began, after all.  Our last visit in the Spring had been more focused on getting our house ready for sale, and somewhat rushed.  Also, Spring is notoriously fickle in that area – you get teases of gorgeous weather and the long, lazy days that summer will bring, but then a grey blanket of temperatures in the 50s and sideways rain will descend for a few days to remind you that you’re in the far reaches of the Pacific Northwest, not Southern California.  The standard jokes are that June there is actually called “Junuary” and that summer doesn’t really begin until July 5th.  It’s funny cuz it’s true…

So we made the drive back up to Anacortes from Bend in time to catch the 4th of July celebrations.  Anacortes does it right, with a morning town photo followed by a picture perfect small town parade with candy and beads tossed from the participants’ floats and the like, a lazy day of barbecues, concerts on the waterfront, and an entirely decent fireworks show over the marina after dark (which doesn’t come until about 10PM that close to the solstice). 

Despite the July 5th joke, I’ve never known the weather on parade day to be inclement.  This time it was a bit, and instead of watching the fly-by over Commercial Ave’s parade route by NAS Whidbey Island’s F-18s, P-3s, and now P-8s, we heard them pass overhead a few times, evidently searching for and not finding holes in the overcast that they could punch through. 

The kids cleaned up on the candy front though.

And after doing the concert thing, socializing with some old friends, and getting a few faces painted, we settled in from our waterfront motorhome site to watch the firework show. 

The Saturday Farmers’ Market is another must-hit, and the marina where we were camped happens to sit right across the street from it.  It’s also peak berry season, so we behaved accordingly.

Slightly disappointingly, our renters had removed most of the raspberry plants I had planted at our house.  Keeper had remembered from living there that each day in late June and early July would net us a very large bowl of ripe raspberries in multiple varieties (not to mention some gooseberries and currants) and had gotten his sisters excited about that prospect, but alas, only a few plants remained.  The Asian pear trees, on the other hand, had flourished – whoever buys our house is going to get a treat this Fall.

There was a good bit of interest in our house once it went on the market a few weeks back.  The first offer came in within 24 hours, but turned out not to be a serious one as the buyers turned tail at our first counter-offer, claiming that the timing wasn’t right. (Timing. Soooo, why did you put in the offer? Never mind.)  Still, we’re optimistic.  Taking advantage of it still being ours for what we hope is just a few more weeks, we made several visits back to the deck and hot tub for some chillout time, and before departing, took a couple last pictures and updated our signatures on one of the semi-hidden studs (this has become a tradition of ours).

We also prioritized the three houses we had narrowed down to in Bend, and put an offer on the first.  It was accepted, but as there was already a contingent offer in place that we were attempting to bump, we didn’t get our hopes too high.  For good reason it turns out, as the original buyers were able to remove the contingency at no-kidding the last minute.  No problem, they were there first. So we proceeded onto the second one, which is a stunner, perched over the north side of the town, with 200 degrees of city, river, and mountain views, multiple floors, a pool table, a theater room, and a fire pole (!).  It was the kids’ favorite and would’ve been ours if it were a bit more practical – it’s quirky, which will affect its eventual resale we think, and being on a hill makes it less bikeable and there seem to be fewer kids in the neighborhood.  It’s awesome though, and fits our collective personality, and our offer was eventually accepted.  Looks like we’re doing this!

The last couple weeks in the area we spent bouncing between our beloved Cliffside RV park, back at Whidbey Island, and the marina, getting last visits in with friends in the area and doing some summer playing.

Tacco and I had enjoyed kayaking together when we lived there, and though we never got as seriously into it as we would’ve had we stayed, we wanted to make sure we gave the kiddos a taste of it, and so rented a couple kayaks to supplement the inflatable one we had kept with us & explored the island a bit.

Below you see the free and natural version of a hot stone massage, in which Woodsprite partook prior to paddling.

One interesting side-note: it was difficult not to notice that this summer wasn’t as summery as we were expecting.  In fact, we almost felt cheated out of it — it’s one of the few things about which I’m completely fine with having a sense of entitlement.  By July, every Anacortes resident is owed a summer. Both of us remember, correctly I think, that once summer does kick in, it’s pretty much guaranteed beautiful weather every single day.  With the exception of fires that occasionally darken the skies with smoke (like they had done in 2018), it’s clear and in the mid to high 70s as a rule, with occasional forays into the lower and upper 80s.  This summer, not so much.  The overcast that had somewhat dampened our 4th of July celebration kept poking its unwelcome head into the July and early August mix.  Not every day, but enough that we commented about how it was pushing us toward confirmation of our decision. Not that we needed it.

For our final hurrah in the area, we managed to put together a repeat of the previous year’s visit to our close friends who live on Lake Washington near Seattle for SeaFair and the Blue Angels airshow.  The timing was both tricky and perfect, as he had very recently been informed of an opportunity to transfer to Tokyo for work, and they were the chaotic process of getting affairs in order so that they could depart in a week or so.

Once again we shoehorned ourselves into their driveway and spent a few days cooking, eating, drinking, boating, tubing, and watching the Blues do their thing.

That never gets old, nor does time with them; I was thrilled that we were able to make it work and that the kids were given an opportunity to reconnect, however briefly. We even bought their car from them, with an arrangement for them to leave it in Seattle when they flew to Japan and for me to pick it up at the airport after a work trip and drive it to Bend — win/win!

One bittersweet moment took place out on the boat after a solid tubing session.  Their kids were going through an even more concentrated period of upheaval than ours with the impending move, and an air of poignancy hung over all of their interactions.  At one point their younger son, who is extremely wise for his age and was wringing every last moment out of a visit with one of his local friends while we were there, observed to Keeper “So wait… basically your only ‘friends’ for the last two years have been just the kids of your parents’ friends?” 

Oof.  I let that one hit me in the gut from my perch at the back of the boat.  Keeper answered in a tentative affirmative; he has done an outstanding job of keeping close online touch with his Maryland friends over the past two years and will continue to do so.  But… that’s not the same.  As much as we imagined that our kids would be close with their kids if we were to live nearby in Seattle (and they likely would), I was faced with the realization that a couple quick visits, even when they get along well, does not necessarily equal the seeds of a lifelong friendship.   Also, that when Keeper and the girls have lamented at times that they’re not getting time to spend with kids their age, that’s not an idle observation.  We’ve kept them somewhat isolated, and it really will be important to do all we can to get them dialed into our new community.  And in a larger sense, though this has been an incalculably rich experience for all of us and overwhelmingly positive in the aggregate, there have been trade-offs. 

Our journey’s last leg will take us to Mt. Rainier National Park, and then two driving legs to Bend (we’re breaking it up by stopping in Hood River, OR for a day).  And then we stop!  We’ll camp in Bend until we’re able to close on the house, which will hopefully be no more than a week.  AND THEN WE STOP.  I had to write that again because I’m not quite processing it.

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