August over, thoughts of school carving anxious lines into the cliffs. My daughter pushes back against this setting summer. It is a heavy lift.
Years of inactivity and injury have taken a toll. Alex called needing keys to the truck while I was a mile away. I did my best, but...
The only boa of the Pacific Northwest, the rubber boa, in our wee forest, a wise teacher of the lesson, to be safe, be unseen. A decade ago, my biggest fear was being found on the internet.
We camped along the Sol Duc at Klahowya, our site nestled among redcedar and hemlock, a light path to the rocky bed. The two of us had volunteered to leave early, our expedition paid handsome rewards, and when her sister and my brother-in-law arrived with Naya, our camp had been made, firewood stacked and bottle uncorked. We walked without itinerary, without responsibility, without reception.
As nightfall fell, we tried a variation of s'mores, in full suspension of our summer slim-down. We lit the old Coleman lantern, and tried out new gadgets acquired just for this trip. I heated water for a shower and emerged reborn. Naya had come down with a cold, and Alex is unreasonably afraid of bears, so they slept in her sister's travel trailer.
In the morning, they all woke to a fresh fire and coffee from a percolator that must be 20 years old, on a stove that doesn't want to die. I had faint reception for a moment, and lost myself in the rabbit hole of enamelware history.
We loaded the Subaru and drove 15 miles along Highway 101 to Lake Crescent. After launching, some old fishermen offered to trade their Livingston for my skiff, and wished us luck when they saw our tackle. We motored across the blue waves, stopping at a dock straight from summer camp heaven, before making our way to the Lake Crescent lodge, where vacationers lounged on Adirondack chairs and ran cannonball into the cold, clean water. On the return, the fishermen stopped us and shared pictures of the fish they caught, giving us the lure that had produced the most, and encouraged us to try it out.
We lost some gear on the drive back, and I had a minor meltdown, momentarily displaced from the asylum of time off. I drove all the way to Port Angeles, where I picked up new supplies, but mostly cleared my head, the way I used to when I was a young man, along open-window drives in the Missouri countryside. I thought about the difficulties of the past two years, every failure, like a cairn, leading me to delusions of inadequacy.
Back at camp, warmth and laughter. The next day we hiked a bit of the Discovery Trail, coming across more chanterelles and puffballs and lobster mushrooms than any one of us could carry. We returned to Lake Crescent and, using the lure given to us by those fishermen, caught our own trout.
For the first time in ages, I feel like I am enjoying this. I want exactly what I have right now. I want more tomorrow.