lots of firewood for chopping beer
One evening while the boys were getting baths before dinnertime in order to wash off the potpourri of saltwater brineskuzz and molted crab shell-and-sea gull saliva which they’d accumulated after several hours of laying down in the intertidal zone with seemingly wholesale impunity, I took a fresh air stroll to the end of the dock. In the summertime, the owners of this amiable resort haul out more float-thingamabobs and make a little marina out of the place but during the offseason all those toothpickish posts sticking out of the water serve exclusively for fine, eerie birdwatching as typically the top of each is perched upon gargoyle-like by a variety of shorebirds during dawn and dusk but not in this view because obviously there was something brewing across President Channel and the birds had more sense than I did.
At 1,159 feet, that’s Turtleback Mountain looming over the bay and the cluster of rustic, little side-by-side cabins which form the heart of West Beach Resort is just out of the frame to the left. It’s an awfully nice place to stay in the wintertime or shoulder seasons when things quiet down and there’s nothing like rain pouring off the side of your porch eaves with a foggy view of the Sound but I’d never dream of visiting in the summertime because I’m not that much of a people person. The morning after we arrived on Orcas, the boys and I were petting Fat Willy, the grotesquely overweight cat that serves as a mascot of sorts for the resort (we noticed two other humongous kitties during our stay) and in the course of chatting with the owner of the place by the boat ramp, we learned she and her husband bought West Beach Resort in the 1980s from the previous owners and really fixed things up and she was extolling the joy of summertime when hordes of screaming, joyful children take over the place and I was jotting down a reminder in my mental rolodex to never make the mistake of coming at that time and she went on to wax poetic about how her son had the privilege of making all kinds of lifelong friends who had been coming to the resort year-after-year and I have to admit that sounded wonderful. At some point I made the mistake of mentioning I was from Seattle, which around here is like admitting you’re from California and she reverted into rehearsed resort operator mode and we politely recused ourselves from listening to anything else she might have to tell us about potential activities around the island, such as the Orcas Island Oyster Derby.
For most of the week, the place was serene and peaceful with people quietly relaxing on their porches or happy, colorfully-dressed children investigating puddles leftover from low tide and there was elbow room with a handful of empty cabins but that all changed the day before we left, which if you’re taking notes, was right before the weekend. A reunion of motley rednecks from Marysville showed up to rent half the place and the base of operations was the cabin next door to us. We knew things were about to get interesting when a bright-yellow monster truck with humongous decals proudly advertising Jack Daniels 4×4 Legally Intoxicated Racing Team dumped off a full cord of wood (i only wish i was exaggerating) on the beach in front of us and a trio of pals took turns chopping it into smaller pieces for the bonfire of the century. This took place between long swigs of butt-beer while their girlfriends engaged in a little twerking on nearby picnic tables with a radio blasting, pausing the suggestive gyrations every three and a half minutes to listen carefully to seven minute intermissions of advertising comprising everything from auto parts to life insurance. For once in my life I had a sense of humor about the situation as I figured these jackasses were a minor penance to pay after enjoying such a pleasant stay and we should try to relax and enjoy this slice of Americana. The light from the bonfire that night flickered against the walls inside our cabin until three o’clock in the morning, I was struggling to fall asleep because of my shoulder and I got up to go to the bathroom a couple times and I tried eavesdropping on disappointingly inane conversation having to do with some idiot named Duane who cheated on his girlfriend to go out with his wife, but I’m not clear on the details because my hearing isn’t the best.
In more recent matters, we capped the weekend off with a long neighborhood walk in West Seattle’s Admiral District which included a sidetrip to Hamilton Viewpoint Park and then a southwestern saunter along Sunset Avenue featuring incredible views of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound between the eclectic variety of homes which surely will tumble down the hillside come the Next Big One. After various chats along the way with the gardening citizenry (I was struck by the large proportion of gentry taking hands-on roles in the upkeep of their yards) and stumbling upon a 1960 Ford Falcon for sale ($8,000 for an unbelievably hazardous-looking ride), we intersected with Southwest Massachusetts Street which abruptly turned into a one lane road providing an extremely sneaky but very steep downhill shortcut to Alki Beach via the interestingly-named Bonair Drive Southwest (named for Arthur Denny after he achieved his first boner upon his party’s arrival to the area which would soon come to be known as Seattle). After promising to walk back up the hill on my own for the car (to taxi everyone) we plunged downhill through the woods and shortly arrived at the very West Coast, beachy coolness of Alki Beach. It’s always fun here for people watching and it was getting late so we ordered dinner for the boys to eat outside on the patio of a burger place and I got myself Manny’s Pale Ale to mask the stinging bursitis in my good shoulder and the shattered glass in the bad one and I felt enormous relief as my empty stomach was gradually coated with a hoppy tummy rub and barely noticed Adam was depositing ice cubes like Pac Man quarters, one at a time, down my shirt until they came to rest all the way down in my butt crack. The poor kid was starved into goofiness because our burgers and grilled cheese sandwiches were taking a million years to arrive and when I opened my eyes I realized everyone around us on the sunny patio was guffawing and waiting in suspense to see what the big-guy dad’s reaction was gonna be. I took another sip of beer and sighed at what a wonderful, sunny Sunday afternoon it was to be out with my family……