8:38 PM EST
Somewhere over Newark, NJ
Cruising bumpily along in the back of this 737, breathing very stale air and trying to deflect conversation from the pack of retirees I'm sitting amidst, I'm feeling none of the thrill of flying. But two mornings ago I was concentrating on not hitting the cloud in front of me while J.T. gently but firmly told me I really ought to nudge the nose up a little more...more... you really need to get level... you're descending, you know... why don't I take it over for a minute? What a fabulous experience. It's really hard to keep track of where you're steering, whether you're horizontal, how you're burning fuel, what the clouds are doing, and the dozen other things J.T. was paying attention to while I alternately climbed, dove, and gaped at the Olympic National Park unfolding below us. I felt once again reminded of what new sailors feel -- like how hard it is just to steer a sailboat in a stright line, and how long it takes for a good "feel" to develop. Oooh -- it was tantalizing and wonderful and I'm afraid I'm going to have to do it again. Perhaps many times. I never thought I could be enticed by a more cripplingly expensive pasttime than sailing. Maybe common sense will prevail and I'll gradually forget what it felt like to fly.
B. and I had a quite grand trip after leaving you. The San Juan Islands (okay, we only actually set foot on one, Orcas Island, a charmer and a half) are worth your time. Snag someone with a car or hitchhike to Anacortes with a bike and a tent and get on the feeling. Orcas may be quite touristy come summer, but B and I had it all to ourselves save a wild bunny or two, or, truthfully, seven or eight, in our campground.
Vancouver Island was disappointing, but we turned our luck around and scored a free night's stay in a luxury hotel, where we dolled ourselves up and feasted on seafood while making waiters nervous (w/ our great beauty & rapier-like wits of course). Topped off w/ a morning of working out, swimming, whirlpooling, sauna-ing & rebuffing fools -- then on to Port Angeles, WA, on a spectacular ferry ride marred only by an old woman giving us an unsolicited biography of John Templeton, a man who had a great impact on the financial condition of the Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania in the 1930s -- for 45 minutes, really. But that one bad experience shouldn't stop you from checking out Port Angeles, a new potential fantasy-relocation spot for me. 18,000 people, vibrant but totally unpretentious & uncondo-ed (a urologist's office, modest & squat, enjoyed waterfront property in a totally working class neighborhood), with its toes in the Juan de Fuca Strait and its back pressed up against the Olympic Mountains. I tell you, J, it's sweet.
Oh, we had no end of fun. My hand's getting tired, and there's actually a lot of turbulence on this flight. I gathered a batch of smooth, wonderfully colored stones on Orcas Island with the intention of sending them to you.... but I've become rather attached to them so I'll just keep them for a while and give them to you when you're on the East Coast next, how's that?
Okay -- out of time, room, patience. I liked your idea of reviving a correspondence -- but I'll like it better when there's something from you in my box. I'll look for it. It was really nice to see you. Let's not go 4 years again before the next time.