|A Washington State Ferry and a sailboat negotiate the waters between the San Juan Islands|
The foot injury that I still haven't written much about has been taking up most of my attention the way an injury that forces you to be on crutches will. I've been wearing an air cast and was not allowed to put weight on it and that means everything I do (other than sitting) involves a tremendous amount of effort. It was very nice, then, that I got to have a lovely weekend away from home that finally shifted my focus away from my foot for a few hours!
|The San Juan Islands|
Okay, maybe I should back up, because it wasn't that simple. It had already been decided that my father would take the car and the dog and catch an early ferry because we had decided to make the trip on the day of the wedding. Arriving in your car before a ferry's scheduled departure time is no guarantee that you'll catch that ferry: if there are too many cars ahead of you in line, you'll have to wait for another boat. Because I require a lot of sleep, it was decided that my mother and my sister and I would walk on a later ferry and my father would meet us with the car on the other end. It was a clever plan until I damaged my foot. That it how I became a roll-on passenger!
|Our San Juan Island-bound ferry crosses paths with a ferry |
heading to the mainland and a third docked at Lopez Island.
|A pelagic cormorant perches on|
pilings at the ferry dock.
My dog, by the way, has not had many opportunities to travel. She's ridden along in the car on many jaunts, but she's never spent the night somewhere other than our house or, in the days when our whole family used to travel to California, the boarding kennel. Her suspicion of strangers makes it hard to take her out and about, but my inability to travel is really what has curtailed Abbey's opportunities. This time, though, we had some excellent dog-friendly accommodations with no others about. One of my father's regular customers has a large piece of property on San Juan Island where we were welcome to stay and we thought it might be fun for Abbey to have an outing. She'd gone in the car willingly enough earlier in the day because she'd seen my dad get out the Gentle Leader (indicative of walks to come), but she was delighted to be reunited with me. She's been extra attentive since my injury and likes to keep a close eye on me when possible. She lounged, the picture of contentment, with her head in my lap as we drove through the beautiful rural island scenery. She was less enthusiastic when we dropped her off at the guesthouse, but we had a wedding to go to!
|A view of the lake where the wedding was held.|
(Photo by Lakedale Resort)
|Canada is dimly visible across the Haro Strait as sunset light |
paints the grass around the guesthouse a reddish gold.
It was on that golden evening ride across the island that the real vacation began. I always love to watch for wildlife, so was utterly delighted to spot a fox hunting in a field and to spy a quail perched on a rock beside the road. After we'd both eaten some dinner, I couldn't resist taking Abbey, my camera, and my crutches out for a quick tour of the sights around the guesthouse. I attached Abbey's leash to one of my belt-loops, trusting, perhaps foolishly, that her concern for my well-being would trump her desire to bolt after any potential prey. She behaved herself very nicely, adjusting to my pace and keeping out of the way of my crutches, and didn't spot the deer grazing on the far side of the field. Once we were back inside, she did have some trouble settling down. She's on the anxious side, so hanging out in this new house, even when I was there with her, was very stimulating. Shortly after she'd she'd finally heaved a heavy sigh--but long before the rest of my family returned from the wedding--I went to bed.
|An unsettled Abbey found herself in a strange new world: a different house |
with different furniture and a very different view outside the glass doors!
I was given the downstairs bedroom of the guesthouse and I was very glad not to have to go up the stairs. (The entire cottage was so small and so amply furnished that I could actually negotiate most of the downstairs without needing my crutches if I didn't mind hopping from place to place.) The tall bed was soft enough that my leg in its boot (I was wearing it at night, too) managed to find a perfectly comfortable space. I opened the window to let in some cool sea air and fell into a deep sleep. I woke up rather abruptly in the night just as I heard Abbey come out of her crate (she was sleeping in it with the door open, just like she does at home) and start pacing, panting, and shaking. I finally was able to determine that she'd heard something that frightened her and I wonder if it's what woke me up, too. I had to close the window before she could settle down at all and she made it plain to me that she needed to be under the covers of my bed to get over her scare by jumping up uninvited (an unusual behavior for her) and burrowing in. It took a while for Abbey to settle down, but when she did, she got out of my bed and got back in her crate and I quickly went back to sleep.
|A very happy Abbey relaxes with her entire family around her after |
a nervous night full of strange sounds.
The world beyond the cottage was shrouded in a light fog when I got up. Abbey immediately went upstairs to say good morning to the rest of the family. Unlike the evening before, when she'd been restless and anxious, Abbey was cheerful, relaxed, and delighted to have her whole family around her. Home, in her mind, is where the pack is! I was dressed before the others and couldn't resist taking my camera out on the patio despite my crutches. Our plan was to go out in the large field next to the cottage and let Abbey run free in a supervised fashion. We'd been cautioned that the abundant wildlife could provide temptation for dogs to run off, but we figured she could come out on the patio with me without a leash because she's good with the kind of boundary provided by the plantings around the patio, but she was so excited that she snuck away from me and wouldn't immediately come when I called. I got this great glimpse of her capering in the grass on the other side of the shrubs around the patio, her tail up, her ears up, cavorting with glee in the strengthening sunshine. She did come back to me, but boy was she ever ready to run when the whole family was ready to take to the field!
|Abbey and my sister go bounding across the field for the sheer pleasure of running.|
|This is what joy looks like.|
|The perfect pond.|
|The roof of the guesthouse where we stayed is visible in this view across the pond.|
|A happy Abbey on the prowl for grass snacks!|
|The beautiful landscaping around the buildings...|
|...gave way to a natural landscape of firs, madronas, and black-tailed deer.|
After all this fun, clouds were starting to move in and we had to get going in order to catch the ferry home. It was decided that I would ride on the ferry with the car since I was tired. In order to fit my wheelchair in the trunk, Abbey's crate had be transported in the back seat. She has one of those plastic-bodied crates and the top and bottom halves can be unscrewed and stacked, so she got to ride in the car in the bottom half of her crate. It took her a few minutes to get adjusted to the novelty, but when she realized she could lie in her bed, rest her chin on the edge of the crate-half, and watch the scenery through the front window, she was mightily content!
|Abbey enjoyed ridding in her deconstructed crate!|
Although we'd arrived an hour before the 1:50 ferry was to depart, we discovered that so many people were in line ahead of us that we would not only miss that sailing, we'd miss the 2:15 as well, and would be catching the 3:45 ferry home. After some dismay and then a regrouping, the rest of my family met up with our friends who were also waiting for the ferry while I stayed behind to train the dog.
|Abbey would MUCH rather hold eye contact with|
you for a Cheerio than bark at strangers!
|A sailboat plying the waters between the San Juans.|
My family rejoined me shortly before it was time to board the ferry, bringing a delicious sandwich from the restaurant where they had lunch, and then once again left me and Abbey (at my insistence) to our own devises in the car after we boarded the boat. I resumed reading, occasionally looking up to watch the islands slide by as the ferry plowed on toward the mainland, and Abbey drifted off into sleep, barely even registering the occasional ferry workers--hollering loudly to each other to be heard over the throbbing of the ferry's engines--that passed our car. The forty minute journey seemed to fly by. Abbey indicated with pacing and panting that she needed to make a pit stop after we arrived in Anacortes, but the drive home was otherwise uneventful as the unfamiliar beauty of the Skagit Valley farmland gave way to the forest-lined freeways and well-known cities close to home. When we at last pulled into our own driveway that evening, it felt as if we'd been gone much longer than a single night. In the wee hours of the morning, the gray skies that had rolled in as we left the island unleashed a torrential rainstorm, ending a streak of 49 days without rain.
The last time I spent a night away from home was in August of 2009. Since the migraines started in October of that year, I have seldom left my house for reasons other than medical appointments, much less traveling long distances for pleasure. I have missed many gatherings with the same group of friends that attended the wedding even though they've taken place much closer to home. Spending the night in other houses while dog-sitting is the closest thing I get to a vacation these days. Thus, this weekend away was such a treat for me. I love scenery and San Juan Island is dense with rural beauty: fields dotted with cattle and round hay bales, wind-gnarled firs and peeling madrona trees, a red fox trotting through a field aglow with golden evening light, sea and sky merging seamlessly in the Haro Strait, the blue rowboat placidly drifting on its tether in the pond. Against this peace and silence, my joy was doubled by Abbey's fierce delight in running free across the grass, her amazement of finding all of her family united in a strange dwelling, the clash of her handsome brindle stripes against the pastel patterns of the guesthouse interior, watching her discover the joy that can be found in the tension between the familiar and the new, the sight of her sweet face resting on the edge of her crate as she began to doze off in the car on the journey home.
|A distinctive, red-barked madrona tree.|
|Sea and sky blur into one.|
|The perfect rowboat.|
|Abbey standing out against the pastel patterns of the guesthouse.|
|My little animal explores a new world.|
|Running for joy.|
|An ecstatic Abbey leans in to give my sister a kiss.|