Points Puget Sound

Screen Shot 2013-01-20 at 9.03.43 PMKicked off my first work trip of the year last week with a flight into Seattle, then a drive up north to a little town called Sedro Woolley. It was a great way to kick off the year, as the Pacific Northwest remains one of my favorite places on earth. I planned to head for Bainbridge Island as soon as I arrived, ostensibly to visit a bookstore there: Eagle Harbor Books. Really it was just an excuse to ride the ferry across the sound. On the flight over I read the excellent book Closer to the Ground by Dylan Tomine, which takes place on Bainbridge. Here’s the story on that book:

Closer to the Ground is the deeply personal story of a father learning to share his love of nature with his children, not through the indoor lens of words or pictures, but directly, palpably, by exploring the natural world together as they forage, cook and eat from the woods and sea.

This compelling, masterfully written tale follows Dylan Tomine and his family through four seasons as they hunt chanterelles, fish for salmon, dig clams and gather at the kitchen table, mouths watering, to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Closer to the Ground captures the beauty and surprise of the natural world—and the ways it teaches us how to live—with humor, gratitude and a nose for adventure as keen as a child’s. It is a book filled with weather, natural history and many delicious meals.

I thoroughly enjoyed the read. Patagonia consistently delivers my favorite books.

Bainbridge Island is a nice little town, quiet in the offseason. I looked in a few shops, had lunch, and hung around the harbor a bit. It was a cloudy/sunny off-and-on kind of day, brisk for the locals but perfect temperature for me in t-shirt and a vest, and I loved it. Here are a couple more shots (click to make larger) from the ferry.


See that building in the foreground, Pier 70? It was the setting for that MTV show “Real World Seattle.” Before that it was a rock club, and my band played there several times back in the day.




I will be back for a pleasure trip to Seattle this summer, no doubt about it. I’ve been wanting to make a weekend run that includes a Sounders game one night and the Mariners another.

I’m home a week, then I’m off to my second trip of the year: Portland, OR. Should be another excellent run.


Wise Words From a Wise Woman

Here are a couple more passages from Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland, that I noted as I was reading. This will easily be one of my favorite books of the year.

On Sitka, AK:

Sitka suited me. It was about as small as you could get and still have the five things a town needs as a place to live: 1. A community college to take or teach classes. 2. A good public library. 3. A National Park for access to the knowledge of the naturalists and historians. 4. A warm-water swimming pool. 5. A thrift shop. Use money for plane fare, boats, and good wine, not for clothes and oddments you can buy second-hand. My “TS principle” isn’t Eliot or Tough Shit, it’s Thrift Shops.

On life in general:

“If you had a year to do anything you wanted, and had all the money you needed, and could come back to where you are now, what would you do?”

Most people had been living on expediency: what needed to be done that hour, that day. They’d never asked the big question. When they had the answer, my next question was, “Why aren’t you doing it?”

Then came the obvious answers. “I don’t have the money. I do have kids, a family, a job, a mortgage.”

“When can you do it? Can you do part of it? How can you plan toward it?”

We all need to ask those questions every five years, then act on the answers. You get plenty of advice on planning your whole life, but five years is long enough. After age 50 you can narrow it down to a two-year plan. Beyond 60, it’s a one year plan. Beyond that?

And one more:

Doing what you want to do isn’t a question of can you or can’t you, yes or no, but deciding what your ultimate desire and capability is and then figuring out the steps to accomplishment. It’s “I’m going to. Now how? What gear will I need? What skills will I need? What will it cost? When will it happen? When I succeed, what next?”


Go Simple, Go Solo, Go Now

I’ve just finished reading a great little book called Paddling North by Audrey Sutherland. This is what it’s about:

In a tale remarkable for its unselfconscious self-reliance and acute natural observation, the author begins with her decision, at age 60, to undertake a solo, summerlong voyage along the southeast coast of Alaska in an inflatable kayak. Paddling North is a compilation of Sutherland’s first two (of over 20) such annual trips and her day-by-day travels through the Inside Passage from Ketchikan to Skagway. With maps, illustrations and the author’s recipes.

This book, while not meant to be a “self help” book by any means, was a real kick in the ass. A single passage from it sums up how I’ve been feeling lately. I’m not going to piss and moan because I’ve got it pretty good and really have very little to complain about. I’m just going to share the passage:

I didn’t need to “get away.” I needed to “get to.” To simplicity. I wanted to be lean and hard and sun-browned and kind. Instead I felt fat and soft and white and mean.

Hell yeah. No more feeling sorry for myself. No more fat, no more being soft, no more pale indoor pallor, no more thinking mean thoughts. Time to “get to” before it’s too late.