Nature reserve in Tillamook County, Oregon
August 15, 2017
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If it was terrible weather for sailing, it was perfect for crossing the sound. The sun was still low on the eastern horizon and every riffle of water flashed a silver-blue mirror. The triangle of Mount Baker pierced the northern haze and the snowy dome of Mount Rainier shouldered the south, like two great pillars holding sea and sky apart for life to play out between them. It made Charlotte feel insignificant and grand all the same time, so impermanent in the vast landscape that it was blindingly obvious the only way to matter at all was to cling to every moment even as you leaped into the next.and
The docking announcement sounded overhead and they walked back to the car; the hold was chilly and dark and Charlotte turned the heated seat on until they were out on the road and back in the sun. They drove across Bainbridge Island and the small Agate Pass Bridge, which connected it to the peninsula, then half an hour later crossed the massive Hood Canal Bridge, hinged in the middle for the passage of nuclear submarines heading from the Bangor submarine base. The land in this corner of the country was splattered in channels and islands like a messy afterthought or creation. Charlotte had lived in the Northwest all her life and couldn't memorize the puzzle of earth and ocean, only the names of the few towns and beaches that attracted summer tourists and their money. She and Eric should have taken some weekends here, gone hiking or to one of the lodges on the coast. There just never seemed to be enough time. Here and there a finger of tribal land touched the highway, marked by fireworks stands and pickup trucks advertising fresh-caught salmon and fresh-dug clams. Deeper into the peninsula the air was ripe and the stench and dairy cows and horses where massive barns loomed over modest homes. Then the clutter of the town began, sparse at first-- a nest of abandoned cars, a small grocery , a bar, a hamburger stand.