Stringers | Two

Tatoosh Island, once a whaling and fishing camp now long abandoned, beckoned with whispers of the ancients, interrupting the horizon. In the shape of a crescent lying diagonally northwest to southeast, the island protected and sheltered a secluded bay known as the Cat’s Paw. Named so not for any particular land formations, but due to the glassine palette of cobalt sea whose surface reflected a pattern of tinfoil creases and blackening shadow on occasion of the breeze preceding a violent storm. A haven for those in need during high seas or sudden marine anomalies. Private home to puffin, sea otter, seal, and grey whale.

Using the island as a compass, continuing one-quarter mile or so due west, subsurface rock formations created an artifact known as the Boneyard. Appropriately named, for at this location death was as likely to occur as fog and the wreckage on the ocean floor spoke clearly of this. Given the right conditions, this deadly reef would generate a perfectly formed wave known as Canoes. Breaking left to right, this manifestation would rise and fall with the pulse of the fickle Pacific, an indicator of her heartset on that given day. And so, flanked by colonnades of tortured Sitka Spruce, a story of the harsh winds that often battered the coast, Caspar sat, his mind overwhelmed with the image of what he proposed to do.

Twenty-four hundred miles north, winds approaching hurricane-force toppled trees and assaulted the Alaskan coast from Anchorage to Sitka. Winds measuring seventy-nine miles per hour were recorded at a private Sitka airfield where small planes were being tossed about with the chaos of a toddler’s toys. Power-lines dropped haphazardly across homes and cars throughout the city, fishing boats torn violently from their moorings, tethers of rope and cable snapping with the tension as if they were low-test monofilament. Energy from the fluke summer storm bled to the sea sending a heavy tidal surge southward. High surf warnings were being issued down the continental coast, the most significant pulses to be felt as tremendous swells from British Columbia to Northern Oregon at some point the following day.

to be continued…

Stringers | One

Buttercup rolled onto the rugged cliffs of Cape Flattery having never exceeded her top-end of sixty-eight miles per hour on the nineteen hundred mile epic. Christened Buttercup, the 1979 T2 Volkswagen Camper presented a mid-summer bloom of orangey-yellow from moon-round headlights to the access cover of her air-cooled rear engine. Battered California license plates, ubiquitous surfboard adorning the roof, spare tire replacing the left rear seven-hundred and fourteen miles back. She was a traveler, as was the man at her helm. Purchased four years ago, one-hundred eighty-five thousand miles old, the black and white numerals on the German clock now read just shy of two hundred thousand.

Reaching the northwestern-most point of the Evergreen State had been both a triumphant journey and a saintly exercise of enduring patience for both the aging camper and at times, for those that shared the road. Each elevation change presented its own challenges only to become yet another milestone celebrated through the hazy effect of a cracked rear-view mirror. Crossing the final mountain passage had been the worst, three-thousand feet above sea level, on hands and knees drowning in fog and rain, backing up traffic three times beyond the legal limit. Summiting at noon, another two hundred forty miles to go, six hours on the outside to the cape.

Hunched above the front road-wheels, wrists relaxed and resting atop the hard cold plastic of Buttercup’s steering wheel, Caspar now sat motionless, observing the explosion of whitecaps breaking on the confusion of basalt sculptures that sprung from the green-grey sea. Directly below the wheels, hidden from sight due to the sheer steepness of the rock face, a beach sloped towards more delicate waves licking at the coarse black and tan sand as old as the earth itself. Only a passing cloud of common sense warned Caspar from inching any closer to the edge.

to be continued…