Like Visiting Family, But Perfect
One of the things we hoped would happen when we started this was that we would encounter people on the road that we would form a connection with. A random bartender, someone next to us on the train or at a café, or maybe a Airb’n’b host. Meeting people from different places, different backgrounds and discovering commonality or learning from our vast differences was one of our biggest goals. Starting out on this journey, with three months in Canada and the US, visiting our own family and friends , we didn’t really expect that part of our experience to start. Boy, were we proved wrong in a little spot we’ve been asked to keep secret in Washington.
We had a couple of days between leaving Vancouver Island and going to Yosemite that we wanted to fill and so Dan made a last minute booking at a lovely little trailer in a small town in Washington. We figured we could regroup, reorganize our gear for camping, and relax a little bit. Honestly, we had very low expectations, not that we expected it to be bad, just that we didn’t need it to be much.
Driving up to the address we went through beautiful woods with spread out neighborhoods that looked like they could be seasonal homes. Many different types of bodies of water, salt and fresh, were very close and the scenery was lovely. We pulled up to our spot and it was the prettiest in the whole neighborhood. A beautifully developed garden, a giant outdoor canopied space serving as great room and kitchen, a lovely trailer with our own large patio, lots of grass and shade for Enzo, lots of parking and 2 enthusiastic hosts waving Eddie (our car), the trailer, Enzo, Dan and I into their fenced and gated paradise.
We were delighted with the environment and the assistance getting parked. The greeting was like old family friends, which was surprising, endearing and a little disconcerting. I think it was 90 minutes before we even went into what would be our trailer for a couple days. In that time we were shown the property, invited to a family barbeque that afternoon, shared so much of our lives with each other and laughed and admired the property, feeling right at home. I can’t remember what it was we had to do, but we did need to go back to town that afternoon so we had to decline the barbeque, quickly unpacked into the adorable trailer and ran back out to do some errands. When we got back, they rushed to open the gate for us again and we were greeted with this:
The last thing we expected from their family barbeque. And three fellows that all looked right at home with the bikes! We got hooked into sitting down with them, not much arm twisting was needed, and enjoyed a long afternoon of more laughing and chatting, teasing and sharing. If we had argued I would have thought we were family.
After a little while it rolled around to what would be dinner time if you hadn’t had a giant meal of ribs at 2 PM. Sure enough, our hostess asked us to stay for steak dinner. The three bikers groaned in gastric distress, but looked resigned to their fate and we helplessly agreed to join them. Soon they had brought out at least one quarter of a substantial size cow to grill, some of the best macaroni salad this side of my mother in law’s, corn bread and I don’t know what all. We feasted until we could not move, still talking over each other, conversations rolling around the table with the laughter.
Not much drinking was going on, while we were there at least. I can’t say what happened while we were running errands, but everyone was walking just fine. Around nightfall our host, with a mighty twinkle in his eye, asked Dan and I if we had ever had apple pie. Instinctively we knew he wasn’t talking about a delicious baked good, so we suspiciously and cautiously said we didn’t think so… Well, that caused a whole new round of laughter, stories and talking over each other with the end result being our hosts coming out with a mason jar of beautiful amber liquid. With much ceremony the seal was broken and Dan was allowed the first sip. His look of astonishment and bliss had me reaching for the jar! This was liquid apple pie! All it needs is a good vanilla ice cream melting in it and the illusion is complete. It ends up this is a special alcohol concoction they make in big batches and keep on hand for special occasions or for gifts at the holidays or, I really hope, for when the mood strikes them. As we raved about the treat, they started explaining that this was the last of the batch and they had almost everything to make a new supply. Well, 3 Harley Davidsons, a Honda Element and a couple other cars…we could sure go get the other ingredients! And go Dan and our host did. More money got thrown at that operation than you’ve seen since the craps table at Vegas on New Years’ Eve because apparently apple juice in Washington is costly. Actually it was enthusiasm for the operation that funded the cash frenzy. Because of a complicated procedure (called cooling at room temperature) we waited until morning to make the brew and they were sweet enough to gift us 4 mason jars of it for our future camping adventures. It was remarkably easy to make, if you have big enough containers and some time. They even shared the recipe with us, but like Duke, the golden retriever from Bush’s baked beans, we’re not telling. Here’s Dan enjoying it in Yellowstone (yes, he shared)
In the midst of all the fun that evening they tentatively approached us and asked if it would be okay if the guys stayed the night in the outdoor great room. I really think this shows amazing commitment to being good Airb’n’b hosts, being that considerate of our preference on their property. I wish they didn’t want to remain anonymous, but I understand it. Of course it was fine with us that the guys stay over. Now they were even insisting we join them for a big breakfast. At this rate, we were not going to fit in their trailer much longer!
Discussing what kinds of local specialties, restaurants and things to do in the area we found out that there was a local oyster market that they liked to visit. They would pick up a dozen or so in the shell and the rest shucked in their own juice. We are big fans of raw oysters so we were a little appalled to hear that they liked to grill them in their own juice. So appalled that we were doing everything we could to avoid having them do this for us! They were having nothing of it and boy, am I glad they were so insistent. We came back one night and our new friends were grinning ear to ear telling us we better be hungry. Oh dear. We put on as brave a face as we could. Shucked oysters in plastic containers are about as unappetizing a sight as you can find. Their enthusiasm was infectious though, so we threw in and got ourselves ready with as much anticipation as they had, even if it was for different reasons. The oysters were shucked and placed with lots of their own juice on a grill over a wood fire in their own shell. We reused the shells, already preheated and smoky for the pre-shucked oysters as the feast continued. Our initial dread was unfounded. These were absolutely the most perfect things to occupy a plate, however briefly. The oysters they had acquired were large and meaty and they cooked them just enough to make them extra plump and firm and delicious. Dan was quick to help out at the fire, as a good guest and an eager learner and the guys had a fine time cooking, eating, laughing, talking and bonding even more. I can’t wait until he has an opportunity to try his new skills, but oysters like that aren’t readily available just everywhere. Our talented hostess sauteed a couple of the oysters in some butter and other good stuff as well, in case the grilling couldn’t happen fast enough. Those were delicious too, but the fire grilled oysters were the winners. We ate until we could eat no more, and then had two more to be polite! Thank goodness they were not fixing breakfast the next morning, we were still full when we woke up and we have been talking about that meal ever since.
Our friendship grew throughout our stay and we truly came to care for them as family. We miss them, talk about them, check in with them on Facebook and are so grateful to have met them on our journey. It was a very special homecoming in a strange place.