Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 27

flap1_9-1-13jpg

Hopper injures his wing as he flees from the sight of the city of Seattle, and soon has his most significant encounter with people and  a dog.

To read from the beginning, click here.

 

Chapter 27

Attle and Friends

“Raccoons are interesting creatures,” thought Hopper as he swam along, catching his breakfast as he went. The water felt good, but he was still not feeling right. His wings ached and his whole body was sore. He kept wondering about that glow in the night sky and who or what Attle was. “Racky said I’d see it if I headed south,” he mused.
The further he went the more uneasy he became. Land covered with evergreen trees was on his right and left, the waterway being about 10 miles across. In the distance he could hear sounds he’d never heard before, and the level of noise in the air seemed to be growing.
Then he noticed along the shore things which he knew belonged to people. He’d seen them around Port Angeles. They were, in fact, houses, but he didn’t know what they were. The sight of them shook him to the bones. Then he saw boats in the water, and before long there were many boats, some small and some big. Their waves began to jostle him around. The water became choppy.
“Help!” he called. “Help, this is too much. I can’t take any more.” A little further south he caught sight of it to his left around a bend. All he could do at first was yell, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaa…Help! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaa…,” as he swam west, away from it.
What was it that he saw? It was the city of Seattle with its buildings towering up to the sky. This is where the noise was coming from. He knew this must be where the glow came from also.
He swam and swam and found that instead of running into the shore, there was a narrow passage of water that allowed him to continue to the west. After a while it headed in a more southerly direction. To his left was a fairly large island called Bainbridge and on his right was the mainland of the western side of Puget Sound, although he had no idea of where he was.
Fear had totally gripped him. He swam like a mad penguin. His only thought was to get away from that city and all the boats and all the people.
Then suddenly he felt a snap in his wing, followed by great pain as he tried to use it. He was done. He couldn’t swim anymore. All he could do was let the current take him, and now it was flowing in the direction he was heading. He could paddle and steer some with his feet, but this was slow going. At this rate he’d never make it home. He just lay there in the water and let it take him.
Gradually reason returned to him, and he lay there, weakly saying, “Help. I can’t get anywhere like this. How can I ever get home if I can’t swim? And how can I catch my food?”
Now as he drew near the western shore, he noticed the current was slowing down. Soon it would be flowing back the other way. He decided to get on land before that happened. He slowly paddled his way to shore, hauled his sore body out of the water, and waddled slowly over the rocks to a grassy bank covered with trees.
He found a resting place under a tree that was leaning out over the beach. He sat there in silence for a long time, feeling sorry for himself and very miserable. Then the silence was broken by that familiar voice, which said, “What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’ve been swimming and swimming, and I hurt my wing, and I want to go home, and now I can’t swim, and I can’t catch my food.”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I’m trying to get away from that city with all those people and boats and…”
“What are you doing here, Hopper?”
“Well, I uh, I guess I don’t know, but will you help me?”
“Have I ever failed you? Why are you so afraid?”
“Well, there are people there, lots and lots of people. Who knows what they might do to me? They might even try to make me talk. I might not be able to resist talking if they say something stupid. Then you won’t be pleased with me.”
“Don’t fear them so much. They are my creatures too. Remember your purpose. You are here to glorify me before their eyes. Through you and all the other animals, I am creating a longing in them for the way things could have been, the way it used to be in the Garden.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“In the morning, ride with the tide.”
The next morning Hopper saw the current flowing to the right, in the direction he had been heading. He slowly made his way to the water and let himself float along with the current. He felt so helpless. He couldn’t dive or porpoise. All he could do was float along and paddle his feet.
Then he saw a log a little ways ahead of him. Paddling as fast as he could he caught up with it, and then using his good wing and his beak, he crawled on top of it. He let it carry him south and then west with the current.
He just stood there on the log as the beach went slowly past him. He began seeing more and more houses, although he didn’t know exactly what they were. He knew they had to do with people. This place happened to be the eastern part of the city of Bremerton.
The fear tried to grip him, but he remembered the words, “Don’t fear them so much.” Then he relaxed a little and kept riding his log.
He also began seeing more boats. Some were big, and some smaller ones carried only one or two people. Some boats were long and thin and cut through the water quietly. Others were quite noisy. One huge white one with many windows went by in the distance and then disappeared around a corner, heading mainly east. It was hard for him to keep from shaking, but he stood on his log, waiting to see where all this would take him.
Now the log was slowing down. Soon the current would head back the other way. He considered going ashore, but he figured he’d better “ride with the tide.”
He stood on his log with his wings outstretched. He was about a hundred yards from the beach in front of a brown house. He saw two people come out of the house, and then it looked like they were looking at him.
The fears once again welled up within him. What could he do? He couldn’t swim away or dive. “Help!” he said.
The two people still were looking at him and talking excitedly to each other, but he couldn’t hear what they were saying. Then they went inside the house and came back out with three more people. Now they were pointing at him and talking very excitedly.
All Hopper could do was stand there saying, “Hellllllllp, help, please helllllllllllllllllllllllllllllp!”
Now three of the people were walking toward the beach. They dragged a little rowboat down to the water, got in and began rowing out toward him. He stood there calling for help.
Soon the boat was about 10 yards away, and Hopper heard one of them say, “Yeah, it looks like a penguin, all right! How could a penguin get here? He’s thousands of miles from home.”
Another said, “He doesn’t exactly look like the penguins I’ve seen pictures of. Look at those yellow feathers sticking out above his eyes. He’s kind of a squatty little fellow, isn’t he?”
Now the yellow feathers bristled. Hopper wanted to tell them a thing or two, but resisted the urge. He decided he’d better at least try to get away, so he dove into the water and paddled furiously with his feet.
The people rowed after him and easily caught up with him. Soon he felt strong hands grab him firmly but gently. He tried to struggle, but his wing hurt too much. He was captured, held firmly in the lap of a man while a young boy rowed the boat toward the shore, and a little girl watched him and asked her daddy questions.
“This little fellow must be hurt,” said the man, “or we couldn’t have caught him so easily. I think it’s a good thing you saw him out here. He wouldn’t be able to live very long if he can’t catch his food.”
“Daddy, can we feed him? Can we keep him?”
“I’ll have to find out what penguins eat. Sure, we’ll feed him, but we can’t feed him dog food. We’ll keep him until we can find out the best place to take him.”
“Then can we take him to his home? He must be lonely.”
“I’ll have to make some phone calls to some people who will know what to do with him, but I think his home is a very long ways away from here, and I don’t think we’ll be able to take him there.”
When they got back to the shore, the man carried Hopper over the rocky beach, up some steps to the top of a bulkhead, and on to their grassy yard. He put Hopper down in the middle of the yard. He was now free to hop around a little, but he just stood there for a while trying to get his wits together.
Suddenly there was a great “WOOOOOF!” from up on the porch of the house. Hopper instantly headed for the water with thoughts of his first landing in the Galapagos Islands running through his head, and thinking things like, “Arg, they’ve brought me here to give me to the dogs!”
Now the boy was cutting him off. His escape was blocked. The dog was charging from the porch. The man was shouting instructions to his daughter. Actually, he was saying, “Lizzie, take Goldie into the house,” but Hopper thought he was telling the dog to “come and get it now.”
Soon the man and the boy had him trapped again and they grabbed him. He expected to be handed over to the dog in short order, but the man said, “You don’t have to be afraid of Goldie. She’s probably afraid of you!”
Then the man said, “Ezra, you be in charge of our little friend while I make him some new quarters.” Then Lizzie came out with their little brother, Enoch, who was very excited to have a penguin visiting them. They all sat around Hopper on the grass.
Hopper thought about trying to escape. He figured it was his duty. It was expected of him. He was a wild and free animal. He should at least look like he was trying to escape. Actually, he wasn’t sure he wanted to escape. They had said they would feed him, and he couldn’t catch his food.
He stood still for a while, and then suddenly darted for the water. He had caught them off guard. He was by Enoch, and freedom was in sight. Then there was Ezra standing in front of him. Hopper darted left. There was Lizzie. He darted right. Enoch was almost there. Hopper sped up to pass by him, but there was Ezra again. After darting back and forth a few more times, he could see that he had made a good enough show of trying to escape and gave up. They gently grabbed him and brought him back to the yard.
In the meantime, the man and his wife were setting up a pen for Hopper on the big porch of the house. They put up a fence to keep dogs out and Hopper in. Inside the fence they put a large metal tub and filled it with water from the bay. Beside the tub they put a little platform for Hopper to stand on, and some makeshift stairs for him to hop up to the platform. From there he could jump into the water to keep cool. On the floor of the pen they put newspapers, even though Hopper couldn’t read.
When all was ready they put Hopper in his pen, and then they brought him some fish to eat. After watching him for a while, the woman said, “Okay everybody, we better leave him alone for a while. Let’s go eat.”
They all went inside, and the dog came out, saying a mild, “Rrrruff!”
“Well, if it isn’t the friendly cur!” said Hopper.
“Well, it’s my job to warn the family when strangers come.”
“Do you think I wanted to come here? Couldn’t you see that they brought me here?”
“Well, I thought maybe you were trying to hurt them. I had to let you know you have me to deal with here.”
Goldie was a big, black dog with a white spot on her nose. Hopper asked, “Did I hear them call you Goldie? You don’t look too gold to me.”
“I’m part Golden Retriever and part St. Bernard, so they call me Goldie.”
Then Hopper asked, “How can you stand living here? Aren’t you afraid all day long? After all, we’re supposed to be afraid of people.”
“Well, I’m not terrified. I fear displeasing my master, but I’m not really afraid of him anymore, because I know he loves me, and I love him.”
They talked for a while, and actually began to like each other, but tried not to show it much when the people were around.
Hopper stayed there for many days, and gradually his fear of the people began to fade. He could see they weren’t going to hurt him. They were always gentle to him and kept him fed, and they were careful to keep his pen and water clean. They also visited him often, and talked to him, even though he never talked to them. He only talked to Goldie, and only when the people weren’t around.
One night after the people had gone inside for the night, Goldie strolled up to the pen. Hopper greeted her with, “Here she comes, the Cur of curs and Dog of dogs!”
Goldie replied, “You know, if I could get in that pen, I would probably take you in my mouth and whip you around, back and forth, and then tear you in pieces. Then I’d probably gobble you up. But if I did that they’d call me a ‘bad dog’, and I hate it when they call me that, so I probably won’t.”
Hopper said, “I appreciate that. You’re a fine dog for a cur.”
They talked into the night, speculating what the people were planning to do with Hopper, who was starting to get a little bit tired of being confined. However, his wing was getting better.
Then Hopper said, “Hey Goldie, did you ever notice that you smell like a dog?”
She replied, “It’s a lot better than smelling like a penguin.”
Time and space would probably allow for the telling of the adventures of Goldie the dog. However, it probably wouldn’t have much interest for most readers, consisting primarily of eating, sleeping, and begging at the dinner table.
Around this time of his stay here, Hopper began to molt. Perhaps the reader is now speculating that the heat in this mild climate was too much for a penguin, and now he was slowly turning into a blob of black and white jelly. That word is melt. Or perhaps one might think green fungus was growing on him because of his inactivity in this humid environment. That word is mold.
Neither of the preceding schools of thought is true. Penguins molt annually. That means they lose their feathers and then grow them back again. During this time they don’t swim, and they don’t feel their best. And of course, Goldie let him know how ridiculous he looked.
So Hopper stood around looking miserable until his feathers grew back. Then he felt better than he had in a long time. His wing was usable again, but still not as strong as before. He needed exercise.
The man began to see he was looking a bit anxious. One morning the family was visiting Hopper, and the man was saying, “I think we can’t keep our little friend much longer. He needs a bigger place with more room to move around and other penguins.”
“Can we take him to his home, Dad?”
“Well, that’s a long, long way from here. Rockhoppers live in the islands of the southern seas, like the Falklands. We can’t afford a trip there right now. But maybe we could find a good zoo to take him to, where they’ll take good care of him, and he’ll be happy.”
“Do you think he’ll be happy in a zoo?”
“It will be better than being here.”
A few days later the kids came to Hopper’s pen with sad faces. Lizzie said, “Well, Mr. Penguin, I guess, you’re going to be leaving us. You’re going to Chicago to live in the Oceanarium there.”
“Oceanarium?” thought Hopper. “What’s that?”
“You’ll like it there. There’ll be other penguins, even some Rockhoppers. You’ll have a nice place to swim around, and rocks to hop on. There are dolphins and whales and sea otters and seals.”
“Seals!” thought Hopper.
“But they can’t get at you, of course. They have their own swimming area.”
Ezra added, “But maybe if you’re bad, they’ll dangle you by your feet over the seals’ pen for a while, heh-heh.”
“Oceanarium,” thought Hopper. “I don’t know if I’ll like this place.” But he was excited about the idea of meeting some other penguins, and especially about meeting some Rockhoppers.
A few days later the man brought a little cage with a handle on it to Hopper’s pen. He grabbed Hopper and put him in it. Hopper, of course, had to struggle. It was expected of him, even though he liked this family and knew they wouldn’t do anything to hurt him.
“It’s time to head to Chicago, Mr. Penguin,” said the man. “It’s been great having you here, but it’s time for you to move on to better things.” He put a cover on the cage, and all was dark for Hopper. He heard the man say, “And now you’ll finally get to fly.”
“Fly?” thought Hopper. “What does he mean?”
The man carried him to their car, and the whole family rode rather sadly to the airport, a drive of about fifty miles. There they checked him in for his flight to Chicago.
He heard each member of the family say something like, “Goodbye, Mr. Penguin.” Hopper couldn’t see them as they sadly returned to their car. He was left in the dark of his cage, not really understanding where he was or where he was going.
“Bye,” he said, but not loud enough for them to hear, of course.

 

 

 

Fly Like a Penguin, Volume 1, Chapter 26

Hopper has another narrow escape as he passes by the city of Port Angeles and then begins heading south into Puget Sound.

To read from the beginning, click here.

Chapter 26

Puget Sound

Cautiously Hopper swam downstream, although the men who were fishing on the river were gone. He was feeling weak, tired, and scared, as well as lonely. He would have liked traveling with Meadowlark. He was a good friend. However, he could see it would have been difficult for them to travel together, because of their differences. Hopper was so much better at sea, and the lemming was more adept on land.
In a short time he was back to the sea. He turned right toward the east, swimming warily, and wondering what would befall him as he approached the city. In all his travels he’d had many encounters with creatures who could hurt or kill him, but he’d never been near a city of people. He was terrified. Still he knew he must go on. He could hardly even think of a good plan. All he could do was say a weak, “Help!”
He had swum for a few minutes when a thought hit him, and he said, “And please help Meadowlark. Protect him from the bears and whatever else is up in the mountains. Thank you.”
Soon he was approaching the city of Port Angeles. It was still early morning. There wasn’t much boat traffic, but the few little ones he saw struck fear into his heart. He figured his best plan was to swim underwater as far as he could, coming up for air briefly when he had to, hoping nobody saw him.
The problem was his weakened condition. He wasn’t sure if he’d be able to go very fast or very far underwater, and if someone decided to chase him, could he get away?
Closer and closer he came to the city. He could see the docks and boats along the shore. So far no boats were near him, so he swam slowly on the surface a few hundred yards from shore.
He started thinking, “Well, this doesn’t seem so bad,” when from around a bend in the shoreline there emerged a huge boat, actually an ocean liner, but Hopper didn’t know what it was. To him it was just huge beyond his comprehension. He knew it was a boat carrying people, but it might as well have been an immense penguin-eating ugly monster. He was terrified.
The thing was gradually moving faster and faster and now it was turning right toward him! It made terrible vibrations that hurt his ears when his head was under water. It was getting closer. His only recourse was to dive under and hope it couldn’t dive after him.
Now it was about fifty yards from him. He dove as deep as he could and swam as far as he could, hoping it couldn’t follow. When he had to return to the surface for air, he could still hear and feel the vibrations of the ship. It was still near.
“Why me?” he asked. “I’m just a lonely, insignificant penguin. Why would you want to get me?” He surfaced, and there it was right behind him. The waves bowled him over. “Aaaaaa! Here I go! I’m done for! What a way to go!”
He tried to right himself and swim. “Aaaaaa! Swim, Hopper, swim!” He swam and swam. Waves washed over him. He kept on swimming. The waves grew smaller. His wings were sore. He kept swimming. Then the waves were gone, except for the gently rolling ones that had been there before.
Eventually he mustered up the courage to look behind him. The ship wasn’t chasing him. It was steaming away toward the north. “Whew, that was another close one,” he said to himself, and then he looked up and said, “Thank you, again.”
Other boats came out of the harbor, heading in different directions. None seemed to be after him, so he began to feel a little more relaxed. He swam slowly because his wings were growing a little more sore.
As the sun went down and darkness began covering the waters, Hopper swam on. He could see little lights along the shore and some on the water. Behind him the city lights of Port Angeles astounded him, but he gradually put more distance between him and the city. He didn’t want to stop for rest until it was out of sight.
He swam all night. When the sky began to lighten up he could hear sea gulls crying in the skies. “I hope those guys don’t know the California gulls,” he thought. But the gulls didn’t seem to pay any attention to him.
Then he saw land in front of him. To the right, which was south, was no more shore, but water. He could swim south! “The way home!” he thought. “Time for all penguins to turn right.” So that is what he did. His heart was a little lighter, though his wings were a little heavier, and his body didn’t feel quite right. “I’ve got to keep going,” he said. He swam on all that day.
As it grew dark he knew he needed rest. He couldn’t stop in the water, because the current would carry him backward. He headed for shore, to his right, and hopped out on the beach. He found a place to rest in some brush under a stand of fir and cedar trees.
Soon it was totally dark. The clouds overhead covered the stars and the moon. However, to the southeast a strange glow in the skies bothered him. He couldn’t figure out what it was, and it gave him an eerie feeling. It didn’t fit any of the descriptions of things in the world and in the heavens that he’d been taught by Emmett, Mendicule, or Galoppy.
He was too tired and sore to worry about it much and soon fell asleep. In the early morning while it was still dark, he awoke hearing a slight rustling of twigs not far away. He was stiff and sore and knew he wasn’t up for a fight or a flight. He sat motionless.
Then he saw the creature lumbering over the rocks to the water’s edge. It had a long, black tail with white rings around it, and it fished with its front paws. Then Hopper began to feel hungry and decided the creature probably wasn’t a penguin eater. Besides, he felt like meeting someone new. He emerged slowly from his bed and waddled toward the water.
“Hey there! How’s the fishing?” he called as he approached the creature, and now he could see a black and white, mask-like face.
The creature replied, “Well, not too bad. I’ve caught a few. Could use a few more, though. Hey, I don’t recognize your accent. You’re not from around here, are you?”
“No, I’ve come from a long ways away. I’m on my way home. I’m a penguin, a Rockhopper penguin. My name’s Hopper. Actually, I’ve never seen anyone like you before, either.”
“I’m a raccoon. Always been a raccoon. Always will be.”
“How do you like being a raccoon? I suppose your name is Racky.”
“Hey, how did you know that? Most folks call me Rocky. He was a relative of mine who looked a lot like me. He became quite famous, but no one knows where he is right now, and when folks see me I guess they think I might be him. Yes, I like being a raccoon. How do you like being a penguin?”
“It’s great, although I’m still pretty new at it. I hope I can find out what it’s like to be a penguin at home with other penguins before too long.”
Racky said, “Well, I haven’t heard of any penguins around here, and I have connections. I know these parts pretty well.”
“I was hoping to find my family a little further to the south. That’s where I’ll be heading today. Oh, by the way, what is that glow in the southeastern sky? I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.”
Racky replied, “You don’t know? Seattle.”
Hopper said, “Who is Attle, and why do I have to see him? Can’t you tell me?”
“I already did,” said Racky. “But anyway, you’ll see for yourself if you go south.”
Hopper decided that’s what he’d do and plunged his sore body into the deliciously cold water. He quickly caught a fish and brought it back to Racky. “Here’s one for the road, my friend,” he said, and then dove back into the water, heading south.

 

A Night in a Canoe

Shortly after our high school graduation, my friends, Dave and Bob J., and I decided to see what it would be like to stay out all night in a canoe. I lived on the waterfront and we had a canoe, so it could be done. We shoved off from the shore and headed for the other side of the bay. Our side is Bremerton. The other side is the Other Side, where foreigners from South Kitsap County live. I’m not sure how far it is across, maybe a mile. Being on the Other Side was like being in a different country, one that could be seen from your own, but one you wouldn’t want to live in. But it could be visited by boat, and explored and conquered for the motherland. Our first mission of the night was to cross over and stake claim to this wild and unconquered territory.

IMG_0084
The Other Side

After accomplishing that objective, we once again set sail, following the coast of our new domain until we came to a narrow passage. At this place is a little inlet, once made famous by Namu the killer whale who was kept there for a time.

Farther along we made the discovery of Echo Passage, a place where if you yelled anything on a very calm night at, say, 1:00 in the morning, the very same thing would be yelled back at you. We were very proud of this discovery, and amazingly made it past this place with no attacks by the sleeping natives. Who knows how many of their curses fell upon us.

Now on the other side of this passage is Bainbridge Island. Of course, this too had to be conquered, which was done with no loss of life and no resistance from the natives. From there we headed back more in the direction of home. To continue as we were would lead us to Seattle, and we didn’t feel we had the time or the manpower to lay siege there. That had to be left for another adventure.

We followed the coast of the island for a while and then returned to our side of the bay, about a mile or two down the beach from home. Here there is a park, Illahee State Park. On our way there I saw a fireball meteor. I could actually see fire coming off it as it fell toward the earth.

We landed and began our exploration as an army troop seeking out the enemy, one like you might see in the movies. We were in character, and Bob J. assumed command under the name of Monroe. He led us well, but all discipline broke down when Dave, who probably had a name like Kilroy, called him “Marilyn.”

By this time we were getting pretty tired. We slowly paddled our trusty craft back home as the sun came up over Bainbridge Island. Mount Rainier glowed orange as it towered over the trees on the far side of the bay. We landed back at the home base around 5:00. The other two headed for their homes and I went to bed.

The canoe adventures of that summer will continue as the intrepid crew embarks on a quest to take Seattle.

The Taking of Seattle

This is a continuation of my last story, A Night in a Canoe, although a different adventure:

Later that summer we had a new canoe trip, this time with Dave and another Bob, Bob M. Between Bremerton and Seattle is Blake Island which is a state park and is only accessible by boat. Our plan was to spend a night there, continue on to Seattle, head back to the west, spend the second night on Bainbridge Island at Fay Bainbridge State Park, and then go all the way around the north end of Bainbridge Island and back home to Bremerton.

After a late start we headed for Echo Passage, which is actually a part of Rich Passage. We passed the lighthouse at the entrance to the passage and Namu’s inlet. This is the point that a ferry from Bremerton to Seattle disappears from sight from someone viewing from my home in Bremerton.

We arrived at Blake Island as the light was beginning to fade. Landing on the northeastern side of the island, we set up camp. It appeared that we were the only ones there so we proceeded to joke around and make lots of noise. Finally we climbed into our sleeping bags and fell asleep.

IMG_0120
Blake Island with Mount Rainier behind it

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and prepared for our departure on the next stage of our journey. As we looked around us we wondered how all those other people got there. Then we loaded up our canoe and snuck away.

Seattle didn’t look very far away as we slowly paddled in its direction. But it took a long time before it actually looked closer. We gradually crept up on Alki Beach on the southern shores of Elliot Bay, which is the harbor of Seattle. Landing on the sandy beach, we got out, stretched, and surveyed the territory. Downtown Seattle was still a pretty long canoe ride away, and going there would make it hard to complete our planned two day adventure.

We opted to cross directly from where we were to the north side of Elliot Bay and from there continue to Bainbridge Island. This was probably the second stupidest thing we ever did. Out in the middle of the Bay we were 3 dummies in a canoe in the territory of tug boats with big waves, ocean liners with big waves and ferry boats with big waves. And all of them were a lot bigger than canoes. But we were intrepid adventurers. We were terrified.

 

A few hours later we landed on the north shore of the bay which seemed to be a neglected part of the city. There were a few shacks on the beach that looked like they could fall apart, but I think people lived in them. We disembarked briefly to give our buns a rest and stretch our legs, but then it was straight across Puget Sound to Fay Bainbridge State Park. This was another grueling ride that took longer than it looked like it should.

The water was beginning to get a little rough and night was upon us as we approached the park. We took on some water as we landed, and some of our sleeping bags got wet. We got a fire going to cook a meal and to dry out the bags. Dave’s bag got too close to the fire and got a little burned. At this point I believe we may have been getting tired of our adventure, although great adventurers hate to admit to such a thing, and especially that they might want to sleep in their comfortable beds at home. Whatever the reasoning, we got back in the canoe and headed north along the eastern shore of Bainbridge Island. I think it was about 10:00 pm.

I don’t think we realized how far it was around the northern end of the island. If we had, we probably would have slept in our wet sleeping bags. This turned out to be the stupidest thing we ever did.

At the northern end of the island, we paddled along in a fairly narrow passage with calm water. If we shined a flashlight into the water, little fish would jump against the boat. This was the last enjoyable part of the trip.

As we rounded the last point to where we could see our side of Puget Sound (which should have been a very welcome sight) the water became rough. It wasn’t just mildly rough. It was very rough, the kind of rough a small boat shouldn’t be in, especially a canoe. We felt we had no choice but to continue toward home and our warm beds.

I was the in the stern of the ship as the steersman, Dave was in the bow as the scout, and Bob sat on a box in the middle of the boat. Our plan was for me to steer us directly across to the other side, but the storm wouldn’t let me go that way. The waves carried us along more in the direction of home, so we ended up angling our way to the other side. We wanted to take the shortest route to get to safety on the opposite shore, but we ended up being carried more in the direction we needed to go towards home.
The ordeal of crossing Elliot Bay doesn’t compare with this one of being carried by huge waves in the dark of night, well past our bed time, in a narrow canoe with three 18 year old guys, great adventurers who wanted to go home. We wondered if we would get a chance to see home again. Panic tried to set in, but didn’t get a chance. We were too busy fighting the waves.

Probably a half hour or hour later we reached the other side and continued paddling with the current toward home, passing Illahee State Park, and then all the familiar landmarks closer to my house.
We were plenty sore and tired as we reached the end of our adventure at about 4 a.m. Dave said as we pulled the canoe out of the water, “The next time we decide to do something like this, let’s just torture ourselves instead.”

IMG_0171
Back Home