When we had finished our errands, filled the trunk in the returning mist, rounded everyone and everything up and were finding the express lane with me behind the wheel, I had no expectation that we would arrive in to get a spot on the evening ferry. I thought that at best we might make it through the pounding rain to see a line of cars or the boat pulling away. But instead, even though we managed not to decipher the text messaged clues from the other car about their nonexistent object even after going well above the usual twenty questions, we gained a place in the hull of the great beast and quickly decamped to the deck.
The rain had stopped, but the wind was still howling as we set off into the darkness. We milled about in puddles, chatting, pacing the perimeter of the desk in the screaming air. We sat around tables and collected change for overpriced sodas. We inadvertently gathered at the assembly point and learned about maritime history. We found hatchets on the wall, and the murderous among us looked at the weapon longingly.
Of course, we eventually arrived at Orcas Island. Google and iPhones joined forces and helped us find a restaurant where the hostess directed us to the bar. Townspeople played pool, old hiphop, and classic soul while we ate burgers. We continued to listen to the second songs from albums imported during the year and missed a few on the dark winding roads before arriving at the twin cabins on the beach. Soon, the little houses were filled with us and our things. We broke out some beverages, heated the stove, and set off on a lengthy pursuit of trivial knowledge. Along the way a hot lemony cidery tea-steeped scotch nectar was concocted. It was delicious and fun and eventually we had a winner and, with it, permission to sleep. Our cabin capitalized on this opportunity much more readily than our other shenanigan-prone neighbors.
The next morning was pretty quickly the next afternoon, smelling of bacon and brunch. Capitalizing on a break in the rain, we set off on an expedition for the lookout tower on the mountain. As our cars crawled higher and higher in the park, we crossed the snowline and found white-crusted roads leading us to the top. Despite the mist, the views were spectacular and prone to shadow puppetry on passing crowds. It was cold and wet and sunny.
The ground was grey and hard and abandoned, but we could see islands and mountains in the distance and could hurl snowballs from the lookout. When we'd seen enough, tried to climb the side of the fortress, and spent some quality time defying gravity, we made our way back through the sun-streaked fog, stopped for one last view, and set off for an allegedly charming art gallery that turned out to be eager to be closed.
Some of us made another stop in town, on the lookout for dessert. After scouring the streets, we found a bakery to take pity on us and extend their strict hours long enough to sell us a frozen pie. We returned to the resort, played more games, had more drinks, and cooked dinner. The hot cider made a second appearance for a walk on the dock of dead ends. The more woodsy among us started an admirable fire on the shore and we gave it a good shot until the downpour set in. We constructed a movie theater and settled Catan. By the time the tide was so strikingly far out to allow hundreds of yards of muddy explorations in the dark, the laptop singleplex was screening Love actually. It mercifully ended, and we slept again crowded into not enough beds, but somehow cozy in sleeping bags, accidental spoonings, or on air mattresses. We did not, however, reserve enough time to thoroughly contribute to the cabin journal -- a collection of detailed reminiscences of animal counters and drunk southern quartets.
By morning we had piled our things back into the cars, posed on a log for a foreigner to snap a picture, and returned to the ferry dock so early that there was no question of missing the boat. It gave us time for breakfast in a hotel, a chance to commune with rabbits on the lawn, a hike to a souvenir show with fantastic lenticulars, and a visit to a tiny antique shop. On the ship we stayed inside and assembled puzzles or played cards in view of the passing scenery. When we arrived back in the city, lunch supplies had gone uneaten; so we assembled again in odd scene to distribute the loaves of bread, blocks of cheese, boxes of soup, and piles of meat into suitable rations before returning to our own homes tired and refreshed from the hilarious and invigorating fun of our little weekend retreat.