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Roughing it in grand style at Deception Pass

Washington scenery soothes Sathe’s soul, while Loren learns how to be a good canine camper

Posted: July 11, 2009 4:11 p.m.
Updated: July 12, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Loren tickles the neck of Michelle Sathe's mom Rosie Sathe.

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After a good night’s sleep in our little makeshift home, aka Michelle & Randy Vincent’s trailer in Mukilteo,  Wash., Loren & I drove to the Whidbey Island Ferry.

I didn’t realize that we were supposed to be in the far right lane and accidentally tried to cut in line.

“YOO HOO! You need to turn around and get in back of the line,” the toll taker yelled at me.

Never having done this before, I was a bit embarrassed and a bit angry. It was unintentional.

However, I’ve been taught to take accountability for my actions.

“Sorry about that,“ I said sheepishly when I pulled up to the same booth after 10 minutes of waiting. “I’ve never taken the ferry before and didn’t know how it was done.”

“Well, there are signs everywhere!” the woman said, with a phony smile on her face.

My own smile dropped. I hate it when you not only apologize to deaf ears, but are tried to be made to look even more stupid than you already felt.

She got the death stare from me and no response.

The toll taker looked at the magnets on my truck and Loren in the passenger seat.

“I see you do a lot for the animals,” she said, handing me my change.

“Yeah,” I responded flatly, after a pause, turning away from her eyes.

Loren has taught me this trick. Like, you have hurt my feelings and I won’t acknowledge you anymore.

For her, it lasts about 10 seconds. For me, it can last up to 10 years.

It was strange to pull onto the ferry, which is basically a big, floating parking lot.

When we pulled away from the dock, the sensation was one of not knowing if you were the one moving or watching something being moved away from you. The ride lasted about 15 minutes until we were on Whidbey Island.

An hour later, tall redwoods began to appear as we neared Deception Pass, which also boasted a majestic lake on the way to the campgrounds.

My parents, Jim and Rosie Sathe, were already there with their two dogs, Annie and Sammy. I had warned them in advance that Loren wasn’t too fond of other dogs, as she had not responded well to Michelle’s English Setter, Cheyenne, when we tried to introduce them.

This was my first time meeting Annie, whom my parents rescued from an Idaho Falls shelter in February. She’s a cute little terrier, or terror, mix - feisty, funny, altogether adorable.

Sammy, meanwhile, is an 85-pound golden shepherd or dingo mix my parents adopted from a litter of farm puppies in Colorado.

He’s something of a gentle giant, though he can lapse into herding instinct on occasion and want to chase down small kids on bicycles and joggers.

My mom has to be on guard when walking him, which is a challenge since she doesn’t weight much more than he does.

Sammy and Annie, experienced campers, were staked close to my parent’s trailer, so I placed Loren at least 20 feet from them.

Sammy was giving her the eye for a while, partial curiosity, partial warning, partial lust perhaps?

Overall, the canine campers respected each other’s space and barely bothered one another during our three days together.

Michelle and Randy arrived later in the afternoon.

Since they both are fisherman, my dad and Randy headed out for a quick trip to the lake while Michelle finished setting up camp.

Randy must be a good luck charm, because my dad, who is notorious for rarely catching anything, brought back a trout, which he pan-fried for us to sample.

For dinner, Mom had prepared spaghetti with homemade meat sauce, garlic bread and salad, while Michelle had made chicken marsala.

I’ve decided that camping is awesome when you have someone a) feeding you great meals, b) letting you sleep in their well-equipped trailer and c) giving you tools and ingredients to roast marshmallows over the fire at night.

The next morning, Michelle’s friend Kimberly Havens-Williams arrived and we all went to the North Beach with Randy and Loren.

It was getting a little warmer, so Michelle and I got some sun at the beach while Kim and Randy went hiking. Loren napped under a shaded log.

When Loren arose, we went for a brief walk around the beach.

A heavy, tattooed guy, probably a metal head or Aryan Nation member or both, who was with his family and a handsome bulldog looked over at us.

I knew what was coming. The acknowledgement nod, something I experienced in high school when I saw another rocker type in the hallway.

An almost imperceptible tilt of the chin followed by a slight knowing smile.

“Nice dog,” he said after the nod.

“You, too,” I replied.

I get more attention with Loren than I ever did with Jake, my black lab (RIP), who traveled many states with me.

It’s something of a status symbol, good or bad, to walk with a pit bull. A slight edge. Especially if you’re a kind of secretary-ish white girl.

Loren makes me feel secure and cool at the same time.

Like, if I can handle this strong a dog, that somehow makes me tougher – perhaps similar to gangbangers that show off their burly pits to one another. Hmm.

Our evening was spent grilling, cooking, and enjoying each other’s offerings — mom’s broccoli and chicken casserole with fresh baked rolls (can you see where I get this eating thing from?), Michelle, Randy & Kim’s steaks and squash.

For dessert, Kim had brought along a double-sided flat iron to make what she called “Pudgies.”

“Rarely is food named after the effect it has on you,” someone observed.

“For good reason,” someone else replied.

Recipe: Take two pieces of buttered bread and in between the slices layer apple, cherry, or a combination of both pie fillings, then squash together in the iron.

Kim and Michelle held the iron over open flame until the buttered toast was crisp and the filling nice and hot.

Once relinquished from their iron prison, the Pudgy was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, cute into four triangles and distributed amongst the sweet-toothed campers.

Hot, fruity, crispy, and sweet. The pudgies were delish — almost as good as the camaraderie and conversation around the campfire.

After all our time alone on the road, it was comforting to be with family and friends that felt that way again. What a relief to be off the road and social once again.

We worked a bit of the evening’s feast off on Sunday morning, when Michelle, Kim, Loren and I hiked a few miles near the bridge over
Deception Pass, while my dad and Randy went fishing and mom watched the camp.

Later on I read, my second favorite pastime on vacation (can you guess the first?).

Deception Pass is amazing — the sound water blue and green, the woods lush, the sky expansive, the smell fresh.

I was told this was one of the prettiest places on the planet and I believe it.


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