By Rita Dove
I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.
Just a quickie after a long Thursday -- with luck (and a little cooperation from United) we will be home late tomorrow night and I can begin to catch up and write a proper trip report then. This morning we left Forks and drove to Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park, so named because of bits of garnet in among the sand, though it was overcast and looked pretty uniformly brown to us. We walked to where Cedar Creek turns to spill out in the Pacific Ocean, found banana slugs (and black foreign invader slugs) on driftwood in the trees leading to the shore and looked out at Destruction Island, so named because it was historically bad news for ships despite its lighthouse. Again I took my shoes off to wade over some rocks to the tidepools and got wetter than I expected, though it was worth it as there were starfish and anemones as well as mussels, snails and barnacles all over.
We made a quick visit to the Kalaloch ranger station and big cedar in the woods near there, then had lunch at July Creek on Lake Quinault which involved a short walk through a rainforest. Then we went for what we expected to be a short walk but ended up being a strenuous hike to the Big Sitka spruce tree on the Quinault Indian Reservation, deep in the woods and requiring a sharp vertical ascent. That trip also allowed us to see our biggest banana slug yet.
It was a nearly three hour drive to Tacoma, where the opening ceremony of the tall ships festival had taken place at noon. I was sorry to have missed it but Dock Street was undoubtedly far less crowded and we had no trouble parking in the lot for the glass museum, which was closed when we arrived but there was a beautiful display in cases along the bridge that crossed the highway to the marina. There were at least 20 gorgeous tall ships that we saw, unfortunately from a distance because they won't be open for visitors until Friday. After walking the mile and a quarter or so along the docks, we drove to our hotel, stopping at McDonald's for dinner so the kids would have time to digest and swim before bed. The opening ceremony of Tall Ships Tacoma was on the news so we watched that for awhile as we packed for the flight home.
Sailors working on Cuauhtemoc. During the opening ceremonies they were waving from all levels of the rigging -- we saw some of it after the fact on TV.
The Bill of Rights from Philadelphia, a gaff-rigged topsail schooner (I have no idea exactly what that means), now leased by the Los Angeles Maritime Institute to nearby Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, and the Zodiac from Seattle, also a gaff schooner, which runs sail training cruises.
Odyssey, built in the 1930s and purchased by the Sea Scouts in the 1970s for a dollar. In the background is the 85-year-old Red Jacket.
A steady stream of sailboats and motorboats came through beneath the enormous bridge, though we missed the parade of ships at noon.
A display of artistic mastheads.
Lady Washington in the midst of many other ships -- a lot of the local boats were working as security for the festival and Lady Washington in particular seemed to be quite thoroughly surrounded. She played the Interceptor in Pirates of the Caribbean, hence the icon.
Friday is my 15th wedding anniversary and I will be spending the entire day in transit. Hopefully we will at least be back in our house before it's over!