Friday, October 22, 2010

Ferries, Feet & Folding Bikes: A Car-Free Vacation on Lopez Island, WA

Some people vacation in neon palaces, gamble that something different is something better and roll the dice in towns where the only sure bets are found in casino stocks. Some folks leave cold climes for warm and beaches or dull small towns for exciting big cities. Still others leave exciting big cities for quiet found in small towns.

Christine and I lead small lives in a smallish town where we get around by foot and pedal power. Sometimes we take the bus or some other big machine with a big motor when we are going far or fast, but day to day we do not need to rush. For the past few decades, we haven't owned any motor vehicles and contrary to the questions we're sometimes asked, it's not a hardship. It's a simple life we love.

Each autumn we go elsewhere, not to get away from who we are and how we live, but to live under a slightly different sky, to know a different home for a few days. Autumn is when we met and when we wed and our annual outings remind us how lucky we are to have each other and how little we need to be happy in this world.

This year we go to Lopez Island. We have small bikes that fold up even smaller when they need to go on a bus and a shuttle bus takes us north from Seattle to the ferry terminal at Anacortes, WA. We roll our bikes onto the ferry at Anacortes and sail on still water beneath bright blue October skies to Lopez Island.

Weather is a gamble in October and we've hedged our bets on a cozy cottage, a wonderful wooden octagon in the heart of Lopez Village. This is mid-week and the off-season and the village is tiny. It is perfect for us.

We walk. We ride. We explore. We wander and we wonder. We read books. We buy groceries at the market, cook and eat small meals. We talk and listen. We walk on beaches, gaze at gulls, see deer feasting on October apples. We see the sunlight on the water, hear the water lapping on the shore. We gather shells and memories.

We do not go fast or far, but we go and when it is time, we return home. The bikes fold up, and what we need fits in our backpacks. We pedal and walk and ride the ferry and the bus back to another small town, the one we call our own.

Keep 'em rolling,

Kent "Mountain Turtle" Peterson
Issaquah WA USA

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