Aberdeen, Washington. On an early rainy grey morning before the seaside town of Aberdeen had risen from its bed, we rolled into the sleepy center looking for a café. Food was not the issue; we travelled with our own kitchen. What we craved was a little coffee, made with hot water which someone else had boiled.
Finding we had a few a precious bars of internet service, we identified a cute-looking spot just off the main drag and pulled the truck and Rocinante in front, admiring the way our trailer looked reflected in the mirroring glass of the shop fronts. Wow, we loved our little home, as shiny, cheery, welcoming, and eye-popping red as the day we left Colorado.
Inside, the young barista offered us a steamy latte and a slightly weary bagel with a side of packaged cream cheese, graciously allowing us to bring inside a vacupack of Canadian smoked salmon my folks has bought us that past winter. The salmon did wonders for the bagel, and as we sat down to enjoy it, our presence (as only that created by two out-of-town strangers with a cherry red trailer bringing smoked salmon to a coffee shop could do) prompted a conversation. The residents were locals, catching up on morning newspapers and gossip. The barista was giving texting lessons to an older guy with a flip phone, whose wife, we learned, had said she wanted him to “get with the times.”
The café was brassy and showy, with glossy celebrity photos on the wall, speaking of a bygone era of glamor and glitziness in Aberdeen. “Kurt Cobain was a boy here. What a brat! Always in need of a good ear boxing. But we loved that boy.” The man with the flip-phone had stories to tell. It turned out the aptly-name Backstage Espresso coffee shop was first built as part of a theater, a real high-stylin’ place in its time. He took us around and we marveled at the soaring, elegant ceiling, the chandeliers, the plush red velvet seats, the gilded ironwork, and more photos of famed performers, reflections of glory days indeed.
Finishing our bagels, we set about dedicating the remains of the morning to a small but important task. Father’s Day was just around the corner. Two great dads would be thinking of us that day, and we wanted them to know that we’d be thinking of them too. Southwest Washington is a lace-like labyrinth of water and land, connected by latticework bridges between tiny towns – hardly the place we’d find a big mall with a Papyrus Card and Paper shop, but at last we zeroed in on a little health food store with greeting card potential along the coast of Grays Harbor… and that’s when we saw the tick.
Ticks. Is there a monster more horrifying in all the world? The little critters had been supposedly present but always blissfully elusive on our weekend warrior hikes through the high country of Colorado. Now, living outside for months at a time, they loomed large in my subconscious worries like nameless terrors living under a child’s bed.
They had plagued us once already on this trip. On that occasion, we’d spent the night pulled over on a National Forest road in California, and during a morning walk with Katie, Colin had had to brush several off himself and her. Recounting the story to me in the truck a half-hour later, I had felt compelled to check Katie again … and found one. “AAARRRHHHHH!!!!! SHE HAS A TIIICCCKKKKKK!!!!!” I had not been calm. I did not love ticks.
We had pulled over, flipped the hapless Katie on her back (thank goodness she’s accustomed to handling), and applied a common tick extraction technique – a still-hot match tip to the tick’s body – in hopes that the critter would pull out. It hadn’t; instead, the hot match had killed it, head still embedded in the soft thigh of my sweet pup. Desperately worried (ok, so Colin was pretty calm), I had pulled out what I could, bagged it up, and made an appointment to see the vet the minute we got to civilization in San Francisco.
Now, in the truck on this rainy morning in Washington, I spotted another tick – this time clinging to the grip handle above the door near the windshield. I kept my eye fixed on it, but a wrong turn distracted me, and when at last we pulled up in front of the card shop, the tick was gone. As Colin went inside, I scrutinized every square inch of the front seat, at last finding one on the truck door step. Was it another tick? The same one? An infestation? A plague? Scooping it up in a paper towel, I could only hope it was a lone ranger.
With the tick situation valiantly wrestled into submission and two Father’s Day cards safely winging their way south and west, we headed that afternoon to a winery in Westport that had a dog park, found by chance and boosted to a place on our itinerary by a listing on Bringfido.com.
The place was a little gimmicky and seemed to put as much into the labels, gift shop, and themed gardens as their winemaking, but somehow we fell in love with a number of their wines and walked away with a whole case. Duckleberry Red topped the list, a warm, rich red wine with the tasty sweet addition of port and blackberry juice, just right for a chilly evening. Some bright whites, a port, and a few prime non-alcoholic grape juice blends filled out the dozen.
Carrying our big box of bottles out to the little red trailer, we paused for some creative thinking. Where to store them? Every corner was neatly, efficiently, and fully in use, but eventually we freed a small space. Move over hoses, dog food and spare cooking gas; make way for a dozen new friends to be tucked away until we reached our other home.