Stand by me

Since last weekend, Henry and I had planned to go kayaking today. So, after lunch, I loaded the big yellow tandem kayak on our big red truck, and we took windy Chuckanut Drive down to Larrabee State Park, where we dragged our craft through a hundred yards of low tide mud into the Salish Sea. Henry kept saying that he intended to nap while I paddled. Even if he wanted to, it would have been impossible, given how rough the water was. Waves crashed over the bow of the kayak as we hugged the shoreline, where the seals sat and watched us struggle.

By the time we decided to beach it, we were both soaked and sitting in 3 inches of water. We read our books for an hour on the rocky beach to dry off under the hot sun. Neither of us said a word for an hour, until Henry finally put his book down and said, “let’s paddle back, Dad.”

The salty sea air gave us the idea to have a seafood dinner, so after we wrestled the kayak back on top of the truck, we continued south on Chuckanut Drive to Taylor Shellfish Farm, where we loaded up on Dungeness crab, mussels and oysters.

Taylor is right on the water. You have to cross the railroad tracks on foot to get there. As we walked along those tracks, I told Henry, who is twelve, how it reminded me of the movie Stand by Me. He immediately said he wanted to watch it with me.

After our seafood feast with Kristine and Ruby, Henry and I snuck off to watch Stand by Me. He usually falls asleep in the first 20 minutes of any movie we watch together, but he watched the whole thing. He loved it, but said he couldn’t believe that 12-year-olds would smoke cigarettes. I decided not to tell him about all the things I did as a twelve-year-old that he also wouldn’t believe.

After a full day with Henry, the last lines of the movie brought me to tears. “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was 12. Jesus, does anyone?”

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Spring break Fry Lodge Style

Because we don’t have enough happening at Fry Lodge, we decided to change everything all at once. Again. Within a period of a week, we made an offer on a new house, put our house up for sale, Marie Kondo’d the hell out of Fry Lodge, took a trip to the Oregon Coast to celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary and frolic in the 50-degree Pacific Ocean, regrouped for a day in Seattle, and then went our separate ways again – Kristine and the kids back to Bellingham and me to New York. Stay tuned for more details on Fry Lodge Bellingham II.

Just another week at Fry Lodge

The Flower Pot

In 1948, when my dad was a boy, his family built a cabin on Priest Lake, Idaho. That cabin was home to countless memories for the extended Fry family. Even after my grandmother sold it in the early 1980s, we rented it for a few weeks during summers for family reunions. The cabin was torn down in 2003 and replaced with a new home. Earlier this year, when that house came up for sale, my parents bought it. We decided to celebrate the Fry Family Thanksgiving there this year.

For several years, while my dad’s family gradually built it, the old Priest Lake cabin had no running water. As a boy, upon arrival, my dad’s first job was to fill two buckets of water from the lake – one for drinking and one for washing. His dad, my Grandpa Fry, built an outhouse up the hill from the cabin. They called it The Flower Pot, and hung a sign inside that said “No matter how much you water it, nothing ever grows.” The outhouse’s unique feature: it was a double holer. Apparently my aunts, uncles and grandparents had no problem sitting next to each other while they did their business.

When my parents bought the current Priest Lake house this summer, The Flower Pot still sat atop the hill. It had long since fallen over, and nobody had used either one of its holes in decades. Before having the relic hauled off, my parents salvaged several of the boards that were used to build the outhouse in 1948.

This Thanksgiving weekend, we used those boards to spruce up the new Priest Lake cabin’s modern day Flower Pot. My dad and brother nailed the old boards to the bathroom wall to support the towel rack and toilet paper holder. My daughter Ruby, using my old wood burning set, made a new sign, which now hangs proudly above the toilet. It’s just like 1948. But now, you don’t have somebody sitting next to you while you water the flowers.


Waterslide Time Machine

Family vacations are usually great for making new memories. Yesterday, while Henry and Ruby were busy with that, Kristine and I relived some old memories from our youth. We spent the day at Atlantis Waterslide Park in Vernon, BC.

Hit me with your best shot by Pat Benatar was playing as we entered the park. That was followed by Billy Idol, The Rolling Stones, Guns & Roses and Van Halen. We hadn’t entered a waterslide park; we’d entered a time machine. It was 1986.

With the soundtrack of our youth playing all day, we rode the slides, sunbathed and ordered food from teens working the snack bar. Kristine and I reminisced about our respective hometown waterslide experiences at Splash Down (Spokane) and Moby Dick (Omaha). I even relived the experience of being reprimanded by the lifeguard when I wore my sunglasses down the slide – a flagrant disregard for the rules.

Atlantis continued to crank the hits from the 80s and 90s, tuned in to The Beach 107.5 FM. Henry and Ruby thoroughly enjoyed the day. I think they even liked the music. They spent most of the time riding the slides together, with periodic visits to our spot on the lawn to tug Kristine or me up the hill to go down the Zoom Tube, River Raft or Double Trouble.

By late afternoon, after six fun-filled hours, the air became a little too thick with smoke from the BC wildfires, so we called it a day. As we drove south toward Kelowna on Highway 97, the kids quickly fell asleep from exhaustion. Kristine turned on the radio. The station? The Beach, 107.5.

Pacific Northwest Show-offs

One of the great things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that it’s easy to show off for visitors. The Fry Family Quartet took Jim and Mary Kay to Victoria, BC to kick off their visit this weekend.

Any place that offers water taxis as a standard mode of transportation is going to be fun. That’s how we got to dinner most nights in Victoria.

On Saturday we checked out the lovely Butchart Gardens, which never disappoints.

Sunday, before having tea at the Empress, we watched the water taxis perform a choreographed ballet in Victoria Harbour.

For lodging, we stayed at the guest houses attached to Spinnakers, the oldest brewpub in Canada.

We’ve set the bar pretty high for the next few weeks.

Oysterfest

Having house guests is a major motivator to do things you’ve never done or things you rarely do. Visiting Taylor Shellfish Farm, hiking to Teddy Bear Cove, roasting marshmallows in the backyard and cleaning the house made the list this weekend as a result of a visit from our good friends, the Kielys.

There are many positive aspects of a Kiely family visit. One thing we always look forward to is letting Paul have his way with our kitchen. This weekend Paul outdid himself. Saturday’s dinner involved oysters and two amazing salads. Sunday’s lunch: oyster poboys.

Teddy Bear Cove band photo

We thoroughly enjoyed the weekend. Kielys are welcome back to Fry Lodge anytime.

Bike-Mow-Reflect

Sometimes a long bike ride is as relaxing as lying on the beach with a cool beverage. Today was one of those days. I rode 28 miles roundtrip to mow the lawn at Fry Lodge Mud Bay.

The one-hour-fifteen-minute ride from one end of Lopez Island to another was a good opportunity to reflect on life. It’s interesting how my mind wanders on these long rides that put me into a meditative state.

My mom turned 77 today. After mowing my lawn, I called to wish her happy birthday. She was in Colorado, about to enter a restaurant for a birthday party of a friend whom she’d driven 1000 miles to surprise. It wasn’t even her friend’s actual birthday. Celebrating somebody else’s birthday on her own birthday. Classic Kaye.

My trip to Lopez was bookended by ferry rides. Such a beautiful way to travel – especially when a bike allows you to skip the hour-long car line to board.

It was a very relaxing, thought-provoking day. I think I need a cool beverage on a beach to recover.