Grammi and I are walking toward the end of a wooden pier. My arm is around her. It’s an attempt to shield her from the stiff cool breeze coming off the Puget Sound waters — but she still shivers. Seagulls overhead dart into the wind then playfully use their wings like sails to soar away. Their shrill caws sound like laughter. We pass a sad looking pelican perched on a piling post hoping for a handout from a generous fishermen.
The fishermen are not fishing the conventional way so I am curious of their technique. They are not using hooks tied to the end of a line. Instead they use wire baskets of various size tied to a rope and lowered over the side. Smaller baskets are cast away from the pier with a stout fishing pole. Regardless of the type of contraption the fisherman employ, they all use the same bait — cut up chicken parts. One fisherman told me it was the first day of crab season which explains the crowded pier. The fishermen are trying their luck in hopes of catching a limit of Dungeness crabs.
The pier is located in a county park where we are camping. It is a popular campground and we are lucky to get a site for three nights due to a cancellation. In addition to the pier and campground, Kayak Point Regional County Park offers a boat ramp, swimming beach, playground for the youngsters, covered picnic tables and pavilions for large groups. Located on the shore of Port Susan, a Puget Sound bay, it attracts many visitors during the day and the parking lot gets full.
We had not planned to come to this area near Seattle, Washington, but we are overdue for service on our pickup truck. We are in need of an oil and filter change, air and fuel filters, and tire rotation. We have been trying to find a Ford Service Center to do the work for weeks, but all the service centers we call are booked out days in advance. Finally we thought, instead of trying to get a service appointment near where we were camping, we will camp near where we could get a service appointment. With luck, we made an appointment at Kendall Ford in Marysville ten days ago and began looking for a campground. That is how we ended up here at Kayak Point. So what, if it’s 200-miles out of our way.
In addition to the service work, I am hoping to get the air conditioner fixed. Unfortunately, we hit a deer a few weeks ago and have been without cool air since. Kendall Ford has already told me they can’t repair the A/C for at least four weeks, but I am hoping when they see the desperation on my face they will reconsider.
Our appointment was at 8:00 a.m. We arrived a little early. Luckily no problem, they took the truck right in and started the service work. Now, let’s see if they will repair the air conditioner. Twenty minutes of pleading and begging with the service rep was getting nowhere. He said they just don’t have enough technicians to do the work. He said the shop is overburdened, overbooked, understaffed and they can’t find any qualified help. It’s a common theme at all the shops we’ve called.
Frustrated, I went to the showroom and sat at one of those little round tables. You know, the table where you play the game with the car salesman as he runs back and forth to the sales manager. I might be wrong, but I didn’t think the tables are being used much these days. Anyway, after about thirty minutes the service rep, Teegan, walks out and hands me a slip of paper with a phone number. “Call this number”, he said. “It’s a shop owned by two guys that once worked here. They’re Ford certified mechanics. I’ve already called and they said they can work you into the schedule tomorrow.” Wow! Our luck is changing. I guess my pleading may have paid off. After I called the number, we had an appointment for noon tomorrow as long as the needed parts arrive on time.
Luckily, the service work on the truck went smoothly and we were out of there by ten o’clock. I can’t say enough good things about the kind folks at Kendall Ford. They were great, especially the service rep, Teegan. He went above and beyond getting us connected with the guys at Sedro-Woolley Automotive. He worked with his parts department to make sure a new condenser was ordered for tomorrow morning’s delivery.
We had the rest of the day. Having seen some u-pick farms on our drive from North Cascades National Park, we went to check them out. We stopped at a couple of farms and drove away with a bounty of raspberries, kale and garlic. We had never picked raspberries before. They were delicious. I think I ate more than I put in the box. Shhh, let’s keep that a secret.
We asked for a recommendation for lunch while we were at the farm. A man overheard us and spoke up, “the best restaurant in this area is at the casino”. I’ve only been to a casino maybe three or four times in my life. I looked at grammi and asked her what she thought. “Let’s go give it a try.”
Tulalip Casino had a parking lot that circled all the way around the building. We had to pass through security and show identification before entering. The flashing lights and sounds of hundreds of slot machines was a bit daunting and we were not sure where to go. We saw a few different restaurants on the outside perimeter of this huge casino building. However, the one we had the recommendation for was closed. Just our luck, I thought. We saw a Chinese restaurant and gave it a try. It was just okay.
After we finished eating, I asked Grammi if she was ready to go. “Let’s look around a little,” she said. Before you knew it we were sitting side-by-side dropping quarters in the slot machines. Twenty dollars was gone pretty quick so I dug in my pocket for more. The reason I avoid places like this is my fear of becoming hooked. You can lose money pretty fast. All of a sudden, Grammi’s machine started flashing and bells and whistles started going off. People gathered around to see as the numbers keep ticking upward. I guess we don’t always have bad luck or at least Grammi doesn’t. We cashed out and got out of there before you could say Rumpelstiltskin. Like I said, we don’t want the temptation of getting hooked. It wasn’t a lot of money, but she covered our bets, paid for lunch and added a little pocket change to her purse. Luckily, things were starting to look brighter.
The next morning I called Kendall Ford to see if the part arrived. Luckily, it arrived as promised. We picked up the new condenser coil ourself. Not that we didn’t trust it would be delivered on time to Sedro-Wooley Automotive, but this way we were sure. We made the one hour drive north to the shop. I handed over the keys to the truck and Grammi and I took a walk around town while they went to work on the air conditioner.
We found a cafe for lunch and used their wifi to catch up on the inter-webs. We use the internet for so much, making campground reservations, mapping our route, banking, checking our email and snail mail, keeping in touch with family and friends and the list goes on. Often it is difficult to stay connected, so when we find reliable service we take advantage. Two hours later, I got a call saying the work was done. That was quick. Only half the time they estimated.
We had a working air conditioner. Wow! The weeks of driving with the windows down and the wind blowing through the cab is over. I almost ran out to the middle of the street to do a happy dance, but thought better of that idea. I didn’t want to ruin the occasion by getting run over by a truck.
We took the long way back, giving our air conditioner a thorough test. We went to Anacortes and drove the Washington Park Loop, stopping at an overlook of Rosario Strait. We drove across the iconic Deception Pass Bridge. Then we took the back roads through the farmland to the campground.
We made the best of our time around Marysville. We are lucky to have our air conditioner running again. We feel so very fortunate things worked out. This little side trip was all we had hoped for. Tomorrow we get back on track and head for another national park. That will be the subject of our next blog.
So until then — happy days and safe travels.