Into the social whirl (with a tale of ‘Nudes and Prudes’)

Blooming daffodils paint the valley floor east of Best Road in the Skagit Valley. The golden blooms are peaking this week.


With just me and the cat and not a lot of neighbors around, I’m sharply aware of the necessity of scheduling off-island time in the off-season. Dear Barbara was happy to be a hermit. I’m more of a social animal. On a small island nobody’s heard of, it’s a challenge.

Due to a variety of circumstances, some recent plans got postponed (Galley Cat had a bad cold, then my daughter had a bad cold, etc.) Now, several social occasions and road trips have become stacked on top of one another. Not complaining, but I’m flapping as fast as I can.

Dave and Jill Kern on the dock at Joemma Beach State Park, on South Puget Sound’s Key Peninsula.

It started with me and Galley road tripping through daffodil fields of the Skagit Valley last Thursday on our way to the Kitsap Peninsula. We spent three days there at the end of last week with Dave and Jill Kern, old friends from my days at The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. From their home near Port Orchard, my hosts and I had a fun road trip exploring the nearby Key Peninsula, a remote backwater that is home to communities such as Home (yes, that’s the town name), a tiny burg on a shallow bay of South Puget Sound.

Today, Home is a quiet assemblage of pleasant waterfront domiciles, but it was founded in 1895 as a utopian community for free-thinkers, anarchists, nudists and adherents of free love. The community’s founders chose the remote location, hidden from the rest of the world, for a reason. But after a self-proclaimed anarchist assassinated President William McKinley in 1901, the Home anarchists drew the ire of self-styled patriots in nearby Tacoma who almost descended on the community with pitchforks and torches. (Home was spared only because a steamboat operator refused to transport the vigilantes). As years went by, fractures grew within the community, with Home residents staking out various moral grounds, leading to factions being labeled “Nudes and Prudes.” (Read the Wikipedia entry, it’s a hoot.)

Dave and Jill had no idea of the colorful history just down the road from them. I had fun sharing the story that I had learned from an earlier sailing adventure in the area.

Galley and I returned to the Nuthatch on Saturday evening, and I was up and about early the next morning to hop aboard WeLike for a trip to Lopez Island. I was invited to brunch with friends Lynn Thompson and David Foutch at their holiday home overlooking Outer Bay on the southern tip of Lopez. Besides gorging with my friends on tasty pastries and muffins from Holly B’s Bakery and Barn Owl Bakery, along with fruit salad, flagons of good coffee, and Lynn’s tasty quiche with goat cheese, I got to meet new friends Ande and Scott Finley, Lopezians who are active with Transition Lopez Island, a coalition of locals working toward a regenerative, resilient future. The conversation was lively. They told me about vacationing in their electric car. I told them about my Center Island neighbor who is building an electric-powered, carbon-fiber hydrofoil catamaran.

Lopez friends and Eddy the Springer Spaniel pause at Lopez Island’s Iceberg Point monument commemorating the Treaty of 1908, which finalized the boundary between the United States and Canada.

On a hike around nearby Iceberg Point we saw wood ducks, harbor seals and the season’s first wildflowers.

This coming Saturday Galley and I hit the road again for three nights in Vancouver/Portland to visit more friends and have a reunion with my brother Tom, whose 10-week cabin-sitting experience for me last summer helped convince him to return from Arizona to the Northwest. I’m having breakfast with him in his new Portland digs on Sunday. Dinner with friends that night. A day of walks and exploring with another friend on Monday.

Whew. This butterfly’s wings are getting a workout. After a quiet winter in my island cocoon, it’s a good thing.

A satin flower, Olysynium douglasii, was among the first blooming wildflowers on Iceberg Point on Sunday.

8 thoughts on “Into the social whirl (with a tale of ‘Nudes and Prudes’)

  1. The daffodils trigger pleasant valley memories. Jean just declared that she must see the tulips next month.
    “But we will go through there at the last day of April. Isn’t that good enough?”

    “Well.” she replied. “It may be good enough for you, but I’m going up in the middle of April with you or not.”


  2. Sounds like good times, Brian! But I can’t imagine how Galley Cat handles road trips. I doubt I’m the only cat person who’s wondering how you do it. I’d be interested in hearing some of the logistics; don’t you worry Galley might get scared and run off? Does he use a portable litter box? Inquiring minds want to know 😸


    1. She has become a pretty darn good traveler. In the car, I used to keep her in her soft-sided cat carrier on the passenger seat next to me, but she didn’t like being confined and would sometimes meow incessantly. So I tried letting her out so she could roam about the car as we drove, and she’s much happier that way. Most important: I immediately block her path if she makes any effort to get under my feet as I’m driving. She will often stand on the passenger seat, put her front paws up on the dash and look ahead as we drive. Sometimes she’ll curl up on a blanket on the floor in the backseat, or if it’s a cold day she’ll get down on the floor of the passenger seat next to the heater outlet. Most often, after a while she’ll climb back into her padded carrier and nap. As long as I leave the end flap open and she can wander at will, she doesn’t complain. On longer trips, I set up a small sandbox for her on the floor of the backseat, along with bowls of water and dry food. And when I take a rest stop, I make sure she sees her sandbox. So far, I don’t think she’s ever used it in the car, but at least she has the option. When I get in and out of the car, I’m very careful that she isn’t able to dart out, though she doesn’t seem inclined to. If the day is too warm for her to stay in the car with windows cracked, I put her in her carrier and take her into stores or wherever I’m going. She often gets smiles when people see her. For more about Galley Cat, and a photo in the car, see


  3. Of course, that headline’s parenthetical verbiage would make every reader immediately click on “show images”! Great essay too!


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