Renewing the cycle(ing) of life at New Year’s

That’s me in my olive-drab windbreaker just to the left of the “2023” sign, as 28 cyclists gathered for the annual New Year’s Morning bike ride on San Juan Island. Barbara Marrett is to my right, holding the sign. The ride has been organized for many years by John Stimpson, at far right, who was sidelined by an injury this year.

I CAN ATTEST that there are few better ways to welcome a new year than the annual New Year’s Morning cycling tour on San Juan Island.

For one, it gets you out of bed and out of the house, but it starts at 10 a.m., not any ungodly hour such as 7 or 8.

Two, it doesn’t get you wet and cold — and sometimes naked (brrrrr!) — like the polar-bear swims that so many misguided souls take part in.

And three, a potluck brunch immediately followed, with waffles, bacon, frittata and all sorts of good food, of which the consumption carried less guilt because, after all, one had just gotten up early(ish) and ridden one’s bicycle several miles in the invigorating January cold.

That was my New Year’s morning, during a quick weekend reunion with my Alaska boat-voyage buddies, Barbara Marrett and Bill Watson, at their Friday Harbor home, along with Carol Hasse (aka Sea Goddess), visiting from Port Townsend. Friday Harbor friend (and another sailor who’s gotten around a bit) John Neal joined us.

After leaving Galley Cat to hold down the Center Island fort by herself at Christmas for longer than intended (thanks to the doggone weather), I limited this visit to one night away. It was short, but sweet. And the weather cooperated, with a pleasant day for cycling.

New Year’s Eve, we watched a slide show of the Inside Passage voyage, ate a wonderful dinner prepped by all the Osprey crew, streamed a fun, salty bit of cinema (“Fisherman’s Friends”), and played with Barbara and Bill’s adorable new ginger kitten, named, appropriately, “Sailor.”

I made some new friends on the bike ride and happily confirmed that my favorite old K2 commuting bike, stored in the canopy-covered bed of my pickup truck on Lopez Island, was still perfectly functional once the tires were pumped up and the chain oiled. That good old bike got me back and forth between Shilshole Marina and the Seattle Times office for many of its 20+ years.

Happy new year to all. One of my resolutions: Do more cycling in 2023!

Help build a bench, and keep Barbara happy

Sucia Island in the San Juans, as seen from atop Mount Constitution, is where we’ll place a park bench in memory of Barbara Cantwell.

IT’S A LITTLE MODERN for me, orchestrating an Internet crowdfunding campaign from my cozy wicker chair here in Nuthatch Cabin, but for Barbara, I can do it.

Today I launched my first GoFundMe fundraiser, to raise money for a park bench to be dedicated to my dear wife’s memory. The bench will be on Sucia Island, our favorite place in the San Juans.

Barbara, our daughter Lillian, and I have visited Sucia countless times over many years of island explorations aboard our sailboat, Sogni d’Oro. The entire island with its dramatic wind-sculpted shorelines is a marine state park, situated at the archipelago’s wild northeastern corner where the deep waters of Boundary Pass do a Mixmaster blend with the roiling currents of Georgia Strait. Sucia’s numerous deep coves and sheltered bays provide peaceful moorages for boaters seeking a haven from the elements — and from the worries of the outside world.

Barbara looks out at the saltwater views of the San Juans in 2018.

Barbara loved the place so much she asked that part of her cremated remains be cast on the waters there. She also asked that a new bench be built in her name, so that more hikers on the island’s scenic trails could pause along the way and enjoy the view as much as we did.

Building a quality bench that will stand the tests of salt air, weather and wind isn’t cheap, nor is transporting it to a remote island and installing it along a rocky trail far from any roads. The project could cost as much as $2,000. When friends and loved ones expressed an interest in helping to make it happen, a GoFundMe effort seemed to make sense. And here I am with the hat out. (Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you I need gas to get home.)

If you’re interested in giving, whether it be $5 or $50, you’ll find more details on the fundraising site accessed by the button below. I thank you. Lillian thanks you. And the Nuthatch Ghost (as we tend to wistfully call her these days) might thank you, too. (She’ll knock three times.)

EPILOGUE: As of Friday, July 9, we exceeded our GoFundMe goal through a touching display of generosity from people I love, people I’m happy to know, and a few I don’t know. Any additional donations will be channeled to Washington State Parks in Barbara’s name. Thank you.