[Tweeters] Neah, yet so Far.

Jeff Gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Mon Nov 3 09:31:59 PST 2014

Saturday morning I was down on the beach here at Fort Worden, Port Townsend Wa. It was sort of a low tide, yet something seemed amiss - was the tide going out, or, as my inner altimeter suggested, was the land rising?
Truth is, my inner altimeter isn't all that great. What I probably was responding to was all the Neah Bay reports I've been reading. I imagined that the weight of the vast numbers of birders over there, along with the weight of their " 300, 000" dollars worth of equipment, and all their hefty vehicles, might be causing a temporary subsidence event on the far end of the Olympic Peninsula - thus tipping the Port Townsend end of the Olympic log up out of the water.
Well maybe. Neither myself, my binoculars, or tin can toyota truck weight too much, and there weren't too many other folks holding down the fort around here. Port Townsendites, have a cute little bumper sticker they wear- "We're all here because we're not all there". Does that mean "we're all here" in 'paradise', and not in some presumed urban 'hellhole' like Everett, Seattle, etc. - or does it mean "we're not all there" because of the aftermath of too many 60's drug experiences, or smokin' too much skunkweed everyday? Or because of PTSD (Port Townsend Stress Disorder)(no work)? We're not "all there" at Alzheizmers Acre that's for darn sure.
Well, not all in Neah Bay, anyhoo. I personally dislike mass birding events, going to big rock concerts, or crowds in general. I used to have a "ten minute circle" - the limit I'd travel to see an "out-of-place-bird", until New Year's Day a few years ago, when that Burrowing Owl was found lost on the Everett waterfront - only 4 minutes from home. After experiencing that birding "event", I said "never again". Since I'm not a county or state lister, it saves me a lot of gas. And I don't have to pack all that those bird treats, sound recordings, bags of throwing rocks, or blinding signal mirror's, to lure or chase birds across the line into the neighboring county to score a "two-fer", like I used to.
Just kidding. I do wish I'd owned a bar in Neah Bay last weekend though - I can only imagine: crowds of birders raising toasts to all the cool birds they saw, telling great stories etc., and maybe cashing in on poor guys at the dark end of the bar, who coming to Neah from far, missed their Hobby and then felt the need to drink heavily. Everybody needs a Hobby, I suppose. Could'a made some rent $ that weekend, bein' a bar owner there! As it was, I settled for reading all the interesting reports on Tweeters - good enough for me.
Actually, the last time I was in Neah Bay - truly a wonderful place for a naturalist- I had, what they call in Boston, a "neah death experience". That was back in 1977 when I was driving back to Bellingham from Neah, in my old 62' Plymouth Valiant. Just outta town, on one of those sections of winding road - with a cliff on the water side, and a cliff on the land side - and no shoulders, some oncoming pinhead decided to pass a car on a blind curve and was coming head-on, right for us hapless 'Hamsters. Like, eek, man.
It was one of those cool (sorta) deals - I entered that "zone" where time seems to slow, and I, cool as a sea cucumber, navigated half off the road, past the pinhead, missing the cliff and car by just inches on either side, and pulled back onto the road unscathed. Of course the whole thing happened in seconds.
My furry friends in the back seat were whooping and hollering, happy to be alive. "Wow, you were so calm, man - amazing!". Five minutes farther down the road, I pulled off in a good spot, walked away from the car without a word, and quaked like an Aspen (Populus tremuloides).
Hopefully I'll get back to Neah sometime - far as it is.
Jeff Gibsonin Port Townsend Wa

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