“This is where I stopped,” says the Bearded One. We’re on a large knoll, built up by the long-gone machinery, at some future turn on this new road a couple of miles from the farmlet.
The continuation of this wilderness road, which appears to have been plowed out this past summer, is narrower and more choppy, but at least it’s dry.
“Is that a ravine in the distance?” he asks.
The land dips and I see a darker area at the far end of this rough dirt road which, as I study the route, winds through a meadow first and then past two enormous piles of stumps and branch debris.
“Is it water?” I am profoundly lost. But I’m catching the Bearded One’s sweet enthusiasm for the discovery of a New World. It feels good to be in this new landscape together and to literally not know what is on the horizon. Where are we?
Our mile-long gravel road dead-ends into a trail through the woods which heads west and which is called Bear Trail.
We’ve never left the trail. We always follow it until it turns and heads off south to distant homes. Yesterday, though, the Bearded One discovered this new road punched through the woods at the turn. He realized he hadn’t been on this walk in months and was excited for the new sights.
Now the Bearded One comes in closer to my side as we approach the mysterious silver line.
The sky is overcast and we walk through mist and over tire-sized dirt clods of the recently churned up forest floor. Large roots poke up like snakes. The road goes on and on.
Cedar needles rain down on the neon orange property line flags and blue spray-painted water lines.
The Bearded One says this would be a great place to bring a new pup, and we talk about Corky, the dachshund mix we applied for, but not soon enough. He was already adopted.
Mushrooms are under every tree, in every nook and cranny. Whites, creams, browns, and bright oranges and reds that the Indians used for dyes.
This is a record-breaking year for mushrooms. There are 5,000 kinds and around 50 are edible.
Mycologists make the front page of the Kitsap Sun.
“It’s a road!” The Bearded One identifies the mystery and he isn’t disappointed.
“There’s a house in those woods,” I say and I pick my way across a raised track in the mud puddle we’ve encountered and hop down onto a paved road. I can’t see another house or car or anything, just the distant outline of a blue house. Neither of us knows where in the world we are. We’ve walked farther than we thought.
“Let’s go this way.” I head to the left where I can see the road curves. Then I see mailboxes on the side of the road and a row of tidy homesteads with lots of barns and sheds on big lots. Some have elaborate gardens. There are RVs with charming built-on decks and awnings. There are ship-shape mobile homes with lawn ornaments. It’s about noon, though, and the entire place is deserted. I can’t find a street sign.
And then out of the mist comes the mail truck. It zooms up beside us, and our lovely, good-natured, fast-driving, crazy mail lady has a big grin on her face. “Do you need me to give you a ride home?” she says, laughing at the sight of us.
The Bearded One hoots and I giddily explain how we got here. I point and describe. The whole road project is news to her.
“Where are we?” I say, finally, distilling the entirety of my psyche and laying it before her.
“You,” she says, wide-eyed and hugely amused as she waves goodbye, “are in a trailer park!”
We have really stepped out, I think. We’ve widened our territory and had loads of fun. But — gracious — we’ve still got to make it back home.