We hit the road again on the last day of April 2015 and returned a week into June.
It's not easy leaving a garden for 5 or 6 weeks, but we had the sure knowledge that it always rains in Anacortes in May. Every day. So it was the perfect time to go: nothing would be ready to harvest till we got back, and we could stretch the trip out into June and come home to healthy baby veggies.
And weeds. And grass. Yes, we knew we would have that to cope with. But an excuse for a cross-country road trip was enough incentive to get us past worrying about these.
The overall purpose was to go to my college reunion, in fact my 50th reunion. Yes, I am that old. And at this age you don't want to wait 5 years for the next reunion or you'll miss some old friends. Permanently.
(This kind of talk doesn't bother me. If there's anything about being 72 it's that we might as well be honest about all of life, including the inevitability of death. That said, I don't quite believe it because I feel very much alive, but I get it intellectually, and I'm not going to mince words about it.)
The reunion was at Smith College in Northampton MA. That is something like 3000 miles from our home in WA. But this was not to be an out-and-back trip. Why not see friends and family along the way?
In the end we swung around in a big arc to 28 states, saw 63 real friends and family members (not counting children or mere acquaintances), met several new cousins, got caught in bad storms going and returning, and had a blast. We did close to 9000 miles and listened to several audiobooks. We got behind in newsletters and phone calls and of course the lawn mowing. It was vast and grand and we even got to spend a few hours at Badlands in South Dakota, one of the few tourist excursions of the trip.
And then we got home and found there had been a drought, right here in the Pacific Northwest. The lawn did not need mowing - it was brown. The weeds were likewise not much of a problem. And basically all the crops had failed due to lack of water.
So we had sparse pickings from the many garden boxes we had so earnestly planted before leaving.
Some crops picked up again after a few days of irrigating, such as the raspberries. The chard somehow did marvelously despite the lack of moisture, as thank heavens did the baby fruit trees.
But where we should be eating our own carrots, we are buying them from the farmers' market. We can't live on just chard, and the few plants of kale, the rhubarb, and whatever peas were not too doughy to enjoy - these are all that survived the rain-free month of May.
It's ok. The rains proceeded to stay away all summer, and have just started in this week. That schedule is typical. No one believes we have a drought here. It's due to the mountains on the Olympic peninsula to the west of us, which create a rain shadow here in our area (but not in the areas around us, which stay wet and green all summer, as is thought to be typical of the PNW). Now we have baby choys and cabbages and peas and carrots sprouting. The harvest will commence by late fall and continue through winter.
What would not have survived the lack of watering was the many friendships along the way. These can't withstand too many droughts or they will perish while we're not attending to them.
So all in all it was a great trip, one excuse to go with the result of miles of delightful experiences. I'll write some specifics another time.