By the time I made it back to the airport, it was plenty dark. The winds just kept picking up the darker it got. It became so windy that I realized putting up a tent would be next to impossible, so I began searching the airport for a room or a hangar or shelter of some kind to sleep for the night. I found nothing.
I climbed into the cockpit of the Dove, closed the canopy, and crammed a pillow under my neck. It was already after midnight. I had never tried sleeping in the cockpit before, so I figured it was worth a try. In any case, it was better than getting wind-torn and chilled by the weather beyond the plexiglass.
The owner of the Stinson Voyager parked next to me forgot to install his gust locks, and the ailerons were beating back and forth like drums through the wee hours of morning. I knew that trying to get anything even remotely close to what you call sleep
was going to be pointless, but I kept trying to doze off anyway. One moment I saw the moon a few feet from the treeline, and when I opened my eyes again, it was glowing through the branches. The next time, it was gone.
Then I just could not take sitting like that anymore. There was an assembly of cars and trucks just beyond the tarmac, apparently for island dwellers who needed a place to park long-term during their absence from Orcas Island. I saw a large dump truck parked there. I decided to go and see if it was unlocked. I really needed to lie down.
The dump truck had a large crew cab with a bench seat in the back. I tried the door. It was open. So I climbed into the back and lay on the bench seat in the fetal position to stay warm. I managed to get about three solid hours of on-and-off napping before the crunch of gravel on the dirt road woke me up.
Two small sedans pulled up and parked right next to the dump truck at about 6:00 AM. Two guys got out and started wiping down their vehicles. I saw that they both worked for a car rental company and were probably getting them ready for the day. I hopped out of the dump truck using the passenger side door and walked away unseen back over to the Dove.
Day Two had begun.
Across the street from the airport, the Eastsound Fire Department was hosting an early-morning pancake breakfast. It was just what I needed, so I went inside and bought a ticket for five bucks.
I sat down at a vacant table, and almost immediately, a mother of a little boy and girl, along with their grandfather, asked if they could sit with me for breakfast. The little girl clung to a stuffed cheetah, and the little boy kept talking through bites of pancakes about dinosaurs. We all had a fun morning together in the fire station.
After breakfast, I bumbled onto a gravel footpath leading toward Eastsound. I felt much better now that I had eaten and the sun was shining, so I began an early morning round of hiking and exploration.
The footpath led right to a church campus that was vacant and clean and bright under the early morning skies.
I hiked through the outskirts of town and explored the local school site where two kids were playing while their fathers stacked folding chairs onto a trailer by the cafeteria. Apparently, the chairs were needed for the festivities that day. I asked the men if they needed any help. They thanked me, but they pretty much had it covered.
As the sun rose higher, people began staging their floats in various places throughout the community and donning costumes for the parade. Eastsound was waking up for a day of celebration. I could feel the whole island throbbing with life.
I decided to walk back to the airport to assemble my mountain bike. I got the feeling that this was something I did not want to miss.