by Austine Giles and Ben Hanson
A DEDICATION TO THE LATE GONZO JOURNALIST, HUNTER S. THOMPSON. WE SET OUT ON A JOURNEY TO LUMMI ISLAND AND THESE ARTICLES ARE OUR ATTEMPTS TO MIMIC AND PAY HOMAGE TO THOMPSON’S STYLE. ENJOY.
We boarded the boat at roughly 5 p.m. pacific time as the marsupial looking fellow directed us to park our car at the front of the craft. He nearly made us drive off the edge and into the water. “MUTINY,” I thought. “MUTINY!”
We stayed put and forged the strait. The sun was high above us and was bringing out the worst in me. “The trajectory is all messed up,” I said to my companions. “We have to fix this trajectory and get our priorities straight!”
It didn’t last once we reached the island. “Dear gatz! Behold this beauty, rolling on forever, with water all around us, paradise and isolation!”
The trajectory was right all along. I should have trusted it. We were here at last. Three crusaders spearheading the quest into the unknown to overtake the indigenous population, if not by force, then by noise: the new American way.
I shrieked my laughter. I swallowed fire and spit smoke. I waved the flag from the window of the puttering sea-foam beast that brought us to the island.
The tape recorder started going off in my hand. I thought it was some depraved lunatic, native to the island, yelling at me, “go home, you son of a bitch,” from outside the car. It wasn’t of course. When I realized it was the tape recorder, I smashed it on the ground. If a machine turns on you, destroy it. What separates us from them? It’s control. “Stay in control,” I thought. “You’re losing your mind.”
We drove around the edge of the island until we found a place to park. Our briefcase was filled with all the amenities and now included pens and papers since we were minus the recorder.
The path to the beach started closing in on me. “SHIT! You’re going to smash me to bits, you sadists,” I yelled to the trees. “Release me! I’m suffocating!”
My companion walked up on me from behind. I was lying on the ground. She said, “Get up,” and then asked, “Who are you yelling at?”
Has it happened? Have I turned into that thing that I always knew was there but never wanted to become? I’m a maniac at last. I’m volatile. I’m sick. Then it passed. This island has some ancient secret, some ancient magic. It’s burned the monster out of me like an exorcism.
The sun broke through the trees and fought them back as I emerged from the forest and onto the beach. “My God! You’re beautiful!”
I sat on the beach and started writing for the Horizon. Mostly all I put down was a list of things I wish I would have been comp’d for. “BBQ chips, cassettes, new tape recorder, fruit roll ups, ferry charges, gas, labor,” I wrote down everything. “I’m going to suggest a snack fund to the staff when I get back,” I thought.
I couldn’t write. I watched the ocean roll towards me. I tried to picture everything panoramically so I violently whipped my head side to side to cover the entire shore. “Quit doing that,” said my companions.
“You’re right,” I thought. “These islanders will cast me out into the open ocean if they see me behaving this way.”
I stepped close to the water. It came right up to my toes and then receded. The sun started to set on me as I thought about the past year. This was the end of an era in my life. I reached the edge. The movement was finally over. My promise to prolong youth had been chased down and mauled.
I no longer feared death as we boarded the ferry to go back to the mainland. I stood on the deck of the boat and breathed very deeply. We left the island behind. We left the edge behind. Now it was time to re-join society and find our places in the middle of many, many people who have never seen emptiness, who have never risked taking themselves to the edge. We must smile with them and behave like them and speak about the past very wisely. Because in the pursuit to prolong youth, errors were made, there were lapses in judgment and if we don’t move our understanding forward then regret will eat us alive.
Waves. This beach life is nice. No worries, the sun is shining, the occasional seagull sings out. No one else here to bother me but the two companions crazy enough to brave this trip. Crackle. The waves make such a sweet nice noise after they crash on the rocks. Then more waves. And then you realize this is the answer, the key, the mystery behind it all. This is simpleness. This is all you really need. Waves. Crackles. Sun. Water. Whiskey. Women.
Have we ruined it all, or have we gained it all? The first Americans came to the coast, bringing all of their sorrows and troubles. And now, over 200 years later of striving desperately to carve what little we have to our names into the stone Book of Time, we, the people, the carriers of the torch find ourselves trapped. We have forgotten the joys of life, and instead spend our time bogged down by the revolving daily tasks our society has deemed so necessary.
When we are getting gas, groceries, paying bills, and watching TV we are not thinking about beaches or waves. Each day begins and ends like the other, so why expect anything different? Well, why the hell not? Get out! Drop the god-forsaken clicker, leave your half-cooked Hot Pocket to rot, and hit the road Jack! Nothing is standing in your way to a sunny beach but stubbornness and 10 minutes of planning. No joke, just a short drive away from Whatcom and you’re on an adventure of your own; an island is waiting to be conquered.
Navigate your car onto the ferry and experience the front-row seats as you cruise on top of the water towards the looming Lummi Island. After crossing the distance between your everyday ball-busting troubles on the mainland to the serene, unknown island – the rest of the trip is up to you. The island boasts 18 miles of roads to cruise – which I suggest doing with a 50 cent American flag trailing from your window. Venture along until the perfect beach location is spotted. Get out, set up camp, unload your supplies, and prepare for whatever comes your way.
This is here you take your stand – against all the stresses and problems that life throws at you day after day. This is where you beat back the twelve-headed serpent – the monster that follows you and laughs as you struggle. This is where you reign King! If only for a day, this… is where you remember Life Can Be Beaten.