Thursday, September 9, 2004

Northwest Gray Skies at DogFish Point Nude Beach

Only a true Puget Sound nudist like me could enjoy these gray skies, drizzling rain and cool temperatures

Wednesday afternoon and the clouds are on their way in over Puget Sound in true Pacific Northwest late summer fashion. It's going to be rainy the rest of the week. Business and a new personal naturalist project have kept me busy all day with phone calls, meetings and a hurried trip up to Bellingham to remedy someone elses' crisis. I'm tense . . . I'm wound up . . . and I'm tired. Seattle is an hour away and I'm in no mood to deal with traffic. I need to unwind and relax . . . get back to basics. I dump the freeway in favor of coastal Chuckanut Drive.

Dog Fish Point is one of those lesser known habituates of the bare skin ilk. Though well known to the local nudists, few outside of the Bellingham area know of it's closely held location for fear that popularity will bring irresponsible activities and another crackdown and forced relocation.

Indeed, the first time I visited during the 90 degs days of July this year, it was obvious that the pairing of naked men going off together into the trees the other side of the railroad tracks were not going there to explore the flora and fauna . . . except each others. This got to be irritating to me as I watched several males approach each other on the beach, chat for awhile and then head off together for awhile in the woods and return separately later.

This surprised me because during that visit there were also quite a few college age females sunning nude on the beach. The Point didn't have the feel of a "sausage parade" or homosexual meeting place. Fortunately no one approached me and I remain decidedly "hetro" and safe.

Aside from those activities that took place on the northernmost rocky outcrop of the beach . . . I did enjoy myself and met some interesting characters including a sort of unofficial caretaker who is slowly, rock by rock, sculpting the point with rock salt pools, fire-rings and stone benches . . . a veritable rock garden.

Dog Fish Point bisects two sunning areas . . . the southern one with it's rock garden and the northern more open stretch where one can spread out a towel and soak in the rays. It is not a true beach in that there is little sand and a lot of crushed oyster shells. Footwear is an absolute around here. The point itself (where I am sitting in the picture above) is a solid piece of granite a good twenty to thirty feet high and jutting forty feet into the water. Up top there are lots of moulded, salt water eroded depressions to sit or lay in and you feel protected and embraced as you enjoy the view out toward the San Juan Islands near the horizon.

I arrived near four in the afternoon . . . to an empty parking spot above the bluffs. The skies were occasionally sputtering rain drops, the breezes off the Sound gaining strength. Not idyllic weather for the nudist . . . or was it? Well, that's how you separate the Californian transplants from the natives. I stuffed a towel into my day-pack alongside a thermos of Starbucks dark roast drip coffee . . . and headed down the trail.

The trail's not hard . . . couple hundred feet of reasonable grade. At the bottom you have the hard part . . . a walk of about a mile on the railway tracks to Dog Fish Point. Hard because it is not great footing negotiating railway ties along with loose, crushed rock in the bed. Unnerving because the trains do not stick to any predictable schedule along this stretch. To the south behind you you can see a train approaching a long way off as it rounds Oyster Creek Point (assuming you had eyes in the back of your head because your headed the other way). But to the north there is a blind curve. Regulars told me not to worry because as a train approaches the tracks 'sing' and when they do, you have eight seconds to bail off the tracks. Eight seconds seems to be cutting it kinda close. In any case, there were no trains today and I arrived safety at the Point.

There was a clothed couple there on the northern side (college age) . . . tentatively toying with the idea of going into the seaweed-infested high tide. I didn't see them at first and had stripped off expecting the place all to myself. I try to be discrete until I figure out if my nudity bothers anyone. I didn't have the chance with this couple but they took it all in stride and we chatted for awhile. They were gracious enough to take pictures of me for my collection. Eventually they left and I had the place all to myself. I scrambled back up on the rocky protuberance and found a depression comfortable enough to sit down in. A cup of coffee in hand, I just soaked it in.

The sea breeze felt great on the bare skin and I let it permeate me taking thoughts of deadlines, meetings and ever-evolving crisis' away. Feel the cold of granite through a thick towel, heady kiss of salt air on the skin, the iodine of seaweed in the nostrils and you close your eyes and let the tranquility of it all make you forget why you were tense and uptight in the first place. A drop of cold rain . . tiny. then another and another. Feels good and you smile.

Eventually, even my thick skin can chill no more and I stretch, get up and head back down to the tracks. It's raining now. Not hard but I'm wet. I hike the rest of the way back without clothes as if somehow daring a train to force me to bail. No such luck. The shorts go on mere feet from the trail entrance. The car and warmth is waiting. Time to go home to the next crisis.

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