The upside of hanging out with a friend whose husband is on tour of duty is that you get to be her guinea pig in her continuing quest to be the best army wife in Oak Harbor. In other words, Michelle prepared delicious breakfast for me. The weather was dreary in the morning and from her backyard all you can see is plains, trees and mountains. Yes, the city boy was officially in the countryside. I loved the sight of squirrels running all over each other, but secretly terrified at the thought that they might get near my 5 meter zone. And yes how about the fresh air. I rushed outside of the house on my boxers on 40F degree weather to have a taste of bountiful fresh air that I’ve been curiously longing to taste. Anti-climactically, countryside air smelled like the exact same air in Los Angeles.
There’s no pine scent or a scent of clean air, not even a whiff of freshness. It was just air. Feeling a bit deflated and shivering, I reminded myself how all of these seemed new to me. The last time I was out of the city was when I made a quick rest stop at Barstow heading to Las Vegas which really doesn’t count. Michelle laid out the plans for the day: tour of Oak Harbor, tour of the Naval Air Station base and visiting the so-called ‘Deception Pass'. In the mask of projecting excitement, I got a bit worried that it might be a snoozefest day. So I did what every normal gay guy in this situation would do: log on to gay.com and checked gay peeps within 5 miles of Oak Harbor.
Mich and Ben at the NAS
Disappointingly and interestingly at the same time, what I found were profiles all with no photos, just their age and their body types, all athletic types. So it dawned on me that I’m in a ‘don’t ask don’t tell’ place. Ridiculous.
But once we had the tour rolling, I was hooked! The Naval Air Station is the lifeblood of Oak Harbor. The place will be a virtual ghost town if they ever decide to close the base. She gave me a quick tour inside and upon entering, the guy at the gate reminded/warned us that taking photos are restricted to certain spots. Because sure, one look at me, with my challenged height, perfectly coiffed hair, 80%-cashmere sweater and a purple scarf, I would definitely look like someone who can bring all of them to their knees.
The allowed place is on a small round-about fronting their physical fitness center (sorry for me no military men running on skimpy shorts) where you can see a fighter jet where, depending on your point-of-view it can either be a monument of an obsolete fighter jet from USAF or a 21st century modern jet fighter from the Philippine Air Force. Thank heavens the weather was perfect or else it could have ruined our photo op. There was also a monument of 2 air force soldiers talking which is the closest I can get to fondle an army guy’s ears (for now at least muahahaha…*sigh). The base also fronts the west side of the Whidbey Island coast which I think you can see Canada's Victoria Island from a distance. I could have sworn I saw a huge Canadian Flag and a banner that says ‘Gays welcome here’ from afar. But maybe again, I might be delusional. It has been 25 days since my last cigarette.
Quick tour around old town Oak Harbor, with the beachfront and kids playing made me feel almost nauseated by the picture perfect sceneries around me.
It was straight out of a Dawson’s Creek episode! I was literally waiting for Dawson, Joey and the rest of the gang to run by me and start making out. Afterwards we head north to go to Deception Pass, which is a strait separating Whidbey Island where Oak Harbor is at, and mainland US. Above the strait is a steel bridge that connects the two land masses together. I wasn’t able to see it when we passed by there last night but seeing it on broad daylight was a spectacular sight. The bridge was beautiful. You can actually walk and cross the bridge from point A to point B and get a spectacular (running out of superlatives) view of the Pacific Ocean.
I chickened out ¼ of the way as the high winds and my fear of heights took the best out of me. The trees, the blue waters, the weather and the landscape is so much different from the places where I’ve been.
The rest of the day was spent watching a movie, eating at a Chinese restaurant with a faux-crispy chow mien, and ended up chit chatting at Oak Harbor’s first-ever Starbucks. This day was catching up time between two friends who, 7 years ago arrived to the US only a month apart and went through their 20’s on different yet oddly familiar paths. We really did come a long way we both agreed and I secretly felt relieved and content that both of us made this far with hardly any bruises or scratches.
I found out that Oak Harbor is 2 hours away from Vancouver so being neighbors in the future is not really impossible. With renewed friendship and a quick stop at a Mexican eatery, day 2 was a close. And with good company, time felt like it flew in a speed of light.