Thursday, September 20, 2012

From caprine to cervine

My Blog List includes a web diary set on a tiny goat farm in Washington State. I’ve been following this charming, sometimes hilarious and occasionally poignant blog for a couple of years, and Beloved Wife suggested that perhaps we should visit. "You know you want to." 

It was one of those ‘chance of a lifetime’ opportunities. We were already on the Pacific coast of the United States and heading north towards Seattle.

An evening of on-line research zoomed in on more-or-less the area, and Google Street View gave me a pretty good idea of what the ZIP code actually looked like. The alleged location was given to Clarissa, and we set off.

A bonus was to cross the Tacoma Narrows. There are now two bridges there. This is the site of the famous “Gallopin’Gertie”, the first suspension bridge constructed over the Narrows. Its fame, or rather, infamy comes from the way in which the bridge deck behaved in windy conditions, and ultimately brought about the structure’s collapse in November 1940, barely four months after completion. Salutory lesson for civil engineers 101.

The new bridges are wider and were designed to resist aerofoil effects.

Tacoma Narrows: Westbound is free; Eastbound costs around five  bucks.
Anyway, the Key Peninsula is a beautiful as I’d anticipated. The geography of the area is a complex layout of peninsulas and islands, and if I lived here I’d own a boat in a heartbeat. There are so many inlets and coves to explore without having to venture into the Big Wide Ocean.

Waterfront properties on the Key Peninsula 
Clarissa, clever black box that she is, led us directly to Herron Hill Dairy. The sign on the gate was a bit of a giveaway. We drove into the yard and I introduced us to the Goatfarmer. She’s the one who types “This Goat’s Life” because the actual author has keyboard/cloven hoof interface trouble. After friendly introductions and chat, Beloved Wife and I were introduced to the herd. Everyone was hiding languidly in the shade. Apparently, this part of Washington hadn’t seen a spot of rain in over a month and the high temperatures were becoming irksome. The goats seemed pleased to see us, even though we had quite by accident failed to bring any ginger biscuits – apparently a caprine favourite.

No ginger biscuits, I'm afraid.
Beloved Wife is now convinced that goats do not necessarily stink to high heaven. The small ones at least are wonderfully cute. Check out the minuscule Crumpet, the Most Famous Goat in the World. I have, in front of witnesses including the Goatfarmer, been granted full and irrevocable permission to keep “three small goats” when we finally get to Cyprus. This always was the plan, but Beloved Wife’s concerns regarding the delicate aroma of capric acid have now been proved unfounded.

La Manchas have only vestigial ears
The minuscule Crumpet, the Most Famous Goat in the World
A big thank you to the Goatfarmer for her hospitality, and also for the great honking slab of goat halloumi that we fried in butter and lemon juice a couple of days later. It was most excellent. And thanks to the herd for not misbehaving in a manner that would have put Beloved Wife off goats for all eternity. I was relying on you!

At Herron Hill, all the goats are de-horned. But they still headbutt.
Just for grins
After we’d wasted enough of the Goatfarmer’s time, we said our thanks and goodbyes and headed off towards Seattle. Clarissa mysteriously sent us further north than I’d been expecting. As we rolled up to the kiosk to pay our ferry fare, the woman taking the money remarked, “Navigating with GPS, eh?”

How did she guess? We didn’t care; an hour or so taking in the sea air made a refreshing change from being cooped up in an air-conditioned box.

Car ferry. Seattle is behind that ridge.
It’s always useful to have a target, and my target was the Utilikilts shop in Seattle. According to the website, this would be found at 620 First Avenue. But there was a huge gap in the numbering and the target area was full of Seattle Mariners’ stadium. Worse, there was a match on, and all parking was from $30 and upwards. No, there wasn’t any discount for visitors from out of town who weren’t interested in baseball. (I had to look that up, having no idea which ball game to mention). After an unscheduled exploration of the hills of Seattle, we discovered that the rounders pitch was on First Avenue South, and we’d been looking in the wrong place. Thereafter, things started looking up, starting with covered parking for $5 only two blocks away from the kilt shop.

Gentlemen's outfitter, with free beer if you ask nicely.
I only wanted to grab some more business cards and possibly a new belt, but the shop staff and mostly Beloved Wife rather encouraged me in the direction of a new kilt. Happy Birthday, Mr Goat. Seems my existing one has stretched with wear somewhat, and I needed to get a slightly bigger version. I got my new belt too. Very fortunately, I remembered something from the website about sharing a beer. When I invoked the offer, they had one beer left, so we shared it. 

The afternoon was wearing on, and Beloved Wife wanted to visit Pike Place Market which was about six blocks up the road. By the time we got there most of the market stalls were clearing up for the day, which was an unfortunate side-effect of driving all over Creation, visiting goats and looking at kilts. Ah, but a small shop selling kitchen porn was able to supply the doughnut cookie cutters that Beloved Wife had been searching for.

Pike Place.
Seattle: The docks and the stadium.
The allure of Japanese food beckoned us into the world’s seediest-looking café. The guy behind the counter, who could have been George Takei’s twin brother, welcomed us in and we were served flame-grilled meat in Japanese teryaki sauce on a bed of rice for almost no money. It was possibly the best meal we had in the States, in the nastiest café with the most primaeval toilets.

Seattle: Old and new.
Seattle street. Everyone must have gone to the ball game,
We recovered the car from the now locked underground parking by visiting a nearby bar as advised by the sign, and obtaining the passcode. Then we made our escape from Seattle before the ball game finished and 100,000 sports-fan motorists vomited forth on to the highway. Heading east along the I-90 through the picturesque Cascade mountain range, we enjoyed the breathtaking scenery. In the winter, of course, the road would impassable without all wheel drive and snow chains. 

What of the 'cervine' bit in the title? Hadn't we had enough of cloven-hoofed ruminants for one day? Apparently not: seventy or so miles east, and in the dark, Muggins hit a deer. Our best guess is that it was standing in the middle of the road looking at the oncoming headlights and didn’t see or hear the Dad Car sneaking up behind at 25 miles per hour. Bambi ran into the Toyota, left a dent, and then scampered off into the woods. Dang!



Gerry said...

the pacific northwest is indeed beautiful; glad you had a good time out there (despite the "deer incident").

Anonymous said...

Really good tale and photos. Aren't the little ones cute! tmil

Martín said...

I just noticed: what is the countdown at the bottom of the page?

Grumpy Goat said...

Ah, Martín, that is the conundrum. Suffice to say that the countdown is related to a house in Cyprus.

Kris said...

Boy, those goats were on point, weren't they? I don't think I've ever seen goats trying so hard to be adorable! Three small ones? I'm reminded of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff." I think it sounds ideal!

I enjoy reading!


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