A Name Game

Thought we’d start out the new year with something light and easy. God knows
it’ll get crazy soon enough. In our travels up and down this island i’ve noticed
the names of the roads, lanes and paths that connect to the main island highway.
Many of them are typically nautical, with some almost painting a picture of where
the road leads, why it goes there, even what one might find at the end of that
road. Some of them are fairly straightforward but there are a few that were
named with tongue in cheek. Those, naturally, are some of my favorites. A few
of them suggest a history that I have yet to look into. Learning of this island’s
history is far better served by finding some old salt in a bar, rather than digging
through books at the library. If i ever pursue the history of some of these places,
I assure you it will be with the former method.

There are, of course, some of the generic aquatic names that are self-
explanatory. Admiral Cove. Aqua View Way. Bay View Road. Deer Lake. Four
Eagles Lane. Standard fare here, no surprises. But then they begin to get
interesting. Puget Circle. Named for Peter Puget, the same person Puget
Sound is named for.Not sure I’d want to be named Peter Puget, but Captain
George Vancouver named the Sound for him, so he must have been at least a
good officer. He was a Master’s Mate, then a 3rd Lieutenant on the HMS
Discovery, captained by George Vancouver. Old George named all kinds of
places while here in 1792… Mount Baker, for Joseph Baker, another 3rd
Lieutenant of his on the Discovery. Vancouver also named Whidbey Island for
Joseph Whidbey, and he named some areas around the island, like Discovery
Pass, Mount Rainier, Port Gardner and Port Susan.

Useless Bay is true to its name… a normal-looking bay when the tide’s in, a
fairly ugly mud flat when the tide’s out. No shell fish, no redeeming qualities to
see… truly useless.

Smuggler’s Cove. There is no history of smugglers on Whidbey Island, and much
of the early history of the island has to do with settlers and fights with the existing
Native Americans. One has to wonder, however, if there might have been some
smuggling activity of one sort or another… hard to imagine. What would one
smuggle in or out of a brand new, as yet unsettled, part of the country? Timber? Mussels? Beautiful Indian Maidens?? Hmmm…

Double Bluff Road. Log Cabin Road. Possession Point. Frog Water Lane. Tree
Frog Lane. Island-type names, sure enough, but self explanatory. I like the more mysterious names, the names that ignite the imagination, of what it might have
been, what might have happened there. One of my favorites in that regard is,
Honeymoon Bay Road. Okay. So there must be a Honeymoon Bay over there
through the trees somewhere. And it stands that the road to that Bay might be
of the same name. But why call that particular bay Honeymoon Bay? Umm,
oh, wait…never mind.

Mutiny Bay. Another name that kicks up visions of potential activities, especially
in the early days, when the island had all sorts of ships coming and going by it.
One might imagine a ship anchored in that bay, a mutiny occurring, the captain
and his first officer tied up and dropped off in the trees next to the bay, and the mutinous crew then sailing away to plunder and pillage some unsuspecting village.
But I can find no historical evidence of any mutinous activities around the island. Phooey. I’m sure something like that must have happened…

Oh well. My favorite of all these names is CrissyBob Lane. How can you not
love it? Perhaps Crissy and Bob don’t even live down that lane any more.
It doesn’t matter. That little lane, off a small road in a somewhat remote area of
our island, is for me, evidence of an America of another time… of a time when
two people could find their own private paradise on an island out at the edge of
the country, and name their lane any damn thing they wanted to.

I miss how America was once. It was never perfect, god knows… but it was so
much better so much simpler, so much warmer and safer. I miss it. I miss the hell
out of it, nearly every day. I know it’s gone, and can’t return. But at least
CrissyBob Lane reminds me, every time we drive by it, that it once existed, that it
was real, and that we were able to enjoy it, for a little while.

Steve Hulse

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