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Letter I wrote during the summer of 1986

• CATEGORIES: Biscuit, Features, Trips, Women & Jeeps This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

Last month I discovered a letter I wrote in 1986 during my first summer at Roche Harbor. I sent it to my parents, who promptly put it a filing cabinet. Looking for some personal records, I discovered the letter. For anyone who hasn’t read my book (Finding Virginia) the following letter probably won’t mean much. For those that have read it, there are many familiar themes throughout the letter that also appear in the book. That fact my letter covers jeeps, cooking, and a girl shows you that I remember the summer of 1986 pretty clearly!  However, one event I didn’t include in the book, because I didn’t remember it, was going on a date and having the jeep breakdown. That’s so classic me.

Before I get to the letter, below is a picture of my first jeep two months after I wrote the letter. Cullen and I had come over the Naches trail the previous day, damaging the fiberglass front passenger fender in the epic battle against gravity I describe in the book. We slept that night at the Beverly Dunes. In the morning, we drove towards Moses Lake. Around noon, we stopped and took this picture. After the picture, we proceeded to Moses Lake, then on to Idaho. We stayed in CDA for a couple hours, then started back to Anacortes by way of Stevens pass to catch the 6AM ferry back to the islands. It was a long day.

On the front of the jeep you can see a large chain, which, among other uses, was the shovel tie down. Behind that is a trusty warn winch that saved me many times. The grill is fiberglass and, though already patched once, split into two during this trip. The headlights are 5 1/2 rather than 7″. The smaller size and a wiring problem insured lighting at night wasn’t very good. As you can see, bungie chords were a must for holding down the hood. Wedged between the passenger seat and the roll bar is an old canvas collapsable bucket. It’s still in my parents garage. We carried an extra red gas tank, which is attached to the roll bar on the passenger side. If you look near the rear wheel well you can just make out the racing number from the 1985 summer convention.


Click on the link below to read the letter.

FYI: I start the letter talking about electricity. During my first summer on the island I was staying in an oversized slide-out camper that wasn’t hooked up to electricity. I forgot about that.  The letter appears exactly as I wrote it (including mistakes).

July 15th, 1986
Dear Family,

Electricity!!! WOW!!! What an incredible feeling it is to plug in the light and watch it go on or plug in the radio and listen to your favorite radio station! I can even read at night now!

Yes, for 3 days I have had electricity and it has been wonderful. I even located an electric frying pan so now I can have warm food for breakfast lunch and dinner. It’s just incredible.

I have discovered that the carberator on the jeep isn’t quite ready for jeeping. It floods out very easily on steep hills. I got stuck in the quarries for 3 hours one day because the only way out was up a steep side hill and every time I went up slowly the carb would flood out so finally I had to let the tires down to racing level and take off the windshield and go up fast. I finally made it with very skilled effort, thank you. I’ll tell you more about it later. Battery charge on jeep is low and that was causing the cellenoid problem. In other words there was no cellenoid problem. Everything is finally, knock on wood, running okay. I would like to take Cullen across the Cascades. I know he would love it. He was the one who got me into the quarry where I had problems getting out. He said “Oh, there’s another way”, which he found out was blocked, so I had no choice but to go up the hill.

New cast member joins my life. Her name is Wendy and she is a 20 year old waitress in the restaurant. Right now she is attending Western Washington College. She is from Boise, Idaho. On our first date we got stuck in the jeep (that was the night I called up and talked to dad). On our second date we went to a movie, then last night I borrowed some grills from the barbecue and had marinated teriyaki chicken cooked over an open flame atop camp Finley. (Cullen’s home in the quarries) We get along real well.

I am having success at the barbeque. I’ve had people tell me that my steaks are the best they’ve had in a long time and I’ve talked to employees of the resort who have had people mention to them that their dinner was excellent at the barbeque. I am not sure what I am doing that makes the food good, but I know that it is due to something I learned at the BurgerWorks. I am learning alot of different techniques here, but I am relying on concepts that I learned form the Willy and Tesh to produce my products. It hasn’t taken long for the waitresses to enjoy my easy going, total co-operation idea of cooking and the waitresses both in the restaurant and at the Barbeque seem to like working with me. In fact the morning waitresses were asking me when or if I would be working the mornings because they didn’t like two out of the three other morning cooks. I told them I was sorry but that I wouldn’t be working with the because I was the barbeque kid now.

I am most certainly making more money up here, too. I am working from 8 1/2 to 15 hour days five days a week (and 6 as soon as we stay open 6 days a week at the barbeque.)(weather has been hampering our 6 day a week schedule) On my next paycheck I am expecting at least 20 hours minimum of overtime that maybe 150 dollars in overtime after taxes, so I am happy.

Cullen wants to go up to expo 86 during the first week in August for 3 days, so I may try to go with him.

I will try and make it home for a day as soon as I can.

I miss you all and tell grandma I will write here as soon as I can find time in my schedule (time is really not that hard to find, I am just a lazy asshole)

Love you all and here is a big hug and kiss,

– Dave

***Notes about this letter
1. Expo 86 was the World Exposition in Vancouver, Canada. We ended up going late in September 1986, which I talk about in the book.
2. I can’t believe I used the word ‘asshole’ in a letter to my parents! Yikes!
3. I mention Wendy in the book, but not by name.
4. Cullen’s ‘home’ in the Quarries was really a tent. You can still walk and explore the Quarries of Roche Harbor.


5 Comments on “Letter I wrote during the summer of 1986

  1. Gerald

    The Jeep picture is fantastic! Many indications of Past, Present and Pending resilient enertia. Kind of like your letter.

  2. deilers

    Craig: 1st draft was finished last week. I’m a quarter way through the second draft. My hope is to have a rough final version done by the FC-Roundup; but that might be optimistic. I definitely want it done by May 1 for our trip East.

    Mom: I didn’t mention we will be in town tomorrow. Ann has appt on Tuesday. I spoke with Karson last night. He’s really having a great time. I will call later.

  3. Mitch

    My family attended Expo 86 too although I couldn’t tell you what time of the year it was as I was only 8 yrs old then. I remember the panic when I realized my parents were no longer standing where I last saw them however they were still watching me. Apparently I had been asked to come out of the “water park” and wasn’t listening so well… They scarred me for life I think…lol..

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