After many nights of feasting on vegan delights, it was at last time to depart Ian, Carrie, and Amber and the enchanting Portland. After one final bite at a pirate themed bar, I cycled down the lonely road to the train station. But not without first stopping at Voodoo doughnuts one more time.
A train ride from Portland to Seattle is spectacular. In a mere three hours I was in the middle of Washington, thrown into the streets of downtown Seattle packed with cars exiting a seahawks game. Their vigor was a little unnerving. A made a quick call to my host for the evening and quickly found my way to the east side of Seattle where I was treated to a beer and covnersation of cycling.
The other guests in the house that evening were fellow travelers, hitchhiking from Sacramento to washington and then across the US and back. I was envious both of the longevity of their trip and the companionship they would share. We played cards and drank beer into the night.
Next morning, I was excited to get to the library. It is difficult to describe how this building makes me feel. Awestruck seems too clumsy when describing its delicacy. It is more than just a building. It is more than just a place for meeting and sharing knowledge and ideas. It is more than a storage vessel of the ages. It is closed. For the week. Due to budgetary cuts. Maybe if OMA hadn’t gone over the budget by 65 million dollars they could stay open all year instead of closing one week a year to help the budget along.
Disappointed, I rode away, deciding instead to check out their University. Again, disappointment. Though it was open, the program seemed fairly mediocre. The rest of the day was spent wandering the streets of Seattle, thoroughly enjoying my future home.
Next day, I continued my explorations, but ended up spending most of the day with my new host for the evening. He lives in the building that I will live in. I haven’t worked it all out yet, but I will live in the building. It is absolutely perfect.
I leave early to catch the ferry. Not too early. Grab a Mighty O doughnut and some Stumptown coffee. Read a bit and then head to the port. The word port feels good. It is a quiet, overcast morning typical of Seattle. The boat docks. I tie my bicycle down by the vehicles and head upstairs. A cross wind blows across the deck. Phil Elvrum speaks to me and the minute waves are split in two by the of the 1969 welds of the Olympic. The fog hides and reveals the tree lined banks of The Sound and though I am chilled, I cannot move. The bass is in my ears, and I feel that although he knows no one will understand these songs, I cannot help but feel that though I do not understand them, I can feel their meaning more than any other time I have listened to them. Most experiences moving you in some way are short lived. A glimmer of something majestic, but this was a full hour, one twenty fourth of a day that I felt this connection to the water and the wind and the music and the fog and motion of the ocean.
I got lost in Bremerton. I don’t like Bremerton. But maybe only because it is the reason my enlightenment ended. The cycling must continue though. It rained some, but not terribly and it was only a short ride to Potlatch State Park. I had enough time in the day to ride to Hoodsport to look for coffee after dinner, but given the size of the town, all espresso machines were asleep for the evening.
The next day was wet. Not soaking wet, but irritatingly wet. Washington doesn’t seem to soak you, so much as gets you wet enough, then clears up giving you the hope that you may dry out, only to cloud up once again. You can see the rain. You can feel how close you are and if you should pedal faster to potentially outrace the coming downpour. You can hear and see it a mile away, then at top of the hill, then 100 feet in front of you, and then you are wet. It is dynamic and alive.
Giving up early, I resolved to stay at Lake Sylvia State Park, which I imagine is absolutely magical when not covered in a thick blanket of hydration. It was a wet night. But for every hard day, comes a great day.
And that great day would be when I finally reach the ocean. Before lunch, I caught a glimpse of the mighty Pacific. And as I drew near, I think my laughter and insane look of pleasure scared a few parents with children, but I didn’t care. I even hauled my bicycle over a sand dune, no easy task, so that it could enjoy the uninterrupted view of the water. It is too bad it was frigid or I would have dove in. Instead I ate heartily and got a sunburn on my feet.
I camped that night not ten miles from where I spent hours in the sun.
And now I am on the road again.
My favorite question of the trip so far was asked by a man with an abundance of children in a gas station in Wyoming. He asked me why I have weights on my bike. When I explained that their were indeed not weights, but gear, food and literature, he looked at me as though I was crazy – note this look was not on his face when he asked why I was carrying weights.
The music I have listened to and that has inspired me all these miles should be shared as well. Wyoming and most of Idaho was cycled to the voice of Sufjan Stevens, his inspired lyrics and notes pushing me through torturous miles. West of Boise and into most of eastern Oregon, Modest Mouse helped me up the hills. I had tried some techno to help pump me up, but the beats were always too fast and inevitably depressed me when I could not keep up on the steep contours. And most of the way after Portland has been dedicated to Phil Elvrum and Mirah humming gently upon my ear drums, while I push through wafts of thick fog.
I am still thinking about the connection between man, mind and machine. I think it my interested is dying though at the same rate my eagerness to consume another peanut butter and banana sandwich is fading.