"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

9/15/09: Portand to Mukilteo, WA

Andre had Cody and I up and running early on Tuesday morning, determined to get out of Portland at a decent time. The tone of the day was again set immediately by an impatient Andre. It had long become quite evident that two Andres inhabited his body, and the thoughtful, patient Andre from the night before was again replaced by the agitated, terse, driven Andre. The two of us loaded the Range Rover while Andre tied up loose ends, and by 9:30 or 10:00 we were saying so long to the floating home and on the way downtown to the Mac store so Andre could purchase an apparent necessity for Cody's new I-Touch.

I had decided to take Andre up on his offer of the previous night and ask him to drop me off in Port Townsend, WA. Port Townsend is a bit of a difficult destination from Seattle and I-5 being, as Chris describes it, across Puget Sound from Seattle and on a sub-peninsula of the Olympic Peninsula. Somewhere along the way to the downtown Mac Store, Andre curtly asked me what I "had decided," and when I responded with Port Townsend, he was visibly irritated that I would have the nerve to take him up on a seemingly easy offer the night before. Oh, the humanity! He made it clear that, today, the three extra hours were of vast importance, and that if I wasn't going to Vancouver he'd be dropping me in Mukilteo. The loaded question on the tip of my tongue: "So, Astoria's out of the question, then? Why even bother to fucking ask?!?"

I had had just about enough of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. Sitting in the back seat, I began to reminisce on the weekend and particularly at the Gale Force of Talk that had produced little wind in the sails. I was still in Portland, however, and free to disembark the U.S.S. Andre whenever I chose. At least I now knew where I would be resuming my travels: either downtown Portland, which would mean that my boat hitch with Andre and Cody the previous Thursday would have in fact netted a NEGATIVE 15-miles. Or, it would be the mythical Mukilteo north of Seattle, and presumably within range of Chris and his sister that night. As we approached downtown, I was weighing the pros and cons of each. The choice was far from obvious, and there was a significant problem: hitching in Washington state is expressly verboten, and Port Townsend is not exactly in a geographic location flush with truck stops.

At the Mac Store, I learned that we were in the same building as the Portland Transit headquarters, meaning from here I could easily navigate the prolific public transit system and at least return to the bus stop where my return east from Portland had resumed from Dave's in 2008. This would put me back on US-30, and on course to Astoria once again. Yet, this would mean missing Washington State, unless I crossed at Astoria. To be honest, I'd never had much of a draw to Washington and had mentally crossed the state off as I progressed through the Dakotas, Montana, and Idaho the weeks before. I had connected with Chris in Boise, and there were no indications as to why I should go now. In fact, he had indicated that things there were "tense." So, why bother? Good question, and I have a pathetic answers.

Believe it or not, I heard my nephew Brad's voice in my head urging to to go to Washington, since I would be "right there." I had to confess, he was in a sense right. Excluding Washington, I had now visited every state not in New England, and having this single stray state out west would bother me! The mental ping-pong continued as Cody collected his dire essentials. I exited the store to examine the bus routes posted outside, then to pace the parking lot knowing I had to decide NOW. Had his shopping taken just two more minutes, I likely would have acted differently, but in Andre's push to get moving I resigned to go with the established flow and try my luck in Washington. The deciding factor was that it would be terra incognita, and if I went toward Astoria I was sure to be retracing 2008's steps...again...this time down highway 101. Washington it would be. A fateful, rushed decision to be sure.

When Cody emerged with another item or two beyond the advertised life saving accessory, I found it amusing that Andre was no longer concealing his irritation with the Mac Store charade. When we stopped for cigarettes and coffee before departing Portland, Cody's credit card came to light and Andre tellingly (and snidely) asked, "I thought you didn't have any money?" My impression was that he was growing weary of being milked. At least THIS Andre was!

Once on I-5 and heading north, I completely disconnected. I was watching Oregon fade into the rear view mirror, not paying particular attention to anything going on in the front seat. I was quite happy to be moving on...somewhere...and fondly remembering, again, 2008's Two Day Rule! Crossing the Columbia River into Washington was not as much a sense of accomplishment as a checking something off the to-do list. I wished I were more excited about finally getting here.

Andre had not had time for breakfast, so we stopped at a Denny's about an hour past the border for lunch. I called Laina asking her to play the role of research navigator because Andre had specifically said that he was going to dump me at the Mukilteo exit ramp. I needed to know how far Mukilteo was from I-5, among other things, and she outdid herself. She called back telling me that once I took the ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island, there was a free bus all the way, 40-miles or so, from Clinton to Coupeville. In Coupeville there was another connection that would literally drop me at Keystone Harbor and the Port Townsend ferry. I was becoming quite impressed with Washington's transit/ferry system, and I had yet to even see it!

After lunch, Andre began to feel the lack of sleep, and since Cody had no license and was Canadian, he chose the lesser of two evils and asked me to drive. Before I knew it, we were through Olympia and Tacoma, and I was zipping along in Seattle. Not only have I not had a particular interest in visiting Seattle, it could be said that I've had a peculiar and acute aversion to it. I've listened to innumerable hippies proclaim its "progressiveness," and after Santa Fe, took that as a sign that, despite the legendary WTO riots, I would hate it. Finally driving through it did nothing to change my mind, even though The Sage lived in Seattle for a long time and loved it. Was I being a bit unfair? See what hippies do to me?!?

Chris had mentioned Mukilteo in an email the night before detailing specifics of how I could get from I-5 to Port Townsend. "Mukilteo?" I wondered. What the hell is a Mukilteo?" Andre explained that it was a little town north of Seattle, and he too assured me that I'd be able to utilize the ferry system to get to Port Townsend. This quaint little tourist trap is less than a half-hour from Seattle, and in fact could be considered part of the outer fringes of the Seattle sprawl. Andre was in better spirits after his nap, and thankfully decided to look for a place to Internet here, meaning I wouldn't have to walk the busy, 5-mile divided highway into town. We stopped at a grocery store where I used an ATM and learned that there was in fact a bus stop across the road. The bus ran into town and would drop me, literally, at my first destination: the Clinton Ferry. Life was good, and this was it for Andre and Cody.

It was an odd goodbye. Much had happened over the past 4+ days, but now each of us were focused on our immediate futures. Not exactly present! Cody was going home to Canada, Andre had treatments to concentrate on, and I had no idea what the hell I was doing in Mukilteo, Washington. We shook hands, hugged, and made the obligatory promises to stay in touch. I finally offered Cody a card to the website, knowing full well that it would likely throw him into an eventual tizzy! He and I also pledged to meet on Facebook, etc. I remember having a distinct feeling that this particular Bullshit Exchange was palpable, but we would have to wait and see.

With that, I was off to catch my series of buses and ferries to cross Puget Sound, and feeling good to be moving again despite a recurring, nagging pinch in my left Achilles...