Sunday, August 22, 2010
Seattle and Bellingham, Washington state
Going back on the road gives me a feeling of relief. Looking outside the window of the car and enjoying the views it’s like seeing a documentary from a comfy couch. When the road is going and everything runs smoothly and there are no stress factors I feel that life on the road is the best thing it can happen. You are always the stranger in the city, no one knows you, and you can always be and feel as the person you want to be without social boundaries. I love that. After Oregon we went on the west coast on US up north into Washington State, crossing little towns like Astoria, with Victorian houses, peaceful and cloudy as all the coast of US. The climate changes from the coast to inland… from 14 to 25 degrees Celsius in just a few miles. I love the cloudy weather. I don’t know why but it gives a feeling of drama, as if we are on the edge of a powerful storm and there is nothing that can make it stop, still the storm never comes. We had no rain in the last 2 months and that is great because when we camp outside I would not like to get wet.
What I noticed is that in US no house is made of brick or stone as in Europe most of the dwellings are made of these materials , and although the winters are not milder it seems that America abounds of woods so people find it easier to build everything with timber. The last hundreds of miles we crossed deep woods of conifers, spread all over the states. Both Oregon and Washington are bear countries. The Olympic peninsula has pretty beaches full of trees brought by the fast rivers that come from the mountains and end in the ocean. The houses are beautiful and the air is clean but it seems me and Jan we suffer from some sort of allergy to the pollen or other things in the air because we always complain of pain in the nose or skin rashes. While being on the peninsula I saw many warnings about vampires…it seems they filmed here the Twilight series and people are fascinated with the story. I am most fascinated with a childhood TV series called Twin Peaks and actually it is here in Washington State that they filmed it. After 2 days on the peninsula we took the ferry to Seattle where another host was waiting for us. Carol and Jeff are a middle aged couple, in their 60s , an autumn love as they met 2 years ago and decided to spend their time enjoying life, which I think people should do , we should always be in the search of love and companionship. We were received in their beautiful home in Mercer Island and got a beautiful room just for us. Immediately we felt welcomed and the same Friday night as we arrived, we had dinner and then went to a classic English dances night. It was fun to participate although I have to admit that these kinds of dances are not my favorite. The mathematics in it (counting the steps and the moves) make me really tired. We spent three hours dancing ( probably the longest time I ever spend dancing…ever) and got back home to a nice bed and fell asleep immediately. Carol and Jeff had it all organized for Saturday and around noon we left towards a lake where the family of Jeff had vacation houses and his brother was organizing his birthday weekend party. We were about 100 people, all friends and friends of friends, we talked with people, Jan went on the canoe, ate great food. It has been great. Same evening we came back home and next day ( Sunday we spent it at home relaxing). On Monday , pretty early (8 am) we went to Seattle to the Canadian embassy where I applied for my tourist visa. One entry is 75 dollars (multiple is 150). After a long waiting line and an easy interview I got my visa in the afternoon and we went happy for a walk in downtown Seattle. I actually like a lot Seattle. Even if it is quite a big city, it gives a laid back feeling.
There is a nice park and a vegetables and fish market, and we had an amazing Italian gelato in a little Italian coffee shop. Next day, Tuesday , Jan wanted to go to Mt Rainier for a day or two , so early in the morning we drove to one side of the mountain and slept there, although I must admit I was quite annoyed by the aggressiveness of the mosquitoes.
Next day we drove around Mt. Rainier and Jan did a few walks while I rested in my camping chair reading a novel and getting bitten by the mosquitoes.
Getting back to Seattle in the house of Carol and Jeff we spent another peaceful night and Thursday evening we went for a walk and visited some openings of art galleries. There is a lot of artistic life in Seattle and people try to gain money from open air concerts, art fairs and galleries. After almost one week relaxing with Carol and Jeff but also sharing ideas about travels, God(or better said his absence) and life in general, it was time to leave Seattle and direct ourselves to Bellingham where our friend Amy ( a member of CS that hosted us one year ago in China) was waiting for us. We left Saturday morning, on a rainy weather, with the prospect of a rainy weekend but before leaving Seattle for good we also visited Freemont street and the troll of Seattle and a chocolate factory where we enjoyed for free several kinds of chocolate and coffee.
I always like to meet again friends that we made along the travel and this time it was time to see again Amy, a young American girl that we met one year ago in Xining, China, and with whom we spent really nice moments back then and now again we were looking forward to see her again.
Amy lives in Bellingham, very close to the border with Canada…less than 30 minutes. Bellingham is a small town, with many young people, due to the university here, probably the less American town we’ve been till now. You can walk to most of the places in town which in the rest of the cities is impossible. The shared house where Amy rents a room is close to the motorway from Seattle but the feeling of the house was quite nice. The house mates of Amy are 3 great guys: Chris, Zach and Michael with whom we made friendship instantly. Amy used to study here in Bellingham and when she came back from China after teaching English for one year she decided that the best moments of her life were in this city, her best friends are here so best thing to do is to come back and make some more roots. Amy is a great person, and to prove that she gave up her room, her sanctuary and slept on the couch and we had 4 restful nights in her home. Same night of our arrival it was party time, so around 10 pm we all dressed up and walked to the house party where other 30-40 people were listening to disco music and drank some alcohol. It was great to experience this kind of party, the typical we see in US films. At about 2 am we left the party and came back home walking again. I felt as when I was at university and no one really thought about the future and what our life will be like. We were all living the moment. Amy is a very creative girl, and besides writing (she studied creative writing) she also joined a punk music band about 2 weeks ago and they were already having their 2nd house concert planned for Monday night in a house in Bellingham. It seems that many young alternative people in US at some point in their life join a band or go on a road trip. While Monday morning Amy was at work, I left Jan at home and I walked through Bellingham stopping in a vintage shop for hours in a row. I was so overwhelmed by the watching of a common shopping behavior of the young Americans (the thrift stores and second hand stores and vintage shops are in fashion here) and I kind of needed a small leather bag for myself…last one I bought was in Pakistan in the market for just 1 dollar. In the evening we went to a the house concert. It seems in US the amateur art (of any kind) is much more appreciated than in Europe where people tend to value more quality. I enjoyed a lot the house concert where 4 bands played their punk rock songs. Amy’s band was the first one, then a band from San Francisco played( they were on a 2 weeks tour) and 2 more from Bellingham. Some of the songs were pretty good. People that do these tours they gain money from donations of people (normally enough for gas till the next location) and they also sell their Cd’s or other handy crafts.
After 4 magnificent days spend with so many wonderful people that live the American dream with less money but seem to be more happy, it was time to take the road again. I was so sad to leave Amy again but I am hoping that one day we will see her again maybe this time in Spain. I will miss you Amy and Bellingham …and all your house mates and friends that were great people and with whom we shared many stories, has great laughs, walked the town in the night, had dinners….(they are great cooks).