As promised, I offer you my judgement of Washington: so far, so pretty damn good. First, some observations about the West Coast in general. First, HUGE East Asian and Pacific influence. Not surprising I suppose, but it's interesting to notice regional cultural differences. Second, what is up with these courteous drivers????? All you have to do is approach a curb and drivers on both sides of the street come to a dead stop. I don't quite believe it yet. I'm waiting for them to honk at me as soon as I set foot in the street, demanding that I get out of their road. This is coming from a girl who lives in the state with the most pedestrian deaths per year. Third, the weather. It is July. I live in a swamp. So encountering cloudless blue skies with zero percent humidity and temperatures in the 70s is bordering insane. I am pretty sure that the weather accounts for 90% of Travis' decision to do our tour in the Pacific Northwest. He really hates Florida's outrageous summers.
Now moving on to train people. I have never ridden the Amtrak before. We rode it to save a little money, and also Travis loves trains. But I was not expecting the train conversations I encountered in the 20 hours we spent riding from San Francisco to Seattle. It's a strange cultural island where normal customs don't apply. Being trapped in a moving vehicle for almost an entire days makes it acceptable to interact with people you normally would avoid.
Are you an affable, balding Chilean geophysicist who is still coming to understand American society? Cool, you should sit down and talk at length with the mother/daughter pair returning from visiting relatives in Tacoma. Are you a boisterous, 25 year old who enjoys tanning leather stripped from roadkill? Awesome, you should strike up a conversation with the vacationing French Canadian woman who also speaks German and Spanish. I saw a businessman with the build of a football player give his number to a latino adolescent after dispensing adult life advice for a half hour. I overheard a cyclist in his 60s describe his journey visiting his online girlfriend who he hadn't seen in eight months. The real freaks were the good natured, atteractive teenage brother and sister who willingly hung out with each other AND their dad, playing cards and telling stories the whole journey. Who does that??
I even made a new friend and spilled my current life story-- despite my Resting Bitch Face-- to a 20 year old named Krissa after we worked on some sewing projects together. Krissa started college when she was 14 (!?!), and after being rejected from two medical research PhD programs because of her youth, she decided to bike from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. She hopes to make it to LA by August 21 to celebrate her 21st birthday. She was sewing new elastic bands into her bike shorts, and she was super sweet. I certainly wish her luck.
We arrived in Seattle without incident, and after grabbing some excellent Vietnamese food in Little Saigon, we rolled up to the Polo Mansion, our place of rest for the evening. Bike Polo is like punk rock in a way-- the scene is so specified that if you're in, you're a part of an international network of hookups. There are nine people living in this Polo Mansion, though we've only seen four of them and spoken to them for a total of 20 minutes. But it's cool, we're crashing on their couches and using their shower and we're super grateful for it.
Are you wondering about my homemade beef jerky? I know you're intrigued. Well I dehydrated tons of it in Gainesville right before we left and it is the perfect balance of sweet, salty, peppery and spicy. I am going to eat so much of it during this trip and it's going to be awesome.
So far Seattle has been pretty magical. There's a lot to tell, and the sun doesn't go down till 10pm here so the days have been extremely full. More to come tomorrow.