Posted by: athike2011 | July 8, 2011

First Days in The Northwest

The rumbling hiss of the tracks breaks my day dreaming on this beautiful northwest summer day. The flags at the train station are gently rustling with the wind under the bright blue sky as the 500 train to Seattle pulls into the Capitol city station. Why they call it that I will never understand, it’s the most out of the way location one could dream up for public transportation. I’ve never taken a real Amtrak train, just the short commuter line from San Francisco to San Jose for hockey games with my dad. However today will be no exception as my Amtrak ticket takes me to seattle then dumps me on a bus for the next four hours up to Vancouver, BC. Having never traveled by train before, this has me awestruck. Not only does my seat recline more than an inch and a half, but my knees aren’t touching the chair in front of me! I manage to lose myself within a book for most of the trip other than the brief pause to view a prospective of the Olympia/Seattle trek I haven’t seen before.

The smell of train tracks always takes me back to my high school days, during which I spent my weekends at a local punk club known as the Gilman, which due to it’s proximity to the tracks had the same odor. Ten minutes ahead of schedule leaves me extra time to indulge in one of my favorite delicacies, a Jimmy Johns beach club sandwhich with a pickle on the side. This perfect melody of fresh baked bread, turkey, sprouts, tomato, cucumber, avocado and mayo haunted my dreams many times on the Appalachian Trail.

(I was unable to take a picture before devouring half of my sandwich)

The bus ride is…. well a bus ride. Four short hours later we pull into Vancouver. Where an evening walk on the waterfront and a sushi dinner are just what I need to forget about a day of traveling.

Nanaimo on Vancouver Island is today’s destination. A short bus ride to Horseshoe Bay gets me on the ferry headed out. Another hot sunny day means I have a few hours to lay out on the sun deck and enjoy a little more reading. A girl with a large osprey back and a smile like I imagine Neal Armstrong had when the lunar lander door first opened sat next to me. She shuffled around for her pack briefly and pulled out a camera. She snapped a few pictures before I asked if she wanted one of her as well. She grinned and handed me the camera. It turns out she was from Germany and had just graduated from high school. It was her second day in Canada and she was on her way to one of the islands to work on an organic farm with a program known as WWOOF, which I had previously considered working through. We spoke for a while about her travels and mine, before I knew it we were approaching the island and it was time to say goodbye. I wished her luck and headed down to the lower deck.

Lisa and Maritza live a few miles from the ferry terminal, which turned out to be a nice evening walk. There is no better way to experience a new place than on foot. So many subtleties are missed by other means of transport, it’s the only way I find to feel I’ve really been somewhere. After a bit of automotive repairs due to the car sitting for so long, I was a little more relaxed and able to enjoy conversation with Lisa. As it turns out, she had started a new business hand crafting glass jewelry. We discussed her various techniques and how she got into it for a while, as we both greatly enjoy doing things of this nature. She just recently launched her page on Etsy, and I would HIGHLY suggest checking it out, she really has some cool stuff.

SeaFlame Studo

I managed to be the third car not to get on the ferry back to Vancouver, not exactly the afternoon I was hoping for, but I got a nice nap in the back of the car. The big positive to missing the ferry is the 7:20 ferry, at least at this time of year, has by far, the most magnificent views you could ask for, with perfect lighting and with the sunset.

After about an hour of lost aimless driving, I managed to make it back to Jess’ apartment, and was greeted with a delicious dinner and beer. In the morning I headed back down to Washington to begin making preparations for my trip. A brief stop at REI left me with some new gear to help me along the way and a cargo box for the roof of my car. I even rigged up some bungee chords to the roof to secure my guitar and keep it out of the way. The one thing I was unable to find, and I’m not sure if it exists, was a mosquito net for my car windows. What I would like to be able to do is roll my rear windows down at night for fresh air and breeze, but keep all the bugs out. I figured a magnetic mosquito netting would do the trick, but no such thing seems to exist.

Tomorrow I am going on a century ride (a 100 mile bike ride) with my friend Don, who I haven’t seen in quite a while. After that, only a few more days in town, then I am off to start my new adventure.


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