After some weeks of recuperation and getting back into the swing of everyday life I’ve decided it was about time to write the final post of my trip. Many of you have been asking just what happened.. I was doing a pretty decent job at keeping the blog updated, and then, I was home. Trip over, no grand finale, no parting words, just an abrupt stop in updates. Well here’s the story, in all it’s rather bland glory:
My second day in Seattle I once again found myself playing tourist. The day started off rather early, meeting some fellow travelers that I had bumped into at the hostel the night before to embark on some more sight-seeing. We walked along the harbor to the Seattle Underground Tour, but arrived about 5 minutes too late and ended up having to wait an hour for the next tour to begin. We spent the hour wandering around the neighborhood not doing a whole lot of anything, and I stopped and got myself some Jimmy Johns, and tried to explain to my new Aussie, French, and German friends why I was so damn excited about a sandwhich (they apparently had never had Jimmy Johns and since none of them ventured to try it, didn’t really understand). After a bit more wandering and a delicious Vito sub, we went back to the tour office and got in line. [simage=312,320,n,right,] The tour itself was actually quite great. I never knew what a rich and interesting history Seattle had, and learned more about their past plumbing and sewage problems than anyone would ever care to know (at one point the sewage pipes, which were essentially wooden troughs, flowed downhill from the upper residential areas and were then hoisted above the street level where pedestrians would have to walk underneath them as they went about their days, needless to say creating quite a mess of things).
After the tour I lost track of my new-found friends and made may way down to the aquarium to see me some otters! ..and various other marine life. It’s funny how things that were so very interesting and exciting in your youth can seem rather mundane in your adult years. While a bit boring, the aquarium was still a nice way to kill a few hours. It was late afternoon at this point and I had another hour to kill before the evening harbor cruise I had planned on taking, so I headed back to the zig-zag cafe for another round of amazing cocktails. While enjoying an amazing Monte Carlo I overheard the woman next to me discussing a book she had written called “Thank you for firing me.” As I was on a bit of a soul-searching mission and trying to figure out what exactly I wanted to do with myself career wise, I decided to very bluntly inject myself into her conversation. She was a very pleasant woman in her early 50’s, and as it turns out had previously been living in San Diego. I chatted with her and her husband for a while, and came to find out that she had written this book after being fired from her previous job and relocating to North-Eastern Washington. She said it was the best thing that had every happened to her and suggest I read her book (which I still plan on doing).
After finishing my drink, I made my way down to the docks to board the ship for the evenings harbor cruise. The views from the boat were spectacular, and I met a very nice older couple who were visiting Seattle on vacation. After the cruise I decided to take a break from the heat and retreated to the movie theater down the street. I purchased a ticket for “Inception” and found a seat in the rather crowded theater. I should probably mention that at this point, after the stop at the zig-zag cafe, and the bar on the boat, I was 3 or 4 cocktails deep and was rather drunk, which is the LAST thing you want to be while watching this movie. After finishing the movie, I made my way back to the hostel and called it a night.
The next morning I awoke rather restless. I had been on the road for almost 2 weeks at this point, and had spent the last week of it playing tourist, which for some reason had seemed to really drain me. I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy taking in the sites, but the constant buzz of the city, sleeping in strange and rather uncomfortable places, and spending many hours by myself had taken its tole. After giving it some thought, I packed up my bags and decided to depart Seattle a day early and head to the Olympic Peninsula. I had a nice breakfast with my hostel buddies, packed up the car, and headed to the HUGE REI flagship store down the street, where I picked up some last minute supplies and spoke with a forest ranger about the best spots to camp. With a bit more confidence in the next leg of my trip I jumped back on the freeway and started heading toward the docks where I would catch a ferry over to the peninsule.
To this day I can’t say exactly what it was, but I couldn’t seem to shake this nagging feeling that it was time to go home. Maybe it was homesickness, perhaps loneliness, or maybe a combination of a slew of other things, but I made the last minute decisions to cut my trip short and come home. I was already on the 5-South, the highway that would take me straight South all the way from Seattle to San Diego. I drove 10 hours straight that day and made it all the way to the very Northern tip of California. I pulled into a Motel 6 at around 12AM, and after a hasty checkin, I grabbed a few things out of the car and headed up to my room. Sleep did not come easily that night. I awoke very suddenly around 3AM and just could not seem to get back to sleep. After fighting with it for an hour or so I got out of bed and made my way to the bathroom, the thought being that a nice hot shower might help wake me up and prepare me for the extremely long day I had ahead. I turned the shower on and went to pack up the few belongings I brought with me to the room just a few hours before. Upon returning to the bathroom I was rather surprised to find that instead of hot water coming from the shower, there was still icey cold streams pouring from its’ spout. After giving it a few more minutes I came to the unhappy realization that there was no hot water and I was just going to have to suck it up and jump into the freezing cold water. Let me just say, this was not the best way to start the day.
After managing to regain the feeling in my fingers and toes, I grabbed my stuff and made my way out into the darkness of the early morning. Immediately after closing my hotel door, I saw two men in the parking lot below smoking cigarettes. To describe them as two of the fattest, greasiest, red-neck looking guys I have ever seen just wouldn’t do them justice. They looked like something straight out of the move “Deliverance,” only they would have been the guys that weren’t picked for the movie because they were just too damn creepy. Anyways, I walked downstairs and past the men, trying to shake off the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I crossed the parking lot, threw my bags in the back of my car, and got into the drivers seat, locking the doors after me. I saw the men return to their room and close the door behind them, but I still couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. I put my head down for just a moment to fiddle with my IPod and try to find some music to keep me awake on the road. When I lifted my head, I was startled to see the two hillbillies standing directly beside my passenger door, one of them with his hand on the door handle trying to open it. I had already started the car, and immediately threw it into reverse, punching the gas and causing the tires to spin out in a loud squeal. It was at this point that I notice one of the men (who I had just seen smoking a cigarette not 5 minutes earlier) was holding an oxygen tank in his left hand. Both the men stared at me menacingly, and without a further seconds hesitation I put the car into drive and tore out of the parking lot.
It was some hours of driving down the dark and completely desolate highway before dawn came and I was able to shake off the very unsettling feeling that the mornings events had left me with. It was now nearing 8AM and I decided it was high time for a cup of coffee. I pulled off at the next town and found a Dutch Bros. Coffee, which I had grown to enjoy during my time in Oregon and Seattle. I pulled into the drive-through and was greeted by a very chipper young blonde who took my order and instructed me to pick a ticket from a bucket she was holding. After having her explain this process to me a second-time (the lack of sleep had left me in a bit of a blur and I didn’t quite grasp the concept of a raffle), I slid my hand into the bucket and drew a ticket. Upon examination, the ticket said “1 Free Medium Coffee,” which is precisely what I had ordered! The girl took the ticket and very excitedly handed my, now free, cup of coffee. I thanked her, and made my way back to the highway with a now hopeful outlook for the rest of the day.
I decided that the only way I was going to make it to San Diego by nightfall was to drive 150-200 mile stretches without stopping, then allow myself a 10 minute break to get gas, pickup some refreshments, and stretch my legs, and over the next 16 hours I did just that. I meandered my way through the rather uninteresting scenery that accompanies the stretch of Interstate 5 from the Northern tip of California to the South. As mentioned, I left the motel around 4AM and made it back to San Diego around 8PM. Needless to say, I was exhausted, but I was glad to be home. I do plan on going back to Washington and spending some time in the Olympic Peninsula as well as making way across and into Vancouver as previously planned, but I think that I will do a bit more planning beforehand. All in all the trip was amazing, and I officially caught the roadtrip bug again, and am already figuring out when I can plan my next trip!