A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.


I rolled into Seattle Sunday, the 19th (my brother Bob's birthday). I’ve got another cousin, Joy, who lives in this area with her boyfriend Amos. After phoning and not getting ahold of Amos, I decided to give Jeanie and Nor a call. Their names were on my list of people to see that Mom had given me. The last time I had talked to Mom, I had to ask her who these people were. It turns out that Jeanie lived in the house next door to where my Mom grew up. Right—sounds like a good reason for me to stop in and say hi, doesn’t it?!

But Mom said that really should. So I did. They were real nice. We talked about a lot of things and Norman marked up my map of Seattle, showing me all the places to go. He was a big help. I made a couple of phone calls while I was there: one to Dad’s to say Happy Birthday to Bob, but he wasn’t there! Dad was glad to hear from me and told me to check in more. Then I called up Kerin’s mom, back in MN, to say hi. I hadn’t called her house yet while on my trip, so I called collect to see if she’d accept it. She didn’t. I ended up calling her direct (that was nice of Jeanie) and she said she didn’t accept because the operator mispronounced my name so bad she didn’t know who was calling. She said she was glad I called. I told her I was making “new tapes.” She was surprised to hear I had stayed at Kerin’s for a whole week.

I ended up eating chili that evening with Jeanie, Nor, their youngest daughter, and her boyfriend. Then after a nice shower, I slept out front in the van.

Brochure photos from the ferry that took Old Blue and me from Seattle, across Puget Sound, to the Olympic Penninsula

Brochure photos from the ferry that took Old Blue and me from Seattle, across Puget Sound, to the Olympic Penninsula


Seattle is a nice city. Following Nor’s guide, I saw their beaches, docks, locks, marketplace, water front, and the Space Needle! I talked to some bums, tourists, and a couple of Seattle folks (and some punks). I parked the van in downtown, after some frustrating transmission problems, and wandered around the shops on the waterfront and the Pike St. Market with a multitude of people of all types: rich, poor, tourists, street musicians, and merchants. I guess it goes on for 8 or 9 months of the year, with everything from fish to crafts, books, posters, T-shirts, weird seafood, fruits and veggies, etc., etc. They are building a new skyscraper that will be the tallest west of Chicago. Looking at the map of the city, I see that there is, of course, a lot more to have seen.

But, after trying again to get ahold of Amos, I decided to leave town. It was getting towards sunset and I didn‘t want to sleep in town. I could have headed for the suburbs and hung around another day, but I was itching to be moving. Everything seems to cost money in a big city. I was also anxious to take a ride on a ferryboat. Seattle has a lot of ferries that go back and forth across Puget Sound all day and half the night. A lot of people commute to work every day this way, with or without their cars. So I paid my $5, and me and Blue hopped on a ferry! I talked with a guy parked behind me and asked if there was anything I should know about this ferry business. He said no, but added that I was lucky to have missed rush hour. We went to the upper deck and outside the back end to watch the city drift away. He pointed out and named all the mountain peaks you could see from there. We went back in and he marked up my map of the Olympian Peninsula with things I should see. And so, me and Old Blue went sailing!

Posted by VANagain 11:25 Comments (4)

Reached the Ocean

All right!! Time to get my ass in gear. I’ve got to get caught up on this journal. Enough of this writing about stuff that happened a few days ago. Weather wise, all the folks from Seattle on down the Washington coast have been talking about how wonderful of a summer they’ve been having. Yup, the best in the last 20 years. Hardly any rain, which is rare. (I thought the winter was their rainy season.) And hot! It’s been in the 80’s! They call that hot! I guess Seattle’s weather is generally moderate, not too cold in the winter (sometimes below freezing) and not too hot in summer.

A funny thing: in Washington state, they go to the trouble to glue a little yellow reflector in between every “dash” of the yellow dotted line down the center of the highways. And occasionally a few white ones along the sides of the particularly curvy roads. That’s a lot of reflectors! Yeah, I thought that was something—until I got to Oregon. Then they started mashing a groove or a slot about an inch-and-a-half deep in the pavement to put these little reflectors in. That way they don’t go “galump” so much when you run over them. Neat.

Sunset, Olympic Mountains seen from Lake Crescent, Washington

Sunset, Olympic Mountains seen from Lake Crescent, Washington

Anyhow, to get caught up, I traveled around the Olympic Peninsula until I hit the ocean. You can't really drive through the Olympic National Park/Forest much because they are keeping it as much as it has always been. Natural, ya know. But I went up Hurricane Ridge and got a great look at most of the Olympic peaks.

Halfway up Hurricane Ridge

Halfway up Hurricane Ridge

Olympic Mountains as seen atop Hurricane Ridge

Olympic Mountains as seen atop Hurricane Ridge

Olympic National Forest, Washington

Olympic National Forest, Washington


I’ve kinda slowed down the pace a bit since hitting the ocean. Trying to do some drawing and watercoloring. Also doing a bit of maintenance on the van.

First time I'd seen the ocean! Just north of Queets, Washington

First time I'd seen the ocean! Just north of Queets, Washington

I picked up a bicyclist tonight (8/24, Friday), who was hitchhiking. I had done that once before, in northern Colorado, because he was thumbing in late evening and knew he wouldn’t make it to town before late. I had had an interesting talk with him; I think he was from Washington going to Missouri to see his folks or something. It made me realize how luxurious I had it with my van. Anyhow, this guy tonight, Gary, was from Seattle and was headed back on a trip down to Arcata, California, and was running late. He had to be in Portland, Oregon, by 11:00, and it was about 8:00. He was very appreciative and offered to pay half the gas or buy me supper or something. We finally found a good tavern in downtown Portland with great hamburgers. Gary had been biking for a month and a half. He said he was anxious to see his wife again. She was very understanding, he admitted. When he turned to talk to the guy next to him, I asked the girl behind the bar if she would like to travel with me “to points unknown.” She didn’t think so. But the burgers and beer hit the spot. And Gary took care of the bill. I think he’d have been ahead money-wise to have bought the gas, but we had fun. I drove him to his destination down the road a ways and we talked for awhile. He gave me a number to call—a couple buddies in Hollywood, CA, to look up when I get there. And he gave me his address to keep in touch or stop by. Then I happened to show him my artwork and he was very impressed. And he came up with a brainstorm! Why not draw pictures of these people’s big camper-mobiles that are always surrounding me?! They’d love it and I’d make some money instead of just spending it all the time. I thanked Gary and drove off, anxious to try my new means to my end, so to speak...

My first ocean sunset. South of Queets, WA. (Site of RV cartoon)

My first ocean sunset. South of Queets, WA. (Site of RV cartoon)

Posted by VANagain 14:03 Comments (5)


So there I was in Portland, Oregon. What to do? Well, with this new scheme about drawing the campers in my head, I felt like I should do some work towards getting this going. So the first thing was to somehow frame this cartoon about the campers to hang on the side door of my van.


And then I’d have to do a good, bigger drawing of Old Blue to use as an example piece. I had started it:


I looked in the Yellow Pages to find a frame store, since my cartoon would not fit in a standard-sized frame (as usual, for my drawings). After calling and looking at a few stores, I ended up in one in Raleigh Hills, Oregon, at Chrisman’s Frames, 4711 Beaverton Hwy, because they could shrink-wrap it. It was kinda busy so I looked at some of the prints for sale and talked with a girl who was waiting for some guy to get done there. She was nice to talk to and told me about Portland and Oregon, about how art wasn’t real big there, and how Oregon’s government discourages anybody moving into the state or buying land on the coast. Then she left and I started taking with a woman that worked there, telling her what I wanted done. We talked only business, but I tried to come across as cheerful and friendly to her. Now, maybe it was the funny mood I was in after a strange dream I had the night before, but through the whole conversation, and the time I had to kill that afternoon until my framing was done, I felt compelled or convinced that I would/should get to know this woman. A strange sense of certainty had fallen over me, like I knew that I could do anything, with my optimism. Or maybe it was another of my strong “hunches” that I’d been following up on lately. But I knew I should get together with this person while I had the chance. With this in mind, I went back a couple hours later to get my picture, and tried to talk with her. But there were people waiting by the time I’d paid, and I ended up in the van, knowing I’d be sorry if I were to leave without at least mentioning my interest in her. The worst she can do is say no, and then I’ll never see her again, I told myself. And I had to ask her for some tape, anyhow, to hang the cartoon in the van. So in I went and asked her for the tape and followed her into the back room for it. It was tough but I managed to tell her I’d like to get together with her and chat after she got done working. She kept her composure, though she kind of slowed down—I think I kinda “threw her.” She didn’t say anything for a minute, and after I mentioned some reasons why, she must have made a decision. She wrote her first name and the store’s number on a piece of paper she’d cut. Marilyn. She said to call her before six and we’ll see what happens.

So, while waiting for 5:30 to roll around, I wondered if she would jump at this opportunity to meet someone new. I got to a pay phone later and called and asked her what she’d decided. She said she really had to have dinner with her sister that night and I told her I’d probably be gone in the morning. We then proceeded to have a weird conversation like I’d never had with anybody before. While we tried to work out a meeting, we sort of slipped into the type of talking I wanted to do all along (though not on the phone). We talked of how people act and feel when they meet a stranger, how I was drawing in the park today. She asked if I ever got lonely and told me how she had an attack of loneliness the day before. I just kept talking, and told her (after she mentioned her back aching) how I’d learned to give a good back rub. We finally decided that if I was in Portland the next day, I’d go talk to her at work. That night I got a good start on the picture of my van, planning to frame it the next day. I couldn’t keep my mind from thinking, fantasizing. Could I simply create a relationship by just setting up the situation, the opportunity? I even half-expected her to come see me in the park. But as it was, I nearly finished the drawing and went to her frame shop the next day.

She was working alone, that being Sunday, and after cutting a mat for me, we talked for about three hours. It was actually the situation I was looking for when I asked her out. We covered some real “philosophical-bullshit” (as my buddy Sean would put it): my “running on optimism,” her feelings on life in general. I really had a craving for this kind of conversation, but after a while I wondered if I wasn’t overstaying my welcome. It wasn’t that I was getting any bad vibes from her. I just wasn’t getting any good ones either. She acted interested in things about me, but I couldn’t tell if it was just for conversation’s sake.

She turned out to be another very busy person. Never enough time. I told her that all the people I find myself interested in seemed to be plagued with things to do (myself included). And she didn’t share my obsession with finding a relationship. She said they were a lot of work. I didn’t really know what to do. I felt as though I could’ve hung around indefinitely if she’d shown an amount of interest in getting close. Maybe she knew that. I didn’t know how to leave it with her. It seemed like we had made a big deal out of all this. Or maybe just I did. She ended up giving me her address and I said I’d stop in if I came by again. I gave her “one last chance to go along with me to points unknown.” She said she couldn’t for three years, until her daughter graduated. She followed me out to my van, into the first real hot day I’d had since hitting the coast. She commented on how good my van and her blue Volkswagen convertible looked together. I didn’t say the things I wanted to say. She touched me on the sleeve and said good-bye. Yeah, see ya.

She had told me to find a Sunday paper and read a story she had read that morning. It was very apropos. (I will attach the article to this post soon.)

Posted by VANagain 09:56 Comments (5)

Leaving Portland

Today was foggy and rainy by the coast, as was Sunday evening when I got back to the beach from Portland. Couldn’t even see the water. So I wrote Marilyn a letter with a painting of Ol’ Blue in the rain.

Click to see full-size:


Here is the story that was in the Sunday paper that day. Click to see full-size:


Posted by VANagain 15:03 Comments (1)

Hitchhikers in Pig Tails


While driving through the fogginess yesterday, I saw a young woman and her two daughters hitchhiking on Hwy 101 in Oregon. They looked pretty wet and had a lot of stuff with them. My split-second decision-making must be getting better, for I stopped right away. I figured my van might be one of the few vehicles able to carry the three of them and their bags. (I was also kind of appalled that no one else had picked them up, like maybe these old people in their giant motorhomes. I thought, what could be safer looking than three girls in pigtails!) I made some room in the back for their stuff and the kids, and opened the passenger door for the woman. She introduced herself and her girls after I told her my name. She was Sarah. All three of them were wearing dresses, and had long blond hair, braided. They were headed for Brookings, Oregon, to live. They’d come from a trip to Alaska, where they’d sold their Chevy to make their way back. She’d worked a couple of weeks in Seattle and got to Oregon. They wanted to settle in the country and become as self-sufficient as possible and had read that southern Oregon was to their liking. She had some interesting adventures to tell of her travels, and said she wished she didn’t have so many. She had a lot of ideas for making money when she finally settled, involving a lot of effort. She wasn’t afraid of hard work. In the last three years the longest they’d lived in one place was three months. She taught her children herself and felt it was best. When I asked her why they didn’t have pants on instead of dresses, since they were camping, she said that the Bible told that women were not to wear men’s clothes. I told her I wasn’t real up on the Bible and hadn’t read it. She said it was a good book.

We drove a long ways, they ate peanut butter sandwiches, and she’d periodically smile and show the girls where we were on the map. I didn’t really want to be going so far so fast so I stopped at a state park around six or seven, saying I had some things to catch up on and we’d leave in the morning. They set up their tent and ate another peanut butter sandwich. The kids had been very quiet and I’m not sure they liked me, and I was happy when they went to play with some other kids. Sarah shared a joint with me and we talked. She was also a quiet person but had a lot to say and we agreed on most things we talked about. The pot really hit me and I had to work hard at feeling normal. I finally went in the van to make supper and didn’t see them until morning. I really think good when I smoke pot, though. (She gave me a joint for later.) I thought about how entirely different the women I’d met on the trip were from each other. Totally different. I wanted to do some catching up on my paperwork but didn’t think I should write to Marilyn in that frame of mind. I did write the entry in this journal about her though.


This morning we headed out and I ended up letting them off in the city of Coo’s Bay. I told her I didn’t want to end up in California so soon and wanted to run around the Coo’s Bay area a bit. She was very easy going and just said fine. At least it was a nice day. I felt kind of bad about just dropping them there, but I figured I helped them quite a bit as it was. She’d thanked me many times for picking them up and did again now. I told her it was nice to have the company, and wished them luck.

Posted by VANagain 05:52 Comments (0)

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