Soggy Seattle

February 04, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

At last, I arrive in sunny Seattle! Oh wait, not sunny, I meant soggy. Soggy Seattle. And boy, was getting here an adventure.

I got out of Missouri just fine, and found a nice little state park in Iowa to spend the night at, except that Iowa apparently makes their county roads out of brown sugar, and when the sun made a brief appearance earlier that day, enough snow melted to make the van sink and slide like a trombone glissando. I barely got out of there and ended up sleeping in the van in a hiking trail parking lot.

Day two I got across South Dakota without incident, and bought a week pass to the Badlands. I've been to El Malpais in New Mexico, which is mostly volcanic rock and quite a bit more desolate, but one sign at The Badlands claims it's “The Definitive Badlands”, so what do I know. On the drive to the campsite I saw deer, bighorn sheep, jackrabbit, prairie dog, and bison. I've camped in the cold before, but 15 degrees Fahrenheit is pushing the limits of my sleeping bag, so I just piled on layers and dealt with it. The tent was covered in ice when I woke up, and I forgot to spread it out in the van to dry while I was hiking. When I got it back out the next evening, all the water droplets refroze before I even had the poles set up. The coyote packs yipped back and forth at each other all night, and the bison were grazing just across the creek.

There is a peculiar mood I get in every time I visit a desert. When a place is so inhospitable that you feel like every plant, animal, and even the terrain wants to hurt you, I always feel more alive, or at least aware of being alive. I love the green mountains here in the northwest, but I could be just as happy in the sand of New Mexico, where I first experienced that sensation.

After surviving the Badlands, I went on to Missoula. I was going to spend the night in Lolo National Forest, but it was under several feet of snow, which I would like to thank Shane and his two dogs for helping me get the van unstuck from. Another night spent in a parking lot.

I took care of some errands in Missoula, got gas (this is important), and drove through the snowy mountain passes of Idaho. I was racing the snow at this point, and barely winning, so it was an exciting few hours of driving. I got through that and splurged on a cheap motel room in Spokane so I could sit somewhere warm to edit the Badlands photos I'd taken. In the morning, I checked all the van fluids, saw that I had ¾ of a tank of gas left, and headed out for Seattle. It finally occurred to me that Missoula to Spokane was pretty far to have only burned a quarter tank, about three minutes before the van quit, right at the top of Snoqualmie Pass. Luckily there was a snow plow right behind me, and he hauled me, my gas can, and my shame to the depot, where another driver trucked me to the only gas station on the mountain, and then back to my car. Thanks guys!

So, soggy Seattle at last. This place is bonkers. It's going to be fun shooting in the mountains here, and even though the city is huge, it doesn't feel crazy like most of the big Midwest and east coast cities do. I'm looking forward to exploring the neighboring cities and picking one to live in. Redmond looks nice.   


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