We went to Washington this summer and met up with my parents, my sisters and their families, so there was a big flock of us invading the Pacific Northwest. We were in Seattle for the first couple of days, and if you haven't been, you really should. There are San Franciso-ish hills everywhere, though, which make my kids constantly mutter in the background "can't we drive?", make the native's calves look like gigantic sinewy drumsticks, and force the overweight tourists to settle into the lowest points of the city. (To be honest, I found myself in a mass of tourists on Alaskan Way who were exhausted and trapped at the bottom of a hill... I completely sympathized with their predicament, and only decided to move on when they began to discuss forming their own government and permanently settling there so they wouldn't have to climb back up into the heart of the city) But it's an amazing place... beautiful, vibrant, caffeinated, and the constant winter rain seems to have weeded out all of the people who are high maintenance, which is awesome.
Oh, and they throw fish. I know this is a touristy thing to watch, and Seattle residents who've seen enough airborne sea life to last a lifetime shop at other places, but I find it relaxing. Matter of fact, if I had the money I would buy a nice comfy lawn chair, sit in the back yard all day, and pay people to toss fish back and forth. I don't even think I would need cocktails, just the gentle breeze and slapping sound of haddock being tossed back and forth would be enough to lull me into a peaceful afternoon slumber.
In the middle of the week we went to stay at La Push for a few days, and since its such a long drive out, made some cool stops along the way - some scenic overlooks, a little fishing/lumber town, and best of all, a raspberry and lavender farm.
And best of all, a raspberry and lavender farm. I'll pause to let that sink in.
"But Joe, how can that be?" you might ask. You know what? I don't know, it just is. There is something about standing next to a wheat field, sun-warmed raspberry that didn't make it into the bucket in my mouth, with a subtle hint of lavender in the air that is pure, unadulterated decadence.
La Push was amazing too... once I got past the temperature of the sea, which the Quileute Tribe actually measures in kelvin. The first day we wandered from our cabin all the way down the beach to the first jetty, and next to an abandoned fire pit someone had written "La Push - discovering solitude" in ash on a tree trunk that had washed up on shore. It was goofy, I'll admit, and I'm sure would make perfect sense when you're stoned - but it was close enough to right that I just let it sink in. It's the sort of place that man makes sacred.
And there were cousins, which was great, because when they're together it seems like they have a plan - some sort of unspoken, fluid hierarchy that keeps them happily moving from one project to the next. Oh, and they exhaust each other, and any day that makes you sleep like the dead when it's over is a good one.
Back in Seattle at the end of the week, I caught something and felt absolutely awful. It's been a long time since I've been sick with anything, and I almost forgot how crappy it is. Aside from the painful congested sinus, ear popping flight home though, I wouldn't have changed much about the trip... It's funny, I forget how different we all are, and how much we're the same.
Ah, shit, that's what I should have written in ash on that tree trunk...