Maps and travel plans

My life has become full of maps, maps, maps and more maps. I am frequently acclimating my sense of direction in new surroundings. Learning my way around Seattle (and Portland, previously) has involved a variety of navigational tests, including figuring out which streets are one-way, and in which direction (and riding the wrong way up/down quite a few); delighting in the discovery of empty alleys, paths and cuts to make my way around…

Downtown Seattle alleyway

learning that Seattle buses going past city lines won’t run on holidays; knowing west by the sight of the Puget Sound; mispronouncing Northwestern cities and streets: Anacortes (sounds like Anacortiss), Puyallup (Pew-al-ep); referencing (and doubting) Google Maps and transposing directions onto my right palm for easy reference while riding; learning to just ask cyclists instead; finding out where good food can be found (International District’s Saigon Deli for cheap banh mi sandwiches ($2.25); loving the ache and burn of pushing up the last 2 blocks (14th to 16th) to the Polo Mansion at the end of the day; learning the distance from Seattle to Spokane (320 miles) and Spokane to Pullman (WA) and Whitefish (MT) (260 miles); comparing bus and train rates and travel times (The bus ride from Spokane to Glacier Nat’l Park is both $10 more and 10 hours more time travelling); checking weather forecasts in other regions; scouring Craigslist for rideshare opportunities; and coordinating my adventures with polo schedules in every city along the way…and contemplating train hopping for a brief moment. Striving to remember place names and geographical relationships; cherishing the good weather and praying it lasts.

Up until this trip, I have been pretty much fully unfamiliar with the geography and climate of the Northwest, and of the midwest–which is where I am heading – at any time of year, and have been exposed only to regions where the weather in June is not typically 57 degrees (F) in the daytime (Seattle). Adjusting to the weather has meant layering up and investing in a windbreaker (Portland rain made this item an urgent necessity). And so far, that has been enough–I am hoping to fare well in the Montana mountains with my sleeping bag and tarp (aka “shelter”); the daily average temperature there is around 70. I expect it will be cooler if I make my way up into the mountains. I will feel it all out when I get closer.

One week ago I had no idea or yearning to head to anywhere in Montana, yet one sleepless wandering morning in Portland led me into Powell’s Books, where a book on hiking (“50 Places to Hike Before You Die”) piqued my interest–in Glacier National Park in particular–and a new destination was added to my route about the Northwest. Or perhaps 3 or 4 new destinations: I am stopping over in Spokane for about a half a day, and when I depart Glacier National, I hope to head out to Bozeman or Missoula–or both if the opportunity presents itself.

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Paradise is where the heart is

 

After 10 days of travel I feel healthier, happier and stronger. The nourishment of the soul proves much more substantial than the nourishment of the body. I find I am eating, drinking and smoking less, yet feeling much more full. Fulfilled, to be precise. Often, consumption is really just a form of compensation for what we truly lack – at least that is my perspective, and I am confident that it is true.

Needless to say, I am not yet a monk, or Buddha, and still require material nourishment. Particularly for climbing the graceful hills of Seattle. My best meal since leaving L.A. has been at a Sichuanese restuarantin the International District here. I shared a family-style meal with a few Seattle polo players and some friends of theirs, which worked out to a group of 7 and a veritable smorgasboard of the best Chinese food I have ever tasted.

Sichuanese Smorgasboard, photo by Max Davidoff

 

Also, yesterday was Folklife Fest part duex. I met a host of really rad people, including some crust punks from here, some train hoppers from SoCal and Mass., and a guy working on an art project in the Sonohomosh forest. Now I am off to the Woody Guthrie tribute set! Sorry for the brief post, I have enthralled with maps of the Northwest, planning my way east to Glacier National Park. Many more details & stories tonight/tomorrow!

Peace & Blessings ya’ll!

A Wanderin’

I have been away from L.A. for 10 days, soaking up the sights and sounds (and smells) of the lush, green Northwest. Cascadialand. It’s my first time “free” – free from time constraints, deadlines, destinations, obligations and expectations. Just out on my own, exploring and experiencing and meeting new people and playing bike polo in new places. My computer arrived in Seattle, at the Polo Mansion, yesterday – so now I am back online, and have been gathering photos and tidbits to share. Many of my photos still need editing, and I am eager to get back out to the Northwest Folklife Fest in downtown Seattle. I have been wandering and poloing in Seattle since Thursday afternoon, enjoying a mostly sunny city. The hills here are great fun to ride; as soon as we exited the freeway into the city I thought “these hills rival SF.” I haven’t figured out yet which city is hillier, but riding here is rewarding – either you’re cutting the wind as you fly down one, or you are reveling in the ache and burn, pushing upward. This is a city for clipless riders, and for front brakes. I have one, but not the other. Luckily there hasn’t been too much rain, but my first downhill ventures here were in the steady rain and a bit precarious, knowing my rear v-brake will only stop me so much. Nonetheless, I am eager to get out and ride again. It’s all downhill to downtown, so I will be back at Folklife in no time. So, for now I will leave you with a few snaps from the city and from hanging out at Folklife yesterday. I am so happy to have arrived in Seattle in time for this event.

P.S. Thanks so much Polo Mansion folks for putting me up. Unthank you Susie for trying to eat my face.

P.P.S. Retrospective posts of the last 10 days, etc. to come shortly!!

Cruising down Pine St. to downtown Seattle.

 

Folklife Fest - What it's all about

International Fountain: Teeming with life and auditory candy in every direction

Performer pics need to be edited and will be posted shortly.