In August I made good on a promise I made to myself about a decade ago to do something BIG during my 39th year. A celebration of life, as it were – and an acknowledgement of my birth mother, who had passed away during hers.
The opportunity came, ironically, courtesy of 3.0, who I’d (platonically) gotten back in contact with in mid-2021. He was living in Seattle now and assured me that this was a place I’d love to visit. Truthfully I’d only ever thought of Seattle as a place where all the bands and musicians seemed to spring from in the 1990s, along with a reputation for a lot of rain and depression. But 3.0 spun this as a place where nerds congregate, where cider is plentiful, and assured me that I’d really like it. And with further promise of having a spare room to sleep in, plus a plane ticket that was fully financed, I decided I didn’t have anything to lose.
Certainly it was a completely different environment than what I was used to. Mt. Rainier greeted me as soon as my plane landed… of course I’d seen mountains before, but nothing as tall as Rainier (and never any mountains that were covered in snow – when it wasn’t the middle of winter). A day trip to that area had me in complete awe as I stood at the base of it, musing that trying to climb that thing to the top (the way that some people were doing as they were unloading their backpacks from their cars) would take much more physical training than I had the means to put in. Nevertheless, we did a little bit of hiking, up the trail to the base camp, so I did get to see some of it.
Another day sent us to the Pacific Ocean – Rialto Beach – which, again, was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was lined by trees that had been cut down, creating a barrier between the beach and the parking lot, and there was no sand on the shore – only rocks (of which I collected several to take home – and one larger one to send to my mother, who is an avid rock collector). The waves were large, and people were trying to surf. It wasn’t at all like the Florida beaches that I know so well… certainly there were people there, and it was crowded, but it was “sweater weather” even in August, and though the sun was out, it provided almost no warmth. Further, rather than being a flat, endless scape of water that stretches as far as the eye can see, it was sprinkled with cliffs and rock formations that jutted far out – breaking the view, providing a little more depth, giving the eye something to focus on.
Having not been at the edge of an ocean in close to a full year (ANY ocean), it was nice to hear the waves again – and fun to acknowledge that, within a year’s time, I’d gone from south to north, east to west, coast to coast… Gulf (Florida) to Atlantic (New York), to Pacific (Washington). While we were at it, we drove by Mt. Olympus, and visited the Hoh Rainforest as well… and… well… yet again, my mind was blown. The trees there were taller than I ever could have imagined… the water clearer than I’d ever seen (except maybe in Puerto Rico, but this wasn’t salt water). And the root systems intertwined in some places, so tightly that you couldn’t tell which system belonged to which tree. I could have stayed there for days, I think, happily hiking and camping… but 3.0 is not a hiker and, well, he was my ride so in a lot of ways, at least in that regard, it wasn’t up to me.
On the third day we stayed in the city and he took me to MoPoP, the Museum of Pop Culture. I spent hours looking at all the movie memorabilia – Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Dracula, The Addams Family… truly I could have lived in there. The top floor had a Pink Floyd exhibit happening right then, and it was fun to peruse that as well – though of course neither of us had known about it when we went… it wasn’t like with NYC when I went especially to see Holbein. This was an added bonus.
And of course I’d be remiss if I didn’t recount the VR experience I had… 3.0 has a VR system. And I got to try it on, and play with it for a bit. Mostly on Google Maps… which… honestly… was maybe just as mindblowing as anything else. Imagine, standing in someone’s living room, you’ve got this headset on and these controls, and then you’re putting in an address and you go into street view. Suddenly you’re standing RIGHT THERE… staring at your house… or your parents’ house… or places you haven’t visited in years… it’s so real, and it’s so accessible that it’s like you could touch it. He told me that Skyrim is amazing on that thing – but also very scary, since the scene in the beginning when you’re nearly beheaded is really real looking. I didn’t get to play that… I really wish I had, because I think that would have been the coolest thing ever, but I didn’t want to make him watch me nerd out to VR games half the time, so I thought it would be best to just get a set of my own.
That said, that purchase is still years away for me… unless the cost comes down. Despite the fact that my computer is 100% VR ready and if I had the technology, I could do this tomorrow. Oh well… there are other adventures that take precedence to that. Plus debt payoff. Which is always a priority right now. (I know, those two things don’t really mix well, but somehow I’m making it work.)
Despite what happened after (and there’ll be a blog about that soon), I am glad I visited. I got to see a part of the country that was completely foreign to me and got to try some new flavors of cider. It’s not a place I want to live – and while I might visit again, it’s not even in my top 10 list of places to return to (but again, that might largely be due to what happened after), but I got to cross it off my list, and that’s what matters.