one of the things that makes something epic is the scale or the significance of it. for me the reason this was an epic weekend was for both of those reasons, the scale of what i did was enormous. but the significance out ways the scale by far.
i had got into my car at 4:30 and i was on the road heading east to interstate 5 to head north, when i looked at the sky and saw one of the most glorious sunsets i have seen in some time, the clouds were a radiant pink and gold and you could not see the sun, but just the last rays of light before this side of the world was once again plunged into the dark night. as i drove i was speaking to kaitlin about my journey to orcas and what it meant. i had never been so far from home by myself, yes i had been to mexico, hawaii and canada before, and yes they are all much farther from my home then orcas island but, i had always been with other people on those trips. plus i wasn’t leading those expeditions. this, though this was novel, i was in charge of my destiny, if i got lost i would have to find my way with out anyone’s help. this was one of the strangest feelings i have ever felt both the thrill of a new adventure and the fear of the unknown. so i drove for two hours. exit 230 turn left at the light. highway 20.
as i drove east on highway 20 i saw on my left what appeared to be giant christmas trees with smoke coming out the tops. it turns out that what i actually saw was an oil refinery, turning alaskan oil into all sorts of petrol products. i arrived in anacortes around 7 stopped at the wallgreens got a cookie and went to the ferry. i could still turn around, but to have gone so far that would be silly, so i got my ticket parked my car got out went in the terminal and waited, the waiting wasn’t so bad i got to catch up on my reading which was nice. for some time i was the only person in the building except for a women who was cleaning, and then this kid walked in. couldn’t have been older then 20, wearing a snow cap low to almost cover his eyes, heavy jacket and an awkwardly shaped backpack. i sat and watched him shiftily mill about the terminal. i think there is a difference between the classical traveler and something else, when i think of the classical traveler he has a hiking pack with a tent and a sleeping bag, water, and certainly does not put off a strange and sketchy vibe. this fellow was not the classical traveler instead he gave off more of a drifter vibe. so i continued to listen to my music and read my book. because of my music i didn’t hear what he said the first time. "pardon?"
"do you drink beer?" the kid said.
once again some underage kid wants me to hook them up with beer, but i do indeed enjoy beer.
"yes." i replied.
"you want to go have some beers?" he inquired
now writing this down it seems like a completely innocuous question with the best of intentions, however, i did not want to have any alcohol in me when i went to visit my friend, that’s not why i said,
"no i’m good, thanks though."
the reason i said no was you should never go against your gut and my gut gave me a bad feeling. after that i waited a bit more and then got on the ferry.
their is something about being resourceful and cunning. on the ferry my cd player, yes i am still rocking it old school with the cd player, a nuisance but i am saving up for a new ipod, my cd player broke. its an older player with no anti shock or even a hold button so this is not too unusual. finally my first challenge whilst traveling, a minor inconvenience if i cant fix it but if i can, a moment of glory. so i popped out my knife and began to fiddle with it. in a about ten minutes i had fixed the problem and i decided to take a sleep. as i lay against my pack i heard the familiar jingle of my phone ring, it was cara, my friend who i was going to see on orcas island. apparently it was snowing and they couldn’t get down to the ferry,
she asked "could you get a ride up to the island market?"
"just ask anyone they'll know."
"ok, will do"
"is that ok?"
"are you kidding this just adds to the experience, the thrill, the adventure."
"ok well we will see you soon."
how am i going to get to a place i don’t even know, crap.
simple either ask for a ride or hoof it into town. so i did plan a, ask for a ride. sitting next to me was a couple probably in their late fifties playing some sort of card game.
"are you guys going to orcas?"
"ya." the man with the mustache and graying hair said.
"cool, do you guys live there?"
"no we just come up a lot." his wife said as she laid a card down.
at this point we had arrived at orcas island they were cleaning up their card game and were about to head to their car.
"hey could i ask a favor of you guys? could you give me a ride into town?"
now i realize that i probably seemed like the guy who wanted to have a beer with me, and that might be what prompted their answer, i don’t know. she said "Oh, i'm sorry we don’t give rides to hitch hikers."
it looked like i was going to have to get directions and walk, if i got lost no big deal i had my tent, i had my sleeping bag and pad, and i had water. no food but what’s a night without food? i could just set camp really anywhere and be good to go.
i began to walk when a car coming off the ferry stopped next to me, rolled down the window and a head popped out, sandy hair and a friendly face, the kind you know you can trust.
"do you need a ride?"
"ya that be great."
he was stopping traffic and this obviously perturbed the ferry worker so naturally he yelled at us. a few moments later i got into the car. it was a little five seater with several large planks of wood going from the back to the front, in the back seat was a hiking pack and a sleeping bag. he seemed to be a classical traveler.
"i'm alex" i said as i extend my hand.
zach, turned out to know cara's family, was a carpenter and had traveled all around central america, thailand and nepal. he once had dreads as well. we talked about his travels his dreads his carpentry work and music, he was me in a few years. it was snowing. he dropped me off at the island market. i called cara and she said she would be there soon. thinking ahead might be the best thing you can do when you travel that way you are not caught unprepared, so in that vein i had packed my snow pants. i pulled em out and put em on. as i waited i began to wonder if i was even on the right island. it turned out i was when an old white and red bronco drove up through the snowy parking lot, a girl jumped out and said "alex, your ride has arrived." so naturally i got in. in the car was cara, her friend lanie and lanie's dad. snow was falling fast and the road to cara’s was far too treacherous too drive down so we walked. i think having avoided walking for so long at this point i was excited to finally get to trek down to anywhere. once we got to cara's we had some dinner with her parents and then we watched flight of the conchords, our mutual friend erik joined us and then we all fell asleep. the next day we woke up had breakfast and played a weird question game, i’m not going to even joke here i love that game. after the games we walked slash had a snowball fight all the way to erik's. once we got to erik's house we did some sledding some snow surfing and i snow boarded for the first time. i think its because of all my time skate boarding and long boarding but i was awesome at snowboarding. after about an hour of that it was time to go to the ferry so we drove, as we drove i got to see the skate park and hear more about island life. island life is not like life here on the eastside, everyone knows everyone there, its a community not just a city or a town or a neighborhood. i tried toasted almonds in the car and i love them. i got to the ferry said my good byes and boarded my ship to return.
the trip home
i got on the ferry, i like to go out on the deck and watch as we leave shore, its important to me. when i came back in i was surprised but very pleased to see the couple that had said they couldn’t give me a ride was on this ferry, not only that but they were sitting once again right next to me. so i got back without problem to the mainland got in my car and began to drive home.
i was some where outside of mt vernon when it appeared the hood of my car was about to open. i pulled over to the side of the road, and began to investigate, it was not the hood but a large piece of plastic that was attached to it, i need some way of securing this so i took the next exit to a gas station, when i suddenly realized how hungry i was. oddly enough i had come in right next to the burgers so, naturaly i got a burger. the guy who sold it to me was quite the character, a handle bar mustache tattoos all the way up his arms, chubby and glasses. when he gave me my change he flipped the coin off the table top like you would in a drinking game. after purchasing some tape i fixed the car and drove home with out a single problem.
as i sit here and write this story of just one day i realize how much there is to do in this world, so much to see, so many people to meet, and if we dont leave our comfortable places and get out in the world you will never know these people, see these places, or have these experiences.