Dispatches From The Street: Washington State Metropolis
Saturday August 19-20th.
What a day. After being dropped off by our friend Chris, we were back on the road, and it was a hot day! We were stuck in the middle of the Washington state tri-city area, a grim reality that wouldn’t completely sink in until it was in the rear view mirror. After spending hours hiking through the suburbs, we realized that one does not simply walk out of the tri-city area. So, we waited at the bus stop, and told the bus driver we were down to our last few dollars, and he said just go ahead and get on, the only person to help us out all day! It was a small act of kindness, but we were extremely grateful. We took the bus towards a Love’s truck stop, where we thought salvation would lie. We ended up missing our stop and had to walk a few miles backtracking through another industrial wasteland. At least on the walk there was a near lunar eclipse! The moon was radiating an orange glow, it was massive and it illuminated the sky, giving us front row seats to an extraordinary experience.
We didn’t arrive at the truck stop til about 10pm, and thus we were unable to find a ride out, but we did find two bottles of expensive wine across the street that a trucker had apparently opened and didn't enjoy the taste of. They were dark red, but free is free and it wasn’t cheap wine, lucky for us! So, we walked into the forest near the truck stop and laid our blankets down. After setting up, a man walks up from the darkness and says hello. A bit freaked out, our defense systems were activated. The man comes over to check to see who we are, because apparently we just set up on the front lawn of his homebum house. He was a totally cool and reasonable dude who said he had been traveling and staying outside in the area for a few years now. He was just checking to make sure we weren't his ‘crazy ex’, and once he realized we weren't causing drama or bringing the cops, all was good. We shared a bowl of tobacco and when he realized we had no papers, he gave us a package of them as a gift.
We slept, and it was a little chilly and wet at 4 AM. so we huddled together and wrapped up in the blankets we had and survived till sunrise. We got up, left one bottle of wine and some crackers a friend gave us with a note to the man letting him know we appreciated his hospitality and gift. we departed on our merry way to ask a trucker for a ride out of the area.
One of the truckers we talked to about jobs, life, and politics ended up kicking down 40 dollars. Sweet! We had three dollars to our name collectively, and a fortune cookie recently fortold that we would see a change in our financial situation for the better, looks like fortune cookies really are magic! Unfortunately, we did not find a ride during our few hours, and we're not ones for waiting around, so we went with the most reliable form of transportation - our legs.
After leaving the truck stop we spent eight bucks on a local taco truck veggie burrito with all the fixins’, Spanish rice, home-cooked refried beans, and to top it off - sautéed mushrooms, bell peppers, onions, and a bit of the spiciest salsa they had. It was exactly what we needed to fill our bellies. We hadn't eaten anything but snacks like this since we left our friends house and this burrito reminded me of a burrito from The Mission - cheap & huge. We had a nice talk with the lady who was running it, and when we asked her about the cheese and sour cream she asked if we were vegan, and then told us that her fourteen year old daughter was trying really hard to be vegan right now, even telling her friends that she couldn’t buy makeup that exploited or tested on animals, telling her friends “How would you like it if they tested it on you?.” It was a great breakfast and start to our day, and we were ready to GTFO.
So we jumped on a bus and took it towards Tacoma, city ⅔ in the tri-city area. This is when the bus system’s flaws, or deliberate attempts to segregate neighborhoods, became apparent. The first bus we were on took us just down the road, and they stopped giving out transfers a few years ago, so unless you pay for an all-day pass, you have to pay every time you enter the bus, and the bus system is fragmented to, what seemed to us, deliberately bleed people dry, keep poor people out of certain places, and extort anyone using a system that should be a public service, but seems more like a tax. So after the first bus ride, a security guard tried to be helpful and get me to Olympia, the final city before we were free of the metropolis, but after giving me a free one way ticket, ended up doing more harm than good because the bus he sent me towards did not run on the weekend. After realizing this, it became pretty frustrating, and our mood was pretty sour as we started our walk across the city during the hottest part of the day.
As we walked, it became apparent that we were in military territory, specifically this time around was the United States Air Force, which was a decent outlet for some venting. We asked one lady if dropping bombs on children was worth the pay, she smiled and replied with a perky “yep”, we felt the taste of ash in our mouth at those words. What a murderous, nazi, scum. She didn’t even have any shame or denials, just the smile of a totalitarian butcher. Maybe they're extremely uninformed about the reality of the situation, or maybe they're sick people deep down.
The walk was long and urban. We talked to a homeless older black guy who was trying to better himself by going into the army. He was from Louisiana, and he shared some similar views. We talked about what the hell seemed wrong with the people in this area, we agreed it was the drugs and the money. People are either addicted to drugs and down and out, or obsessed with money and the pursuit of profit, and scared shitless of the drug addicts. We talked about the midwest and the South. Their style of hospitality is much more compassionate. He agreed and that even in Louisiana “you have 2% of assholes, but the hospitality is like nothing you’ll find out here” He had recently moved out here and tried to make a better life for himself and be near his family, but was frustrated that he couldn’t find a stable place to sleep at night. He said that he liked to smoke weed to chill himself out because alcohol made him violent, and thought it was legal here and nobody cared, but he recently got kicked out of the army because he didn’t tell them about it. He was understandably upset because for him, it was the alcohol that made him do stupid things and get into trouble, and it’s acceptable to drink, but if you smoke weed to chill out or deal with the shit life throws at you, even in Washington where it's legal, it's not on the federal level and they drug test. Funny how cocaine, which is illegal everywhere, supposedly stay in your system for three days - plenty of time to party, yet one drag of cannabis can be found in your fat cells for up to a week, depending on your usage level.
The walk was taxing, it was hot, there were inclines, and it was a four mile urban hike. As we climbed the final hill however, we were greeted by something that made all the days problems fade away, The Cannabis Oasis, and they were having a sale! First time either of us had ever seen a gram of outdoor grown, organic cannabis for five dollars a gram. After that revitalizing stop, we had the capability to continue, and gave hitchhiking another go, but it was just mall traffic, people going back and forth from buying junk they don't really need.
We got to our final bus stop, and this one actually ran on the weekends! Major win for us, and it was worth sitting there waiting for an hour for the bus to arrive. It was an hour ride, which gave us time to relax a bit and when we arrived, it was clear as day that this was the final stop in the tri-city area.
As soon as we got off the bus, across the street from us we saw a line of homeless people waiting in line for some hotdogs and chili, it kind of threw us off our game…. people feeding the homeless here instead of looking down and shaming them? We then walked onto the main street, and there were people with backpacks everywhere, and the people in town looked like a bunch of hippies, with a sprinkle of bourgeoisie mixed in.
As we walked we saw in the window of a clothing store, written in paint DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG. It seemed like this was the place where all of the cool people had been pushed, and it was a breath of fresh air. There was even an environment again! A bay to watch the sunset, a swamp lake and vast amounts of forest. The interstate signs indicated next stop, Portland. We recharged our bodies’ batteries with some local fruit and some bomb deli food. We then walked a few more miles to the edge of town to find a place to sleep, knowing that when we woke up, Portland would soon be within reach.