TERRIBLE HIPSTER TRIP PART 8: DRIVING DOWN THE 101
In the morning, we ate at Beth's, a twenty-four-hour cafe known for its omelets. And if Glacier was this year's Gettysburg, then Beth's was this year's Simon's. It really was an apt choice for breakfast, given that Beth's was voted Seattle's "Best Place to Cure a Hangover" and I had had my fair share of fun the previous night. I had held my own, given the fact that we'd just come from Glacier, that I'd just realized that my engagement would have to end, that I'd have to start all over and learn how to be myself, and how to be happy. As such, I had allowed myself a couple of shandies, as well as a serving of wine (which I had drunk from a flimsy, plastic motel room cup). And then there was the vodka concoction sipped from a plastic measuring cup--not because we were alcoholics, but because, according to Ty, it felt better than drinking out of a flimsy, plastic motel room cup.
It had been a strange night.
And, really, it was a strange morning as well, since Ty and I spent most of our time watching Zoë sketch a Tom Jones album cover.
"Oooohhhh, yeah," Ty said approvingly, nodding. Zoë had just finished outlining Tom's chest hair, his man rug.
Zoë paused, pulled her pencil away from the paper. "Well, if there's one thing I'm having problems with, it's ... the bulge." Her face pinked, her lips curved into a tight smile, and her shoulders shook with silent, embarrassed laughter. "My God. The bulge."
Ty and I threw our heads back with laughter, still not tiring of how often, and how much, we listened to Tom Jones and talked about Tom Jones. In fact, the frequency at which we had listened to Tom Jones on the first half of the trip was, in short, the reason why Tom Jones became our unfortunate symbol of camaraderie. "Because Tom Jones," became our answer to any question beginning with the word "why." Tom Jones became the filler musician whenever Zoë and I failed to answer the question, "What do you want to listen to?" It was all about Tom Jones, which is probably what Tom Jones personally would've wanted, anyway. "Ooooh, Tom," became a terrible, suggestive, and hilarious exclamation. Oh, Tom. Tom Jones. Tom. Tom. Tom. Finally, in one of the national parks, it had driven Zoë to near madness, who yelled from the backseat, "If Tom Jones is our Paris, drive off this bridge ... NOW."
And so, it was only fitting that--in a cafe whose walls were layered with drawings and sketches and proclamations--that we add one of our one: a tribute to Tom Jones.
Later that morning, we headed north, to Vancouver. We had spent not even 24 hours in Seattle, and we were in Vancouver for even less than that. And the trend continued; we spent only a few hours in Portland before turning east and driving back to Indiana.
The jaunt up to Vancouver was short; we drove around the city a bit, commented on the presence of both skyscrapers and mountains in the same backdrop. We visited the totem poles in Stanley Park, stared at the harbor and at the lapping water. We stopped at a Tim Horton's for coffee and for freshening up, and encountered both a rogue soap dispenser and an accosting homeless woman within a few minutes of each other. Otherwise, downtown Vancouver seemed pricey, classy, and certainly out of my league. It wasn't until we were settled into our hotel that I felt a bit more at ease. Dinner, too, was nice; we dined at a nearby African-Indian fusion restaurant. After over-stuffing ourselves, we spent the evening relaxing "at home," watching Casablanca. (Well, Zoë and I watched Casablanca, anyway. A third of the way through the movie, Ty decided to abandon the classic film and take a shower. Blasphemy.)
From Vancouver, we drove to Portland. Unlike last year, the border crossing was uneventful, uncomplicated. The three of us had kept mostly to ourselves; we were lost in books, phones, or thoughts. I checked my accounts, my messages, and the insignificant social media messes that dictate society's adventures and self-esteem. After the emotional turmoil I had experienced the last couple of days, I was finally at peace. "Dirty Paws," my favorite Of Monsters and Men song, was playing, and I was sitting, cross-legged, in the front seat. Reading an article on my phone. And I was in the company of two people whom I trusted without question.
I hadn't felt that calm, that at peace--especially with myself--for months.
In Washington, we detoured to the beach. We couldn't pass up wading into Pacific Ocean if we were only two miles from shore. We drove straight onto the sand, into a world of gray mist. You couldn't see the horizon, you couldn't see the water. There was not, as Zoë had been expecting, a "seamless union of sky and water." It was foggy, dense, damp. The car was cloaked with white clouds, and it was nearly impossible to spot it once the sea was lapping at our toes. All the same, I marched into the frigid water, my dress wrapping around my knees. "THIS FOR YOU, ZOË!" I yelled over my shoulder. "You wanted me to be one with nature! This is me. This is nature. THIS IS FOR YOU!"
Unless you count the pit stop on the Washington side of the Columbia River*, we detoured from the highway just once more. We took a drive through Aberdeen, which is the hometown of Kurt Cobain. (The sign welcoming visitors to the city states, "Come As You Are.") The city itself was interesting. It was a coastal town with a rural feel. A good-enough sized place to live, true, but many of the homes were small, worn from time and salty air. We ventured up the bluffs to find a view of the harbor but, instead, encountered deer, a family of four.
And Portland? The few hours we spent there allow me only a few words: breakfast, Powell's books, flannel.
* You really should count the pit stop on the Washington side of the Columbia River, and for two reasons: 1) The location itself was called "Dismal Nitch," and 2) upon re-entering the car, we couldn't get it started. The gas tank was so low that it took a good three minutes before the car started. We were still anxious and talking VERY LOUDLY as we crossed the Columbia River, as the bridge was tall, wide, and encompassed by fog. It was creepy as hell, and we insisted that we were all going to die.**
** We didn't. We successfully crossed the River into Astoria, Oregon, where we encountered our first full-service gas station (with free cookies, to boot).
Catch up with the rest of the trip:
Part 1: Henry Doorly Zoo
Part 2: The Badlands, Feat. Kitschy South Dakota
Part 3: On the Way to Billings
Part 4: The Tetons
Part 5: Yellowstone
Part 6: Glacier National Park
Part 7: Washington, Seattle & All of That