July 18, 1997
Olympia, Washington, USA

After breakfast, I said good-bye to John and Linda, then caught the tidal current flooding into Gig Harbor. I rode it most of the way to Olympia. It was sunny and warm all day. At one point, I turned around, and to my amazement, discovered a snow-covered, 14,411 ft. high mountain, towering over the horizon. I had read about Mount Rainier in climbing magazines. It is often used as a warm-up for Mt. Everest. After seeing a hundred pictures of something, it’s neat to just look up and say "Wow... there it is! Imagine that...".

About eight miles before Olympia, I ran out of water, so I pulled my kayak up onto a small beach. At the closest house, I met a man named Roger who let me fill up my bottle at his outside tap. He asked "Where are you coming from?" and I told him "Vancouver". "Well, that’s quite a paddle!" he replied. "That’s just the beginning! I’m going all the way down to Nicaragua, then north to the east coast of Canada.". "No way!" he exclaimed, "You've got to come in and tell the wife."

Before long, I had a can of soda in one hand, and a slice of pizza in the other. "Well that’s quite an adventure you're on!" he said. "Tell me about you?" I inquired. "I bet you’ve had lots of great adventures in your life-time. Tell me your best."

Roger told me an awesome story about the time he and a bunch of professional treasure hunters dug for Spanish Gold in the Arizona Dessert. The back-ground of the story goes like this: A small Mexican town got raided 400 years ago by Spanish explorers. To keep the raiders from steeling their gold, the villagers threw it down a well. The town was destroyed and most of the villagers were massacred, but the gold remained in the well. One of those who had escaped, drew a map showing the well’s whereabouts, but the gold was never recovered. Many years later, the map was found, and placed on display in a museum in Mexico city - where it was then stolen by the treasure hunters who Roger was working for.

The map lead the treasure hunters to a place where their Geiger counter went crazy. They knew they had found the spot where the well used to be, but there was just one problem -- they were in a national park, where digging was prohibited. They went ahead with the digging anyway. They wore camouflage clothes and set up large camouflage canopies over their work area. Once they got to a certain depth, the ground around the sides of the hole would give way and fill the hole back in. To prevent this from happening, they started to line the walls with aluminum sheet metal. It worked and the walls stopped caving in. They worked night and day, until one day while Roger was digging at the bottom of the pit, the aluminum buckled and closed in on him. He was nearly buried alive, but somehow managed to escaped. Roger told me, "No amount of gold is worth dying for! And as far as I know... it is still there."

"That’s an amazing story Roger!" I said, "Do ya have another?" His second story was the funniest story I’ve ever heard in my whole life. He could hardly tell it without cracking up. It makes me laugh just thinking about it now as I write this. If you want to hear it, invite me to your place for dinner sometime and I’ll tell ya about it. Before I left Roger’s house, he gave me a business card with his phone number on it, and asked me to call him collect when I get to Nicaragua. I told him that I would, then paddled off toward Olympia.

The eight miles I paddled that evening, as the sun set and a full moon rose up, was the most enjoyable of my journey thus far. The water was oily smooth, and there wasn’t a sound coming from anywhere... except my mouth. I was singing as loud I could. So loud, that the people in their yachts moored half a mile away could hear me. The time flew by and I entered Olympia as the last ray of light sunk below the horizon. I had no idea where I was going to stay the night. However, I did know that there was a small park at the end of Capital Lake where I might be able to camp.

There was a carnival going on in Olympia so lots of people were walking on the streets. I asked the first two guys I saw to help me carry my kayak from the waters of Puget Sound over into Capital Lake, a distance of a few hundred feet. Ten minutes later, we had my boat with all the gear in it, across the portage. I then introduced myself and told them what I was doing. They introduced themselves as Adam and Larry. Adam was eighteen and Larry was around thirty.

I asked the two guys if there would be any problem with me camping in the park at the end of the lake. Adam said "There are a lot of gay men who like to hang out together down there at night!" I laughed, and replied, "That’s what they told me about a park in Seattle where I was going to camp. Why can’t gays have sex at home like everyone else?" Neither of them said anything. I wasn’t facing them when I said that, but when I had turned around, Larry was walking away. "What’s the matter with him?" I asked Adam, "Is he Gay?" "Yeah... he is." Adam replied. "Oh... Are you?" I asked. "Yeah... I am too." he replied. "Did I offend him?" "Don’t worry about it... He’s just being stupid!"

While Adam and I were talking, Larry squealed into a near-by parking lot in a fat white car. He didn’t get out. He just sat there with his headlights on us. Adam walked to the car and talked to Larry. I overheard a bit of their conversation: "Adam, he’s Homophobic! Can’t you see he doesn’t like fags!" As Adam started walking back toward me Larry hollered at him, " I can’t believe you are such a fag... ya big fag!!!" I found this very amusing - a fag calling a fag "a fag". Was he supposed to be insulted by that? Larry squealed off again in his fat white car. Adam walked back to me with his arms crossed, mumbling, "This is not happening! This sort of thing does not happen to me! I’m so glad I didn’t do anything with him!"

"Well, it’s 11pm, and I’m starving!" I said to Adam, "I’m going to cook up some noodles for supper. You’re more than welcome to join me." Adam then asked me if I would like to go out to eat. "Definitely!" I replied.

We walked into town and stopped at the first restaurant we found. As we ate seafood lasagna and Caesar salad, I asked him every question I ever had about gays. He told me that being gay was never a conscious decision for him, and that almost every gay man he has met has had a poor relationship with their father. After dinner, on our way back to my kayak, I asked him if he thought I was good looking. "Oh yeah, for sure." he said. "I was just curious..." I replied, "That is just one of those things I never thought I’d ask."

It was past 1am when we arrived back at my boat. I said "Thanx!" to Adam, then paddled off down the lake. With a full moon overhead, I could see perfectly. Near the end of the lake, I hauled my kayak into the reeds beside a small wharf, set up my tent, and hit the sack.

I woke up to a beautiful morning. After eating a few handfuls of dry granola, I walked up a path to a large house. I knocked on the door and an old lady answered. "Ma’am... would you mind if I used your phone?" I requested. I always ask if I can use the phone, because through experience, when I asked "Would you mind if I used your phone line to get my email?", most people were apprehensive. The lady let me in, and I did what I had to do. On my way out, I asked her if she knew where the park was located. She told me that she didn’t, but that her next door neighbor would.

A middle-aged man answered the door half asleep. "Can I help you?" he asked, staring through the screen. I must have looked like a door to door salesman. I had a stupid smile on my face and a big gray briefcase in my left hand. "The lady next thought you might be able to give me directions to the park." I replied. He opened the door, strolled out, and sat on the step. At the end of a hour-long conversation, Preston said to me, "I’ll drive ya to the Black River if you want." "I’ll tell you what you can do..." I replied, "Drive me to the Black River Canoe Company with a bunch of my gear. I’ll leave the gear there... and then I’ll come back here with you. "

Preston’s sixteen year old son, Avery, and his lesbian friend, Amanda, helped me carry my things from the kayak to Preston’s van. Amanda helped me take down my tent, and I had a chance to ask her about being a lesbian. "Are your parents okay with it?" I asked. "Oh yah..." she responded "my mom is bi..."

On our way back from the Black River, Preston generously took us out to eat at his favorite Mexican Restaurant. When we got back to the house, Preston, Amanda, and I went for a little paddle down Capital lake to see Fake Fair(that’s what they call the Lake Fair carnival). They canoed, and I took my kayak. On the way back from Fake Fair, I spotted a group of kayakers ahead of me, so I paddled hard and caught up to them. They were a family of five, on a guided moon-light paddle tour. The guide was an attractive young lady named Kate, who I found quite interesting. I joined the tour and continued on with them to Tumwater falls. I spent the night in Preston’s house.