July 11, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
The next morning, Vicki and Dugan took off early and left me alone in their home
to leave when I pleased. I left Clinton at 10am and paddled non-stop until I reached
Seattle at 4:30pm, covering a distance of more than 35km. At one point along the way, the
water was so clear, I could see 20 feet to the bottom. It was very entertaining. I saw
several schools of fish pass under me, as well as a whole bunch of something that
resembled clay pots.
To get to downtown Seattle, I had to go through the lift locks - a first time experience
for me. It was quite amusing. There were many curious on-lookers observing me among the
other far larger vessels, as we ascended from sea level.
A few minutes after exiting the locks, I caught a glimpse of a kayaker heading toward Lake
Union. When I caught up with him, I noticed he was using a rental boat. I followed him
back to the place where he rented his kayak. It was right on the water. I asked the people working there if they had any suggestions where I could stay the night. They couldnt think of any place, so I asked them if they thought it would be all right if I slept in the Arboretum - a public park. "I dont know if youd want to do that...", said a lady behind the counter, "A lot of young men like to hang-out there together after dark..."
"Do you have any other suggestions?" I asked.
"Theres a guy who owns another kayak rental shop a half-hour paddle away from here..." Another lady replied back, "He might let you stay there... Ill give him a call." A minute later, I got the thumbs up, and then headed off for the Agua Verde paddle club.
As I paddled across Lake Union, I observed shadows creeping across the towering skyscrapers, then turned my head to watch the sun drop behind the mass of houses to the west. I felt truly fortunate that I found a safe place to lay my head.
Fifteen minutes later, I pulled my kayak onto the dock at the Aqua
Verde Paddle Club. I asked a middle-aged man with short curly hair where I could find Bill,
and he replied, "I'm Bill. You must be MAX. Come on, lets haul your boat in". After stowing my kayak in his shop, Bill led me upstairs to a small empty room with a large window exhibiting a pleasant view of the Seattle waterfront. That is where I am now sitting as I type this. My bed is three old couch cushions. Life could be a lot worse. A lot worse!
July 12, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
This morning, Bill lent me his mountain bike and I headed off to check out an indoor rock climbing wall a few miles away. On my way there, I heard music as I approached Gas Works Park, and decided to see what was going on. There was a large gathering of people sitting on the grass, enjoying the sunshine, and listening to musicians playing on stage. When I noticed a juggler practicing his skills, I decided to hang around and check out the scene.
After introducing myself to the juggler, I asked him to teach me how to juggle four balls.
"Can you juggle two in one hand?", he asked.
"Sure.", I replied.
"Well then...", he said, "If you can juggle two balls in each hand - you can juggle four balls."
I tried, and found it very difficult. I can juggle three balls quite well, but 4 balls is a totally different technique. Before leaving home, I wrote down a list of goals that I want complete before arriving home again. Juggling four balls was one of them. I still have 2 years and 11 months to learn. Im quite sure it is possible.
I walked down toward where the bands were playing, and sat down to speak with an old man selling hash pipes on a blanket. He had a large gray beard, and was wearing a tie-died Grateful Dead T-shirt. I noticed he was leaning up against a ratty old backpack, so I asked him where he was going. "North, South, it doesnt matter." he answered. "I never tell anyone where Im going - they might want to follow me."
"Why would they want to do that?" I asked.
"People are attracted to those who have the answers." he replied.
We talked for a half-hour before I introduced myself. Usually people reply by telling me their name in return ...but he didnt. We talked for a little while longer, then I asked why he didnt tell me his name. He replied by saying, "Everything that you say and do up until you introduce yourself, is the first impression stage. After that, everything changes."
"So... What is your name?", I asked.
"My name is Two-Three." , he responded. "Most people have names other people are already using. I wanted a name that identified me as the individual that I am."
I asked Two-Three if he believes in God. He responded by telling me, "There is energy all around us. I believe in energy. Energy is what people are made of. Vampires on the other hand... live off the energy of people."
I stopped him there and asked, "Have you ever met a vampire?"
"Sure...", he nodded, "On occasion, they have tried to attack me while Im walking through the park at night."
"So... what happened?", I questioned.
"All they have to do is look you in the eyes..."
"What did the vampire do to you when it looked you in the eyes?"
"They cant do anything to me." said Two-Three, with total sincerity. "Im more powerful than they are."
Our conversation continued, and he went on to talk about magic. During the discussion, Two-Three pulled out a small leather purse, and gave me a little blue bead. "Thats a magic bead." he told me. "Looks like a normal bead I could buy in any store." I said. "Whats so magic about it?" He told me that there is magic in everything.
Sitting in a gaggle beside Two-Three was a small group of grungy young people selling hemp necklaces. I sat down with them, and asked each to tell me their story. They were all around my age and had been traveling between 2 & 3 years. They are currently on their way to Alaska in a Volkswagon van. Together, they make enough money to pay for gas by selling hemp jewelry. If they need to, they go to soup kitchens or food banks.
The first girl I spoke with owned the van, and her name was Dream. She, and the girl beside her had dirty dreadlocks, hairy armpits, and were making macrame necklaces with hemp twine. My conversation with them got interesting when they started talking about "The system". Our conversation was far too complicated for me to express in this journal, but, believe me... it was very interesting!
Sitting beside them was a seventeen year old girl named Dayva, with her fifteen month old little son, Sky. Dayva had just met the others at a Rainbow Gathering in Eugene, Oregon, only a week ago. As I chatted with Dayva, a guy I had spoken with an hour earlier, handed me my camera bag, and said, "You forgot this on my table." Stunned... I looked up at him speechless. I couldnt believe how careless I had been. Besides my $2000 camera, the bag also contained my passport, wallet with $500 in cash, my credit card, and all my other identifactation. Nothing was missing -- Thank God!
Next to Dayva was Moguly. Moguly is nineteen - the same age as me. He has been traveling for over two years, and has seen some pretty tough times... as well as a lot of good times. We are following parallel paths through life. I felt kinship in speaking with him.
After I had talked with each person in the group, I asked if I could
take their individual portraits. They didnt feel comfortable with that, so I stood
back and took a couple of shots of the group. A guy behind them got up, walked over to me,
and said "I told you earlier that I didnt want my picture taken." I
brought the camera down from my eye and backed away. "No problem, man." I
replied, "Dont worry about it... you arent in the photo at all." As
the mean-looking dude was sitting back down, I squeezed off another shot. Now he was mad.
He looked like he was going to beat the crap out of me so I didnt stick around to
find out . I grabbed my bike and split.
Earlier in the day, Chris, the juggler, and his wife, Maggie, invited me over to their
house for supper at 6:30pm. On my way to their house, I found a store called American
Music that sells musical instruments. I bought a harmonica for twelve bucks. Learning how to play the harmonica is also on my list of goals. In order to acheive anything, a person must first know what they want. Then, when they are certain, they must continusly remind themselves of it, until they have reached their goal. At this moment, I am not particularly interested in learning to how play the harmonica, but I do know there will be a time and place down the road. Maybe it will be in Baja with three amigos around a bon-fire. The point is... I have taken the first step to reach my goal. Even if I don't begin to learn the harmonica for many months, or even years, I will carry it as a reminder.
When I got to Chris and Maggies house, dinner was still being made, so I walked around their home, scanning the art work. As I was doing so, I noticed a photograph of the Dali Lama and asked Maggie about it. I dont recall her telling me that she had taken it , but she did go on to explain that she was a Buddhist. I had never spoken with a Buddhist about Buddhisim before, so I proceeded to ask her questions until I got a grasp of what being a Buddhist meant. When I asked her, "What do Buddhists think about Jesus?", she told me that they consider Jesus a Buddha - which is like a God, but more like just a good person.
On their fridge, I saw one of Gary Larsons, The Far Side comics, and stated, "This guy is a genius!"
Chris then remarked, "Did you know he lives here in Seattle?"
"Would you mind if I gave him a call?", I asked.
"Go for it..." he replied.
I opened up the phone book and there were six Gary Larsons. I called one after another - "Hello... Im looking for the Gary Larson who creates The Far Side comics. Would you happen to know where I could find him? OK... Sorry for bothering you." When I ran out of Gary Larsons, I decided to stop there. I really didnt think it was appropriate for me to disturb the fifteen G. Larsons.
For supper, we ate steak, and corn on the cob, with wine. During dinner we told jokes. Chris a told a good one. " Two cannibals were eating a clown for dinner..." said Chris, "then one of the cannibals, turns to the other and says... Dont you think this tastes kinda Funny?"
After dinner, I read to Maya, Maggies kindergarten-aged daughter, a book called, The Stinky Cheese Man, which is a twisted rendition of the classic The Ginger Bread Man. Maya has a rabbit that they call "Bunny", and lets it freely hop around the house. "Bunny" isnt its real name - they just call it that. The name Maya originally chose was too complicated. While I was reading to Maya, Bunny started clawing, and eating the rug beside me, then pooped on the floor as it hopped away. I thought it was pretty funny. I guess some animals are just harder than other to house-train.
When I finished reading to Maya, we all headed down to the local coffee house to watch Maggie and Chriss friend(and Mayas father), play bass and back-up vocals in a band. The audience consisted of Chris, Maggie, Maya, myself, and three others. After a few songs, I said goodbye to Chris and Maggie, then took off to check-out a place in Freemont where they show movies on the side of a building.
When I got there, the movie had already begun. Sitting directly in front of the projected image were approximately a hundred people in a roped-off area, who paid five bucks each. Sitting fifty feet away from the projected image, closer than the back row of most movie theaters, outside the roped-off area, were about the same amount people who had paid nothing to see the film. I thought it was very strange that anyone would pay if you could bring a lawn chair and see it for free. What was even more strange, is that the movie they had paid to watch, was Mortal Combat. To give you an idea of how stupid this movie is - its plot is derived from a Nintendo game. I didn't feel like wasting my time watching it, so I rode back to Agua Verde, and begun writing this journal.
It's way past my bed-time.
July 13, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
Today I discovered an amazing outdoor climbing wall on the University of Washington campus. It is by far the oldest, and yet one of the most impressive climbing wall I had ever seen. It is constructed with large slabs of concrete, with real rocks sticking out of the slabs. It also has long crack-like slots for hand jamming. I met a lot of other climbers, and spent the rest of the afternoon there doing boulder problems until dark.
At 10:45pm, I called a guy on the telephone, who I met on the internet a month ago. Our conversation just ended 15 minutes ago. It is now 1am. In that time, he has given me enough information about his life that I could write his biography. He didnt talk my ear off. I was genuinely interested. Tom had been abused as a child, and has continued to have a very difficult life. I was especially interested in Toms situation, because he told me that he was diagnosed with having ADD - a disorder I have diagnosed myself with having.
Tom feels that his inability to focus without Ritalin, a pharmaceutical drug used as a calming agent, is attributed to his having ADD,or Attention Deficit Disorder. I on the other hand, feel that my inability to focus and stay motivated without Adrenaline, a natural drug created by the body as a stimulant, is attributed to my ADD, or Adventure Deficiency Disorder.
Tom is taking me out for breakfast in the morning. Gotta hit da hay...
July 14, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
For breakfast, Tom treated me to a full plate of hot cakes, potatoes, and sausage, while he was satisfied with just a cup of coffee. After breakfast, we drove across town to pick up my equipment from Cascade Designs.
Tom is fairly new to the Seattle area, and is still unfamiliar with driving down-town, so I dictated directions to him from a street map. As we drew closer to our destination, and the directions got a little more precise, Tom had problems focusing, and things got exciting. "Ah... Tom... This is a one way street. Im pretty sure were going the wrong way dude! Hey! Look out for that...! Tom! This is also a one way street!"
Tom pulled off to the side of the road and swallowed a few pills from a little plastic container with a swig of Pepsi. "Tom... youre scareing me." I said, as I checked to see if my seat bell was securely fastened. "...You going to be okay?"
"Dont worry about it MAX ...Ill be OK now."
We continued to Cascade Designs, then, an hour later he dropped me back off again at Agua Verde. There were no further incidents.
Before heading off to an appointment with his psychiatrist, Tom gave me a unique carving he had made. It was constructed of a single piece of wood and had several captive rings - similar to a babys rattle. He explained to me the special meaning of the rings. I was very grateful to accept his gift.
Eariler this evening, I mentioned to Bill that I had very little practice in surf zones, and he suggested that we go surfing together at Westport, so he could teach me a few things before I head out on the ocean by myself. We set up a date. This should be a big help.
This trip is kinda nuts - Im just wingn it. Here I am, setting off on a 3 year kayaking expedition, 99% of which is on the open coast, and I've never even paddled on the ocean before. Oh well... There is no point in worrying. Ill deal with it when I get there. It would be stupid to not try just because Im afraid I might fail. By not trying... I'm guaranteed not to succeed. Fear is the only thief of dreams.
July 15, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
This afternoon, on my way to visit the troll under the Freemont Bridge, I was walking the bike up a long steep hill, and came upon a box on the sidewalk that had a sign on it which read, "FREE BOOKS--please take one." I sorted through the books, and one in particular caught my eye -- George Orwells classic novel "1984". I have no intention to read the book while I am on this journey, but tucked it into my back-pack anyway.
Although the troll wasnt what I expected, It wasnt a disappointment. I expected to see a tall free-standing steel figure, but it was more like a huge cement bust. From chest to head, the troll is about 20 feet high, and 30 feet wide from elbow to elbow. He has long hair which covered one eye, big lips, and a big nose with flaring nostrils. Both his arms are laying on the ground in front of him, and he is crushing a real Volkswagon Bug with one hand.
I put on my climbing shoes and gave this piece of art work a practical purpose. While I was climbing up the troll, a bus load of senior citizens pulled off the road to take a look. No one got off. Thirty seconds later, the bus sped away and I was left thinking to myself, "What a shame it is that those folks may never get a chance to climb on the troll."
This evening, I got an email from a guy I had never met before, offering to drive me and my boat from Olympia to the Chehalis River - saving me from walking the portage. I emailed him back, and said, "Im going to cover the entire distance of the journey on my own - without the use of motorized vehicles. It is kind of you to offer ...so thank you very much!"
July 16, 1997
Seattle, Washington, USA
Today, I just hung out around Agua Verde, waiting for Werner paddles to deliver my paddle so I could leave. In the mean-time. Mik, co-owner of Agua Verde, and I discussed my chosen portage route from the Puget Sound into the Chehalis river. He thought there might be a better way to get there, other than the 25 mile portage I was proposing. He called a friend of his in Olympia, and she said I should call a guy named Barry Dahl, who runs canoe trips down the Black River, and ask him what he thought is the best route.
Barry suggested that I make a short portage into Capital Lake when I get to Olympia, then paddle a mile to the end of the lake, and portage 15 miles to the Black River - which runs into the Chehalis. "Sounds good to me." I told him, "See ya in a few days." Tonight, Mik treated me to steak and wine for supper. It was delicious! I plan on heading out first thing in the morning.