Big Bearded Boy
Joined: Jul 2010
Location: Joplor, NC
The following morning I loaded up and headed for Kennewick, Washington. Greg was still asleep and hooked up to his breathing machines, and I was afraid to disturb him, so I left him a note of thanks and quietly made my way out.
It was a damp day in Montana, not raining, but misty and foggy enough so that the sun couldn't poke through very much. The first few hundred miles was more of the same beautiful country I'd been seeing the last few days. My first gas fill up was at a mountainside truck stop somewhere in west Montana. I made conversation with a few local Harley riders there who noticed I was fully loaded and a long way from home. They were very surprised to hear what I was doing. By this time the surprised reactions I continually received were getting a little bit predictable, but hadn't began to really bother me. I grabbed a late breakfast inside and filled up on fuel, then mounted back up to continue west.
I passed through Coeur d'Alene, Idaho just as it started to rain. By this time kd learned a lot about rain riding, out of necessity, and was less panicked. I got into my zone, intensely concentrated, making each input to the bike withincreased awareness and intentionality, and as some of you may understand, it's a state of mind all of it's own. After 10 or 15 minutes, the rain started to hurt as I collided with it at highway speed, even through my gloves and jacket. Then I looked down and noticed white pebbles accumulating in the creases of my jacket. No wonder it hurt, it was sleet - not rain.
Sleet. In July.
I pressed on, having learned by that tome that most weather was escapable if you just keep rolling. Sure enough within a few minutes it quit and started to dry up.
The landscape began to change from lush green foothills to desert like and flat over the course of the day, and my soggy clothes dried out as the sun revealed itself again.
When I imagined Washington state, I pictured pine forests. I saw also none of that and almost all what appeared to resemble desert. Again, a surprise to me. It was now hot and dry instead if cold and wet.
This was one of the few areas of the trip I figured I'd have to camp or hotel because I didn't have any nearby contacts. I'd been spamming my friends for months through Facebook statuses and had successfully rounded up a spot to stay almost everywhere. Nothing had turned up for this area, though, until a few days prior. A friend I'd met about a year before in Nicaragua, Caitlin, sent me a Facebook message telling me one of her best friends lived in Kennewick and would be happy to host me. I got a name, number, and address, and I was set.
I got off the highway and made my way through Pasco, which was reminiscent of Central America - almost every sign was in Spanish. I crossed the Columbia River bridge and I was in Kennewick. Just a few turns and I'd arrived.
It was mid afternoon, probably 3 or 4pm. Murphy was home and greeted me in the driveway. She welcomed me into the house and offered me a much needed glass of ice water. She said everyone was at work but they'd be home soon. Several friends shared the house and lived there together. I gave Murphy the rundown about my trip amd how i'd met Caitlin, and she told me a little about herself. She and several of their friends worked at a local gourmet cheese shop called Cheese Louise. Shortly thereafter, one of her roommates, Krista, arrived. We got dinner ready together and decided to quit waiting and eat around 7pm around dusk. They'd fixed "tri tip", which I remember because that was the first time I'd heard of such a thing and haven't found it again since. It was a grilled cut of beef, similar to what I would call brisket, accompanied by asparagus and potatoes. It was absolutely delicious, and probably one of the first times I'd had rare/medium rare meat. That meal changed how I ordered meat from that point forward - no more well done steaks for this guy ever since.
As we ate, various room mates and friends began to show up. One, two, three at a time they'd arrive. By 10 o'clock or so there was at least 12 of them in all. They were all young and interesting. One was named Evan and had a beard, just like me, which everyone found very funny. Murphy would introduce me to each of them and tell them where I was from and how I'd ended up there. They all said something to the effect of, "Oh, cool!" but it wasn't the same reaction I usually got. There was a different tone in their responses that led me to believe they understood what I was doing and why. They weren't really shocked, or even impressed. They just seemed to get it. Some smoked, most drank, and they all seemed to enjoy life. These were my kind of people.
The experience hanging out with those wonderful folks in Kennewick reminded me of one of the things I missed most about being in Nicaragua - living in community. They just hung out and did life together. We didn't really do that back home. Everybody pretty much kept to themselves and lived their lives compartmentalized from one another, only rarely visiting each other. I couldn't really put my finger on what was so different about living in Nicaragua so much until that night in Kennewick. It was community. That night, and feelings of discouragement or homesickness faded as we enjoyed each other's company. They'd revealed more about what life was all about for me than they'd ever know.
Late that night, after the party died down, somebody directed me to a bed in the basement that I could use. I quickly fell asleep after a great evening of food, drink, and conversation. The west coast awaited me.