August 31st – Olympic National Forest

     Time to get back on the road! I am supposed to be going east, toward Idaho, which is the next state on my list. But I heard a lot of great things about the Olympic National Forest, so I decided to take a small (100 mile) detour.

     I left Edmonds this morning and took the ferry across Puget Sound to the Olympic Penninsula. I remember taking a ferry when I was eight years old and being thrilled with the experience. This time it didn’t have the same magic. I was grateful for the ferry and glad that I could get across the water, but it wasn’t quite as special as I remembered. Get on the boat, cross the bay and then you’ll good to go on your way.

     When I did arrive on the other side, I got on highway 101 and drove to Hurricane Ridge. The clouds were out in full force today, so I didn’t get to see too much of the valley below. The mountains were also hazy. The clouds themselves were quite impressive though. I am used to looking at them from below, not above!

     Driving down the mountain was my favorite part. I got to drive through the cloud layer, with huge trees on each side of me. It felt like I was in the J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth!

     Then, while I was still driving through part of the clouds, a deer stopped by to say hello! Well, to be more accurate, I was driving by the deer and it posed politely while I took a picture.

     When I got down the mountain, I started heading west toward the Hoh Rainforest. I had found a free campsite online and was eager to check it out. Along the way, I ran into some road work that kept the road closed for about half an hour near Lake Crescent. I was prepared this time (after my two-hour delay on the drive through Oregon) and spent the time reading.

     I arrived in the Hoh Rainforest around 5 P.M. and I found the campsite I had read about. However,  the two camping spots I could see were both occupied. I figured it was just a bummer and I’d have to go somewhere else. But the river looked incredibly beautiful so I decided to get out anyway and walk alongside it for awhile. Shortly after beginning my walk, I found that there was a third site! So I walked back to my car, pulled out my tent, and setup camp. And here I am, camping on the bank of the Hoh River, for free!


August 30th – Flowers, Flight and Fun

     Just as I hoped, today was much calmer than yesterday. I still spent a lot of time out and about, but I took a slower pace.

     I started the day with a peaceful walk through the Kubota Japanese Garden. From what I read, the unique aspect of the garden is that it follows Japanese principles of design while utilizing plants native to the area. I only recognized a handful of the flowers (that is quite normal for me when visiting gardens) and was greatly impressed with the variety of colors on display – in both the flowers and the plants themselves.

     I also enjoyed the bridges and waterfalls that fit in seamlessly with the environment. There were several main paths with side paths branching off, leading to different levels of the waterfalls. I followed the side paths and thankfully managed not to get lost!

     My next stop was the Museum of Flight which is located next to Boeing Airfield, and (as you’ll see) it contains a lot of Boeing Airplanes and historical information. I spent at least five hours exploring. It was huge! I started in the main building which had six enormous rooms full of planes that spanned the history of mechanical flight from its beginning, through both World Wars and up to the Korean War. There was also a section on the Space Race.  I saw the Boeing 1, the first plane William Boeing made (he even flew it himself apparently).

     I learned that mail delivery was essential to the development of airplanes – it provided the economic opportunities that attracted businessmen like Boeing. The use of planes in World War I encouraged further improvements. The airline industry really got started soon after that, as courier planes started carrying passengers along with their packages. The Boeing 80 was one of these planes and had a compartment for mail in addition to a cab that could fit 18 passengers.

     In other rooms, I saw World War I and II aircraft from many nations. My favorite plane was the M-21 Blackbird, which I saw when I came back into the main room. This was a variant on the A-12, which was eventually developed into the famous SR-71 Blackbird, a super-fast, long range reconnaissance plane. The plane on display (the M-21) was modified to carry an unmanned aircraft for further reconnaissance work. Only two of these planes were made. The first one was destroyed in a crash with its drone and this is the only other one of its kind.

     There was another building (with only one room) that was devoted to the Space Shuttle program. I skimmed over that one because it contained mostly videos and information boards, with information that I could read in a book. I walked through that building and found a large outdoor display area which contained another impressive collection of planes, including modern passenger jets and more war planes.

     I didn’t take pictures here because I was almost airplaned-out after touring through the exhibits inside. I did still enjoy looking though. They had a B-17 Flying Fortress – a World War II bomber so famous that even I know about it.

     They also had the first two super-successful modern airliners, which were made in the late 1930’s; the Boeing 247 and DC-3. Apparently, when William Boeing came out with the 247, he would only sell it to United Airlines, so McDonnell Douglass made the DC-3 and sold it freely to all airlines. Because he had a larger market, Douglass outsold Boeing by a wide margin and set Boeing a few steps back in the airline business.

     Of course, Boeing survived and has made thousands of passenger planes since. The museum had many of them, including the 707 (Air Force One), 727, 737, 747, and 787. Think of how much space those five jets alone take up! And they filled only filled about a third of the pavilion!

     Even though I was tired of looking at planes, it was hard to leave. This was an incredible museum and I wanted to go back over what I had skipped. But I called it quits and drove to Gas Works Park, which sits across the bay from Seattle. The equipment at the park was used to make gas out of coal and oil for the first half of the twentieth century. It shut down when Seattle transitioned to using natural gas. about twenty years later, after the city opened the park up to the public.

     Several people told me that there are two great places to view the Seattle skyline. One is up in the Space Needle and the other is at Gas Works Park. The first one is expensive and the second is free, so I picked the second. The view was worth every penny I didn’t pay! I walked around the park, then sat down to write and read a little. Finally, I gave my mind a break and took the opportunity to just enjoy the view.

       For dinner, I met my Uncle and Aunt at a restaurant in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle. Since I don’t know the fancy names for what I ate, I’ll just have to say that I had steak with small sides of salad, pickled blackberries, turnips, and flatbread. When dessert came, I discovered that a new favorite ice cream flavor – cinnamon basil! Yes, it did taste like both cinnamon and basil, and yes, the flavors mixed wonderfully! I doubt that I will find another place serving it, but I enjoyed it there.

     That wraps it up for today and just about wraps it up for Seattle as well! Tomorrow I will leave civilization behind me and drive over to the Olympic Penninsula.

August 29th – Seattle

     When I thought about leaving on this trip, I found it difficult to imagine myself navigating safely across the USA. I’ve never been good at using maps and directions. They definitely do not come second nature to me – fourth or fifth nature is about where my navigation skills are. I knew I wanted to be places. I just hoped I could deal with moving between places. Then I remembered that Google Maps exists and my problem was solved. Type in the address and follow the directions. It’s that easy.

     Then, when I got to Seattle, I wondered if I could make my way through the crowded and confusing city streets without getting lost.

     Well, there’s an app for that – of course, there is. There are apps which tell you how to arrive at your destination by car, foot, public transit, or Uber. That’s pretty cool. So instead of allowing myself to get lost, I used an app.

     I started out in Edmunds, where my Uncle lives. He drove me to the commuter rail that would take me into downtown Seattle. On the ride to Seattle, I saw the ocean to my right but was rather distracted by the people squishing in on me from all sides. Especially the ones on my left who were reminiscing about their young adult days of picking fruit in Northern California. I did learn that harvesting peaches is a very uncomfortable task because it is impossible not to get covered in peach hair, which is apparently quite itchy.

     When I exited the rail, I didn’t know exactly where to start. I had downloaded the magical app that would lead me safely through Seattle and I had a general idea of where the places I wanted to visit were located, but I didn’t have a route planned. To figure out where I would go first, I flopped out of the tide of humans I had been swimming with and sat on a bench. I plotted a course to the Seattle Center, which is a public gathering place that was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. It is a center for performances and activities and includes (among other things) the Seattle Pacific Museum and the Space Needle.

     I had a mile and a half to walk from the transit station and I enjoyed seeing the city as I went. When I started on my way it was 8:20 A.M. and the sky was still cloudy, making for a cool morning stroll.

     I arrived at the Pacific Science Center, hoping to sign up for tickets to see the traveling exhibit of Terracotta Warriors (funerary statues of the first Emperor of China’s army). However, I found that the tickets were slightly beyond my price range, so I decided to leave the exhibit for the real tourists who come with overflowing wallets.

     Moving on from the Science Center, I walked the short distance to the Space Needle and sat near the base to find my next stop.

     I decided to go to the Olympic Sculpture Park and then walk along the waterfront. At the Park, I found three pieces of art that interested me. The first is entitled Wake and is modeled after the lines of the ocean – waves, ships, etc. The second is called Wandering Rocks and I won’t pretend to know what it is about. It’s supposed to be symbolic of something. And it looked cool, so I took a picture. The last one is a sculpture of a nine-year-old girl, entitled Echo. It is over 46 feet high. I watched for several minutes as two people worked on the upper surface. Watching one of them stand on what looked to be a very precarious work platform made me realize that 46 feet is really really high off the ground.

     As you can see in the last picture, the Sculpture Park borders on the waterfront. When I left the park, I followed the water and eventually made it to Pike Place Market.

     During my tour thus far, I had seen at least six different Starbucks locations. Now I saw the original one – 1912 Pike Street. It was crazily busy, so I got coffee at a different Starbucks that was only a block away.

     I walked through Pike Place Market and saw lots of people, lots of stuff being sold and lots of food. In addition to the open-air marketplace that it is famous for, there are four levels underneath, inhabited by a wide variety of shops. I approached it from the waterfront and walked up several flights of stairs to get to the top level. From there I explored downward where I eventually found the best kind of store there is – a used bookstore.

     Next, I used the underground transit system to get out to the University of Washington. I haven’t been to a university quite that large before, and I was interested in comparing it to Grand Canyon University, where I plan to attend in the fall. The University of Washington didn’t disappoint – it is huge. It took me about half an hour to walk from the southern edge of campus where the transit station was to the center of campus where the tour departed from. I was impressed with the grand buildings that gave off the feeling I’d always imagined I’d find at places like Harvard and Oxford.

     I finished the campus tour and walked back to the subway. When I got back to downtown Seattle, I visited the Waterfall Garden, which is a tiny patch of lush greenery in the heart of the bustling city. The garden is built on what is said to be the footprint of the original UPS office (then called the American Messenger Company) in 1907.

     My next stop was the Frye Museum. I enjoyed all of the walks I took throughout the day, except for this one. There was a steep, long hill, upon which the sun graciously decided to bestow its warm rays. Just as a piece of advice, if you ever tour Seattle, don’t walk east on James Street. I enjoyed the art at the Frye but was not able to take pictures there.

     I finished up at Seattle Public Library. Because of the shape of the building, I couldn’t get a good picture that would communicate the size and awesomeness of the place. It is an eleven story tall library filled with books, media of all sorts, people, comfy seats, meeting rooms, and at least one coffee shop. I looked around for a few minutes, then went up to the eleventh floor and sat down to rest.

     After recovering, I walked to the commuter rail and rode back to Edmonds, where Uncle Ross picked me up. We ate a delectable dinner at home of barbequed pork, fresh salad, corn, and sourdough bread. For dessert, we had fruit, including plums that I was given in Oregon and blueberries from Aunt Dianne’s garden.

     Now that the day is over, it seems to have gone so fast! It went by in a blur of busy people, impatient cars, incredible skyscrapers, and churning feet. Two of those feet were my own. They churned a lot – twelve miles in all. I am thankful for everything I got to see and also for the way I experienced the city. By walking all around, I saw both the good and the bad (thankfully not the dangerous though). Taking public transportation was interesting too, as it gave me a chance to catch a glimpse of the middle-class culture in the city.

     Even in the hugeness of a metropolis like Seattle, people build relationships. On both of my rides on the commuter rail, I listened to people greet each other as friends. From what I heard, think it would be true to say that they primarily see each other on the way to and from work. But that is enough time to talk for a moment and appreciate the presence of a familiar, friendly face. Even the security officers who came back to check on the passengers was able to greet many of them by name. On my trip back to Edmonds, the security officer stuck around for the whole ride. He and the eight people he talked to were making plans to have a barbeque together on the weekend.

     Well, there’s enough for one day! Tomorrow should be a little bit more relaxed. I hope.

August 28th – Driving through Washington

     Wouldn’t it be wonderful for a day to go exactly according to plan?

     Today did go that way and I have to admit that it was a little bit boring. There were no spur-of-the-moment problems to deal with. No adventures, perilous encounters, near-death-experiences. No car engine break downs. Hmm, I suppose it was quite a good day after all.

     This morning, I regretfully said goodbye to my gracious hosts, their adorable cat Lyle and the wonderful room I stayed in. As I left the M&C Manor, I was treated to a beautiful landscape highlighted by a red sun (a result of the forest fires nearby).

     I drove back south a little way to Eugene to pick up a small package that had been shipped to an Amazon locker there for me. Then, I started my real journey – all the way north to Seattle. And before I knew it, I arrived! The trip took about six and a half hours, including one stop for coffee. It was my smoothest drive yet.

     I am staying with my Uncle Ross and Aunt Diane who have a house in Edmonds, just north of Seattle, with a gorgeous view of Puget Sound. When I got all settled in, we went out for dinner at a Mexican restaurant in downtown Edmonds. I tried crab enchiladas – who knew that enchiladas were ever made with crab? They turned out to be wonderful. During and after dinner, my Aunt and Uncle helped me formulate my plans for tomorrow’s tour of downtown Seattle. I can’t wait to get started!

August 27th – Rest

     Hazard: Do not attempt this hill unless you run on a regular basis.

     That is the virtual sign that Marshall tried to hang in front of my face before I followed him on his traditional Sunday morning run. Psh, who ever reads warning signs? Forty-five minutes and four miles later, part of me wished I had listened. Most of me was happy though. I made it all the way up a two-mile hill (though walking would be a more accurate description of my ascent than running) and I made it all the way back to the house. Alive, too! Without my heart exploding or my legs falling off.

     Yesterday, I thought that eggs couldn’t taste any better than they did after accomplishing the difficult task of waking up. Today, I think they taste much better after a long run. While I was sitting at the table eating, I thought about what to call Marshall and Cathryn’s house. Calling it Marshall and Cathryn’s house is much too cumbersome. I settled on the “M&C Manor,” because I think it sounds pretty cool, and this place is definitely cool.

     Marshall, Cathryn and I went to church together and I almost felt like I was worshipping in my home church. One thing felt different – there were no titles on the hymns, only numbers and verses at the top. The pastor preached on Jonah chapter four. It was a message about repentance. I was struck most by reflecting on what it is to repent. The pastor talked about repentance as, “the desire to be saved.” That spoke powerfully to me when I thought through it all the way. Repentance isn’t a wish to feel better, to escape punishment, or to do a better job figuring things out. It’s a simple thing, just saying, “I am going the wrong way and I know that now. Would you please guide me in the right way?” The king of Ninevah and his people did that after doing some horrible things, but Jonah took awhile after he had been pretty “good” for the most part.

     Back at the M&C Manor, hamburgers awaited us. Fresh hamburgers. After lunch, I tried calling my family on Skype. It is wonderful to have technology that allows us to see each other’s faces from hundreds of miles away – when that technology decides to work. In this case, it did not, so I had to settle for calling with my cell phone. So old-fashioned.

     After a short nap and some reading time, we went to bible study. We sang a hymn and listened to a mission report, then spent more time visiting. I enjoyed the chance to talk with Marshall’s older brother. He and I both think about things a lot. It was refreshing to talk to someone who has a similar perspective on, and approach to, life.

     When we got home, Marshall and I got to work. We cranked through two-hundred pushups like they were nothing… I wish. That’s what Marshall did. He finished in eight sets of twenty-five push-ups each. I took a while longer but made it through in the end.

     Despite the running and push-ups I did, most of today was spent in rest, worship, and fellowship. It was good to have a day that wasn’t filled with driving and adventuring.

August 26th – Sweet Home

     When the inevitable and terrible separation comes (whereby one must get out of bed and face the day), it is a comfort to be greeted by yummy food. This morning I woke up to fresh eggs, bacon and potatoes, and some biscuits that I brought with me.

     After we finished the meal and the dishes, Marshall showed me the pig pen he made. He’d just gotten these pigs and found out right away that they are master escape artists when they dug underneath it. He decided they needed a little shock to remind them who was in charge, so he built an electric fence. They appear to have learned their lesson since they are doing a wonderful job of staying inside and looking cute.

     Our first adventure of the day was a drive into Willamette National Forest, which is about twenty miles from Sweet Home, in central Oregon. We hiked up Iron Mountain which is one of the smaller mountains in the range. At the top, our view was limited by the smoke from a nearby fire but the features of the mountain were still impressive. A squirrel came by to say hello.

     In the late afternoon, we went adventuring again, this time in the water – kayaking down McDowell Creek. We took two cars and dropped one off a couple miles downstream so that we wouldn’t have to kayak back upstream. Then we took the other car to where the kayaks were stored. The trip downstream was beautiful and fun, although I earned myself a tenderfoot badge by getting stuck for several minutes in one section of rapids. I learned that kayaks float much better on water than they do on rocks.

     We capped off our kayaking trip by dunking ourselves in the water. I still don’t understand the reasoning that went into that decision. We kayaked all the way downstream, succeeding in remaining dry and not falling into the water… then we fell into the water on purpose. Oh well, that’s how it worked out. It was refreshing – in an ice-cold, breath-stealing sort of way.

     We had a peaceful end to our day, first going to the men’s prayer meeting and visiting there,  then eating a wonderful dinner at home and preparing for Sunday.

August 25th – Medford

     This morning I slept in until 8:30 A.M. and enjoyed my cozy campsite at Klamath National Park. When I finally emerged from my tent, I found an overcast sky and crisp mountain air waiting for me. I started out quietly, walking around and simply looking at the green forest surrounding me. Later, I wished I had gotten myself into gear a little quicker so that I could have gotten more done in the day. There’s always something that needs to be done, even on a trip where there’s no school and no need to rush around everywhere.

     Once I did get going, I packed up my tent and headed down the mountain and toward Medford, Oregon. I had arranged to have lunch there with the parents of a friend of mine. I left myself a little extra time because I planned to quickly upload my blog entries from the previous four days before I met with them.

     In Medford, I found a Starbucks to park at, intending to go inside for some free WiFi and expensive coffee. Then, I looked down at my feet and realized that my shoes were entirely covered in dirt. Since I wasn’t camping out in the woods anymore, I decided that I should at least try to look civilized. After the careful use of three paper towels and some water from my ice chest, my shoes looked a bit less like artifacts from an archeological dig and more like footwear that normal, respectable people wear to nice lunches.

     I found a few more small chores to do in my car which took up all the rest of my extra time, so I never actually make it into the Starbucks. When I finished up, I drove over to Jack and Joanne’s house (my friend’s parents) and we drove together to a country club for lunch. During lunch, I learned about Jack’s service in the military and his experiences in the sales industry when he completed his time. I also heard the story of how he and Joanne met and married, then lived in Illinois, Ohio, California and finally Oregon.

     Today my destination was Sweet Home, Oregon. It would have been wise to start the two hundred mile trip right after lunch. So, of course, I didn’t start driving.

     Before starting this trip, I decided that I would update this blog every Monday and Friday and I really intend to stick to that. If I don’t, I’ll fall behind and just make it difficult for myself. Well, it was now 2 P.M. on Friday and I hadn’t uploaded my journals from the week. Shame on me. I decided that I could be quick about uploading. I drove back to the Starbucks that I had been at before and told myself I could finish everything in half an hour.

     We all know how that works. Two hours later, around 4 P.M., I finally started on my way to Sweet Home. And it began very well. Traffic was light and I was excited to be driving again. Around the hundred-mile mark, I stopped along the way to fill up the gas tank. As I pulled up to the station, I saw a booth in between the gas pumps that looked strange. I usually just see gas pumps, occasionally with a payment terminal in-between. Why would there be a booth though? Only when a person walked out of it and came toward me did I remember that in Oregon, the law requires gas to be pumped by an attendant.

     Back on the I5 freeway, everything went well again. For twenty miles. Then, just before 7 P.M., both lanes of the two-lane freeway came to a complete stop. Eventually, I found out that there were two separate accidents up the road – one in each lane. At the time all I knew was that I would be arriving in Sweet Home a little later than I intended.

     About five minutes into the ordeal, those of us unfortunate enough to be on the freeway figured out that we would probably be sitting there for at least a few more minutes, so we turned off our engines and sat back to enjoy the mild evening weather. Some people talked to each other, some listened to music, and some got out of the cars to walk around.

     The place where I got stuck happened to have poor cell reception (phone calls worked, but not mobile data), so many people bemoaned the lack of entertainment available to them now that the ever-present internet was absent. I read, called my parents, and joined in the trapped-motorists-conversations to talk briefly with a mother and daughter who were in the van next to me. They had come from Lancaster, California and were headed up to a school in northern Oregon. We stayed stuck in the same spot for an hour and a half.

     Finally, we began to move. We had slow progress for awhile, but at least we weren’t parked anymore. After another twenty minutes, traffic picked up its pace and began to flow normally. Seventy-five miles later, I arrived in Sweet Home at 10:30 P.M. and was greeted by my friends, Marshall and Cathryn, who had graciously stayed up welcome me. They even had a glorious grilled steak waiting for me. Of course, we had to talk and catch up since it had been a  couple years since we’d seen each other. The conversations lasted until about midnight. And now that I’m done driving, eating, talking, writing, and learning lessons about trying to squeeze too much into an afternoon and the unpredictability of traffic, I can go to sleep. Goodnight!

August 24th – Klamath National Park

    After a surprisingly good night of sleep, I woke up at 6 A.M. to see the sun shining down on me. I appreciated its kind attempt to get me up, but I was too cozy. I slept for another two hours and got up for real at 8 A.M. I packed up my campsite quickly, ate a ham and cheese sandwich for breakfast, and reorganized my car. I left my campsite at 9:30 A.M. and began my drive to Klamath National Park. The drive was uneventful and I continued listening to my audiobook, this time learning about China. I pulled off the road at a rest stop for a few minutes to get this picture of Shasta Lake.

    I got back on the road and drove another several miles to Shasta City. I stopped at a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop to obey nature and then grab a cup of coffee. I walked around the city for about twenty minutes but found nothing intriguing. I found out when I left that I had stopped too soon – there was a much nicer downtown area a mile up the road. But I didn’t know that at the time, so I turned around and went back to the coffee shop I had seen. While waiting in line, I met a young man about my own age, named Kevin. He looked to be of the adventuring sort, so I asked him if he was traveling through, or lived there. He said that he lived in the city and had just come to have a cup of coffee while he read. I could sympathize with that! Before I could ask him what book he was reading, it was his turn in line. After him, I ordered my usual ultra fancy beverage – iced black coffee. It came out quickly and I wished Kevin well before walking back to my car.

    Now I was in mission mode. I had realized earlier that my destination for the day was across the Oregon border. This presented a problem – I had not done my two hundred push-ups in California yet. As my mind always does, I started trying to worm my way around doing pushups just yet. This was only California, I had done thousands here before. I could just skip them and start in Oregon. Then, if I decided I wanted to do some in California, I could do them on the return trip. But I knew that was silly – I wanted to start this off right. So I looked for a nice spot to do them. Sadly, exercise facilities are not a part of the tourist attraction business. I looked in vain for several miles before it occurred to me that a local park would work out perfectly. I pulled off the road and found one and here, again, I went through the mind-games of avoidance. I feel quite foolish now, writing about it. I walked all the way around the park (which turned out to be very extensive), taking pictures of the gold mining equipment they had and exploring the mountain biking trail head. It’s true that I got a good walk in, but I ended up right back where I started. I finally decided to stop wasting time and get going.

    I hoped to break the two hundred into sets and chug systematically through them. As I got close to a hundred though, I realized that wouldn’t work – would need a rest before I was ready to do a hundred more. So I did the first hundred in nine minutes, took a twenty-minute break, and finished the second hundred in eleven minutes. Some people will wonder how I did them so slow and some people will wonder how I did them at all. I’ll let those two opinions balance out and just try to do a little better each time.

    I got back on the road after taking a quick shower (using the ingenious portable shower device suggested by my brother, Andrew – don’t worry, there has never been any Roundup in this one).

    The remainder of my drive took me through increasingly exciting mountain passes, ending with a single lane gravel road with a sheer drop down the mountain on one side. Well, it may not have been a sheer drop, I’m sure one of the giant trees would have been happy to catch my SUV halfway down – though I doubt that trees know the meaning of “gentle.” Anyway, I did meet two other vehicles coming the other way (both were GMC pickup trucks). We made it safely past each other with at least six inches to spare on the cliff side.

    I found the Mt. Ashland Campground almost empty, except for one large RV. I picked the spot farthest away from the RV. I get enough of close proximity in the city, so I reclaim my personal space when camping. Five hundred feet please, keep your distance people.

    I set up my tent around 4:30 P.M. and sat down to read. Ater an hour I got up to stretch my legs and explore the camping area. This is the most beautiful area I’ve been so far on my trip (which isn’t saying much, since I was driving through California), and the temperature was perfect – around 65 degrees.

    When I came back to my tent, I called home to update my family, then went began writing. Eventually, I got tired, and now, around 10:30 P.M. I am quite ready to get some sleep. Tonight I am using a traditional sleeping back and thin air cushion since I don’t want to wake my neighbors by flopping about in my balloon chair.

August 23rd – Driving Again

    It is very nice to have a bed. At the moment I do not have one, and I am missing it. But you don’t know where I am yet, so I’ll have to tell you.

    This morning I woke up at the bed and breakfast where I fell asleep last night. Imagine that – no kidnappings, no teleportation, no sleepwalking! Everything was going right so far. It was 6:30 A.M when my alarm went off and for once I got myself up to make it happy. I got dressed and made it out the door. This was my basketball day. My younger brother, Sam, and I had spent Tuesday and Thursday mornings at our local sports park during the summer, working through dribbling and shooting drills. I have sternly instructed him not to give up the discipline during the fall. Since he will be faithfully working out (right Sam?) I cannot let myself fall too far behind. I spotted a basketball court as I drove through San Luis Obispo yesterday, so this morning I went there to keep up with Sam.

    I didn’t take too long – about forty minutes to get through everything. The weather was amazing. Overcast and sixty degrees – perfect for basketball. Once I finished, I went back to the bed and breakfast for a shower. My friend met me there when I was done and we had breakfast together on the veranda. We continued our conversation from the previous day for half an hour. Then it was time for me to leave and we said our farewells.

    I got started driving around 9:30, but an hour into my journey I knew that I was tired. I suppose waking up early does that sometimes. So I pulled off the road and found a shady parking spot, then took a nap from 10:30 A.M. to 12 P.M. That refreshed me and I got back on the road. And drove. And drove. Today was a long day of driving. I hit some traffic (figuratively speaking) through the outskirts of San Francisco and was stuck in it for about an hour. Eventually, I made it through. I had hoped to camp at a place just outside of San Francisco, but all of the spots were taken. Most of the campsites I plan on visiting are free but do not accept reservations. I will just have to be flexible and have many layers of plans. In this case, I did have a Plan B, which was a campsite west of Sacramento. It was quite a distance further north from where I was, but there was not much traffic on the way so I did not mind the extra time. On the way, I stopped for a break in the small town of Esparto. There is a park in the center of the town which still has swings and metal climbing bars, unlike our boring, “safe” plastic playgrounds in Southern California. I guess, as the cross-street explained, you only live once.

    The remaining miles went quickly and I saw quite a nice basketball court along the way. I thought about stopping to play for awhile, but it was already late afternoon and I wanted to get to my campsite.

    When I arrived, I took out my camping gear and set everything up for the first time. I have a large, green, balloon-like cushion which is intended for use as a sort of lounge chair. It is very comfortable. I set that up and put it inside my tent, intending to sleep on it. That ended up working out rather poorly. The contraption – which I shall call a balloon chair – was indeed comfortable. It was also tremendously crinkly. You know how, when you open a plastic bag full of cookies that you are not really supposed to be opening, your imagination tells you that the sound is so loud that everyone in the house can hear it? Well using this balloon chair on a quiet night is the same as that, except that the whole world actually can hear the sound. I was glad that there was only one other camper at the site, and he was several hundred yards away, behind a little hill, in an RV. Even with all that, I felt like I was making too much noise. I made it through the night though.


    I did have to wake up at one point to get my sleeping bag. During the day it had been 90 degrees and at 9 P.M. it was still 85 degrees. I figured that since the sun had already been down for an hour, it wouldn’t get much colder. I just wore pants and a jacket to bed and squished myself into the balloon chair to keep warm. Around 2 A.M. though, I woke up to find my mistake – it was quite chilly. I gave in a got my sleeping bag. After that, I slept like a baby again.

August 22nd – San Luis Obispo

    Today is a hard day to write about. A lot happened, but most of the happenings were conversations. I woke up a little before 8 A.M. and had breakfast with my Aunt and Uncle. We continued talking all through the morning until we had a wonderful lunch of salmon salad and toast. During my stay, I enjoyed several kinds of fresh produce from my Aunt’s garden. I had cucumber, plum, heirloom tomato, and steamed zucchini. I was also given a bag full of plums for the road.

    Eventually, it was time to leave. I drove the short distance to San Luis Obispo and met my friend at his house. He had arranged previously with one of his friends for a place I could stay. After we talked at his house for awhile, he took me to where I would stay for the night. The owners of the house only use a small part of it, so they rent out several rooms using Airbnb.

  My room was wonderful and the whole house and residential development were beautiful. My friend and I continued talking while we had dinner on the veranda. I mentioned several of the destinations I have planned and he told me that he has a friend who lives in the northern suburbs of Chicago, so now I will have someone to visit while I’m there! We continued talking and I played a few songs on my guitar. A little before 9 P.M. he returned to his house to allow me a peaceful night of sleep.

    Before going to sleep, I enjoyed the chance to relax and think. So far I’ve spent a lot of time visiting with people, so there are a lot of thoughts swimming around in the pond of my brain. Conversations are hard to turn into writing. I may come back and edit these entries, to add in the things I talked about. It will take time for me to process them though. In the meantime, I will keep moving forward on my journey. I’ve had a lot of fun so far and I’m excited about what is to come!