the great north west

i’d been to portland once before, back in 2009, when i was dating an ex (not usually a good idea) who lived there (long distance – see previous parenthesis). this time i stayed with jenna for a few days and took care of some chores. a couple of days later, we were joined by my new friend julian, whom we met at the hot springs in south oregon after burning man (summer lake hot springs).

jenna and i at summer lake hot springs

we decided to go camping out of town at battle ground lake in washington, but didn’t reserve and those outdoorsy oregonians had filled up the joint, so we ended up doing the twilight desperation drive to another far less inviting spot. the next day the sunny weather let up and it was a bit chilly. we went to a house where several of julian’s friends lived – the mansion: an historic home with a great view of. . . industrial portland in all its glory (the john mock house).

there was a park party happening that night under the st. john’s bridge and several of the housemates were planning to go. it is a beautiful bridge and a great park in general. people were dancing to trancy music and sitting on blankets, practicing spinning or hulahooping. a friend of julian’s had a blanket and poured tea into quaint cups for us and let us taste her honey collection. when night came the fire spinners lit their implements and began to show their stuff. afterward we went to a house party and ended up back at the mansion to eat and sleep. the next day i went back to jenna’s to take care of some business and julian returned home to seattle.

one day we had acupuncture from jenna’s boyfriend, chris, and then were joined by his young son to see the swifts that live in a certain chimney in a portland school in the fall. a crowd gathers each night to picnic there and kids slide down a hill on cardboard boxes before the birds arrive. when they do, they are joined by hawks which chase them and nearly caught a few birds, but ultimately just added excitement that night to the already fascinating spiral of birds flying into the narrow opening. my cousin ian and his wife beth met us there and took me to a mcmenimins bar – one of man owned by two enterprising brothers who renovate spaces into cool bars and restaurants. i last saw ian when we were kids, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

we went to another bar when a fire alarm went off at the first and met jenna there. when everyone needed to leave, my friend lenore came and her friend offered me a ride home, so i stayed with her and danced to the band.

next morning i had to pack pack for a camping trip with abby from burning man. i was going with her and some of her friends to the san juan islands off the coast of washington north of seattle.

i met up with abby and we ran a few errands – including visiting one of portland’s famous food trucks and enjoying some aardvark hot sauce on my egg sandwich.

we headed north and made it to the costco to do some shopping before going to the marina and taking everything we needed on the boat to go to blakely island, where abby’s uncle has two cabins and she was encouraged to visit and bring friends. the ride was heavenly – green islands reflected in mercurial and very pure looking water that changes with the color of the sky while remaining clear. we saw sea lions basking on rocks and headed west to the island. a car awaited us there, unlocked, with the keys in it, since where are you going to hide a stolen car on a tiny island? we transferred our goods and drove to the cabins. they were large and comfy and boasted a rustic woodburning hot tub outside beneath tall cedars.

cap’n abby

abby took us on a tour of the island, including its airstrip, which was most surreal. many of the people who live there commute by prop plane and their houses ring the runway, their little colorful planes parked in front of their houses, which frequently resembled boats, themselves. apple trees full of fruit in many yards and deer in abundance as well.

the hot tub was a nightly ritual, 5 out of the 6 of us climbing in to enjoy its delicious warmth and the peaceful night outside.

blakely island

we hiked up a lovely winding trail to a vista point overlooking the san juans and it seemed like paradise for eternity spread out before us.

that night i needed to head to seattle to be ready to meet a friend the next morning for an outing. abby and a couple of the others came with me to the marina and we said our goodbyes before i got on the road and they headed back to the heavenly island for a couple more days.

i had never been to seattle before. julian was running a show and i drove to the area and got food and drink before searching him out. though i had been planning to check out the party, i ultimately crashed and needed to emergency nap in my car. i awoke just before dawn, to my surprise. julian and i made it back to his house early that morning and caught another few winks before i needed to get down to milton oregon, where my friend teri card lives with her husband jesse, both of whom i know from arkansas in the old days.

i found their place and they made breakfast before we headed out to mt. ranier. it was a gorgeous day, warm but breezy and we climbed and chatted.


we stopped for lunch on the way back and had a quiet evening with their two large and affectionate dogs, a german shepherd named lyra and malamute called kai. the next day teri and i explored the city a bit, getting lunch in capitol hill and walking around the market and waterfront.


julian met us up and we went out to dinner at an indian place called ana purna. when we made it back to our car, the garage it was in was prematurely locked and we all had to stay at julian’s for the night. teri and i headed back to her place the next morning and she had lessons later that day so after lunch with jesse, i headed back to julian’s.

the weather was perfect and we spent lazy days in his yard relaxing and listening to records, enjoying the sunshine and the shade of a cherry tree. we made time for multiple sunsets and went on a long walk through his neighborhood to the beach by the sound, down some steep and endless seeming stairs in the darkness, to wind up on the beach with the moon shining over the water, sunset still pinking the sky ever so slightly. we also went to discovery park, where we ate blackberries and tasted tiny, hard apples.

sunset over the sound

discovery park sunset 

my cousin alec lives north of seattle for grad school and i went up to have lunch with him and then returned to seattle to meet up with my ex, kevin bogle. we had dinner and tea and caught up for a while before i headed to julian’s for one last night in seattle.

i headed south the next day and stayed with my cousin ian and his wife and kids in vancouver washington for the night. the next day ian and i went downtown to run errands and get lunch. i went back to jenna’s to make preparations to leave the next day, but was thwarted by back pain that demanded more acupuncture and a day’s rest. i left the next day for california – my destination: alexi and alex’s wedding in santa barbara.

but that’s another post. all for now – promise to be quicker!

love and miss,



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