Third day of NWTF, fifth day on the road. I managed to wake up feeling pretty good, so I drove to nearby Friendship Park to sit and work on photos from last night in the van. The weather was pretty ideal, and working at my little table with my door cracked open and the vents open allowed a breeze to ease through in the most pleasant way. Lunchtime soon arrived so I messaged Josh Ford to see if I could sneak into his Air B&B for a quick shower before going out to find some food with him. He was gracious enough to allow me to get myself cleaned up, and I also overheard a conversation he had with a prospective new assistant. If I lived in Iowa (where he lives), I’d want that frickin’ job. We jammed out for burgers and sunk into a deep conversation about diverse aspects of our lives and the world we live in. It was great to connect with him and talk through some of my process around living in the van full time, as he was pretty curious to know what my experience has been thus far. We talked about possibly collaborating on a project or two as well, which would be rad.
I took off to meet up with a friend who lives in Seattle, and we spent some time on the roof of her apartment building taking in the sun and the view of the city. It was actually hot up on the roof, and again I wondered if this is normal for Seattle this time of year, cuz it certainly doesn’t seem like it.
I headed back to the club, where I caught the first band downstairs then went to look for my friends in He Whose Ox Is Gored, who were playing first on the big stage. It’s always great to run into those guys, and after they finished playing we did a quick interview and photo sesh.
There weren’t a whole lot of bands on tonight’s bill that I was really looking forward to, but the ones I was looking forward to did not disappoint. Emma Ruth Rundle, who’s a longtime favorite of mine, played by herself, just a woman and her guitar, and brought the room to rapt silence. She’s so good. She was followed by Thou, a six-piece from New Orleans who play sludgy, dirty, intensely slow and heavy music. This was my first time seeing them, but hopefully not my last. The night closed out with grindcore granddaddies Agoraphobic Nosebleed, who played some of the fastest and most aggressive music of the weekend, and without a drummer to boot (they use a drum machine). The show ended early and I went back to the van, finding my parking place and crashing for the night.
Sunday started by me waking up in a funk. I think I know why, but my inner psychological workings will have to stay inner for now, so let’s just say I was in a funk. The weather got cold and grey again (like it’s SUPPOSED to be), and I walked down to the café to work on photos for the morning. Decided to head out of town around noon, and felt considerably averse to driving down the 5 again so I plotted a course down to Olympia then out to the 101, which I’d follow all the way down through Washington and Oregon back to California.
The first stop (or perhaps just a slowdown) was Aberdeen, the birthplace of Kurt Cobain. I figured it was about time I see the famous shitty town that birthed that particular musical genius to see if I could glean any vibe from it. It was pretty dumpy (that it was pouring rain probably didn’t help make it any prettier), and seems like fortune has come and gone for that little town. There’s a nuclear power plant not far from there, its two cooling towers looming over the clearcut hills a few miles from the highway.
I continued further south, and found myself completely astonished by how much of the forests I drove through have been completely decimated by logging. Like, all of them. Do the people who live there notice? Do they care? Are they helpless to do anything about it? I just can’t imagine living somewhere that has been so completely destroyed like that. I mean, I’m complicit in the purchasing of timber products so it’s not like I’m trying to be high and mighty here. I’m just surprised that people don’t rise up in revolt when their forests are being turned into bare ground acre after acre.
I made a stop in Astoria OR, a town that was first established in the 1820s as the first fur-trading outpost on the west coast of the United States. There’s an amazing book called “Astoria”, which details the gut-wrenching, almost unbelievable tale of the two parties who made the trek to the mouth of the Colombia River, one overland from Missouri and the other via ocean vessel. Do yourself a favor and read that book. The story is astonishing. The town is fairly large now, a tourist destination and still a working port for fishing boats. It still retains a lot of its 19th century charms, and is quite picturesque. I did see a lot of cars driving around town with surfboards on their roofs, so I’m imagining there’s good surf somewhere around there too. I didn’t have a chance to hunt it down this time, though.
I cruised down along the coast until dark, and camped out in my first WalMart parking lot since beginning my vagabond existence. Not a bad place to be, actually.
The next day I rose early and continued on, and was disappointed to find that if I’d only gone down the highway another 20 minutes, I could have camped right on the ocean. Next time. As I drove the long stretch of Oregon coast, the weather was absolutely spectacular. Sunny and in the low 70’s most of the day. After crossing the California border and cruising through redwood forests and more stunning coastline, I stopped just south of Orick and spent a couple of hours lounging next to the ocean with my door open, letting the salt air and warm breeze waft through. Pretty soon I found myself going through Crescent City and on to the section of the 101 I’m intimately familiar with, signaling the end of my trip. But not the end of my adventure.