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behind the ole mule barn

December 14, 2008
2008 Winter West Coast Road Trip-1st in a series

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My 2008 U.S. West Coast Winter Road Trip

I’ve been trying to take this US west coast road trip for seven weeks now and today I’m finally away.  I’ve been dealing with ASUS for several weeks now trying to get a working computer.  You may remember I bought an ASUS netbook computer for my European road trip and it actually performed well.  Upon return though, it’s been an absolute nightmare.  The computer failed, was replaced, it failed, was replaced, it failed…  And ASUS customer service is the worst I’ve ever experienced.  So, when I finally got the third replacement (fourth computer), I just threw it up on eBay.  A couple of weeks ago, I bought another netbook, the g meso from Sylvania.  I like it way better than the ASUS.  It’s small and lightweight and comes with Ubuntu Netbook Remix, a linux OS, which was my preference anyway, and it cost $350 from Amazon.

I sure picked a cold day to leave though.  Last night a winter storm rolled through and dumped some snow on us.  As I packed the car this morning I was battling high winds and 22° F temps.

dscn5705From Lynden, WA, I headed south to Whidby Island and stopped at Deception Pass State Park and did a little hiking.  I had to really bundle up with the gloves and scarf and the whole deal.  I could barely move.  After an exhilarating walk, I drove south of Coupeville and made a stop at Fort Casey State Park.  This is an old Army base, complete with barracks and officer’s quarters and WWI & II gun emplacements that protected part of Puget Sound.

dscn5709I got out and hiked around here as well, it actually turned into a nice sunny, but cold and windy day.  I then drove to the ferry terminal next door and caught the 4:30 sailing to Port Townsend.  It was pretty dark when I arrived, so I pulled out my new iPhone and the GPS got me to the hostel with no problem.  Boy, that’s something I really wish I had on my European trip.

The Olympic Hostel is in former WWI & II Army barracks in Fort Worden State Park.  Fort Worden is where “Officer and a Gentleman” was filmed; it’ a beautiful campus.  dscn5614I arrived at the hostel and Dottie greeted me and got me checked in.  Dottie is a former teacher and has had other professions as well but says she really likes working here the best.

Apparently a nearby art show of some sort just finished today and the hostel played some part in it and they had a bunch of food left over, so they invited me to have a sort of pot luck with them tonight; very kind of them I thought.  So, I sat with and had supper with the manager Christopher and his wife  Sedoni and their teenage daughter Athena and their son Penn, Dottie, and another gentleman named Harry.

We had bread and roasted oranges, pig’s cheeks and cheese and something else wrapped in chard, and something else with squash (I don’t want to know what) and chocolate pizza.   What the heck?  It was different, that’s for sure, I don’t even know what chard is.  I’m fairly conservative and like technology and modern conveniences and food that I understand.  Here I am breaking bread with what I can only assume to be liberal, tree hugging, Birkenstock wearing, commune living socialists.  I’ve heard about this sort of thing but I didn’t know if they really existed or not.  I guess they do.

They all seemed overly considerate, to the point that it would drive me nuts I think.  I was in their world though, so I just tried to watch and imitate, something I learned in Europe.  Eventually, we all wound up at the table with food in front of us and we ate.  I didn’t really understand what I was eating, but I ate it.  It was OK.

Most of the conversation was beyond me but I listened intently to learn as much as I can about this mysterious people so I can report back to those in my own world.  Then they started talking about building a community garden “behind the ole mule barn”.  What?  Then they started talking about giving the produce to the people that worked the garden, or selling it for “town dollars”.  Huh?  They kept using that term “town dollars”.  Eventually, I had to ask… what are town dollars?

Apparently, they have their own currency here, sort of.  They explained that it’s based on the barter system and that many people “in the community” trade for products and services using town dollars.  Jeez Toto, where the heck are we?  As strange as this was for me, I did actually enjoy the company and the conversation,  I went ahead and washed the dishes, since they fed me and all, and I figured, when in Rome…  They really were nice people and made me, a gun lovin, bible thumpin, right wing, capitalist feel welcome.  I did enjoy my stay and would like go back for a visit, of course, I’ll probably never be welcomed back if they read this.  I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

I got my computer and started to write and a couple of couples joined us in the common area and one woman started playing the piano.  It was nice to have that in the background; It would have been nicer had she been any good.

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