Camba Quote of the Evening: "Yitka, you may love Seattle, but it comes with the whole state, too."
Apparently there are a lot of meth heads out in the woods of Washington state. I guess that's true of just about any secluded area in the country (the highways in Montana are overridden with anti-meth campaign billboards), but it's a fact I hadn't given much consideration to until this Independence Day. And actually, it's generally unrelated to the rest of my story, except that I really loved Cam's quote and wanted to include it in my July 4th report. My creative writing degree is failing here, however, to craft a smooth transition from lamenting the prevalence of meth addiction in WA to the fireworks part...so with that said...
July 4th was great. It did involve five of us packing into my friend Maddie's 4X4 and venturing deep into the forest in Washington state. The evening's thick fog intensified the sense of adventure as we rumbled through giant potholes and undulating gravel road on our way to Camba's Secret (not so secret?) Spot on a mountain, where each year, good company gathers to celebrate our great country.
In the spirit of the rugged Northwest, we spent the evening: pitching tents, making s'mores by the campfire, grilling burgers on Camba's portable grill, drinking cheap wine out of Camelbaks, shooting fireworks off the side of the mountain, dancing with sparklers to djembe drums, belting out Bohemian Rhapsody, and singing a few too many rounds of Row, Row, Row Your Boat as well. We camped overnight and I woke up colder, I think, than I ever have on a July 5th...shivering in my sleeping bag, grumbling to Alan about wanting hot chocolate NOW.
But back up for a moment...back to the 4th itself, at oh, around 9:58 p.m. We were all hanging out by the campfire, unassuming, having given up on the chance of seeing any fireworks other than the ones we'd set off ourselves, since the fog was so thick. Ordinarily, I'm told, there's a spectacular view from the Secret Spot, and fireworks shows from a hundred miles in all directions are visible. But come 10 p.m., someone suddenly exclaimed and pointed through the fog. Sure enough, hundreds, if not thousands, of pinpricks of colored light began flashing all over the horizon, like silent fireflies in the distance. It was truly spectacular.
(And yes, I did get some hot chocolate the following morning, during our caravan back to the city.)
Epic Two: Alan and Yitka Go To In-n-Out Burger
Once upon a time, at an interstate exit in the depths of California, I had my first In-n-Out Burger. Since then, various obstacles have gotten in the way of my pursuit of a second one: namely, (1) vegetarianism and (2) lack of In-n-Out Burgers in pretty much the entire country. Customers and coworkers alike donning In-n-Out Burger t-shirts taunt me weekly at REI, even though the closest one to my apartment door is 593.6 miles away. Lame.
When I discovered that the Burger Chain of the Gods had opened franchises in Arizona, too, I nearly exploded. (Literally!) When the price of renting a car and taking a shuttle to get from Flagstaff to Phoenix for our flight proved equally pricey, renting a car emerged as the obvious choice for two reasons: (1) opportunity to get our ambrosia fix before returning to the In-n-Out dead zone of the Northwest, and (2) a chance to listen to ESPN radio coverage of the World Cup game as we drove through the blisteringly hot Arizona desert.
The radio station may have switched over at half time to a local baseball game instead, and "pelota" may have been the only word I understood as I tried to follow the game instead on the Spanish channel (but my my, how much more exciting they make soccer sound than the American/English announcers!), and I may have learned via text message from Seyeon that Holland lost, and our flight that we pushed so hard to make may have gotten delayed by two hours...we may have had serious problems finding the In-n-Out Burger joint amidst the serious suburban sprawl of Phoenix, and the line, when we got there, may have been nearly hanging out the door with a 20-minute wait, but at the end of the day...
Do I really have anything to complain about? Nope. Nada. 'Til next time, oh Tasty One...
The views on the flight home weren't bad either.
Epic Three: Eating Snickers Naked on a Mountain
Well, not naked. Not entirely, anyway...some shirts may have been removed for temporary airing out and enjoyment of the solitude and breeze at the top of Bandera Mountain, a quaint little peak at 5,200 feet just east of North Bend; hopefully nobody on Rainier across the valley from us had binoculars.
After a hike up Mount Si a couple weeks ago on a cold, foggy "summer" day, Alan and I finally hit the hiking-weather jackpot with our ascent of Bandera a few days ago. The skies were clear, the wildflowers and beargrass in full bloom, and we had the whole darn thing to ourselves.
See how sharply the foreground slopes off? The photo's not playing tricks; it really was a near-vertical scramble to the top.
Flowers, Rainier, blissful 65-degree sunshine all summer long (all 1.5 months of it!); Good God, yes, I'll take the whole state, too. It was one year ago, today, that I arrived in this place, and it still makes my heart swoon.