Olympia, Wash., USA

I had the day off yesterday and the lovely Kat let me borrow her car, so I took a day trip to Olympia, which is about an hour drive from the farm in Eatonville. The first thing I noticed was people here kinda drive like dicks. No wonder it is the birthplace of grunge music.

And there are a lot of roundabouts:

roundaboutRoundabouts work great if everyone knows how to use them, but if you are not in the correct lane, you can find yourself circling around endlessly like the Griswolds in European Vacation. (Look kids, Big Ben… Parliament…)

Before Carrie Brownstein started Portlandia, and before she was one of my favorite commentators on NPR music, she was in a band called Sleater Kinney.

The band named themselves after the road. Not the church.

The band named themselves after the road. Not the church.

Once I got to downtown Olympia, I went to a thrift store called Dumpster Values. They had quite a selection of flannel shirts (still!). I’m actually not sure if these are the same flannel shirts from the ’90s, or if flannel shirts have now gone a complete fashion cycle, and are only recently back in style.

Take that, Angela Chase!

Take that, 1990s! I WILL buy the exact same shirt as Angela on My So Called Life.

They also have wigs and records and shit.

The girl at Dumpster Values suggested a coffee place:

After the coffee shop, I happened upon a bunch of people creating floats for the annual Procession of the Species parade, which takes place this weekend. It’s an Earth Day event as well as a celebration of local artists. The only rules for the floats are that they can’t use motorized vehicles, pets, or written words.

Then I saw this cool record store:

And ate at this hippie place:

traditions2 traditions

And saw some of the other downtown Oly sites:

I’m pretty sure this is what was happening at the farm while I was away:

kaley and gracie

Gracie and Kaley shooting at shit with a crossbow “pistol”

ladies of the farm

Everyone else doing gymnastics and riding horses.

It’s just like camp!

Notes from the farm

poppy

Hello!

This is day 6 of my farm adventure and I am starting to get the hang of things. I have mucked a lot of stalls…

I’ve done various other things, like hoof-trimming, dog-walking, kid-playing, and goat-feeding…

These are the kinds of outfits I wear now:

outfit

But the main thing we do here is milk the goats. We milk around 20 goats each morning and night:

milk list

They come in four goats at a time and we load them onto the stanchions:

milk portrait

Then we handmilk them a bit:

Handmilking is a lot harder than it looks!

Handmilking is a lot harder than it looks!

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Then we hook ’em up to the milk tubes…

udders

milk tubesIt’s about this point when I think to myself, um, what the HELL AM I DOING HERE? I am not going to be a farmer. I don’t think I will ever own goats. Or cows. Or anything else with an udder. So why am I doing this?

The answer I have come up with is that, even if I am not going to own a farm, I still care where my food comes from. I care about the animals that feed me and the people who raise those animals. I will never again balk at paying more for locally-made, small-farm-made products. In fact, I will seek them out. I see how much time, effort, and love goes into making just one gallon of milk. And I feel so blessed to witness it. It is an absolute blessing that these beautiful animals (and people) help to feed us!

Then, after milking, we usually just hang out a lot.

liquor juanis goat books

Wish me luck in week 2!

Left Foot Farm, Eatonville, Wash., USA

I was picked up in Seattle yesterday by the fabulous Ella and Anna from Left Foot Farm. Having never done farm work before, I was not sure what to expect. But these little friends are making me feel right at home:

And then they like to crawl all over you…

Kat and the kids

Kat and the kids

My room is LITERALLY in the barn. It is above the goat stalls, in my own little apartment. Creepy barn apartment, sure, but apartment nonetheless.

Some other stars of the farm:

I’m sure there will be lots of farm pics to come. This morning, I milked a bunch of goats! Let me tell you, it’s a little more complicated then you might think. Now I am going to muck some stalls. Woo-hoo!

Goat milk doesn't taste goaty at all. It just tastes like really good cow's milk.

Goat milk doesn’t taste goaty at all. It just tastes like really good cow’s milk.

So long, Seattle: EMP museum + Fremont

I went to the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum yesterday. It’s right under the Space Needle:

space needle

The EMP has a variety of hands-on, interactive exhibits about the history and anatomy of music. Their current shows also include in-depth looks at (who else?) Nirvana and Jimi Hendrix:

What you might not expect is that the EMP also currently has a Masters of Sci-Fi exhibit:

And a horror exhibit:

And an exhibit on the history of the leather jacket:

I had visit some of the important Seattle landmarks of my youth (a.k.a., filming locations from Cameron Crowe movies):

On my way back from Gas Works Park, I happened upon the Fremont Brewing Co., where a slew of Seattleites was soaking up the sun on the patio.

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I had the Merlot Sister, which was quite excellent.

fremont brewing

Next up, goat farming!

Seattle Underground Tour

A couple nights ago, we did the pub crawl to a place called Unicorn, which is decorated like the circus and serves Jell-O shots the size of your face. I also tried the local shitty tallboy beer:

rainier

A northwestern Lone Star

I awoke with the horrible feeling that I had been snoring. So, basically, to everyone else in my dorm room, I was “that fucking woman who was snoring all night.” Sorry, lady-from-the-Netherlands and weird-chick-who-never-gets-out-of-bed, I didn’t mean to keep you up. I never saw the rest of them. They all checked out in the morning.

Yesterday, I worked for about 4–5 hours and then I went to yet another Indian buffet, with yet another new German friend, Caroline. Caroline loves to get her dance on at the electronica club on Capital Hill and she has seen every episode of Grey’s Anatomy at least twice. Sara the Austrian loves Grey’s Anatomy too. The international language of McDreamy. I prefer my Patrick Dempsey more Donald Miller style.

Extra anchovies.

Extra anchovies.

My big touristy thing of the day was to go on the Seattle Underground Tour, which takes you under the streets around Pioneer Square. The original city was built on tide flats, so it was continuously flooding, and faulty planning of the sewage system sent shit literally bursting out of toilets. Indoor plumbing was new technology back then and no one really knew what they were doing.

When the Great Seattle Fire of 1889 consumed the mostly wooden city (but killing no one), the decision was made to build retaining walls out of the local quarry rock, and basically put their entire city up on stone stilts, raising them out of the shitty, flooded marshes.

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The original Seattle streets, which are now underground.

So Seattle’s original downtown is actually underneath modern day Pioneer Square. For years afterward, the space between was used as a sort of dump for household items and construction waste that was thrown in as filler to cushion around the support walls. Like a big basement for the city.

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In the early 1900s, the underground was condemned because the whole place was overrun with rats (and there had been an outbreak of bubonic plague). For a while, the city offered a “bounty” on rattails. Until they discovered that people had been breeding and raising rats expressly to cut off their tails and turn them in for the reward.

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The Seattle Underground Tour was started by a historian and urban conservationist named Bill Speidel in 1965. He sounds like an awesome dude. He wrote a book called Sons of the Profits, about how the city’s founders were motivated by greed, and he pretty much single-handedly saved the underground. Punk rock. He was also something of a comedian, so the tour has a stand-up comedy feel to it.

I wasn’t sure how funny it was going to be when my tour guide appeared to have just leapt from the pages of the J. Crew winter catalog:

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Miles. Sigh. He’s probably about 26. And pretty funny. I was surprised.

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Yeah, there are quite a few in this genre. Miles standing under the skylight.

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Fuck it. I should just send these photos to J. Crew myself.

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I’ve been to bars that aren’t this nice.

IMG_1334 IMG_1338 Some of the cool shit in the gift shop:

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Old-timey espresso machine

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The kind of “junk” that was thrown into the underground.

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The only other news is that they moved a bunch of guys into my dorm, so I am now sharing a room with an Englishman, a dude-bro frat guy, and a gynormous, extremely polite African fellow.

Seattle, Wash., USA, day 1

pike placeI arrived in Seattle yesterday after a lovely ride up from Portland on the Bolt Bus, which is a regional bus service operated by Greyhound (but waaaaaay nicer). You can get tickets for anywhere from $1–16, depending on how early you book your ticket. They are able to charge less because they don’t have a station; they just pick you up on a street corner. Like Megabus in the Southwest. I highly recommend it.

I checked in to the Green Tortoise Hostel, which is spitting distance from Pike Place Market. It’s pretty nice, though it is much larger and less personal than the Portland Hostel. I am in an eight-room dorm, with bunkbeds jammed in like you’re in the navy or some shit, but you can close the curtains all the way around and you have your own light and outlet, so you can make it like your own cave.

Then there are the bathrooms—the shower is just a spigot in the ceiling with no curtain or anything.

See the shower up in the lefthand corner?

See the shower up in the lefthand corner?

It all feels very military. Except without all the guns and murder and push-ups and stuff. No one has made me drop and give them 20 yet.

Oh, and they probably get a lot of sailors here, judging by the vending machine…

vending

Last night I had a couple of pints with a guy named Johannes who thought it was hilarious that a restaurant would advertise that they use “fresh ingredients.” (Like, what else would they use?) and he didn’t understand why restaurants would have signs out front that just say “We serve great food.” He says you would never see that in Germany. I suppose the Germans are more precise with their advertising.

Today, I partook of one of the best things about hostels—cheap and free tours. I went on the “Famous Dead Guy Tour” of Seattle.

the lees

Kurt Cobain's house

Kurt Cobain’s house

The bench outside Kurt's house, where he supposedly sat and composed songs.

The bench outside Kurt’s house, where he supposedly sat and composed songs.

JImi Hendrix's grave and memorial, which is in the most suburban stripmall-type town you can possibly imagine.

JImi Hendrix’s grave and memorial, which is in the most suburban stripmall-type town you can possibly imagine.

Even in death, Jimi still gets the ladies. And the dudes, probably.

Even in death, Jimi still gets the ladies. And the dudes, probably.

The memorial includes these cool writings in Jimi’s own hand…

angel

And we saw the original “black hole sun” sculpture. So I’ve had THAT fucking song in my head all day. Thanks a lot, Soundgarden.

black hole sunThen we ate a shit-ton of Indian food at Mayuri Indian Restaurant, a place that all the Microsoft employees liked SO much that they opened another location inside the Microsoft campus.

indian buffet

I may hate their computers, but I love their taste in food.

Portland finale: hiking and floating

I’m getting on the bus to Seattle today and guess what? It’s raining! But yesterday was “sunny.”

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So, I walked around the Hawthorne neighborhood and took in some sights, like this rad literary giants mural:

rad muralHere are the close-ups:

woolfe agatha wright fyodor wilde tennessee plathIn honor of Sylvia, I went down the street and got this avocado “bubble tea” smoothie:

IMG_1224Then there was this:

walkin

I was extremely lucky to have a local (and mother of my beautiful friend Kate B.) take me out to the Columbia River Gorge for some hiking. I’m not qualified to say it is THE most beautiful place in the world, but it is sure up there in my book:

IMG_1178 IMG_1183 IMG_1186 IMG_1189 IMG_1194 IMG_1198 And I walked across this bridge…

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Even though there was this warning:IMG_1204

Finally, last night I tried out Portland’s version of an Austin-style taqueria:

porque no tacos

grammaNot bad, Portland. It’s no Taco Deli, El Chilito, or Torchy’s, but not bad

For my big finale, and continuing the spirit of adventure, I scheduled an appointment at a place called “Float On.”

float on

The idea is that you get inside this big tank full of SUPER salty water (60% saltier than the Dead Sea). The high salt content allows you to float, completely effortlessly. It’s the closest thing to zero-gravity that most of us civilians can get. It is absolutely dark and silent inside the tank, and your spine is able to totally let go of all the stress associated with walking, standing, and holding itself up. Supposedly it’s really good for the nervous system too. The guy told me that float tanks were originally developed by the military as a potential torture, but when the test subjects got out, instead of being stressed, they were all blissed out and zen. I floated for 90 minutes in this bad boy:

float tank

My only suggestion is that you shouldn’t eat oniony tacos before locking yourself in a pot of salty water for an hour and a half. I felt like the French chefs in that old Bugs Bunny cartoon.