Two years ago today was the last day I was in Seattle. Months before I had made the fateful decision to move back to New Jersey to be with my now ex and to be closer to my family and friends. I wish I could say it has been a success but with rare instances it has been a failure, so far...
I'm not here to talk about the trials and tribulations of my life the last two years but I will do a day by day account of my cross country trip from Seattle to New Jersey. I had to do it, it had been a dream of mine for a long time and I felt that I needed to do this to reflect on my time in Seattle and the hopeful future back in New Jersey. I was bringing my cat and envisioned the trip as "Harry and Tonto" in reverse.
August 22, 2005.
The day started the night before. I had delayed my trip for a week as a favor to my favorite employers at the 5 spot cafe. They in turn threw a party for me when I left. It was a karaoke party that occurred after we closed shop at midnight. It was a blast, and I did my trademarked sneak out but not before I said goodbye to my favorite people. Lorenzo, Hank, Chad and the girl I had a huge crush on Marya. I melted when I looked in her eyes, thinking if only but I was committed to my girl back in Jersey. I walked down the hill to my very empty apartment. I looked out at the Puget Sound at a late night ferry, (I'll miss that) I ran into my good friend Rahual on the way down. We had a long talk, said goodbye and I walked down to my apartment to put the last of my things in the van I rented. I slept on the floor with my confused cat.
I awoke at dawn. The salty mist was in the air. It's one of the many pleasures of Seattle. It was a reminder of my very first day in Seattle back in 1991. Only San Francisco rivals it in its appeal. I looked at my near empty apartment. I had left my TV and a chair behind. Now I went to put the cat's litter box in the van, and put my reluctant cat in the box. It was time to leave Seattle. I had to make one stop.
I knew that when I moved back to New Jersey, I would not find a place that would be nearly as good of a place to get a good mocha. The best place for a good mocha was Cafe Ladro. It's a small chain of coffee shops in which one of them was located down the block from my apartment. It was my daily routine (I like routines) for nearly 5 years to walk down get my single short or double tall mocha read both of the two daily Seattle newspapers, The PI and the Times, and if I'm lucky the New York Times and USA Today. I got to know all the baristas in my time but today, the barista was a new woman who I never bonded with. It was after 10:30 in the morning so therefore she was the only one there. I got my mocha to go, as my cat was in the van. How sad, no one of significance to say good bye to.
I got back to the van, heard my cat's guttural meow, and took off up Queen Anne Hill one last time, to head towards the 520 bridge. As I crossed the bridge I looked back in the rear view mirror to say good bye to Seattle. Now my destiny laid ahead.
I was trying to avoid riding the interstate highway system as much as possible but had to use I-405 north so I can access state route 2 near the north of the state of Washington. I had to take route 522 to get there but once I got on 2 I was in scenic heaven and it would stay that way for the next 500 or so miles. You would have to go down the Pacific Highway to see better scenery in the USA. I drove for a good couple of hours before I decided to stop at Deception Falls. I wanted to stretch my legs and look at some beautiful Washington scenery. My cat was crying so I thought I would allow him to walk around the car awhile. The second he left the car, he bolted across the highway, leaped over a jersey barrier and disappeared into the evergreen woods. I watched this and thought, ehh let him go, I'm gonna walk around to the falls. I left out his food dish with water just in case he walked back. I spent a half hour touring the falls, a pleasant diversion for a pit stop, not touristy at all. The weather was fresh and clean. It was time to leave and Spookie was nowhere to be found. I put the dish in the van, thought about just leaving him, thinking that someone down the line would find him and take him. Of course there was no way I can live with the guilt and went searching for him.
I headed in the direction I saw him go, and took about twenty minutes looking for him, calling his name. I was about to give up when I finally heard him meow. I saw him cowering under a large moss covered rock, meowing but seeming glad to see me. I talked to him a few minutes and went back to the car to grab his box. I found him again and after much coaxing I finally got him into the box and headed to the van. I was about an hour and a half behind schedule and tried to make up for it. I decided I would just take a half hour in one of my favorite towns, Leavenworth. Leavenworth is a tourist town that had adopted a Bavarian theme back in the 60's. Every building in the town looks like a Bavarian building including the McDonald's and Starbucks. I've been here several times with a previous girlfriend, both in the winter when the snow is four feet deep and the place has a magical North Pole of Santa fame quality to it and the summer when it is crisp, clear, and clean.
I then drove off and head to the Grand Coulee Dam. The Grand Coulee dam is not as famous as the Hoover Dam nor as tall but it is much bigger and is the largest concrete structure in the United States. It's located in the eastern part of Washington state, where the air is dry and has a desert quality to it.
It was starting to get close to dusk and my plans had involved reaching the state of Montana. I had not even left the state of Washington. My plans was to be in three different states each day of my travels. I stopped in Spokane Washington to call my mom and let her know where I was at and to meet up with I-90. I finally crossed state lines into Idaho. Idaho is a very large state but the I-90 section is at the smallest part, so it took less than a hour. White Supremacist's stronghold at Coeur D'Alene and Wallace Idaho are the only towns of note, and Wallace is known only as the town of the last traffic light of I-90. The scenery was beautiful, full of lakes and waterways.
It was dark when I entered Montana, and I was hoping to make some headway in the state before I stopped for the night. My eyes were tired when I decided to stop at a road stop. It was like the South of The Border tourist trap that borders North and South Carolina.
It had a diner that had slot machines in every store. It wasn't quite as tacky as Vegas but still a little sad. It was about 10 at night and the place was crowded. I just got some Coke and headed on the road to make some time. The problem was that I was really tired. I figured I could make it til 1 in the morning but I wasn't gonna make it. Heck, I couldn't make it to the next hotel. I had to pull off at the next road stop. I parked the van and let the cat out,since I was going to sleep there. I nodded off in the front seat and fell asleep.