Travel is Wonder, and Wonder is Free

I grew up in a family that didn’t have much money, where everyone was constantly telling me that it was too expensive to go anywhere or do anything. Only when I got older did I realize what a bunch of bullshit that was, and only after that did I begin to see how many people around me were feeding their own heads with that exact same bullshit.

Look, I’m fully aware of how stressful being poor is. I’ve been there. But I’m even more acutely mindful of the fact that stress will just keep you locked in those stressful circumstances you are if you let it. It’ll become your epitaph. Your prison sentence. And that, my friends, is the ultimate bullshit.

There are many ways to get out of stress, but the one I want to talk about today is one that doesn’t get a lot of press: the act of cultivating a sense of wonder.

It’s tough to rationally explain how much this topic has me pumped up and pissed off right now. I woke up at 3:30 in the morning with this post in my head. I scribbled it down right in the dark in the notebook I keep at my bedside. I realized in that moment that this is what Northwest Nomad was always supposed to be. It’s not just a travel blog. It’s a fucking mission to get people off their asses and out into the world with a fresh sense of life’s possibility, beauty, depth, and inspiration, because I remember what it felt like to have none of those things in my life.

I can’t stand all those travel blogs full of privileged pretties trumpeting the spiritual epiphanies they’re having in foreign locales and 10,000-star restaurants and bla bla bla. Those things piss me off because they make travel, wonder, and adventure seem like some inaccessible fantasy that the vast majority of people can’t hope to experience. That’s not what I’m about, and that’s not what Nomad is about.

Listen, I do big things like climb Mount Rainier and party in downtown Seattle, but that’s such a small part of life. For me, the adventure is out there every goddamn day, right on the streets and trails around me, just like it’s all around YOU if you’d just LOOK.

Do you realize that no morning is ever the same? Not even close. To say days are “foggy” doesn’t capture the totality of any given foggy day. Not if you’re really paying attention. There are different kinds of fog. Each one hugs the landscape just a little differently and smells a little differently and feels differently on your skin. No two rains are ever exactly the same. No two sunshines. No two breezes or snows. Every day is a once-ever-in-existence phenomenon, and that’s a fact.

Some part of you knows this, but you fight it or you deny it as something trivial. I’m writing this to tell you that it’s not trivial. To be washed over with wonder is to step outside yourself, outside your stress and fears. It’s goddamn transformational. It puts you in a state of expectation and optimism.

Wonder is what we really mean when we talk about travel. The trip is just the vehicle to get to wonder. And those big exotic trips are awesome, and I fully encourage everyone to go after them. But, in the meantime, finances should never be a reason to live separated from wonder and amazement.

That country road down the way; the road right outside your house; the train tracks and the marina; all of it, everything, is potentially wondrous if you’re willing to bring a sense of wonder to it.

I’m going to end up repeating myself, so just let me say, in this late-night-passion-borne post, that travel is just another word for wonder, and wonder is free.

Let me say that again more simply: travel is wonder, and wonder it free.

So get out there. Open that heart again. Open those eyes. See the moments and the spaces around you for the miracle they are feel how incredibly privileged you are to witness them. There’s beauty out there. There’s a world of wonder swimming in a sea of never-ending transformation.

Join it. Swim with it. Get out and drop the bullshit, my friends. That’s all I want to say. Get out there and take a deep breath, and take in that world around you and marvel at it.

Travel is wonder, and wonder is free, so drop the excuses and get travelling.

Northwest Nuggets: Fred Crisman’s Murder of a City, Tacoma

Fred Crisman, UFOs, and the Murder of a City

The Maury Island Incident is a well-known (though perhaps not as well-known as it should be) Washington state UFO event. Whether you consider the event to be a legitimate UFO contact or just a hoax, it’s a story that lives on to this day, and Fred Crisman played an important role in it.

Less well-known than the “Incident” is that Crisman was also involved in a weird aspect of the John F. Kennedy assassination, being fingered as one of the “Three Tramps.”

Even LESS well-known than that is that Crisman spent years raising hell around the city of Tacoma under the pseudonym “Jon Gold.”

As “Jon Gold,” Crisman ran a radio show spreading what some call “conspiracy theory” and others call “investigative journalism.” Much like the UFO stuff, it really depends on which side of the aisle you choose to stand.

Out of those Gold radio shows was spawned a book titled Murder of a City, Tacoma, published in 1970. The Northwest Nomad recently got his hands on a copy of that fascinating slice of weird history.

Murder of a City, Tacoma was written off in its day as a “rant” and basically a bunch of paranoid conspiratorial lunacy. I’m partway through the book, and it doesn’t seem that way to me.

I need to research and verify the stuff he’s saying, of course, but so far, the book reads more like an expose of the political corruption Crisman says afflicted Tacoma in that time.

Whether there was any meat to Crisman’s claims remains to be seen, but we do know that Tacoma was a city in dire straits in the 1970s and all the way up to the 2000s, when the city’s famously successful revitalization effort began to take hold. It doesn’t seem (to me, anyway) to be a major stretch that there may indeed have been a lot of corruption in the city at that time.

The Northwest Nuggets series is designed for little slices of Northwest history and travel, so I’ll be doing a full examination of the book in another post. Here, I just wanted to bring The Murder of a City, Tacoma to light.

Ruston Waterfront: The Nightmare Continues

I have written in the past about the terrible, mysterious suspended bike of the Ruston Waterfront. I write now to let you know the horror is multiplying, and the nightmare has deepened.

I was out walking the Ruston waterfront on this beautiful April day of sunshine, seals, and the Sound, when I discovered to my great dismay that a new suspended bike has appeared.

This one’s red—spawned, undoubtedly, from the same nether regions as the last bike, which has haunted my dreams from the I first set eyes upon it—monstrous, unnatural thing that it is.

When the tide is out, as it was when I got there today, you can get rather close to the new bike. It was a just a couple feet off the shore, screwed to a pole in shallow water.

In researching this phenomenon, I found that my friends over at Grit City have already located this bike, and are less irrationally horrified by it as I am.

Grit City‘s excellent detective work puts forth the hypothesis that this and the other bike are related to Burning Man in some way.  I’m not going to plagiarize or steal their thunder here, so I’ll just say that it’s erudite detective work on their part, and you should follow that Grit City link up above to see what they’ve to say.

Let no one say that the Northwest Nomad is less than noble in his content creation…and let no one say, either, that the Nomad is anything less than paranoid about cool art sculptures that add so much wonder to our fair city of Tacoma.

Thanks, suspended bike guys…gals…demons…whatever thou be.

Thanks, too, to Grit City for the fine gumshoeing.

If you’re mad enough seek this bike out, I can tell you that it’s near Cummings Park, which I’m going to pin to a map below. Good luck, seeker, but remember the old adage: be careful what you wish for. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Maury Island Incident Film Sheds New Light on an Old Legend

For me, one of the highlights of the UFO/Paranormal Conference at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino was their showing of The Maury Island Incident.

The film, now being shown on select dates around the Pacific Northwest, dramatizes one of the most fascinating events in Washington state history, and one of the most significant UFO events (or hoaxes, depending on where you stand on the issue) ever.

That event is known as the Maury Island Incident, and it just happened to be the event that spawned the “Men in Black” myth.

The event took place on June 21, 1947, just off the shore of Maury Island (same location as Point Robinson Lighthouse), which is just off Vashon Island, which itself is a short ferry ride from Tacoma‘s shore.

During the event that would come to be called the Maury Island Incident, Fred Crisman and Harold Dahl were working on a harbor patrol boat when six UFOs appeared in the sky.

One of the doughnut-shaped objects emitted a lava-like substance onto the boat. The impact of the substance killed the dog on board and broke a man’s arm. The men initially spoke about the event, but eventually the official story became that it was all a simple hoax cooked up to win the pair a spot in Fantasy magazine.

The new Maury Island Incident film, however, uses newly declassified FBI documents to make the case that the hoax claim was a lie made out of fear after Dahl and Crisman were harassed by unidentified men wearing black suits.

These “men in black” appeared to be unrelated to the FBI or the Air Force personnel also sent to investigate the situation. No one’s really sure who they represented.

If they were real, though, they managed to frighten two hardy Pacific Northwesterners enough that they destroyed their own reputations and said they’d been hoaxing everyone the whole time.

My purpose in this post isn’t to give away the new information contained in the film nor to fully recap the whole Maury Island Incident story, but instead to encourage readers to check out the film and the rest of the story.

The film is half-an-hour long and very well made, so much so that it can be enjoyed purely as a fictional movie, if the reader is not a UFO believer at all.

In the short space of 30 minutes, the movies packs in a whole lot of intrigue and emotion. I felt connected to the characters despite the relative brevity of the film and the broad scope of the events packed into that short time frame.

It’s well worth checking out, whether you’re a devout believer, a devout non-believer, or just someone interested in one of the most fascinating, iconic events in Washington state history.

 

A Visit to Point Robinson Light

Point Robinson is the Kind of Place People Call Cute

Listen, friends, I do not use the word “cute.” As far as I’m concerned, such a word has no place in any self-respecting nomad’s vocabulary. However, as I visited Point Robinson on Maury Island, I was fully aware it was the kind of place that many people, most of them women, would happily call “cute.”

That’s fine and good, by the way. Nothing wrong with “cute.” It’s just not a word I’d use, so I’m saying it through saying what other people would say. Dig?

Point Robinson: it’s cute…but I’m not the one who said it.

For my two cents, Point Robinson is interesting and relaxing. This is an easy trip and an opportunity to see a lighthouse up close, as well as to learn a little history.

Point Robinson: Providing Light Since 1885

Point Robinson has been operating since 1885. It’s located on the east shore of Maury Island, which is itself located just off Vashon Island, which can be accessed by ferry at Point Defiance Park. You drive from Vashon onto Maury, so no further ferrying is required.

In addition the “cute” (as others would call it, not me) lighthouse itself, Point Robinson has hiking trails, a long and walkable sandy beach, saltwater marsh (for the bird lovers), and woods. This also happens to be the spot at which I witnessed some of the biggest banana slugs I’ve ever seen.

A short walk from the lighthouse are the Keeper’s Quarters, which is basically the house in which the lighthouse keeper used to live (the lighthouse was fully automated in 1978). You can also rent boating supplies there.

According to Point Robinson website, they give ours mid-May to mid-September. I have never taken those tours myself and so can’t offer any personal information to you, dear readers. However, I can also say that I see no reason to doubt their proficiency!

I’m embedding a Google Map to lead you to the site if you choose to check it out. Robinson is a nice little day trip, and a good addition to any visit to Vashon Island, which is a place so charming that it’s unofficial motto is “Keep Vashon Weird.”

Weird…I can deal with that. “Cute,” on the other hand, I’ll leave to the good graces of others.

UFO/Paranormal Summit at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino

On my way out of the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino after day 1 of the 2018 UFO/Paranormal summit, a young casino employee jokingly warned me to be careful. “Don’t get abducted on the way to the car,” he said with a snicker and a wink at his coworker.

I didn’t take the mockery personally, because I was there as a tourist of the UFO/Paranormal world, not a true member. It was a taste, however, of what “experiencers” (the name used to designate those that have directly experienced UFO contact) and general paranormal enthusiasts alike have to put up. And you know what? It’s a bunch of crap. Those UFO/Paranormal “nutters” are some of the best people you’ll ever meet.

The truth of the matter is that I went to the summit hoping to see a bunch of weird, eccentric people. The truth is also that this article would be sure to get more “likes” and “claps” and shares if I pretended that was the case and exaggerated the people I met and made fun of them. I’m not going to write that, though, not only because it’s not true but also because, after hearing what they had to say, I’m one of them, damn it.

The people I met at the UFO/Paranormal summit were some of the friendliest, most curious, down-to-Earth (pun intended) people I’ve ever met. It was a pleasure to share the conference room with them.

UFO Summit menu, with picture of alien wearing a chef's hat.

I didn’t meet any fanatics. Really, considering the current political climate, where formerly rational people fly off the handle at anyone who slightly disagrees with them, these people were refreshingly open-minded and moderate in their views.

They also were unafraid to laugh at themselves. Stuffed aliens, a big cardboard cutout where you could put your face in the face of an alien in a disco suit, and funny images such as the one seen to the left were all over the conference room. These people know damn well how they’re perceived by the outside world, and they accept it. In fact, I’d say most of them seemed proud to have the courage to explore outside the mainstream. That’s the kind of folks I met.

The lectures and presentations were fun and fascinating. Wildlife biologist Joe Hauser, who also runs the Montana House of Mystery, was my personal favorite presenter. He discussed energy vortexes and the possible connection they may have to paranormal phenomenon, of which UFOs are now widely considered to be another part of. It’s a view that was also supported by Portland, Oregon science teacher and bigfoot researcher Thom Powell.

This is complex stuff that is too complicated to go into at length here, but I strongly recommend that anyone interested check out the fellows mentioned above, as well as physicist Jacques Vallee. The general idea they all play with is that there are porous spaces in the fabric of reality in certain places around the world, and the things we call “paranormal” come through these porous spaces occasionally.

If that hypothesis is right, then UFOs, Bigfoot, ghosts, fairies, and all the myriad of other things we call “paranormal” are all actually part of the same phenomenon.

Some of the other presenters stuck with subjects that were more nuts-and-bolts types of things–the kind of simple “grey biological beings in metal spaceship” stuff you see in the X-Files.

Maureen Morgan, Washington state’s MUFON director, presented a very well-researched case to challenge the legitimacy of the recent government UFO disclosures. Morgan was passionately erudite in her presentation, slinging out referenced facts and biographies at breakneck speed. She practically had to be dragged off the stage, so caught up was she with this urgent need to get out what she had to get out.

Watching her, I decided that (1) she did indeed present some compelling information, and (2) she was the kind of person I wanted to hang out with, no matter if he ideas were right. She had real, earnest passion for her subject. How often nowadays do you find somebody like that? It was inspiring, to say the least.

So, I’m not going to give an extensive recap of the whole event here as it would take a few thousand words to do so. What I will say is that I had a great time at the UFO/Paranormal Summit, and I really look forward to hanging out with that crowd again.

In the meantime, I’ve got some research to catch up on. There be Bigfoot in them there hills, and the Northwest Nomad intends to find them.