The Tacoma Book Center: So Many Corners

A tousled-headed man wandered into the horror section of the Tacoma Book Center with an armful of books and a chagrined look on his face.

“Jeez,” he said, looking around the stacks, “another secret room? This place has so many corners, I keep getting lost.”

His turn of phrase struck me as strangely poetic. So many corners. It’s the sort of vaguely surreal wording you might find in a Borges poem, or a Tom Waits song ­ – the sort of thing that simultaneously hints at multiple layers of meaning and no meaning at all.

“I find something new ever time I come here,” I said. “I think this place grows at night.”

We shared a chuckle. He looked at the book in my hand, Clive Barker’s The Great and Secret Show. “Is that any good?”

“This is a great book,” I said. “I’ve read it three times already.”

“You’re browsing a book you’ve read three times already?”

I busted up laughing. The irrationality of what I’d been doing hadn’t struck me until he stated it, but even funnier was his knowing grin – the smile of man who understands the hopeless absurdity of being an out-and-out book nerd.

It was an encounter that encapsulated all that I love best about the Tacoma Book Center.

In age where the big bookstores have all the soulless glamour of a Las Vegas casino, the Center has character.

I’ve always thought of it as the Eric Hoffer of big bookstores, rough hands and an aching back, muddy boots, but way smarter and more vital than the well-manicured University guys could ever hope to be.

I can imagine the Tacoma Book Center standing on Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, just down the way from Lee Chong’s grocery.

Far as I’m concerned, there are few-if-any places in the world as magical as libraries and bookstores. And the Center isn’t just a bookstore; it’s a good bookstore, in the parlance of Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. It’s got soul.

It also happens to have 500,000 books.  Yes, you read that right: half a million books. You can get lost in its stacks. I have gotten lost in its stacks.

Every time I go to the Center, I find myself wondering how many people have browsed those shelves before me, exploring all those sleeping worlds waiting to be born inside reader’s heads. Where will their ghosts go after the building is gone? I don’t know. Nobody does.

The sad truth is that the store will someday be gone; or at least will house something other than books. Larry, the Center’s owner, told me the other day that, while the rumors of the death of print have been greatly exaggerated, the industry is having a hard time finding young blood willing to take the business up. The great old stores are dying with their founders.

The fact is that less people are reading print, and when they do read print, they buy their books online. So, even if the books themselves survive, the old way of selling them in physical stores may not.

Well, in response to that I will borrow a line from E.E. Cummings and ask: who cares if some one-eyed son of a bitch invents an instrument to measure Spring with?

Maybe it’s true that the brick-and-mortar bookstore has already been given a death sentence, but, as of today, at least one still stands. It’s on the corner of East 26th and East D Streets in Tacoma, within spitting distance of Freighthouse Square.

I love the store and everything it stands for. So do many others. I run into them every time I go there, this ragtag band of literary devotees. For us, the magic has never faded.

Even if the books are dead, their bones still sing to us from the catacombs.

Bah, that’s a bunch of fatalistic nonsense. Those attuned to the frequency of the Word know what the analysts cannot, which is that no good thing can ever die (thanks Mr. King).

Check out the Tacoma Book Center. You can find books online, but character? Soul? Supplies of that have been running low for years now, and nobody’s restocking the shelves.

Besides, you just might find some good conversation while browsing the stacks. Look for it in the horror section…if you can find it.

First edition hardback copy of Cormac McCarthy's novel Suttree.
My favorite novel ever written. Tacoma Book Center has a first edition of this baby. Gaze upon it, children, and dream.

Where to Stay in Ocean Shores, Washington: The Sands

Note: I went to the Sands independently and received nothing from them for my stay or for this article. I didn’t tell them I run a travel blog, and they don’t know I’m writing this. I receive no payment from them or any other place that I endorse.

The Sands is a Great Budget Stay in Ocean Shores, Washington

Well, I’ve tried nearly every hotel in Ocean Shores now, and I do believe I’ve found my favorite budget stay.

Going by cost-to-quality ratio, the Sands was my favorite lodging experience in town, and I’ve visited Ocean Shores more times than I can count. For just $89 dollars a night (95 after tax), in the middle of June, I got a room with a killer view and bird songs filling the air (more on the birds in just a bit).

Their rates are even lower in the off season, making this a terrific destination for an impromptu weekend getaway or overnight trip. This will definitely be my go-to place for future quick-trips.

There for the Beach, Not the Room

I’ve seen one reviewer online call the Sands’ rooms “dated,” but I didn’t get that impression. They have few frills, I guess, but I go to the beach for the beach, not to sit in my room, so that didn’t matter much to me. The room was clean and the bed was comfortable, the bathroom tidy and the shower nice with good hot water.

On this particular trip (ironically enough, considering the generalized statement I made about myself above), I actually did spend quite a bit of time in my room watching the birds in the bushes and the waves rolling over the beach beyond. The accommodations suited me perfectly for that.

This was my view as I contemplated the mysteries of life…and enjoyed a beer.

There are two beach access points within short walking distance from the hotel, so you can make a circular trip of the beach without retracing your steps at all. Ocean Shores, by the way, has a sandy beach, which is not always easy to find in Washington, where the coasts are usually rugged and rocky.

Some other hotels in Ocean Shores sit right on the sand. This seems appealing, but the drawback to this is that the beach goers are always within earshot. The Sands has a buffer of grasses and bushes that makes the hotel itself feel like an isolated little oasis. I liked having that stretch of greenery there more than I’ve enjoyed being right on the sands.

Many Amenities: My Favorites are the Birds

My favorite part about the Sands is the birds. Handmade bird houses are located all over the grounds, so there are birds everywhere. Their singing creates a supremely peaceful setting.

The hotel also has a volleyball pit in the back and a sun deck with chairs called the Dolphin Cove. There’s an indoor pool and a recreation room above the office, a couple Jacuzzi tubs and a dry sauna. I didn’t partake of any of these amenities, but I gave them a gander and they looked nice to me. Personally, I didn’t need any of those things. I was happy with the bird songs and the ocean so close by.

When I travel, I usually spend very little time in my room except to sleep. If I do sit in the room, it’s just to read or enjoy the silence. So, for me, the basic accommodations were terrific.

There is No Wi-Fi Except in the Recreation Room

I’m making this its own section because it’s a point that is bound to bother some people. The rooms do not have wi-fi. To access wi-fi, you have to go to the recreation area above the office.

Personally, for me, this was a good thing. I like unplugging now and then. Honestly, I wish they didn’t even have a television. Disconnecting, far as I’m concerned, is relaxing and good for the mental health.

I understand this is a position that not everyone will take, of course, so I’m making certain to make this fact known loud and clear in my blog. I don’t want to influence you on anything that you won’t enjoy.

In that light, I should also add that the service at the Sands is perfectly good, but maybe not as warm or eager-to-please as you’ll find at some higher-end hotels. This, too, is something I frankly don’t care about, but am mentioning because I’ve seen some reviewers elsewhere criticize the Sands in this regard.

The gentleman at the front desk on the day I arrived was professional and polite. He made sure to get me the best view he could get at the best price.

The woman who was there on the day I checked out, meanwhile, was very helpful. We had a good chat and she filled me in some upcoming events and the likelihood of vacancies in late August. She introduced herself as Stacy. She was friendly, informative, and pleasant to deal with.

It usually doesn’t even occur to me to remark on the front desk reception, because it’s a non-issue to me. I just don’t really care. Since I’m trying to be as helpful to you folks as I can, however, I ought to mention it. I only stayed there once, so I can’t debunk the negative receptions I’ve seen in some reviews. But, I can say, that in my experience everyone was friendly and efficient.

They weren’t gushing with hospitality as I’ve seen in some hotels, I guess, but were friendly and good at their jobs, which is all I would ask for.

Location, Location, Location

Ocean Shores has plenty of good hotels, both high-end, budget, and in-between. If you’re looking for a high-end place, then the Sands might not be for you (I’ll be writing about the high-end places I think would be for you later).

What the Sands does offer is a terrific location at a very fair rate. To get an ocean view for less than a hundred bucks in June is not easy. I’d say it’s damn near impossible, really. Their prices, far as I can tell, are even lower in the off season.

Ocean Shores is a pretty small town, so the restaurant strip is never too far from you, no matter where you stay. Neither is the grocery store or gas station.

I’m not being endorsed in any way by the Sands. I’m just relating my honest, personal experience, which can be summed up thusly: The Sands is a nice little hotel with a killer location and bird songs filling the air, and I will be going back there, regularly, for sure.

I’ve not found a hotel so close to the beach for such a low price anywhere in Washington state.

Forks, Washington: Cycle of the Vampire

I came home from deployment to find that women had overrun the town of Forks, Washington. This was some time around 2008. I’d been going to Forks for years for the hiking and camping in the area, and had always known it as a gritty, hungover little lumberjack burg (no offense intended, Forks, I LOVE gritty, hungover lumberjack burgs). So it was truly surreal to find it suddenly overrun by well-dressed women and teeny boppers. It was like finding out that the area had been infected by a very classy form of zombie virus.

What I came to discover was that, while I as deployed overseas, a little movie named Twilight was released, and this little movie had been somewhat popular among Americans of a female persuasion. Furthermore, this movie had been set in a fictional version of the town of Forks, apparently because it sees less sunlight than any other town in the continental United States. This sunless factoid is of import because Twilight, in case you hadn’t heard, is about vampires that glitter in sunlight (and glittering is bad because it gives away that they aren’t regular people).

I learned all these facts from a group of 30-something ladies that I met at a bar that night. I’d drunk in that establishment many times in the past, and the only company I ever had there was 10 or so big dudes in jeans and flannel shirts. On this night, however, there seemed to be about 10,000 women crammed into this place. The air was absolutely pungent with the scents of perfumes, lotions, and body washes. It smelled like a garden full of synthetic roses.

These ladies were a blast, and they filled me in on Edward, Twilight, and the whole Forks craze. We, along with a couple hundred other women, shut the bar down.

Those days, however, are now done. At least for now. I visited Forks again last week when I was camping at Klahoya Campground, and the place has returned to its meditative silence. All the Twilight shops were shut down. The streets were devoid of female packs. It was back to the Forks I’d come to know and love, and that is one of the reasons I decided to write this, because Forks has more to offer than vampires or werewolves.

Forks is a great midway point to several of my favorite Washington locations. It’s half an hour from Ruby Beach and La Push, my two favorite beaches in the state, and it’s a bit more than half an hour from Lake Crescent, which is also where the trail head is for mean, mean old Mount Storm King.

The Olympic Suites Inn is also one of the best-kept secrets in the area. The Lake Crescent and Kalaloch Lodges are generally sold out far in advance during the summer, and the campgrounds can be even harder to find space in, but I’ve almost always been able to get a room at the Olympic Suites. They’re fair-priced and large accommodations (though the walls are a bit thin).

Pacific Pizza has some good pizza, and even better ice cream.

Forks has a certain charm of its own, even without the vampire-chasing ladies. It’s not a tourist haven and I don’t mean to paint it as such, but it does have a down-home sort of appeal. The people there work hard and have a no-nonsense, direct attitude that stands in sharp contrast to Seattle—they may not tell you what you want to hear, but you can be reasonably certain that whatever they tell you is honest.

The vampires have run their cycle…for now, at least. But who knows where things will go from here? The undead, just like billion-dollar movie franchises, have a way of resurrecting themselves at the most unexpected times.

Somewhere, Edward waits in the eaves…

The Terrible, Mysterious Suspended Bike of the Ruston Waterfront

The Terrible, Mysterious Suspended Bike of the Ruston Waterfront: Weird Melodramatic Poetry Version in Honor of William Blake

Oh, mysterious suspended bike of the Ruston waterfront, who made thee?

Who shaped thy strange handlebars?

Who bound up thy body in wood and left thee, as though in flight, suspended over the Sound?

Where did you come from, you weird artifact?

From the depths of someone’s imagination? Or from some place darker? Are you drawing us toward madness, or bliss? And is there a difference, mysterious suspended bike of the Ruston waterfront walk?

Oh, your strange character has confounded me for generations…generations before my own birth. You hearken back to pre-birth memories, so strange and beautiful and terrible you are.

A surrealist’s dream of lost childhood, or childhood found? Or just an accident with no meaning at all?

Are those wooden posts crosses? The spirit of Dali shivers with delight.

I await you.

In my dreams.

In my nightmares.

Strange, suspended bike of the Ruston waterfront…do you love or fear at all?

The Terrible, Mysterious Suspended Suspended Bike of the Ruson Waterfront: Less Melodramatic and Non-Poetic Version

It turns out I’m not the only person whose fascination has been captured by the mysterious suspended bike of the Ruston waterfront.

Grit City, an excellent Tacoma publication, has done more serious gumshoeing on this topic.

Teaser from that Grit City piece: “Here’s what we know: The bike is a Sears Tote-Cycle and is actually fairly old; probably from the ‘60s. The Tote-Cycle was one of the precursors to today’s foldable bikes.”

I’ll write no more, as I’d just be stealing their content, something the Northwest Nomad will never do (and I’ll fight any man who claims otherwise).

Appalachian Trail Through Hikers: To the People Along the Path

Appalachian Trail Through Hikers: To the People Along the Path

I didn’t know much of anything about the Appalachian Trail when I decided to hike it. This was the late 90s and I was vagabonding around the United States, so information wasn’t nearly as accessible at it is today. Someone had mentioned the Trail, it sounded like what I was looking for, so I did it. At 20 years old, my primary aim in life was to experience the sort of transcendent experiences that Jack Kerouac, Walt Whitman, and Thomas Wolfe wrote about. I was a writer, and I wanted to be a Writer, and the first step, far as I could see it, was to see things worth writing about, whatever the hell that meant. I wanted starry mountaintops, unnamed lakes, and green-eyed vagabond girls. I wanted wildness and freedom and spiritual air. So it was that I hitched a ride with a trucker and headed to Amicolola Falls, Georgia, to begin my journey. I never did find any of the things I was looking for.

What I discovered instead was a patchwork footpath pieced together through east coast sprawl, a ragged trail populated by a part-time nomads armed with guidebooks that outlined in detail exactly what was to be found on every mile ahead. Few days passed where I didn’t cross at least one paved road. There were even fewer where I went more than a couple hours without crossing paths with another person.

At the time, the whole experience was one monstrous disappointment. I quit after a thousand miles because I got tired of hearing highway traffic in the distance. I went West, which was a mythical sort of place to a small town Pennsylvanian such as myself, to find real wilderness. Many more adventures ensued, but the funny thing is, as I look back on those early years now, the big adventures are foggy and distant and a bit cold. What sticks out much more brightly to me are all the people I met along the way to everywhere, and during quiet nights when I think back and reflect, the characters I met on the Trail are some of the most vibrant in my memory.

Ultimately–for me, anyway–the Trail is really about the people that hike it, while the Trail itself is just the stage upon which the hikers act out their parts. Every one of them has a story. Every one of them is a story. Each year, from early spring through autumn, you can find them strung out like some Dickensian procession of wayward characters, people with stories that can only be properly told within the context of a winding, two thousand mile long footpath.

I have no stories of defying deadly, hungry things in the Appalachian wilderness, no stories of powerful insight attained after weeks of literary solitude. What I do have are memories of great, funny, fascinating people, all met at a very special moment in their lives, when they elected to shed their old skin and step forward into new ones with blisters, aching backs, and persistent, pervasively bad odor.

It wasn’t exactly what I’d bargained for. When all is said and done, though, it was something better, and I aim to use this here little piece of wordsmithery to celebrate some of those beautiful souls and, by doing so, maybe celebrate the entire goofy-ass parade of itinerant humanity. What the hell…it beats ranting about politics.

Anne of Green Gables

My third night on the Trail I sat by a campfire near a lean-to shelter with a dozen or so other hikers, talking excitedly about the miles ahead. After the scotch ran dry, everyone got very quiet and stared into the flames in secret contemplations, watching ghosts of the old unwind and dissipate in the smoke as the fatigue of those first few days of hiking settled into our bones. Out of this silence, a woman began to cry.

Before I go, I’d better explain that one of the most cherished Appalachian Trail traditions is the adoption of a trail name. At some point early in their journey, all those who will hike any considerable length of the trail, will take on a new name. Ideally, this moniker is assigned by other hikers. Sometimes, a person simply invents one for themselves.

The tradition might seem silly for some, but it’s actually a pretty powerful little psychological tool. I took my name grudgingly, and only because some of the hikers I met insisted on calling me Notion for so long that I got sick of denying it. Yet, it did have affect me, all the same. A new name cuts you off from your old identity and allows you to inhabit a new myth.

Where some scoff at the trail name, others grasp its impact and potential intuitively. The woman crying in our midst was one of this sort.

Through her tears, she explained that throughout her childhood she’d suffered vicious belittling and mockery from her father. After she married at 18 she moved out of the house, and her husband quickly took over her father’s old self-esteem-crushing duties. She’d lived like this right into her early thirties, when she finally decided to leave the man and start a new life. The Trail was supposed to be the gateway into this existence.

The problem was that, after less than a week, she was ready to quit. Her backpack was too heavy, her feet were torn up, and she couldn’t figure out how to use her camp stove. Worst of all, in her mind, was the fact that she’d been given the trail name of “Nellie,” as in a “nervous Nellie,” thrusting her right back into the familiar role of unconfident incompetence. She hadn’t left the area of the lean-to since receiving the name, and had decided that she was going to get off the Trail in the morning and go home. Though she didn’t say it, we all got the impression that that mean returning to her asshole husband, too.

One of the other women by the fire put her hand on Annie’s shoulder and said, “There aren’t any laws that say you have to accept that trail name, you know.”

Annie looked up like a death row inmate that had just been informed that a loophole had been discovered in the law. “Really?”

We all broke up laughing and asked what she would rather be called, instead.

She was quiet for a moment, as though summoning her courage, before meekly piping, “Anne of Green Gables.”

“Anne of Green Gables it is.”

She wiped tears away and laughed.

We went to her pack and separated the unnecessary items from the necessities, dropping more than half the weight of her load. We showed her how to use her stove. A couple of the women donated pairs of high quality hiking socks to preserve her feet.

The next morning, I set out with a small group of early risers, Anne of Green Gables among them. We each quickly settled into our individual paces and began to separate.

I turned back to see Anne of Green Gables at the bottom of a steep rise, smiling brilliantly in her slow-but-steady stride. She flashed a smile at me that was both haggard and ecstatic. She looked very much like she was ready to hike about another two thousand miles.

I hope that she was.


I found Cowboy sitting in a shelter with his bare legs dangling over the side and the sun shining on his bare chest. Wearing a straw cowboy hat, boxer shorts, and nothing else, he cupped his hands around his mouth and boomed, “Welcome to paradise!”

The natural state of Cowboy’s face was a smile. He laughed madly throughout our conversation, even when nothing seemed particularly funny at all. He laughed at everything, and in those rare moments when he wasn’t laughing, he looked like he was just a moment away from exploding all over again.

Cowboy made sure I knew that he wasn’t in any hurry. Partway through our conversation he grabbed his wallet from his wadded up shorts and showed me a picture of himself, sans cowboy hat, dressed in slacks and a collared shirt as he stood grinning before an enormous house. “That used to be me,” he said, breaking into wild, rolling laughter.

He’d been a highly successful salesman of some corporate sort. He lived in one of the wealthiest areas of Atlanta, ate at all the best restaurants, and all that sort of thing. But, more and more, he found that he was just bored. “Stone bored,” he said, shaking his head with a smirk. So he decided to use up all his stored up leave time and hit the Appalachian Trail. That was the summer previous to the one I’d met him.

He returned to his old life after finishing the trail that first time, but nothing felt the same. After a few months of trying to get back into his old routine, he quit his job, sold his cars, and put his house up on the market. His friends, of course, told him he’d lost his mind.

“They don’t know, man. They just don’t know. They spend all their time thinking they got it made ’cause they live inside these giant boxes. They don’t realize the real banquet’s out here, and they’re missing it!” He laughed wildly for a moment before shaking his head in befuddlement. “I’ll tell you what, man, people are crazy.”

I nodded.

We sat there for a while in silence, legs dangling over the side of the shelter in the sunshine. Funny how such a simple moment can be branded so deep in my mind that I can feel that warmth on my skin as I think of it.

Heathen’s Haven

A sign pinned to the wall of a general store offered home cooking and beer to any hikers that would help move furniture. The beer offer seemed mighty intriguing, so Puck, Brother Jones, and I called the number. The next day a woman named Sarah picked us up and drove us out to the country to help them move things across town to her mother’s house.

Four people lived in the house, including Mom, who was recovering from cancer, and her three children ranging in age early twenties to early forties. All that we ever learned of Mom’s husband was that he was a rotten son of a bitch who didn’t live there anymore.

As the day progressed, Mom shuttled in whole carloads of campers from the general store. The furniture was all moved by mid-afternoon, so we moved onto yard work. As we worked, we drank. Rob, Mom’s oldest son, made rounds among the huge and growing workforce, taking beer orders.

By nighttime, everyone was very drunk and doing a lot of work that didn’t need to be done. Mom’s backyard looked like a refugee camp full of tents, dirty folks in drum circles, and laundry lines strung from the trees. At some point, the party had ceased to serve a distinct a purpose and evolved into a self-sustaining organism. Over the following days, the family drove in shifts, shuttling hikers back and forth. They ran it on a strict schedule.

One night as I gagged on apple moonshine from a mason jar, I noticed the words ‘Heathen’s Haven’ written into a large, concrete slab that had once been the foundation of an old barn or shed that no longer stood. I asked about these words and Rob, drawing seriously on his cigarette, imparted the legend of the place to me.

Outlaws had been using the land as a hideout and shelter since the first days of the state’s founding. By the time Prohibition came, the spot had already long been known as Heathen’s Haven, and when moonshiners built their facilities on that land, they scrawled the name into the very foundation upon which it stood.

Ray related the legend solemnly to a small crowd. The locals, who knew the story well already, listened intently, the way people do when any sacred rite is being performed. The other hikers and I sat in rapt attention, shaking our heads in pleasant wonder to find ourselves camped upon such hallowed ground.

What was supposed to be a single day of work turned into six days of festivities. Mom hugged me before I headed back to the Trail and told me that the house was visible from the first outlook that I’d come to. When I got there, the valley below looked like a patchwork quilt, with squares of cultivated and forested land and the thin, grey lines of stone fences stitched between them like thread. I scanned the scene until I found Heathen’s Haven.

I hoped that Mom made a full recovery. I hoped that that spontaneous gathering of hikers became an annual tradition. Most of all, I hoped that the outlaws, wanderers, and adventurers of the world would find sanctuary at Heathen’s Haven for a long, long time.

The Traveler

I heard about him long before I ever saw him: the Traveler, a globetrotting New Zealander with a mile-long resume of international adventures. He sometimes hiked thirty miles in a day, they said. He carried candles and exotic foods so that when he made a lady’s acquaintance (which he often did) he could treat her to a candlelight dinner. He was on the Appalachian Trail only because he had already done everything else in the world, and was running out of adventures.

I finally met him one day hiking a steep climb in bad heat. I always hiked fast because I didn’t have enough money to take my time, so it was very rare that somebody passed me on the trail. Yet, as I climbed, I heard footsteps gaining behind me.
I turned to see him, not much taller than my five foot eight, bounding up the trail in a slouch hat with a relaxed, unhurried stride.

“Would you like a fruit?” He stopped and produced a bag, as though from thin air, and dumped some fruits into my hand. They were somewhat like figs, only smaller and lighter-colored. He told me that he had a friend mail them from Africa. Everything about his disposition hinted at the easy confidence of great success.

He’d stopped in town for three days to hang out with a woman. This woman, he said, had invited him to her house all three nights, but each time, he’d refused. Now he was hiking twenty odd miles to the next town crossing to pick up a package containing a bottle of fifty year old Spanish wine. The woman was going to drive ahead to pick him up and take him back to her house, where he’d cook dinner and drink the wine.

I asked him why he had waited four days to go home with her when he could have done it on the first.
“My young friend,” the Traveler said seriously, “a good woman is like a good wine. You don’t just pop the cork and chug, you have to let it breathe to fully appreciate.”

I laughed. “And is she a good woman?”

The Traveler didn’t answer. He just rolled his eyes, as if to say she was so far beyond good that to even attempt to put it into words would be nothing but an exercise in the futility of language. He bid me goodbye and galloped up the trail.
I’d be willing to bet that by the time the Traveler finished the Trail, a long line of sad-hearted women waited behind, and not one of them ever regretted a minute of it.

On the Path Looking Back

Strange feeling, evoking these characters from my memory on this summer night, so many years later and looking back. My life has far more routine now. Chance encounters with remarkable strangers are far fewer and far longer between. I didn’t write this article to be a metaphor for anything, but it’d a lie to deny the obvious metaphor buried here. For the Trail is life, and the hikers are the people met along the path, all the people of my life passing between worlds.

I think back to these strangers and I feel grateful to have met them, to have lived a life, to have wandered a world full of such characters. Not only Mom and the Traveler, not only Cowboy and Anne of Green Gables, but all the others, too, both on the Trail and off, those scattered beings who’ve popped into my life momentarily like firefly lights to remind me that, far outside the coloring book lines, weird miracles can still occur.

Thank you all for being so completely and defiantly YOU, you crazy bastards. It was one hell of a trip and I hope that your own destinations have found you well. Somewhere between Tennessee and Virginia there is a shelter log with the scribblings of a hopelessly enthusiastic young man named Notion. The words were scrawled one night by the light of a full moon in a fever rush of passion. It was a hot night and the world croaked with insect songs. If you are ever in that area and you find that log, please open it and tell me what it says, because I no longer remember the words…only the writing of them.

Thank you, with all sincerity, anyone who has read all the way to the end of this sentimental letter. I started out with only a vague direction in mind, and have no idea where I’ve landed.  I hope, at least, that you smiled once or twice meeting the people along the path. If we ever happen upon each other, give me a wave. We can buy each other beers and toast to all the good ones out there. They make the walk worthwhile.

Good night from Tacoma, Washington, United States of America, planet Earth.

Your friend, Notion.