Ever since I moved to the Seattle area everything has seemingly fallen into place like cogs in a wheel. Before I moved here, I was finishing up my memoir and had started writing another book as well as a TV show. The very first event I attended near my new northwest home, I met not one, but two published authors. I went shopping and somehow struck up a conversation (in real life, not texting) with a woman who is best friends with someone who writes TV shows. I picked up a newspaper which advertised a free lecture by a woman who wanted to share her lessons learned when she wrote her memoir. I went to a meet-up group for screen writing and randomly sitting at our table was a man who happens to design book covers, and I just happened to have the draft ideas for the three books I am working on, right there with me. I attended another writers meet-up group and learned of an awesome retreat hosted by a well known author about writing you life’s history, which brings me to the subject of this blog; a purposeful road trip.
Although this retreat looked very educational and unique to what I need to learn more about right now, it was about $700 for three days by the time you added lodging, food, and gas. I am in enormous debt from being out of work for so long and even though I just got a job I just can’t justify spending that kind of moola right now, so I e-mailed my plea. “I would love to attend this retreat; it sounds amazing and I am just putting the polishing touches on my memoir (also my first book) so I am sure I would really get a lot out of this course…. But I’m broke, so can I sleep in my car, eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and do some sort of work in exchange for a partial discount on the course fee?” Or something like that.
I received a pretty quick reply that it was sold out. That was a bit of a relief since it now forced me to give up on the idea of going. Oh, but wait, there are always ways (rub hands together diabolically). I decided to crash the event on the last day in hopes of their being discounts on her books, chat with the attendees to get the highlights, and maybe, just maybe, snag some class materials. I had been working at my new job for a month now, and hadn’t let up a bit on continuing to pursue some other business ideas, in addition to doing house work in the home I reside to earn my keep. I was burning the candle at both ends, as they say; I needed a break, and a Sunday drive seemed like just the fix. I thought I could also keep my eye out for road kill along the way there and back to make it multi-purpose (See Road Kill Chronicles tab on this site).
My first detour was a sign that said ‘historic downtown – this way’ which to me said ‘cute shops that have crap you don’t need but you will buy anyway’ so I put on my blinker and exited the freeway. I never did see any downtown but I did see a cool bridge.
After making my second detour at a moving sale where I got the chance to buy crap I don’t need (one of my favorite past-times), and chatting to the friendly husband under the watchful jealous eye of his wife about their upcoming move to Maui, I arrived at the Harmony Hill Retreat Center in Union, Washington.
It was pretty close to noon which was later than I intended to arrive, but the drive was too nice not to take my time. I chatted with a woman who was struggling to put her oddly large suitcase in the trunk of her car considering it was just a three day event. She said it was a wonderful retreat but it was pretty much over. She also said ‘to her credit’ the author didn’t bring any of her books or materials to sell. Hum, I would think that is actually a disservice to those who would have liked to purchase her material. I mean, they did go there because they think she is smart and has knowledge to share, after all.
I chatted with the groundskeeper for a bit and he pointed me to some walking trails and not one, but three labyrinths. I checked out the room the retreat was in just to see if there were any good vibes left lingering to make me wish I would have coughed up the cash and came. The room was beautiful and set up with chairs in circle and a serene center arrangement that radiated peace, love, and welcoming feelings. Yes, there was great vibes there, but yet I didn’t feel regretful of holding out.
I strolled to the labyrinth that sounded the most appealing based on how the groundskeeper described them all. The one I chose was made with shells, presumably from the shoreline across the street. The paths were very narrow but well defined. I snapped some pictures, put my camera and purse down, and began. I normally do a chant of repetitive and rythematic words that I would like to attract into my life, but I found myself adding more in the way of phrases this time and even giggling a few times. It was a nice walk, until the very end.
In the center was a tree. When I started the walk, this excited me, but now that I was standing before this mighty tree, looking closely at its bark, I felt suddenly deflated and sad. For some odd reason, people have thought it was a good idea to leave trash around and IN the tree. Yes, IN the tree. Based on the crap that they left, I would assume that they had some super stupid notion that they were paying respects to the tree by leaving it gifts? However, there were shells, clearly not grown around them, but actually cut into the tree. There were single earrings poked into parts of the bark. There were rocks and snail shells sitting in what humans would think the tree made little shelves in its bark just for their stupid trinkets. I wanted to cry. I suddenly got a little angry and embarrassed of my fellow humans and decided to remove something. I wanted to pull out all the little shells, but I thought that might do more damage than good, so I just took the first thing that caught my eye. It was a gemstone the color of my birthstone. I put it in my pocket and left. After all, I was hungry and I had to pee.
I drove down the road to the Alderbrook resort which was recommended by the groundskeeper if I wanted a fancy burger overlooking the water. It actually sounded good so I took his advice. The first observation was a young man, in an oddly uppity uniform for that neck of the woods, sweeping imaginary debris from the entrance way just so he could be there to open the door for guests. Since I was in jeans and a flannel shirt, I felt as out of place as Al from Home Improvement might feel going to a black tie cocktail party. Never-the-less, I proceeded to check out the lobby and gawk at the yuppy folk who were gawking at me as I continued, so confidently, to the restaurant.
I really wanted the $19 seafood omelet for the simple reason that I wanted to see what a $20 egg dish looked like, but since I was alone with no one to share it with, I settled on the half chef salad for $11. A guy from the kitchen, not my overly chipper waitress, brought it out to me. I thought this was strange because my waitress only had one other table which she seemed to be paying way too much attention to by making a pass every three minutes asking the man how his dessert was. She asked him no less than two times before he even took a bite, and three more times after he had dug in; I am not exaggerating. I’m pretty sure the man was wealthy or something the way my waitress showered him with attention. Meanwhile, the kitchen boy asked me if there was anything else I wanted with my salad and a teeny amount of dressing that was in a silver 1oz cup nestled between the ham and the black olives.
I noticed there were no croutons so looked up at him and politely asked if I could have some crackers. He looked at me like I had three eyeballs and repeated “Crackers?” I said ‘ya, or something crunchy for the salad.” He returned with little serving bags of oyster crackers and said that was all they had. I was a little dumbfounded that this fancy place doesn’t have croutons. After all, its hard to even say croutons without sounding snooty. The waitress came by and after asking the old man how his dessert was for the fourth time, she asked how my salad was. She asked as she strolled by quickly but stopped abruptly when I said it was ok. She stopped and said “Ok?” as if I just slapped her baby or something. I smiled and explained to her that I asked for some crackers or something and was brought oyster crackers. She barked at me “Well, that’s what you want, right?” I repeated that it was ok, the crackers were fine. She then says “I could get you some croutons if you’d rather have them instead.” I just chuckled and said I was fine.
The older man and his wife walked by me as they were leaving and the man told me how tasty my salad looked. I resisted asking him how his dessert was since he had already been asked five times. As the older couple walked out, three women walked in. They looked like they were just playing tennis or something even though the weather was dreary with typical northwest wind and rain. They each had on brightly colored, almost matching outfits such that they could have passed for JC Penny catalog models. My waitress scurried over to them and announced all the tantalizing lunch specials in addition to a special on mimosas which were $9 but you could have them bottomless for $10. As much as I was surprised at the great deal I just overheard for just a buck extra, I was floored that I just got a ‘can I take your order now’. Tick, tick, tick.. what is that I hear? The tip meter falling down rapidly.
I nearly peed my pants when she brought my left over salad (that fit in a quart sized box) in an enormous brown bag with fancy handles on it that looked more like something you would walk out of a Macy’s clearance sale with.
The drive home was pretty uneventful despite stopping at an antique store and an auction, and seeing a very barbaric and deadly looking chunk of wood hanging from a tree. I didn’t see any road kill other than an extremely flattened wild turkey until I got just a few blocks from my house. It would have been a good one too as it was a freshly hit raccoon, but it was in the middle of a busy road, damn it; no picture possible. It was still a nice drive and I got home safely even with all the potential dangers between almost choking on oyster crackers and chunks of wood overhead.