Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time to Drive... and Drive and Drive

Man am I behind here! Hahaha... at this point in the Tour, after Renton it was July 26. I was eager to get to my Mom's place in ND and it would take 3 days of driving to get there. 

The first day I drove across WA and just over the MT border. I found a wonderful campground (by then I knew National Forests were the best way to go, cheaper and more primitive) that was only $7! I built a fire and enjoyed the silence. I love the different nature sounds and plants you see going state to state camping... it was so beautiful.

The second day crossing MT was crazy. It's so flat you can see forever, and there were thunder storms all around. I could see it's raining over there, and over there it's really dark, etc. I drove right into a pretty gnarly storm... in fact I can say it was the worst storm driving I've ever done. There we all were on a 70mph highway going 35. Zero visibility at one point and everyone was pulling over, it was nuts! Just as I decided I would have to leave the road, it cleared. Freakin scary. I decided not to camp out in the Billings area, but found a motel instead. Later there were storm warnings and rain, so I guess I was smart.

By Billings, things were starting to look like ND. Lots of old men in short sleeved plaid shirts, the accent, the terrain... looking familiar. I drove on the third day to Mandan and arrived in the mid afternoon. You know, I've been visiting ever since high school, every year or two for 20 yrs, but I don't usually drive. It was an odd feeling to navigate to Mom's house and have my own vehicle there to use. But SO great to sit indoors with plumbing and family comfort. Aaaaaah...

Monday, August 09, 2010

Stilt Lady

Stilt Lady
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid* to the booth in Renton.

Show #4 Renton WA

After getting all peaced out in the forest for a few days, it was time to head back into 'civilization' (blech) and my last coastal show, Renton River Days. I had an idea what to expect... and I meditated extra hard to prepare. Ha. 

My first clue was that every time I mentioned the show to another artist in the area they would all react the same way, "Oooooh" with a sort of groan. Also I knew it was very close to the Seattle city limits, and so quite urban for my driving tastes. 

I was correct about the driving part for sure. It sucked. I hate the city and I don't know how folks can live that way really. I got lost right away... well not lost, but since the show info was sent after I left home, I had Stu read it to me and um, things weren't clear. So I circled the park 3 times trying to figure out how to get in. Grrr. The 'RV' parking they offered was under the freeway, which also ran RIGHT next to the show. Ha. I found another spot for the other two nights (yes, 3 day show *sigh*) so it wasn't too bad.

Really, the event was very well organized and aside from the location, the park itself was lovely. The staff was there to help and very friendly. They gave breaks and even helped haul our booth stuff in neato little trucks... and there was quite a haul distance. 

One interesting item there was my booth neighbor, who was from Dickenson, ND. I kinda blew her mind when I told her ND was my next Tour stop. I also talked her into bartering some of her awesome ND Grandma crafts for my wedding raffle. Oh yes! Kitchen towels with the crochet on top, plastic canvas needlepoint coasters and more. Classic.

Unfortunately, the sales were stinky as suggested by my previous art friends. But, I ended up doing ok and treated myself to a motel stay before moving on. Man, that was a long freakin weekend. Good bye Washington!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Ooooo Pretty!

Ooooo Pretty!
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*
View from the campground, right on the Hood Canal. Good spot for clamming and swimming... maybe the best camping of the trip so far.

Olympic National Forest WA

Finally found my beautiful camping spot on the water... so many mossy roots.

More Camping in WA

After the Gig Harbor show and my visit in Portland, I was way past ready to be away from cities. And people. After one luxurious night at the Super 8 in Bremerton (oh yeah, where I got busted by cameras running a red light, heh, my first ticket in like 15 yrs) I headed north toward my wonderful highway 101. In case you aren't looking at a map, Gig Harbor and all those other fake small towns are on a bunch of peninsulas and islands west of Seattle in the puget sound and various canals. It's like the SF bay area on crack. And there are only so many ways to get to these towns. Still, I was surprised at the amount of traffic on these smaller forest highways. Weird. 

I drove on and on and thought 'where are all these people going?!' Until I turned off on the 101 to go back south... and I was all alone. Aaaaaaah. It was like home. REAL small towns, not even towns really. A store and a gas station and that was it. I was in heaven again. I was almost to Canada at that point, and 101 loops around at the top of WA and just goes back down. As I crossed the bridge over the Hood Canal I was stunned to silence by the beauty of the place. Mount Olympia and the surrounding forest is just sublime. I can understand why people want to live up there. 

I found a state campground in the Olympic National Forest that was a bit crowded for my comfort, but managed to get a semi private spot and called it good. It was getting late and I was dying to make a fire cooked meal. The next morning I set out to find something more remote and private... and found it only 2 miles away in Brinnon. Nice spots set apart from each other and it was right on the water. Gorgeous. I had to 'hike' up a rocky little trail to get to my spot from my van and I loved it. I couldn't see my neighbors and felt nicely nestled. I stayed two nights. Of course, the second night I got some obnoxious neighbors who like to play loud 80s rock music while they camp, run their 80s generator all hours to better support their giant flood lights... and it was time to move on.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Show #3 Gig Harbor WA

After Portland, it was time to move up to the Seattle area... Gig Harbor. Sigh. I have mixed feelings about this place. First a little background...

Back in June, when I had first decided to do this trip, I was vending at the much loved Mateel Arts & Music festival in southern humboldt county. Coincidentally, my booth neighbors were from Gig Harbor, which I had never even heard of before. They told me how hard it would be for me to simply hide out camping in my van as I normally do during a show. I fussed and fretted over that quite a bit... but I had a plan. I knew there were big box stores nearby who are known to be ok with overnight parking guests. So I figured, if I didn't find anything close that would be my last ditch plan. 

Well, I came to town and right away hated it. I've since learned that there are many such fake small towns in the area... maybe once it had been a quaint seaside town (sound side?), but now packed full of shiny car drivers who commute to one of the many nearby giant cities. Also, the roads were wonky and narrow and I was easily confused and frustrated. Blech.

Add to this the presence of 'we will tow you if you park here over night' signs at my sure fire parking spots... no bueno. At setup time (too close to sunset for my comfort) I was still wondering where I'd sleep for the night and getting increasingly anxious about it. When up pulled my old booth neighbor friends. I had looked for them earlier where their space was supposed to be, with no luck... but alas! Their booth had been moved right next to mine. No freakin way! Right away he asked if I'd found a place and invited me to park on their property for the weekend. 

At that moment, my weird uncomfortable show turned into a pretty fun show. My hosts were so gracious and their home located pretty close by on 3 acres of woods. I had bathroom and shower access, even sunday morning coffee! And they also hosted a little artist bbq saturday which was a treat.

The show itself was fairly successful... I did find the clientele a bit snooty patooty for my taste. But my fun neighbors more than made up for that. Overall, a nice show but I'm not sure I'd go back.

Camping in Mt. Hood OR

Camping in Mt. Hood OR
Originally uploaded by *TheMermaid*

Post Turkey Wanderings

Ok, now all my pics are on my phone, so I'll add a couple after... right now I'm at an actual computer. woot. 

So after Turkey Rama, I headed east toward Mt. Hood for a couple nights of camping. The rhythm of this trip has been lovely. Work in town and get up to my eyeballs in people contact, then go to the middle of nowhere for quiet time alone camping. Really perfect. By the time I'm getting bored it's time for the next show. The Portland area had been so hot, I was ready to chill... and that's what I did. Since I chose a camp spot near the pass, it was actually cold. Ha. The better to build campfires. I do so enjoy campfire cooking. 

A couple nights in a beautiful campground, then back to the actual city of Portland for a visit with my friend Margaret. This was a nice surprise, as I had figured we would only have lunch or something brief. But, she invited me to stay a couple nights in her house, with the ok of her housemates. They live next to a cool neighborhood where we were able to walk to beers, food, coffee, books, movies and even a songwriter's open mic. I was also thankful to have use of an empty bedroom for sleeping indoors, and a huge shower with an open skylight. Really a very fun and mellow time with an old friend.