It’s Saturday morning. The sun is out today and it’s probably the most beautiful day in Vancouver I’ve had so far. It’s true what people had told me. The city is completely different when it’s sunny weather. Last night I had dinner with friends and we went out for drinks until late and so they offered me to sleep on their couch. We had a great time and this morning a lovely breakfast together before we said goodbye.
It’s Saturday afternoon and I’m sitting in the plane from Helena in Montana to Seattle in Washington. After 12 wonderful days of Christmas it’s time to travel further again. I’m always a bit sad when I leave Montana, but at the same time I’m thankful again for the great time we had together. My grandparents just dropped me off at the airport, right where they picked me up at Christmas Day. The nice thing of a small airport like this one is that you can show up less than an hour before departure and still have plenty of time to get on the plane.
When I wake up in the airport hotel I feel a bit lost. It’s Christmas morning, but it doesn’t feel like that. I get on my computer and post the blog about last weekend. Like I wrote yesterday, I don’t feel so much like going back to Vancouver but I also don’t feel like going home yet. I look up flights to San Diego, the idea of a sunnier destination is tempting.
It’s such a joy to be with my friends in Olympia again. The last time I was here it was Spring and we played a lot outside. Now it’s winter and we spend the time inside. Eva, one of the children has the great idea to bake Christmas cookies. First we go to the store to do some groceries and then we go for a short walk in a park with a big waterfall. The weather here is about the same as in Vancouver, a bit of sunshine in between the rain showers. Angie, the mom of the family, explains me that the art is to imagine that it’s not raining. Apparently that’s what most people do here. Rain or no rain, they go out for hiking. Most of the time during our short walk by the river it’s dry and we enjoy some time outside before we go back home again.
I didn’t set an alarm clock and sleep in til about eight in the morning. Breaking my rule of not immediately checking my phone when I wake up, I text with a friend for a while. He asks me what the most beautiful thing of this journey is. That’s a hard question, but I like to think about it.
The first thing that comes to mind is Hollywood. Visiting the film studios, going to a theme park and hiking up to the Hollywood sign are some of my favorite memories of this trip.
When I wake up and inspect my feet, I only see one big blister. That’s not too bad after walking about 30 miles in a day. In the Netherlands we have a yearly walking competition called Nijmeegse Vierdaagse in which people walk about 25 miles in a day, four days in a row. I still have respect for those people. I have walked enough for now and will drive back to my grandparents today. It’s a joy to drive my car and move forward without having to do any effort. As I drive to the east side of Glacier I see the mountain range I climbed yesterday. I shake my head and laugh. I’ve done some crazy things and now I can add this one to the list.
The east side of Montana is less spectacular to drive, because it’s all farm land. I think about how things are so different here than in the Netherlands. In America it’s normal to drive for a couple of hours to get somewhere. If you do that in the Netherlands, you’re already out of the country. I remember the first time I came back from America seven years ago and how everything looked so small and close to each other back home. It’s just over three hours driving to my grandparents and I arrive in the beginning of the afternoon. Grandma is home and I tell her about the adventure and show her the pictures. She has a nice surprise for me, this afternoon we go to a pizza place where you can eat unlimited pizza! I’m excited, especially because I didn’t have dinner yesterday so I’ll make up for that today.
The pizza restaurant is very nice and we eat a lot. Grandma also introduces me to rootbeer float, ice cream floating in rootbeer, very nice. My grandparents make fun of me, because I walk slower than them with the blisters on my feet and the soar muscles. I get my laugh too when grandpa tries one of my pizza slices (pepperoni + jalapeños) and suddenly needs a lot of water to cool his mouth. I like my pizza’s to be spicy, probably a bit too spicy for him. We have a fun time together and then go back home. It starts to rain very hard and I’m glad I went to Glacier yesterday, because then the weather was fine and now it would absolutely not be fun to hike or walk outside. I feel that my body needs some rest, so I think I’ll sleep in tomorrow and have a slow day.
This morning we go to some more garage sales. This is such an American thing, people just sell stuff in their front yard or garage. It’s like what we have in the Netherlands on Kingsday when everyone has a market and sells their stuff. There aren’t many interesting things this morning, but I get myself a bigger suitcase for a Dollar, because I think I might need it on my way back home. The weather is nice again today, contrary to what the weather report said. I’m not sure what I’ll do the rest of the day, I feel like I want to do some more creative things this afternoon like writing or drawing in my notebook. I end up doing some work on my computer though. I’m talking with grandma about how it’s harder to blog when you don’t do a lot of exciting things. “So then we need to do some things”, she says, and that’s a good idea. Of course is nice to relax at the house the whole day, but I also like to see things and meet people and get some inspiration for writing.
We go to the furniture store and meet an interesting woman of grandma’s life. She’s buying a chair and has many stories to tell.
It’s six o’clock when I wake up this morning. The sun is rising and it looks like it’s gonna be a beautiful day. Better than the clouds, rain and snow of yesterday. The lights are still off in my family’s house, so I sit down in the back yard with a book. I haven’t been online for almost 24 hours and somehow that makes me a bit restless. I expect some messages from clients and I know they’re waiting on me. I forgot the Wi-Fi passwords here, so I can’t go online and just have to accept that. It also makes me aware of how attached I am to being online and I’m glad I don’t have internet now. I think it is better to get used to being offline from time to time, also when I’m back home. It’s easier to live in the moment when you don’t have internet. I grab my book and start reading in a rocking chair that’s standing in the yard behind my grandparents home. I remember from the last time I was here that they usually get op around nine, so that means I have quite some reading time before they are awake.
Since it’ll be a while, I decide to do some groceries and drive to Walmart. On my way back I stop at Starbucks and meet one of the children of the family there. I think by now almost all of them work there. She doesn’t act really surprised to see me, as if it’s normal for me being here. Maybe it is. Helena is a city, but feels like a town.
When I wake up and walk into the living room, Darin is about to drive to Starbucks, his morning ritual. I’m happy to join him on that morning ritual and so a bit later we’re getting a coffee and drive back home. While the rest of the family leaves home to school and so, we sit down at the couch and have great conversations about life and God. Darin has some revolutionary ideas about believing, very different from what they teach in church and we find a lot of common ground. In church it’s often about doing all the right things, where as we agree that believing is all about love. We talk about a lot of things this morning, too much to write down now, but it’s an interesting conversation and time flies by.
In the afternoon we drive to town to pick up the kids from school and we also make a stop at an outdoors store where they sell everything you need when you go camping and also a lot of hunting gear. For someone from Europe it stays a bit strange to see all those guns in the store, but we also have fun shooting some play guns in a shooting gallery where you can shoot for points. I manage to get the same score as Darin does, so I think I’m qualified to live in the Midwest. We have lunch at the outdoors store and then drive back home.
The rest of the afternoon I hang out with the children. We play volleyball in the front yard and some video games at the Wii. It’s a nice relaxed day and I enjoy staying with this family. Another nice thing is that Darin used to be a chef in a restaurant, so we get very nice food here. Tonight we have pasta carbonara for dinner, delicious. We have fun times together and it’s also a good change from traveling all the time. Even though I would love to stay here longer, I think I’ll hit the road again tomorrow to visit some of the National Parks here. There is Mount Raineer and Olympic National Park, both must be beautiful nature to hike, so I’m curious.
I’m not sure if we’ll see much of the beaches today, because it’s misty outside. I go outside and do my workout. I do that every day for the last few years Occasionally I miss one workout, but my grandma had a good solution for that: do a double workout the next day. So that’s what I do and after I’ve finished my sit-ups and pushups, I grab my book about the National Parks to see which route I will follow today. The local guy had some good tips about places with waterfalls and I’m thinking I might adjust the route a bit. The places he mentioned though are more land inwards and I prefer to follow the Oregon coast.
When Ana wakes up we make coffee and tea and make plans for the day. First we drive to a place called Secret Beach, only a few minutes from where we camped. It’s a beach that Dan pointed out to us last night.