Yes! I've just arrived, but having crossed a continent for the first time ever feels really good. The long bustrip from Minneapolis must have been every bit as demanding as any coach ride ever was. The bus was all crowded. Instead of performing my secret comfy-sleep-on-Greyhound act, I had to actually sit and sleep. A lot of luggage seemed to disappear for others, it has been warm, cold, very warm, very cold. Still, the people I travelled with eventually turned out to be rather nice Americans, in the end. We became a small community on that bus, and everyone said their goodbyes to everyone when we arrived here in Seattle just over an hour ago.
There was the professional Alaskan female athlete who knew nothing about Europe whatsoever. I sat next to an older woman who knew small stories about all places along the road between Fargo and Butte. (You might want to learn from my mistake: Butte is NOT pronounced "Butt-e".) I had nice conversations with a musician from Seattle who had recovered from drugs, and somehow knew a lot about Norway and showed a genuine interest for what I could tell him about my home country. While most people on the bus were sleeping, a young woman from Portland told me the story of her life, leading up to her having just discovered her 2 months pregnancy. She was thrown off the bus in the middle of the night at a small place in the woods just west of the Rockies, as someone had made a mistake with her tickets. She claimed. The last 20 hours we could, if we wanted to, lean back and just listen to the three hippies from California with llama jackets (yes, they were real, they even smelled llike llama) discussing llife on other planets. They kept telling about their encounters with aliens all the time, except one hour they spent discussing which drink goes best with marihuana.
You probably get the idea. Different people being forced to spend some time together most probably will find a way to cope with it. I really enjoyed it. I also enjoyed the scenerey along the road. I saw the mighty Yellowstone mountains from a distance, as well as intensely red wild western mountains. The depressive badlands. Unfortunately it was dark when we crossed the Rocky Mountains. And of course, endless fields with cows in them and forests with uhm... trees in them. All in all definitely worth the "hard work" it was, sitting there. I hope to be able to come back here, stop in Livingstone, the town were everything seemed to be like it was a hundred years ago, except the horses have been exchanged with cars, and go into Yellowstone from there.
I was picked up at the bus station just over 24 hours ago by Mercedes, who I got in touch with when she used the Internet to improve her spoken Norwegian. I am impressed everytime I meet Americans that do something to improve their cultural and geographical skills. Studying Norwegian is VERY impressive, in my eyes. Hopefully someone can find use for people like that.
She laughed at me when I told her that I had spent the morning having a nice breakfast at the only restaurant I could find that was open this Sunday morning. I had noticed the name on my way out, "The Gay 90's", and suddenly it dawned on me why that guy at the register kept looking my way and smiling while I ate. Oh well.
She took me home to her large, nice basement flat, so that I could take a refreshing shower and heal my sweat wounds from the bus trip. After having become socially acceptable, at least smellywise, she took me to a local supermarket. It was big, cheap and loaded with fruit and vegetables. Heaven, to me. They had fat- and lactose-free milk (what is left, you may ask. The color white, I believe). This monster grocery store even had a weekly Single's Night, which is an idea so fascinating to me, that I will probably write a book based on this and become immensely rich and famous pretty soon now.
It WAS Sunday, so of course we had to check out the Seattle church life. Mercedes did not pick the most conservative church, I think. People were just standing around, chatting with each other and God. Those doing the latter were shaking also. Might have been Californians. *shrug*
Oh, and we met up with Star, Mercedes flatmate, who just were back from backpacking in India, being even more culturally shocked than me. I really liked her. *HYPNOTIZE* Buy her record if you read this. *SNAP* Wakie, wakie. With her we went to see John, who not only is a serious christian, he even looks like Jesus. The two girls were planning on possibly perhaps moving into the collective John runs, where everyone shares everything, and having seen it, I think that means pretty close to EVERYthing. Well, as long as it doesn't break too many biblic pieces of advice, at least. It seemed pretty chaotic. They told me that a lot of young people in Seattle, which is a city with a LOT of young people, live in collectives like this one. I guess it is okay if you like the idea of being able to eat whatever food is lying around, not having to do much housework, partying several nights per week and being able to walk around on the porch not touching the ground. Not because you're high and flying or anything, but because the porch is covered by cigarette butts.
We had lunch at Cafe Flower, a restaurant practically on the campus of the University of Washington. Very uhm... fashionable place, serving vegetarian food only. My French omelet was large enough to count as dinner as well. Not very inexpencive, but very nice atmosphere and good food. Star disappeared from my life, and Mercedes and me went to Green Lake and looked at the Californian-wannabees running around on rollerblades and Nike Air. Green Lake got its name from the colour you will turn into if you go swimming there. Funny version of water.
I also got a good look on the campus of the university. It is a bit special. The center of it is totally symmetric, including the buildings surrounding the square. Much of the school was built in the 60's, a time when paranoia ruled the country. Another square, in front of the administration building is covered with stone that turns slippery when it gets wet, and it has a slight downward angle away from the administration building. The reason for this is that in case the students should feel like having a revolt someday, it will be easy to keep them in control by placing a water cannon on "top" of the square, and just wash any provocative students away.
Weird, you say? Well, then you should take a look INSIDE the administration building. It is actually built like a maze, so unless you know your way around in there, you wouldn't find any administrative personnel to hang by their necks, if you happened to be a revolting student actually getting inside. Oh well. I guess it might have seemed like a sensible precaution at a university with 40.000+ students.
The day was rounded off with a visit at the Market Theatre, where a group of young actors performs Theatre Sport. And they do a good job on it too. Try it. I found it a very good end of a very good day.
Yesterday I slept until nine and breakfasted real fast, before Mercedes drove me downtown and left me to explore her city on my own. I like. Downtown Seattle is pretty small, and in opposition to a very large part of its citizens, most of the streets are straight and easy to navigate in. Westlake Center is a very good gift mall, including a whole store for Escher articles.
I also saw the typical tourist traps. *blush* Farmers Market is kinda fun, with its plethora of artistic people selling fish and other things you didn't expect would fly around over your head. And they even smile at you, if you just buy a fish from them every now and then. I also saw the fairly large aquarium with uhm... water and fish in it. Next to the aquarium is "The Curiosity Shop" museum with twoheaded animals and other very typical things you will find in almost any large US city. I don't quite understand why the Americans seems to be so eager about going to museums to see weird things. They have SO many weird things to see everywhere else.
Going into walker mode, I "did" Kingdome Stadium, International Town (which is mostly China Town actually) and the main library. Nice and tidy everywhere. I took the Metro back home, where "The Simpsons" was playing on a TV near me. The rest of the evening was spent giving some constructive critics on Mercedes' spoken Norwegian. It IS good.
This morning we went to Fremont, the boheme part of the city. It is somewhat far out. They have a real giant Lenin which they got from Slovakia when the people there didn't want it anymore. They have a space rocket which never got anywhere higher than its own height, but then again, they only used 25.000 dollars on making it. Still, the sculpture I liked most of all was the troll crunching a Beetle under the bridge between downtown and Fremont. It is SO folkloristic Norwegian, I almost couldn't believe it when it suddenly appeared in front of our car.
Fremond was full of small cafes and shops, all crowded with young creative people. Mercedes spent a fortune on a bunch of kitch matchboxes. (And they say I am weird, collecting airsickness bags... *shrug*) Then we went to the University bookstore and the park on Capitol Hill. This place seemed very uhm... radical. Most people seemed to be gay, or at LEAST bi, as that is the trend now. Hence they put an upside down pink triangle bumper sticker on their cars. And a lot of people feel they have to fight against the evil Christians. Hence they put a fish with feet on it and the word Darwin inside it on their cars. This is the city for people who want to make a statement to the world. Actually, I think you could make as many statements as you like in this city, without anyone ever noticing it.
In the park we met up with Teresa, yet another weird woman studying Norwegian. Yet again we ate. This time it was in a Vietnamese restaurant, The Ocean Place. I had rastasomething with chicken and black beans. And a lot of water. It was kinda spicy.
Now one is preparing for spending one's last night sleeping in Seattle for this time. Tomorrow morning I'll jump onto the bus going south. It was nice visiting Seattle, and being able to not wear shorts simply because that would be too cold again. Now I am ready for another period of time in warm weather. See you in Oregon!
(C) 1995 BC Tørrissen