Seattle bound: 3rd trip to the Woke Belt!
I made a quick decision to buy a Greyhound ticket and join my daughter on her return trip to Seattle. I can do this as I have no full-time job at present, winter work with contractor friends being scarce and none of the full-time jobs I applied for called me back. I could be working daily, however, as the local school district did hire me on as a substitute. I've been down there a few times. I taught jr. high and elementary- 2nd graders! 2nd might be the best grade at elementary school, with 5th a close 2nd. I had lunch duty the day after my gig with the 2nd graders. There they were in the cafeteria, together as a group, munching away, when one of them yells, Mr. Shumway! Then a bunch of them said it. I walked over and gave a few fist bumps and high fives, and then kids were leaving their bench and coming over for a hug. 7-yr. olds just do what they want to do, without the inhibition.
I feel bad about all the sub requests I've gotten while on the road, including last night, that I have to reject. There's an automated system that phones you and asks you to take a class the next day. Responding from Bend, OR, or Woodland, CA, I decline. The principal herself has texted me. “Can you take 6th grade science tomorrow?” “Can you take high school chorus?” etc. They are hurting for substitutes, but the pay is awful, so they'll keep hurting for a while.
news flash: We made it over the snowy Lost Trail pass and Fourth of July summit and into Couer d'Alene, and we're only 20 minutes behind schedule. It's still snowing but the roads are bare and wet and we should make our connection in Spokane.
Rex actually has a reputation for a pretty good burger, but I'd already made sandwiches at home. I could have gotten coffee from the giant thermos at Rex's for $1.89, but for 11 cents more (and a tip) I got a gourmet coffee, an empty, clean bathroom and darn friendly service from the girl at Wake Up Call Coffee next door. Folks, we’ve got 20 minutes before departure; you don’t have to spend the whole time at Rex’s! Have a mosey around the neighborhood and catch the local flavor. Juan’s tacos is right over there. Here’s Hoa Nhung Nail Salon. There’s Biff’s Axe Throwing School.
Spokane is just down the road from Couer d’Alene. In fact, I think many Couer d’Alenians and other Idahoans commute to Spokane for work.
Spokane photo roundup:
You see some nice churches looking down from the I-90 viaduct while driving through the city of Spokane.
The last photo I took in downtown Spokane was another big church. On top was a sign that said, Reconcile with God, which put me in a pensive mood.
When we got to Moses Lake, it was mixed rain and snow. Everyone either stayed on the bus or made their way to the gas-station bathrooms quick. Two dudes were out on the grass having a smoke. They looked Mexican and I wondered what they thought about the cold weather and the scene.
-Where are you guys coming from?
-South Dakota. We were out meeting some friends.
-Going to Seattle?
-Yeah, we're from Seattle.
(‘murican English without accent; Seattle; Standing in the rain- now I'm pretty sure they are local native Americans, not Mexican). “We’re originally from North Dakota, though.”
-I got a friend from North Dakota. He talks like me until he's had a few, then he speaks with a southern drawl.
They laughed at that and then the older of the two told me about being in Louisiana. “I learned to do a pretty good Louisiana accent, and I didn’t need to get drunk.”
He'd already graduated high school at 16 and was on the road, like some drifter in a Hollywood film. “When I was in high school, I always used to walk miles to see my girlfriend. After graduating, I split and was walking all over Louisiana. Cops picked me up 'cause they thought I was Mexican. Said they were gonna send me back home!”
-Yep! (laughter- and his expression said, not “the injustice of it all! A cop (presumably white) sending me across the border to Mexico,” but more of a cynical but good-humored resignation, as in, “life is sure full of funny crap.”)
“…but they got that figured out and realized I was from here. Then they said, “You know, we can set you up for adoption. I said, I'm sixteen and I already graduated! No way! Then they put me in a shelter for about 8 months.
He wasn't bitter or anything about all this; he just liked telling the story as he took drags on his Marlboros.
Next stop was Ellensburg.
Perkins Diner (formerly Perkins Cake and Steak- a name I like better) doesn’t need much signage to attract patrons. They have a huge truck lot out back, and a huge Old Glory on the side.
Smitty’s sells Bang for a good price. Puff bars, Bubly and Bang- Don’t tell me roadside gastronomie américaine isn’t haute cuisine!
This was a long trip, almost as long as the Tokyo to Seattle flight, but I like this way of traveling and prefer the bus to air travel. You're more likely to talk to people on the trip. If the freeway runs through a bigger city like Spokane, you get to see the old part of town with its early 20th century flavor. Sure it’s now decaying and seedy but at least you can look at the brick buildings and imagine what it was like back then, when men wore suits and hats, and women wore dresses and didn’t worry whether or not the eggs were Omega 3.
Another good thing about the bus is that nobody tells you to get back to your seat and put your seatbelt on, though you probably should with crazy Zoran from Serbia at the wheel. And there are lots of stops where you can stretch your legs and get a hot dog, have a smoke or just take in some rain, snow, sun and fresh air.
While you’re relaxing, meeting some of the traveling characters like the two Indian dudes is pretty fun. OK, there's some riffraff on the Greyhound, but if we're talking class, how classy are the people who fly first class these days? The people on the bus dressed in Goodwill do it out of necessity while the modern-day, first-class plane people could be Sax 5th-avenue sharp but they prefer to look like slobs. Go figya.
But best of all, on a bus trip there are no blue-suited TSA goons herding you into the naked body radiators or giving you the feel up and down if you refuse.
If you read my last post (now deleted), you know why I'm taking this trip to Seattle. I don't know whether to hold off on writing for a while, try to write about other things and leave out this monumental, weird situation, or just jump right into it. I was shocked and upset when my brother first told me the news, but I've calmed a bit. Anyway, Seattle is only two hours away; we'll see how it goes.
Update: OK, I’ll say a little about the Seattle situation.
My dad failed in his first bid to off himself. I went to see him yesterday. It's a weird situation. My brother can't make sense of it either. Making it weirder is the fact that I'm the only one around here who's against the idea of suicide. (and I understand how hard life is for my dad right now).
I saw my dad in his bedroom. Most of the time he was laying down on his bed. He looked weak and disheveled, with his hair messed up and beard growing, but he was in remarkable good spirits. He had given up on this attempt of the self-starvation process because of a horrible night of pain and discomfort. He had ignored the hospice people's warning that this process must not be started unless everything is by the book, including the presence of someone who controls the process, administering the correct drugs and such, rather than just saying, "Well, I'll just stop eating and drinking now and get this thing underway," as my dad did. In other words, Dr. Kevorkian has to be in the room, controlling everything.
Dad ended up that night drinking a quart of water and eating something. When I was with him, a big glass of ice water was on the table. He took a sip and said, "Gee, isn't this cold water good!" I laughed and said, "I'll bet it's tasty indeed."
He had some ice cream too and the way he was talking you would have thought it was my father of ten years ago.
I let my pop know I'm against his plan, but I'm not the one making any decisions. I'm just grateful he's alive now and in better spirits.
Don't know if I'll include anything about this in future substack posts.
Thanks for reading!