On Tacoma Again

This post predates Solvitur Ambulando. The following is my reaction to traveling from a grey weather pattern into one with clear skies. The only thing I can hope is that reading this will piss off or embarrass my former Tacomians to get out from under that sad cloud and see a better place when it gets grey again later this year.  I know, I know, summer is awesome in the PNW.

What a depressing climate!  Yea, the trees are awesome.  Yea, the coffee is phenomenal. Yea, the constant springing up of new and delectable microbrews keep the bars interesting.  And the music scene blew my mind.  There was a night where I had a bit of hash oil, some fine medicinal, and a few powerful IPAs, so I was well equipped to take in a concert.  So what did I do?  I sat on a wooden stool directly between my buddy Ike on the microphone and a vacant-eyed metal shredding genius on an electric guitar.  I’m talking about: he played the full theme song of Pulp Fiction, with some well-played, matching drums, so well that I was Quentin Travolta Jackson for what felt like the full 2 and half hour duration of the film.  To the right of the axe shredder was a 4 foot tall stack of PAs from which the sounds blasted.  Continuing the circular spectacle in a counter clockwise fashion was the full drum kit which I rested my foot on the kick drum, and finally back to Ike on the mic.  I sat there with a South Park ajar mouth of awe for about 15 minutes fervently attempting to capture the magical performance via snapchat and continuously filling and deleting memory on my limited smart phone. No one else is really impressed.  That’s what kind of music scene Tacoma has squirreled away from the rest of the world.

But damn it’s a sad place 2/3 of the year.  Seeing the sky is like taking a heavy load off my shoulders.  I’ve spent time on boats.  I’ve studied books about and can read clouds better than most modern humans would ever need to.  I’ve seen so many post card sunrises on the water it almost frustrates me.  Almost.  I still smile and take a deep breath thinking about any particular one.  Like the one I’m about to see as soon as this little pack of gum with wings takes off from Minneapolis bound for Nashville.  Seeing actual color contrast and golden whimsical lining on the clouds no Michelangelo or Davinci could ever dream of capturing puts my soul right where it needs to be and I vow never to take it for granted til the day my energy escapes my core.

I am gonna miss quite a growing number of those subtly chained spirits.  They look up to me.  They shouldn’t, but that’s good.  That means some ideas are brewing and (side note: transportation engineering and roadwork design is freaking beautiful.  I’m looking at two roundabouts, 69ing each other and it’s undetectably, asymmetrically symmetrical, if that makes sense.  It looks perfect like computer animation.) ambitions are being ignited.  I am fanning that flame.  That’s why I’m here, I’ve discovered.


I went.

“It’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”
-Jack Kerouac

I woke up at 4:30am and couldn’t get back to sleep. At 5:30, I ran to Wells Fargo to withdraw travel money. With a letter to my fellow hostelers and confirmation of a Third Man Records visit, I shake hands with Ron the owner and jump in Tara’s car at 7:40am. By 8:40, we are out of the city.
The first pit stop is at 6 Row Brewery in St. Louis. Their style pizza “on a cracker crust” is delicious. Around the corner is last year’s national champion for ribs. $14 and a check on the bucket list later, we are headed to Kansas for camping.

The 40mph gusts are too much for a tent, so for $24 more we get a cabin. Spliff, 2011 Dreaming Tree Cab-Sauv and night night.

After Starbucks and repacking the sedan, we leave KOA at 8:15ish. Cutting the state into pieces is the trick. I’m sitting in Denver’s “voted best” coffee shop before 2pm. A lifting hug and Tara is headed to Grand Junction. Thanks Tara. I wander down Larimer St. to wait for Grandma and her boyfriend at a brewery. Great Divide has 13 national and international  beer medals. It’s funny how things work out when you let them.

Solvitur Ambulando


Above is a mural I painted at Ubi’s coffee and tea house, the spice shop/cafe I interned at in Tacoma, WA.

It’s 1.8 miles from Music City Hostel to Downtown Nashville Hostel where I work the graveyard shift (1:00AM-7:00AM) Mondays and Tuesdays. All of the staff stays at MCH, the city’s only hostel before DNH existed, which is being expanded at the end of next week from 80 to 160 beds and, I’m told, will be the largest in the nation. Personally, I don’t like its false take on hosteling, which is to squeeze every cent possible from the guests instead of making it a temporary escape from our relentless hunt for chee$e. That’s the main reason I’m leaving, because this transparent theme is as clear as the non-existent murals, one expects to find on hostel walls. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a very nice place to save a couple of bucks and experience the country music capitol, but it leaves even the newest backpacker sighing at the missed opportunity. The staff is even scalped because the nominal pay of $7/hr is used to pay for the full price of a bed.  Even the long term managers don’t get much of a deal and because they are always on call, literally work 24/7.

I have no car or bicycle now. For that reason, my calves get a workout along with quads. I’m surprised how a few miles a day will transform the shape of one’s legs. If you have functioning legs, it’s a pretty good idea to use them while you can, and instead of being bummed out that you have to walk somewhere, you can rejoice at the fact that you have functioning legs!  I understand we are a nation primarily composed of gasoline-dependent, fast and often eating, couch-shaping, hard workers, who don’t think it’s reasonable to set aside an extra 30-60 minutes a day for transportation.  But it’s awesome if you do. Birds can fly, fish can swim, and we can run! And it feels great. It really does.

So, by necessity of choice, I walk instead of buying a bike. The good news is everything in Nashville is within a couple of miles (30 min.), I’m getting comic book tone and definition (I was complimented by what might be a transvestite, which is quite a compliment), I’m sorting out thoughts and phone calls, and my physical pillar (google 4 pillars of the human foundation if you want to know) is taken care of daily. Gandhi speaks often about the benefits of walking and how it kept him healthy through harsh English winters on a vegetarian diet. Bruce Lee recommends parking a couple of blocks away and taking the stairs to help stay in shape.  I’ve only known a couple of Americans who walk often, and guess what, they have phenomenal leg structure, very rarely get sick, and are the happiest people I know. I’m not going to paraphrase the hundreds of quotes by important historical figures and writers, but this does a good job: Hemingway, Thoreau, Jefferson, and the Virtues of a Good Long Walk

Solvitur ambulando is Latin for “it is solved by walking”.  Try it.  Take a nice little or long walk and see how it makes you feel.