Saturday, June 21, 2008

Steilacoom: a town of firsts

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mother lode

I have to scold all you readers who've been following my route for not warning me that the area where Tacoma abuts Lakewood IS A KOREATOWN! I just walked through it. Bought an energy drink at one place (am not convinced these potions do anything) and spoke with the two ladies at the cash register.

I should have realized, back at the pho restaurant, that I was seeing more and more Hangeul on the storefronts, but the appearance of Tacoma's Koreatown was actually pretty sudden. As with the Koreatown in Annandale, Virginia, Tacoma's Koreatown has a little bit of everything: restos, barbershops and beauty salons, and "fusion" stores that sell mostly Korean products along with a smattering of more generic "Asian" products. The restos themselves offer a mix of Korean, Chinese (or more properly, "Chinese"), Japanese, and Vietnamese fare; I'm reminded of the mating of Indian and Pakistani food in many restaurants in the DC area-- a union that strikes me as less likely to happen on the subcontinent.

Do Koreans like Tacoma more than Seattle? When I was passing through Seattle's long axis, I don't recall seeing a Koreatown, per se, although Paul did take me to a downtown area not far from his home that catered to a variety of Asian tastes.

I've been relieved to see that the Koreans I've met have not been shocked when a "foreigner" speaks Korean with them. I appreciate the wider, more worldly perspective, one that takes strangeness in stride and doesn't see it as strangeness. In Korea, there sometimes passes a moment or two while the Korean gets over the initial shock of hearing a non-Korean (or in my case, a half-Korean, which is often the same thing) speak his or her language. Sometimes the listener is so shocked that s/he hasn't completely registered the fact that s/he's just been addressed in Korean.

To be fair, this isn't true everywhere in Korea; for example, at Korean universities, academic departments with foreign profs who speak Korean are places where a foreigner's Korean ability can often be taken for granted (as well it should!*). Minorities who work the "3-D" jobs in Korea (dirty, dangerous, and difficult) are often expected to learn some level of Korean, and these folks-- more often than not Africans, South Asians, Southeast Asians, and so on-- frequently end up speaking better Korean than those of us who come to Korea on teaching visas.

*Some people think Americans are arrogant to expect people who spend long periods of time in the States to speak English competently ("What's the matter? Can't you speak English!?"). I strongly disagree: such an expectation isn't arrogant at all. And fairness dictates that I not resent any other non-anglophone country that holds a similar expectation, as is arguably true in a place like France. After all, why shouldn't France expect its citizens and long-term residents to speak decent French? Koreans in Korea are still too polite on that score: far from resenting the long-term expat who has made little effort to learn Korean, Koreans will often see an expat approaching and feel stressed about the level of their own English! I hope this changes. Soon. (And I apologize to readers who have heard this rant before in other contexts.)


limousine of Korean big-shot, visiting a "teriyaki" joint when it's closed?

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aha... what these teriyaki places REALLY are is becoming clear to me now

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Tacoma branch of the Coca Cola Bottling Company

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I'm working my way very slowly from downtown Tacoma toward Steilacoom ("STELLuh-k'm"). I doubt I'll be able to make Dupont this evening, not only because of tody's very late start but also because my right foot is starting to act irritated again-- a sign that another blister might be forming.

At times like this, I'm torn between resting my feet and surging ahead. Each option has its own set of disadvantages: when I rest, I lose time; when I surge ahead, I damage my feet more quickly, which ultimately also means losing time.

Right now, I'm finishing up a late lunch at a Pho restaurant-- cheap and tasty. On the way here, I met Paul and Ginger (you'll recall that Paul lives in downtown Seattle in the Pioneer Square area). They honked at me and swerved to park in front of me on the road's shoulder, where we had a nice roadside conversation, none of us particularly concerned about the passing traffic.

A couple miles before my meeting with Paul and Ginger, I was hailed by three guys on a street corner. Turns out these three were offering free food and drink as part of the ministry for their church. I told them about my project, and they seemed quite interested in it. They weren't confrontational; quite the contrary, they listened very respectfully and attentively. I went over to the truck where the food and drink were being doled out to folks in need (or even to random people on the street like yours truly), and ended up shaking a lot of hands.

While it's true that this roadside ministry was being used, at least in part, to promote the gospel, it also wasn't cynical, underhanded, or coercive, a point often missed by people who "feel pressure" from proselytizers. Unless you're dealing with some real jerks, you're always free to say "no" to these folks. Remember that. If they're truly preaching a gospel of compassion and love, if they're truly secure in their own faith, they'll let you go on your way.

So don't be offended if you hear someone ask you whether you've accepted Christ as your lord and savior. If you're, say, a confirmed Buddhist, just explain your own commitment politely and succinctly. The street corner isn't the best place to engage in theological debate, and besides, you'd have to ask yourself why you would do such a thing. Nine times out of ten, the reason comes down to something small-minded. Why feed the small-mindedness?

I went to a gas station to ask for the best directions to Steilacoom, and a female gas station attendant had an interesting insight. When I told her I was wandering around asking people why religions preach love and compassion, but people still do violence for religious reasons, she said, "I don't think we'll ever learn the answer to that one. Only God knows." While I have my own theories as to why things are the way they are, I can relate to the notion that the problem is, ultimately, a mystery.

So! The pho has been chomped and slurped, and the time has come to hit the road again.

More later.


today's moment of beauty

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quick update

Didn't make it to Lakewood; cancelled the reservation there because I knew I'd be arriving far too late, so I stopped in downtown Tacoma instead.

Some guy in the passenger seat of a car that was stopped at a light looked at me while I was crossing the street, beheld the enormity of my backpack, and breathed, "Damn, dude!" I smiled.

An African-American guy gave me the "wassup?" nod-- the one where you nod by tipping your head upward instead of dipping it downward. Then he said the strangest thing: "'Sup, native?" Anyone got a clue as to whether this is some sort of Washingtonism? He said it again when he saw a woman of indeterminate race on the street. Perhaps "native" is part of his idiolect.

Might-- might-- have another blister from today's walk, but I don't think so.

Will be arriving at St. Martin's Abbey guest house (part of St. Martin's University; the Benedictines run the place) on Sunday or Monday. Many thanks to Father Paul, the "guest master." Am currently planning the route to the abbey and hand-laundering my clothes; can't sleep until both are done. Am planning to spend up to four nights at the abbey (it's $40/night at the guest house; meals provided), which ought to give me time to keep working on the longer, religion-heavy posts that are currently in the draft stage.

Right. More later.

UPDATE: a few more remarks:

Today's walk was 15.42 miles, about 1.5 miles of which was a waste today because I got turned around twice.

There's no escaping the noise of trains; the rails seem, roughly, to be following the coast and/or Interstate 5, which mirrors the southward path I've been taking.

In this part of the country, there's also no escaping buttercups and daisies, both of which are everywhere.

While stopping to refuel at a gas station convenience store in the town of Fife, I met a group of truckers sitting in the tiny sit-down "restaurant" section (Fife is "the shittiest town in America," according to one trucker). We talked a bit about my walk; one guy asked me whether motorists had been giving me the finger. I told him no; several truckers said that, as drivers of big rigs, they get the finger all the time. While I have had the occasional asshole comment from drivers who resent the fact that I'm walking-- not running-- across the intersection, most of the time I've had no problem. The truckers wished me luck as I lumber-waddled out of the convenience store.


the story behind the porta-john

I've made a career out of not eating breakfast. I just don't buy the hype about how breakfast boosts your energy level. Me, I think it depends on the person. At my university job in Seoul, classes would begin at 7:40AM, which meant that I needed to be up by 6:30 to do more important things than eat breakfast, namely, the Three Esses; Shit, Shave, and Shower. A Kevin who appears in class having done only two of the Three Esses is an ostracized Kevin, a social leper, a pariah. Having done the Three Esses, I've found that I'm perfectly ready for the 7:40 class, often being more energetic than my students at that hour.

My biology has adapted accordingly over the decades. If food enters my body at too early an hour, my colon goes, "Oho! Extra duty, boys! Get ready! Now, puuuussssshh!!!"

That's basically what happened today. By eating a voluminous breakfast, strapping on my pack's hip belt, and effectively massaging my gut by walking six or seven miles, I had sent the ultimate signal to my internal boxing referee: "Lllllllllet's get ready to rumblllllllle!" And rumble I did. The seismic activity began to intensify at a logarithmic rate while I was passing through (oh, Lord-- passing through!) a sprawling suburban neighborhood.

When your body taps your mind insistently on the shoulder, your mind soon finds itself unable to concentrate on anything other than the tapping. Today was a good example of that: as the gastric pressure continued to build toward cataclysm with every massage-jolt of the hip belt, my brain was reduced to spending all its time analyzing my surroundings and sifting through possible dumping scenarios that ranged in plausibility from feasible (feces-able?) to laughable.

Then a miracle happened, though some superstitious part of my brain seemed to expect it: as I was walking, the suburbs suddenly peeled back and revealed a construction site. Normally, construction sites are mundane affairs; building is happening everywhere, in almost every town and city, so we rarely pay these sites much attention except to note with annoyance the dust and grit they produce.

Not today. Today, with my brain on overdrive, I seized hungrily upon this thought even before it was halfway out of my mind's womb:

Construction sites have porta-johns.

Unfortunately, the section of my mind devoted to sphincter control suddenly released its grip for a microsecond to shout, "Hooray! It's over!" in relief; luckily, the other department heads screamed, "He hasn't reached the toilet yet!" in time to prevent any early seepage. But sphincters, once they receive word that unclenching is imminent, tend to become unruly. Haste was necessary.

In that spirit, I skirted the fence surrounding the construction site, looking for a way in. I reached one end of the fence and found myself approaching a taciturn construction worker who was off by himself and preparing to light up. He was wearing shades, but it was obvious he was staring at me and knew I'd probably want a word with him. He held his cigarette low, at parade rest, politely awaiting whatever I had to say.

I sidled up to the fence (to the extent that a man in my desperate condition could sidle), said, "This is going to sound strange, but..." and asked the gentleman whether it would be all right if I used one of the porta-johns. He said that would be fine, but I'd better be quick about it because I'd be on site without a hard hat. I asked the man for his name-- "Jeff," he said. I told him I simply wanted to be able to tell the other workers who had permitted me on site if anyone got to asking what I was doing. Jeff nodded absently and lit up. In his mind, I had already ceased to exist.

Jeff had indicated that the entrance was all the way around the other side of the site, exactly opposite where I'd been standing and conversing. Figures, right? I managed the perimeter walk, found an empty john with no trouble (no one asked any questions), and loudly gave vent to my pent-up anal fury.

The porta-johns in Washington State seem, for the most part, to be supplied by a company with the disgusting name Honey Bucket (in the DC area, it's common to see Don's Johns). Maybe it's just me, but I don't imagine that, if you reached into one of those septic tanks and dredged the bottom with clawed fingers, you'd come away with an arm covered in honey. Am I nuts to think that the "honey bucket" image, when applied to septic waste, is a mite quease-inducing?

Hiney-bucket seems more apropos.

So I did the dirty deed and schlepped away a happier man. But I also know I'm not eating breakfast again if I plan either to teach for several hours straight or to walk more than ten miles.


Friday, June 20, 2008

there's a story behind this picture, so stay tuned

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moseyin' along

I got off to a late start toward Lakewood this morning because I decided to take advantage of the free Belgian waffles offered by the place I was staying at in Auburn. Carbo-loading, baby.

After clickety-clacking a few miles, I shrugged off my pack and strapped one of the trekking poles to it. The object of the game today is simply to minimize pressure on my right foot which, though largely healed, still isn't 100%. I need only one pole for that.

I've met one large hill on today's walk; it was only about a quarter-mile long, but I felt every inch of it. I did manage to get to the top without stopping, but I stopped soon after when I reached a Seven-Eleven and bought one big-ass can each of Arizona brand fruit punch and peach tea. Sometimes water just don't cut it.

According to Rico, the term for what I'm doing is "credit card tourism," which sounds rather pejorative. Perhaps the implication is that a person is somehow not really on a trek if they always have a cozy place to stay every night. Well, I've made no bones about the fact that I'm not on an adventure hike or attempting anything extreme. I also find myself passing through regions where camping is conceivable but illegal. I'd rather avoid the ire of both the police and owners of private property, if at all possible, which pretty much confines me to three things: (1) whatever hotels or motels I find along the way, (2) residences (CouchSurfing or otherwise) that are willing to take me in for free, and (3) religious institutions that are also willing to take me in (free or paid). If it comes to a choice between walking and sleeping on the street, as happened my final night in Bellingham, I'd rather walk.

And walk I must now. Break's over.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

from Auburn to Lakewood

I'm going to be travelling from Auburn to Lakewood (just south of Tacoma) tomorrow; MapQuest plots this as a 21.89-mile route (remember, I have to avoid the interstate), which ought to present a decent challenge to my nearly-recuperated feet. I think I'll start early tomorrow-- very early. Say, 6:30 or 7:00AM. Early to bed, early to rise...

With the trekking poles, I'm hoping to make decent time as I stilt my way across the landscape like a tardy Olympian who's missed the biathlon. The poles were helpful when I was barely able to put any weight on my feet; I'm confident they'll be even more of a boon now.

I'm hoping to be staying at either an abbey or (gasp) a convent in the vicinity of Lacey on Saturday; the stay won't be free, but will provide me an address to which my father can send some supplies (bill me for the equipment and shipping cost, Dad). I'm a bit worried about adding yet more weight to the pack, but these are necessaries: a new sleeping bag and a one-man tent, both of which Dad selected based on quality and, just as important, weight.

Speaking of weight: when I was in Kent, Rico noted that I was carrying around too much cotton (jeans, socks, shirts), so I might be switching all that out for lighter-weight materials at some point in the near future.

So that's the plan for the next few days. Keep those fingers and tentacles crossed.

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

still blind, but...

Partial Net access was restored before I went out, but I'm still unable to access Blogger directly, so I'm still posting more or less blind.

One thing I've learned from this walk: I will never again tell people that "Seattle is close to the Canadian border," as if it were a simple hop across. Trust me-- it ain't. If Seattle is close to anything, it's slightly above the halfway point between the northern and southern borders of Washington (draw a north-south line straight through Seattle and you'll see what I mean).

I was also surprised that I was able to pass through Seattle so quickly: as the expression goes, I was in and out faster than shit through a goose. I had somehow thought that Seattle, whose stretched north-south axis vaguely reminds me of the way Rome is stretched, would take several days to walk through. Not so. I spent two nights in the city proper, but my two stopping points were within two miles of each other: I could have spent a single night in the city before leaving it.

But while Seattle might not be so big and bad in terms of geographical size, it's got some fear-inducing hills that make me wonder how Seattle natives handle winter icing. Thanks to Paul Cox's excellent planning, I basically followed the water out of the city and avoided the hilliness almost entirely.

During the walk along the Interurban Trail toward Rico's residence in Kent, I had my first glimpse of mighty Mount Rainer (here, too, we have to watch the pronunciation: "ruh-NEER," not "RAY-nee-urr," as I've been saying it all these years), which loomed in the distance like, as Rico put it, the biggest local god. The mountain stands 14,441 feet tall, large enough to be visible from 50-60 miles away despite the earth's curvature. It looks like the remains of some giant's ancient and failed attempt to punch its way out from inside the earth's crust. I was-- and am-- duly impressed. Rainier will likely dominate my walk for a while yet; I'm glad to have its companionship, even if a mountain that size is unaware of something as ephemeral as a puny human being crawling between earth and heaven.


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posting blind

I'm in Auburn, about six miles from Kent, and spending a second day
here. I've been unable to surf the Net or check email since yesterday
afternoon, though I did discover I was able to text my brother David.
I'm not sure what the problem is-- whether it's endemic to this
particular region or a temporary BlackBerry/AT&T data service outage.

I suddenly received a couple emails a few minutes ago, which prompted
me to try surfing the Net. Still no dice on that score, so I can't see
my blog or anything else online, but I've decided to try a
post-by-email update.

Speaking of updates, I can say that my hip sores are deep red but
healing nicely, and that after lancing and treating two of the biggest
blisters on my right foot, I'm limping a whole lot less. I'm hoping
that, by tomorrow morning, I'll be ready to get stilting along on my
trekking poles again.

As I noted yesterday, those poles have been a godsend. They do indeed
make an enormous difference with the pressure on my feet. I look
ridiculous using them, but I can't waste time worrying about how I

I'm doing laundry right now, but will soon go looking for "linner" or
"dunch" at a local joint. I'm hoping to have a real signal once I've
shifted locations a mile or so. If that doesn't work, I'm going to
start typing those catch-up blog entries as email drafts, posting them
over the next few days once I know I've got a proper data link.

Stay tuned.


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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

shout-out to Rico

A big public thank-you to Rico, the CouchSurfer who took me in for two nights. Rico's a man of many talents: he's an outdoorsman, well-read in almost all the subjects covered by the Dewey decimal system, and because he's an REI employee, he was the perfect person to tell me what was going right and what was going wrong with my equipment. He took me to the REI flagship store in Seattle (no way I could have limped there and back in a single day) and helped me with my purchases.

Rico's got a background in debate and rhetoric; he's an interesting fellow to talk with on almost any topic because his training helps him to see both sides of a given issue very quickly (though Rico usually has a specific opinion). At one point we discussed religious pluralism, and here again I wish I'd had my voice recorder with me. We also talked about abortion, superhero mythology, "The Matrix" and its disappointing sequels (Rico contends "The Matrix" was basically philosophical, whereas I see it as a religious film cloaked in cyberpunk tropes that also deals with philosophical problems; upon hearing this, Rico rightly noted that philo and religion tend to go hand in hand), and a host of other topics.

Rico says he used to speak fluent Spanish. He's also in the midst of translating Aristotle's Poetics from ancient Greek into modern English-- just to keep his skills up!

Rico very generously offered to let me stay a third night given the condition of my feet (yep, still bad), but I've discovered that those trekking poles, which make a person looked like some stilty quadruped monster from the Star Wars films, are a godsend when your feet are too tender to take much pressure. So I've been walking slowly but steadily from Kent to Auburn (about 6.3 miles), and while m'dogs are still groaning in pain, they're not in the agony they were in yesterday.

Anyway, many thanks to Rico for his generosity. Truly a gentleman and a scholar.


the roving taqueria (wide shot)

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en route to Auburn, I met Rango and his aunt at their roving taqueria

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Monday, June 16, 2008

back from a trip to the REI head temple

My current host, Rico, very kindly drove me back to Seattle to hit the REI flagship store (the very one that Paul had told me about). Rico had expressed sympathy with my foot problems and recommended I get better in-soles. He also thought a pair of trekking poles might be a good investment for me: they would reduce the pressure on my feet and back, especially over time.

So we wandered over to the footwear section to check out "SuperFeet" in-soles, and this is how I met the (very!) lovely Lyn, who is working a 12-hour shift today. Lyn asked me about my needs, asked what I had been wearing during my walk, and even got curious about the placement of my blisters. Ultimately, she concluded that I didn't need the custom-fitted in-soles; the off-the-rack versions would be fine. Lyn also argued, based on the patterns of my blisters, that I needed footwear with firmer soles, boots being the best possibility. I told her I'd been having problems with boots, so she eventually convinced me to buy another pair of New Balance shoes, ones with reinforced soles.

I also got a pair of trekking poles so I can pretend to be skiing. OK, that's a joke: the poles help relieve pressure on your feet and back when you lean on them (so Rico tells me).

Rico also showed me the Big Agnes brand of sleeping bag (Lost Ranger model), which is very warm and collapses into a tiny stuff sac with relative ease. Along with this, my host and REI guru showed me an "insulated air core pad" by Big Agnes, essentially an inflatable, three-season sleeping pad that also collapses to a very small size at a very light weight. I didn't buy the bag or the pad (I already have a decent foam pad); it's enough that I paid $260 today for the poles, pole tips, shoes, and SuperFeet in-soles.

UPDATE: Back from seeing "Iron Man" and eating a large barbecue dinner. Both very nice.


REI flagship store 5: grandiose interior

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REI flagship store 4

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REI flagship store 3

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REI flagship store 2

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REI flagship store, Seattle (waterfall and mountain bike path at entrance)

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slept in

I was up until about 2:30AM last night, tapping away on Rico's laptop, uploading and blogging those digicam pics.

My right foot is still in pretty bad shape. I'm going to have to lance a few of those blisters and patch them up, I fear. I limp and lurch around the apartment like an arthritic ex-football player.

Rico's off at a meeting, but when he comes back, I think we'll be going to a nearby REI and getting those custom-molded in-soles, and possibly the trekking poles as well. I also need to grab some sort of lunch, and while it might not be the best idea, I'm thinking about seeing "Iron Man" if it's still playing somewhere. The movie is definitely a low priority at this point, but I've been wanting to see it for a while.

More later.


my current host, Rico: a gentleman and a scholar

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finally, a pic of one of the many cottontails I saw on the Interurban Trail today

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thanks, Paul!

I might have misquoted Paul in my previous entry about him (see the comments to this post), but he did me no such injustice. Quite the contrary, my host the previous night has written a post about my visit which I encourage you all to read.


pic dump 5

Yes, my feet are in agony, so I'm resting this evening, and my host has graciously consented to my staying at his place an extra night, which will give me more time to rest and catch up on writing (we hope). My current host, Rico (a.k.a. Richard) is an REI employee, so he set about diagnosing my foot problem and suggesting products as remedies. I may be getting some molded in-soles and trekking poles tomorrow. We'll see.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

a mouse on the Interurban Trail

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at Randy's

I'm at a diner called Randy's, settling down for my lone meal of the day. The employees are friendly and curious; the backpack was, as usual, a conversation piece: it led to questions about what I was doing, where I was going, and so on.

As you see from the series of photos I've posted, I've passed by a huge structure that someone called "the Starbucks building" (whether that means "corporate HQ" is a mystery; the guy who said the phrase was talking to his teenaged son, and I didn't hear the rest of the conversation); I passed by a huge property owned by Boeing, then by King County International Airport (for small planes only), then by the Museum of Flight, which appeared to be doing decent business for a Sunday. I'm not far from the point where I'll be hopping onto the Green River Trail. From there, I'll hit the Interurban Trail and schlep the rest of the way to Kent.

I had a great meeting with Julie Welch this morning. She had called me yesterday morning while I was at Choboji; we met today around 10:10AM and talked until about 11:30-- another conversation I probably should have recorded but didn't.

Julie's been following the blog for some time; she has also done me the great favor of spreading the word among various dharma communities on my behalf. Julie was involved in the "Seeds of Compassion" event that brought luminaries like the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu together. That event, though over, has led to subsequent activities with which Julie, who strikes me as extremely energetic, remains involved.

While our conversation ranged over a number of topics, one Walk-relevant insight Julie shared was that I would need to continue to spread the word and gain readership for the momentum (and funding) to snowball. I agree.

Julie also has an interesting claim to fame: back in the 70s, she was involved in the making of a book and TV series titled "Religious America," both of which explored the American religious landscape. Julie says the book has long been out of print, but I'm betting you can find it in certain specialty bookstores if you search hard enough.

When I told Julie about how guilty I often felt when receiving donations (I don't feel as though I've earned them), she had an interesting reply: sometimes, allowing people to donate money "gives them a chance to give."

Before Julie and I went our separate ways, she succumbed to temptation and tried hefting my backpack. Quite a few people have done this: Woody in Arlington did this back when it was 58 pounds, for example, and Paul's girlfriend Ginger had a go this morning. There's an essay topic in this, I think-- something about the things we do in the name of human empathy, about our occasional desire to feel the burdens of the Other. It restores my faith in humanity to see this small and often humorous gesture ("man, that's heavy!"); it means that it's not enough to reduce human existence to suffering, or to reduce the human character to selfishness. As Karl Rahner would say, we're self-transcending creatures; our curiosity often fuels our compassion and helps us to grow as people-- as living things in a living world.


Museum of Flight 3

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Museum of Flight 2

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Museum of Flight 1

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this type of concrete block is everywhere here...can you guess why I like it?

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temple of Boeing

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I've seen a few of these ads now... is this really a great bourbon? Mike?

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Starbucks Ground Zero? (ha! "Ground"!!)

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further thanks to Paul

Paul set me up with a sweet deal today: he found a set of bike paths that might cut a mile or more off my walk. So today, I'll be following the Green River and Interurban trails southward; the Interurban goes right up to Kent.

"It'll be an easy walk," Paul assured me. Fine by me; I'm all about easy.

By the way, Paul, I stole a can of Coke from your fridge last night and regret not having taken a pic of you and Ginger this morning. Please give Indiana the dawg an extra scratch for me.

ADDENDUM: Paul also taught me the expression "hapa," which refers to those of mixed race. The term is apparently common in this area; if I remember correctly, Paul said "hapa" was a bastardization of "half," as in "half-and-half," which is how I often jokingly refer to myself.


striking southward toward Kent this morning, but first...

I'll be heading toward Kent today, but will first be meeting with someone who called the Zen temple I was at yesterday (Choboji), a certain Ms. Julie Welch of the Northwest Dharma Association. I'm curious to know what will come of that meeting; I owe her a phone call in the next 60-90 minutes so we can set up a morning meeting (she's close to where I am; we'll probably have to find a halfway point).

A thousand thanks to Paul and Ginger for their generosity. Paul was quite the find: we met not through CouchSurfing, but via commenter Curtis S, who has been a longtime reader of my online writing as well as Paul's. Curtis pointed Paul in my direction, so THANK YOU, CURTIS!

Paul, it turns out, has a fine blog: A Blue-Eyed Buddhist. You'll recall that Paul is a member of SGI (Soka Gakkai, an offshoot of Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism); he had some interesting things to say yesterday, and I'll need time to write some of it down.

Which brings me to the two comments I've received (only one of which I was permitted to publish) regarding the topic of time: I'm being asked to SLOW DOWN. This is in the spirit of an earlier discussion about the need to process what I'm experiencing, since so much of this walk is about the writing as well as the traveling/meeting/discussing. It's true: there's a "meta" level to all this and I do need the time to process all the info I'm receiving. There are, for example, issues I'd like to explore in the ritual movement I've seen both at the Zen temples I've been to and the Sikh gurdwara in Lynden (what a contrast!). I'd also like to talk a bit about parallels in ritual space that I perceive (or perhaps misperceive) in Soka Gakkai and Judaism. Paul made some interesting comments about the nature of "church polity," for lack of a better term, when discussing Soka Gakkai, and I'd like to dig into that issue as well. And along with all that, I've got the items I listed last night-- the ever-growing list of things to catch up on.

So yes, taking a few days off simply to write and catch up would be a good thing. But somehow I have to balance this with the need to keep walking, because the longer the walk takes, the more funds I need. Even were I to spend at only a Spartan level-- subsistence-only spending-- I'd still be using a good bit of money every month. Can I really afford two years on the road? I know I can do at least one year, but if I plod along, I'll either need to find work or stop the walk entirely. (That, or you can help out as per the "How Can I Help?" link on my sidebar! Anyone got $50,000?)

Anyway... things to think about as I head out.

Thanks again, Paul and Ginger!


not enough hours in the day

Even with all the extra time I've had today, I still haven't been able to sit down and complete any of the major projects I'd hoped to tackle:

1. finishing up the Sikh writeup
2. writing about my conversation with the Woods
3. writing about my conversation with Miles
4. writing about my conversation with Joshua
5. transcribing my conversation with Genjo Marinello
6. writing about my conversation with Genjo's Zen group
7. uploading some of the digicam pics I've taken

(Actually, I might do [7] right now.) Nope. Not doing this tonight.

8. eat dinner!

In truth, I probably ate about 3000 calories at lunch. That $7.95 jumbo combo at the Chinese section of the food court(?) we visited for lunch today (Paul had a Hawaiian spam plate) was piled sky-high with carbs. My ultra-large soda wasn't exactly carb-free, either. I really don't need dinner, and to be honest, I'm not hungry. I am nevertheless in the mood for a fat, messy gyro (I passed a Mediterranean place on the way over to Paul's residence). But it's too late, and I have to leave here to meet someone tomorrow morning before moving on southward. Can't go out now. Besides, my feet still feel swollen. Aïe, as the French say.


thank you, Genjo Osho-san!

Many thanks to Genjo for his very generous PayPal contribution!


Happy Father's Day and Happy Birthday to MIKE

Happy Father's Day, Dad! Thanks for looking out for me during this walk! I love you!

June 15 this year is Father's Day, and June 15 is also my buddy Mike's birthday. Mike doesn't want to celebrate his birthday, but he'll be forced to do it, anyway. I hope he enjoys himself... if not because it's his birthday, then because he's a proud father of three.

To all dads everywhere: Happy Father's Day!