Not depressed . . . not angry . . . just blah right now. The word duldrums, in fact, means a period of inactivity and stagnation. Yes, that’s it exactly. Since last February 2, I have covered some serious miles, and much of that time was spent seeing new things, meeting new people, and experiencing life balls to the wall, a popular phrase growing up in my neighborhood.
Compare that to right now, the rain pounding outside, me and Maggie bus-bound, no vehicle to go roam in, the long-range forecast for more rain and, well, I have the duldrums.
There is actually a geographical area in the Atlantic Ocean called The Duldrums. I am dead serious, a rather large area of stagnant winds, not favorable for sailors in the old days of wind power. Back in the 1700’s, if you were sailing your schooner from Point A to Point B, and you found yourself in The Duldrums, you might be a little late for whatever appointment you had coming up. You could literally sit in your ship, going nowhere, for weeks upon end.
Adjustments . . . as in life is a series of adjustments, daily in fact, we are making decisions on the fly during our lifetime, adjusting to the consequences of those decisions, remember me talking earlier, much earlier, in this missive about the Butterfly Effect? Well, there you go and there you are and there you will be. I am in the process of adjusting right now. In the near future I will make some more decisions, and adjust accordingly, all with an eye towards the prize, to spend as much of my remaining time on this planet out on the road, seeing new, meeting new, experiencing new.
Thanks for riding along with me. You have been wonderful company so far, and I can hardly wait to see what’s up ahead for us all.
AN INTERESTING OMIT TO THIS POINT
It occurs to me I have spent eleven months traveling through California, Oregon, and Washington, telling you about the beautiful vistas and the amazing people, traveling random backroads, but I have never told you about my home for thirty-three years, Olympia. It is time to rectify that omittance.
It’s all about the water, a shout out to Olympia Beer, the once proud standard-bearer, a slogan known for decades by many a partaker of liquid hops and barley, marketing genius for sure, but also an accurate mini-history lesson, for Olympia harkens back to the Deschutes River depositing into a natural harbor called Budd Inlet, at the southern tip of the Puget Sound, a formidable waterway which “travels” all the way to the San Juan Islands, the Strait of Juan De Fuca, Canada, and the Pacific Ocean. And that right there, ladies and gentlemen, made Olympia an early, important port city, a hub of trade, sternwheelers making the journey from Olympia to Tacoma and Seattle and off into the Pacific and far-off ports. Local lumber was needed, fish were needed, other local goods were needed, for the country was expanding, the Puget Sound was a’growin’, and that meant money, people, more money, and by God this northwest corner of the U.S. just might amount to something after all.
And so, visiting the capitol of Washington, one starts in the downtown area, sitting where the aforementioned river meets the salt water of The Sound. Walk south and you find the Capitol Dome and government buildings; walk west, cross a bridge, and you enter West Olympia; walk south and you will find yourself on a peninsula, of sorts, where farms mingle with the homes of the rich; walk east and you’ll stroll through the original neighborhood, then neighborhoods dating back to the 1920’s, then more still added in the after WW2 boom of the 50s and 60s.
Downtown has seen better days, not the center I knew when moving here in 1990, not the blight of 2010, making a comeback of sorts with new construction and beautification showing signs of working. It is a downtown which can easily be seen on foot, and any visit to downtown must include a walk along a charming Boardwalk, overlooking the marina, great restaurants, just enough funk to satisfy anyone, the area which most looks like there is still some life in the old girl.
I would be remiss if I did not mention Capitol Lake, a reflecting pool, of sorts, a shallow lake to some, an estuary to others, pretty to look at but her identity is known by none.
Several of the neighborhoods are absolutely charming, from Bigelow to the Northeast, from the South Capitol and the Southwest Capitol, homes from the 1800s, early 20th century, great variety of architecture, many homes with large expansive yards, these are walking neighborhoods, family neighborhoods, places where strollers are pushed and barbecues are stoked, where people say hello to their neighbors and crime is certainly not a major concern. Bike paths and walking paths curl through city parks, ever-present evergreens tower above it all, and there is a general feeling that everything is going to be all right.
Not implying that all is well, mind you. Walk through downtown at night and you will step over the homeless sleeping on the sidewalk, and there is a general ominous feeling when the sun drops below the horizon. There is unemployment to be sure, a stagnant economy, quite a few “for rent” signs in business windows, and a tax base which can’t meet the needs, but those objections are fairly common in most cities in the U.S.
General outlook: guarded optimism, and I’ll take that any old day compared to hopeless malaise.