Tuesday, October 18, 2011

west, vol. 7

-one of those mornings where you don't wake up, but instead slowly climb some dank, steep stairs out of a fetid basement of unconsciousness. mouth felt like someone's sock had been there, and knowing how many dudes i was surrounded with...that was a distinct & realistic possibility.

-all the dudes roused, minus ben (unmoving next to the papazon chair) and chris (worked till like 8am), and after i downed several glasses of water, we headed out into a sun that pierced my level of consciousness. yowch.

-it was andy's weekend, so we walked down the hill towards a local krispy kreme. the only knowledge that existed in my brain at the moment was, "a doughnut would be a bad idea in my current condition." besides, have you looked at a krispy kreme doughnut conveyor line? i did, and it was being flushed with a clear liquid that i would assume was water, but that seemed foul nonetheless. big ole watery doughnut, no thank you, sir!

-tyler & i went next door, to jack-in-the-box (j-in-the-b), a fast food chain slowly infiltrating the midwest. shamefully, i got some greasy breakfast combo and coffee, in hopes of making it through the day. their ordering cashiers had been recently replaced with self-service machines, which i navigated, empathizing with whatever low-level, visored employee had lost their job to a gentrified U-scan machine. on the other hand...machines don't make mistakes, and they count out change at a remarkable rate.

J-in-the-B: way creepier than the King.

-from here, a quick walk up the sooty and exhaust-filled northern strip of aurora ave. to...k-mart. stepping in was akin to time-jumping back to 1993, which was likely the last year the carpet or wall-decoration or 50% of the stock was changed. the mission here were cheap swim trunks for andy & tyler; and (like the married couple they are) they soon picked out matching suits. standing outside next to the quarter-powered carousel (just like the one in kokomo, it seemed); i could've been 5 years old again. oh, except for that raging hangover, coffee-in-hand, and whiskey-clogged pores. still, coming back out into the sun, unflaggingly strong over the mountain was like being born.

-walked back uphill to the apartment, where we roused ben, and set to getting cleaned up, re-packing, and setting off. luckily, 8 males can accomplish this task with the least amount of vocalization necessary. after the jet fumes, whiskey, sleep-sweat, and morning sheen had been washed off, ben retrieved from the distant shores of unconsciousness, and i filled 2 grocery bags with my belongings, with a sleeping mat to complete my hobo accessory set; we finally set out, well past noon, heading northwards.

-traffic was heavy, and i failed to provide good tunes despite accepting the shotgun position in chris's car, ben & andy riding in the rear. luckily, chris had a copy of watch the throne, which was dutifully spun a couple times. or was it kanye's solo record? brain-cramp. ben was "baby-mousing" it while we wove through heavy traffic, getting to mt. baker highway before turning off at the local bellingham costcutter, which after a pre-emptive investigation, looked swell enough to stock the larder from. randy's crew was way behind, having stopped already for food & liquor. so, we left ben asleep in a grassy parking-lot median, and trudged across a few acres of asphalt to round table pizza. filled bellies with hot pizza & even convinced andy to spot me double-digits worth of croutons from the salad bar. what a gentleman.

A better motto would be, "Hella better than Pizza Hut," though that is less Arthur-ian sounding. And I think my crouton obsession dates back to accompanying my little brother and parents to the rare Outback Steakhouse excursion, during which we would beg and/or pilfer some croutons from their salad. Large, square, full of dried cheese and sodium, and more dusty than a desert boot...I can still taste them.

-the other car having arrived (and ben having not yet been arrested for vagrancy; though he was victim of an attempt to lure him & his valid ID into a criminal scheme of returning merchandise to a local chain store...), we stocked the grocery cart with eggs, bacon, butter, bread, bratwurst, baked beans, salad, bing cherries, chips, potatoes, onions, bottled water, apples, bananas, milk, various condiments, and beer. lots of beer. and some various challenge foods for andy to eat (tomatoes; funky smoked european semi-soft cheese; aforementioned cherries). had we filled another bag...we couldn't have fit it all in both cars. and that included any & all lap storage.

"The Bounty of Snoqualmie": photo by A. S. Maxson. This would last through Night One. Yes, that is a bottle of Old Overholt Rye Whiskey peeking from the back of the pile. Also invisible was a case of Modelo Especial, and more notably, a Deschutes Black Butte XXI. Curated by the photographer, our collection also featured, from right, Lagunitas IPA, Maui Coconut Porter, a nod to the classic Rainier, Oskar Blues Dale's Pale Ale, Deschutes Green Lakes Organic Ale, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils, Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale, Alaskan White Ale, and Goose Island Matilda. To justify the last choice...Ben does live in Hawaii...has to get his Goose Island fix when he can.

-the scenic mt. baker highway has to be one of the most beautiful drives in the country. from the sea-level bay in bellingham, straight into the foothills of the Cascade mountain range, the road rolls through hills, farms, ranches, begins to narrow and pass through more conifer stands, eventually criss-crossing and following the glacier-fed Nooksack River. other than the occasional real estate sign, and coffee shops advertising wireless, there was scant indication of development. it all seemed fairly restrained, and not over-commercialized. the foothills eventually became sheer spires, coated in the green grass of late summer, carpeted in trees save for where some clear-cutting had buzzed them to the scalp.

-anticipation was building, overriding the hangover for the first time in the day. we stopped at a small gas station in the town of glacier to retrieve the housekeys, and drove another mile or so to a small, gated neighborhood, sparsely populated with modest homes, single-wide trailers, and thick groves of trees. our cabin was a-frame-esque, though it had a curve like the hull of a ship. two-stories, the insides gleamed with timbers, and had a gas stove, big kitchen, and dining room that doubled as a sunroom, protruding in glass-windowed-walls from the rear of the house. did i mention there was a hot tub? oh yes. most crucial hot tub.

Photo by R. Hawkins. Piling in to the ol' cabin. I was currently failing to operate the key in the sliding door. I blame the mountain moisture. Chris soon schooled me on lock operations, but graciously allowed me to remain indoors for the duration of the trip.

-beds were claimed (i ended up in the "master" with the bachelor, himself); drawers were opened, the hot tub was turned up, and the septic system was thoroughly tested. the fridge filled up and i busted out the Deschutes XXI Reserve, poured everyone 2.5oz, and we toasted Andy. Unfortunately, the grill was charcoal, so we settled for oven-broiled brats, but not before andy attempted to impose his will on the booze-weakened masses, watching the owen wilson/eddie murphy awesome/awful I Spy.

-having dinner loosened up the livers, and in no time verbal gauntlets were being thrown, cigars were cut, and the hot tub cover thrown into the weeds. oh yeah...we forgot to turn the temperature down to a reasonable level. steam was rolling off the water, and if you remained in for 5 minutes, the sweat poured off of any exposed skin. that said, once you braved the burning, it felt like my muscles were being liquified, the summer's stress and previous evening's self-abuse evaporating into the Cascadian starlit night. drink of choice for a 150-degree hot tub...modelo especial. the night ended prior to midnight, nary a person electing to play a round of Mousetrap that had been assembled during dinner.

Photo by R. Hawkins. Andy demonstrating the veritable cojones needed to brave the hot tub on Night One. Possibly the best picture of the weekend...makes me wish for a time-machine. I'd go back in a second.

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