Fall Break 2012: Mountains & Mist in Seattle

So I’m finally back from San Francisco (was stranded for a week due to Hurricane Sandy). I am glad to be back because everything seemed indefinite and tentative and ironically I don’t deal very well with that. The West Coast, I must admit, is the Better Coast, but Philadelphia is obviously different and awesome in its own way. But considering that I have spent equal amounts of time on the West and East this month, I ought to dedicate a couple of posts documenting my adventures.

I am tired of cities. I have mentioned that before, and it seems like an ungrateful thing to say, but the comforting, trite thing about the cities is that they are roughly the same. Nature seems different, though that could be explained by my obvious lack of exercise and experience with the outdoors. I was when Stanley asked A & me to go hiking on Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens. I was shocked when I found out that temperatures would be even colder than they were in Philly (-1 to 8 degrees Celsius in Seattle, 22 in Philly). But I am so very glad that I went.

Everything was beautiful and picturesque, which means there are pretty pictures to remember things by. But without sounding overly pretentious, when I saw Mt St Helens (above), I just thought that there must be something good in the world for Geology and Science to mingle with Miracles to create something as majestic-looking as this.

The weather was incredibly erratic. When we got to one of the checkpoints, it started snowing so hard, which Alan loved, because last winter (his official first in the States) was warm and unmemorable.

And just as quickly, things started warming up, but not before everyone let themselves go and played this overly complicated game of snowball dodgeball. I love the following photo of Matt because it reminded me that we should all give ourselves to crazy bouts of laughter when those moments take us! Also he looks ridiculous and I love embarrassing my friends.

Here’s a photo of things being slightly warmer (although drizzly, still):

Everything looked surreal, like a scene from the Lord of the Rings or something. And as much as I am happy with how my photographs turned out, they’re still missing something. I don’t know how to capture that thought, though the closest I suppose would be to say that if Instagram had a filter for feelings… then maybe I’d be a step closer to sharing what I actually saw. And felt.

Lavinia took this photo for us, and I don’t want to sound like a love-crazed teenager, but I suppose if A & I were to ever get married I would like this in the corny slideshow every couple plays in between dinner courses. I could extrapolate and say stupid, Lit-y things like, oh we don’t know what awaits around the corner, or like love’s an incredible journey, but really I just felt very happy being somewhere with my best friend. That said, I will probably say something stupid like the above at my wedding, to make things seem like they have Longevity and Shit, hah.

Day 2 we headed to Mt Rainier, which is even prettier than Mt St Helens but first we made a stop in small-town America, which also felt like a scene from a movie. We drove through the entire town in like 2 minutes — one moment there was a sign greeting us, “Welcome to Morton!” and next there was another, “Thank you for visiting!” We had breakfast at Cody Cafe, your quintessential quaint, small-town diner, which we picked because we didn’t have many options available on a Sunday morning, and also because it had 4 Yelp reviews, which was the most amongst our possible choices.

We started playing this game where we all had to go round and name any state until we reached all 50. Sad to say, we didn’t do very well. I for one thought that Mississipi was just a river… Anyway here’s a picture of a body of water — I don’t want to commit to saying it’s a river, I don’t think that’d be the accurate geological term, but ta-dah.

Getting around the park requires a car (or two, in our case), and halfway through one of the bridges we stopped to grab shots of this. One of the park rangers just popped out of nowhere and told us to get back in or we’d cause an accident or two. Apparently drivers are so taken with the scene (it’s better in person) they can get distracted haha.

We were driving to Paradise, one of the highest checkpoints you can get to with a car. After that it’s all you and Mother Nature. We didn’t manage to hike the day before — it was too cold at Mt St Helens — so everyone was enthusiastic (perhaps save for Lavi, who was still cold haha). When we walked down this stretch, I thought it was kinda how I envisioned the post-apocalyptic world portrayed in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, except obviously a lot less desolate. But it was the kind of cold and unendingness I felt when I read it.

Thankfully our situation was far less depressing than it was in The Road. We went up to Nisqually Vista and attempted a 1-mile hike, which we completed, but I won’t disclose the amount of time we took to actually finish it. A lot of our friends will end up in the military and don’t want to embarrass them, though in all credit, we were probably so slow because we took a ridiculous number of photos including this act-yi-ge-boyband one. I love the symmetry of Matt and Wenbo’s poses, and Alan and Aaron’s poseur sunglasses.

This was the highlight of the hike: a giant melting glacier creek. It is huge, and even from where we were standing, you could hear the distant roar of melting liquid crashing upon rocks and stuff.

Nearing the end of the hike, the boys decided to ruin the pristine, fluffy blanket of snow by having a testosterone-charged brawl. It involved a lot of snowballs and taupoking which is apparently very common in all-guys schools.

On our last day, we went back to civilization and did the touristy things in Seattle, like Pike’s Market and the original Starbucks. I was wondering what the big deal about Starbucks was, until Stan told me that love it or hate it, the chain revolutionized drinking culture in the States, where it used to simply and only be about tea.

We also saw the Second Grossest Attraction in the World — the Gum Wall at Pike’s. Ew. Here’s a less nauseating, slightly more philosophical photo: is it “Nothing I’d Rather Be” or “I’d Rather Be Nothing”? Is the glass half-full or half-empty? Why was I so intrigued by this??

We visited the most underwhelming science museum in the world, but it was also only 50 cents, because there was some special going on and it was apparently the price they paid in 1952 or something. The boys had a silly competition where they timed each other to see who could press a button 100 times the fastest, and Alan touched some things in a pool.

Afterwards we proceeded to the Olympic Sculpture Park, which was also underwhelming because we Didn’t Get It. The 21s did have a great time at the happy hour in Seastar Restaurant, where much food and alcohol and oysters were consumed.

At the end of a long day, we drove to some spot in a more affluent district and took in the view. We did a lot of silly photo-taking, which mainly involved me jumping up and down so I’d look like a ghost with the shutter left on.

By the way, it is super rainy in Seattle. I suppose that could have made the day super depressing, but it’s times like these that I am grateful I have friends to make everything better.

School is boring but perhaps infinitely better than Work, which is interminable and a stage that doesn’t have spring breaks and vacations and an end in sight. A friend has passed away and yet life moves so strangely on and I don’t want to think about legacies and love and all these big things… Sometimes the best memories seem to be in the minute. I read The Perks of Being a Wallflower in 3 hours today and Charlie reminded me of Oscar Schell from Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close in some way, and the book was like a visual version of the song Soco Amaretto Lime, which is to say, about youth and life and its fleetingness. It was other things too, but that’s what it felt like to me.

“It’s like he would take a photograph of Sam, and the photograph would be beautiful. And he would think that the reason the photograph was beautiful was because of how he took it. If I took it, I would know that the only reason it’s beautiful is because of Sam.”

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