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The Solar Eclipse

In recent months life has surprised me with eclecticisms copious. As I write, drenched bone-deep in miracles, a volley of experiences and sensations anew, I am experiencing life. The United States has many backdrops, I have seen the pictures. In traveling to the west coast, I have experienced a plethora of new landscapes. The densest forests are illuminating. This article will be the beginning of new direction for HeartofZeus. I intend to increase my focus on travel, and will be relaying my travel experiences through my writing. Someday, I hope to write a novel, possibly more than one, and HeartofZeus is a learning experience for me. This is an expedition; the blossoming of my art.

Let me tell you a story.

Left on August 20th, destination of the Baker City Bike Hostel, food and supplies for a few days, with the intention to purchase more in the sales-tax free state of Oregon. After nabbing the car from Queen Anne, a neighborhood near where we live in Seattle, Danae and I set off at 2 PM from the Green Tortoise Hostel. We stocked up on cigarettes and gasoline once in Oregon, as well as a few food items such as bread and mayo. Arriving at the Baker City Bike Hostel at 9 PM, we decided not to stay based upon a reading error on my part. The price was twice as much, as we were two people in a single tent, vs one person in a single tent. I respect the business principles behind this, and in the end we were happy to save the original 13 dollar expenditure, which would have been double if we stayed. We slept in our Nissan Versa in a Walmart parking lot in Ontario, Oregon. It was a semi-pleasant experience, and after the second time sleeping in a parking lot, we have learned that planning to stay in the car is a viable option to preplan for.

We awoke, uncomfortable but lively, around 7 AM. Ontario is Mountain Time, so although we had planned to see the eclipse at 10:30, it would now be 11:30 AM. We went into Walmart, seeking bathrooms, and eclipse glasses. We did not find the latter. The associates, apparently alerted to my situation, notified me there was a gentleman selling solar eclipse glasses whom had just left the building. With Danae in the restroom, I headed to the parking lot. I did not find the man. What I did find was a row of people at the west edge of the parking lot, blankets and chairs occupying the sliver of grass between the parking lot and the entry drive. The first individuals I encountered were a couple traveling home from Canada, stopping to see the eclipse before finishing their journey in Idaho. I introduced myself by presenting that I was seeking a man selling solar eclipse glasses. They were unknowing of his whereabouts, but the lady informed me they had two extra pair of glasses. I was ecstatic. After a quick glance at the sun, because…constant vigilance, I exchanged 8 dollars, a very fair price for the glasses, and traversed the parking lot to find Danae at the car. We went and viewed Idaho from across the Snake River, 30 feet from the car, joyful; the Oregon Trail is rather enjoyable in 2017.

Our next intended stop was Annex, Oregon, as we heard Weiser, Idaho was one of the best places to view the eclipse. We wanted to be around that area, while staying in Oregon. We ended up just north of Annex. We parked on the side of the road, car facing west, and waited. Checking periodically with our glasses, we began to see the moon cover the sun. The sight brought about an enjoyment larger than I was expecting. As time passed, we saw the sun further eclipsed through the glasses, but it remained fairly bright. Without the glasses, one would not know the eclipse is going to occur until it happens to happen. I can see how the ancients would have been stunned. I was stunned, and it was a slow process. The full eclipse lasted two minutes. I read that, I didn’t time it. The darkness enveloped us fully, the equivalent: ten minutes of dawn; however the sun never set for us that morning. The moon continued its orbit, as usual, and the brightness come back to us in full. Danae and I concurred that it was an exciting experience.

Solar Eclipses are said to represent, and thus bring about, new beginnings. Unbeknownst to us, the truth may be just that. We left our viewing location for the eclipse, and drove to the Umatilla National Forest. We would be dispersed camping until Thursday. I use a website, https://www.fs.fed.us/ivm to find forest service roads, and we drive to the roads with the hope of finding established campsites. Usually we find roads we cannot drive upon with the Nissan Versa; rather disappointing. After the usual couple hours of exploring the terrain, we settled just across the highway from the Oregon Trail Visitors Center. An open sight atop a hill, a view of the forest and mountains in the distance, a deer carcass thirty feet away; the first time Danae found animal bones. We settled there two nights in a row, but we did spend the day in between exploring an area of the Umatilla near Tollgate, a very small town in Oregon. We were attempting to find a new camping location near Tollgate, but we spotted a black bear and a black bear cub very near the only suitable campsite we came across. For the both of us, it was our first time seeing a bear. We saw it from the car, but the spotting occurred on a trail we nearly decided to venture down only 45 minutes earlier. Altogether quite an exciting experience.

After our second night on the Oregon Trail, we headed northwest. We stopped at a McDonalds and bought two coffees. They tasted tax-free and it was liberating. We drove until Zillah, Washington, where we stopped for petrol. The internet informed us of the cheapest place. After putting in seventeen dollars, and receiving a measly half tank of gas, we were en route to our final destination; Snoqualmie Pass. We took exit 54 on highway 90 north and resolved to park at the Gold Creek Trailhead. A sign indicating we could not host a fire seemed to mark this as campable territory. We searched for a location to pitch our tent, exploring mostly the south and north sides of the pond, respectively, all to no avail. There was a very interesting spot at the north end of the lake, a small peninsulated bit of grass and shrubs, which held room enough for a tent about 10 meters out. There was even indication of a previous campfire, with the fire ban being in place for at least ten days. We did not feel like porting the gear around the island however, and moved on, to the south side of the highway.

The finale of our journey, a grand one, happened at the Lake Keechelus Boating Site and Picnic Area. We parked our car and found immediate camping up a set of stairs on the west side of the parking lot. Alone, but very close to civilization, including a few RV’s parked closer to the lake, we camped on the edge of the Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Our view was of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest. It was a beautiful evening. We supped on peanut butter and jam, with no fire. We meandered the edge of the lake, finding one more camp site hidden atop a mound of rocks. We witnessed a strange halting of traffic on highway 90. I suspected demolition was the cause, but honestly have no clue the likelihood of that. With the rainfly on our Marmot tent, bright orange, we slept soundly.

It did in fact rain the night of our stay in Snoqualmie pass. We awoke at separate times in the early morning to find it drizzling, if not more precipitation than that. After the sun was a bit above the mountains we ventured to the parking lot. What we discovered was a three-hundred and sixty degree view containing pine tree painted mountains, topped thick as 50’s ice cream shakes with fog. A gray whipping crème of Mother Nature’s cycling sustenance. Fog is my favorite weather, and the sight of the mountains was a magnificent experience to intake. After packing our gear into our car, we headed to our home. Into downtown Seattle we arrived, dropped off our bags, parked the car closer than we had it pre-solar eclipse, and walked home. It was something to experience, and I feel as if I will indeed see another solar eclipse in the future. I would recommend journeying to one, to anyone.

-Chris 8/25/2017

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An early evaluation of Seattle

Seattle has an abundance of homeless people. I have been in the city for nearly a month now, and encountering a homeless individual is a daily routine level oddity. I live across from the Public Market, and that area specifically attracts both tourists and homeless people, one of the various microcosmic, economic cesspools of the city. The Subway across the street from the hostel charges $12.00 minimum for a foot-long sub, which generates twice the average expenditure at quite a disadvantage to the hungry customers. Within 15 minutes walking, one can find four other subways, as well as many other restaurants at considerably more normal prices. A fair walk away is a restaurant called Katsu Burger, which I have yet to eat at, but very much intend to.

Under a bridge, not a far distance from me on Bell Street and Western Avenue, there are about 10 tents occupying the sidewalks hosting presumably homeless individuals. I have moseyed past the tents several times now, and they have woven themselves into the normality of the city; a place I now avoid at night because it just seems like the right thing to do. I however hail from Milwaukee, and the violence in that city far exceeds any criminal acts in Seattle. Overall I consider Seattle a safe city, a place where I am comfortable wandering about at night, a home that is active enough to induce a sense of tranquil energy 24 hours a day, but peaceful enough to give both the first and third-shifters an atmosphere which promotes rest. Seattle’s cultural impact vibrates throughout the traversers and consorters of the city, and it is an affirmation of community, stitched together by both the very rich, and the savagely poor.

Milwaukee, in contrast, has a city-wide crime-pandemic. Let us first note that the Milwaukee Police Department confiscated over 400 illegal firearms from the streets in 2016, while Chicago and N.Y. pulled just over 200 off of their streets the same year. The police are doing their part, and in my eyes they are doing it well. Sherriff David Clarke has let two people and possibly more die while serving sentences in Milwaukee Jails and Prisons, one inmate died of dehydration. There are members of the MPD working to obtain sought-after effectiveness. I believe Edward Flynn is heading the Milwaukee Police in a modern, progressive direction. Let us second note the outrageously close-to-home-impact the humongous violence problem plaguing Milwaukee subjects its citizens to. There are two issues which on the surface seem separate; but on this planet, everything is connected. We have the violence, which encompasses the many bullets fired and buried inside of various, mostly unintentional, usually not human substances, every day in Milwaukee. Equally close-to-home-impacting are the many, many drug users in the city and its far stretching suburbs, which pool money into the hands of people who might have a reason to defend themselves. We also have the outnumbering majority of citizens which don’t have any affiliation to these sectors, and contribute to the city economy with an equatable margin. They are sometimes the victims, names dispersed though the headlines. Law-abiding citizens, or one too young to know what right place-right time would even mean. Shot dead, sitting on their grandfather’s lap.

That is the short on the city of which I inhabited the outskirts of. I was raised in world’s largest village, and I’m privy to call it the world’s largest village so I’m not sure you will find it on Google, everything else is bliss, not brass. I was educated by the Menomonee Falls public education system, and although I did not have notable marks, the level of devotion those teachers have to their students and the community they inhabit is irreplaceable. The school-system truly saturates the community with bright, adventurous individuals, helping to propel the world forward in a progressive direction. The school system in Milwaukee has teachers just as dedicated, but unfortunately they are not given the same funding or resources as the suburbs surrounding, which is a spider web of topics for another article. There are certainly schools available for capable and knowledge seeking students in Milwaukee, but a majority of the public schools are pulled down in ability to teach by the students themselves. Parents inspiring their kids to learn is one of the first steps, and without dedicated parents it is hard for dedicated teachers to find success elevating the very kinetic youth in Milwaukee.

The education system in Seattle, and Washington in general I am not yet certified to evaluate, but judging from the citizens I would grade the education system with top marks. The citizens of Seattle are innovative, and it keeps progression abundant. Washington, one of the first states to legalize recreational marijuana, has seen an economic boon, in direct effect I believe to the marijuana laws. In Seattle and the surrounding areas, housing prices have risen 20%(needs citation) in the last two years. On the opposing side, minimum wage within the city proper is $15.00 an hour, and $13.00 an hour for businesses in the surrounding areas. This, along with marijuana legalization, has a seducing effect on the many voyagers in the city. Establishing a reputable future around Seattle is a palpable prospect. The minimum wage has risen, and prices have risen. In the metro area however, specifically outside of the Seattle tourist areas, prices have not risen enough to diminish intention of the minimum wage increase, thus making it a viable economic move for the city. I expect to see growth in the future, and until marijuana legalization becomes a philosophy adopted by many more states I expect to see newcomers to the city. In fact, I consider marijuana legalization a cheat code for ones economy at this point in time. It immediately generates tourism, and is the utmost-but-certain direction of the future, and the youth of America and the world alike are the ones making this decision.

Seattle has the most cranes of any city in the world at the time of the writing of this article. That, right there, is palpable evidence of city growth. I witness the construction of these buildings on a daily basis. I walk under scaffolding every time I leave the hostel and walk east. The progress here is radiating, and I believe it generates excitement. On the 4th of July, some of the cranes in the city were even decorated with a great many lights; a sight I have never seen prior, maybe I just don’t get out enough. The city transit is good, but the buses can often be on a delay. The light-rail is the way to go, working and living within walking distance of it will make living without a car very possible. A light rail or a bullet train that ran all the way down the west coast is exactly what I want to see, I would certainly ride it and I believe many other would as well. One could explore the west coast, free to carry cannabis.

 My thus far general consensus of Seattle

This city is a great place to grow, especially for anyone who is young and ready to work. Possessing a college education can offer many opportunities, but a laborer of any education level can find themselves fit into the piece-work of this city. The landscape encompassing Seattle is beautiful and bountiful, giving folks who grow with the city a gratifying place to retire from it, whether they be young or old. The art and music in the city is vivacious, and it’s something to fall in love with. The Chihuly gardens shows the city has a soft side, and Biscuit Bitch proves it has attitude. The Space Needle is recognized the world around, and living in the city you will see it at every angle. Pigeons and homeless folk will become integrated into your daily life, but it will not bother you. If one feels the need to visit Seattle, they simply book a room at the Green Tortoise hostel on Pike street. They will find themselves within walking distance of a wonderful number of attractions, far too many to see in the too few days I see many visitors allot themselves; don’t make the same mistake. Come see the city, and bring money because it’s the lubricant for society, but more importantly bring time. Give yourself time to walk around, allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the unexpected pleasantries you will discover. Do not be frugal with your time, be philanthropic. Seattle will gravitize your full, undivided attention, it’s powerful.
Chris- 7/20/2017