On the Oregon Trail. No dysentery. Yet. (Picture heavy)

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This past weekend I spent at Spring Mysteries Fest, which I can’t tell you much about because, well, Mysteries. Oath-bound secrecy, etc. Also, this is not my pagan blog, so what I can talk about will be said at Innocence and Immanence sometime this week. Regardless, SMF is at Fort Flagler, an old military base. Pictures during the event are not allowed by any save the sanctioned photographers (though we did get a photo of just our group, which is okay, on Saturday in all our big feast finery + my Creepy Muppet Smile + at least one photobomb by another Canadian), but while I was waiting outside for my mom to pick me up (she was six hours late) I snapped a few shots of the amazing view.

Ft. Flagler is a pretty cool place, but it hasn’t changed much since it was closed down for military use…in 1953. After being shut down for military use it was purchased by the State of Washington as a state park. So this means 1950s bunks (sans ladders, because army boys should be able to just leap up to the top bunk), 1950s bathrooms (TINY), and 1950s hot water heaters (also tiny, and overworked). Despite these small inconveniences (roughing it, eh?), we had a great time (I did have a bottom bunk, which is good because I would not be able to use a top bunk, not even with make-shift nightstand ladder) and great weather.

Even waiting for my mom wasn’t too bad; the Gods provided for me, as They always do. I did fine. Except the sunburn, which you can vaguely see on my hands and face in the three pictures below. Only my hands and face; I was fully covered with clothing. Hot water still kinda hurts though.

We left and opted to drive to Olympia instead of taking a ferry to Seattle as we had already completely missed the window to visit my friend Leah for coffee (by about four hours). The road from Ft. Flagler to Olympia is long, wooded, windy, and betimes creepy. The scariest part was when we drove through the town of Shelton, or “Christmas Town USA” as the sign proclaimed it. There were no Christmas decorations, trees, wreaths…not a whisper of any sort of Christmas spirit at all. It looked like and industrial ghost town. Where the ghosts are serial killers and if you don’t drive fast enough you may not make it out alive. No pictures, because we wanted to make it out alive. A sign at the very last edge of town warned us to “DRIVE SAFE”…or it would murder us in the face.

When we reached Olympia I had Jack in the Box for the first time in four years (I regret nothing) and we got a room at the Best Western Tumwater Inn (Tumwater? So, “what you vomit up after taking Tums”? I’m horrible; I know). This morning afternoon we started on the road again and drove down to Portland, where I met my long-time online friend Crystal. This was awesome; Crystal is just as cool in person as online.

After coffee and lunch we continued on south to Ashland, our next destination, where we would be staying with Mom’s friend Paula. Paula is in the same PhD program as Mom is. I first met Paula and the rest of Mom’s cohort in 2005, when I was 18. She was pretty shocked to hear that I’m almost 26 now.

When we got there (5 hours in the car later) at 9:30pm there was a small problem: Paula had moved. She had sent the new address to my mom, but for whatever reason this bit of information did not make it to me and I was given the Ashland address, which I Googled. Paula was about 30 minutes away, in Jacksonville.

I revoked Mom’s driving privileges and took us there myself after receiving phone-instructions from Paula (my back is at the point where I can do short driving stints), and we finally safely arrived at just after 10.

Paula’s house is a funky little thing that’s being partially used as storage by her landlady. This woman has two arcade games and four pinball machines in one room, which is taking up Paula’s art space. I am jealous and coveting and taking pictures for posterity. An Aliens arcade game (*drool*), a Warlords one (which I’ve never played, but would play so hard if I had it), and four pinball games with clothes on top of them.

There is also a lot of furniture in the house that belongs to the landlady, including this awesome red velvet number that I include a picture of because it looks pretty much exactly how I envisioned the klinae, or seating couches, that are used in Athering (the setting of Bellica). Now you have a visual aid. You’re welcome.

I’m sorry it’s a dark photo; my phone takes bad pictures.

Now, it is 2 am and I am considering sleep as soon as my heartburn subsides. Tomorrow we’re up early and on to San Francisco by mid-morning. At least, that’s the plan. Wednesday I check out grad schools, and meet two more online friends. As well as holding an editorial conference with my editor (the official reason for my trip south).

See you on Wednesday.

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