Upward and Onward from Olympia

Trip Start Nov 01, 2007
Trip End Apr 30, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, December 19, 2007

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Leaving University Friends Meeting, which is in the northern part of Seattle, we first meandered through the beautiful and bustling downtown, and then we continued the route through Seattle's industrial waterfront area. Our coordinator, Jonathan Betz-Zall, had to work hard to find a safe way to walk out of Seattle towards Tacoma. We are very grateful for his good work. It seemed as though the large shipyards and warehouses would go on forever, but finally we crossed a bridge and it appeared as though we had crossed into a Latin American city, since for a couple of miles all the store signs were now in Spanish. This little ethnic enclave was a big surprise.

This day was long, cool, and rainy. We found that our rain gear worked well, and we and our equipment stayed dry and warm. We were always pleased to find some place to have a cup of coffee and get out of the weather briefly. That evening, about four blocks from our destination, the cart hit a bump and, much to our dismay, the center support post snapped from metal fatigue and we couldn't go another step. Fortunately, our host was at home and very willing to come and rescue us and our gear.

More good fortune was just around the corner because Michael Hanway, our new host, enjoys fixing things as much as Louis does. The following morning they were able to jury-rig a new central post out of a hardwood broom handle--which Louis thinks is maybe even better than what we had originally.

But back to our hosts for the evening. They are members of a Preparative Meeting under the care of University Friends Meeting. We were entertained by a delightful little four-year-old girl named Mei. Her mom, Erica Nishioka, was not feeling well, so we didn't get as much of a chance to talk with her. But we appreciated our warm welcome in spite of her illness. Michael stays home to care for Mei while Erica works outside of the home for pay. We had fun playing games with Mei and getting to know Michael. When Louis got out his harmonica, Michael found one for Mei, who took to it immediately. Within 20 minutes Mei was "teaching " Louis how to play.

In the morning, after the cart was repaired, much to our delight, Michael and Mei walked with us for about a mile. We then continued south towards Tacoma. Some of our walk took us near Puget Sound and we had occasional glimpses of its majestic vistas. We were graced with warmish weather and no rain that day. For Louis, however, this day was taxing, since there were quite a few long uphill parts where it took a lot more effort to push or pull the cart. This illustrates the need to get adequate rest, because it does affect our stamina the following day. (The night before was one filled with thinking through solutions to the broken cart and so Louis didn't get as much sleep.)

Our next hosts, Jon and Jessica Kershner, are members of the Olympic Friends Church in Tacoma. Jon is also the pastor there. We felt right at home with them and their very energetic Jack Russell-mix dog, Patches. We spent two nights with them and spent much time sharing our perspectives on Quaker faith and service. They are warm, welcoming, caring, thoughtful, and fun to be with. We were impressed with the loving care they had taken to learn to help Patches be a good dog. He's enthusiastic and without training and persistence he would be a difficult dog to have in a house. We considered this a reminder that we must find ways to bring out the best in people even when we think they are sometimes difficult. Isn't this part of our faith to answer that of God in each other?

Sunday morning we headed for church, where we had been invited by Jon to give the Sunday school lesson and later the homily (sermon) during the regular Sunday morning service. (One photo is of the marquee in front of the church announcing our program.) We shared our skit during Sunday school, and then we both shared 10-minute homilies which we had written in advance. We were well received by the congregation and enjoyed our potluck and fellowship with them after the service. They have been active in providing water filtration systems in Kenya, and this tied in with the water theme of our homilies. It was hard to leave Jon and Jessica, our new-found friends, but we knew we were heading next to an old friend's house and looked forward to that.

Our friend Petra Perkins had been a member of Burlington Friends Meeting a number of years ago, and it was so nice to re-connect with her in her home. She's a member of Tacoma Friends Meeting and is currently serving as clerk. She and Susan Dean, another member of TFM, worked diligently to make sure the evening was well-attended and that we had a safe walking route to Olympia.

We had lots to catch up on with Petra and enjoyed our time with her. At the evening's event Friends provided a terrific potluck. At so many potlucks here in the Northwest we see salmon being regularly offered. What a treat that is. We had good conversations following our presentation and were pretty exhausted after a very full Sunday. The next morning Petra drove us to a place where we would avoid walking on I-5 and we headed south to Olympia.

We were met along the way by our next host, Alan Mountjoy-Venning, a member of Olympia Friends Meeting. He told us about the history of bike/pedestrian paths in Olympia and led us to his community's wonderful co-op to shop for our upcoming camping evenings. We were delighted to arrive at his home and meet his wife Jane and their teenage children, Abby and Cliff. It was fun being part of a family meal. We appreciate Jane and Alan's commitment to sustainable living. Jane works as an environmental educator and Alan writes an environmental column. We also enjoyed the casual atmosphere in their home between parents and children. It was great to be part of it.

The event at Olympia Friends Meeting and the route we are about to take over the coming 11 days, winding through valleys and mountains, towards the Oregon border, was diligently worked on by Marijke Vanroojen. We are very appreciative of the many hours she spent working out a difficult set of hosting nights, campgrounds, and hotels, but she had to be out of town during our visit and couldn't attend our presentation. We were once again so filled with love while visiting with Friends in their Meeting. We were impressed by the thoughtful discussion that followed our presentation and enjoyed more visiting during refreshments. We now say goodbye to Olympia and look ahead to the south.

We've been reflecting on the support of Friends during this walk. In the same way that we are able to do our work and live our lives because of the support and love of others, we are in a walk of hundreds. At each location a community is working to support us through logistics, hosting, loving, walking, feeding, and being present. We are also humbled by the fact that we can't walk every step, but instead are given rides to get back and forth in a community and sometimes to get to a safe place to walk. We know that the fossil fuels being used for this are substantial, but we feel the benefits of our community-building and consciousness are perhaps more substantial. It's also about being flexible and being open to the ways the Spirit and fortune moves. We feel held and loved by all who participate, including all of you who read about our experiences. We know you are all out there and that you care.
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