Jet lag has officially started wearing off. I woke up at 7am and eventually wandered downstairs to grab some breakfast around 7:30am. Breakfast was 2 oranges, a Pepsi, and a PB&J sandwich. Welcome to the hostel version of a continental breakfast.
Since today was my last day in the hostel, I decided to actually talk to some of the people around the place. Because I wanted a good story to tell, I started talking to this very large, muscular black man who was wearing blue jeans, a wife-beater, a black cowboy hat, and a grizzly bear claw necklace. He was throwing around money like nobody’s business and I heard him talking on the phone to someone “back home” and found out he lived and worked in Alaska. Well, this morning he was complaining that everybody in Seattle was insecure, and constantly criticizing him in public. (Ed. Note: I’ve cleaned up his language considerably to make it suitable to print). When he hung up the phone, I asked him what part of Alaska he was from, and pretty much instantly he decided he liked me. He began telling me of Brooks River where he was from, and how he was a professional hunting guide. He proceeded to tell me of his various run ins with motorcycle gangs and the wounds he received in fights. Then he brought out pictures of his fishing exploits, and started showing me all the pictures of him holding 10lb Rainbow trout, and 40lb+ King Salmon. Turns out he was in Seattle to meet 3 clients coming in from Texas who, he said, paid him $15,000 to bag a trophy grizzly. So, if I ever go to Alaska, my buddy Frederick said he’d hook me up with a place to stay……I won’t be taking him up on the deal.
After talking to Frederick, I packed up all of my stuff and checked out. I left my luggage in the day storage area and decided that today would be a day of rest with no major adventures. I wandered around downtown a little while it was drizzling. When it started raining hard, I jumped into the Big Bang Cafe. Now, I’m not sure I can describe the paintings that dominated all the walls around the tiny café, but it depicted herds of cats running to fight giant chimps while the cats yelled war chants. 9am is time for 2nd breakfast, so I ordered a toasted bagel with raspberry cream cheese, and a chai tea. But the sign by the cash register that read “Sour Cream Lemon Pie” also sounded incredible. So, after I snarfed down the bagel, I went back and ordered a slice of the pie and got talking to the owner. She makes all the pies herself, and I have to say, it was the best lemon pie I can ever remember eating. And, while at the counter, I decided to ask her if my accent showed through at all; by Southern standards, I really don’t have an accent but I figured I had one. She kind of smiled a bit and said that yes, I did have an accent, but it wasn’t overly strong……and that if I wanted to I could probably work it to my advantage (!?). Cougar hunting is illegal without a permit, so I left pretty quick.
Once the rain stopped, I went back to the hostel and chilled out in the common area until I had to head over for the practice of the reception I was taking part in. Once there, I was quickly bored because it took an hour to teach 50 people representing their state as an academic scholar to walk across a stage, stand, and then sit down. Thankfully, Tennessee is alphabetically after South Carolina, so me and Shannon from Tennessee quietly traded sarcasms over the whole event to help pass the time. I ended up talking with the representative from New Jersey, a 20 year old guy named Rudolph (Rudy), and we hit it off. We were staying in the same hotel, so he walked me to it after we finished at the practice session.
As we approached the hotel, I noticed that there was a peculiar storm cloud circling the hotel; it seemed angry like a demon, delicate like an angel, and like it could only be quelled with chocolate and caffeine. I asked Rudy what that cloud was; he stopped in his tracks, turned to face me with a ghastly look on his face, and his eyes bored into mine and with a vacant voice replied, “I forgot to tell you Cam…..on the 4th floor is an international dance competition for teenage girls. That swirling cloud is all the hormones and estrogen that the building can’t contain anymore.” Then with a slightly happier expression he told me that the prime hot tub hours were from 9:30-10pm. I just said, “Oh…thanks for the info”, and he then asked, “Oh, you’ve got a girlfriend huh?” “Yeah” “Well, so do I. I mean, I just want to meet new people is all” ……Sure, and bears use porta-johns because they’re too shy to go in the woods.
After checking into the hotel, I rode the elevator up to my floor. It stopped at the 4th floor, and when the doors opened, I immediately got dizzy and nauseous from the estrogen that flooded the elevator. I woke up at my floor and crawled out into the foyer.
After dropping my luggage on the bed, I had to kick it into high gear to get clean and presentable for the reception after 2 days in a hostel. I discovered my wrinkled shirt and pants could be cured by having a steamy shower and then blow drying out the rest of the wrinkles. Shaved, washed, and wrinkle free, I ran back to the convention center to be ready by 5pm. I participated in the ceremony and then met up with Rudy to make plans for dinner with him and an administrator from his school. We went to Blue Acre Seafood where I had Salmon Collars with a Dungeness crab sandwich for a grand total of $20. The collars were unusual but packed full of flavor from all the fat, and the crab was really good on ciabata bread. Rudy ordered fried green tomatoes as his appetizer because he had never had them before; I found it ironic that a deep southern dish that’s common to me was being served at this rather upscale seafood place in Seattle.
It was funny when halfway through the meal, the administrator looked at me and she said, “Your governor….he’s the one that went down to Argentina right?” Thank you Mark Sanford; you do us proud. Out of all the things South Carolina offers, and is known for, that was the only thing that stuck out in her mind.
Afterwards I went back to my room and opened the blinds, made myself a cup of coffee, and sat with the lights off watching the skyline till I fell asleep on the bed.