I was meeting Simon outside the Seattle Art Museum at 10. Expensive though this trip is I'd rather measure myself in the richness of my friends than my relative bank balance. Thanks to Simon, and many others, I feel like a comparative Croesus.
I took an egg and cheese bagel and a cappuccino in the Cherry Street Coffee House and wandered past Rem Koolhaas' Central Library.
We picked up the Jeep (Grand Cherokee) at Avis on 5th and were immediately overtaken by a monorail as we popped back to Belltown to pick up Simon's luggage.
To Macy's where I bought a suit for the wedding. I like to think my new whistle bestows on me a Dr Feelgood vibe but it probably needs an oilier lapel for the full Brilleaux.
Simon posed gamely in front of the art deco elevators and we headed to AT&T where he bought a data pebble off an affable Peter Crouch lookalike with a girlfriend in Omaha.
He must've spent nearly as much on lotions and potions in Wallgreens. This gypsy boy ain't afraid of no sunshine. A Coke and crisps and we were back in the car and we were wanting some more.
The sun was relentless as we waited for the 1620 ferry to Bremerton. The hot steel of the automobile and the baked tarmac of an American heatwave cooked us in our Jeep.
Betty Davis' They Say I'm Different gave our sweat a funk rock soundtrack. The off kilter abstractions of North Carolina sex jams leavened out with tracks by Louis XIV, Crushed Butler, and The 4 Skins. We had this shit covered.
The ferry itself was a whole new kind of cool. Goodbye Seattle and nice to see you islands. Yachts, speedboats, and Hyundai container ships passed by on Puget Sound. Pretzels and beers were available. I took a Coke. It came in a bucket.
On reaching Bremerton it turned out our digs were further than we'd thought. A good drive.
And a good drive it was. Bremerton naval shipyard impressed with its litany of greyed out decommissioned destroyers and aircraft carriers. Sinclair Inlet's sun dappled soak suggested greater glories to come.
We crossed Ghost Creek and I saw the sign with the mildly amusing, and grammatically challenged, legend 'IF YOUR DRINKING TO FORGET PAY IN ADVANCE'. More cars parked outside that bar than the local drive in. I'd never seen a drive in before. They're showing Suicide Squad tonight.
We passed through Annasivia's home town of Belfair. It was about the size of Tadley but it looked ok. After that things got more beautiful. Shit got, the saying goes, real.
Jet skis, kids on lilos, RVs, and dinghies set the scene down on Forest Beach. A backdrop of redwoods and mountains. Why did nobody tell me Washington state was a heaven on Earth?
It was enough for poor, jetlagged, Simon to keep his eyes on the road. Funkadelic & JAMC kept him motoring and the cheeky blighter even dropped one of his own Black Dam tunes. Silver Mountain. To be fair, it rocked.
We hit Union. Our 'town'. We had our own lakeside cottage. With a view. A very good one. We had a big comfy bed each. We had access to a George Foreman grill. Our neighbour was down from British Columbia with an arsenal of bad jokes.
The lake, strictly speaking, is the Hood Canal but, make no mistake, it's a lake. Or, in Norway, a fjord. I don't often touch on aspects of the heart in this here lil' ol' blog but out of the small, and select, group of people I've ever really loved in my life I couldn't imagine a single one of them who wouldn't think this some kind of paradise. I'm sure Simon would rather be here with Ciska than me.
With romance off the menu we headed over to Robin Hood's. Our Canadian compadre confided in us that we Brits make great audio equipment but shitty cars.
He spoke like an extra from Deliverance but revealed himself to be a gentleman and a scholar. By journey's end conversation had turned to Anthony Burgess and his appropriation of Muscovite street slang.
The 'marijuana next left' sign, it's legal here, didn't tempt us so we pulled up on, whaddyaknow, Evans and headed into Lennard K's Boat House Bar.
Sucking on mac'n'jacks and chewing on a pineapple and jalapeño pizza by the moonlit Hood Canal it was good to reconnect with Owen, Annasivia, Gareth, Bec, and Kritika and to meet the US contigent. Most whose names I don't remember. Big shout out to Brandy though for her tales of life on a ski resort in Lake Placid.
Pitchers were sunk and the night flew by with only a handful of Donald Trump based disagreements. It was, without any shadow of a doubt, the most American night of my life. I hope my mum's proud.