Monday, November 18, 2013

Ken's Portable Yard Sale and Other World Class Wonders

                        Ken's Portable Yard Sale and Other World Class Wonders

            "Ken's Portable Yard Sale and Sushi" read the sandwich board propped along the street where Highway 2 slowed down through one of those small burgs past Spokane headed west. You won't see that on the interstate. I slowed down t to a rolling stop. The vintage Ford pick-up, possibly early 50's, spiffed up with turquoise house paint, was parked alongside an empty store-front. A suspect mattress flopped upright against the wall. A push mower, various tools, a brown recliner and sundry household goods were arranged helter-skelter. I've no idea where the sushi was, probably in a cooler on ice on the passenger side of the bench seat in the truck.

            Even as much as I have been craving sushi, I wasn't about to sample Ken's. I  looked, waved, grinned and moved on.

            Davenport has a motel in which each room is sparkling, cheerful and deliberately decorated in 1950's camp. Delightful! I know because I stayed there once. I hope nothing has changed I would like to stay there again. On that late night about five yeas ago, no restaurants were open But I walked across the highway to Safeway for an adequate deli salad, fruit and chocolate. I passed up the Safeway sushi also.

            Coulee City has a drive-in diner with twenty six flavors of soft serve ice cream.  The diner was closed when I drove through on Saturday afternoon or I would have had to try several flavors. Well, I had not had lunch. I like ice cream.

            Several years ago I left memories in Coulee City. My friend Kathy and I were driving from Harlem to Seattle. We pulled into town for breakfast in an old hotel, served in what once had been the bar. Two elderly gents (long white beards and cob webs in their hair) were playing chess. They may still be there. The woman who waited tables--and also cooked the meals--must have been pressed into service when the usual waitress, who maybe had danced on the tables at the real bar around the corner that previous night, hadn't shown up. (We made up excuses for our breakfast server's bitter attitude.) Kathy and I talked it over. We had a full tank of gas. We had full stomachs. So we kept out just enough cash to cross on the ferry from Seattle to the Olympic peninsula. We dumped the contents of our wallets onto the table, and left our sour-puss waitress with an eighty-seven dollar tip, just to change her mood. Kathy and I giggled about that for years. We wanted so badly to sneak back to see her reaction when she picked up her tip. I think of that morning every time I drive through Coulee City.

            In terms of obsolete high school team mascots, the Waterville Shockers would be a match for the Chinook Sugarbeeters. Sugarbeets have not been grown in the Milk River Valley since I was in school a "fur piece" back in the last century. None of the present generation of Waterville youngsters has seen a field with shocked wheat. We small towns celebrate our history. By the way, when did you last see a genuine blue pony?

            Waterville also has an architecturally wonderful hotel, beautifully restored. I stopped to get  a room but Saturday night the hotel was full. I drove on to Cashmere where I have another favorite place to stay. Had there not been a cancellation just minutes before I walked in the door, I would have been out of luck. The gentleman at the desk said every room from Wenatchee to Steven's Pass was booked. The sun had set. I gratefully paid the extortionist rate. As I lugged my bag up to my room I noticed a bevy of young girls in Bavarian costume. Hello--October. Every town along the way was in full swing Oktoberfest.

            Sunday morning I drove from sunshine and a vivid palette of turning-leaf colors, everywhere a calendar picture, across Steven's Pass to grays, greens and fog. I boarded two mini-cruise ships, the Washington State Ferries, from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island and across from Coupeville to Port Townsend and my friend Vidya.

            Today Vidya and I mulled over a rack of paint chips and I had small pots of paints mixed. While still in Harlem, I had blotted out the business logo on my van, leaving large fields of red. I had wanted to replace the logo with something, flowers or landscape or something but hadn't time before leaving. Finally I settled on a simple woven basket design. The circus colors I chose have transformed my van into a gypsy wagon. I like it. If I get lost on the next phase of my journey, I'll be easy to find.

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door
October 24, 2013

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