was the first rock opera by the Who, clocking in at around 17 minutes. I still know that.

We leave tomorrow around probably 4-4:30, depending on how long it takes our managers to check out the apartment. Then a quick errand or two, and up to Whidbey Island in time for sunset. Camp there overnight, see highlights of Olympic National Park in a whirlwind of whirlwindiness, camp at Rialto Beach, then attempt to drive down the coast on 101 to Redwood National Park. See some godawful tall trees, camp, drive to Yosemite. More trees, bigger than tall this time, then drive across Nevada to Great Basin National Park, to see the Milky Way, mostly. It is just about the darkest place in America. Next day is either more Great Basin, or driving to Mesa Verde National Park to climb anus-clenchingly tall ladders and see ancient cliff dwellings. After Mesa Verde is Great Sand Dunes, to pretend we’re Fremen, and then basically taking I-80 almost all the way back. If we’re lucky, two of those campsites will be free–one definitely is, the other depends on whether or not the Altima will make it to the free spots. Not to worry, we will consult the rangers and abide by their advice; more than likely we will have to pay (all of $8) for a campsite, but it certainly can’t hurt to ask.

Things I’m looking forward to:

1. The desert/Southwest. I am a veritable empty vessel as far as experiential knowledge of the Southwest, and I am looking forward to what I understand can be some of the holiest places in America.

2. The Milky Way. I have never seen it. I’ve seen pictures and know that I do not grok it, and can’t imagine what it will be like.

3. Never having to park at this place again. Paying for parking was the right decision, but Chris picked the very most godawful parking space available.

4. Seeing enormous trees. As we all know, I’m at least 1/4 dryad. Towering, ancient trees instantly put me into mental sacred space. I caught myself bowing to one at Mt. Rainier, and I stand by that action as an appropriate one. Those trees are arguably older than the civilization I belong to: when they sprouted, my ancestors were still filthy in animal skins.

5. Going back to West Virginia. Because I know with no doubt in my mind that we will come back to Seattle, and because we have jobs lined up in China, I feel free to go back and enjoy it for what it is. Also, I miss playing D&D dreadfully.

Entertainment this time consists of a book of Buddhist scriptures, the Tao Te Ching, and Don Quixote. We have only Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere on CD, plus a few of music. Looks like we’ll be depending on the radio a lot. KEXP has us spoiled bad.

I hope we have a good journey, and only such mishaps as are necessary for instruction.