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Another Portland Blog

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

 

Wagons north

This is where I passed part of the weekend:





And let me tell you something: after spending a night in a covered wagon, you'll find yourself with a newfound respect for our pioneer forefathers. A kind of respect that can't be earned with a round or two of the Oregon Trail game. All in all, it's a supposedly fun thing you'll never want to do again, especially since, if you develop a habit, you might wind up dying from "the squirts."

It seemed like a good idea at the time. With plans to head to the Sasquatch Festival officially squashed, I made plans to head to Seattle with my sister. Having never spent a night in a hostel, I wanted to try out the Green Tortoise but it was already booked. Not wanting to drop a bunch of cash on a downtown hotel, she tracked down the AYH Ranch Hostel on Vashon Island. Given the option of a renting a tepee, a dorm room or two wagons, we went the wagon route.





After running around the city, we rode a ferry out of west Seattle and wound up back at the hostel right around midnight. The AYH Ranch clearly has a lot of love invested in it. A row of activities rooms is set up to look like a wild west strip mall. A barn has been converted into a rec area/kitchen/lodging/tv room facility with large murals on the walls. And, while it might not go with the Wagon Train theme, a giant tiki head sits smack dab in the middle of the grounds.





None of the hostel's other wagons had been rented out and for a good reason. If you're going to spend a night in one, you can't be a light sleeper. The temperatures was somewhere in the low-50s when I finally jumped into mine. This was no REI, GORE-TEX-covered, fancy-schmancy wagon, no sir. Given my nonexistent knowledge of 19th century methods of travel, I can('t) tell you that this wagon was as close to the real deal as possible. A light breeze, which would have stood no chance of disrupting a night's sleep in a modern tent, kept me awake most of the night. After an early morning jaunt to the bathroom, I finally nodded off around 4 AM.





I was up again at 6:30 after my sister began tugging on my feet, eager to ask me the single most annoying question I have ever been asked in my entire life: "are you awake?" After grunting a "no," she asked if I heard the rooster yet. I had not heard the rooster yet. The rooster had kept her awake since 4:30. Initially, she thought it was a girl in the woods frantically screaming out for someone named "Emily." Instead of rushing out into the woods with a lantern, she did what any sensible person would have done, especially since the screaming stopped shortly thereafter: she went back to sleep. Eventually, the real culprit dawned on her: a bird with no sense of common decency. It woke her again at 5, 6 and 6:30. Minutes later, a yellowjacket flew into her wagon and buzzed by her head several times before setting up camp on the ceiling.





Around this time, she gave up sleeping entirely and snuck into my wagon to steal my keys. She was cruising the coastline in my $#$@#! car when I finally got up around 9.

After a night on the ranch, this much is certain: we wouldn't have lasted long on the Oregon Trail.





And the residents of Vashon Island have a passion for creepy statues. This one was dedicated to the memory of "Cool Gary," who, according to a nearby plaque: "loved to laugh."

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