Nice people everywhere

by Heather Vandenengel

MAURY ISLAND, VASHON, WA — I arrived at this farm three days ago after a ride from Courtney’s parents to the ferry station, a ferry ride from West Seattle to north Vashon, a ride from a friendly stranger to Vashon center and a ride to the farm from my host. Such is the life of a car-less traveler. It would be easier to get around on my own time with one, but I also like experiencing cities and regions by public transit, walking and biking. I’ve also found that traveling with no car and less money (and therefore finding alternative means like WWOOFing and couchsurfing) opens you up to the kindness of strangers.

Hitchhiking is an accepted form of transportation on the island. While there is a bus, it runs irregularly and not at all on Sundays, so my host instructed me to ask people on the ferry on the way over if they could give me a ride–if not to the farm, at least to town.  I was stressing about it, but knew it would probably be fine, and it was.

I first asked a woman who after she started talking I realized maybe had a meth problem, but Cas overheard me and offered a ride. He’s from Alberta and works on oil rigs, a tiring, dangerous and travel-intensive job. He flew in from the Congo that day (via Ethiopia, Rome and Washington, DC) and was leaving the next day for Dubai for a training course, and somehow seemed to still be standing. While we waited for his ex-wife to pick us up, he told me stories about getting held hostage in Congo and fending off guerrillas in Ecuador, but mostly emphasized how many nice people he had met everywhere. He too was a genuinely nice guy who seemed to be working very hard.

Cas’s ex-wife and their two daughters live on Vashon, and they very kindly gave me a tour and ride downtown, where Scott, my host farmer was meeting me at The Hardware Store–a restaurant and Vashon’s central meeting point. On the way home we stopped to pick up two black garbage bags of fish bones (for compost) and one white garbage bag with a salmon in it (for dinner). More on life here tomorrow.

Feeling it: We listen to a lot of KEXP here, owned by the University of Washington. I’m always happy to find local, independent radio, and this is a good one.