It’s time for an outing

You there, reading the blog–welcome, I’m pleased to see you. How long have you been sitting at the computer? How long has it been since you’ve been outside? Perhaps it’s time for an outing.

You may not be able to afford something fancy, but it doesn’t have to be much. Go outside and take a deep lungful of the crisp fall air. Breathe in the scent of decaying leaves, pines, and the smell of wood smoke. Take a walk around the block.

If you’ve got time, consider going further afield. Have coffee in a new locale far across town. Wonder whether the fellow with the parrot on his shoulder is a regular or you are perhaps seeing things. You probably do need a little more sleep. I don’t know many who don’t.

If you need a little trip, consider a long bus ride. In Seattle I am spoiled–for very little I can take a ferry across the sound or take a long trip on the light rail down to the airport. I find trains incredibly soothing, and I enjoy the scenery as it passes by.

If you’re a bit more flush, get out of town for a day or two. A fresh perspective can make everything around you seem bright and shiny for weeks to come.

I often work from home, and sometimes I forget these simple truths–I need to leave the house at least once a day. I need to get up from the computer at least once an hour. I deserve a few lungfuls of fresh fall air. So do you, dear reader, so do you.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
266. Stand up and stretch. Leave the house and go exploring for a bit. Breathe deep. How was it for you?

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And we didn’t capsize

I’ll admit it. I’m not exactly the fearless type. I’m afraid of heights, rollercoasters scare the living daylights out of me, and I’m not too keen on boats. Boats scare me because I can’t swim, but I live in Seattle. The Pacific Northwest has a lot of natural beauty that is set on the water, so when I moved here I decided I needed to conquer that fear.

I started with the ferry. The first time I rode one I sat next to the life jackets and panicked when I heard a car alarm going off. It sounded like that blaring noise they make in the movies that indicates the boat is sinking. I laughed when I realized what it was. Now I take the ferry as often as I can, admiring the harbor seals and seeing the occasional sea lion frolicking in the waves.

On Friday, I did something much more intense. I went in my first rowboat. A friend and I took the boat out on Union Bay by the university to go see wildlife, and of course I wore a lifejacket. As usual with this sort of challenge, I didn’t realize exactly how scared I would be until it was time to get into the boat, and once we rowed away from the shore, I felt pretty panicky for a while. I was very careful not to shift my weight at all, because I was really nervous about tipping the boat over.

Once we got across the main lane of traffic and headed towards some of the shoreline, it was really amazing. We saw bufflehead ducks, and a bald eagle. A mother duck and her ducklings were all taking a bath together on the shore. A pair of grebes was guarding a floating nest, and we were able to see that there were three eggs in it. We also saw lots of turtles—sunning themselves on the logs, standing and staring at us with crooked necks—I had no idea how the shore would look from a rowboat and no clue that so many turtles lived among us.

Having read of so many journeys by boat, I also gained perspective on what it was really like. We went under a number of bridges, ducking our heads as we sailed beneath. I can only panic continuously for so long, so I started to relax a little. The rowboat was so much smaller than the water taxi I’ve been nervous to take, but now I think I’ll be able to do that more easily. There are so many rewards to facing one’s fears. I feel a little bit more confident about boats now, and I’d dare the waters again for another day of wildlife. Who knows what challenge I’ll confront next–I can’t wait to find out.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
239. What are you afraid of? Is there some small thing you can do to confront your fear? What rewards do you anticipate for challenging yourself?

You had me at cormorants

Yesterday I took a day off and stood in the middle of an empty downtown, contemplating the old Roxy theater. The marquis was now advertising Jesus. I walked by war memorials with bits of submarines, and a gift shop that still had an old-fashioned soda machine in the entryway. A retired warship sat in the harbor, its cannons pointed up in a salute that was less welcoming than I might have desired. I felt a little like I had just walked into an episode of The Twilight Zone. Despite this, I was not distressed.

I’d come to Bremerton for the ferry ride, a cheap way to get a mini-vacation from my home base in Seattle. For less than buying lunch you can get two hours out on the water and a chance to get out of town. I could have gone to Bainbridge Island, which has cute little shops and white picket fences, but I almost always choose Bremerton. Bainbridge is much closer, so there’s less time to enjoy the ride and see the sights. I enjoyed watching the cormorants drying their wings, and the loons fishing in the bay. On the way back to Seattle the ferry changed direction and Mount Rainier appeared to rise from Elliot Bay, more majestic than the sunset that surrounded it. I’ve heard you can sometimes see whales and seals from the ferry, but I’ve never yet been that lucky.

I also really enjoy wandering around Bremerton. It’s home to a navy shipyard, so the apparent emptiness most likely means that the people are all busy at work. There’s a free naval museum, but it didn’t happen to be open, so it’ll be a good excuse to go back. I may pass up the warship, though. It seems slightly ominous. I enjoyed the silence on my long walk, and the starfish and seagulls in the slight murk of the revamped harbor. It’s rare to experience such quiet tranquility in a downtown area, so I savored it. It’s fun to explore somewhere new, and without the cute little shops I’m not tempted to spend money I shouldn’t. Like everywhere in Washington, there are many options for decent coffee. As long as the essentials are covered, I’m a happy camper. I can’t wait to go back, to take another mini-vacation from my working day. I returned back to my activities refreshed, holding yesterday’s silence in my heart. I love my adopted city and all the opportunities it provides.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:

225. Take a day off from your commitments to recharge your batteries, and explore somewhere close by that you’ve never visited. What did you find that surprised you? What was the best part of the experience? The worst? Share the details with a friend.