Mid-Life Crisis Trip
Entry 12: Light? Tunnel?
June 25, 2006 Sunday
The Tiki Lodge is an interesting place. Last night we were told we couldn't get a room with a queen bed "because we lost the key and we need to have a locksmith come out and let us into the room." When Laura went to find an iron and ironing board, she was told "the former owner took all that with him."
And a fellow who came in after us was told the only room they had didn't have a working phone in it.
So, naturally, wireless Internet was out of the question. But, oh look, there's a Best Western across the street next to the Denny's. Sure enough, Best Western provides free WiFi access to anybody who can lock onto their signal, so we were able to get yesterday's trip report out right before our ham and eggs appeared.
Best Western rocks! (Not enough for us to pay more to stay there, but enough for us to use their net connection...)
We figure that we can't really call people before 11:00 am on a Sunday morning, so we should go to church and see if we can't get a little divine assistance in our quest for an apartment. The Episcopal church in downtown Salem (St. Paul's) isn't just big. It's humongous.
According to the web site, they have more than 1,900 members, and on Sunday they have three services. Their staff is so large, they have three sextons (a sexton is like a janitor for holy places). And a basketball court in the basement (separate from the fellowship hall).
Whew! We feel a little overwhelmed.
Now we're more overwhelmed, but in the other direction. We have just finished talking to the tenth person who went out of their way to welcome us and ask us how we're doing and to give us encouragement on finding an apartment and to find somebody who might help us and drag him over to talk to us.
The liturgy and preaching are excellent. Everybody sings the psalm using a simplified form of Anglican Chant—lovely. If we decide to worship with this community while we are here, it'll be the first time either of us has been part of a big program church.
As we are leaving, we compliment the organist/choir director and the next thing we know he's insisting that we fill out visitor cards "so we can keep you up-to-date on what's going on, and don't worry about giving us your current address, we can keep in touch with e-mail and your cell phone and we might be able to help you with the housing thing."
We finally manage to break away, because we do, after all, need to find a place to live. We think we've figured out how they got to 1,900 members, though...
Rob Becker in Defending the Caveman (a great play) says that the fundamental difference between men and women is that men hunt things down, while women like to gather things (information, berries, whatever).
Yesterday we tried the "let's traipse around the countryside gathering in apartment information" approach (the female approach).
Today we hunt. Robert circle ads. Call ads. Kill apartment. We eat for many days.
Robert has us organized into a production unit, as he works the ads, preparing call sheets for Laura (he's even got two call sheets, so he can add to one while she's calling the other one).
He pauses. "Hmmm. This good apartment. A little expensive, but it got good smell to it." (And by "expensive" he means $620 a month, but that includes water & garbage).
Sure enough, when Laura calls, she gets an actual human (an agent, actually) who has a number of different places. Thing is, his son is graduating this afternoon, so there's only a little while before he has to go the ceremony, so we need to look at the place now and decide if we want it.
"Hutanga! Hunt is on!" cries Robert as he raises his laptop above his head!
Holy Christmas! This place is about a mile from Laura's office and is literally a stone's throw from a grocery store ("And the store dumpster is even closer than that!" points out the ever-practical Robert, who is thinking of ways to trim the grocery budget).
Behind the apartment house runs Mill Creek, a stream about 20 feet across (which turns out to be a salmon spawning creek). Walk across the bridge over the creek and there's the public pool.
We haven't even seen the inside of the place and we're lusting after it. We call Bill (the agent) and he says he can meet us in half an hour.
And now that we've seen the inside of the apartment—yowza! The place is bigger than our current place (tip: move into a really small place, and then every place else will seem huge). We have a balcony and from our living room we can look out over the creek. We get a free storage area that's bigger than the $50/month place we're renting now and the kitchen has enough cupboards to hold provisions for a small army (and this amazing 10 foot long counter for food prep!).
So we put on our best charming, but business-like, faces and Bill likes us and agrees to mail applications and keys back-and-forth to Seattle (provided our credit and references check out).
We're sitting in a local coffee house finishing up the application forms, and we fall into our traditional pattern.
Laura: "We told him that we only have one cat!" (Reasoning that because nobody but us has ever seen Indy, she might as well not exist; Mooch on the other hand is hard to ignore.) "What if he calls Starr and she tells him we have two cats? We're doomed! Doomed!"
Robert: "Hmm? Did you say something? I'm busy filling out the change-of-address forms"
Laura: "We don't know that we have that place rented!"
Robert: "Sure we do. We did our part, now it's God's turn. I have faith."
Laura: "So many things to go wrong... *sigh*"
Doomed or not, that is the question. In any event, our applications and deposit checks are now sitting in Bill's mail slot. He promises that he'll get on it first thing tomorrow morning and run credit references and whatever other magical things that landlords do before they give a thumbs up or a thumbs down.
So, depending on who you talk to, we'll either have to come back down next weekend to do this again, or, "So, which room should be the office?"
We launch ourselves at Seattle in the 100 degree heat (we're hoping that as we get farther north, it'll get cooler). We're very grateful for Mr. Carrier (the guy who invented air conditioning) and for whoever figured out how to fit it into a car.
We finally roll into town, after hitting the Sunday afternoon rush hour traffic, starting about Chehalis. Everybody would zip along about 80 MPH and then suddenly go 10 MPH for a few miles and then speed up again. It was weird and annoying and added about an hour to us getting home.
But, thanks to Mr. Carrier we are nice and cool. Now if someone would just invent the butt shrinker for our road butt...