The morning bell woke me from my deep and tranquil slumber. I have never been known to be a morning person, but this particular morning was different. My eyes shot open and my head sprung up, ready for the day. I looked around briefly. Doghouses lined the yard. Strange. I don’t remember nodding off at Chena Hot Springs when I visited yesterday.

A caretaker in a green uniform approached. I had a sudden urge to greet her and please her in whichever way I could. Her mouth moved and she said something I couldn’t understand; I assumed it was an alien command for me to obey. She reached down and petted my head, ruffled my cheeks, and formed a kissy face so irresistible I licked it with fervor. Startled, she retreated and moved to the awaiting dog to my right.

I felt naked but was strangely warm. I reached down to check my cellphone. It was nowhere to be found. It finally dawned on me that I had been sleeping on the ground next to a doghouse. Was I involved in some kind of cocaine party last night? I stood up to survey the yard and felt surprisingly refreshed, full of energy and eagerness to run forever. But why did it feel like I was standing on all fours? I looked down.

Hold the phone.

Reading time: 7 min

Murder. We were going to get murdered; I was sure of it. The dark and empty parking lot at the end of HWY 130 eerily reminded me with every rustle of the leaves of our precarious state. There we sat, in the middle of nowhere with no civilization for miles, in our rental waiting for our supposed tour guide at 3 AM in the morning. The flickering of a lonely light bulb in a sea of light poles with broken light bulbs sent chills up my spine. I clenched my fist firmly on the only available object that could be used as a weapon, a half empty coffee mug. Now and then my eyes played tricks on me and I would see a young girl in white pajamas strutting across the road and disappearing into the dense forest. I always joked that characters in horror movies deserve to die because of their stupid curiosity, always running into dark and ominous settings. But here we were, decidedly staying in this prophetic scene, hoping for the best.

We waited. No one came.

I got annoyed and grabbed the key to turn the ignition. A bright light shot around the corner and stopped my heart momentarily. Time stood still. Was this the bright light people always suggested before you leave the mundane world?

As the light inched its way closer to us, I made out a man rolling down the window. Who has manual windows anymore these days? Murderers! His beastly arm shot out. These windows better be bulletproof!

He waved and signaled for us to follow him. “Come on! Follow me!”

Reading time: 6 min

I woke up to a little creature stepping with needle-like precision all over my body. Chester, our once tiny kitten, now pained us with his elephant legs with every step he took on our fragile body. It was 4:30 in the morning. I got up to give him his wet food. Purr Chan is spoiled. I know.

Normally, I would go back to bed, but not today. Today we’re driving to the Olympic Peninsula to camp at Lake Crescent. It’s a 4 hrs drive that includes a short ferry (if you don’t have to wait in the often-crowded ferry lines, that is). Ugh… why am I doing this again? I thought to myself. 4:30 in the morning is the perfect time to start thinking about all the “responsibilities” adulthood crams down your throat: a looming presentation to the regulators the Monday after the trip, a delinquent book to put together, finances to put in order, house repairs to complete, mountains to climb, oceans to swim across, cheeseburgers to devour, and so on and so on.

Despite the lethargic start, we managed to get to the ferry in time to watch it leave the dock. Perfect timing. Luckily, we scored a sweet spot at the front of the line, which, as a consolation prize, felt oddly satisfying. 50 minutes later, we drove aboard the Spokane (name of the ferry) and off we went.

Reading time: 5 min
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