This weekend I was invited by Collier up to Olympia, to spend a few days with her and her aunt and uncle. It’s only a 2-hour train ride from Portland, and the ticket was only $55 so naturally I jumped at the opportunity.
Olympia has always been a weirdly mythical town to me. Back in the mid-90’s, I, along with nearly everyone else I knew, was obsessed with the Olympia music scene, and Kill Rock Stars. A lot of my favorites from back then, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Elliot Smith, the Bangs, Bratmobile, Nation of Ulysses, Julie Ruin, and countless others, all were on, or got their start on, Kill Rock Stars. I really wanted to find the KRS office while I was here, but I didn’t. It’s right downtown somewhere.
In my head, Olympia has always kind of been “ground zero” for the artistic and political movements that, to sound melodramatic and hyperbolic, kind of defined a very large part of who I am. My boyfriend at the time and I briefly entertained the idea of moving here, and we both thought about enrolling in Evergreen. So actually getting to be here, in Olympia, was a bit like visiting a magical wonderland of my past.
And it’s a fantastic town otherwise. It feels a bit like stepping into a 1990’s time warp. All the kids here look and dress exactly like all of my friends and I did circa: 1994-1999 (ish). It’s pretty awesome. We visited a small record store yesterday, and almost every CD in there was a Kill Rock Stars band and naturally I’d never heard of any of them, and I got a little sad and nostalgic. I missed the days of obsessively looking through the KRS catalog and buying or ordering CD’s, and listening to new bands (and desperately waiting for Kathleeen Hanna to put something out, anything!), or just browsing the shelves of the local indie store in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Olympia is also on the very southern tip of the Puget Sound, and it’s much more beautiful than I ever realized. I also never had any idea it was on water. But the coolest thing that happened all weekend was the salmon running, which is happening this time of year as they return to fresh water to lay their eggs and spawn. Well, at this same time, legions of seals also come inland, searching for a nice, fat, juicy salmon meal.
So from the main bridge (on the right side of the picture above), we watched as the seals swam around, and occasionally plucked a salmon from the water and tore it to bits. Sometimes the seagulls would swoop down and try to steal the fish from the seals, or another seal would come along and try to steal it from the first seal and a fight would ensue. But it was pretty awesome. Nature sure is fucking brutal, but those seals were also really fucking cute. We also went to the farmer’s market yesterday, visited several bookstores, drove around the town, looked at the capitol building, went antiques shopping, and had lots of coffee. It’s only 60 degrees here!
Collier took some great pictures, both of me surrounded by the scenery of Olympia (including on the deck of some crazy tugboats parked in the harbor), and the seals/salmon, which I’ll post very soon. I was supposed to go home today, but I was having such a great time, her aunt and uncle invited me to stay another day. And Amtrak let me trade my ticket for one leaving tomorrow for no extra charge, which I thought was pretty awesome. So I did.