a) On Thursday we stayed at the Hoh Humm Ranch near the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, WA. We chose it for its cheap price and the fact that it advertised being a working ranch on 200 acres w/ lots of animals. Sounds charming, right? We could hardly believe we were in the right place when we pulled in the drive. A ramshackled house with an overgrown yard full of weeds and defunct swimming pool. Chickens were resting in the shade of a minivan in the driveway and a big black and white cat greeted us on the back porch. The innkeeper was an older man in overalls and was quite friendly as he greeted us but the wife said nothing to us and seemed intent on watching the Oprah show that was on. There were quilts spread across all the furniture to keep the animal hair off, I suppose, and the entire downstairs front room was panelled in faux pine panelling and floored in industrial linoleum. The carpet on the stairs looked like it had been eaten by the dog. Had we not stayed in much worse places, I suppose it would have been off-putting. But everything was clean, just old. So we spent the rest of the day and night feeling sorry for these poor elderly people trying to earn an extra buck to support their old farmstead in their declining years.
Then at breakfast, at which the innkeeper’s wife was much more chatty, we learned that in fact they were both retired, that the woman had been the first, or one of the first, female zookeeper in the U.S. and her husband had been an engineer in Seattle. They were both very intelligent and I guess just weren’t interested in interior design as a marketing concept.
So you just never know about people.
b) One thing I DO know, the U.S. must have horrible literacy rates. It seems that almost no one can read. At many of the parks we stopped at yesterday there were large signs clearly posted in obvious places asking people to not trample all over the fragile ecosystem but to stay on designated paths and trails but, judging from the numbers of people who were NOT doing so, one is forced to conclude they are either a) idiots or b) illiterate. Or maybe both.
c) Finally, big congratulations are due to my brother Brandon as he found out this week that he passed his first Naval exam and will be promoted to Petty Officer 2 Class. This test involved such exciting questions as “if you take the second note of the 16th measure of the Star Spangled banner and add it to the tonic of the third chord in the 8th measure, what kind of chord do you get”. So big cheers to Brandon for his promotion and congratulations on not having to worry about the next exam for another 3 years or so. (Correct me if any of this info is wrong, B)