For a working concept that has only been around since 2004, Facebook (or The Facebook) has introduced the whole idea of social media and radically changed the way many of us communicate with each other. I don’t want to get into all the things I think are wrong with Facebook and how it has affected our culture. . .that is a rant for another time. I just want to mention the notion of friendship and how that value has been so beat up in the last 14 years.
I am blessed to have more true friends now than at any other time in my life (you know who you are) and it’s not because you follow me on Facebook, although I appreciate all of you too. I don’t have a lot of friends from my past. I haven’t kept up with people I went to school with. I don’t exchange Christmas cards with people from everywhere I’ve ever lived. Sometimes I wonder what became of so-and-so, but never enough to actually find out.
One of the great things about living the full-time travel lifestyle is being able to spend time with people we love and don’t get to see very often because of constraints of time and/or distance. Sometimes something happens between people that creates a deeper bond, one that survives those constraints. I have two people that I keep contact with from my college days in Spokane, Paul and his wife Lourdes. When I told Paul what we were planning and asked if we could come visit, he said “You better.”
The last time we saw Paul and Lourdes was in 2005 when we passed through the area with a group of kids on our way to a mission trip in Vancouver, BC. We turned their big yard into a campground and had one memorable evening together. One of the items on our “must do” list this year was a visit to Paul and Lourdes north of Seattle. They have a beautiful home on Lake Martha with a nice big level driveway, so we settled in for a week of cooking together, fine dining and excellent conversation into the wee hours on the patio overlooking the lake.
Another wonderful thing about this lifestyle is that we can visit people and not be dependent on them for entertainment. While Paul and Lourdes were going about their daily lives, Shannon and I took a couple of days to explore the area. We didn’t feel the need to do the traditional Seattle tourist activities. I’ve been up the Space Needle several times and as good as the seafood may be a Pike Street market, I didn’t want to hassle with the parking or the crowds. But one thing I did want to see in Seattle was the Chihuly Glass and Garden at Seattle Center.
Dale Chihuly is a native of Tacoma, and in addition to the big installation downtown, has a Glass Museum in Tacoma and a school in Stanwood, north of Seattle. There are early bird rates for both parking and the gallery, so we were up and out before 7, braving the rush hour traffic into the city.
Next was a ferry ride to Bremerton to visit the navy base. Ferry rides are on my perpetual bucket list, the more the better, so we opted for the nearly hour-long ride across the sound over the drive around.
When Shannon retired from the Navy, the sub fleet was stationed out of Groton, Connecticut, but since has been reassigned to Bremerton, Washington. His last boat, the USS Seawolf, was actually in port, and we were hoping for a tour, or at least some outside visual contact, but she was sequestered and we couldn’t get a peek.
Next was a little “Memory Lane” action for Shannon, as his dad was stationed at McChord AFB while Shannon was in high school, so a trip to Tacoma and a visit to Shannon’s old stomping grounds was in order before we endured the rush-hour traffic to get back home.
One of our topics of conversation around the dinner table was what to do over the weekend. Paul and Lourdes are avid cyclists, so we knew that a bike ride was in the offing. We opted for a small piece of the Centennial Trail, starting in the beautiful small town of Arlington and ending at the Nakashima Heritage Barn. At 16 miles round trip, Paul was worried that the ride might have been a little taxing for us, but the trail was level, the scenery was beautiful, and the break in the middle of the ride to learn about the Nakashima family and their farm gave our tender bottoms a rest.
Kamezo Nakashima was one of the first Japanese farmers in Snohomish County. The farm where the barn now stands was deeded to his oldest son, born in the United States and thus able to own land. The Nakashima family farmed here from around 1906 until 1942, when the family was interned and forced to sell the farm. The barn is the only remaining structure, and along with 89 acres of the original tract, have been granted “Washington Heritage Barn” status.
On Sunday we played in the lake. Paul and Lourdes worked on finishing their dock and I took Maybe the dog out for a canoe ride. Although she is part Labrador, Maybe has never showed any inclination to even get her feet wet, but she did well in the boat, and afterward surprised us all with an enthusiastic foray into the lake to chase the ducks that were playing a game of keep away with her. She swam as though she had been in the water all her life.
When I hear people say that they have hundreds of friends on Facebook, I feel sad. Do these people have any real friends? While Facebook may be a good way to keep up with what other people in your life are doing, I think it has reduced the idea of a friend to an abbreviation of the real thing. I am thankful to have enduring friendships like the one with Paul and Lourdes in my life, and I count our time together as the stuff which makes this life so sweet.