Washington State

I recently took a trip out to Washington state, here is my overall review of the northwest corner of the US.

The landscape, mountains, rivers, streams, parks and forests are amazing.  If you are a hiker, there are many options for you to keep busy up there.  The people don’t seem to be as rabid about hiking as there are in the Adirondack region of upstate New York but, there is enough of a variety of terrain to satisfy most hikers for a short period of time.

The food is good in all the restaurants of this state.  I routinely availed myself to several bowls of clam chowder and eggs Benedict at each place I ate.  Every diner failed on the eggs Benedict.  So far, the best place I’ve encountered to get that dish has been the Downtown Diner in Lake Placid.  The Fisherman’s Restaurant in Seattle has the absolute best clam chowder I’ve ever had.   You can either get it in a bread bowl or a regular bowl.  You get bread with it anyway and the bread is from the hollowed out bowls of other soup orders so it is less expensive to get it in a regular bowl.   If you love to shop, plan on spending a day at the Pike Market.  It is a wonderful place and has everything.

The price for food is high in this state but you will generally get a higher quality and freshness than you would find anywhere else.  We went to a very fancy restaurant near a sailing club and pier one evening where everything about the restaurant was excellent except – most of the food came out of individually wrapped plastic bags as if they came from a food warehouse.  The salad was definitely pre-mixed from bags, the burgers had wax paper between each patty, the fish was from individually vacuum sealed pouches.  The cooking area is actually open and part of the dining area so you can watch the staff prepare all the food.  I wasn’t impressed watching one of the chefs handle raw meat then reach over to a spice bowl and use the same unwashed hand to sprinkle spices on a cooked dish.  All this in an establishment with minimum $30 entrees.

While visiting the Olympic Peninsula, we turned on the news one morning and the first five minutes were devoted to a story about a tree falling down.  They even interviewed people who lived nearby and asked if anyone witnessed it or how the news of its fall will attract or impact rubberneckers driving by.   It was funny.

Driving on the roads of Washington is different from driving New York roads.  First, all NY roads have route markers every tenth of a mile and those would have been convenient in Washington State since I didn’t always know where I was.  Many of the Washington streets have both route number names and formal names, sometimes a third name.  Often my GPS couldn’t locate any of them.

I found the people of Washington to be often belligerent.  I went inside a Native American gift shop and the Anglo woman from Ohio who ran it evaded most of my questions about the indigenous people.  Each answer was accusatory and insinuated that I was somehow prejudice.  I knew this woman wasn’t worth talking to further when she said that Columbus landed on Plymouth Rock.  You can’t trust the information from a person who has that degree of ignorance.

I was walking along a river front park when two dogs came out of the woods and started to follow me.  They zigzagged in front of me for about two miles.  Each time I came upon another person, that person yelled at me for not having my dogs on a leash.  One woman asked me if I was carrying any poop bags for my dogs.  I told her they were not my dogs.  She asked again, “But are you cleaning up after them?”  I said, “They are not my dogs.”  She then said “I am going to report you to the park ranger.”

One place where you do find wonderful people are in the pot shops.  Yes, marijuana is legal in this state.  I don’t smoke (both parents died from lung disorders) but my travel companions did, so, we stopped in several of these stores during the course of our travels.  You immediately feel “at home” once you walk in.  Everyone is cheerful, friendly and courteous.  While standing in line you can get directions, restaurant tips, hiking information and advice on what to buy in that shop.  The customers ranged in ages between about 30 to 70.  There were nice grandmotherly people in the shops, too.  Legalized marijuana and these shops are a very good thing for elderly people who have chronic pain and disease for they can benefit greatly from the pain relieving effects of marijuana.  For those who can’t afford prescription drugs or can’t tolerate the side effects of pharmaceuticals, marijuana is a Godsend.

Now, I know, according to Harry Anslinger, marijuana is a devil drug which causes white girls to have sexual relations with black men (Harry used a different word) where pregnancy and syphilis will ensue after sex with black men, and it will also cause young men to go on murderous rampages, go mad and lead to other drug uses.  I’m sure if Anslinger was correct, the news that day wouldn’t have led off with a tree falling since the marijuana shops were packed.  I also noted that all the medical marijuana shops were out of business.  Too bad NY is spending a fortune on that industry eventually to bite the dust.

The facts are, everything we think we know about cannabis is false, exaggerated, cherry picked or made up.   The government made up lies and exaggerated truths about it back in the thirties simply because they didn’t know how to tax it and it was cutting into the sale of alcohol and tobacco.  People without knowledge of the facts and statistics perpetuate the myth out of baseless fear and ignorance.

Shortly after President Barack Obama’s comments that pot is no more dangerous than alcohol, his deputy drug czar, Michael Botticelli, reluctantly agreed.  Botticelli’s office considers marijuana dangerous and harmful but Rep. Gerry Connolly of VA challenged the ignorant Botticelli.  “How many people die from marijuana overdoses every year?” Connolly asked Botticelli.  “I don’t know that I know,” Botticelli replied. “It is very rare.”  “Very rare. Now just contrast that with prescription drugs, unintentional deaths from prescription drugs; one American dies every 19 minutes,” Connolly said. “Nothing comparable to marijuana. Is that correct?”  Botticelli agreed.  “Hundreds of thousands of people die every year from alcohol related deaths. Automobile, liver disease, esophageal cancer, blood poisoning,” Connolly continued. “Is it not a scientific fact that there is nothing comparable with marijuana? I’m not saying it is good or bad, but when we look at deaths and illnesses, alcohol, other hard drugs are certainly — even prescription drugs — are a threat to public health in a way that just isolated marijuana is not. Isn’t that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?”  “I don’t dispute that fact,” Botticelli said.  In an interview with the New Yorker magazine published last month, President Obama said that he views pot as a “bad habit” and “a vice” but no more dangerous than alcohol.

So, why then is it illegal?  Why are people arrested and sent to prison for pot use or possession?  Yes, $$$, for it will kill the medical marijuana industry, it will gouge the profits from alcohol, tobacco and PRESCRIPTION MEDICINE sales.  Back in the twenties, marijuana was an effective cure and treatment for many mental health disorders and addictions, such as alcoholism.  Why is this country so blind to truths and still believes in antiquated lies?  Is it simply because our parents told us it was bad because they were told it was bad by profiteers who told us it was bad?

Washington State is doing a couple of things right.  First, the state has pulled in over $70,000,000 in tax revenue from the sale of marijuana since the first of the year.  That is about ten million per month.  The chicken little people are panicking about drugged driving but if you look at the statistics, fatal accidents caused by DWI accidents are down significantly.  For instance, in 2002 there were 450 fatalities in the first seven months of the year.  This year there were under 200.  People are drinking alcohol less.  Sure, the chicken little people will say that there has been and increase in the number of drivers testing positive for THC who have also had accidents but that does not mean they were high when they had their accident, only that there was THC in their system.  The drug supposedly stays in the system for about 30 days from use.  If I have a glass of wine, then get in an accident a week later, you cannot blame the wine.

The down side of legalized pot is that cigarette and alcohol sales are down but, that is good.  And that is another thing about this state, alcohol can be purchased in grocery stores and places such as Walmart and drug stores.  In my state, illegal activities are rampant from liquor stores.  One of their favorite scams is to keep your receipt and cash in manufacturer rebates that the buyer may not be aware of.  That doesn’t appear to be happening when the merchandise is sold from the supermarkets.  NY has some growing up to do.

There are no amusement parks in Washington.  Apparently the weather is not conducive to such investments.  That is too bad.  A major amusement park would attract people from all over the state, at least on sunny days.  Everyone I spoke to was disappointed that their state didn’t have one and said they would support it if they did.

Black berry bushes are everywhere in this state.  You can’t drive down any road without seeing copious amounts of berries growing wild on the side of the road.  They must be very plentiful because I never once saw anyone picking or eating them.  I stopped to pick and eat some and could tell that nobody had picked any of the berries prior to me.  Strange.  People must take them for granted since they are so plentiful.

Washington is a gorgeous state with much to offer.  If you visit, definitely check out Pikes Market and plan to spend a day if you enjoy shopping.  There are minor tours, cruises and other benign activities to partake in also.  For instance, you may wish to take the Underground Seattle tour for the stories but otherwise, it is just a walk through various basements.  I’d certainly visit again.


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