Seattle to Portland: Camping with the homeless

the homeless hustler himself

This is Jerry. While most would consider him homeless, he would disagree. Jerry is on permanent vacation, a transient being lost somewhere between summers in Washington and winters in Arizona. Honest, raw, and completely insane, Jerry has been successfully homeless for more than 10 years now. I say ‘successfully’ because he shows no desire for change (unless it’s loose haha) and revels in his current lifestyle.  He makes more than enough to eat and travel seasonally, and seems to have befriended a life of solitude.

But there is a dark side of Jerry that few ever get to know. Most people pass his layered smile with barely a glance, some may laugh at his sign and throw some coins, and maybe someone will stop for some small talk, but all and all, no one really talks to Jerry. So when our paths crossed while Gypsy camping (sleeping in public parks) in Centralia, Washington, Jerry would finally have an audience for his story. We burned the midnight oil as Jerry relived his life before us, reminiscing about times when he stood up against ‘the man’, hid 50 ‘cakes’ of acid from the authorities, and even desperately planted a quarter-pound of weed on some innocent kid. However, these stories weren’t always what you would consider coherent linear strings. Jerry would consistently interrupt his own stories with tidbits of dementia, inaudible mutterings, and vulgar Tourette’s-like interjections. Jerry is a walking anti-drug commercial, but that doesn’t mean his story is any less important than the next.

the seattle crew in motion

So this is our Seattle crew. On the left is Bridgid, niece of Don Triman (of the F&M Community), to her right is Brian, her lovely significant other, and of course, Henry, stretching it out on the mats of a Seattle Rock Gym. This happy couple was kind enough to take care of us, feed us amply with local produce, and share their deep love for rock-climbing. Seattle through their eyes was simply beautiful, and we thank them.

We blew our collective kiss to Seattle and we were back on the road. But this road is different, much different. We’re coastal now and we’re heading south. This means goodbye headwinds and hello fog. Each geography offers it’s own beauty and danger, and respect for both is the only way to survive. We’ve only begun to lick the salty winds of the Pacific, so who knows what perfect storms are waiting for me and Henry as we travel further south…

But before I leave you to go and say ‘whatsup’ to Portland, I want to share with you a comment Henry and I recently received on our blog that was exceptionally moving.

“Hey there guys, my name is Travis Collier and I am soldier currently serving in the United States Army and I am deployed downrange in the Maysan Province of Iraq. My parents recently took their vacation in the beautiful north west region of our great country and met a couple of crazy bikers along the way who they gave a ride to, that would be you. I read most of your blog and thought it was pretty damn cool, please keep in mind this is coming from the guy who rides in top of a humvee everyday of his life with a heavy duty machine gun and a tactical rifle, not to mention every cool toy a boy has ever dreamed of playing with; IE night vision.  I just wanted to say that I would like to donate a little bit to your cause and I think what your doing is very noble and very cool. I know I may not be able to donate much but being a soldier i know this better than most sometimes the smallest things matter the most.  I wish you best luck in journey and i hope that you continue your cause.

Respectfully,
Spc Travis A Collier
United States Army, Field Artillery”

Travis is right, sometimes the smallest things really are the most important, and that’s exactly what this trip has always been about. 4Walls is working hard right now with your donations to provide clean water, food and shelter to the people who need it the most. In the big painting, our bike trip is but a drop of a paint, but if enough people are encouraged to paint with us – we have the ability to improve the lives of many. Time to grab our paintbrushes.

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7 responses to “Seattle to Portland: Camping with the homeless

  1. Hey Guys, I have enjoyed reading your blogs,,missed a few, but enjoyed those I’ve read. Phil stopped by on his roadtrip and I was in awe listening to how he seemed to travel about, place to place, set up shop, survive, rain, shine, the humidity,hot showers or not, all his life treasures rolled in pack. His ride, brought yours upclose and personal to me. Inspiring. If a military man can dig deep and donate, I on my cushie couch certainly can ,,,. So please accept my small donation , continue to do good work and enjoy your journey,,,,,and call your mom. lol, Aunti Mary.

  2. Man, you guys need to write a book (in detail) of your trip, print it, edit it, publish it and sell it for donations to 4walls. Just a thought. I guarantee I speak for many people when I say I would certainly buy a copy. That being said, I’m christening my first paycheck from my new job by making a donation to 4walls. Can’t wait to hear when you make it to San Diego….

  3. I’d say you guys are painting a Van Gogh… but really, it’s a priceless original…

  4. I agree with Paul! This blog has been so fun to read, it’s such a great story and the more people it touches, the better.

  5. If you need places to stay in the Bay Area or around Carmel, let me know. I can hook you up.

  6. Millard Fillmore

    “Blogless in Seattle”

    Hey, what happened to Seattle and the San Juans? Seattle is one of the most beautiful cities in the U.S., with Mt. Rainier hanging over the south end and ferries leaving for the islands. When I’m there, I wonder why I don’t live there. (Then it rains for the next full week, and I remember.)

  7. Kathleen Triman

    Thank you for the truly amazing blog. I particularly appreciate the photo of the Seattle crew! Now you are at UCSC the campus from which I moved to Lancaster…cosmic!

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