Travels with Trembaths (Part 1 of 2) [Travelogue]
January 22, 2014 Leave a comment
Buenos Dias Everybody! I am writing to you fine reader’s from the confines of a temporary lodging facility on Rota Naval Station here in Spain upon a MacBook that I am only now learning has resources and software available without access to the world wide web. In fact, in the 48 hours or so that my family and I have been in the country of Spain, we have had few connections to the outside world. We aren’t living under a proverbial rock or anything, but we are without wifi. Which, in this day and age, might as well be the same damn thing. We have managed to snag a bit of wifi at the local Naval Exchange and when I stopped by my new work center (yes, I have wifi at work. And a KFC. I think I am going to like this place a lot). But alas, I am officially an American residing in Spain. Our lodging may be temporary, but we are full on living in Spain, even if we can’t tell the world about it on Facebook.
Our travels began a few days ago at the beloved train station in my “beloved” hometown of Kelso, Washington. Fun fact: the Kelso train station is mere blocks from my beloved Tim’s Tavern, a place where I once claimed to have died for our country in order to obtain the rights to a shuffle board table on my 21st birthday, once punched a very nice man in the face only to find him at the end of the “new” bridge (locals will understand) after I was kicked out of the bar so he could apologize for acting in any behavior that may have led to me wanting to punch him (and his much smaller friend) in the face during a very dark period in the winter of 2011, and also the location of my ten year high school reunion this last summer which I returned with good timing from the land of the morning calm to attend. So, yeah, it was sort of surreal to be leaving my hometown (and not that dreadful Longview place across the river, as though it matters) on such a surreal adventure. As most folks in the area know, the most convenient means of living Kelso is through the military or prison (hey-o!), or from Portland Oregon, 30 minutes to our south. It was pretty surreal to hop on the train with our 14 bags of luggage (of which I will surely bitch about later) and wave goodbye to several family members as we boarded our steel vessel to take us on our first journey to paradise.
Of course, much like so many of the hopes and dreams of my fellow Kelso natives…..it was all bullshit. We actually had to travel down to my favorite city in the world, the aforementioned Portland, Oregon to the historic Union Station where we transferred our luggage (did I mention we had 14 FUCKING BAGS!) to an eastbound train, swallowed down some turkey sandwiches (Portland locals probably called them “organic” or “artisan”, but I call a damn turkey sandwich), and board a train bound for our former residence of Spokane, Washington, the Lost City of Potential. Warning: the following sentences were not paid for my the good folks at Amtrak, but they might certainly appear to be as so. And for all of you naysayers out there, the train is the fucking way to go, man! It is roomy, cheap, and surrounded with amazing employees that only wish to make your life a pleasurable one for a few hours. Not to mention the fact that your 4G network is still in tact, and they have outlets available at every seat. But even the fact that it is cheaper than sex with a lady boy in the Philippines wasn’t the best part. The outstanding feature to me revolves around the entire fact that I have three children in tow. And should you find yourself in need of a cross country venture, this is definitely the way to go. My wife and my youngest daughter managed to sleep side by side comfortably with the leg rest risen. I had one kid in two seats all to her self, passed out for half the trip, and the other one next to me in her twin bed like space of just here seat and leg rest while I murdered a few zombies on Dead Trigger, as well as a shit ton of multi colored jelly beans on Candy Crush for 7 straight hours. Fuck the jam packed SUV’s of the past, and the compacted plane rides of the future (which honestly turned out okay, more later). So there. Amtrak is the shit. They really should pay me for this shit. And believe you me, the irony of setting forth on a long journey on a train with the fact that I run a website called Trainwreck’d Society in tow was not lost at all. I seriously thought that my journey would be cut short via derailment in the desolate lands of Eastern Washington, where only the farm hands could hear you scream at that time of night.
We arrived in the Lilac City sometime around midnight at a train station in the heart of the city. The station was filled with whack jobs and weirdos looking to to disappear in the middle of the night. Outside of the station you could hear the hoots and hollers of the whack jobs and weirdos looking to incinerate the fire of hate in their hearts and transform it in to desire and lust through $3 fireball shots and $2 tall boy cans of PBR all the while screaming to the late night air, “Fuck this! I’m moving to Seattle!!”. Yes, we were in my beloved city of Spokane. Hometown of Bing Crosby, Craig T. Nelson, John Stockton, and Father’s Day. The city that has so much to offer, but has a damn hard time offering anything. It is the city in which I was once beaten, mugged, and robbed of all my possessions on my persons. The city that almost robbed my sanity and ripped apart my life. The city in which I purchased a home in the shittitest part of the shittiest area for hundreds of miles (West Central, not Hillyard, for the locals)….and absolutely loved it. We had a hotel room at the beautiful Red Lion Hotel that sat right next to our once beloved Riverfront Park. It was a place I had run, walked, and stumbled by several times in the three years prior to my time in isolation in South Korea, and never thought I would stay in. And did this place have a view! From the 10th floor you could spot such beautiful landmarks as the clock tower, the Parkade Garage, the Spokane Arena, the other Red Lion hotel across the street, and as many beautiful old bridges as your sight would allow you to view. But more importantly, I got a great view of the Value Village in which 85% of my clothes are from, and a distant view of my old neighborhood where I once sat on my porch listening to a neighbor couple argue and bicker until the legendary phrase “get in this house before you have my fucking fist for dinner” was uttered. Of course my lovely little neighbor hood of poverty and history has now official entered a gentrification period that began even before I left (Fuckin Kendall Yards, ammiright, locals?). Sad, but expansive I guess. At least I will always have my memories of making friends with local homeless and vagabonds by throwing large bags of PBR cans in the alleyway for them to cash in for a night’s worth of Black Velvet. God dammit Spokane, I hate the way I love you.
Then we slept off the train ride to the best of our abilities. My experience in travel is immense to say the least, so I felt alright. But, short spurts of sleep on mobile machines is a new concept to most of my family, therefore some headaches were involved. But, it all ended up turning in to a following day of brunch at our beloved Satellite Diner (Frank’s is way better, locals will understand), a trip to the Northtown Mall to replace a booster seat that Amtrak left (Still ain’t even mad at them, it was 15 bucks well lost), dinner at the Olive Garden across the street, and a quick drink and couple of cigarettes with my dear friend Nick who is thriving as a prior military, now civilian, young man in he medium city of Spokane (Locals: His girlfriend works at Zola, so yeah, he’s a guy to know!). It was great to see this little shit even if it was only for an hour. Once my subordinate, now a dear friend. We spent almost every moment awake together during my stint in Qatar which started almost 4 years ago. And since then, I’ve watched this Jersey Shore praising, Lil Wayne aficionado, and somehow still a half-assed redneck (that’s Ohio kids for you) turn in to…. well, older. That’s about it. Older. It was basically a very nice capper to a day spent in my old city reminiscing about times past. Good or bad, Spokane has been a city that has been in my heart for the last 15 years or so, and I will always adore it in all of his glory and tyranny. There is probably some sort of metaphorical verbiage I could throw in about how returning to the land of which I came is significant to my departure out of the country with my beloved family, but the Bacardi Rum and the sound of the theme music from Bambi on the DVD menu amidst a living room filled with said family passed out already at 6:30 p.m. local time due to jet lag has me at ill ease and such subliminal comfort that I am unable to think of anything right now. You tell me?
It was a very early morning for the old Trembath family as we left the Red Lion for Spokane International Airport (they fly to Canada, so, “international” is the “correct” term). 0345 wake up! In the van by 0430. Needless to say, I had some pissed off kids. But, like the troopers they are, they pushed through the early wake up, helped get our luggage checked in (14 big ass bags!!!), made it through their first check in through security, and boarded their first plane ride with (mostly) ease as we flew off to the only city in the state of Minnesota of note, Minneapolis (Sorry St. Paul, just because you share an airport title with them doesn’t make you worth a damn). I guess it is only fair to not that my oldest daughter has actually taken a round trip from Rapid City, South Dakota to Portland Oregon, a trip from Portland, Oregon to Reno, Nevada, and a trip from San Jose back to Portland, Oregon before, but she doesn’t remember it at all as she was between the ages of 3 months and 1 year old. Not that you probably care. No matter, 2 hours and 15 minutes later we arrived in Minneapolis with great success. Some of them slept, some of them didn’t. We ate some DQ, charged our iPhones, and were then on our way destined for Norfolk, Virginia. Another 2 hours and 15 minutes later, we landed in Norfolk for our final destination of the day. Stopping in Virginia is notable for one simple reason alone: my lovely wife Melissa has never been anywhere near the east coast. True story: When I met my sweet wife just days before the towers fell in the late summer of 2001, she had never been out of the Northwest (save for the northern tip of California where the Redwoods grow and Boise Idaho, but who gives a shit about Boise ammiright?). Obviously since then, I have gotten her around. We’ve lived in Texas, the midwest, and have traveled to such fabulous places as Denver, New Orleans, Biloxi, St. Louis, and Bellevue, Illinois. But, this was literally the first time she had made it to the east coast of the United States (and if you couldn’t gather thus far, this will be her first trip overseas). Therefore, it was pretty special.
Sadly though, as most travelers now, there is a vast difference in “being somewhere” and “experiencing somewhere”. Most of us who move around for a living know about the “Airport Cities”. I am obviously referring to the areas that revolve around certain dimensions of a major city’s airport. Areas filled with hotels, chain restaurants, more than likely a Walmart or two. Places that provide employment to locals, and a safe haven for those of us on the go who don’t have the time to experience anything culturally related to the area in which you are simply a visitor, which is even further below tourist. For example: In 2007 I made my second trip to Atlanta as a layover for a week of training in Panama City, Florida. While I was able to once again thoroughly enjoy a wonderful night in my second favorite city, I was actually staying at a Sheraton in College Park, Georgia. And for those of you who were old enough to remember 2007 (or young enough, I should say, you old geezers), College Park was sort of stale in the world of mainstream hip hop music with the likes of the Ying Yang Twins and other such foul mouthed and hilarious rappers supplying the plethora of hits during that time. But, needless to say, the hip hop persona that the mainstream television and music scene would lead to you believe was dangerous and at times life threatening, didn’t quite equate the hotel I was staying at across from the TGI Fridays and Walgreens. So there you have it. But nonetheless, we found ourselves in a very nice Holiday Inn Express, had some dinner at a Hooter’s, bought some cheap beer from a Walmart, and Melissa got to stay overnight on the east coast. That’s the glory of travel: You can take it as you will, for experience is best seen through the mind’s eye.
And a small series of events from that point forward has brought us to right now. We are here in Spain. We are far from settled. But, in the coming weeks, we will be as foot loose and fancy free from limitations as the rest of the residents here. Have no doubt: we are an American military family. We are the embodiment of Americans in Europe. We have chosen to reside on the confines of a Spanish base that has been kind enough to let us Americanize the shit out of it. There is very little European about the housing. The local establishments on the base are the same as any other base in the U.S. But as I sit and watch the palm trees blow in the warm wind, and hear the water from the bay crash on to land, I know that adventure is in our foresight, and I am so excited about what the future holds. But alas, we find the Trembath family in a sort of stagnant mode, just waiting to pounce at the first opportunity of whimsical adventure. But not yet. This is why I have adverted a few details of our travels for a second chapter, as I have plenty of time before we are even able bodied enough to do anything of any real note. But, rest assured dear reader(s), there will be adventures. And even sooner, I will tell you the bizarre and (hopefully) intriguing story of us actually getting in to this beautiful country, and the hilarious adjustments of moving to a strange new place.
Until then folks, take care of yourselves and take care of each other.