DAY 7 - MEETING JIMMY
Day 7 - Olympic National Park, Washington - 424km
Meet Jimmy, 73, second generation American, Vietnam veteran and dedicated Bernie Sanders supporter. He runs the Rainforest hostel on his own since 1986. You could debate whether it’s really a hostel or just his home with two spare bedrooms. One for girls, one for boys. I ended up here after deciding not to camp outside because all my equipment was wet of the rain. The map on my phone showed me the hostel which is along Highway 101, far from any town.
When I knock on the door and step inside, an old man and three younger people are sitting on the couch in a cosy lit living room. Jimmy welcomes me friendly. Without getting out of his chair, he gestures me to join on the couch. It’s intensely warm inside. He explains he burns the fireplace only in the morning, meaning the house is sweltering hot during the day and cools down during the night. Jim has a number of these quirks, which is something you notice right away after you step into the house. The place is fully packed with books, photos, drawings, notes, letters, pots, pans, tools, toys, firewood, maps, fishing rots, and everything is old, used and kept in good condition for many years.
When I take place on the couch he continues his introduction about the hostel, which he had just started to the other guests. It consists out of three points: The first one is about is the payment which is based on donations and contributions. The base rate is 10 dollar per night and guests may decide for themselves if they want to pay less or more. Basically the ones who pay more cover for the people who pay less. A system which is based on the campaign of Bernie Sanders; about creating community, responsibility and caring for each other. The second point is about judging people, which I’m not sure if I fully understand but he mentioned he caught himself always judging people when they came in his house. He wanted to be more open, less judgemental, and less afraid of people. He says there is a lot of fear in America, of strangers, of outsiders. Somehting I’ve noticed myself reading the amount of plates on fences saying No trespassing, Violators will be shot, or even stronger: There is nothing here worth dying for, pictured with a gun aiming towards the reader. Fair point. He ended his monologue with the third point, which is doing a 15 minutes chore before leaving each morning. This could be doing the dishes, sweeping the floor, getting firewood or help in the garden. And if you didn’t want to do the chore, you had to pay 5 dollar extra. There we three other guests and we all agreed on paying 20 dollar for a night and we’d do a chore in the morning.
The next day the other guest take their cars to go out. I stay on the property to explore a bit more. There is so much to look at and read. The walls are covered with letters from guests who stayed here over the past 30 years. There was a remarkable guestbook which told stories of guests from all over the world. The first page was from 1992. Jimmy is a collector, and throwing old things away doesn’t come easy. He always find a new purpose. When I asked him why he kept so many plastic spoons he answered they are flexible and better for in Greek salads (he has Greek roots). He makes and grows almost everything himself, to control his health and keep costs low. He produces his own Kombucha, which is a light alcoholic, Russian cider. He makes his own Kefir (yoghurt) and his self-made greenhouse is filled with crops and spices.
The yard is large, green and surrounded with high pine trees. In the American countryside people have always some space left to let their old cars become part of the vegetation. Jimmy still has 15 Subaru’s rotting away in an unused corner. Through the years he sticked to buying the same car so he could keep and use the old ones for spare parts.
I spend my day walking around the house and do some work on my laptop. It’s hot in the room. Jim flips another cd of Nina Simone on the 5-cd player, which he finds really cool. I explain people use Spotify now for listening music but he didn’t want to hear that.