Y2K9 was why we had come to the west coast in the first place:
Rick Walker (who keeps pointing out how much my MY2K project had inspired him to move towards abstract electronica) had invited me for years to come to his annual livelooping festival, and this year was the first time that I felt up to it.

One reason that I felt I could do it this time was that I had finally replaced the heavy guitar rig full of hardware effects I had been using for years by a notebook – good for international flights. I also took my small midified Hohner G2 guitar, an instrument that can easily be taken as hand luggage and tucked into a plane’s overhead compartment.

The notebook contains a complex Plogue Bidule setup that is capable of doing infinitely more than my old hardware effects could – it is a maze of VST plugins, VST instruments, loopers, and realtime samplers, infinitely reconfigurable and versatile, and it opens many musical doors for me although I’m still a long way from understanding Bidule, and also, a long way from mastering this setup.

One additional musical difficulty that I had created for myself was that I insisted to improvise everything – as on my previous solo livelooping concerts, I played no compositions (although sometimes compositions suddenly found their way into the improvisations). This has its pros and cons. It needs a certain amount of openness from the audience – people who expect „pieces“ will inevitably be disappointed.

What usually happens, and happened this time too, is that I start out only from a rough idea for the beginning, and then some kind of flow finds its own way, often in surprising ways, sometimes boring, sometimes interesting. One thing that sometimes seems to happen, and it happened this time too, is that I try certain things along the way, and fail – then I’m disappointed and frustrated, but because the audience doesn’t know what I was trying, they often like the result anyway.

I was flattered that Rick had featured me in his „headliners“ list for the festival, and scheduled me for no less than 3 gigs on 3 subsequent days.

On the first night, we met for the „Best of the Y2K9 International Live Looping Festival“ concert in the Anno Domini Gallery in San Jose. Except for Atlanta based kalimba wizard Kevin Spears, all of us had come from abroad (from Germany, Australia, Barbados, UK, Belgium) and were somewhat excited to play in the USA for the first time.

It was a very nice evening – although we did not have many people (maybe 25) in the audience, there were up to 200 people listening and watching the show over the internet. Nat Grant from Melbourne created a very soft and subtle texture of material sounds from percussion and plastic foil, Julia Kotowski from Cologne played her charming „Entertainment for the Braindead“ songs, David Cooper Orton presented wonderful guitar compositions, Sjaak Overgaauw led us into quiet ambient sound worlds, Andre Donowa played very relaxed caribbean guitar music, and Kevin Spears made us all tap our feet with his irresistable, and technically astounding, kalimba grooves.

I drove home with Nat, Julia, and Kevin in my car, eventually discovering that our fuel was low – and there was no way to get new fuel in the middle of the night in the mountains between San Jose and Santa Cruz. We made it safely to Santa Cruz though – thanks so much to my guardian angel who protected us on the quite dangerous highway 17.

The next night, Rick had scheduled me for the „Experimental Side of the Y2K9 Looping Festival“, a concert in the Luggage Store Gallery in San Francisco which holds regular new music concerts curated by Matt Davignon. I’ve known Matt for years as a very creative musician and regular contributor to Chain Tape Collective projects – it was very nice to finally meet him in person.

I must admit that it was quite exciting for me to drive into the breathtaking night skyline of San Francisco, with Rick and Nat in my car, to give a concert there. This wonderful city is a mythical place, both beautiful (as Sabine and me saw it a few days ago) and dark and even a bit creepy – but then I’m probably simply not used to this place at night.

The gallery was a wonderful concert space. Matt did his drum machine soundscapes, Nat and Rick created surprising music with percussion instruments and various materials, and Thomas Dimuzio played breathtakingly beautiful synthesizer music – like something straight from Blade Runner, but abstract. I would have loved to get a recording of this but he had forgotten to record it!

I did 25 minutes of, as Georgina Brett put it, „severely electro-acoustic LIVE music“ – a continuous stream of sound events from the guitar and from various mysterious little devices that made the audience lean forward, trying to see what they were 🙂 The music was not something that is easy to listen to afterwards, but I think it was an enjoyable concert live – big fun for me to play really noise oriented at times, maybe I should do more of this?

The main livelooping festival began on Friday evening with a concert of some of the headliners – Nat Grant with Rick Walker, Kevin Spears (the Paganini of the kalimba, as Rick put it very correctly), The Mermen guitarist Jim Thomas, and me, with each of us given 45 minutes. This was the only concert which saw me a bit nervous during the afternoon, but then I found myself very quiet and mostly present while I performed. Again, many things that I tried to do failed, but the audience didn’t know what I had been trying, and judging from the many positive feedbacks I got, at least parts of it must have been enjoyable. I felt especially flattered by a very positive website guestbook comment by the wonderful singer Lilli Lewis who I saw perform on the next day.

The two following days were like a livelooping sweat lodge – from noon to midnight, more than 50 livelooping artists played for half an hour each, performing on one half of the stage while on the other half the next artist quietly set up his gear. Many of the stylistically wildly diverse shows that I saw were amazing, some of them utterly wonderful. Among my favorites were Bill Walker on lapsteel guitar, David Cooper Orton on electric guitar, Mike Crain’s ambient-minimalist vibraphone music, and especially the songs of Lilli Lewis – her performance was almost a spiritual experience, many of us were in tears because it was so beautiful and full of heart.
Lilli’s CD is here in case you want to hear it.

At times during the days of the festival, just sitting and enjoying, I seemed to feel an intense field of love that surrounded the whole venue. It was an impersonal love, and definitely something beyond the love that Rick, and the many people who helped, obviously put into organizing this event. For some reason, the livelooper community is exceptionally friendly – there is no competition but rather an atmosphere of mutual support. It seemed to me that something that I would call the presence of love can materialize in a palpable way when many people gather in such an atmosphere, to work together and to share what means most to them – their music, their personal vision of beauty.

What a treat this festival was. We finally met on Monday morning for the traditional loopers brunch and had coffee and cakes with Rick, Chris, Michael Klobuchar, and Nat Grant the next day … then we had to say goodbye. Amazing how close one gets during just a few days, and how much we missed each other afterwards – it was not unlike a meditation retreat or a guitar craft week … special times where one is together in an intense way, and then leaves to return into ordinary every day life reality.

(thanks to George Wiltshire and David Cooper Orton for some of the Michael Peters photos)

(many festival photos are here)

Towards Y2K9 (16): Hungry in Paradise

Point Lobos is a little stretch of coast immediately south of Monterey, California. It was named after the the Spanish word for the sea lions (lobos marinos) that inhabit the place, among many other animals. During our first visit in 1997 I really fell in love with this place – I think it is one of the most amazing places on this planet I’ve seen so far. We came back during our week in Santa Cruz to see it again.

There is something about it that awakes the child in me. So much to see and find and explore – strange rock formations, colorful crabs, tidepools full of red seastars and green seaanemones, miniature beaches, driftwood and heaps of drying kelp. We had binoculars and could watch sea lions and sea otters and oyster catchers, and marvel at the slowly rising and falling kelp filled mountains of water out there that are probably full of wonders under the surface. I felt like I could easily spend a day here.

We soon found out that we had made the same mistake as during our first visit – we had forgotten to bring sunscreen, and more important, we had not brought any food. So after some hours of discovering, we found ourselves not only sunburned but also quite hungry, and there is no place where you can buy food. We had to leave although we only had seen a fraction of the place. But there was another exciting thing waiting for me: playing a set on the Y2K9 loopfestival that evening …

Towards Y2K9 (15): Good Times

Santa Cruz, hometown of „known sonic terrorist“ (as a local newspaper wrote) and livelooping festival organizer Rick Walker, was our hometown for a week and the last stop on our 4 week northwest coast trip. We liked it a lot – so much that we really regret that we have to leave now (our flight will go tomorrow as I write this).

The main reason that I will miss Santa Cruz was the wonderful Y2K9 livelooping festival, a unique musical event – more about it in another blog post – and the people that I met during the festival – Rick of course and Chris and Bill and Nancy, and all the other loopers, old friends, new friends. Another reason was the mild, almost subtropical climate and the breathtaking coast that is famous among surfers and nature lovers.

Sabine wrote this about Santa Cruz:
Very young (or are we just getting old?) students everywhere, many homeless or dropped out people, a real downtown which is full of life until late resp early, at least at some evenings per week, with very nice shops, many cafés, a wonderful coastline, with rocks and spectacular waves crashing against them, changing and changing, seagulls, pelicans, flying in row and very low, even seaotters, barking sealions, two (!) little out of function lighthouses, a sandy beach with a lazy and joyful sunday afternoon atmosphere, people playing with their dogs, playing volleyball, children playing in the sand, wonderful late afternoon light …

I really hope there will be a chance for me to come back to Santa Cruz in the not too distant future … Rick has already invited me for Y2KX (in 2010) … hmmm …

Towards Y2K9 (14): Right Mindfulness

… and then through the beautiful hills east of Mendocino, through another redwood forest, wine fields, eucalyptus groves … eventually going south towards San Francisco, a grey row of spikes in the distance beyond the bay while crossing another huge bridge, in the pale afternoon light of the beginning rain season.

We came into Berkeley where we stayed during two nights. Bought a new pair of shoes and a huge salad on Telegraph Avenue … the streets full of beautiful people but also of hobos and dropouts and many very sad human beings … peeked into the new Ridhwan school building but didn’t want to disturb as a retreat was going on.

The next morning, a somewhat quiet monday in San Francisco because of Columbus day. This was my third visit to this beautiful city: I had been here with my old friend Walter in 1979 and with my (then not-yet-married) wife Sabine in 1997. Had already forgotten many details but loved it again immediately.

Of course my view is romantic and has nothing to do with the real life of most people here but San Francisco is the birthplace of so much … the Beat Poets, the hippies … the Beat movement that means a lot to me, mostly because of Gary Snyder’s poetry, was going on here while I was a boy, and for some reason, the modern hippies (we saw quite a number of them) mostly wear dreadlocks … I talked to one of them who had a guitar, he turned out to be a big fan of Daevid Allen and Steve Hillage, so we had a good connection immediately.

Taking lots of buses to get around on this day … artificial crickets in Chinatown … up through hundreds of wooden stairs through exotic little gardens towards Coit tower … a wonderful view over the city and the bay even though it was not sunny … a fig/pecan tart that was close to heaven, in the very nice Cafe Divine at Washington square … more than an hour spent in shops in Japantown where Sabine bought a white fake-crumpled-paper-mug … beautiful houses and a postcard look over the city from Alamo Square … more buses … back to Cafe Divine (because it felt so good) for some pasta … a sad and poor black man in an old streetcar, careless violence … eventually taking the BART back to our Berkeley place, screeching along under the water of the bay for minutes, a loud and high choir of very fast metal.

Torrential rain the next morning … how lucky we had been this time with the weather! The drive down to Santa Cruz was a nightmare in this rain and storm, but we eventually made it to our destination where we spent a week because I had several concerts coming up on the Y2K9 livelooping festival …

Towards Y2K9 (13): Lost Coast

If you go south on the coast highway 101 from Eureka, California, you will notice that the 101 at one point goes away from the coast for quite a while. When this highway was built, the area was decided to be too difficult, and it was bypassed – the result is a large piece of remote mountain and coast land that is hardly visited by anyone, and is for that reason called the Lost Coast.

Our travel guide book recommended to go there and so we did of course (as many other German tourists I guess), after a very enjoyable day in Eureka with its beautiful old victorian wooden houses and wonderful coffee places.

It turned out that yes, the area is beautiful and scenic. The roads across it are often steep and winding, and that it took much longer for us to pass through than we had expected. But we were rewarded with wonderful vistas.

We watched hawks that were soaring above us in the hot summer air, on top of mountains, in deep silence.

Coming down to the coast, the fog got us again. The sand was darker here, the waves of the Pacific looked cold, there were no other people and we hardly met other cars. We really felt like we were at the end of the world. Or like in some Western movie.

Because the roads had been so steep, the fuel was almost gone at the end of the day, and it got dark. But we were very lucky that we made it to Westport, a village that had once been a bustling industry town and that is now mostly inhabited by a few retired people.

The Westport Inn and Deli is a motel run by its very nice 82 year old owner – we slept very tight and got a nice complimentary breakfast in the morning – and on the other side of the street, there was a tiny fuel station, so we were saved and could continue our trip …

… going south towards Mendocino (a place whose name got very famous in Germany in 1969 because of a „Schlager“ song by German singer Michael Holm).

Towards Y2K9 (12): Fog Treasures

When the cold Pacific water meets the warm California mainland, the result is fog. When we came down from Oregon to California, we started to notice that the mornings were overcast and cold, often for several hours until the sun came through.

Our first night in California (in Crescent City at the north end of the Redwood National Forest) was accompanied by a foghorn that hooted every 10 seconds … all the night through. It was one of the few situations where I was happy about the fact that my hearing gets notably worse with my age!

Here are some minutes of the foghorn. The hiss between consists of the ocean surf and some nightly traffic, both somewhat distant from our motel room. The foghorn was maybe a mile away. There are also some bells, their ringing seemed to also come from the direction of the foghorn:

While the fog was not so nice for us human tourists, it is one of the factors that enable the rich biodiversity in this area, e.g. the wonderful redwood trees love fog, and they need it especially at the times of the year when there is little or no rain.

The coastal area west of the redwood forests contains a large variety of lagoons … some of them were inhabited by people, others – the more remote ones – by animals such as this seal.

One of the places that we visited was called „Dry Lagoon“ – that triggered my curiosity. A long narrow winding road through wilderness led to it and we thought we would be alone, but the parking lot next to the beach (which was next to the dry lagoon) was full of cars, to our surprise. That many visitors, on a cold foggy day like this?

Part of the beach visitors consisted of surfers – amazing how they managed to move in the ice cold grey waves. We stayed for a while, watching them. It must be fun to be able to ride a wave like this – so much fun that it is worth waiting for a good wave, often for quite a long time.

Also, there were surprisingly many people walking along the beach, some of them with rods in their hands – they used them to pick up stones from the ground. I asked them about it and they told me that they were looking for agates – semi-precious stones that can be found on the beach especially on a rough day like this. They showed me what they had found so far – not all of the small stones looked very impressive to me but apparently they become quite beautiful when polished.

We started looking for nice stones too after this and found lots of them, most probably not being agates, but beautiful nonetheless. Good thing that we can’t take them with us on the plane! Our suitcases are more than full already.

We loved this place with its high grey waves, the colorful stones, and the tree logs that covered the beach like dead dinosaurs … especially in the fog which made it all seem more surreal.

Towards Y2K9 (11): Green Cathedrals

The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has ever successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferable. From them comes silence and awe. It’s not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift and vary under your eyes, no, they are not like any trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time. They have the mystery of ferns that disappeared a million years ago into the coal of the carboniferous era.“ – John Steinbeck

We had seen the Sierra Nevada sequoias some years ago, but we hadn’t seen the redwoods of Northern California. Well the experience of awe was similar when we got there … and while the sequoias were somewhat more voluminous, and impressive as individuals, the redwoods impressed us because they are the highest trees on earth, and there were (at least that is what we thought) so many of them, turning the forest into something completely and unbelievably surreal.

We spent three or four days in the area, but every time we came back into the forest to walk a trail, or every time we drove one of those little streets that lead straight through the redwood forest, we couldn’t believe what we saw. There are few things that inspire open-mouthed awe as much as the redwoods do. You can’t help being impressed.

And this even though only 4 percent of the original „old growth“ redwood forest is left – the „harvesting“ was stopped just in time to leave some conservation areas, such as the Redwood National Forest. Incredible what human greed can do.

An additional awe inspiring factor when walking the redwood forest is the utter silence. There are birds singing in spring of course, but at this time of the year, in early October, the birds are quiet except for a lonely crow now and then. So you walk the green dense forest, surrounded by green skyscrapers and large ferns, and it is completely silent.

As Europeans who aren’t used to the presence of potentially dangerous animals, we also were just a little bit afraid at times, which added another factor to our experience. Rangers told us that bears would not go near humans, and that it would be extremely unlikely for us to see one. But, this forest was very dense and you can’t see far – there might well be a bear behind every corner, theoretically. And the fact that we had met a black bear quite close to us some years ago in the sequoia area, not too far away from other people, made us quite conscious that they are there somewhere. So there was always a slight tension in the background of our forest enjoyment, especially when we were all alone in the deep forest. Even though we love bears a lot!

An interesting internal experience for me was (I notice that I hesitate to talk about this, but … what the heck) that I got very conscious at one point of my mind and how it kept limiting my experience. The beauty of the scenery should have overwhelmed me, but it didn’t. It felt „flat“ and normal. I felt like the beauty, or my capacity of being touched, was reduced to a trickle, my brain didn’t let much of it through for some reason. Have you noticed your brain doing that sometimes? I’ve noticed it often when I was in a place of exotic beauty and I painfully felt the limitation of being in my everyday self.

We talked about this phenomenon which was good – after feeling some frustration at first, I felt more curious and looked at various aspects of it. This little amount of disidentification, combined with communicating about it, was enough to dissolve the „blocked“ feeling, and my brain – without me doing anything consciously – changed into the nonconceptual mode – it suddenly remembered how to do it. There was some time of intense thoughtless presence after this, slowly dissolving into „normality“ while driving my car and getting back into thinking.

This kind of remembering movement to me is the most mysterious of all experiences. It can’t be made to happen (at least I can’t do it). When remembering happens, we suddenly know, and then the beauty is no longer out there – we are right at the source of beauty, independent of circumstances, as long as compulsive thinking and the broom closet of personality can be quiet and we are free. Oh how easily does this get another thing to want, another thing to be frustrated about when it can’t be reached. But the brain and whatever it is that we call consciousness goes its own way, and we better don’t meddle with its natural flow I guess.

Towards Y2K9 (10): Sands Of Time

We came into Bandon, a coast town in Oregon, in the early evening. We found a motel room near the beach and took a walk down a wooden stairway to the seafront. The panorama was breathtaking – there were lots of seastacks, small rocky islands, sitting on the sand and in the shallow water, large and small ones.

There was a strong very cold wind, the sky was very clear, and the sun was about to set. What an otherworldly place! I couldn’t stop taking photos.

I also took some 1-minute videos of the sand that was driven by the wind across the beach – the movement of the sand streams were not unlike the color streams in those psychedelic 2001 scenes. I turned the small videos into a short youtube clip two days later, using some of my own music that I found on my notebook, a detail from some guitar/computer music improvisation from a couple of weeks ago.

Sabine went back to the motel room but I continued until my hands were numb from the cold.

Next morning, the sky was foggy and cold. The feeling tone had changed dramatically, but the scenery was still otherworldly.

We left Bandon and continued the trip to the south, finding out very soon that the whole southern Oregon coast, right into northern California, is full of seastacks and breathtaking vistas. What a place!

And then there was that spot on my camera lens (near the upper right corner of those images that aren’t zoomed). I haven’t been able to locate it and get rid of it. Maybe I should turn it into my trademark? Oh, I see that spot on the upper right corner – is that a genuine Michael Peters photography?

Towards Y2K9 (9): Nautical Days

We came down the Oregon coast looking for a place to stay between Depoe Bay and Newport – our travel guide said that Depoe Bay was home to a group of gray whales, and we looked forward to seeing some. Most whales have already started going south for the winter, but we hoped that we could see some of the local gray whales at least.

Yes, I had even naively thought about dipping my hydrophone and recording some of their songs, but on seeing the high waves in Depoe Bay I dropped this plan. There was no way of doing an underwater recording here, except from a boat, and seeing the tiny whale watching boats going out into the high waves made me seasick, and they wouldn’t have stopped their engines just for me anyway. Well in the end we saw one whale for a second, unmistakably, because we saw its spout, but not really for long enough to be very impressive.

We could not find a place to stay in Depoe Bay, so we went further on towards Newport. I stopped at a motel sign that said Moolack Shores Motel, not really expecting to find something, but then the man behind the counter was very friendly and said yes, he had a very nice room available for us, not expensive, and would you like to see it? When we saw the room, it took about half a second for us to say yes. What a breathtaking view, what a beautifully decorated room! What a difference to all the boring loveless standard motel rooms we’ve seen on this trip.

The Moolack Shores Motel, situated directly above the beach, contains about a dozen „themed“ rooms, most of them with a deck facing over the Pacific Ocean, most of them with a fireplace. Our room was the only downstairs room, it had no fireplace, and its deck did not directly face the ocean, but it was wonderful – the Nautical Room was full of carefully selected seafaring-related decoration, and beyond the main bed it even had two bunkbeds each with a real porthole looking over the ocean.

We had intended to stay for two nights but after the first night, we extended our stay to four nights. The Nautical Room felt like home very quickly. We had the time of our life.

I thought that I could easily get used to living here, doing nothing, just watching the ocean, the changing weather, taking walks on the beach, finding driftwood, looking at the green sea anemones that grew in tidepools between the rocks, watching flocks of pelicans go by. Frank and Yvette, our very friendly hosts, fed us with delicious fresh cookies and really made us feel at home.

The Pacific sunsets were perfect, with clouds and without clouds … walking the beach at night (no photos of that) was a very special experience …

Some attractions were not far away – the Yaquina lighthouse with its spectacular views was just a mile or two south of the motel. Below the lighthouse, numerous large rocks are home to pelicans, other seabirds, and seals, and in the shallow waters, large tidepools house an astonishing variety of starfish, sea anemones, and other creatures that we had only seen in aquariums before.

Newport has an old harbour that has turned into a main tourist attraction. While all the shops are nice and the coffee is good, what draws most people is the sea lions that gather here – they can’t be ignored! Their loud barking can be heard from far away:

The other attraction that Newport has to offer is its wonderful aquarium with its famous deep sea passages. To see large fish, even sting rays and sharks, from so near, even from below while they pass over the transparent visitor tunnels, is quite an experience.

One thing that I liked about Newport was that it was here that I saw my first wild racoons! They are extremely rare and shy where we live in Germany so I’ve never seen one except in a zoo. They did not seem very afraid of me, rather they looked at me with a certain polite interest. I know that they can become a nuisance but I couldn’t help finding them extremely cute. I wonder what they thought of me?

Towards Y2K9 (8): Oregonians

Portland was a city that we both liked a lot immediately – the first things that we encountered were lots of students (because our hotel was near Portland State University), a huge bookstore, a very good public transport system, and a huge organic food store. The city felt very civilized, full of culture, and rich (we found out quickly that there were lots of very poor people living here as well though, just like in all big cities, I guess).

The book store was quite impressive – it says of itself that it is „the largest used and new bookstore in the world“, and that may well be true. I loved the way they put used and out-of-print books side by side with new books – wonder why other bookstores don’t follow that example. I browsed through my favorite SF authors and actually found a used copy of Walter Jon Williams’s Ambassador of Progress, a book that was missing in my collection and that I hadn’t found so far.

A walk the next morning led us over giant steel bridges and through the old part of town to a very nice breakfast place with awesome coffee and fresh orange juice.

The most charming moment I encountered in Portland was when we walked through Chinatown and I saw a Chinese man in a shop practice a melody on his saxophone. He really tried hard and got through with the melody – some notes were quite off but it sounded nice to me anyway. While he played, I recorded him through the open door, and by coincidence, from a couple of blocks away, there were the horns of an approaching train. I thought that the saxophone and the train were really great together, almost like Ornette Coleman in a way, and I was the only one who heard it. Listen for yourself:

Later that day we went a couple of miles east of the city to the Columbia Gorge area which has some spectacular scenery including a number of waterfalls and breathtaking vistas along the wide river valley. It was here that our car navigation system got thorougly confused, probably due to the many crooked and steep roads. While pretending to lead us to the next gas station, it led us into a very small remote valley that we actually liked a lot, but that didn’t feature a gas station. We made fun of the navigation system and on the way home it refused to talk to us. No kidding.

I don’t recall the name of the place in Portland where we went in the evening, but Sabine had a wine that she liked a lot, and I had some kind of cocktail that contained strawberries and some other stuff, and looked like this:

Towards Y2K9 (7): The Cake That Was Too Large

Leaving Washington towards Oregon, we crossed a gigantic bridge that spanned for miles across the mouth of the Columbia river, and arrived in a place called Astoria, the oldest town west of the Rocky Mountains. Too bad it rained at times … we had to sit in a wonderful cafe, waiting for the rain to stop …

… instead of walking around town, marvelling at the beautiful victorian style wooden houses (like the 1886 Flavel House), and the wooden walkway plus rails that stretched across the harbour. Well we did that later.

To see huge ships pass under the bridge while lots of traffic was passing overhead like tiny insects … like we had passed it a couple of hours ago … amazing.

Before we left Astoria on the next day we took a look from the Astoria column that overlooks many miles in all directions from a hilltop … and the Pacific shore with its high waves and the remnants of a ship that didn’t make it … a hundred years ago.

Towards Y2K9 (6): Mysterious Islands

Years ago I loved to play the Myst and Riven computer games – they weren’t about shooting each other, or about collecting scores by being very fast. These games belonged to a different category: Strange riddles had to be solved, and mysterious islands had to be discovered – without hurry. Discovery happened in an almost meditative way. I remember virtually walking on shores or high on cliffs, with the sounds of distant seagulls and ocean surf in the background. There was always time just to stop and to look around.

The makers of these games came from the American northwest, I seem to remember. Now I know where they got their inspiration. The coastline of Washington and Oregon is full of these rocks and little islands. The beach of a tiny Olympic peninsula village called La Push – home of the Quileute Native American tribe – contains some little rock islands that look as if they had come straight out of these games. There were even some cables going to one of them, and some mysterious little machinery sitting in the water near one of them, just like in the games where there is mysterious machinery all around.

At this time of the year, the whales that live around here are already starting to move south – too bad, I would have loved to go out on a whale watching boat, watching them surface, maybe even recording their songs. Too late for this. On this evening, we did spot some very distant spouts of passing whales, so apparently they were still there, but much too far away for us to watch.

Pelicans kept flying along the waterline, mostly in straight line formations of one or two dozen. Hundreds of logs were scattered along the beach like dead giants. Reminding me of the strands of moss hanging from nearby trees, the little round fluffy pink clouds slowly turned into strange jellyfish shapes as the sun was setting and the moon was rising. The smaller distant islands slowly disappeared in the haze. Everything seemed to become more and more unreal as it got darker. What an impressive place.

During the next days, we discovered more amazing places along the coast further to the south.

Hmm …