Olympia, capital of the great state of Washington, is a peaceful, picturesque little town nestled on the southern end of the Puget Sound. It has evolved considerably over the last 10 years or so from the backwater home of state employees to a slightly more economically booming community, as people have migrated from the overfilled metropoli to the north -- Seattle and Tacoma. As a result, we now have our own Best Buy, Borders, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Beautiful!
The thing is, no matter how many new edifices are erected in the in the outer rim of any town, there are some cultural elements and truths that simply cannot be budged. For instance, in my hometown of Miamisburg, Ohio (suburb of the humble Dayton), they are building new stores and businesses every time I return for a visit. In fact, it looks less and less like the former staging ground of my underage drinking and whoring around with every passing year. Although they now have a P.F. Chang's, it can never shield the fact that Sycamore Park is still where all the bad neighborhood kids go after dark, that the Odd House is the best place to buy milk because you never have to leave your car, and that the townsfolk, albeit very friendly, couldn't find their way through a four-way stop with guns to their heads.
I will now highlight some random tidbits about Olympia:
1. The top 3 business establishments in Olympia are as follows: banks, drive-thru espresso stands, and bars**. I have a theory that the gross number of banks around here are built simply to hold all of the money that the last two businesses generate, simply because there is not much else to do here.
2. There is a specific spot on Interstate 5 near exit 104 where driver I.Qs plummet at least 30 points. It's kind of like the Bermuda Triangle, only it makes intelligence disappear. This phenomenon is most apparent between the hours of 3 and 6pm, unless it's a Friday, when you can count on the mass stupidity beginning around lunchtime. It cannot be explained by congested traffic patterns, either. Not coincidentally, the drop in IQ points is in direct proportion to the number of miles you have to drop on your speedometer when you pass the Idiot Threshold. Why? Because apparently there is an unspoken rule that on this stretch of freeway, you slam on your brakes for no reason whatsoever.
3. There is approximately a 1:1 ratio of hybrids to SUVs on the road here. I think the hybrids are beginning to edge out the SUVs. Olympia is officially on Smug Alert.
4. Lacey cops are perhaps the most lazy, lenient police force in America. They will literally go out of their way to not give you a citation. I'm not sure what exactly their incentive is in this matter, but all I have to say is: Thank You.
5. Speaking of Lacey, they are Olympia's closest neighbor whose boundaries are not exactly clear to me. They have a city hall, but no town proper; although, I'd say that the Target shopping center is the closest you could get to one. In fact, I would simply refer to Lacey as the Pints and Quarts district of Olympia. Pints and Quarts is a bar.
6. There is a homeless guy on Olympia's west side (or what I refer to as the Mall District) who lives with his three cats in front of a shop that sells bongs and dildos. I think there is definitely something in it for him.
There is more to share about O-Town, but I'll wait for another post. I admit that I come from a pretty limited perspective; I've only lived here for about seven years. The place has grown on me, though. Sure, the town has an unhealthy addiction to burnt coffee and a disproportionately large number of banks, but it also has its subtle charms, great views, and the people are ecclectic and not too high-maintenance.
It took me a good six years to say this, but... I think I could live here.
**Actually, I was just reminded by a fellow resident of Olympia a few minutes ago to re-iterate a solid fact: there is NOTHING to do here, because most of the bars suck as well.