This afternoon, a collection of political action groups including Washington CAN, Fuse Washington, Planned Parenthood Votes, and Working Washington led a protest outside a private Paul Ryan fundraiser on Hunts Point, a narrow stretch of land located between—I swear this is true—Cozy Cove and Fairweather Bay on the east side. Protesters brought along a large fat cat costume to protest the fact that Ryan is in bed with big business, and they waved around signs demanding tax hikes on the top 2%. They demanded that Ryan stop promoting his plan to gut Medicare, and they held Ryan accountable for his backwards views of women's health issues. They wanted to tie Ryan to Washington gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna, too; the owners of the home the party was taking place in had already donated the max to the McKenna campaign. I was supposed to do my job: attend this protest and report on what I see. But somehow, I was wandering, lost, in the woods.
What happened was this:
I listened to Google. I don't drive, and so Google Transit told me to take a bus to the Yarrow Point bus stop on 520. It's basically a bench next to a highway. Google then told me to walk on a path that runs along the side of the highway before turning up Hunts Point Road. The whole trip from bus stop to protest was supposed to be about a mile and a half. My stop is roughly indicated by the poorly drawn arrow on the map below, with the "A" in the approximate location of the private home in which the Ryan fundraiser was taking place:
Easy, right? Unfortunately, the path Google marked was unwalkable. Construction has swallowed up either side of 520. Instead, the trail led into a small park at the base of Cozy Cove. I thought I would try to cut across the park to a road that would lead me to Hunts Point. But the park is not just snuggled between the water and the ever-expanding highway: It's also got wealthy neighbors on every other side. And the thing about wealthy people who live next to parks is that they're serious about keeping their property lines clearly delineated. Usually with huge, ugly fences. I kept trying to find some way to the road, but I wound up going deeper and deeper into the trails of the park until finally I hit the water. Don't get me wrong; it's a beautiful park. There are even labels for the plants you find there. This cottonwood tree smelled sweet and earthy, like someone buried candy in the soil dozens of years ago and came back to find a miracle:
Frankly, I was surprised to see this kind of a park right next to the houses of the super-wealthy. Most rich people are the worst kind of NIMBYs—the kind who can hire lawyers to make their case for them. This park would be paradise for a homeless person who's looking for a place to spend a mild, dry evening. I even noticed that there were benches everywhere:
And then, when I sat in one of the benches, I realized I could see directly across Cozy Cove. I was staring right at the place where I could not travel on foot:
For a while, I hung around in the woods, making my way to the thin, unstable shore to take photos of the scene across the cove. I could see tents in someone's back yard. For a second, I considered swimming, before I remembered that I was not invited to the party and that I sink like a stone in water.
But I could only do this for so long; suddenly, I realized what I must've looked like, this aimless drifter wandering around the fringes of a community's property lines, taking pictures of the Secret Service-guarded man across the water. A helicopter started buzzing overhead, and while I'm sure it was just a traffic chopper, visions of the Tampa security state started whirring through my head. I started to picture Secret Servicemen rappelling down the side of a cottonwood tree and then sending me to be tortured, so that they could figure out what the hell I was doing in that park. Eventually, and after quite a few wrong turns, I found the way back to the bus stop.
It's funny; I had a moment there, when I was gazing across the water at the ridiculously expensive home that may or may not have been hosting Ryan's party, I immediately felt bad for anyone going to the party who was riding public transport, knowing how hard, or how impossible, it would be to get to the fundraiser. And then I shook the cobwebs from my head; anyone who attends a Republican fundraiser won't be taking transit there.
Here is where I have to apologize to Washington CAN and all the rest who took action today. They organized a protest in a very short amount of time, and they managed to locate the super-secret Romney supporters who were hosting the event, too. It looked like a successful celebration, and the protests surely caught Ryan's attention, if only for a second or two. The attention span of a vice presidential candidate is some valuable real estate, even if they're as intractable as Ryan. If these actions can remind Ryan that Washington state is not now and will never be friendly territory for he and his party, that would be a hell of an accomplishment. And I, who had promised to write about the whole thing, wound up lost in the woods, looking at the wrong damn side of the houses. The protesters deserved better than what I could give them.