Most of the subjects of my interactions are not even gay even though they tend to be accepting, liberal minded people. The settings that I like are places with intelligent conversation and nudity.
In conservative areas, people don't seem like the hot tubing type. Most of the fellow campers, in that resort, seemed like the type of people that hide inside these giant RV's watching their satellite TVs.
Someone found a poster, in the front of the bar, advertising a discussion group. It looked like a good way to connect with Spokane's gay community, but when I rode up the hill to where the group was supposed to meet, no one was there. All I found was a locked door.
After waiting a while, I gave up and headed for the grocery store across the street. In the store parking lot, someone started calling my name. I wondered how someone could know me some 370 miles from home. It turned out to be someone I met, at an aerobics class in Bellingham; also in the gym sauna. He remembered me from living in Bellingham several years ago. We discussed Spokane politics and he invited me to his house to meet his wife and kids. He isn't gay, but has an open mind for gay politics and was able to tell me more about Spokane than anyone I had met at the bar.
Someone said that the university of North Dakota should adopt this as its slogan.
"Young people are our greatest export."
Most of the people seem like retired farmers and Store fronts are boarded up in many towns. It is hard to find services; if one needs a bike shop, the next town, large enough to have one, could be hundreds of miles away.
Most of these towns did have a funeral parlor. Funerals are one of the few things still happening in some of the small towns.
I stopped at many bars as there was no other place to fill water bottles or get something to eat. These were "straight" bars, but they were basically similar to gay bars in seeming sort of cliquish. I would usually walk in, order a coke and leave fairly quickly. People at the bar would sit around with friends they had known for 20 years or more. Some of the bars had a shotgun hanging from the ceiling.
I would eavesdrop on conversations about some moose that was hunted down in northern Minnesota back in 1969. That story was told from the same bar stool for these past 30 years.
Being a little shy, myself, I didn't try to pry into the conversations. I didn't want to be hunted down like that moose. I just drank my coke and left the bar as if I had been invisible.
One of the bars, in Wisconsin, was different than usual. Patrons gathered around to pepper me with questions. The bar staff offered me all the drinks, on the house, and insisted I carry a souvenir from the bar on the rest of my trip. Some three years later, I got a call from the bar tender. He just wanted to see how I was doing.
People I met in campgrounds, regular restaurants, and so forth were extremely friendly. I answered many questions about my travels and never felt far from new friends. The cliquishness was basically just a "bar" thing. I was amazed how talkative people were in most settings. Of course the midwest is noted for down home friendliness.
Taking the train back, I could spend some days at Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island. This place is not far from my home. Doe Bay features "clothing optional" hot tubs filled with fellow travelers. One can converse with hikers, bicyclists, kayakers and the like. Everything from Hatha Yoga to computer science is discussed in this semi counter culture resort. If one likes tie-dye shirts and reggae music, Doe Bay is the place.
A passenger/bicycle only ferry runs from Bellingham to the San Juan Islands in the summers.
On the boat I met this attractive man. He was also headed to Doe Bay. His plan was to walk there from the ferry landing; a distance of about 3 miles. I decided to walk with him rather than ride my bike.
Long walks are great settings for deep conversation. He did mention having a girl friend, but that didn't stop him from being friendly with new people. For some reason she decided to stay on the mainland so he was on the island by himself. After we got to Doe Bay we took off our clothing and went into the tub. I got a good look at his naked, healthy body; a great way to end a nice summer.