Blue Angels 2017 and getting naked

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I had a really fun day yesterday. With Shobhit, no less! We spent most of the day together and never got into any real bickering or fighting. This is an accomplishment.

He had an early shift in the morning, getting off at 11:00, not getting home until around 11:30. I spent most of the morning reading my library book in the living room, and/or chatting with Ivan. I also got things ready for the day, as Shobhit had requested, filling his backpack with supplies: lunch boxes full of leftover Asian pasta with tofu; two bottles of water; one bottle filled with strawberry and raspberry lemonade and five shots of vodka; a towel because I hoped I'd get to swim in the lake after the air show.

I even wore my swim trunks all day, not wanting to wear them underneath regular shorts, and knowing I wouldn't have a car to change inside of because we were planning on walking to I-90 to watch the air show. A guy on Twitter actually said to me, "Those shorts you had on earlier were so short you were practically naked." Ha! Not quite. I replied that I love those shorts. And I do. I'd get another pair from 2(x)ist if they weren't so expensive; I swim so seldom I don't really need another pair anyway.

Shobhit and I did disagree a bit on the best route for walking to I-90, which they close down a couple of hours three days in a row on Seafair weekend for the air shows, and we left for as soon as Shobhit put his own swim trunks on under his shorts, and I put on sunscreen. I really hate this sunscreen -- I had said before that how white it leaves your skin fades after about fifteen minutes, and it does, but not enough. My face was still looking kind of ghostly white from it at the end of the day yesterday.

Anyway, Shobhit turned out to be right. I was certain the only way to access the freeway on foot was from above, and he had wanted to go down via Lakeside Avenue, which is right on the lakefront. It turns out there is access either way, but from above is a lot harder to figure out if you're not already familiar with the area. On the upside, when we stopped into a coffee shop to use the bathroom, there were Cavin and David, a pleasant surprise. Shobhit and I chatted with them briefly, in turn, as we each used the bathroom -- after which I felt a hell of a lot better. We had shared a chai iced tea with Bailey's in it during our three-mile walk down, which took us maybe fifty minutes (Google Maps always overestimates walk times).

After following detour signs to get us from the north side of the freeway over to the south side and ascending again to the eastbound lanes, we finally found the spot with a sign saying WAIT HERE FOR ACCESS. After maybe ten or fifteen minutes, Department of Transportation people came and opened a gate to let us out onto the lanes. They only allow us a fairly short distance eastward, but it's still cool to get out onto the freeway lanes themselves -- and they only do this for the eastbound lanes, even though the entire bridge is closed. People could be seen on the higher bridge of the westbound lanes, but they were confined to the pedestrian path and could not go out onto the lanes.

Honestly, the air show itself was the same as it is every year. But, I like to go back every few years: last time I went was in 2014, when I met up with Gabriel and Kornelija on the shores of Lake Washington due east from my place. Shobhit was in Los Angeles then; and he was in New York when I watched the show in 2010 -- which I did by myself from the roof of my condo building. Shobhit hadn't seen the show since 2009, which he had intended to meet Barbara and me at but we wound up on opposite sides of the freeway. So even though we were both there, we werent quite together for the show. The last time we were actually together to watch the air show was in 2005, the first time either of us went. Still, this was Shobhit's third time overall and my fifth.

This is the kind of event that proves having a regular digital camera yields better pictures than a smart phone, but I still got some pretty good shots this time. The full photo set has 36 shots, including two brief videos, and can be viewed by clicking the image above.

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After that, I went skinny dipping! Seriously. In broad daylight! 41 years old and I was swimming naked for the first time in my life.

Shobhit is much more obsessed with nudity than I am and always has been, and he's wanted to come here ever since I told him about it -- when, as it happened, I discovered Howell Park on my way to the Seafair air show just last year. I had simply found what park on Lake Washington was closest to a straight shot due east from home, and it was Howell Park. Once you get to the lakefront walking Pine Street directly east, the park is just a couple of blocks north.

It's accessed via an entrance one block off of Lake Washington Blvd, so even its entrance is off the beaten path; and that entrance is to a wooded trail that opens out onto a small-ish clearing. Even the water has rocks or docks that extend out on either side, ostensibly to protect private property on either side, but as a result it creates some seclusion even in the water. And when I walked out there last year, I was rather shocked to find about three quarters of the people in there hanging out with no clothes on whatsoever. I had to come back and do some online research on the place, of course.

And yesterday, Shobhit and I walked the 2.3 mies from I-90 to Howell Park. We found a spot and laid out the blanket, and took off our shirts. I put sunscreen on my belly and chest and Shobhit applied it to my back, and I sat in just my swim trunks for a while. Shobhit stripped naked almost immediately. He also insisted on moving the blanket, even though the ground was great where it was; when I finally relented and we scooted over maybe 25 feet, that ground was awful and far more bumpy and steep. But, I'm certain Shobhit just wanted to be able to see some of the better looking naked men more clearly.

It seems to be a popular spot for gay men -- and, in fact, I'm pretty sure that when we were just about to the entrance but on Lake Washington Blvd, I saw Mike B, the guy I had worked with at the Seattle Gay News 1999-2000, and at the Seattle Gay Standard 2000-2001, where he had been the publisher after I organized a mostly unsuccessful strike at the Gay News. This was all a Major Life Event for me at the time, but is now ancient history, and I haven't seen him in person in I don't know how long -- probably more than a decade. I wasn't 100% sure it was him and didn't want to holler at someone I may not actually know. I'm pretty sure it was him, though. He was with another guy I did not recognize, getting into a car parked on the street with inflated pool floats. I wondered if they were coming from Howell Park themselves. He did look in my general direction but, assuming it was him, I don't know if he was sure it was me either.

But I digress. Maybe a quarter of the people in the park were also women, and well over half of them were totally naked too. One was wearing a bunch of bead neclaces and was always carrying a cup that I assumed was a cocktail, making her look like a nude Mari Gras reveler.

After a while I finally decided, fuck it, I'll take off my shorts. I had to sit with my legs strategically crossed for a bit. A totally platonic scenario of nudity is not something I am used to at all. Some might be surprised that I would have trouble with a nude beach considering the countless hours I have now spent at bathhouses over the years, but there is a critical difference: bathhouses are overtly sexual situations at all times. And having grown up conditioned to associate nudity with sex, something like a nude beach has taken me a bit longer to get used to.

This was literally the second time I had ever gotten naked in public. The first was when Shobhit and I went to a nude beach in Vancouver, B.C. in 2005. It took me a lot longer to get used to being naked at that time, and it's taken another 12 years for me to even try it again.

I dealt with it a lot better this time. I mean, I am in better shape now. Granted, I am a lot older and my ass is flabby but whatever. Not everyone else there had perfect bodies either -- in several cases, far from it -- and that's totally beside the point anyway. I finally decided that this was an opportunity I should take, and it was foolish not to do it out of nothing more than fear. I mean, I was right there, and I have long wanted the experience of skinny dipping, regardless of context. So I suddenly got up and walked into the lake.

I was in there for a good long while. I stood in the water a lot, but also did some actual swimming, in a wide berth around a group of co-ed nudists on their own floaties that they had tied together in a bunch. Shobhit had fallen asleep on the blanekt and missed the whole thing, didn't see me leave or come back. When I was in the water, honestly, I found myself thinking the experience was hardly any different than if I had gone in my swim trunks. I guess there's something to be said for wanting to keep your clothes -- swim trunks or otherwise -- cleaner and/or dry. Or if you're near that spot but in regular clothes, and you really want a spontaneous swim, that's one way to do it!

Sunbathing in the nude seems to have more understandable appeal to me though. Or even just laying outside. Most of the park is shaded by trees. I probably will go back there, though. I don't think this will be an isolated incident like when we went to the beach in Vancouver turned out to be. I'd just really like a different sunscreen. Lesson learned: don't buy something just because it's the cheapest thing on the shelf. There's usually a reason it's so cheap.