The HippieShack2000™: the most amazing place I ever lived

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I’ve mentioned my brief flirtation with urban loft living — it was a bad fit for me. I like urban, but that was TOO urban. I like gritty, but that was TOO gritty. Six months of living in an industrial loft soured me so deeply on everything urban, I fled the city completely and moved an hour south of Seattle to Olympia, WA.

01 OutsideOlympia is a weird mix of state capitol and college town, home to a mix of government employees, activists, indie rockers, Evergreen State College students, hippies, and lesbians. Dre was planning to finish his degree at Evergreen, and I was burned out on the city, so I moved down a few months before he did and started scoping things out. I started in a crappy bland apartment, but volunteered at the local food co-op, where I saw a listing for an amazing house. Summer of 2000, I moved into what would forever be known as The HippieShack2000™: the most amazing place I ever lived.

Meta narcissismI found a few old, pixelated photos on my hard drive recently (taken with a digital camera that was larger than most video recorders now), which is awesome because it allows me to take y’all on a tour of this magical place.

I have to believe that somewhere, down on Overhulse Road, this magical house is still doing its thang.

Come, walk down memory lane with me. Warning: I’m going to get all nostalgic and self-indulgent… forgive me.

02 DownstairsThis was the inside of the main room of the house. The place had been built by an aging Evergreen student who lived in a treehouse on the property. The house was amazing in many ways (TONS of skylights! little lofts everywhere! heated floors!) and totally janky in others (half-finished paint jobs! an external staircase to get the second floor!). But let’s focus on the awesomeness.

In the picture above, you can see the loft we slept in (straight ahead), our janky closet (beneath), the doorway to the kitchen (so weird that it was so lovely, and yet the kitchen was completely unfinished). You can also see a bag in the middle of the floor, because 25-year-old me did NOT believe in staging. Clearly. To the left, you can see the ladder to one of the guestbed lofts.

Here’s a better shot of our bed loft/closet area:
02 See bedloft

04 BedYou can see how unfinished the ceiling of the downstairs was, and you can also see our shady closet beneath the loft.

But that bed rocked. Except for when you had to get up in the middle of the night and pee.

Also: our hilarious paper-mache balloon Christmas tree light covers.

06 TV LoftOur bed loft was one of three partial lofts downstairs. We used the other two lofts as a TV/guestbed area. So, this loft was a guestbed, and then the other loft was about six feet away, and that’s where the TV lived. It was cool — the TV was 7 feet off the ground and very much out of the way, but easily viewable from the guestbed loft. Obviously, you were fucked if you lost the remote.

07 CozyspaceThis was the space under the guestbed loft, which we just called “the cozyspace.” Since the concrete floor was heated, it was pretty warm down there… and this was in an era when we had a lot of parties (including Breakfast Club) so having little mini-chill rooms was a priority.

Now, let’s go upstairs. To do so, you had to walk outside — which was weird. BUT! At least it was cool out there…

09 Treezeebo

This was a thing I called “The Treezeebo,” and it always made me wish I was a smoker. And here are the stairs!

09 Westside

So yeah: the stairs were outside, but this being Washington it rains ALL THE TIME, so the builder/landlord had covered the stairs with a mix of brown plastic tarps and random branches. It was definitely a bit janky, but the combination of the tarped awning over the door and the tarp-covered stairs meant that you could get upstairs without getting wet — just cold.

Oh man, and now I’m getting all nostalgic. The upstairs at this house was AMAZEBALLS. This my office, which also had another guestbed:

Hippieshack2000

The ponies were there, then as now:
10 Ponies

11 YogaspaceWe used a bookshelf to divide the space between my office and the little area we’d decided was for yoga. The irony here? Back in 2000, I was doing yoga almost daily, and trying to get Andreas interested (he was only passingly curious). Ten years later, he became a yoga teacher.

As you can see, in contrast to the downstairs, the upstairs of the house was completely finished and freaking GORGEOUS. No half-done paint jobs or concrete floors here. It was quite lovely.

14 StudioThen, through a little door, there was Dre’s music studio.

My favorite thing about this house was how smart the builder had been with lighting. The house was tucked deep in the forest — and windows just don’t give you much light in the forest — so he’d built the house with TEN skylights, so both the downstairs and upstairs were FLOODED with natural light, even on the cloudiest of days. I don’t know why more builders in the Pacific Northwest don’t take advantage of this logic. Skylights let in the maximum amount of cloudshine. Without all those ceiling windows, this house would have been dark and dreary.

14 Skylight

DEEP SIGH. Seriously, you guys. This house was amazing. We only lived there a year (I moved to New York summer of 2001 to do the Columbia Publishing Course), and ultimately living in Olympia wasn’t a great fit for either of us… but that house. The dear, sweet HippieShack2000™. It will forever live on as the coolest place I’ve lived.

…SO FAR.

Comments on The HippieShack2000™: the most amazing place I ever lived

  1. OH wow I was just considering getting a yoga ball for my office chair. Did you like it? Also, totally amazing house.

  2. That’s so badass 😀 And I think I have a lot of those same ponies in a box somewhere . . . I like how chubby they are, but the “new” ones are all extremely skinny. Even PONIES are super skinny now. WTF, media messages. W. T. F.

  3. @ _ @

    I’m feeling a sudden uncontrollable desire to move to Olympia…. (from the Baltimore-D.C. corridor)

  4. Looking at these pics reminds me of the Swiss Family Robinson. Reading that book as a kid made me SO SAD that I could not live in a sweet house like theirs.

    • Oh dear sweet santa, I wanted that house SO FREAKING BAD. I had the annotated version that had the most AMAZING drawings of the house and each one made me more jealous than the last. Coolest. House. Ever.

      Also: My Side of the Mountain.

  5. cloudshine! I live on the north side of the border but the we share the wet coast… this reaffirms my absolute love for it here.

  6. My sophomore year of college, I visited my friends upstairs so much, they got a yoga ball for me to sit on because there were only two chairs. We called it “The Chair Ball” and it made the most awesome seat. I used to bounce down the hallways on that thing.

    I LOVE THOSE BEDS. I spent my childhood sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed and had bunk beds my senior year of college. I would love to get some sort of loft bed because I rather miss sleeping up high.

  7. Great description of Olympia! It is a wacky, loveable little town and I’m quite happy in it. Have you seen IFC’s Portlandia? It totally reminds me of Olympia.

    • As someone who has lived in Olympia AND Bellingham, I’m pretty sure I know every archetype that was portrayed in that show.

  8. Oh man. I grew up in Olympia, so this post is making ME nostalgic, too! I knew so many crazy hippies who lived in weird spaces like this one. 😀

    Sometimes I want to pack up and move back across the Pacific Ocean to Olympia!

  9. This is the most beautiful space I have ever seen. I am super into cozy corners, round shapes, asymmetry, cabins in the woods… Drool!

  10. WOW i used to live in Olympia too (we left in 1999 tho) but i sat in MANY a home exactly like yours!! So many out of the way homes in random sections of the woods!! AWESOME POST!!

  11. That’s where you lived when I first started reading your blog. I always thought that was one of the neatest places!

  12. Um, I live in an apartment complex over by Evergreen and I am about five minutes away from getting in my car and driving up and down Overhulse to find this house. ZOMG.

    It’s not creepy if I’m stalking the house Ariel USED to live in, right? 😛

    No, but, seriously – I will try and find that house and get photos from the outside just to see if it still looks the same.

    Oly is a world of its own, and though I complain about it endlessly, I can’t bring myself to leave. 🙂

      • I have returned victorious!

        So, it turns out the Hippie Shack is literally 3 minutes away from my apartment complex. Holy crap. I rarely go that direction down Overhulse, so I was shocked!

        I have a few very, VERY bad photos for you – there was someone outside when I went back to get pictures, and we felt really weird sitting there in the car with the camera. He didn’t look particularly friendly. 😛

        The couple of photos are here. I plan on returning for more!

        It still looks EXACTLY like the photos up above. There’s a yurt-like structure right next to the tiny smoking hut thing – don’t know if that’s new or not. And a million cars out there.

        Hope you enjoy! 🙂

  13. Omg- I lived on this property right around the same time!!??! Maybe a couple years there after.

    We lived in the Treehouse. I wrote a play called “Island Adrift” which we performed in Alaska in 2004 and oh yea- my daughter was conceived in the tree house. I’m
    Not to fru fru of a guy but my wife and I literally heard her calling from the Forrest to come into this world.

    • Oh wow, that’s crazy! When we moved out in 2001, I think Robin was still living in the treehouse… but I can see how the forest back there would be talking to you. It was glorious!

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