Kurt and I began executing the drive home aimlessly, and that’s sometimes an interesting travel strategy, but not this time. It only led to dead-end would-be adventures. We took a northern route across the Olympic Peninsula then saddled the west side of Puget Sound heading south, never once seeing a glimpse of Seattle through the deep green hemlocks or across the open water. So much for playing grunge music to set the mood. On a whim we drove towards Mt Rainier, because it was a destination we could see. Just to watch it get eaten by storm clouds. Kurt found a spot in a National Forest to park for the night. We were now facing seven inches of snow starting late the next morning and the pass through the mountains from that road, 410, was closed. So we backtracked to take US 90 over the mountains, early, before the snow started. Silver lining here: the US 90 rest stop had a dump station and water. These things are wonderful when you carry your plumbing self contained. (Shower anyone?)
The last night we slept in Washington was between the Caraboo Trail and the Dry Falls by Blue Lake. We stopped early that night to hunker down for a wind storm and a bit of rain. The Caraboo Trail was historically a Native Trail and later used by cattlemen. The Dry Falls are the geological remnant of what was once a Niagara Falls like feature from the end of the last ice age, but is now… dry.
The next morning we started again. Taking a turn north to avoid winter weather conditions in the mountain passes through the Rockies. I’m sorry I have nothing to show for passing through Idaho. Not one photograph. We crossed the Idaho Panhandle: Coniferous trees, mountains, rivers…
Montana looked the same. Kurt pulled over at a little roadside stop. Kurt said it wasn’t a long hike. Kurt wanted to see a suspension bridge made for people that crossed the Kootenay River. Let’s go over this. I was wearing tennis shoes with no socks (for days), a skirt and not dressed for the weather because we really needed to do laundry (probably a week ago, but who’s keeping track). Sure. Let’s go hiking near dusk, under dressed in 40 degree weather. This won’t be uncomfortable at all. It was not a long hike, but it was down, down, down to the river. Scrambling over rocks. Wondering if those plants my ankles brushed were poison oak. Trying not to fall into mud (or river) in the last clean-ish clothes I had. But the river was deep blue-green. And the sunlight caught gently on the deep green mountainside as it slipped away for the day. And I got to practice my photography skills with waterfalls.▪️
We slept one night at Cape Lookout, Oregon before driving into Washington state. I was excited to explore the beach. I forgot that sand dollars existed in the world until I came across the quartered and halved pieces scattered on the beach. I had whole ones in my childhood possession. Along with the calcareous starfish bones and empty seashells. The road took us inland past estuaries and farms. Once again our resolve to “not be part of the problem” waned a little (but didn’t crumble) when we drove past the Tillamook Creamery. Kurt and I are fans of the Tillamook Dairy Farm Cooperative (their swiss cheese anyone?). Outside the creamery lines of people clustered disappointingly close together. Since we hit the road it’s been like this with the safety protocols, a smorgasbord of behaviors.
Our last destination, before trekking across the better part of North America to get home, Olympic National Park. It is not like the other National Parks we’ve been to. There are no apparent roads to the interior of the park. There are many places on the Olympic Peninsula where a road would be desired, but there are none. We explored the periphery, landing at Kalaloch Beach for the duration (there’s a nifty tree). The evening we arrived the landscape was grey scale. I was still geeked out about exploring. I wasn’t complaining. The camera loves atmosphere.
That next morning we explored north. Headed ultimately for views of the Salish Sea, but first a Big Tree then Forks. Down a short path, skirted by a small fence was the biggest cedar I’d ever seen with a tree growing off it. Massive. Imposing. Spectacular. Dripping with moisture. Tree. Saved from logging because it did not grow straight and true.
Forks. Just another small town rotting under the weight of time. A line of tires businesses fronting the main road. This downtown was built later than the typical turn-of-the-century Italianate brick fronts we usually see, this downtown build is from the form-follows-function era. There a totem pole erected at an intersection. There a shrine to logging. And then shiny edifices to Twilight in windows. I had to look that up. Yes that Forks. The things one stumbles upon while wandering.
Onward. A glacial lake drinking in every shade of blue from the sky. Tree stumps growing trees. Mountains kissing the clouds. More ocean sunsets. More forested drives. Nights falling asleep to the white roaring noise of waves. Mornings filled with the talk of crows. Crows laughing at campers leaving camp. Crows breaking into food supplies. Beaches with smooth black stones. Beaches with long stretches of gently slopes sand catching fragments of tidewater. Cold, cold, cold streams dissecting beaches. Trees tossed onto shores, old giants roots and all. Eagles soaring. Trees dripping moss. Olympic Peninsula▪️