The Big Trip

Seattle, Port Angeles

My ribs are broken. Actually, just one rib. And it's cracked, not broken. Or so I suspect, based on the "snapping" sound heard Sunday, when Yours Not Thinking braced his body against a pair of pruning shears braced against one very thick limb. (Farthest hedge on the left, facing the house. Feel free to flog, if in the neighborhood...) Pain happened and has continued to happen, as I noted last night, attempting to slumber on a couple cushions formerly employed as a sofa. (Basically, any sleeping position other than prone was a wince-inducer.) Morning brought blessed relief, though, from any medical delivery device. Rather, 'twas the double-hour distraction of writing that kept my mind on something else. So, here I am...

The first half of the second day of my Seattle trip is exceptionally uneventful. Sara sleeps late; I muse and later meet the roomie, a nurse working nights this week. (Bright-eyed and bushy tailed she is not.) Shower, snack, and spend an hour at the lab. Sara plays scientist; I play with myself, in a conference room, marking a street map with the Seattle fire station locations that I downloaded off the Internet. (For those feigning interest, the City has 33 stations, including one paramedic facility. Firefighters are assigned to 32 engine companies, 11 ladder companies, 1 fireboat, 6 basic life support "aid" units, and 6 advanced life support "medic" units. Plus haz-mat, technical rescue, and marine response teams.)

We hit the road around lunchtime, our direction north and our destination Edmonds, to catch the ferry to Kingston and accompanying Olympic Peninsula. (The body of water we cross is Puget Sound.) First, though, there's stuff to be bought. We track down a Target in Lynnwood, just north of Edmonds. Socks, underwear, undershirts -- why pack when you can buy?-- and one pair of adhesive athletic bandages that Sara tightly wraps around my painful-to-the-touch upper torso, while I stand shirtless outside the Alderwood Mall main entrance. (The expressions of the people passing-by are expectedly priceless.) One final stop for fuel and we're back on "5," headed south and with only one traffic jam between ourselves and our exit. (Brush fire on shoulder, extinguished. Saw two fire trucks, though. Wohoo!)

The $12 ferry ride is fun. Brief, but scenic. Plus a Wow Factor (WF) from seeing so many cars stacked inside a single ship. And I get to practice with the camera some more. (I'm becoming particularly adept at switching between the three lenses!) Thirty minutes later, we've landed. The time is approximately 3:00 p.m.

Consult the map, consult the map again, crank the brand-damn-new Brian Setzer CD ("Vavoom," very good), and the Saramobile is again rolling. West. With mountains on our left and some Juan's strait on our right. (That is, when we can see it. Usually, we're too far inland...) Our goal is a place called Hurricane Ridge, a 5200-foot plateau with a view supposedly worth dying for. And, if we're lucky, live deer and elk. (We're willing to consider stuffed, however.) The park containing the ridge is over an hour away, so we settle back. And check our wallets, as entry to the Olympic National Park is ten bucks per car, per seven days. (Meaning, one pass is good for one week.)

Our route is Highway 101 west, where we pass precious few towns. Thirst compels a stop in Sequim, a slow-moving metropolis west of Port Angeles, where a one-story bank basks in the afternoon sun, its door propped open and only one teller inside, a friendly blonde from Illinois. (What does she do for bathroom breaks, we wonder? Ask a customer to watch the till?) Also in Sequim and painted on a twelve-foot high concrete wall at the Ramada Limited, is an outdoor reproduction of Leonardo DaVinci's "The Last Supper." Needless to say, we pose for pictures and wine. (And while I experience flashbacks from Mel Brooks' History Of The World: Part I.) Soon we're in Port Angeles, apparently the largest town in these parts (pop. 17,700). The entrance to the park is south of town, five miles away that feel like ten, thanks to the slower-moving (and for Sara, expletive-inducing) vehicles ahead of us. At least the toll-taking ranger is friendly.

Up, up, and away we go, twelve twisty miles that takes three times that in minutes. Each curve brings an even more spectacular view of the Olympic mountain range. We "oooh" and "aaah" appropriately. We also avoid the lookouts, confident that the top is the "toppest" of them all. It is. We finally reach the Ridge after 5:00. There's a visitor's center and a wide-assed viewing area and plenty of parked cars and campers, plus one adventurous deer, casually mingling among sightseers. I advise Sara to continue driving, one last mile to a pic-a-nic area and a reportedly even more breathtaking view. (With slight pause for heroine to handle a Weimereiner puppy that she spots.) The increasingly narrow road is a bit tricky, both for the driver and the plunge-envisioning passenger; once parked, though, we wander up to the trailhead-- a paved path introducing the rest of the ridge. 

We climb all of 500 feet (at a ten-percent incline, we estimate) before my companion calls foul, citing her shoes and something about "lack of traction." I call her chicken and continue another 100 or 200 feet. And then I look around, stunned. The three-sixty view is amazing. And adjective-inducing. And well-visited. We spot another dozen-or-more adventurers, though they hardly inhibit Yours Truly from attempting a little yodeling. (I'm told it echoed three times through the hills, though, confidentially, it was closer to a pig call.) Back to the visitor's center, to watch people watching deer, three of them standing within arm's reach. I let the puns fly. "Look, dear!" "Let's have a stag party!" "Venison!" Later, I grab a handful of grass and attempt to attract a doe, a deer, a female deer. No takers. In fact, there's a $100 fine for feeding, attempting to feed, or attempting to sell Amway products to park animals. (I learned about it later.)




By 6:30, things go downhill rapidly. Except when we (meaning me) pause for pics, such as the tunnel that Sara swore I'd be killed walking into. (I wasn't.) Back on level ground and just before leaving the park, I ask a ranger if, indeed, bears poop in the woods. She confirms that, yes, they do. Return to Port Angeles for dinner. Takes three tries, though, first at a fancy family place that Sara feels underdressed at. (I'm fine, 'till I see that the typical meal equals three Denny's entrees plus a dessert.) Door Number Two is an overpriced, overly stinky crab shack on the waterfront. (True story: While browsing their bill of fare, I'm asked "did you find your pig" by the mother of a family that was also at Hurricane Ridge today.) The charming third try is a tavern slash restaurant where we consume mass quantities of popcorn chicken and beer-battered French fries. (Not steak fries, mind you. French fries.) Mid-meal, however, I retreat to the restroom, to rip the now-annoying adhesive bandage from my chest. Sara examines the resulting beet-red (her words) marks and comments "you appear to have been run over by a bulldozer." Feels like it, too. 

Our last stop of the evening in the town with the highest concentration of Seagull poop per square-inch of sidewalk is a gym, so Ms. Hardbody can purchase a pair of animal-printed workout pants. Cow, leopard, endangered spotted-mountain something. Like, whatever. I bug the sales clerk, asking about the phone, if I can use the phone, how to use the phone, the driving time to the next town, the driving time to the next town for people our age, if working at a gym is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and what the Hell is she doing with an enormous bag of bright-green lettuce on her desk? (She claimed it was for her and her fellow salad-freak mother. I suspect a rabbit...) From an 800 number from our trusty Triple-A book, we quickly learn there's no room anywhere. At least not in Forks, the town that we were headed to. Guess we're staying in Port Angeles, thankfully a town with many motels. Clean ones, too! And so, by 1:00 a.m. and $78 later, Sara's fast asleep and I'm busy writing. Talk to you tomorrow.

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros 


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