Portside Inn, Port Angeles. Room 214. Morning. I resume writing, after waking early and checking to see that Sara's still breathing. (The latter tested by turning on a lamp and seeing how badly I get my ass kicked.) By 8:15, we're showered, packed, and paranoid enough about leaving something behind that both beds are checked under. By 8:30, we're being served breakfast at a splendid cafe across the street. French toast for her; Belgian waffle pour moi (but not imported. I asked). Plus crispy bacon for both. By 9:00 we're headed to yet another discount chain-store, for film, freezer bags, and toilet trees. (The middle item is an absolute must-have on longer trips!) Sara also takes that opportunity to define "pathetic" as "coming to Seattle, where there are so many things to do, and instead hanging out at Wal-Mart." Guilty as charged, Your Blonde Honor. The time is 9:30 when we leave, ready for a second Peninsula-matic play day. And then the "low oil" light comes on.

Or so says the instrument panel of her ninety-nine Trans-Am. What happens next is an event-chain both elating and exhausting. Joy for Mike, 'cause we're delayed long enough for a downtown toy store to open. (We window-shopped last night.) For Sara, unfortunately, her stress level skyrockets, partially 'cause the Sciencemobile has already been in the shop. And several times at that! (Alas, her exact comments can't be repeated here. In case any damn children are reading.) Here's what happens: add oil, observe oil light, observe oil light not turning off, check dipstick, allow added oil to settle, and check dipstick again. We rinse and repeat twice -- no change-- and then drive to a nearby dealership. Broken sensor. Well, duh. (Unrelated memo to Sara's sister, who is likely reading this: you still suck for missing the Minneapolis trip at Christmas. Now back to our original programming.)
By 11:00, we're finally on the road again. Our destination is either the beaches at La Push or the so-called rainforests at Hoh. (The third option, driving deep into the woods so Sara can scream, is rejected.) We settle on the second, after suffering lunch at a greasy spoon in Forks, an unappealing town that's seventy-five minutes from Port Angeles. (She has a cheeseburger, cheeseburger; I order a plain hamburger and small vanilla milkshake. Both are substandard.) We even look a bit scary, having ridden twenty miles with the roof panels removed. (Think whoosh.) And now, a word about Sara's driving. She has a fear of highway paint. No, not a fear of riding on it. Rather, she's deathly afraid of driving through it. See, some years ago, in the quaint college town of Durham, NC, she struck a puddle of spilled pavement paint. Yellow paint, that not only, boom boom, stuck like glue, but also performed a sort of molecular "mind meld" with the existing paint. Thus the reason that road-painting on the way to Hoh leaves her visibly agitated. And, happily, prime for poking fun at...

Before Hoh, though, we sniff around a timber mill that's not far from Forks. First at the front (boring) and then around back, among the towering, two-story stacks of Lincoln Logs. (And a fast-moving logging truck that passes within inches.) Double-back to the first park entrance and, one hour later (by car), we're walking in a rainforest. Our reaction: Hoh-hum. The "third most popular nature trail in the world" consists of moss, moss, and more moss. Plus trunks to stump and stumps to take a lichen to. And all along well-marked walking trails, regrettably populated by too many too-loud tourists. (Of course, we are whisper-quiet...) Eh, between Sara's existing Washington State exposure and my many Smokey Mountain boogies, we ain't impressed. ('Cept, that is, for a way-cool riverbed beyond the woods. Think River Runs Through It, complete with fully functioning fly fisherman.) The time is 4:00.
Backtrack again, the entire length of the access road and its many patches of patched pavement. (From recent rockslides, it appears.) We pass the time by creating song parodies about annoying people we know. Or playing the same CD three times in a row. (So what if we're lazy?) Forks again, to mail postcards and make a phone call, to inquire about my drive-away application. More on that later. Port Angeles again after Forks, for chow at a "family style" buffet voted "most popular with seniors." (Only one glance around the room is needed to confirm that fact!) Sara has chicken, stuffing, rolls, and a salad; I also eat chicken (fried), roast beast, and mashed potato-shaped potato flakes. And twenty minutes later, we spit. Dungeness Spit, that is, the "longest stretch of unprotected sand in the world." We're talkin' five miles, baby, and only 150- feet wide! At the end is an unoccupied lighthouse; strewn the entire length are sandblasted logs. Cool. We walk a mile-- maybe, very maybe-- and try not to freak at the freaky vegetation that's washed ashore. Is it eel? Squid? Giant human sperm?



Night has fallen by the time we board the ferry. Kingston back to Edmonds. I'm busy writing; Sara watches the shore lights and notes that, since we're among the last to board, we'll be among the first to exit. Wohoo! (Really, it's the little things. Like finding a penny or seeing a rainbow or arriving at a working fire before the flames have been fully extinguished.) I keep writing and, when I look up again, we're pulling into "Fred." (AKA Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 1100 Fairview Avenue North.) Just a quick visit this time, to check cells (Sara) and print bus maps (Mike). (Plus a couple queries for toy fire trucks on ebay, when Science Girl isn't looking.) Home before midnight, Sara crashing soon after. (She has a big day tomorrow, but that's another story for another day. Maybe tomorrow.) I continue writing, finally finishing around... 3. Now that's what I call being on vacation!

Copyright 2000 Michael J. Legeros


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