Day 12, October 22, 1997: Sequim to Pacific Beach, WA

Well, who'da thunk it. I'm cut off from communications for a second night in a row. I could manage it fine from the wilds of the Yukon but can't manage in Washington.

I spent a long time today hiking and photographing earlier and when I headed south I got caught in some unexpected housing problems: in Forks all of the available rooms are tied up by a movie crew that is shooting in the Hoh Rainforest. I figured (wrongly, it turned out) that a short drive down the south would turn up a room. There was an absolutely beautiful lodge along the shore a couple of hours back but I turned my nose up at it because there were no phones in the rooms. So here I sit in Pacific Beach , also without a phone, but in much less attractive surroundings, and far more tired. Live and learn...

Since time wasn't a concern this AM, I spent a bit of extra time in Port Angeles having the oil changed in the car. It is hard for me to believe that I have put 3,000 miles on the car since the last time it was done a few days before leaving Anchorage. The poor car went for almost seven years and still didn't have 30,000 miles on it and now it is getting 3,000 in ten days.

This morning was foggy and misting a bit of rain. That seemed like ideal weather for traveling in the Olympic. On starting out, my plans included going out as far as Neah Bay. In fact I didn't know it was possible to go any further. Luckily it was and I was able to really get to the edge of America to make my start. Driving out toward Neah Bay took me through some wonderful areas. Some of them appeared to just be exploding with plant ife, showing every imaginable shade of green in every direction. It seemed that anything that wasn't able to get out of the way wound up covered in moss and ferns. Even the still-living trees has moss over every surface and ferns growing out of their trunks. Dead and dying trees had the added burden of epiphytic "Spanish" moss (calling it that out here doesn't seem quite proper, but I don't have another term for it).

Upon getting to Neah Bay I discovered that roads of sorts went further out the peninsula toward Cape Flattery ("Nice cape you have there, Marge", "What? This old thing..."). A paved road went out as far as what used to be an old Air Force station until the 1970's but which is now part of the Makah Indian reservation. Beyond that the road was gravel/dirt and pretty nasty in places but still passable. Eventually the road ended at trailhead many miles from Neah Bay (the technical term for this distance is "waythehellandgone"). A 1 mile round-trip hike leads to the actual cape from the trailhead. The hike was not bad going out, being mostly downhill. Of course the way back was not as easy. Add to this the fog, mist , and 100% humidity and I was a pretty damp puppy but the walk was definitely worth the effort. The tribe owns the entire territory and has built paths and walkways where needed to pass through the heavy terrain. The views at the far end are, to say the least, impressive. The trail ends in several cliff overviews in different directions and reveals pounding surf and gigantic sea caves. I'd guess that anybody in reasonable health could make the walk although if you suffer from acrophobia you might want to look elsewhere.

Later in the day I headed south looking for interesting sights along the way. One outstanding place was Rialto Beach. It is somewhat out of the way but is worth the trip. I'd really like to go there and watch the sunset (preferably with somebody warm and cuddly). The setting is perfect and offshore there are a grouping of stack rocks, but unusual ones with trees growing on them.

Because I didn't stay in Forks I continued on my pre-ordained route hoping to find a place to stay. As luck would have it, the route called me away from a likely lodging place and down a lonely road back toward the ocean. Part of my unwritten rules demand that I go toward the water when possible so down the road I went. As luck would have it, the road turned to gravel for ten miles as it wound through a reservation and went on endlessly. And that is the sad tale leading up to my present lodging and lack of communications.

Today's picture is a view from atop Cape Flattery's cliffs of sea caves big enough to hide a large ship in.

Tomorrow morning I will continue down the left edge as we continue on the next leg of our 12,000 mile solo tour driving on the edge of the US. And who knows? I may even find a motel room with a phone to send what I've been writing.


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