Monday, July 19, 2010

The City That Works

This may be a bit scatter-brained, but I'll do my best to organize the past few days, based on region and essentially my path.

Port Angeles/Olympic National Park
So, for my initial southerly route start I decided to head a bit northwest to Port Angeles. That's where it happened..right on US 101: I got pulled over. Well, I should say I just stopped, considering I had been driving on the shoulder already and thus "pulled over". The cop stepped out, asked me where I was going (I sorta lied..I didn't say San Diego. Forks sounded better since it was closer) then told me it's illegal to ride on the shoulder...what? In the state of Washington, mopeds and other small engined vehicles are completely able to ride on ANY road: Interstate, highway ect, but we can't drive on the shoulder. Ever go 30 mph in a car on the interstate and feel like you're going to die? Try it on a moped...not fun. I'll stick to the shoulder. The cop was nice about it though 'cause he knew that I was versed in moped laws (apparently not complete) for the state. A quick exchange of words and some advice later, and he let me on my way. Whew.

Fast forward a bit later, and I arrive in Port Angeles around 7:30pm. The sun was on it's way to bed, and Forks was 57 miles away. I needed a place to stay. Knowing as Port Angeles and, basically every NW Washington town is circling the Olympic National Forest, a place to sleep wasn't far away. A quick google maps search pointed me to a small campground a few miles south of the city. The night passed, pretty uneventful yet peaceful, and I was back on the road the next morning, heading to Forks and La Push. The drive past Lake Crescent rocked my world. 35mph, windy roads, mostly flat or downhill, and it followed the curves of the royal blue glacier-fed lake. Wicked.

Forks/La Push
I'll sort of split this part up, so I can divide my initial disgust of Forks and the unbelievable beauty of La Push.

Forks sucks. It really does. I bet it was a decent little town a few years ago, but this little thing happened involving clumsy hollow-souled girls and scintillating mystical blood-drinking bat men, and Forks went to shit. Let's just say, I saw at least 4 cars pull up to the town sign, only to see a bunch of overweight and/or very young girls hop out of these cars, with their parents following behind with a camera. Yes, we get it.. the city was in a movie. Hooray. Now, here's the disgusting part. The town has Twilight TOURS. It has a shopped based on the movie. The clothing section of the local all-in-one shop is 50% twilight based. The grocery store has a 10x20 section in the front allocated primarily for random Twilight plastic shit. The native american store (quick side note: Forks is located right off an Indian Reservation, so the majority of the locals are Native American) changed it's name to "Native by Twilight". The pharmacy has a large sign outside that says "Bella's First Aid Station". Forks is completely consumed by this stupid movie, and the stupid people who traveled there for the soul reason of seeing the actual town in the movie. Dumb, very dumb. I was glad to head out.

Now, onto La Push. Holy crap. I've never seen a beach so amazing. Now, I've spent my fare share of time on the beach, but nothing anything like this. The most notible difference between an east coast beach and La Push would have to be the huge rock structures about 1/8th of a mile off the sand. They're just massive chunks of earth, some a couple hundred feet tall, with trees and other vegitation growing on (most of) them. This isn't my picture, but decent.

The beach itself was incredibly diverse as well. Near the water was a very fine, dark grey sand..not the yellowy sand I'm used to. Walk about 10 feet, and the sand turns to billions upon billions of perfectly smooth rocks that vary in size from a pencil eraser to an ostrich egg. They form the majority of the beach. Now, at one point in the past, mother nature must have chose La Push beach as a graveyard for trees, because they littered the beach. It was very tricky to navigate some of the ~100 year old trees that had turned white from the countless years of sun and salt water. They must have been on the beach for many, many years (not even going to guess) considering some of the huge trees just sort of disappeared into the sand. It was, to say the least, a breathtaking view. Pictures will be uploaded later, sorry.

That night, I headed to the Mora campground, not too far from the shore. My intention was to simply set up my hammock, and fall asleep as soon as possible. I was beat. Little did I know, but a few short hours later I would be back on the beach. Right as I went to locate the bathroom before my early slumber, a kid intercepted me with a simply but almost unwanted inquiry. "Yo, wanna hang out?". Ugh, At this point I had no intentions of making conversation with a random 17 year old drinking a Rainier beer. Since I'm not a total ass, I obliged and we started talking about random stuff. He offered a beer and well, I drank it. Sue me. His uncle showed up at the camp site a few minutes later after running so errands, and we started talking. Turns out they were trying to do a west coast tour but bouncing from river to river to kayak, but plans changed. Skip ahead to a 12 pack of beer being gone, and we're headed to La Push again with another 12 pack and the intentions of setting things ablaze. At this point the sun had already gone down but the beach was still bright due to the moonlight. Somehow we made it over the piles of dead trees and onto a small clearing where we proceeded to create a huge bonfire and enjoy some beer. I slept well that night, and awoke smelling of bonfires. Never could have seen that coming, but it was truly a good time.

Heading south from Forks was really great. The landscape changes so smoothly here, from small farm to dense woods, to meadows of small wildflowers and lavender. The only thing that ruined the drive, besides the frigid air, were the clear cut forests and mountain sides. Yes, they're replanting the trees, but it ruins the beauty of the area when you suddenly come across the remenants of a forest.

Ocean Shores
Many hours later, I arrived in Ocean City, WA (basically part of Ocean Shores, WA). At first, it was oddly similar: a 2 lane highway right down the middle with a bunch of dinky motels on the side of the road..and a few car shells in yards. Upon reaching the center of the town, I was blown away. It was like somebody had picked OCMD up, got rid of the huge hotels and duplicate shops, smashed it, and threw it across the country. OC WA is a miniature OCMD. Scary. The beaches were cold and the cloud coverage was solid, so there aren't any pictures. Quite frankly, they'd have been extremely boring photos without the assistance of photoshop.

Camping here sucks. All the sites in the state park were consumed by RVs and families with loud smelly children. The hotels in town were asking $100+ a night, and the ones outside town (that basically were sheds with lights) wouldn't go below $60. I'm cold, I'm sore from the 110+ miles I just rode, and I really needed sleep.

The lady at the Best Western saved me though. She pointed me towards this older hotel called the Sands Hotel not more than 3 blocks away, claiming they'll have cheaper rates. I show up and manage to chatter my inquiry on price and room availability to the lady at the front desk, and she said "$58". Sold. I needed the sleep bad. Then she proceeds to point me in the direction of the heated pool, hot tubs, and inform me of the breakfast that'll be waiting for me in the morning. I nearly jumped for joy, considering I'd been sleeping outside for a while and hadn't slept too well. Despite not having a bathing suit, my sorry ass was in that hot tub in no time flat, and what a relief it was. The breakfast wasn't that bad either..nothing fancy, but good. Finally, a nice warm place to sleep without working for it (I cranked the thermo up to 85. Oooh yea). Up early to start a long day.


There isn't too much to say about the first three towns, except I'm mad that Aberdeen changed their sign and removed the Nirvana quote. (It said, "Welcome to Aberdeen - Come as you are") For those of you confused, Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic were both born here and formed Nirvana here. Oh well. Nothing else was too note-worthy, except how lame Tokeland was (minus the llamas!) and the sun drenched field + sausage sandwiches of Raymond. The story gets interesting in Astoria, OR.

After not finding a camp site near Long Beach, I figured I'd keep heading south and hop over into Oregon. Very glad I did. Right as I was coming up to the bridge, I noticed the clouds and how it was odd they just stopped. I pulled over to get a better look, when I saw a great scene: The sun was shining bright to the west, and the clouds were completely covering the sky to the east of me. It was like a great wall of clouds with a very defined edge. The sun was beautifuly reflected off the water, while the moon began to appear while it was still light out. It was like a cheesy painting.

Upon crossing the amazing bridge and arriving in downtown Astoria, my search began. #1 Find a suitable camping area, which I found a few (one on this hill with about 2 occupied houses, and 15 destroyed ones..creepy) and #2 Find a brewery. Good beer was needed. I hunted down Fort George brewery, only a few blocks from where I had stopped, and headed that way. I got some strange looks from the Oregon hip kids as I wheeled my moped onto the sidewalk, but at this point I'm used to it. One excellent IPA later, and the topic of my journey came up while talking to the bartenders. Next thing I know, a regular comes in (well, he new everyone's name so I figured he's either there all the time or really creepy) and comments about live music at the little granola (thanks Mary Lackey) coffee shop next door. Obviously I went over, and glad I did. There were three people backed into the corner of this shop with just 1 microphone, an upright bass, guitar, and an accordian. They played a few originals, and were amazing. They had this beautiful harmonious sound to all of their songs..kinda hard to explain, but in short, they were really good. I began talking to the bass player about music and such, and eventually my journey came up as a topic. Before I knew it, I was getting directions to a local camping area on the beach deemed "stinky beach". Add that to my list of places to stay.

Before I headed off to sleep on redneck ridge, I stopped in to use the restroom at the bar. At this point, one of the bartenders had clocked out and was drinking a beer. He inquired, "So you're really taking that thing down to San Diego?". An obvious answer and a complimentary beer later, and I've been invited to bar hop then go to a party...not to mention two more places to stay that night. I have to admit, it was extremely generous of Caz to allow me to crash at his place that night. Maybe they were just scared for me sleeping in that rundown redneck village!

Portland: My current residence
Another long drive through the woods spit me out in the heart of Portland. I didn't waste much time before zipping around corners and down streets just to see different parts of the city, right around the highway exit. It had been 5 minutes and I was loving it. I finally called August and Emily to let them know of my arrival, then somehow made my way across town to their house. They invited me in, took my bags for me then handed me a nalgene-shaken gin martini. Rad. We ended up discussing nature, religion and existentialism on the porch for an hour or so, before hunger took over and we headed to Whole Foods. (Side-note: The whole foods here are amazing. There are bike themed images strewn through the store, and even a bike hanging from the ceiling). Chicken, BBQ sauce, corn, Kale, local beer and a mini grill consumed the next chunk of time, deliciously so. After hanging out and talking a bit more, August had a great idea to get on the bikes and go catch the sunset on top of this old volcano about two miles away. They let me ride a Kona cyclocross singlespeed, which was awesome. Turns out it's the same bike I WAS going to buy, then decided on the Specialized. The climb up the mountain was quite a work out, but a good one. I'm out of shape already! The scenes from the top were kinda crowded with trees, but still really cool. Seeing the sun set over the whole city, and having Mt Hood in the background is really beautiful. I did have a deep moment while sitting on the grass above the resevoir. I realized I'd LOVE to live in Portland, but the idea of settling in somewhere seems really unattractive to me at this point. Maybe that'll fade, but it really was a powerful dislike at the idea of establishing a permanent resident. But, after bombing down the hills and grabbing a slice of pizza, we made it back home.

Tomorrow will bring a day and night of exploration, but for now it's time to explore my dreams. Goodnight.

p.s. Tunnels are wicked fun

1 comment:

  1. P-Dawg...when it's all said and done, you can always come back to live in portland. i think its a lovely idea personally. silverdale misses you.