Day Sixteen – September 25, 2012

Travel

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Tonight I sit looking at an incredible railroad bridge in Railroad Bridge Park that crosses the Dungeness River here in Sequim (pronounced “Skwim”). The bridge is incredibly built from giant beams from the big ass trees up here. The bridge is actually part of the Olympic Discovery Trail that goes from Sequim to Port Angeles. I may have to get my bike over here after I get all the crap out of my car so I can haul it. It looks like a beautiful ride or hike.

I spent today discovering things around the area and getting my insurance changed and my Washington driver’s license. I am officially no longer a Colorado resident, even though I have not been one for nearly three weeks. I have to wait a few weeks to get tags due to the taxes… long story that I will not bore you with the details of. I found the ferry harbor that goes to Canada when I was in Angeles getting my DL and registering to vote. I found other interesting places to boot.

There are many types of wood available in this area

Here in Sequim there are a lot of businesses – Costco, Walmart, at least 3 or 4 major grocery stores, plenty of dining choices from fast to casual (and others that I have not yet discovered yet)… a lot to choose from for a lot of things. I like it here already. It is laid back but different than mountain towns. Kind of an interesting cross between an ocean town and a mountain town. Gotta find a chiro and/or massage therapist tomorrow.

Everyone up here that I dealt with today is very nice. DL line went fast and the people behind the desk were patient and nice to deal with and did not mind having a conversation with you. That was a nice change from what we dealt with in CO.

It was a perfect day here today – sunny and just beautiful. You can definitely feel the difference over by the Refuge… it is much cooler over there.

Well back to the trailer for the night. Getting cold in shorts and a t-shirt here by the river and I need to fix some dinner. Just wanted to post a few updates where I had good signal to do it.

Day Fifteen – September 24, 2012

Travel

I hated to leave this place today, but I have to try to go a bit further in order to get to my new place early enough to get things done before I start. I really had thought about doing a hike today and spendng one more night, but I think I should head out and see another place today.

I WILL be back here without a doubt. This has become one of my new favorite parks, and joins Zion, Mt. St. Helens, and Denali in that club. To walk through the rainforest was incredible. I kept expecting dinosaurs and Jeff Goldblum to appear from nowhere. All I would ask for is Laura Dern and that would suffice.

It was a drizzly, gray morning, but mild temperature-wise. I am not sure of my next destination, but am looking at the map trying to decide. A quick breakfast and I am on the road again.

I get closer to the coast and the wind picks up a bit and it cools down a little more. I am still on US 101 and it is a wonderful, relaxing drive thatbends up hugging the shoreline of this large, deep turquoise blue, gorgeus mountain lake. I stopped to get gas and got gouged for $4.57 a gallon. Effing bastards.

I finally decide to just push on to Sequim, where my new job is. This gives me plenty of time to get my business taken care of and to clear up any problems in time that may arise so I can vote. It is a beautiful area, with farmland sandwiched between the mountains and the water.

Sequim, WA

I show up, introduce myself, and get introduced to my new co-workers in the office and was shown around the facilities a bit. Imneeded my new address for mail and got that, then I got some local info on where to go and get tags and such and left… but not before going to look at the refuge.

The trail leading to the Refuge was thick with trees, ferns, and plants of all sorts. It was a beautiful walk and took me right past my new home – the caretaker cabin. It looks very cozy from the outside and I cannot wait to see it on the inside.

Main Trail

This is my commute every day

Caretaker cabin

This is home for the next 6 months

I walked on down the trail and the trees started to open up into sky so I knew I was getting closer. I went a bit farther and got my first glimpse of The Dungeness Spit, the main part of the Refuge. It was absolutely beautiful. I am so very fortunate to get this opportunity.

I walked on down onto it and there are huge driftwood trees on the shore. They are really huge peices of driftwood. Looking way out on the end of the spit I could see the lighthouse. It is a long way out there, and I will make the trek to it at least once before I leave here.

Driftwood on The Spit – DNWR

I went into the town of Sequim and looked around and got my address changed so I should get a huge stack of mail shortly since mine has been on hold for three weeks. It is a big town – well, in relation to Bailey, anyhoo. It has a main street full of businesses of every sort. Found places that I need to visit tomorrow, such as State Farm and Wells Fargo.

After that, I came back to the county park next to the Refuge and got the trailer parked for the last few nights of camping in it. It has been a blast and a real experience. There may be a few more nights out in it before my parents come get it next Spring, but our extensive travel together is pretty much done and it has served me well. Any other trips will be weekend runs to the NW coast, but there is. Lot to see and do just a short drive away for a few hours and I can come back home that night.

I am going to really enjoy this new job, and Washington is now my new home. I traveled around and saw many places, but this state has a lot to offer. Who knows? I might just stay here.

Day Fourteen – September 23, 2012

Travel

Camping by the Hoh River – Olympic National Park

Tonight I sit on the banks of the Hoh River in Olympic National Park – one more place I can check off of my bucket list! It is a milky blue-gray from the glacial deposits and is quite relaxing to be camping next to. I finally am able to have a fire, so I had a burger and cooked some diced potatoes up with butter, onions, and spices. A damn tasty and filling meal. I am keeping the fire going as long as I can – not much wood to burn and they are not selling any.

Last night was just a place to stay on the way to get here. I have always wanted to see the Olympic Peninsula, and I have not been disappointed. I got my first full view of the Pacific Ocean on this trip today as the highway went right along the edge of the water. I stopped and took a walk on the beach. It was good to see it again – it has been a while. Made a few other stops along the way to see some things and hike a bit. Saw a giant Sitka spruce (I think that is what it was). The roots and the base of the tree looked like something out of Middle Earth. It was surreal.

And even more surreal was the songs that came up on shuffle on the way as I was driving. I had the iPhone going through my stereo, and the first song was a Pink Floyd song. Not too strange, but then the strangest thing happened. Three road songs in a row: “Movin’ On” by Missouri (a midwest band from the 80s), “End of the Road” by Eddie Vedder from the “Into the Wild” soundtrack, and “Back on the Road Again” by REO Speedwagon. It was obviously a day meant for a drive.

I got to the campground here early in the afternoon and got everything in its place, had lunch, then took off for a hike. Ended up doing about two miles, maybe a hair over. Walked through parts of the rain forest and it is almost scary looking in places. Enormous trees with moss and lichens hanging off of them. They said the trees average about 220 feet, but some grow to 300. It makes you feel pretty small on this earth walking amongst them. It is just incredible to see, and even if you cannot walk far you can still see a lot by just walking a short trail.

A nice morning shot

A nice morning shot

Back to the fire… Rather interesting that I was told it was okay to scavenge wood in the park. I have NEVER been told to do that ever. National Parks do not let you do that that I have ever seen.

Later, I ran into a guy and let him know this about the wood. He said he had brought some, and that I could go by his site and get a bundle from him since this is is last night out.

I went by and we talked a bit. His name is Willie, and he is a young guy, maybe about 30. He came from Maryland to Seattle via college in Wisconsin. We had a good chat, then I grabbed the firewood and we parted ways. The few people I have actually met and talked with during my travels have been very nice people.

I can tell that I have lost a few pounds so far. Not as many as I need or want to lose, but I can tell that they are going away slowly. I have been doing a lot more walking/hiking and some bike riding almost every day. I am also not eating as much so I just gotta keep it up on all levels and I will get there. There is much less stress so that is a big help in many ways.

Day Thirteen – September 22, 2012

Travel

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Tonight I write from my iPad on the shores of Lake Quinault, pictured above. I have enough 3G service to post to the blog, but the app on here is quite a different beast than the web app so I will have to fix it up with the map and more pics when I get WiFi again. Someone is hitting trees with a stick and it is pissing me off. I want solitude, but between that and the people next to me that will not shut up their screaming kid I am about to yell. The dad oughta be a dad and do something to help somehow, but he does not appear to care for fatherhood much. He is out walking around while the mom is doing all the work. What a bastard.

A cool, damp, yet beautiful morning here in the Pacific Northwest this morning. Just a few clouds in the sky, so a good day to look at the car again. It is acting a bit funny again so I bought a spark plug a fees days ago to have as a spare so I am going to go ahead and put it in when the sun warms and dries things out a bit. If that doesn’t fix it it might be the coil on the spark plug. Damn cars sure have changed under the hood the last few years. I have had new cars the last several and have not had to work on them. Quite a surprise to put a wrench to one now. I got the plug changed after a little fight, but it seems to be working better now.

Broke down last night and took a shower at the campground. I do not usually do the public shower things, but this is a small, quiet place and is pretty clean and well-maintained. It was nice to not have to scrimp on water and actually be able to stand in it with it working on my neck. Felt good to be able to do that and take a razor to my face for the first time in a week. I was looking a bit mangier than normal.

The drive along 101 was nice, and so was the cop who pulled me over. I thought it was 65 but I was reminded it was 55 on my invite to the policeman’s ball.

I still have about 4 – 5 days to get to my new job and get settled in, register to vote, car tags, insurance, explore the area to see where the grocery stores, restaurants, and laundromat are at. Seems strange that this part of the adventure is nearly over. I have seen and done a lot in the last 16 days.

It has been an incredible adventure so far. Who knew going to work could be such an awesome commute?

Well, except for the damn speeding ticket…

Day Twelve – September 21, 2012

Travel

Finally, she makes an appearance and in grand style

She bitch-slapped the Pacific Northwest and caused destruction beyond comprehension. Trees were SCORCHED BARE up to 17 miles away. Enough ash was thrown out to fill a football field 150 MILES high. Mt. St. Helens – it has always had a fascination to me. I cannot explain why because I just have no idea why. I remember seeing it on TV as it was happening, and in National Geographic. I have seen movies about it on TV. A co-worker once brought a small container of ash to work that his aunt had sent to him. I remember it was just like talcum powder it was so fine.

When I left the KOA about 8 AM it was 51 degrees, dreary and drizzly. I was not expecting much when I made the hour drive to see her. When I got there I had to dress like I was going skiing – coat, hat, gloves… the works. Spending 16 years in Colorado I got used to dry weather so this is a huge change for me.

It was miserably overcast when I got there – so much so that I thought about just turning around and leaving. Instead, I waited and wandered around for about an hour until the visitor center opened. I am glad I did.

I checked out some exhibits and then watched a couple of 15 minute films about the mountain and am even more fascinated by it now. This is basically taking a piece of Earth, wiping out most everything there, and starting over and watching what happens. If I were looking at biology as a field of study, this is THE place to do just that. One of the videos in there was the guy who took the pictures of the explosion. You have all seen them… they have been put into what looks like a choppy video (and I believe may be some of the few pictures of the actual eruption). He said he took all the pictures and had to manually advance the film between each shot. It had to have been quite a feat to do that amongst all the excitement of what was happening.

I went into the movie theater to watch a couple of films. As I suspected by working in the industry and looking at the curtains with the sunlight translucent through the curtains, after a film is over the screen AND the backing curtain both rise. This gives a dramatic entry to the mountain. When the first film ended the curtain rose to a solid white dense cloud bank. It was rather anti-climactic. However, when the second film was done, the curtain rose once again and the sun was brighter and we could see the top of the mountain poking through the clouds. I dashed outside and stood there in amazement as I watched her partially emerge from the clouds, looking dark, pissed-off, and mean as hell – another, different side of the mountains I had never felt or seen before. I stood there just staring at her, captivated and curious and wanting more. It was a spiritual experience. I looked at the valley below, covered in ash, sediment, and regenerating life. She then pulled the clouds back in and hid a little longer, then emerged a little more than the next time. She repeated this a couple more times and then finally it looked like it would last a while so I hiked down a trail and headed out back to the KOA. I am glad i stayed to see her. I will be back to hike the base, maybe farther.

An interesting thing here in the Pacific Northwest is that there is a National Forest pass that covers parking. I have never seen that before, so I guess that is one more thing I need to get along with a Washington State Parks Pass. I usually buy a National Parks Pass every year, and it pays for itself quickly if you go to 3-4 parks. I bought the Canada National Parks Pass since only four days in Banff costs more than the pass itself (US parks is about $20-$30 for a week of admission, but it was about $20/DAY to visit Canadian parks! OUCH!).

Got back and had a huge salad for lunch. Mighty tasty. I just woke up from the nap I took afterwards. I have not been sleeping like I should and I think all the driving is catching up with me on top of not sleeping in a normal bed for two weeks now. I am getting used to it, but I may need to invest in some good foam cushions for the bed.

Had some good news today. As I sat there waiting for the clouds to part my real estate guy called me and said that we are a go with the bank. Yay! One huge step closer to signing the final papers and the house sale will be done. That should help with the sleeping as well.

More good news… well, for me, anyhoo. I finally have figured out the picture thing. I am trying to get the pages updated.

Tomorrow I leave here, probably headed, as I stated yesterday, toward the coast. I want to get to Olympic and spend a few days there before arriving at the new job. It is not far so I am not sure where i will stop tomorrow night. Might need to make, gasp, a reservation. I might even treat myself to a hotel for a few nights. I have enough points for at least one night, maybe two.