A little bit behind the journal entries. These shall be my “Photo for the Day” for a wee bit:
I pull the covers over my tarnished black legs. At my feet it reads “God Bless America”. Lady Liberty’s flames rub my ballsack. How appropriately you act, my dear femme fatale. Unlike last night, the room is heated and in the same quarters as the couch surfer host. There are no dead flies on this bed and I feel safe to use the various pieces of the bed as what shall keep me warm through the night, rather than a bunch of misrepresented bedding I will try to avoid. When did I last write? Who knows. I am certain I wrote in Townsend…yes…as I stole Quimper’s signal. Good times. Never did go into any shops in Port Townsend. This trip is prepping me for my inability to see it all on the second bike trip. I have no time. I did, for your Global AFCers, have time to do quite a bit of work finding accommodations. More to follow on that front.
Port Townsend was gorgeous. The rest of the day I wandered by bike, following the historic map up Washington Street and Lawrence Street, passed the old warning bell for the fire bragade, passed the unimpressive Rothchild’s house and the unpink Pink House. Try to fit that court house in a shot is a ridiculous task that I absolved myself of by clickity clacking it in portions. Bumped into a lady who invited for internet and spoke about the marvels of wifi. I mistook their movie theatre for a theatre theatre. A man going uphill stopped to explain how great this town in and how when he broke up with his girlfriend he lived at the homeless shelter. I believe just because through break up your house broken, doesn’t you don’t have a pot to piss in. Quite the opposite if you think deep.
The post office was an amazing stone building that seemed a bit to large for this town. Imposing and physically astounding, the former customs house occupied my last 15 before returning to the bus depot to return to Discovery Bay. The millions of numbered cash boxes, the wood liquered panelling, the augmented glass windows, the natural light created skinny half oval pillars of brightness on the ground. I explored, but felt that odd feeling you get when you go into closed door rooms of other people’s houses. Fascinating and overwhelming.
I came home. Shot the shit with Andrew. He showed me the Llamas, a baby goat…
Longest day of my life. Worried that people think I am dead. I am NOT dead. Internet tomorrow to insure that death has not occured. No pictures. Nothing. Biked 100 miles to insanity. Never again…I think the stupid Google Earth sucks teste. Saw lots through Joyce and Sekiu and…..need to rethink trip as I cannot ever do this again. Going to bus at least to Forks tomorrow. Its not cheating…most people do not come out this way. Makah Tribe. Night night.
A day was lost due to scarcity of life left in my loins. Yesterday took my body to a wonderful new place I have never been before. Apologize for my summation of the events that occurred…this past night I have slept in the Forks visitor centre. And much to my own choosing, since I refuse to give a cent to a motel that I will only occupy for 5 or so hours. First daylight and I am gone…gone…gone. I have no real idea as to the next stop, I am trying to hit Taholah. Oh…I slept outside for a bit….damn shoes suck and the water pants froze me even more…the sweat from two days ago’s epics still seeps in its pores. I chose to reside here due to helpful tip from the lovely server at Fork’s Pacific Pizza. I ate a personal pan for no reason. I wasn’t hungry. I am spending cash like a rabid dog…10 bux a day…10 bux a day…I keep trying to convince myself that such frugality is possible with how I want to do this trip. Again, I feel, no avail will come to it at all. I am finally heading down down down after a treacherous day up up up.
Two days ago I did 100 miles in a day. From Sequim, I rode the Discovery Trail to Port Angeles…where it failed…I took it all the way to a split in the ocean that lead to a dead ender at the Nippon Paper Mill. Span around, up a hill, left on 18th, and onto 12 to take my chances with that callus road. That be a road I shall never forget as long as I live. No shoulder, up hills and down hills, twirling and twirling, truckers honking, tempting beaches, warning go 25mi, walking when my knees eroded. Finally, at 7:30, I pulled into Neah Bay…..made it to the Tyee Motel, pulled myself under the awning, near the sign that says “if you need a room, call Cary” and placed my 50 cents in a pay phone and called Vicki, a couch surfer who lived this way. After several attempts….tada…Vicki pulled up in her car and I followed her to Hemlock Road, to Nursery Road, to Hemlock Road, last house on your right.
She gave up her own bed so I could pass out. She fed me Elk Soup and wouldn’t have it any other way.
The next day I awoke. I discussed Makah History with Vicki. She explained how the language was being kept alive and about how her different parts of her family looked at religion, the advent of Catholism, the different parts of where the Makah would roam, the mudslides at Ozette that covered the town for 500 years, the goats that mysteriously appeared on the small Wadah Island and their eventual escape over a rock jetty built to protect the bay. She spoke about the Coast Guard that use to live on Tatoosh Island, a girl named Vicki who she looked up to in elementary school, her grandfather that would teach her to live off the land and her sons who fought and put holes in the walls. She went on about drugs, a Native Art, and her laugh sang to me its own tales. I went to the Makah Museum and learned about the covered Ozette site, where over 50,000 Makah artifacts were found, preserved for 500 years by a mudslide. A whale from the 1999 whaling incident hangs from the ceiling, long canoes sit below it. A long house in its entirety sits in the centre of the museum, built to perfection. I walked the town, bought a note book, listened to people interact…tried to get smoked salmon, but the guy only had tuna. Albert, one of Vicki’s 5 children, showed me how to put up a tent. Simple enough. At 7 I left on a bus to Forks and here I am. Today is a new day at 6am. Gonna try to sleep for 2 hours. Tata.
With Southbend in my rearview (figuratively speaking) and only a few towns ahead til the end of Washington, I set my sights on the town of Ilwaco. Unfortunately, due to a late start and my wandering soul’s good intentions to take everything in, Ilwaco was not where I would end up that night.
Passing the 4,000 intertidal mudflats, the numerous shells strewn about by accident or by design, put this part of the world’s secret on display. The Willapa oyster, smoked, friend or cooked, a gumbo, a burger or raw, was apparently the creme de la creme of oysters. That’s quoting a local resident. Despite what the episode may say, I did for lunch have a fried Willapa oyster burger, and while yes, I’d rather have breaded fish or beef between those two buns, this was pretty damn good with homemade tartar sauce.
So yes! No Ilwaco, yes to some random town called Naselle that had not much more than a shopping centre, a church, a gas station and a motel for 30 bucks a night. After sneaking my bike in the room (they had told me I could keep it outside…if I had to argue for it’s right to stay inside like people due, I would have seemed a bit off), I went to the a-joint restaurant/pub/karaoke bar for some eats and a beer to wind down. Lucky for me, it was karaoke night and in a small town like this one could only imagine the wonderfully unique inebriated locals that would come spitting their sorrows into a song. Well tonight was a good night, because it seemed to be biker night. Not just any type of biker, but as I sat at the bar conversing with the bartender a wide-stanced shadow lured me to see who had entered into our midst. There stood the large sized lot, posed like a pose take a photo, tattoos faded, masses of blotchy colors, hair blowing in the wind. Drinks were consumed like bullets from firing squads, laughs drowned out conversation, slaps on the back would have hospitalized me. Their women sat on their laps, my knees hurt from thinking about such weight situated on my frail frame. Nothing was frail about these ladies, their saliva was iron ore, their sweat was ethanol, their glance made doors where walls once were. Then the singing commenced. Duets, solos, manage a trois, a guy constantly laughing and talking to his friends instead of singing, you name it, it happened. A large man, who reminded me of Gimli from Lord of the Rings, perched tidiously on his stool beside me, the leather screatching beneath him as he swivelled to catch the performance. We talked, I don’t remember about what, partly because it was about nothing, partly because his English has turned into slurred jargon. He introduced me to “Bill, Ted, Ryan, Ethol” a slew of characters from his motley crew. It was his turn to sing, he stared at me for support, so I sang loud too, not knowing what the hell I was singing. He asked where I was staying.
“Right here, at the Inn”
“Wellllll….whhhhhy don’t you come stay with uuuussss??”
“Well, thank you, but I already paid for my room”
“I can take care of that”
Not wanting him to take care of that or me or anything, I slowly slunk out, like Alice at the tea party and passed out in my room, exhausted and beer smelling.
The next day I packed, returned my key and zooooom, I was on the Columbia River, one of the widest rivers in the US, Oregon was on the other side, but it was still a world a way. Many boats over the centuries have been engulfed by this moody body of water and I saw a few victims washed up on the shore. Lewis and Clark, the great explorers almost died in the Columbia several times. I tried to imagine crossing such distance in a canoe. I looked at my arms. Not much there, I would probably have capsized two strokes in. In boats, unlike bicycles, there are no downhills, no cruising. And before me stood my only way across this monstrosity of H2O that separated the two states. The Megler Bridge, one of the largest bridges in the states, over 4 km in length, I wasn’t really sure if bikes were allowed to be on it. Well, there wasn’t really an information booth insight, unless I wanted to round the bend, go in the wrong direction, back to Ilwaco. To hell with it, it was windy, so might as well throw caution to it and see where it flies. And fly I did, cars zoomed passed me, my camera tried to capture the moment I crossed over the boarder, you barely can make out the Oregon sign. Winds tried to hurl me off the side into the blue below. Not a single car honked, so I knew I was in the clear on that front. I wasn’t in the clear for many other fronts. Headwind tried to blow me back into Washington as well. The clouds were heavy and looked like at any moment they would unleash, slickening this already terrifying crossing. At the last moment, the bridge turned upward, into a steep incline. So this is where the boats go under….so happy it’s at the end and so suddenly. My legs screamed at the sudden hill, my hands worked quickly, changing my gears around so I could manage. There was no possible way I could stop and readjust. Finally, the incline, declined. I was in Astoria. I was in Oregon.
Washington had been my learning curve of the basics of touring. Oregon would be the intermediate and hard level as the landscape turned into a roller coaster of peaks, cliffs and gullies. As I sat in a coffee shop, staring at the poster proclaiming that Ninja Turtles had been shot in this town, I thought of how great this trip has been a rekindling my inner child, how much fun it was to play again, how one should never loose this light, this light that keeps one exploring, and wondering and being curious about all things, making the world new everyday.
I am stealing Internet from Quimper Sound. I am a rebel in a red scarf serenaded by a guitar that wales out from a door. Across the street a reputed film house, The Rose Theatre, apparently makes the best popcorn in town. I may have to sample it, since in Coupeville, yesterday, I had the best Cornbeef Coprocon Potatoes, Soda Bread…..and ONIONS in town.
I sit on the sidewalk of Port Townsend, the dubbed “New York of the West” in the earlier part of the century. Due to Seattle’s coal, drunken sailors and a lack of railroad tracks, the town is a ghost of what could have been, what should have been. Nestled across from Keystone Point, the town is beautiful, the facades are multicolored sunwashed, the temperature is matched in brightness, the people smile and say hello. Some clickity clack heels of some odd women breaks my thought. I stare at my reflection in the computer screen. Handsome devil on a bike. Love it. I am going all the way…San Diego here I come. I can do it now….not before…but now I have the ball rolling and the inertia will take me there.
The days are to get longer, harder, faster ridden. Today I will sit and chill with Andrew on his dog farm. We talked about his career as an actor late last night, about the film he had made in Romania called Hideous, about the money he had to smuggle, 20,000, that he was laundering for them into Romania, about the toxic fluid scene he shot with real mercury, about the lover he met, staying 4 extra days in the Ladlmum Hotel in Bucharest to be with. We ate break, drank wine and soup, and laughed. We went back to his farm on discovery road and he showed me into the guest room, a bed covered in flies he wiped clean. His place was a single wide, which is a wheeled in home, which he retorted after I asked, “You really are a city boy, all hicks live in these.” I fell asleep to the sound of his 5 or 6 Turkish pups outside, llamas…..and frogs. Today…biked into town, visited townhall, talked to the curator for 97 hours about town history….now its time to end abruptly to go explore as the bus leaves back to discovery bay at 5:55 and I cannot miss it,
Hell on Earth. I am a man of little faith, admittedly so. But man am I happy that hell exists for me to use it as for the descriptive purpose of summing up the worst day I have ever been on a bike. No sugar coating it, no looking on the bright side, so thinking of the starving kids in some less fortunate setting, no. All I could think about was how am I going to make it out of this endless climb and rain and speed demon logger trucks.
There is very little footage of that day. In fact, after I left Port Angeles with an unexpected amount of miles to cover, the next time I turned on the camera was late in the evening, standing half nude, eyes ablaze, red, body swollen, staring at a reflection of myself in a mirror, as if I was a cat or bird who had no concept of self.
It was all in the poor planning, which something I will note in my tips section of this site. Long story short, I ended up on a weaving loggers road, where big ass trucks whizzed by, drivers on triple overtime shifts, beeping at this pea sized biker (me) and almost several times knocking me off the side of the cliff lipped coastal switchbacks. In the back of my mind the voiceover for the monster truck infomercials kept playing as each barreling, multi wheel bullet shot by. I mapped 100 km, which turned into 140km. Rain made the roads slicks, and me a lot slower. My legs pleaded with me to throw in the towel, but my freeze corpse whinnied my chariot onwards. For some reason, I don’t recollect eating a thing. I remembering using a nameless pub as a rest stop, so I could stand in front of air dryer for a few moments to thaw.
A paper mill, a hill, more houses, road, another town, another hill, 45 more trucks. Then, the mile markers ended. The mile markers, small stubby white sticks at the side of the road, with black numbers etched into them that count the miles til the end of the road and in this case to the place I was trying to get to, Neah Bay. I looked, I searched, but no more were to be found. Where was Neah Bay? Maybe a mirage on a map, an ancient city that the forest has reclaimed. Curse you Google Earth. I turned 180 to stare at my load. My blue tarp, drenched and shining, would provide me with ample cover. I stopped at a well, thicketed turnpike. There was barely enough room, but I think I could do it. My eyes welled with tears and the salt from the sea burnt my face, into my brain. This would be a terrible sleep or more specifically a bit of shelter until the rain and trucks let off. If they ever let off. A sudden veto, pushed me a few more miles and thankfully a town emerged, twinkling lights of a waning day welcomed me in.
I had no address, but found a pay phone at the one, the only, the Tye Motel. Hiding under the lip of the small bent out of recognition, rain gutter, I shoved my scummy last quarter into the well used rotary time relic and slowly dialled the numbers. Couchsurfer Vicki answered. She asked where I was. Tye Motel. Well let me lead your vehicle to my place. I don’t have a vehicle. How did you get here? bicycle. Hang up. She gave up her bed so that I would have a warm sleep. She fed me elk soup. She said I was to never bike on that road again. Not even her grandfather, who would walk everywhere would set foot on that road. Sleep.
The next day, bright and early ,I was up. Vicki said….no, ordered that I was to stay the day in town and learn about the Makah Tribe, of which she was part of and who were the people of this land. With a past that extends back to the dawn of time, She told me many stories about the goats of Wada Island, the lighthouse operator and many other tales of peril and survival of living on the most Northwest tip of America. Before I left, I meekly asked her son to help me figure out my tent. He didn’t need to figure it out, he knew. With a smirk on his face, he showed me the paint by numbers version of how to set it up. Then I was off.
I explored the art of the people at someone’s private home gallery. A sign read please ring the bell. I did and I was let into a single room, full of brightly colored oil paintings of fishing and hunting, hats of earth tones made of bark from local trees. The Makah museum informed of a town near by Ozete, that had had a mudslide and had resurfaced and had excavated in the 70s. 100 of relics painted a beautiful picture of a very distinct and proud nation of hunters and whalers. I sat inside of a reconstructed log house and stared out the window at a fake ocean scene. If someone was teleported here from the past of anytime that had lived in this area, the only thing that stays somewhat constant in character is the sea. Interesting how much cosmetic work we have put into our cities and landmasses. To what avail? To make it our own? Nature seems more individualistic than anything else could be, from humans to drops of water. Too many surgeries, our planet looks fake, over prothesised and all the same.
I purchased a bumper sticker to put on the Klalita. She looked so pretty with it on, I blushed for her. Evening was slowly making it’s lumbering way in. I returned to Vicki’s home to say my goodbyes to her and her family. She was my mother for a mere two days, but her impact and kindness and big heart will be something I will never forget. One of those wonderful people that description does no justice describing. She alone is worth a trip, by car or bus, the mythical shores of that enchanting other realm.
Onto the bus…vrooooom! I was in Forks. It was the dead of a cold night when I arrived. I emphasize dead and will continue to make vampire references throughout this paragraph, much to most people who read this’s chagrin. I bet not a person with braces reads my posts. Anyways, why vampires? Well if you love the Lights (the solo artist) and have just acquired a low voice (still with occasional pitch problems) and/or have a Chris Brown moustache, then you know that Forks is where the Twilight Series takes place. Art here, does not imitate life, but the other way around. That movie MADE Forks. Vampire pizzas. Vampire road signs. Even a guy selling wet kindle, saying it will “ward off the dark forces”. Wow. The kindling was tempting to buy, but I restrained myself, as I needed to find a place to sleep.
Picking up some vampire pizza, which tasted as bland as Robert Patteson’s character, I got a lead that the Forks visitor centre is left open at night and was heated. So to the visitor centre I went and made my bed on a bench, across from a snoring burly road worker, who smelled of a couple rounds to many to get back to his wife. The next day it was up with the sun again and off down the road to Amanda Park.
Stopped in Klalaloch for food. Curiosity of the odd had be follow a sign a few kilometers off course. The sign said “Big Tree” and I was curious as to what makes this tree worthy of a sign. Unfortunately the only way I could tell THE tree from all the other trees in the Hoh Rainforest was a placard below with a very distinct arrow pointing to it. The arrow almost seemed to expect that you were looking for Waldo in a forest full of waldos. So, saw the uninspiring tree. Thought positively about deforestation for a second and then I was on my way. Amanda Park was a trust exercise. A leap of truck faith and thank goodness trucks aren’t that sketchy looking thief at the beginning of the Aladdin movie or this story would have never been told (probably would have cut off my ear, cuz they didn’t like my face…it’s barbaric, but hey, it’s home). Check it out: