When you’re a solo traveller, the only thing that’s going to try to undress you is the wind. Read about day one of my last epic road trip as the High-Functioning Hobo: Vancouver Island to the Hoh National Rainforest. It was nippy.
Miles driven: 104
The border officers in Victoria looked like they’d all just come from auditions at a Super Troopers casting session. The one I got was a cock who asked purposefully ambiguous questions. Despite being accused of being an international spy/reporter, I got a stamp in my passport and was allowed on the ferry.
When we docked in Port Angeles, the mountains that I’d gazed at across the strait for over a year seemed a lot less foreboding up close. Token taxidermy and a heightened sense that anyone around me could be carrying a gun had me satisfied I was once again in the land of the free and after a chat with one of the friendly employees at the Olympic NP visitor’s centre, I was the proud new owner of an America the Beautiful annual parks pass. Free of charge, he also tipped me off on the cheapest fuel in the state, a couple miles down the road on the edge of a reservation.
I made a quick stop at a roadside viewpoint to take in the white caps on Lake Crescent while icy wind whipped my hair across my face and drew tears from my eyes. My next stop was Rialto Beach, the elephant graveyard… another tip off from the visitor’s centre dude who said to avoid La Push beach because the parking lot is crawling with thieves. As someone who ordinarily likes to throw caution to the wind, I heeded his advice on account of the entirety of my belongings being in the back of my car.
The bleached bones of giants stacked high up on the beach and provided nature’s climbing playground as well as plenty of photo opportunities for the handful of visitors. If there was any bird song that afternoon, you wouldn’t hear it over the foaming crush assaulting the shore. One giant that must have stood more than 100m (328ft) tall back when it was a tree lay in endless repose as ashen timber on a bed of rocks, each one smoothed perfectly for skippin’—were the sea kind enough to calm down for the occasion.
I drove on to the Hoh National Rainforest and parked up in the campsite for the night. Dinner… was not a success. I ran out of propane and ate warm half-cooked rice and quinoa. The veggies I chopped were returned to the fridge and my big plans for a cheese toastie and a cup of tea for breakfast were ruined. I parked up 100m from the river and crawled into the nest I’d created in the back of my car for an early night. The day had started out with blue skies and ended in a shroud of low fog, rain and kinda crunchy quinoa. Welcome to the PNW.