Tall trees, wet roads and even wetter rainforests. Day two of my drive down the we
st coast of Washington state may sound like a slice of hell, but it was actually quite pleasant.
Miles driven: 183
I awoke to the dink dink dink of heavy raindrops landing on the roof after a nine-hour snooze in my heavily-blanketed car cocoon. Breakfast was leftover crunchy rice followed by a banana, and it was sheer willpower that had me slink into my raincoat and unfurl my umbrella for a jaunt through the rainforest.
Sheets of dripping moss hung off the limbs of ancient Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock like nature’s perennial laundry. It felt like I was standing in a moss green art installation and brought back the recurring dream I had as a kid when I’d feel infinitesimally small in my surroundings. My slack-jawed awe walking through this dank terrain was interspersed with equally consuming terror at the thought of running into a bear.
How does one make themselves look big to a bear? How could I feel as big as a bear? Existential questions about my self-worth entwined with the sobering reality in nature’s grandeur, I am the easily-snapped twig. Needless to say I returned unharmed. Fawn and elk grazing near the closed visitor’s centre were entertaining other tourists, and with a racing heart and wringing wet raincoat, I jumped back in my car filled with gratitude for the
walk fearful sprint I made in such a beautiful place.
From the Hoh Rainforest, it was a sodden four hours of watching the wipers push rain across the windshield. I was headed to Long Beach on Highway 101 and on a finer day, there would have been some beautiful detours to take. I only made one, a hasty stop in Kalaloch when I turned sharply at a sign saying Big Cedar Tree. The sign did not lie, nor disappoint, and the couple hundred feet I had to walk from the parking lot was definitely worth the neck craning.
At Long Beach, the wind was cruel with how it blew. I spent a good 90 seconds on the boardwalk trying to imagine what it must be like on a day with a blue sky and the absence of menacing wind. That was how long it took before I politely said ‘fuck this noise’ to the weather and jumped back in my car.
When one can’t walk along the beach though, one can drive it. And drive it I did. I drove south from the entry point alone on a sandy highway with the sea foaming to my right, dodging driftwood as I neared Cape Disappointment. It was on my drive back to the normalcy of a paved road that I made the decision to stay in a motel, wash the rainforest dew and salt spray from my skin, eat a footlong sub in bed and watch The Fugitive.
Life, afterall, is all about balance.