Road Trip, Day Two

Tall trees, wet roads and even wetter rainforests. Day two of my drive down the west 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.

Moss covered Western Hemlock trees in the Hoh 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.

Every snapping twig, falling leaf or drip of rain became a threat and I walked alone and loudly, exclaiming to all bears within earshot to keep their distance because I respect their power and am too pretty to die this young.

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.

  • Moss covered Western Hemlock trees in the Hoh Rainforest

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.

Map detailing the route taken on a drive down the west coast of Washington

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