Tuesday, June 12th, 2001
Looks like this next 3 days just may spawn my first journal entry (finally). Decided to get a place where I could stay for a few days and just chill. Ended up pulling in to Ft. Canby State Park about 2:00 this afternoon. Right next to Cape Disappointment (I really would have preferred Cape Fear, but oh well L ). Got the spot for three nights, and went ahead and paid the extra $6 for one with hookups, so I've got a place to sit for a few days -- when I'm not hiking -- and all the electricity I need. Combine this with the absence of any people I know -- a first so far for my journey -- and all the ingredients are there for a good couple of writing sessions. Sorry, all but _one_ ingredient, but I'd merely forgotten to list the 20-pack of Coke currently on ice.
First thing I'll do is to take all of the partial entries I've written and try to collect them into some meaningful whole. Unfortunately, I suspect it will be even less coherent than my writing is normally, since it primarily consists of a bunch of letters that all start "looks like this will be my first post", then a bit about whatever was going on at the time, then they just stop. Oh, yes, they also all mention the fact that I'm behind schedule in my packing :-) .
Ok, here's the first one. This was written on the morning of May 12th, I believe, while parked out back of Piper's Casino in Silver Springs, Nevada.
Saturday morning, May th (I didn't know at the time -ed)
I guess this would count as the "official" start of my travels. I awoke this morning in Vacilador, out back of Piper's casino in Silver Springs, Nevada. Got up here last night, about 5:30. Not a bad drive. Took me about 8 1/2 hours. I've calculated I'm getting about 12, 12 1/2 mpg, which is actually not much below what I'm already used to with the VW. Not a great hill climber, unfortunately, but then that's somewhat to be expected.
The reason I say "I guess" this is the official start is that I haven't finished moving out of the house yet. Close, but there are still about 2 days worth of work to do. Partly my failure was due to having an overly ambitious moving schedule. Another factor, though, is a definite amount of "foot dragging" the last day or so. There are a number of factors I've identified as leading to this dragging. (and my God, what a pedantic journal writing style I've got. Hopefully I'll figure out a clearer style once I decide for sure what I'm going to be doing with these journals. Are they just for me, will they be edited and posted, will they be posted raw, or what?) First one is the computer. I'm definitely going to miss ready access to my e-mail and to the Gigsville lists. Another one is that I'm going to miss living with Tim and Gina. Both of these are mostly about human contact. As I've mention to Gina in the past (during one of my ineffective "apartment-hunting" spells), I'm going to miss things like: when I see something stupid in a magazine, being able to walk in to the next room and say "hey, look how stupid this is" (with the accompanying feeling of "and aren't I so clever for recognizing it?") Hmm, there are a bunch more random thought in my head that I want to get down, but I don't really feel like writing them down right now. Think I'll go into Joshua's house and have some human contact while the option is here. I'll have time for writing later.
So, let's see, what's missing from that? Well, most obviously, it's lacking any details of the weekend in Silver Springs. Since most of the weekend was still to come, this is hardly surprising. Anyway, here are some of the highlights: Taking over each of the tiny little dive bars in town, one after the other, discovering that it was karaoke night in _every_ one of them, and regaling the crowd with such karaoke classics as "American Pie", "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida", and of course, "Mack the Knife". The world's largest meet/person ratio at a BBQ in human history (well, certainly in my personal experience at least) out at the lake the next day, along with: Mattshaw and Satan's attempts to be the one (but apparently they can't shake belief in that damn spoon), LQ kicking major ass at fire-spinning, despite the fairly windy conditions, and discovery of a method for getting big, drunk, giggling Indians out of trees that may not be quite as good for kittens. The next day's highlights were basically the really cool, random sculpture where a VW bug was given eight metal legs like a spider and painted all black, so it looked like a giant black widow, with the body a good 10-15 feet off the ground. Really wish I'd had a camera for that one. Anyway, the spider and my apparent attempts to re-create "Lost in America" in Carson City ("Don't touch the nest egg!"). The next day was the day I got my first replacement alternator, which turned out to not be _quite_ the right one for Vacilador. I did get to see one of the most spectacular sunsets of my life that evening, though, from the back of Joshua's place. 7 different layers and types of clouds, and the most golden sunlight I've ever seen. All this against a sweeping desert horizon that filled the range of my peripheral vision. Anyway, the next day I drove back in to Reno, this time the proper alternator was found in about 45 seconds (there was some weird magic going on the day before), then a drive back to Silver Springs, install the new one, and head back home.
Ok, so the next major attempt at writing happened on Memorial Day, and went as follows:
Going to try to get a few things down before too much else happens. Currently parked in my parent's driveway. Plugged into their power, and I've filled my tanks from their hose1. Fridge works great on the electricity. Used the water hookup earlier. Leaks some, but otherwise works great. Right now I'm waiting for the water to heat so I can shower (I realize I could do so inside, but want to have one more "dry run" to see what I learn about things that need work (and if it really is "dry", that's a problem right there :-).
So, let's see, where do things stand currently. Behind in my packing, but it looks like I should have no problems finishing it up on Tuesday. This will keep me on schedule to get down to San Diego on Wednesday and get the table legs, officially starting my travels. Silver Springs and Sulphur Springs2 (Joshua's birthday and Sodium & Caution's wedding reception, respectively) were good "outdoor" dry runs, and helped me find out a few things (and shake loose a bad alternator at a time that was much better than it could have been, since I had a place to park and resources to get another one).
1 - Grammar check is an idiot. It wants me to change "plugged into their power" to "plugged into there power". I've had it try to get rid of the apostrophe on the wrong form of "it's" previously, too.
2 - Spell check doesn't know the word "Sulphur"!!!
And that was about it, other than a note to myself that mentioned the fact that I frequently look like a homeless person, but then I imagine anyone who's bothering to read this is already well aware of that. Actually, now that I actually _am_ homeless, I'm going to try to avoid that as much as possible.
So, let's see, what other details can I put in about that time period? Memorial Day with the family was really nice. My brother's kids are really growing quickly. Erik is like a real person, with thought and opinions and memories and all that, and Allegra probably is too, but while she's talking up a storm already, it's also much like she's talking _in_ a storm usually - in other words, I can't really understand her most of the time. She seems to have fun, though. My other aborted post contains a link to a picture, so I won't put one here. Once the link does show up, though, make sure to look in the mirror in the background (please don't freak…) for my sister-in-law, who's taking the photo.
Ok then, let's get that (very short) one that I thought was going to be my actual first post:
Hello, and welcome to my first official update on my travels. Our story so far:
Motorhome purchased, moving-out process begun. Plan was to finish moving out by Thursday, May 10th, and head up to Silver Springs, Nevada.
Being me, this plan was of course not what happened. DID go up to Silver Springs for "Death in the Desert", then came back to do more packing. Left the following weekend for a wedding celebration in the Angeles Forest, returned and did more packing. Memorial Day weekend I spent with my parents and with my brother's family, and saw the movie Memento. Liked it quite a bit, btw.
Once I get an HTML editor I'm probably going to do more linking and more elaborate pages. Right now, just be happy I'm actually getting it down on paper. It's a _beautiful_ day outside right now, and I should be hiking around instead of sitting in here on the computer. I will be, soon. The truth is, though, I'm kind of enjoying this.
So, what happened between Memorial day and now? Finished packing, went down to San Diego to get the legs for my table (failed, but they told me where to buy some and promised me reimbursement), and hung out with a bunch of San Diegans on their own turf for a change (seems only fair that they should get a visitor now and then). Thursday night was spent back in Venice (sleeping on the couch, since my bed was now part of the shelving in the storage unit), then Friday evening went up to Pismo beach with my now-former housemates and some friends of ours. Stayed in an RV park on the beach , and on Saturday we rented some ATV's and went riding on the dunes. Definitely something I plan to do again. Hooked up with some more friends (Woah, Rebecca and Carrie, for those of you in the Gigsville crowd) who were in San Luis Obispo and went hot-tubing that night, then on Sunday parked out in back of Rebecca's place, which happens to be on a farm. Was treated to the most _amazing_ view in the morning when I stepped outside. Monday morning I drove up to San Anselmo (in Marin county, north of San Francisco) to visit my brother and his family again (if only those kids would grow less quickly I could take more time between visits), failed to hook up with any of the Nor. Cal. Gang on Tuesday night (next time, I hope), so stayed at my brother's again. Wednesday it was up to Humboldt where I parked outside the house of one Seamus Balcomb (brother to two good friends of mine, and a fine human being in his own right),with whom I had a beer at the Lost Coast brewery (one of my favorite microbreweries, I've never had a beer of theirs I haven't liked), after which all of the driving caught up with me, and I quickly opted to retire to Vacilador. Hopefully I'll be able to go back there and stay a longer time in the near future. Didn't have time to then, however, since I had to make it to Portland by the next evening. Had a bachelor party to get to, you know.
As tradition dictates, details of that evening will remain with that evening.
The rest of the weekend was taken up with pre-, intra, and post-wedding festivities. And they certainly were festive, I can tell you that. The wedding itself was quite lovely, actually. Outdoor setting, near a small pond (which also had canoes upon it, which provided a bit of extra entertainment between the wedding itself and the main reception) (not that any was needed, which is partly what made it so nice that it _was_ there, if you get my meaning. And even if you don't. I mean, the facts of the situation aren't going to be changed any by whether or not I have the linguistic skill to make my point understood, or you have the mental powers to understand my divinely-inspired prose. Anyway, back to the wedding).
Sunday (the day after the wedding) we checked out of the hotel, and I went to book-geek heaven: Powell's books. Largest bookstore west of the Missus Hip, so I'm told. Bought about 10 books (to go with the 20 I already had in Vaci), so I'm ready to do a lot of reading. Stayed in Vaci that night (in front of the brother-of-the-groom's house).
The next day will be detailed in a future essay: "Oregon wanted me out".
The following day (today, as the narrative flows, I think. Possibly yesterday. I'm actually jumping around, and writing part of this a few days later than I'm claiming. Anyway, whatever day I arrived at Ft. Canby), I arrived at Ft. Canby, bringing us up to the (theoretical) present.
Guess I should tell you some about where I am right now. Since it's still early in the season, and I came in on a weekday, I had no problem getting a spot without a reservation. The campground is practically empty, in fact. On my ring of ten camping sites, mine is the only one that's occupied. Combined with the way the campground is laid out, this means that when I sit out next to Vacilador I don't see a single other person. Oh, and there's wildlife here. It was pointed out to me recently that even when you get out into the mountains and such around Southern California, you still don't really see much wildlife. Not really having had much else to compare it to (except Belize, but then that's hardly fair, now is it?), I had to just trust my friend (and you all know how much I hate doing _that_). So, last night, just after I light the little portable grill, I see a stirring on the edge of the clearing, and who should pop out but a raccoon! Honestly don't think I've ever seen one in real life before (zoos don't count). Little bastard wasn't as clever as he could have been, however, he showed his hand early. Knowing he was there, I never left any food unattended. Hah! There's also at least one deer living out here, probably a number of them. I saw one yesterday (umm, it's now Wednesday, sorry) when I went walking down to the dunes, then I saw one just this morning as I was walking from Vaci to the showers. They're clearly pretty used to people, since neither of them ran off, and my path took me within about 15 feet of each.
So anyway, I went and checked out Cape Disappointment yesterday. Naturally, you're all expecting me to say something like "and it wasn't nearly as nice as I expected". The truth is, I was hoping to be able to say this myself. Not the case, however. The truth is, it was beautiful. The first part of the jetty was covered with more driftwood than I've ever seen in my life! I guess that shouldn't be surprising, considering what coast I'm on, but that doesn't make it any less impressive. The rocks were _covered_ with logs and branches, sanded clean by the surf and bleached white by the sun, for hundreds of feet. Oh well, maybe next time it'll be a letdown.
Ok, we're on to Thursday now, and I just discovered the _real_ reason it should be called "Cape Disappointment". I went for another hike yesterday afternoon; one advantage of being a bit further north is that the sun doesn't set until 9:00 or so, so even if I laze about until 1 in the afternoon, I still have a full 8 hours in which to hike. So, this time I decided to go to some of the lighthouses out here. The first trail I took was about a mile in length (with about a mile walk to the trailhead initially). Took me past a little visitor's center, which was built at one of the old gun emplacements. Based in the gears on the ground and the size of the holes in the concrete, the good ol' U.S. of A. used to have some _very_ large guns on its coast here. The trails were very nice, and I only encountered people at the ends of them, as all of these places (lighthouses, visitor's center, etc.) had parking lots and easy drive-up access. Anyway, near the end of the trail, at I neared the lighthouse, I turned a corner and saw an absolutely _beautiful_ little cove. White sand, sheltered rocks with tide-pools, and a tiny little island just a few feet out with a tree growing on it the reminded me of the home of the forest god in "Princess Mononoke" (for those of you who have seen it). The very next thing I see? A sign reading "trail closed". Just around the corner was one reading "trail closed: no public beach access". And the location of the beach there was open enough that any decision to ignore said sign would be spotted almost immediately.
Well named indeed, it seems.
After I returned from the first lighthouse, I set off on the trail toward the next one. This was a longer trail, and a more challenging one as well. Muddy, constantly going up and down, lots of roots and such to make the terrain never _quite_ level. Lots of wildlife, though. Saw at least a half-dozen snakes. Don't know my snakes well enough, so instead of guessing at a species name (which would end up having to be something like "slithery guys?". Perhaps I understated my lack of herpetological knowledge…), I'll give a physical description; there were two that sat still long enough for me to really study them (and all of the others looked the same in the characteristics I could see in the time the permitted). The first was between ½ and ¾ of an inch wide, and between 12 and 15 inches long. Its skin was a medium brown, with three white stripes running down its length - one down the spine, and one on either side (which I guess would also be down the spine sort of, wouldn't it? Anyway, you get the idea). At the base of the skull, the dorsal stripe terminated in a "spade" shape. There were some additional spots which I couldn't quite define on this one, but got a much better look at the next, which I'm assuming was a more mature version of the others. That one was a good 18 inches long I'd say, if not a full 2 feet. It was also thicker than the first, probably around 1 - 1 1/3 inches thick. The stripes on it had a bit more of a yellow-greening tint to them. The other spots I referred to were running down either side, between the rows of stripes. On every 3rd scale there was an orange-ish spot, with a smaller spot located higher up in the intervals. Oh yes, and their heads were rounded-looking. Let's see, what other creatures did I see? Saw one amphibian that I don't know whether it was a salamander or a newt - or possibly someone under a which's curse who had yet to get better. Whatever the case, it was about 2 inches long, brownish on top, and more of a pumpkin shade on the belly. On the return trip, I didn't notice any snakes, but the place was really hopping with frogs. One was very tiny (1/2 inch or so, I guess) with a solid green back, one was closer to 1 ½ inches, brown, with black spots on the back - first a row of three, then of two, then a single one, and some smaller ones on the sides. All the others were really fast and poorly lit, but my, there certainly were a lot of them (or one _really_ busy one). Oh, and I saw big slug, too. Like 6 inches big.
By the time I got back, my complete wussification at the hands of 5 years of desk jobs (along with hiking 5 miles yesterday and 10 today) had taken its toll, and my feet were very, _very_ sore. To the point where if I had to go to the other end of Vacilador for something - 3 paces each way - I thought about whether I really _needed_ to, and if so, was there anything else I could take care of while I was up. I also decided that I really did NOT want to walk the 100 yards or so to the public restrooms, and opted to just hold it until morning, or if such option proved impossible (which fortunately was not the case), I would resort to using the toilet in Vacilador (an option I'm avoiding as long as I possibly can). Realized that I hadn't made any spaghetti since before I started my trip, and decided this was a matter that MUST be set straight (I usually average 2-3 times a week), so I had some yummy pasta (and - I'm ashamed to admit this, actually - parmesan cheese from one of those shaker cans. First time in over a decade that I've actually had one of those in my own home. Worse yet - store brand. Amazing how low I'll go to save money), then sat down and read some (Roger Zelazny's "Lord of Light", which looks to be reprinted, and I highly recommend it).
Thursday - Today was all about reading (finishing Lord of Light), and housekeeping. I got a lot of things that had never really had a place of their own situated. When I hit the road on Friday morning, I should be the most organized I have been all trip. Kind of overcast most of the day, too, which made spending time at home more appealing. Since sitting down, just doing some reading and writing, and cleaning up the place were some of the main things I wanted to accomplish with this stopover, it worked out splendidly. Friday morning I'm hitting the road for somewhere up the coast where a guy I used to work with in Japan lives. Actually, but the time I have the chance to post this, I'll probably be there, so I'll shut up for now, and let the future take care of itself.
Friday evening. Plan has been changed, as is my prerogative. I'm currently in a campground on the edge of the Hoh rain forest. Nice little spot - six campsites, all separated by trees. Nothing but a picnic table and a fire pit in each. No reservations, no fee. And the really cool part is that when I stopped in at a little "adventure store" about a half-mile up for some batteries, I noticed a sign advertising kayak tours. Think I'll do that tomorrow morning (need to be there at 9:30). I'll report back by the time you read this. Let's see, what else did I do today? Mostly drove up the coast. Stopped a couple times at some of the beaches along the way. My earlier statement about "the most driftwood I've ever seen" was apparently more a statement about my own lack of experience than the quantity of driftwood encountered, for today I say a beach that must have literally been covered with _miles_ of driftwood! Took a couple photos, including a few that are basically me just missing getting into position for the self-timer. Guess I really do need to read the manual on the camera some day.
Let's see, it's now Sunday morning, June 17th, start of what's going to be my last day in the Hoh rain forest. Yesterday I did indeed go kayaking as planned. _Very_ fun time. The tour was lead out of the "Peak 6" adventure store. I was the only paying customer on the trip, with my companions being John - my guide - and Joel - son of the owner, out there to get more time on the river. Never having been rafting or kayaking before, it was quite a blast.
More details later. I'm currently visiting a friend in Port Ludlow, Washington, and see the possibility of posting, so I'm going to take it.