Part of life in Oregon, and especially Washington, is the amount of annual rainfall. We are lucky to wake up to clear skies, though being here we feel lucky enough – and brought protective gear for the cameras, that unlike us, may melt or malfunction in the rain. Breakfast will be had on our porch out of the camp cooker (we forgot bowls). It is quick oatmeal with dried fruit – and hot enough to burn the hungry tongue that finds it difficult to yield to steaming nourishment.
We head out on the Valley Trail around 8:00 am with some PBJ and banana sandwiches. Perhaps halfway through with our mile and a half and we pass one lady going the other way. We average 35 minutes per quarter-mile. We will walk mainly in rainforest, then cross the street to the Hobbit Trail to more forest that will take us down to the beach where we will be joined by ten other people – not a crowded day for such a beautiful place.
There are plenty orange-bellied Taricha granulosa (aka newts), centipedes, and slugs of varying color – yellow, green, and brown – to be watched out for while crunching on leaves, sticks, moss and other rainforest floor findings. We take pictures of new growth and old fungus. There are sprouting flowers and eaten leaves as forest critters forage for sustenance. We enjoy watching their speed – slow – and imagine how large their world looks and how blessed we are to be able to see on the scale from micro to macro – even if it is with the help of technology.
We emerge onto the beach 3.5 hours after we started. We will spend an hour on the beach – my dad in boots and me holding my shoes with my pants getting wet. We enjoy the really low tide. There has to be 20-50 feet of not-usually exposed beach – I’m a bad judge of size. I get to see my first mole crab (reminds me and Dad of a trilobite – species that went extinct 250 million years ago). One seems to be a female swimming on the sand and depositing orange oil (eggs) as she goes. Others that came before her are either just their exoskeletons from molting or have become food for the birds.
We come across a starfish that is bent over in agony. He has begun to dry out, but some of his tube feet are still moving, so I pick him up gently and set him down in a nearby pool (hopefully with friends – perhaps he was thrown out of the group – let’s hope not). My camera battery decides to call it quits so it’s up to my eyes to see the rocks, sand, waves, sky, anemones, and greenery. And it’s always up to my nose to smell the salty and the fresh; and my skin to feel the rocks, clams and oysters, starfish, sand, and sun; and my ears to hear the birds chirping, the shells clacking, and the waves crashing.
Back to the yurt by 12:30 pm and I wash my feet and eat a slice of pizza. We stop at Devils Churn and the Spouting Horn, but there will be no oceanic performances with no tide or storm to push the water up through the rock formations – the view is still nice. Next on our list of places to stop will be Newport Café. I order a breakfast burrito and my dad gets a steak – his first in a long time (as having a veg wife for 13 years will help to change your meat-eating habits). We enjoy replenishing calories burned and get a t-shirt for the wife that couldn’t join us today, physically, but is here with us in spirit.
After finishing the burrito I think about how tasty it was and that if I would’ve stopped 3/4 of the way through when I got full I would still have some for later – too late now. We are back on the road heading towards cheese with an estimated arrival time of 2.5 hours – there’s always room for dessert! We stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory for a scoop of marionberry pie and huckleberry ice cream then drive over to Blue Heron French Cheese Company for some smoked brie. We would’ve stopped at Debbie D’s Sausage Factory for some dried salmon for Caroline, but she is closed today.
We make it into Washington at 7:00 pm and pull over to talk with Caroline, watch the sunset, scare off the elk with all our camera clicking, and listen to a Medix guy have fun with his outdoor PA speakers – singing and saying hi. We are glad to know we aren’t the only ones enjoying the day, but that will only go so far into the night. We will pull into Aberdeen after 9:00 pm and into the parking lot of the Thunderbird Motel. Did we get the cheapest deal in town – yes. Did we get good sleep and showers – no.
My dad tells me I should have warned him about the signs of a ‘good’ place – no visitors after 10 pm, place under surveillance, and a security night window for the lobby. There are some stains on the wall, but at least we don’t stick to the floor (that’s another story). I figure the place can’t be that bad because the room has a fridge and TV with remote and neither are bolted down, but that was before we saw the bathroom or the bed sheets. The pillows were just flat, the sheets had mysterious chunky stains, and the bathroom – an explosion of human fluids and hair.
I made a sandwich and got to Skype with Grandma. We survived, and it makes the experience even more memorable and something we can look back on and laugh about, but sleep would be short-lived. In the morning, we will find out that where we stayed is the last place anyone living in the town would recommend. We talk with the baristas about popular people from Aberdeen – the most famous one being Kurt Cobain whose memorial committee had a tribute sign “Come As You Are” added to the town’s welcome sign.