It is raining when we wake – we are in Washington. We stop in at the Kalaloch Lodge for breakfast at 8:00 am. I have three buckwheat pancakes with blueberry/marionberry warmed spread and there are no leftovers as they are not bigger than my head. We reach the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center in Olympic National Park at 10:00 am and everything is so green. The rain has let up and there will be a few drops on us along the trail.
Inside, we learn that one of the trails is closed because a mother moose has her calf there and is feeling territorial. We thank the ranger for the notice and head on to the Hall of Mosses where we will spend 2.5 hours to see 3/4 mile of rainforest and still feel that we missed so much, but we have some schedule to keep. Some spots are like diorama-sized ecosystems needing more time to study the green, brown, white, yellow, orange, and black that the plants and animals have to offer.
This is my first time seeing a black slug and it really contrasts with its air hole which to me seems like a safety hazard, but I’m sure it thinks the same thing about my gaping mouth. I pull my jaw up and take a picture as I continue to be amazed at just how much this planet has to offer – the more I learn, the less I know. Then my eyes see something they find hard to comprehend – 190 feet worth of tree laying on the ground – seeing only half of it before going up the hill to find the other half and the trunk minus the top part of the tree that is no longer attached or nearby – which could add another 30-110 feet – impressive!
I make sandwiches once we get back to the car. We need to get on the road. We arrive to the Black Ball Ferry Line at 3:30 pm and will be the last car in line – perhaps the only one without reservations – and they board at 5:00 pm with departure 20 minutes later – the last one for the day. This gives me 80 minutes to explore the town of Port Angeles. I walked across the street to Necessities & Temptations – they had beads, chocolate to eat and wear, shiny kitchen appliances, Christmas ornaments, local shirts, and children’s books of the classic adult stories.
Next door is the Art Front Gallery with ceramics, textiles, metal, glass, etc. with some in the making. I got to watch Cindy Elstrom make some cups while we chatted for a bit – she is friendly and talented. Then I crossed the street again to visit the mall on the harbor – just some restaurants and such and I was soon back outside. There were two buses waiting for the ferry too and I happened to run into some of the boys – I can’t remember where they are from, but a lot of schools in the area are sending their kids across the Strait of Juan de Fuca for Victoria Day to march in the parade and celebrate the Queen’s 63 years as ruling monarch – the longest in the U.K.
There is a lookout tower at the end of the pier that I was making my way towards when I noticed a little boy playing in the sand and water – I wanted to play too. There was a couple that buried their daughter in the sand and a mom with two boys – one searching for crabs and the younger one running around and playing around the beach logs. The mom was happy to tell me that most people come to the area for the transgender conference, mountain biking – what her husband is doing, and the local art. She pointed out the ferry arriving and I was on my way.
My dad was back in the car taking notes and soon we were on our way. When the ferry took off some of the kids took to planking – why look at the scenery when this deck is so interesting…maybe had they gotten 20 or more of them to do it and then do some other viral videos they could’ve made a viral compilation – the new thing, but only six kids participated before they saw me attempting a scene from Titanic – the one on the front of the ship – not in the car. It was fun to try, but no good photo was taken.
We talked to a couple from Buffalo, NY (where my dad was born) that now lives in Houston, travels (no camping), and spoils their grandkids every summer. Talked to a former marine (didn’t look or act like it) about engineering, photography, and his wife. I asked a few other people with large cameras if they had seen any whales – this area being popular for sightings of the orca, gray, and minke species, but no such luck.
I will receive my first passport stamp at 7:15 pm in Victoria, BC, Canada. I’m curious as to why he skipped the first three pages – I’m so meticulous about my national park passport and stamps in there are upside-down. I enjoy the randomness of it, especially after enduring the awkwardness of telling the border officer about my ‘criminal’ offense (driving without a license because it got suspended due to underage drinking) that happened over six years ago.
Learning we are here during a busy holiday my dad pulls into the first hotel he sees and they tell us we might have luck around the corner – we do. Tonight we will be staying at the Embassy Inn in a room with a balcony and a view. There is a stove and a teapot with other dishes in the mini-kitchen and makeup remover among the toiletries in the washroom. We throw our bags down and head out to the city to enjoy the rest of the daylight – even though we are both hungry. We saved our appetites to try something new.
Our hotel is next to the BC Legislature Bldg. and it’s a beauty. We will enjoy taking pictures of it with and without sunlight. The signs are different, the stores are different, and the street finds (mailbox, loo, lamps) are different too. I am overwhelmed with newness. Some of the signs are neat for what they say and others for what they don’t – their one-way and yield signs are just an arrow and triangle because symbols are easier to understand across multiple languages – and to fit on the small sign.
There are a lot of brick buildings and people on bicycles. There are a lot of references to the color red, maple leaves, and the question – Eh? I feel we are in the touristy district and I’m fine with that. Being in the States I see new signs, new food, different weather patterns and the tourist district is saved for airports, gas stations, and ocean front stores – or maybe Canada is just really proud of syrup and moose – both found in BC. My dad is feeling generous and buys me a gray and maroon shirt – Victoria Canada since 1863.
Our next stop is LUSH fresh handmade cosmetics. They have soap, creams, pastes, bath bombs, perfumes, and more in cute shapes, varying colors, and in bowls, jars, bins, tubs, tubes, and simply wrapped in plastic. I get a chunk of Sexy Peel marmalade soap and a travel size Gorilla perfume 25:43 with hints of citrus and vanilla. My dad asks about vegetarian-friendly restaurants and the sales associate recommends Re-Bar Modern Food – something close, yummy, and open late.
We still have some time to hold hands and skip down the street. Then we admire the buildings, signs, shop fronts, felted boob in a bowl, and a comic shop full of card players – how neat! We sit down to eat at 9:20 pm. We order the eggplant-cilantro soup, a roast beet salad, miso poutine, and a tempeh Reuben on rye with sweet potato fries and a house-made bbq sauce for dipping. I got a 22 oz. of Fat Tug IPA to wash my food down and my dad stuck to water. We order the raspberry cheesecake to go and stop by 7-11 for ice.
Even something as simple as a convenience store offers up plenty of new things, or old items with different names, that I haven’t seen before. They have All Dressed Ruffles, a bulk candy selection, and a Beaver Buzz energy drink. It is neat to be in another country and notice the little things that may seem mundane back home. We get back to the room at 11:00 pm to free Wi-Fi and warm showers. It has been a fun day and the energy is high – sleep will hopefully come soon as we are waking up at 6:00 am regardless.