Last night we had planned on getting a hotel room with a jacuzzi and a fireplace, but that’s as far as some of our plans go – hence why we don’t mind winging it on long trips. There is only so much anyone can prepare for. I slept wonderfully with the front seat laid back with my coat on my arms and Caleb’s sweater over my legs – that are still in shorts. He put on a woolly and joined me in the passenger seat, also in shorts. I slept soundly from around 9pm to 1:30am when I woke to the sound of Piggy’s tongue having a seizure.
Sparky was tired of cuddling with her and joined me in the front seat with his butt hanging out of my jacket. I covered him and Piggy’s licking continued. Caleb tried to scare her into silence so that we could both get some much-needed sleep. Then he walked her and let some of the outside air into the warm and fogged up car. I made the mistake the night before of leaving a window cracked and became too cold too fast. All this movement and sound was enough to wake me up at 2am. As I think about finding a bathroom I can hear Sparky dreaming in the seat with Caleb, Piggy finally settling back down to sleep, and a short patter of rain on the car.
I don’t want to disturb Caleb, just yet, so I lay back down and go to sleep for an hour. We leave the church parking lot and drive to Tillamook where we arrive at Blue Heron French Cheese Company 20 minutes before they open. We look at the ginnies, chickens, peacocks, and goats. Inside we buy some pepper Bree and almond roca popcorn before driving to the factory with the town’s namesake. We will have ice cream for breakfast – caramel hazelnut for Caleb and marionberry pie for me – and more cheese for the road.
I remember that our old roommate Wendy lives north of here and we thought it was Seaside, but when I see the blinking light in Manzanita I quickly remember where she lives. The road in front of her house is under construction and her car isn’t in the drive. We continue north to Astoria to see the historical column, some $27k to build and $2.5 million to upkeep. I had been through the town twice and not seen it, but that’s probably because I always went left after the bridge at the round-a-bout instead of right.
We make our way up the hill and the clouds look thick, but as we round the turning drive I get a glimpse of the town below. For $2.00 we are able to climb 164 steps to the top of the column and enjoy the expansive views and the high school band members throwing $1.00 wooden plane gliders from the top. From there, we cross into Washington and the rain that started at the border follows us up the 101. I enjoy the little coffee booths that populate the Oregon roadside but wasn’t in the mood for liquid caffeine until I saw the sign for Elixir Espresso and Tea. Inside are multiple shelves full of jars of tea leaves and behind us is a beautiful view of the lake. I get a mocha and Caleb a chai tea.
We are headed to Olympic National Park and stop at a beach along the way. There is plenty of sand, sun, driftwood, and smooth rocks that are warm on my feet and bum. The east side of the park is closed and Caleb says we should go to the north entrance. We get to a split in the road and decide on Cape Flattery (most northwesterly point) over heading east. It’s about an hour drive to the Mawah Reservation. I saw a gray lump in the water surrounded by birds and pulled over into a harbor parking lot to get a closer look. Upon inspection the lump was at least five seals fishing for food and bringing up trash to share with the seagulls.
We continue on, past the homemade “up with hope, down with dope” signs, past the shiny water and the wet trees, and around the 20 and 35 mph turns to the cape trail parking lot. The sign at the trailhead says it’s a half mile one-way. There are pieces of trees, layers cut horizontally, set on the trail along with tree roots and then a long boardwalk that splits in many directions to give you a varied view of the cape – the islands, the sea caves, the boats nearby, and Canada in the distance.
We enjoy the time out of the car where we have spent long hours knowing we have many more ahead of us. It’s about 6pm and we want to see the sunset. Oregon was too cloudy last night to give us that satisfaction. We have the option to go to Lake Izeetee, probably a 45 minute drive one-way, or go into Port Angeles and be farther inland knowing we wont see the sun touch the water, but still see the colors in the sky. It takes us an hour or more to get to the port town with me stopping to get pictures of the water and of a hole in a rock on the side of the road. This was Caleb’s first time on this side of Washington and our first time taking this route.
Caleb had talked to his dad earlier in the trip, “Where are you? Where are you going? When are you coming here? Take me to Alaska with you!” I was immediately excited and thought it would be a great idea, not thinking about the budget we are already working with, and thought my mom could come too. Then I remembered that she doesn’t have a passport and we will be driving through Canada and/or passing through their waters so one is needed. Caleb called his dad who has a passport and he was able to find a ticket for $250. We agreed to buy it for him when we found a room for the night.
I drove us down the street until I found the ferry (familiar with the area), then continued west to watch the sunset in a parking lot in the harbor in the company of two geese. We left early (before all the color was gone) to find the Days Inn that we would be spending the night in. By the time we got all our stuff in the room, washed four days of travel and three nights of sleep in the car off, and got online the ticket was sold. Caleb called his dad to share the news and his sister was already there helping him pack. She was sad to hear he couldn’t go but happy that we might come through Missoula.
They tried to coördinate over the phone that Robert could drive to Spokane and catch a plane from there, but the tickets were $600. That’s what we get for last-minute planning, but we didn’t preplan anything because we didn’t know if we would be able to take leave and what the weather and other circumstances might be. The dogs are enjoying the warmth of the bed and I’m looking forward to sleeping in dark, quiet, and warmth – though I needed a shower more than I needed somewhere comfy to sleep. I can save hotel money for Alaska when the temperatures are freezing. We’ve gotten lucky with nights in the 50s with the windows rolled up to hold the heat in.
Time has not slowed down for anyone. The night continues on as Caleb looks for ferry schedules. To go one way we have to leave from Bellingham and it would take three days to get to Hanes but four days from now. So he is looking at all the ferry ports and finding one that leaves tomorrow that we can drive from – not fly or ferry due to it being an island. We need something very southeasterly in Alaska as British Columbia suddenly looks longer when thinking about the days we will spend driving through it. I would love to have more time and money to go to the depths of Alaska and sled dogs and get helicopter rides and snow shoe around to see moose and bear, but we also have our dogs to worry about.
Now it seems there is a ferry from Bellingham to Anchorage – a five-day, $1,600, cruise or a 2,400 mile, $235, drive. That gives us thirteen days to go to Canada/Alaska and be back in the states by June to drive south again and get on a plane and fly to another continent. I’m totally fine with this arrangement but Caleb told his sister that we would be back in six days to spend Memorial Day weekend with her – perhaps that’s not going to fit in our schedule. I need some sleep.