We were headed for The Olympic Peninsula. It was going to be a big trip, but I knew that it was going to be worth it. Punching west on Highway 12, we came to the town of Elma for some much needed liquid refreshment, and of course another delicious slice of Americana.
It was here in this roadside restaurant that my stereotypical image of the American waitress was obliterated forever.
“Hi how are you and have a nice day?” Well, I don’t think so, not this time anyway. This was a REAL slice of Americana. When I dared to criticise my milkshake which was foaming down the side of the glass, instead of an offer to sort this out and clean up the glass, I was met with beautiful, American derision.
Her incredulous response was essentially, “Like soap and water?? [In other words, you gotta be kidding], Like tough!” And off she went. Wow – so much for have a nice day! My brother, who is most definitely a local, proposed the following theory: The girls living in these country towns far from the big city, really kind of resented living where they did (pretty much in the middle of nowhere), and would much rather dwell in the big smoke where all the action is. Well who knows, I’m just a visitor…
Moving on from Elma, we got to Aberdeen – home of the late, great Kurt Cobain. Aberdeen was a tough, gritty industrial town famous for logging and fishing, standing as it does at the convergence of two rivers: the Wishkah and the Chehalis. As we drove through it was easy to understand where Cobain’s musical influence originated from. The once heavy industry of Aberdeen seemed to go well with the grinding, depressing sound of Grunge. Actually, I’m a big fan of Nirvana but you wouldn’t be listening to it to cheer yourself up now, would you?
Driving north through countless square miles of forest, we were heading for Ruby Beach on the Pacific Northwest Coast. It seemed like we drove forever but eventually perseverance paid off.
It wasn’t really the hot, sunny Baywatch I had envisioned but a misty, cool and ruggedly beautiful coastline – with the water temperature being influenced more by Alaska than Mexico. Board-shorts stayed in the bag as the ocean was unbearably cold.
Nonetheless it was a beautiful time and well worth the drive.
Driving eastwards into the interior we headed towards the Hoh (pronounced Hoewa) Rainforest. What a spectacle! A city of tall and ancient trees, that made you constantly crane your neck upwards at their magnificent canopies in the sky.
Moss hung everywhere giving a slightly mystical feel to this aged forest; you could kind of imagine some of this appearing in the Lord of the Rings. Crystal clear pools of water so transparent, you could peer into the very bottom as if there wasn’t any water at all.
We made our way through the dense but beautiful forest until we came at last to the grey, glacial Hoh River. As I stood on her rocky, pebbly shores, surrounded by the trees and hills, I knew that we had come to a very special place indeed.