Thursday, September 1, 2016

Washington: June 25, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben in the summer of 2003....

In the morning, we had to leave Kalaloch to drive to a Shell station in the nearby town of Queets to get showers.  Only after we got there did we realize that we had left our bathroom kit behind.  Ben went back to the campsite for it while I waited at the gas station.  I sat on a bench out front and made friends with a skinny, colorless, pretty dog named Oddball who kept trying to lick out our dirty dishes from the night before, which we had brought to wash.  A manager of some business or another, possibly the gas station itself, and a woman sat on the bench next to me, and I couldn't help but overhear his lengthy sob story to her about an untrustworthy employee.  I talked with them briefly when he became concerned that I might be a local and should therefore not be overhearing his story, and then Ben got back and we headed off to the showers.

The shower was less than clean, but it wasn't the worst we had seen.  After we got clean and filled up on gas, we drove to the Hoh Rain Forest portion of the Olympic National Park.  We made a brief stop in the Visitors Center so Ben could get a stamp in his book, and then we went out to the Hall of Mosses Trail.

It was really beautiful.  It felt so peaceful, and the moss, ferns, and overgrown fallen trees reminded me of the grounds of Blarney Castle in Ireland.  The weather wasn't too hot, and the trail wasn't hard enough to tire us out or discourage conversation.

This conversation primarily focused on Ben's future career.  I was struck with the brainwave that he would make an excellent professor of business.  Not only would this allow him to be in an academic environment forever, but if he was affiliated with a university, he could take whatever classes he wanted for free, I could get my master's and eventual Ph.D. for free, and our twelve kids could eventually go to college for free.  On top of all of this, he would have his summers off, opening him up for many future trips with me, not to mention the fact that he would have a very flexible schedule and could basically be the "stay at home dad" he keeps telling me he wants to be.

Great plan, but Ben was made very awkward by me choosing his future career for him.  We got into a discussion about how he is not good at expressing what he wants or forming big dreams.  I think we really both came to know and understand each other better through this talk.  We also discussed when we want to get a house, and while we were both very upset at various points during the discussion and had to have a little down time when we got back to our campsite, I think we both felt better in the end.

We had some Kung Pau Chicken for lunch and then decided to go check out Beach 4.  We had been told that there were great tidepools there, and we were not disappointed.  We passed a couple of hours climbing on the huge rocks and admiring the ocean life, such as starfish, mussels, and sea anemones.  We also collected more driftwood than we could carry, which we somehow managed to haul back to our campsite to build a fire.

We spent the rest of the evening in our camp chairs in front of the fire.  We made Velveeta shells and cheese and bacon for dinner, and I read and read and read to finish A Darkness at Sethanon.  A friendly bluejay kept hopping up on our picnic table and trying to get into our bread crumbs.  We thought he was adorable and took pictures [which all turned out blurry].

After a while, though, we got used to his sounds on the picnic table and I focused on my book and Ben focused on his carving and smoothing out our birch walking sticks.  We had a rude awakening when we turned around and found a raccoon sitting on the table, calmly gobbling up our leftovers!  He ran away into the woods, and I have to admit that I spent the rest of the time before dark trying to tempt him back so we could get pictures of him!

At one point during this endeavor, just after it had gotten really dark, Ben was out at the car and I was alone at the campsite.  From the woods less than five feet away came the horrifying growls and snarls of two animals bent on killing each other.  After standing frozen in terror for a moment, I ran out of there as fast as my legs could carry me!  Ben only laughed at me, but I hold that the only reason he could laugh was because he didn't hear those horrible noises!

9 / 40

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