What a bad start for a blog, what do you think ? We have meanwhile passed the entire west coast of the US through the three states of Washington, Oregon and California. The good news first, it has stopped raining (in Oregon). Why no further blog entry so far? Good question. Partly this happened consciously, partly we just did not have time. I know that sounds funny and many laugh at it (I would do that too). In an unsuitable way to travel, we used efficiently every day but often did not enjoy it. We explored every place where we stopped or drove for “something”, we saw and questioned so much. There were also meetings with friends and habituation to life in the motorhome. Since I do not want to miss this part of our trip I will publish this in a few posts. The goal will be to publish a post every week. The next few weeks will be a little more – as a kind of compensation :-).
So we start our journey in Port Angeles at the beginning of February, when it rains. A common problem here in Washington. The average rainfall in Folks – a town on Highway 101 – is about 10 foot (3 Meter), with about 210 rainy days a year.
The entry into the US, which in our case took place in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia in Canada, at the ferry terminal, was as usual unfriendly. With all the suggestive questions, it is sometimes difficult to stay calm and play the game. The power of the border guards is high. This can without giving reasons (possibly there are such internally) prohibit entry to the US. With each entry to the US, the interviews become more intense, sometimes sharper and definitely more unpleasant. When asked a question such as “If you travel to the US so often, you’re probably going to do a job here,” answering a no, unfortunately, is not enough.
Border Control: “And how can you afford that if you do not work?”
Me: “I work, just not here – I’m just on vacation, you fool!”
Of course I did not mention the fool Then ..
Border Control: “Aha …” (I hate this Aha) “..then you work here then”
Me: “No, not here – at home.”
Border Control: “Where is your home?”
Me: “In Austria”
Border Control: “And why are not you in Austria?”
Me: “Because I’m on vacation here”
Border Control: “Aha … But they were only here recently. What did you do there? ”
Border Control: “And why?”
Me: “Because I was on Vacation”
Border Control: “Have you been worked?”
Border Control: “Aha. Do you work now? ”
Border Control: “You know you can not work here, right?”
Border Control: “How long do you want to stay in the US?”
Me: “3 months”
Border Control: “What are you doing in this time?”
At some point after the fifth repetition, the questions are completed, the passport is returned and added “In three months you must have left the US” and “Do not work a day here”.
After a few minutes of wondering about the paranoia of the border guards and many US Americans – as will be seen on our journey – it went on the ferry and so in the US.
The only ship of the BlackBall ferry company, the MV Coho, runs daily from February on the only route from Victoria (Canada) via the Juan de Fuca waterway to Port Angeles in the US state of Washington. This does the only 104-meter-long ship, which has been serving its trusted 60 years, in about 90 minutes. In these with swell studded time the Coho puts back 37 kilometers. For some strong Swells I wondered if the handbrake of our motorhome would hold. If not, the Nissan parked behind us would have been squeezed to the ship’s side. Not a pleasant idea to explain this to the border guards. I suppose I would be detained for terrorist activities. Fortunately, the brakes did there job and I was able to drive our about 31 feet long camper from the small belly of the old whale and we reached the American mainland.
The first night we spent on a campsite on the Highway 101 near Port Angeles. It was dark and it was raining. It took me an hour to park at our camp spot. This was due only to part of the northwestern weather. The main reason was that for the first time I had to search our place in an unlit campsite without a campsite map. Anyone who has experience with a campground knows that there are loops to follow. This is similar to an IKEA – the way is given. Ignored, however, the given direction you have his dear need to bring the 10-meter-long motorhome with towed Fiat 500 backwards in the 270 degrees shifted parking position. Now the attentive reader asks, why not just move forward. This, of course, is an idea that I not only mentally pursued, but also put into practice in Canada. Of course, this is also an idea that I not only mentally pursued, but also put into action in Canada. I had to find that all the connections were on the wrong side and that did not make things any better, the loop was in the wrong direction the next day or in my case had to go backwards. As for the connections, I can say that these are all too short to be connected from the other side. But more on that later.
After our first rainy night on this trip and a fun encounter with propane refueling in Port Angeles, we drove our first miles to Astoria, the first city in Oregon.
The most unknown part of Washington’s 101, leads to a large part of and around the famous Olympic National Park. You pass through so much forest and sometimes a few stretches of coast, about 20 villages and towns – some consist of only a few houses – happens that one could believe that the 42st state of the US consists only of forest and water. Whatever, especially considering the western half of the state, is correct. About 52% of the total state is covered by forest. This is bigger than Austria or about half of Germany. The Olympic Peninsula through which Highway 101 leads is home to several rainforests, many lakes and rivers and countless creatures such as orcas, gray whales and humpback whales. Bats, black bears, pumas, coyotes, deer, moose, gray wolves, skunks and much more.
After about two hours of driving, we reached the most famous place in Washington (for a certain age group) although very few people know that this is called Folks. This place is famous not only as one of the most precipitous places of Washington but as a filming location of the Twilight films: When I casually mentioned a friend that the Highway 101 led by Folks he meant only, “I do not know”. When I explained to him that the Twilight movies were being filmed here, he just said “Uh, green and rainy, right?” Yes, vampires just love it rainy, no sun all day long. And so, quite vampire friendly we found Folks.
Until the Twilight movies Folks lived mainly from the log industry, now tourism has arrived. With more than 100 million books, the Roman series and not least the films contributed to a significant increase in tourists. From about 10,000 before Twilight up to 73,000 in 2010.
Folks is a great base for taking a walk in the Hoh Rain Forest. Here, on the west coast of the nature park, the green thicket with mosses and mushrooms, sequoias, firs and maples seems almost unreal. The constant rain coupled with the fog could actually be a shot from the Twilight movies.
The further drive on Highway 101 runs without further places, through the middle of rainforests, past mystical lakes and rivers. Sometimes we crossed an iron bridge crossing a slowly meandering river. These were often narrower than a standard two-lane road and we had to be careful to be the only ones on the bridge. With a width of over 8 foot (2.5 meters), our motorhome was not exactly a slim car and needed a lot of space on the street. About the dimensions: The height of 12 foot (3.91 meters) was even higher in North America than many other RVs. In comparison, an average middle-class car in Austria and Germany is only about 5 foot (1.5 meters) high and about 15 foot (4.8 meters) long. While our motor home is 31 foot (9.7 meters) in length.
Before we reached the next village after Folks, we stopped at Ruby Beach. Like most beaches on the northern coast, there were tons of driftwood on the beach. On the beach or directly in the water, stood many rocks that washed out and defy the tides for an eternity. The small, overcrowded summer beach gets its name from the ruby’s glittering crystals in the sand. Unfortunately we do not get to see anything due to the fog and the heavy rainfall.
At the little villages Queens, Amanda Park, Humptulips and New London (all about 170-250 residents), we drove past until we got to Hoquiam, which bordered on Aberdeen. With a total of about 25,000 inhabitants, it was the largest concentration of people in this part of the Peninsula.
In Aberdeen, for the first time, I had the pleasure of refueling. And that went like this:
Find a gas station that is cheap and has a roof over 12 feet (4 meters) and has a large entrance and exit and with the total of about 45 feet (14 meters) (motorhome and tow car) to maneuver. Then stay on the right side of the pump, as reversing with the tow car did not work (explanation will follow later). Then somehow pump between motorhome and tow car. Due to the low gasoline prices, the refueling falls ultimately not as expensive as European assumed.
The next miles of Aberdeen led through forest, lots of forest. Forest left beside the road and forest right next to the road. Since the road was not completely straight was also mostly in front of and behind us forest. And rain, a lot of rain.
Raymond, the next city, located about 25 miles from Aberdeen, discovered the Marijuna in 2012. Officially, of course. Washington has legalized the plant with the initiative 502 in November 2012. Since that time, the 3000 Souls village has plunged into the production of marijuana in every imaginable form. The most famous resident of Raymond was Robert Wells, who wrote the song “The Christmas Song”. He called his hometown “The City that does things”, which seemed just too fitting.
After Raymond led the Highway 101 almost only offshore towards Oregon. Before that, there was still a lot of rain and a lot to discover. Speaking of rain, when we were in Seattle last year. The city, which is often mistakenly considered the capital of the state of Washington (Olympia is the capital), saw one of those “snow globes” with the Seattle landmarks in it.The special thing about this orb was that instead of the snow, drops of water fell on the city.
After Raymond we went along the Willaps River, which flows into the same named Bay. The landscape changes a bit from a lot of forest, to farmland with forest and of course a lot of rain. In the forest sections of Highway 101. I often imagined that a brown bear was walking out of the thicket on one side and making a leisurely stroll across the street. I then imagined the consequences for both. It would not be so good for Mister Petz – that much was clear. Despite his about 120 kilograms, he can not oppose the 4.5 tons RV, which came to him with 80 km/h, not much. The damage to the RV would be very large in any case. A few months ago, I read about an accident in California in which a young woman and her 1-year-old baby were killed in a collision with a black bear. According to the police, the young woman rammed the black bear head-on. This was thrown by the impact of the windshield and crushed with its mass of both inmates. Terrible story. The other, also not cherished idea, it would be an Elk to ram…
Without clashes – no matter with whom or what – we reached the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge. Definitely worth a stop. The 45 km2 large area, consisting of sand dunes, sandy beaches, marshland and grassland – invites you to take a walk. Of course only a small one – because of the rain.
After a while we came across the somewhat daunting sounding “Cape Disappointment”. With some 2552 hours of fog a year (that’s about 106 days a year), we found this – among the foggiest places in the US – places in the fog and of course in rain. Surprise. The beautiful Cape Dissapointment lighthouse, built in 1848, we did not get to see in this case. We were told of tremendous views and a beautiful light at the lighthouse. We firmly believe in it.
A few miles east of Point Ellice near Megler, the first part of our journey on Highway 101 ended when we were crossing the Astoria-Megler bridge across the Columbia River to Oregon. Washington was behind us, about 255 miles or 408 kilometers. Oregon we come.