Friday, June 20, 2014

From Portland to Puget Sound

In Portland, we stay with Emily, Derek, and their three kids; this charming, laughing family that surprises us with their goofiness in their adorable house, where we wedge our van so far up the narrow driveway we dread trying to back it out. Portland is drizzly and wet and colorful, we fall in love with the houses, we drink endless coffee, explore Powell's bookstore and snack at the food carts. Our time in Portland, like much of our journey thus far, is meandering and slow. We walk up and down the streets, linger over our coffees and chat with the Clayton family about street art and the ways Portland has changed over the years.

We spend our last night on Alberta Street with a high school friend who takes us to a number of bars, including one filled with cat themed art — the night culminates in a few drunken interviews that we're pretty excited about. All in all, we enjoy Portland, the coffee and the cutesy food trucks and handmade zines, but something about the bustling adorableness is also slightly exhausting, so we're excited to take off for the Olympic National Forest.

The drive to Washington is short and beautiful, lush green hillsides dotted with wildflowers, snowy mountains looming in the distance. We stop in Olympia to get groceries, now that we've picked up our cooler from the REI in Portland, and spend some time organizing the van. Olympia is refreshingly small and drivable, and although we don't see much of it, we get good vibes. We camp out in a Walmart parking lot and visit the farmer's market in the morning to snag some veggies to take camping. The market is bustling with musicians and portraits artists, greens, fruit and honey, homemade soaps and lotions, succulents and knitted goods. We feel at home sniffing at the soaps, sipping coffee, petting a few dogs and finally purchasing some chard and broccoli.

We pass some elk on our way up the peninsula and pull into tiny Forks as the sun is sinking lower in the sky. What we aren't aware of is the fact that the Twilight series is set in Forks, so there is a crazy amount of vampire-fiction related tourist stuff. We spend the night in a rest stop/van pool parking lot and in the morning try and talk to the woman in the visitor center about hot springs but all she wants to talk about is Twilight.

We spend Monday attempting to hike to a viewpoint of Mt. Olympus but underestimate the 6mi uphill hike. We hike for something like three hours, stopping to photograph indignant laser chipmunks, delicate flowers, and waterfalls before stopping for snacks and heading back down to our campsite — the first place we've actually paid to sleep in so far.

The next day we walk to another waterfall on our way out, then take a long winding drive that's not entirely paved to get up to the Hurricane Ridge viewpoint of Mt. Olympus we didn't quite make it to on the previous day. It's a breathtaking panoramic view of snow caps, complete with fluffy munching deer. Afterwards, we drive to Port Angeles and overstay our welcome at an adorable cafe, finally making some progress on planning the next steps of our journey, contacting some folks in East Washington, Idaho, and Montana. We sleep in another Walmart parking lot and in the morning make our way to the Bainbridge Ferry to cross the Puget Sound to Seattle, where we are currently and somewhat belatedly writing this update!

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