Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
Art friends behind us, we headed toward the Olympic National Park. The original plan had been to spend a couple overnights with friends, but my cold made that inconvenient. Instead we would take our time driving west.
The first part of the drive was over the rolling hills of the Palouse, sand dunes deposited after the last ice age and now fertile wheat fields. The yellow stubble below blue sky reminded us of the Ukrainian flag, and their wheat and sunflower fields now subject to war. Sobering.
Almost all our driving would be on two-lane highways. It was nice to avoid big Interstates and get a better feel for the countryside. Of course, road reconstruction slowed us a bit, but those stops allowed us to see the countryside and a, weathered barn.
About halfway through our Monday, we stopped in Kennewick, one of the Tri-Cities. We managed to give Carla some electricity and a washing. Idaho's dust had been a disgrace! After that, we met up with Eric and Susan, friends from decades ago. I first worked with Eric close to a half century ago! Back when we were all young engineers, starting up nuclear power plants.
At "The Hub", we selected from the food trucks and enjoyed conversations of the old days and, more so, of current times. Eric had spent more time than we had in Ukraine, so the current situation bothers us all. And then there were the normal discussion topics of 70-somethings. Two hours of conversation was less than our original two-day visit, but a good start at re-establishing contact.
From the Tri-Cities, we headed west to Yakima, another old-time farm community. The drive followed a fertile river valley, filled with fruit orchards and vineyards. Fresno provides the country with nuts, and Eastern Washington provides apples. Plus wine and other necessities in both places.
Tuesday, would be a trip further west, but first I needed to feed Carla. It was still dark in downtown Yakima and, alone at the Supercharger station, I felt I needed to keep the doors tightly locked. The Yakima Valley farm city reminded me of our own farm city in California's Central Valley, and that's not necessarily a compliment.
Our route would take us through White Pass, the southern-most of the Washington State Cascade passes. We started the trip with a visit to a fruit stand where the proprietor stated proudly that everything came from her own farm, less than a mile away. All along this part of Highway 12, we would see fruit operations, some big and some small.
The other things we saw was more road reconstruction and heavy trucks. I remember this season from my Spokane childhood, when summer and fall were the time for rebuilding roads before winter hit. I think my dad would have loved the Interstates, but these slower paths are good for us.
Most of White Pass is through a narrow valley, with hardly any view at all, but at Goat Rocks, Mount Ranier appears. Unfortunately, there was also a forest fire (named "The Goat Fire") that produced a thick haze.
Out of the mountains, we made a quick charging stop in Centralia, the last Supercharger we would see for awhile. An hour later, we passed over the old iron bridge welcoming us to Aberdeen, where we had a hotel reservation for the night. We stopped for a meal at Duffy's, on Susan recommendation from a couple of days ago. My salmon was great, but I think Marianne got too adventurous with her order of three, huge, deep-fried, razor clams. She politely said "this must be an acquired taste."
Just out of the restaurant parking lot, we headed west toward our hotel, but did not make it. At the first cross street, a lady driving a 2007 Chevy pickup jumped from her stop sign and nailed Carla in the left-front fender, wheel, and door. Over the next hour or two, a pair of friendly and helpful Aberdeen policemen arrived and made a report and a crusty tow truck driver hauled our Tesla out of the highway and over to Five Star collision repair. More friendly and sympathetic folks. And no one was injured.
The rest of the day was spent talking with insurance folks. The path forward is not real clear, but it seems we need to get AAA to carry our injured Tesla down to Portland, where there is a Tesla-certified and State Farm-approved collision repair shop. When? We don't know. Then, we will drive our Hertz car down to Fresno. How we get our Carla back is still a mystery.
On Wednesday, I was awake at about 3:15 and thoughts of car repair did not allow me to go back to sleep before it was time to get up and go to Starbucks for a diary-writing session. Those sessions are routine and, as such, reassuring.
From there, it was back to thinking of plans and making phone calls. Most were to State Farm Insurance, trying to find a doable solution. The company would not pay for storing the car until the collision shop in Portland could accept it. They suggested other shops, but I knew Tesla only sells new parts to their certified repair locations, so non-certified was not viable.
Eventually, I reached out to Diane from our local Fresno State Farm office and she jumped in to try her hand with SFI bureaucracy. Back and forth we both went. Eventually, she said in passing that the company might pay for shipping Carla to Fresno, to a certified shop that was willing to take on the work. An hour or so later, that was the plan: ship the car 1,000 miles, fix it at home, maybe even in 2022. All we need is a call from the transport company. (A call that has not yet happened - Thursday, 7am.)
Business done, we headed back to Duffy's for breakfast, for the Swedish pancakes we had heard about. When we entered the restaurant, we were greeted like old friends, since our collision had happened within view of the dining room and was apparently the talk of the community. At least we provided entertainment. Marianne and I both ordered three special pancakes and they were, indeed, the best I could remember having anywhere; a clear recommendation. (No pictures, because we were too hungry to think of it.)
Our waitress suggested we go to Seabrook, a newish planned coastal community on our way north. We did. The community struck me as very California, on a small scale, with less sun. Homes reportedly run from $400,00 and up, quite a bit up. As isolated and wet as this place is, I don't think we'll invest.
Leaving Seabrook, we drove on a road parallel to the coast for quite a ways, until our phone GPS gave up. WE found ourselves in Tonolah, the center of the Quinault Indian Reservation. We stopped at what looked like a town hall and got directions to go back south for 10 miles or so, and then turn east for 30 miles to highway 101. We did all that, on very empty roads. Pretty, but empty.
Forty-five more miles of driving brought us to Kalaloch Lodge. (BTW, it's pronounced clay-loch.) We joined a half-dozen folks checking in at the cozy lobby/office.
Soon enough, we were registered in Lodge Room #1, a darling little room with an ocean view and a restaurant as the only neighbor.
Since the restaurant was so close, and because wandering over the Olympic Peninsula had made us hungry, we went to dinner the minute the place opened. I ordered "Dungenous crab mac and cheese", because it was comfort food and we deserved it after the last couple of days. Marianne stuck with salad. She's tougher than I am.
After eating we walked the grounds. Just for memories, I visited the charging stalls where Carla was supposed to be. We miss her.
Back from the walk, we watched the sun go down from our porch. A good end to a long day ... a long two days. I slept well.
Thursday morning came after a good night sleep for both Marianne and me. Of course, that still meant I was up doing diary writing hours before she stirred. After writing, I walked and took a few morning pictures. I passed theses phone booths, relics from a past age elsewhere, but up here cell service is unreliable so this pair remains in service.
Speaking of communication, before I go on about our tourist activities, I have to summarize our broken-car situation. By the close of business yesterday, the insurance company solution was to take the car from Aberdeen, Washington, back to Fresno, where a Tesla-certified collision shop was waiting. Great. This would be minimum delay and we would not need a mid-winter return trip to pick up and return with Carla.
However, over the course of Thursday, this solution all fell apart. The car transport company could not find a truck to take the job. State Farm gave up and shifted to plan B: send the car to Portland in a couple weeks, where a shop promised to accept it for temporary storage, even though actually fixing would have to wait until mid-December. Maybe. Then we would fly back and make a mid-winter return drive, including over the often-snowy Siskiyou mountain pass. An adventure we will dread until it is over.
Now, on to Olympic Peninsula tourism. One goal Marianne has is to look at local Native American crafts, "perhaps" buying pillows or some such. We have seen no stores so far for crafts, but someone suggested a trip to the Lake Quinault Lodge gift shop. It's a bit of a drive, but so is everything up here. The Peninsula is big - and empty.
At Lake Quinault, the Museum was closed for the season, but the Mercantile was open. Unfortunately, They had nothing Native American, other than some of the shopkeepers. They were interested in our quest, but could only suggest the Lodge across the street or the village of Hoh, 60 or 70 miles north. We'll leave that for Friday.
The Quinault Lodge looked charming. It had the feel of the National Park lodges we have visited, old and cozy. Next time we may need to stay here, on the lake, instead of on the ocean.
We could not find a place in the Quinault area to eat, but we did find an internet cafe, a relic from the days before ubiquitous cell service and shops with free wi-fi. We gave up and returned to the Kalaloch Lodge for dinner, a mediocre one as we had expected. The setting is nice, but as a restaurant, we've seen better.
I finished the day with a sunset walk and some more pictures: sundown and our porch spider.
On Friday, our goals were meals away from Kalaloch, a Native American shop somewhere, and, time permitting, a walk in woods or on the beach. Partial success.
As I generally do, I wrote while Marianne got her last bit of sleep. The beach view was hazy with fog, a condition that came and went all day. We had been lucky with two days of sun, so a little ground cloud was OK.
For breakfast, we drove 37 miles north, to The In Place in small-town Forks. The meal was good and the wifi very welcome. I don't think "being off grid" is our preferred status. There's too much going on out there. After food and communication, we went to the local visitor's center to get some guidance. A pair of friendly staff provided various brochures and a little guidance on where to find Native American souvenirs.
Next door, The Loggers Museum showed us pictures and dioramas of the old forest life that had been the basis for Forks and much of the Peninsula and the Pacific Northwest. It was a rough life back in the day and probably still is. (It was my grandfather's life, after he left his wife and her baby girl, Thelma. Mom.)
We did find one shop in Forks that dealt with Native American themes. "Native to Twilight" had things from t-shirts to simple hand-crafted boxes and drums, but not exactly the things Marianne had been searching for. We settled for stickers for her and a Sasquatch puzzle for me.
The next stop was La Push, a tribal village out on the Pacific, 20 miles or so west from Forks. The road passed several clear-cut sections, scars on the landscape to us, but reportedly part of a sustainable fifty-year logging process. Trees are cleared in patches, stumps and waste are piled and burned, and seedlings then planted for another generation.
La Push itself was several dozen homes, tribal offices, schools, a senior center, and a fishing harbor. I am always drawn to harbors, even small ones. My mom's step-father was a fisherman, another tough life typical of our Norwegian forefathers.
When I went back and looked at the route our drive had taken us, it was remarkable to me that we were due west from Seattle, not really that far away, as the eagle flies. This side of the Olympic Peninsula just seems so remote. I suppose the twelve feet a year of rain locally does discourage even hardy Northwest types. (Fresno gets about twelve inches.)
We left La Push and Forks before it was time to eat, so we were stuck with another meal at Kalaloch Lodge. There are literally no other options along this whole stretch of coast. Once again, the setting was nice and the food as-expected.
After eating, Marianne broke out her walking sticks and we did a stroll around the lodge grounds. She moves fast when propelled by the devices, so it's pretty good exercise, both for her and for me.
The rain forest starts right along the parking lot. Trees and light-searching bushes form a wall to discourage entry, but behind that barrier is a mysterious world of trees and undergrowth.
That would prove to be our last exercise on the Olympic Peninsula. Saturday was the start of our thousand-mile trip back home, not in Carla as we would have preferred, but in a Hertz rental. Another story.
John and Marianne.