Hard to Imagine – July 24, 2018

It is hard to imagine how we could have had a more beautiful day than yesterday, but if there was one to be had, this was it.

After a quick yogurt in our room, we left early and were on the road by 8:30. But, we did have to stop for some coffee for my driver. Not a problem. The plan was to go to the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park, then out to Cape Flattery, the most Northern and Western point in the contiguous United States; returning to Sequim by dinner time.

Last evening’s marine fog still lay over the water like a fluffy, billowy quilt that was being pushed slowly back by the increasing heat of the mid-morning sun. The entire drive was one into extreme wilderness on a winding, two-lane road with little other traffic. About half way to our turn off to the Hoh, we decided to bypass it in favor of going straight to Cape Flattery first, returning past Forks and then on to the Hoh.

Along the drive, we marveled at the extreme blue of the strait waters – usually only ever seen as grey. The skies were just as blue and clear above the fog layer that was dissipating. In the distance we saw the peaks from Vancouver Island, B.C. and along the way, a bald eagle sunning himself on a coastal rock. As we pulled the car to the shoulder so I could snap a picture, he decided he didn’t necessarily want any company and moved stealthily behind the big rock.

We arrived in Neah Bay on the Makah Reservation about 12:30, badly in need of a comfort stop. The beautiful Makah Museum offered us not only comfort, but a lovely tribute to the culture of the people who first inhabited these shores. I especially enjoyed the exquisite detail of the dioramas of their early settlements. Unfortunately, they do not allow photography. You must go and see it for yourself. I highly recommend it.

Before we had arrived at the museum, because we were so badly in need of comfort, we had all but decided to skip the trip to Cape Flattery and go on to the Hoh without seeing the edge of the world at the Cape. But, once we felt better and were nourished by the wonderful information of the museum exhibits, we were in a much better mood to be influenced by the cheerful docent at the museum desk.  She encouraged us to make the hike out to the Cape; it was only a mile; it was only a 200 foot change in elevation; it would only take about 15 minutes down and 20 minutes back up; it was a well groomed trail with resting benches and boardwalks; and the day was relatively clear so views should be abundant. Well, yes, how could we refuse? We changed our plans again and decided to go for the hike out to Cape Flattery as originally planned.

And we are so glad we did. We stopped at the trail head and picked up a hefty walking stick adorned with beads and feathers and set out down the trail. The tall quiet majestic trees comforted us; silence enveloped us; coolness and fog swirled around us; and we picked our way carefully farther and farther into the dense forest. The walking stick turned out to be an essential aid and without it I may never have made it to the end of the trail, much less made the return trip! When we reached the Cape, we could hear the rush of the waves beneath us; see the fog dancing around the rocks before us; and the expanse of the Pacific Ocean beyond us, and we stopped in stunned appreciation. Fellow hikers from all over the world who were basking in the beauty of the spot were respectful, yet genial and friendly, sharing amazement and stories. This vista; this beauty; this trek through the forest had reminded us we are all family and we shared our joy.

Returning to the car after the hike back up, I knew I would not be able to part with the trusty hiking stick I had picked up at the trail head. Gratefully, we found a box where donations were accepted if we wanted to take our sticks with us. Well, we both certainly did. They will remain mementos of our hike to the “end of the world.” Well, no, not the end of the world. As the curator at the museum had told us, the Makah call it “The beginning of the world.” These sticks will be mementos of our hike to “The beginning of the world.” What a turn of perspective!

Stopping back in Neah Bay, we had hoped to find a deli sandwich at Washburn’s General Store, however, there were none to be had. So, we decided to move on to Forks, a somewhat larger community, to find some lunch. But, before we left I couldn’t help but ask if I could take a picture of an artist refurbishing the totem pole outside the store. He graciously granted permission and I have this lovely memory, too.

Getting back in the car, we survived on peanuts and dried fruit while deciding to skip the Hoh Rain Forest entirely; skip Forks; and take the more scenic route along the shores of Lake Crescent. We kept looking ahead on the phone to see if we could find a lunch spot – well, by now an early dinner spot – but the wireless service was so spotty it was impossible. So, we did it the old fashioned way. When we saw the large sign that said “Hungry Bear Cafe” we pulled right in. We felt as hungry as bears, that was for sure.  The food was nothing exceptional, but it was nourishing and hot and much better than nothing. We were grateful.

Now, on to drive the south shore of the lake while the sun was setting. We found our way back to our room in Sequim by 7:30 – eleven hours from when we had left – and settled in with the lovely memories of our very eventful and energizing day.

Grace is everywhere, and can not only be seen and felt, but also touched, smelled, tasted, and heard. This day was a testament to grace in all its forms. Hard to imagine anything more beautiful.