24 August 1997

Olympic Peninsula - Pygmy Boats - to Seattle

I woke around 7:00 and boiled some water for tea. It had gotten chilly in the night. I went for a walk around the campground around dusk and could see my breath puffing whitely into the darkening air. This morning the tea steamed out of the holes in my insulated mug and it felt good to wrap my hands around it.

While striking camp, the guy in the spot across from me was also packing up. He commented that we seemed to be on the same schedule (and about the only people stirring in the campsite) and we started chatting. He's from Alabama and, like me, doing a loop of the Olympic Penninsula also only he's going the other way. He recommended stopping at Dungeness Spit and I recommended Ruby Beach and Lake Quinault. He was also travelling alone and commented that there were a lot of advantages to travelling by yourself. I found my self agreeing...other than that one time waiting for the fireworks, I'd been really enjoying being on my own. We both agreed that there were some disadvantages as well but overall, solo travel was pretty cool. I followed him out of the park and down off the mountain to Hwy 101 where he turned west and I turned east. I'd thought about going on up to Hurricane Ridge since it came highly recommended by a friend who used to live in WA but since the day was starting out foggy and the clouds were clinging to the ground, there didn't seem to be much point.

I stopped at Dungeness Spit. It's a nice wildlife refuge and recreation area. The spit itself is 5 miles long and maybe 50 yards wide for the most part. At the very end is a lighthouse, winking in the fog. I started hiking along the beach but didn't really have any intention of going all 5 miles out. I went maybe halfway. It was a kind of strange experience to see the pounding surf on one side of the spit (the side you hike on) and just over there, the water is placid. There was lots of driftwood and sea birds and way out at sea I saw a freighter.

Port Townsend, home of Pygmy Boats. I drove out to Fort Worden Marine Science Center and then decided at the last minute against going in. While I was driving around, the thought occurred to me that it was Sunday and most likely Pygmy Boats wouldn't be open. I used a pay phone to call and sure enough, the message said they were closed on Sundays. Bummer...

I went on to Bainbridge Island to catch the ferry to Seattle. I stopped at grocery-store-on-steroids to grab some lunch and sudden crush of humanity after the days of quiet solitude in the trees was extremely jarring. Everyone seemed so rushed and rude and loud. I know they weren't but for a few moments I'd wondered if I should have planned my trip with the solitude on the other end...

My first ferry ride went without a hitch and I found Dean's place with very little trouble. We sat around and chatted a while, then he took me on a walking tour of the Fremont neighborhood, an area described by the AAA tourbook as "quirky." I mentioned that to Dean and he said that they have their own motto, something in Latin that means "Free to be odd." They do a good job of it too.

We started our tour with the Statue of Lenin. It's this huge statue done by some famous sculpter (ok, I admit I'm vague on details...I read the signpost but a lot of it hasn't stuck). It's noted for several reasons. One is that its the only known depiction of Lenin where he's not carrying a book or something peaceful and scholarly. He's striding boldly through flames. For another, some guy ran across the statue abandoned somewhere after Lenin fell into disfavor and he "rescued" it. It's moved from place to place in the Fremont area...one place had flooded and the ground washed out from under it, then it lay face down on a flatbed for a year or two until they found a place for it, etc. That's how it ended up where it is. And, hey, how often do you find a monumental statue of Lenin in the USA??

Next stop was The Rocket. It's an honest to goodness 50's NASA rocket that someone mounted to the corner of a building. It has the motto painted on it's side and some non-original additions in neon lights and fin spikes. Dean tells me that for a quarter you can make it shoot smoke out the jets, but I didn't try it.

Then there was the "Waiting for Transit" sculpture at a bus stop near the Fremont bridge. It's a group of people standing there, reading papers or whatever, just waiting for the bus. Dean says that periodically, someone will come along and "dress" them in costumes. When we were there, the woman figure had been draped in bridal veil and gown and there were flowers and such which added to the "wedding" theme. Dean said he'd been by the day before and a wedding party was posing with the decorated sculpture. He also told me about a dog that was part of the sculpture but we couldn't get a good look at it from where we were given the traffic. He said that the artist had given the dog the face of someone he didn't like (another artist) and while the subject complained, the artist denies it but Dean says there's an obvious resemblance

Our last sculptural stop was the Troll Bridge. This was my personal fave. Somebody had taken an enormous amount of cement and sculpted a giant, one-eyed troll under an overpass. One hand clutches an old VW bug (a real one) and the trolls open eye is a VW hubcap. I loved it...

We went back to Dean's place, Linda met us and we headed out again to see the fish ladders and grab some supper. The fish ladders/locks were pretty cool. There were some salmon moving through the ladders but the main migration was at kind of a lull between runs. The park grounds around the locks/ladders was really nice. They told me they have a series of concerts in the park throughout the summer, and we saw the schedule although there was nothing going on when we were there.

The thing that impressed me most about the park were the fuscias! Dean said that all fuscias originated in Washington in or near this park. They had fuscias like I've never seen before. One was a very tree-like plant with a woody stem and branches and enormous blooms of intense color. Incredible! The whole park was like a botanical garden with all the trees and plants labeled. Lovely!

We went to Ray's Cafe for supper and I had my first Pacific seafood...my fourth day here and no seafood before now. I must have been ill in the head... :-)