The Great Quest West is a series recounting the two-week road trip my brother and I took this August through eight of the most western states.
August 8, 2015
We emerged in a short ten minus to our first neighboring state, Oregon. The 101 drifted to and fro the misty, rocky shoreline with low, low tides and ample driftwood. We stretched our limbs at Bandon Beach and stopped by the local Farmer’s Market. Up the coast we cruised by massive sand dunes hidden lightly behind pine trees. Just off the coast accompanied by crystal clear tide pools was Thor’s Well. Clam shells replaced rock beds making the dry land appear dark violet and grey. The tides washed in the well and drifted away, like the drain of a bathtub, exposing starfish and crabs clinging on for dear life. At seven we arrive in downtown Portland and pull over to make a few dozen phone calls until finding our golden ticket at “America’s Best Quality Inn”, a motel just thirty minutes north of the downtown. I unlock the aged acrylic door to a faux-wood, fluorescent lit double queen bed relatively safely hidden from the spotting rain and night sky.
August 9, 2015
The Pacific Northwest is like a flurry of sleepy towns built just along the tree lines, still close enough to the cliffs to catch the heavy fog banks that float like ghosts across the elevated highway. Driving in to Portland we inevitably ended up at Powell’s flagship bookstore. Books do feed the soul. We left brunch full and made our way out of the city to Suavie Island where aptly named U-pick farms line the land. We chose the peach farm hoping for the chance of apples and leaving with $2.40 of fresh green beans, strings, and zucchinis. The drive to Washington entailed drives down escalating highways lined with pines and Christmas trees that filled the car with a hint of the holidays. With my window down my loose hair tickling my checks and Young the Giant song tracking my moments, I could drive this road forever. We camp in La Push and attempt to set up the tent on a gravel-packed drive-in with brown rabbits watching us mockingly from the bushes. Misty forest rain trickles down on us at twilight hoping that this tent won’t come crashing down in the middle of the night.
August 10, 2015
The rain pattered down on our tent on and off throughout the night. Occasional bird cries or a rustle in the bushes caused an ever so slight stir to a deep sleep. We took the ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle. The water rippled perfectly across the water as the ferry trekked effortlessly through the choppy current. We ended up at the EMP museum and geeked out over the exhibits including Nirvana, Jimi Hendrix, Star Wars, video games, and fantasy epics alike. We made our way to Capitol Hill for a questionable Thai restaurant conveniently located in the hipster district. On our way back to the car we spontaneously got piercings at a hole in the wall. Sorry Mom. Rather than staying in the city until nightfall we made our way back down to Oregon for Crater Lake. As I drove the candy-colored sunset over the countryside began to fade and I feel my eyes and so does my vision, but I stay alert as I drive through the pitch black and unfamiliar forest for three hours hoping that we would spy our a place to camp, but all we found were fifty deer and aggressive truck drivers. Exhausted and slightly paranoid we park the car and fall asleep in a lodge’s parking lot. Freezing, uncomfortable and tired we manage a broken four hours of sleep before frankly giving up blocking the rising sun from our sleepy eyes.
August 11, 2015
We swing back down the highway and uncover the mysterious landscape surrounding us just hours earlier with a much darker sky. The lake is bright blue and unbelievably vast. No photo could warn you of the blissful silence that sweeps high above the water’s surface. The crisp morning air revitalizes all my senses. Standing on top a cliff I feel so incredibly small. I’m reminded of how utterly small daily stress and drama in life is in comparison with the beauty of nature. We continued driving south the Kalamath Falls only to discover that in fact there is no actual water fall and the photos we saw were just outside Portland. Singing along to all my favorite songs, obeying the speed limit with cruise control and enjoying the notoriously despised 5 Highway, we head down to Yosemite. I get lost in my thoughts and think about the next few months.