Thursday, October 16, 2008

As close as we're gonna get to Izu: A Pre-Halloween Special

I know I haven't written anything in a long time. We are, after all, not in Japan anymore, and that's what this blog was all about. But our family had a great weekend, and it both reminded us of our trips to Izu and highlighted the very American-ness of our surroundings.

We took advantage of the cute little beach house owned by our friends Robin and Dan, down in Ocean Shores. It's never really warm there, so it didn't matter at all that this is October. It's a fully-furnished place with heat and hot water, very near the Pacific coast, so it's perfect for a weekend getaway.

Our stocking-up trip to the grocery store did not have an auspicious end, as you can see. We were trying to be frugal and bring as much food as we could from home. In rearranging the food in the back of the Jeep, it was, belatedly, discovered that the box of spaghetti was not adequately closed.

I did what any mom would do: put it all back in the box. I mean, you boil spaghetti first right?

I also got a visual reminder of why Halloween will always be superior in the States:

At the grocery store. Any grocery store. Yeah.

There was a very quaint and very Pacific Northwest sort of genral store on the way down. Jeff was very excited about it.

It had everything one might need:

Novelty candy (it fizzes! it lights up! it paints your tongue!) I had to get Red Hots. M generously offered to buy me some. I love Red Hots.

indispensable reading material (guns! motorcycles!)

and belt buckles!

Once we got there and chilled a bit before dinner, we had a night hike to the beach, through this crazy moonlit field of dunes and sea grass. We lost M for a minute, but he thought it was fun to hide from us in the dark. The beach itself is crazy. It's a very wide (and often windy) stretch of perfectly flat, hard-packed sand. You can even drive on it! In fact, they call it the beach highway.

While we were staying so close, we took a day trip the next day to the rainforest near Lake Quinalt. Yeah, I said rainforest. Not a poison-dart frog, boa constrictor, toucans and monkeys kind of rainforest, but that's what it's called. It gets a lot of rain, and it's a forest. It's like fairy-land, really, trees all covered with furry moss and gigantic cedars and pines. Lots of ferns. And not a vending machine in sight.

And lots of adorable chittery little squirrels. Very cool.

For the drive back, Jeff wanted to take the long way back, up the left coast and over across the upper coast, just across from Canada, beach-hopping and finding adventure along the way in towns with names like Moclips, Queets, Sappho, Beaver, and Pysht.

There was no direct highway up the coast, in fact, there was no road there on the map at all, but Jeff "drove" it on his blackberry the night before, via mobile gmaps, so he knew there was something there.

Well, we found the road. Very ominous.

But we had a Jeep, for crying out loud. Time to try 'er out. Besides, that road didn't look all that primitive.

Well, it did get a little more primitive:

And more primitive. When we reached this bridge, I knew we were in for an adventure. I held my breath and squeezed my eyes shut as we drove across it.

It got more primitive.

It also got really bumpy. Good thing we had 4WD, but I still was getting a bit queasy from all the rocking in and out of potholes and huge puddles of uncertain depth. We began to joke about the locals digging huge pits and filling them with water, to trap the unwary out-of-town Jeep adventurer.

The road got downright spooky when we entered into a dense forest, full of huge spooky old trees that looked like either homes for ancient trolls or were ancient trolls themselves.

The road was very muddy, it was kinda dark because of all the trees, and we were constantly keeping our eyes open for deer or other wildlife that might possibly run out in front of the car. This seemed far more likely to happen back here, where nobody goes, apparently. I was getting a bit nervous.

Then we drove up on this.

Let's take a closer look.

That was it. No way. This spooky-ass gutted van is here to tell us that we should not attempt to drive around the gaping hole in the road. I got as close as I dared to take this photo, hoping I would not see any dismembered bodies, and ran all the way back to the car, just in case the same locals we were joking about earlier decided to come out of the trees to a soundtrack of "Dueling Banjos."

We had to turn around. We tried a bunch of the other tiny "roads" that showed up on Jeff's Blackberry, but nothing passable came of those, either. We had failed to find a way up and had to backtrack to the boring ol' highway. The kids were pissed that we had wasted so much time, but then they were watching a movie in back the whole time we were creeping ourselves out, so they didn't appreciate the adventure we'd just had.

We did see a cool beach or two, once we were back on the beaten path. Like this one:

And a beach across from Destruction Island. There's a fun story behind the name:

The island is the place where two ships under the command of Spanish explorer Capt. Bodega y Quadra anchored on July 14, 1775. Seven men from the schooner Sonora were sent ashore to procure wood and water but met with an immediate and distinctly hostile reception from the natives near the mouth of the Hoh River. The party was killed in short order and their boat was subsequently stolen. Bodega y Quadra sailed away, after entering the island in his log and giving it the name, Island of Sorrows. In 1787, Captain Barkley, skipper of the Austrian East India Company's ship Imperial Eagle, also sent a party ashore from the island for the same reason, to collect water and wood to replenish the ship. Again, the shore party never made it off the beach. Barkley named the river where the killings took place the Destruction River. Eventually, the river came to be known once again by its native name, the Hoh, and the island inherited the name of Destruction.

We could see the island from the beach (it's that long one out there), which didn't look very hospitable itself, what with all the jagged rocks and loads of washed-up driftwood.

Somebody made it seem a little more hospitable, tho:

We picnicked here and drove a lot more, looking for coffee and ice cream. After being disappointed by one blink-and-you'll-miss-it town after another, I bitterly crossed Sappho, Beaver, and Pysht off the map. No coffee? In the Pacific Northwest? You don't deserve to be called a town, and you don't deserve to be on our map. I don't think we found coffee til Port Angeles, but hurray for them and for the Itty Bitty Buzz, that had both good coffee and delicious ice cream.

Jeff had found a restaurant online called the Three Crabs, and made reservations. It was Crab Fest, after all. The restaurant was in Sequim (pronouced "squim" for you foreigners). I was highly underwhelmed by the seafood chowder, crab shooters (like jalapeno poppers) and crabcakes I got. I think I am just not excited by Dungeness crab. But the view was cool

and we managed to make a ferry from Bainbridge (the posted wait at Kingston was 2 hours!) and get home for the kids' bedtime (and more importantly, Mad Men).

I might make one more post, for our Halloween party. Just to have a contrast between our parties in Japan and in Seattle. Maybe. Then I'm wrapping this thing up for real.


Blogger MissSin said...

NO! You can't finish this blog.
Or if you are, you had better start a new one; your life in america. Want to see Maxx & Dex as they get bigger; want to see what america REALLY looks like; want to see your new art; I want iwant IWANT!!!

But must say i like the town names.
Especially Sequim, because it's pronounced squim; which sounds nearly like quim. Hehehe....

8:14 AM  
Anonymous Barb P said...

Oh no, please don't stop! I, too, love to see your family and would really miss all your adventures!!

10:09 AM  

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