WanderlustBy Sam Lepore

Subject: Finishers Wander 22 - Aberdeen, Washington
Date: Sun, 02 May 2004 20:40:40 -0700

    Some days you just don't expect much. Some times those days are the most rewarding.
    Perhaps it is the beginning of the changing of the guard. My mindset is beginning to recognize the nearing end of the trip. After all, I am "only" a thousand miles from home. This is when it becomes most difficult not to just say the heck with it and be home tomorrow. But no, there is one more target, and geez is it ever tucked out of sight.
    Be it laziness or travel weariness, I didn't move when the alarm went off. Didn't move for almost another hour. Then a lingering breakfast with Dan at the Barking Dog Pub, and I was not underway until after noon. Foolish decision when there is so far to go before the rains return to the Great NorthWet.
    The Edmonds Ferry is always a pleasant ride, and unlike North Carolina bikes get to load first. I sat right in the prow watching the GPS in nautical units as we skimmed over the water. Dang, I forgot it would add nearly an hour to the day for the ferry. The target was getting later. Dang, a few miles later the Hood Canal Bridge was closed and the waiting line backed up for a mile to me and miles beyond. That target was receding even more.
    At last, traffic moved and I began to peel off the vehicular 'obstacles', passing one by one until I was past the towns and into the center of the Olympic Peninsula. Mount Olympus was magnificent as a throne among its minion forests. It was making its own clouds while the day around me was bright and sunny. The clouds danced around the summit like jesters around the dais.
    One of the more-than-expected delightful surprises was WA112, the road to Neah Bay. With excellent pavement and little traffic, it dipped and twisted along the very edge of the coast for 30 miles. This gem is as good as anything you will find in North Carolina too. It may well be my new favorite "road to nowhere", because the way out is the only way back. Neah Bay is a pleasant little place, secure in its remoteness. The locals could tell I wasn't, and were friendly to let me pass or turn first at intersections. I must have seemed in a hurry - or at least I must have seemed to have somewhere to go. They were neither. I happened to be in Neah Bay on one of the probably few sunny days it sees. The fog out in the channel reminded me of San Francisco in summer, just waiting to pounce.
    A left here, a right there, following the detailed map loaded into the GPS, I finally found the turn around the back of the Indian cultural center. And there, on a back road on the Makah Indian Reservation, on the way to Cape Flattery is an otherwise nondescript curve in the road, except that this spot is the farthest west you can drive in the contiguous US. N48.37440 W124.72278 [Photo of Westermost point]
    It is about as 'middle of nowhere' as you can get ... which I suppose gives new meaning to the old phrase "Flattery will get you nowhere" :)
    The Finishers Wander is now complete, except it is not finished. The western part of my trip is over, I am headed south and home. Like ET in the movie so long ago extending a finger and intoning hooooooome, I point toward California and mentally see every road entering the state. There are only seven paved highways into California from the north, and I have ridden each one more than that number of times. There are no new things to report. There are no new roads to take. This time I opt for a leisurely approach down the coast and will follow convoluted 101. US101 is the only road I know of where you can continue "straight" on the same road and reverse directions of travel, kind of like a paved mobius strip. US101 North becomes US101 West becomes US101 South.
    And in no time the coast road presents the incomparable Pacific Coast. It doesn't matter if you ride Washington, Oregon, or California, the coast knows no boundaries on beauty. It is breath taking with crashing waves, cliffs falling to the sea, and clandestine clutches of beaches clinging between them. All this is bracketed with sweeping forests and mountains that likely still have places humans have never seen. Here the "smaller" trees lining the road are 120 feet tall. The occasional big brother redwood looks down from twice that height. A lone motorcycle navigating the thin ribbon of pavement that cleaves the solitude feels so insignificent. Add to this a nearly full moon risen over the hills with the sun plunging into the sea's horizon and there is nothing left but to ride and enjoy it. How bad is that. Much more rewarding than expected.
    Interesting how the letter Q is prominent among the Indian names here: Quillayute, Queets, Quinault, and Hoquiam all pass by. Then there is Humptulips ... don't wanna know. By the way, I found the first ever additive error on the GPS base map in 6 years of traveling with it all over the US. It shows WA109 going from Queets to Taholah. There is no such road, and neither does it appear in Mapsource or Street Atlas. Most unusual.

313 miles
Seattle WA99 WA104 US101N-US101W WA112 Neah Bay WA112 WA113 US101S Aberdeen
Sam Lepore, San Francisco

Previous Index Next
© 1997-2004