Friday, August 22, 2008
Cascades, Crazies, and Volcanoes. . .
. . . it was at this point that I took the longest drive of my trip and had some "interesting" experiences along the way. I was driving on some back-road highway in Montana, hoping to reach either Idaho or even washington before I found a place to sleep for the night. The scenery in Montana was amazing--it was a countryside that wound its way through forests and hills which had many lakes dotting the landscape. I was in the middle of nowhere when things got a bit erie. Dusk was soon approaching, but before its arrival a huge windstorm arose, blowing in ominous looking clouds and creating a strange haze that had a dreamlike quality or rather an other-worldly quality. It is hard to describe the scene, but I had to stop just to get out of the car and experience it. I pulled over next to an old barn that was nestled in its own little valley between some of the forested hills. Nothing else, other than nature, could be spotted. The tall, wild grasses danced wildly in the wind, creating interesting patterns as they bowed to and fro. The trees on the hills looked as if they were attempting to stretch their tops to the ground below.
I returned to my car and continued on my journey, arriving in a small town around dusk. According to my map this little town was the largest piece of civilization for hundreds of miles in any direction. I was hungry, tired, and in need of filling up my gas tank when I pulled into the community. The town seemed strange to me for some reason or another, but I couldn't quite put my finger on it. When I pulled into the gas station, which had the feeling of abandon, I discovered that I could not pump the gas. A woman came outside and informed me that the power for the entire town was out and that there was no means by which to pump gas here. I would have to travel on to the next town and hope that they had power. As I continued to drive through the town I discovered that even the stop lights were out--there were no back-up generators for anything. It felt as if this were the perfect cliche for a horror movie. . . I just needed to find some little old motel or go wandering through the woods or something. . . well, we all know how those movies go!
I was loving it! The ambiance was as foreign as could be felt in America--circumstance has a funny way of dictating feeling, and this was truly making an adventure for me. As I was driving out of the town, perhaps I mile or two past the outskirts, I drove past a man on the side of the road with a chainsaw. I could not help but laugh hysterically at the sight, all things considered. Never fear, there was no blood strewn across his clothes. . . the man was actually cutting down trees in the wood. It was perfect though.
I arrived at the next town, the power was in tact, so I fueled up and headed on my way. Upon arriving in Idaho I stopped in some town on a river. I was extremely hungry with no food. Everything was closed, but fortunately they had a casino and while the restaurants were closed inside (it was quite late now) there was a little snack shop open for the slot players. I ordered a sandwich, ate, and continued on my way, stopping in some other small town an hour away in Idaho.
The next morning I continued on my way through Washington. Once more, I was taking the lesser traveled highways and I ended up near the Canadian border, passed a forest fire that had just been put out and continued the long trip to North Cascades National Park. I camped that night in some small mountain community just outside the National Park. The next morning I packed up my tent and headed for the mountains. I ended up doing some hiking to a place called pyramid lake. It was a relatively short hike, just a few hours up and back. The North Cascades are a beautiful mountain range, but as far as National Parks are concerned, well, it tells you something that they do not charge anyone to enter and there are no visitors centers. . .
As I drove out of the North Cascades I had to stop at a little roadside shop that was selling homemade ice cream from fresh blueberries and raspberries--it was awesome! After savoring the flavors I continued on toward Seattle. About 40 miles outside the city nature began to call and with a vengeance. I quickly pulled over at a rest stop, entered the bathroom and did my business. As I was sitting on the throne I noticed a little whole that had been cut out of the bottom of the divider. Strange, I thought but didn't much mind it until I thought I saw something shimmering down there. I thought it was awfully low for the toilet paper rack in the next stall to be that low, and I thought to myself, if there is some pervert with a mirror or a camera down there. . . I looked more closely and discovered that it was the rims of some perverts glasses trying to get his jollies through a peep-hole. I was livid! Not desiring to get into a confrontation with my pants down, I acted as if I did not notice, finished my business, and on my way out of the stall (when my pants were back up) I kicked the little peep-hole. I was too disgusted to say anything to this pervert and I looked over my shoulder as I washed and dried my hands, thinking to myself, "If that pervert comes out of that stall while I am here, I am going to kick his @?!" Needless to say, the dirty-old-man (who is actually middle-aged), slowly stood up and peeped over his stall door, saw me looking over my shoulder with the look of death, and sheepishly sat back down. Creepy, crazy pervert! The guy was much bigger than me, but I swear my viking blood was boiling and I would have unleashed a fury that Erik the blood-axe would have been proud of had that fool not sat back down!
I continued on to Seattle and randomly picked a spot to pull off of the freeway in order to get some photographs. I stayed in the city for several hours exploring new spots. Around 10 pm I figured it was time to head out and find a place to stay the night. Mt. Rainier was next on my list and it didn't seem all that far away so I drove there with the intention of finding a camping spot on the mountain (which happens to be a volcano for any of you who are not aware). I arrived at several campgrounds within the National Park, and all were full. Not having a backcountry permit, I couldn't just plop down anywhere in the wilderness, so I drove to the top of the road, arriving around 2 am, and ended up sleeping in my car for the night.
The next morning, I arose and spent the day exploring the mountainside. It was spectacular! A glacier covers the volcano and snow was all about the mountain which dominated everything around it. It made the other mountains that surround it look like little mounds. It was unbelievable! Needless to say, I went wild with my camera taking a number of photos, eating up the hours in this revery before heading on to Olympic National Park. . .