Tuesday, June 30, 2009

A West Coast Tour

If you're short on time, just hold the page-down key down and don't blink. It actually works.

I dragged a German undergraduate on a roadtrip in the days before his flight out of Missoula. Phil's only stipulations were to see the temperate rainforest and San Francisco. Pff, is that all? We prepared Jiggles for the arduous journey ahead (i.e., filled the gas tank) and were on our way.

[Disclaimer: some of these shots are his.]

We started out along the Rocky Mountain front on our way to Glacier NP. The weather had been marginal but was starting to look better.

Glacier itself was pretty good. We hit Many Glacier first. In 15 minutes it switched from biting cold rain to brilliant warm sunshine. Ah, mountain weather.

St. Mary was brilliant the next day. We drove up as far as we could go, but Logan Pass was still closed due to "The Big Drift". This being my second time in the park, we made time for a quick waterfall hike.

The flowers were out.

But we left the park in a hurry. We had to make Seattle. And we did, driving through a drenching shitstorm. Seattle turned out to be the worst waste of money and time on the whole trip. Our expensive motel was ideally located downtown, but every bar within walking distance was overpriced and full of fauxhawk-sporting doofuses. Fauxhawks on 40-year-olds inspires the punching urge in me. At 2 a.m. we were woken up by parties on either side of us. Or rather Phil was woken up; I was so out of it that I pretty much slept straight through.

Two bonuses: while downtown, Phil got to witness some drunk dude yelling at his friend, "I am a straight-up HUSTLAH! I got money in the BANK!" He didn't realize people outside of movies actually spoke like that. Bonus 2: sushi made by real Asians. I don't think any of them were Japanese, but it was close enough for Phil.

And we were off! Olympic NP beckoned. First stop: Hurricane Ridge. Actually the first stop was Port Angeles, where we found a sixpack of Miller Highlife tallboys for $4. But then we went to Hurricane Ridge.
Sometimes the sightlines were a little short.But not always.
And the flowers were out.
If you don't like wildflowers, you're just plain weird.

The next day was spent at the beach. I've never had a sunny day at Olympic.
Phil took an involuntary swim in the Pacific.There were even wildflowers at the beach.

A major theme of the day was skipping the infinite supply of perfect stones in to the surf.

We visited the Hoh rainforest the next day along with more beaches.
We also found a sea-stack shaped like a boner. Outstanding.

We headed south, briefly stopping in Portland on our way to a night in Eugene. The ass-hats who bought my house have planted a little garden in the front yard and have a sign up sanctimoniously bragging about it being pesticide/herbicide-free. 1) I never used any, but somehow managed to keep things nice and usually undead. It's called "pulling weeds" and "watering" you stupid fucks. This is so obviously a cover for your lazy asses. What really drives me crazy is that people there probably believe your bullshit. 2) You worthless shitheads probably planted your garden in leaded soil--even after you saw the lead-paint test results I provided. I am apparently the only guy in Eugene who ever got his house tested for lead paint and, not only that, didn't hide the results from you during the buying process. I'm sure you are slowly poisoning your family. Words are inadequate to describe the magnitude of my dislike for you.

I feel a little better now.

Oh, and it was also nice seeing Joe and Megan.

Then we went to Redwoods NP.
The lighting in the forest made for some cool shots. The combination of enormous ferns and enormouser trees never got old.

Another theme of the "wet coast" were foreign trees growing out of dead stumps and logs. They made for some weird and occasionally Giger-esque viewing.

And we kept going, down U.S. 101 and then to the coast on California 1.
We stopped in some gucci little town for lunch, found the slightly less-gucci eatery at the edge of town, and I had the best burrito of my life while we watched Brazil vs. South Africa with a crowd of Mexicans. It was an excellent break from landscape scenery.

Phil wanted to see San Francisco. I wasn't so enthused about it: pricey, unfamiliar, and hilly (Jiggles has a gigantic clutch and no hand-brake). But we stopped in anyway.
Done. We pressed on to Big Sur and listened to NPR's Michael Jackson coverage on the way out of town.

Every campground we passed was full. Full, full, full. We drove on through the evening and in to twilight in our futile search. Phil noticed a small road going up in to USFS land in the coast range, so we tried it out. The drive up wasn't promising, but once we got above the marine layer/clouds we had one of the best views ever, anywhere.
The photo doesn't really do justice. Phil had bought some salami and we had fresh sourdough, so we sat out at night eating sandwiches and watching satellites pass overhead.

We continued down the coast after some "field showers" and our standard delicious breakfast of ClifBars and warm water.
Look at this last photo closely. It's like something from Captain Planet.

We stopped to watch some Elephant Seals.
They were either asleep or fighting. Just like grad school.

We hustled to meet my sister-in-law in Malibu, but found time to explore a little red dot on the map called "Nippomo Dunes". We crested a dune and Phil said, "You don't need to leave this country. Everything is here." Well, sorta. But yeah, it's a big country. I like it very much.
But enough beach time. On to Malibu.

Heather met us at an ocean-front eatery called Neptune's Net. Trav had taken me there before. It's a pretty spot and the food is good. Afterwards, Jiggles explored the low gears in an effort to navigate to Heather's place in Hollywood. When I say "Hollywood", I mean physically ON Sunset Blvd. I had no idea. It's ridiculously nice and she put us up for the night. We woke at 4:45 a.m. and went out to breakfast. It was a good idea, since we did Hollywood to Missoula in 18.5 hours.
And just like that, it was over. Phil is in Miami and will soon be home in Potsdam. I'm staring down eight straight weeks of mosquito-filled field work. And Jiggles is bathing in fresh engine oil.