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Posts Tagged ‘Washington’

We left Monterey, Frog nursing her broken fender, and before long were immersed in the beauty of the California Pacific Coast and eventually Big Sur. About eleven in the morning I decided it was time for a two Splenda latte and before long found a roadside restaurant that advertised Espresso. I pulled into a large area for parking, separated from a front patio area by a low rock wall. The same wide spot in the road housed a grocery store with identical architecture as the restaurant. I didn’t bother to inquire if the whole was the same operation, didn’t really care.

As I went into the restaurant for my latte I noticed a man sitting in the sun at one of a number of outdoor tables, avoiding the shade of the table’s umbrellas. He was eating what appeared to be a breakfast burrito. Our eyes met and he nodded and I returned the nod.  When I came out, coffee in hand, our eyes met again. I walked toward him and he motioned for me to sit down. He commented on Old Blue’s Washington license plates and the unusual nature of Frog. Before long we were trading our life histories and thus passed a very pleasant and illuminating hour and a half.

Jerry, that is his name, another graybeard like myself, lives in his truck, moving from one campground to another as the time limit for occupancy expires. It was a routine broken only by an occasional trip to Monterey to visit his daughter and to pickup his social security check. He is an artist, one of too many to count with talent but no luck and no sponsor. Actually he never said he was an artist, only that he drew pictures, but the life history I extracted from him included an unfinished engineering degree, time spent as a draftsman, until CAD (computer assisted drafting) made that profession obsolete. He had held various positions in the corporate world but nothing that held his interest for long. He then became a set designer and painter, and described a litany of jobs and experiences including more than one wife, several girl friends and at least the one daughter he spoke to me about.

At one point I went to Old Blue to let Charlize out to do her business and give her the opportunity to meet Jerry. Charlize came directly to him and made friends. Most dogs are good judges of character and I’m beginning to trust Charlize’s judgment in this regard.

Jerry was a little deficient in hygiene. I was careful to stay upwind. Most would probably classify him as a bum, at the least homeless, which technically he was, discounting the truck that I never saw. But he was easy to talk to, a terrific listener who quickly found out why I was on the road, how I came to be at that place at that time and what Charlize’s role was in our odyssey. His story was as interesting to me as, to all appearances, mine was to him We were two strangers who sat comfortably in the sun and talked of life and philosophy and politics, both corporate and academic. We solved no problems, came to no decisions, found no solutions, nor even consensus about those problems that we discussed. We parted as friends, only knowing first names, probably to never meet again, but satisfied with the hour and a half we spent together in gainful conversation. At least Charlize and I were.

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DSCN0349This is Charlize on the beach at Cape Disappointment watching the sun set.

I’ve decided to change my eating habits, at least while on this adventure. We’ll see how that plays out once I’m home. Oatmeal for breakfast instead of a bagel and cream cheese, big meal at noon, usually in a restaurant, then a light dinner, maybe some soup or an omelet, maybe a sandwich.

I’m re-reading Steinbeck, the inspiration for these musings; “Travels with Charley in Search of America”, as well as two of his other works I somehow missed; “The Winter of Our Discontent” and “The Log from the Sea of Cortez”. Steinbeck’s Charley was a Standard French Poodle, with an American name. My Charlize is a German shepherd with a French name.

Day two started at five AM, I am still unable to sleep more than two or three hours at a time, with hours of being awake in between. Not unusual, I am told, for this stage of grief. Charlize and I got away early enough for me to eat breakfast at the Quinault Lodge on the edge of Lake Quinault. I ate sausage and eggs, over easy, with breakfast potatoes. So much for the new diet, it seemed to be a sterling idea at the time but the mantra for this trip is spontaneity. I’ll try again tomorrow.

After breakfast I hobbled over the half-mile long nature trail, a sign-guided tour of a small corner of the Quinault rain forest. Charlize did at least two miles, up and back, side-to-side, a myriad of new and unusual smells to catalogue. I wonder if she remembers them or if each time she smells something it is a whole new experience?

We stopped for a late lunch at South Bend on Route 101, only four miles from Raymond. I spotted a chef in front of his restaurant grilling fresh oysters over a wood fire. I watched as the oysters cooked in cedar smoke, at least twelve inches from the flames, while being basted with the chef’s secret marinade. I collaborated with a nice lady and her husband, who were sitting at an adjoining table, to try and identify the ingredients. We decided it contained lots of fresh, coarsely chopped, garlic, green onions, fresh green herbs, maybe basil or parsley or something else, maybe a combination, in a vinegar base, probably a malted vinegar, not Balsamic. Chef was not sharing any ingredients. We probably left out or miss identified some but he wasn’t giving anything away, and certainly did not share proportions.

About four in the afternoon we arrived at the Lewis and Clark National and State Historical Parks. Clark named the location, the first true sighting of the Pacific, Cape Disappointment, because of the lousy weather the Corps endured for several days running. The campground is owned and operated, by the State of Washington. Frog was all set up with electrical power and fresh water, but no Wi-Fi, no cell phone service and no TV. Still roughing it.

Played fetch with Charlize for half an hour, she’s insatiable. She retrieves with the enthusiasm of a Retriever. When she was panting hard we went down to the beach to watch the sun go down while standing on the same black sand walked on by L and C. Awesome, since the sun was out all day, temperature in the high fifties.

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