An Illicit, Top-Secret Jaunt
August 17, 2012 Comments Off on An Illicit, Top-Secret Jaunt
Simon and I have just returned from an illicit, top-secret jaunt to the Pacific Northwest. There are doubtless many people I should have dropped in on or had dinner with, but I’m here to tell you I am not going to apologize. Classified, you know.
I won’t do a blow-by-blow account, as much because it was super laid-back as anything else. We spent a couple days in Portland, where Simon showed me around his old haunts at Reed College and we encountered some truly amazing food (chèvre on greens with berries! cucumber-ginger-beer cocktails! profiteroles with whiskey ice cream!). I also finally got up the guts to try a raw oyster! Now that I know it won’t make me gag, next time I’m going to try to taste it.
On the first day we went up to Council Crest Park, a hill with a great view of the city and various volcanoes from the top, and we walked all around and had ecstatic spiritual communion with Douglas firs and a sacred grove of ancient mossed-over maples. The next day we drove out to the coast to see sea stacks, a seal, tide pools filled with hand-sized anemones and the smallest crabs I’ve ever seen, and real grandfather Doug firs that moved me so deeply I had to stop by each one and put my hand on it. I got the shivers a lot, and passersby seemed to think what I was doing was normal, which made me happy. Trees really are sacred; I just think we’re so used to them that it takes a really majestic one with a lot of accumulated power of years to make us feel small and humble. I have never felt as worshipful of trees as I did on this trip.
We also did the Columbia River Gorge, which is breathtaking, and stopped at Multnomah Falls to attempt the extremely strenuous climb to the top. It was a blow to my ego, but when I felt absolutely spent when I got to the sign that read “Switchback 4 of 11,” we decided to turn back. Passing us on their way up were two girls ages ~6 and ~3 (“Can’t we just go back down??”) and a chihuahua puppy. I prefer to think that they are all still alive. Many of the bare rock faces included columnar basalt, which is an extremely cool formation caused by basalt cooling under just the right conditions to fracture vertically into perfect hexagonal prisms.
The third day we went up to Mt. Rainier, which was overwhelmingly powerful in the same way. We got all the way up to Sunrise, at 6400 ft, which isn’t even at half the height of the mountain, and were dazzled by rolling glaciers and haughty aretes. Plus, because we’re glacier veterans, we were able to recognize several icefalls, and felt good about ourselves. We were also hoping to see a bear, but no cigar, even though from on high we spotted a pond in a meadow in the forest in the valley, and it was just asking for a bear to show up. But there’s nothing like a mountain for a dash of cold water to your ego. “I lose my own breath/and wonder who I am to breathe so lightly/when I am so small.”
On our last day we drove up the Olympic Peninsula and very wisely decided not to try to go around the whole thing, although I was very curious to see if a Twilight industry has sprung up in Forks, WA, on the far side of the peninsula. I was going to buy cheesy memorabilia for all my Drunken Twilight pals. Instead we stopped at a rocky beach with tiny hermit crabs (!!!!) and then took the ferry back to Seattle. In the morning we flew out on a flight that went right up to Mt. Rainier and all around it, which I think must have been deliberately planned by Seattle’s tourism department. My heart practically stopped.
Great trip. But like I said, top-secret.