For the first several days of our trip to Oregon, we were far out of state. Our flight landed in Vancouver, British Columbia, where we spent two days before hopping the ferry to Victoria. Two days later we were on another ferry to Port Angeles, Washington, and then made our way south.
One of my favorite photos from Vancouver is this one, taken after we had spent an afternoon wandering about the harbor and exploring Granville Island. It was sunset when we finally made our way back to the dock of Granville Island to await the tiny little harbor ferry, only to find that we were not the sole occupants of the dock. A great blue heron was there as well, providing the perfect juxtaposition of urban and wild.
Upon arriving at Port Angeles — and eating lunch at a diner so typical of small-town western US that it was stereotypical, right down to the garrulous waitress with very right-wing beliefs — we headed uphill to a place I had not seen for twenty years. Hurricane Ridge looks much different during a summer drought than it did the last time I saw it, with snow on every peak. The “snow” visible here is not snow but glaciers, or the remnants of them.
I hope this artist was making judicious use of sunblock. The visitor center at Hurricane Ridge is just under one mile high in altitude: 5,242 feet (1,598 meters), and it was here that my wife acquired the only sunburn I have ever seen on her. She has darker skin than I, and usually scoffs at sunblock because she never needs it, but she has only experienced this kind of altitude a few times in her life (mostly in my company). For two months she looked a bit like WC Fields.
Just a few hours south, and in sharp contrast to Hurricane Ridge, is the Hoh Rain Forest. None of us had ever been there, and I’d like to go back someday, when I have time and backpacking gear. There are some fabulous trails here.
We satisfied ourselves with one of the short walks, and it was here, surrounded by giant conifers and that unmistakable scent of temperate coastal rain forest, that I first felt I had truly come home. (The tree behind Maria is not a conifer but a maple — their rough bark makes a perfect substrate for moss.)
The coastal highway doesn’t often touch the actual coastline in Washington, so it wasn’t until we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon that we began seeing those glorious ocean views. Late in the day, we pulled into Ecola State Park and walked to a very familiar overlook.
I’ve hiked the trails of Tillamook Head numerous times, and ogled this view of Cannon Beach for hours. On the other side of this headland (behind the photographer) is another, lesser-known beach called Indian Beach. It was there, in October 2006, that I asked Maria to marry me with the Terrible Tilly lighthouse as our only witness. A week later she flew home to Portugal, and I would not see her for another three months. Those were three very long months.
We hadn’t been back to this park in nine years. It looks exactly the same. But heavens, how our lives have changed since then — and all for the better, because Maria said yes.