Clearing Olympia (you can see the Capitol dome from the freeway) it starts raining again. Everyone seems to drive over the limit in Washington, I try not to hold too many people up. I see a couple of logging trucks, but not many, which surprises somewhat.
It is a pretty good road, though they are fixing it up in a couple of places. Apparently Aberdeen is a bit depressed now, timber mills closing down, chips being sent to Japan rather than logs or milled timber. Something to do with Washington lumber not being up to spec.
The two and a bit hours fly by.
When you enter the city of Aberdeen the sign says “Welcome to Aberdeen” and then below it “COME AS YOU ARE”. Then a few yards further on there is a sign proclaiming “The Timber Capital of the World”. But of course, it isn’t any more.
You don’t have to go very far to find Kurt Cobain’s memorial park. You cross one bridge and there is a little Cobain sign on a lamppost pointing right. Follow this little signs – hard to read when driving and it leads you along the Wishkah River. I drove over the bridge by mistake, but backtracked and here I was.
A quiet suburban street, dogs barking, a guy in a huge construction lorry going round the block.
This was a powerful and moving moment for me. Thankfully I met a local who was showing some friends around, one was Cheyenne, a Native American who had recently moved up from Southern California. We talked politics, but he too was moved.
So they kindly took my photo under the bridge. It was muddy (thankfully the rain had stopped an hour earlier) and my new Doc Martens were covered very quickly.
I get in the car and Google tells me to drive up the Wishkah River to get to my next destination, so I do just that, but I realise just in time that Cobain’s childhood home is also around here somewhere.
Another u turn, some frantic Googling and here we are. It is a couple of blocks from the bridge in that same quiet neighbourhood, no signage, nothing. It was for sale a couple of years ago, but it looks like it is still uninhabited.
I end up driving ten or twelve miles up the Wishkah. It turns into an attractive river – eventually – but down by Aberdeen it is unappealing and tidal. Apparently a third of Cobain’s ashes were sprinkled in the river by the Bridge.
The Wishkah River eventually peters out and I take a cross country road and soon I am on the highway North.
After a while scrubby farmland turns into forest and it feels closed in. In the middle of nowhere there is post office, on the other side alas, in a place called Neilton.
The post mistress doesn’t have postcards, but I buy lots of stamps off her, including some collectible Star Trek stamps, which she says she has had for ages and nobody bought them. She then suggests if I am sight seeing to go look at the world’s largest spruce, coming up on my right.
Hard filming on your own.
I stop at the general store, grab a root beer, some snacks for the road and postcards. Then back on the main road.
After a big zig (or is it a zag?) the road eventually finds the Pacific Ocean. The first beach, South Beach, is locked. But I stop at the next, “Beach 1”. The water is COLD.Trees grow right up close to the beach. It is wild and dangerous – signs warn of logs in the water.
Further ahead a sign foretells of a giant cedar tree, so I go have a look. Unfortunately the termites have got to it, so it isn’t so big anymore, but I meet a mother and her four little kids. I am wearing my Darth Vader “Paternity” t shirt, and a couple of the kids are wearing Star Trek hoodies cum costumes, so we have a laugh about that.
She tells me that at Beach 4, they have taken the drift logs and constructed a beautiful bridge, but I don’t feel like back tracking.
I do however spend more than half an hour looking for another giant cedar, but again I wasn’t impressed when I finally found it, so no photo.
This puts me behind schedule.
I eventually pull up outside the information centre at Forks at 4.45, but it seems they went home early this day. A couple of other tourists show up after me and bang on the door, to no avail, the sign is up.
Forks used to have 3450 residents, that is what the sign at entrance says, but it is probably less than 3000 now because the timber mill has closed. It is clearly not doing so well anymore.
I need to pick up the pace if I want to buy a Steelhead license, so I press on to Port Angeles.