Road Bits: Shi Shi

What do you do with a lot of time on your hands?

Well personally, I read… and eat. And clean. I know what every single person is doing on Instagram at this very moment. But after two weeks I’m starting to go a little stir crazy so ARISE, DEAR BLOG! It’s time to write again, and inspire (?) all you blog skimmers out there.

I didn’t advertise our road trip outside of Instagram too much. I truly took the time on the road to just be alive and explore in our short-lived freedom. I’m glad I did, but now I need some inspiration served up on the side of my unemployment. I figure it’s as good a time as any to start her (the blog) back up (again) and share some stories from the road, which we never stop daydreaming about. There’s so many stories, and what makes us more human than to share our lives with each other?

Let’s see here… Oh right, that’s how it starts. It was a blustery afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Rainy, of course. We’ve just begun to explore Washington State and I’m grumpy as shit, per usual according to Dorian. Olympic National Park was beckoning Dorian and I, as we had just flown back west from taking a two-week hiatus from the trip to re-coup and visit family. We were feeling antsy after all that T.V. on the east coast, and what better a way to cure the restlessness of not being on the road than to punish yourselves for ever leaving her? Perhaps the answer is to backpack in the most foul weather you can find. And oh, we did.

When we stopped at the ranger’s station in Olympic National Park, it was a beautiful and sunny September day. Absolutely perfect. A slight breeze, the green grass, Mt. St. Helens glistening in the background with her wild white up do. The ranger at the station suggested we snag a permit to backpack Shi Shi Beach, which we had heard was notoriously crowded and degraded was because of campers not taking care of the land and leaving their waste. But we were told about the tide pools and so the deal was sealed. The next day we would backpack to Shi Shi Beach and camp in the sand. Happy to have an adventure on our hands, we went back to our campsite nestled in the ancient giants of Olympic, had dinner over the fire and fell asleep in our beloved mini-van.

Curry

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The rain woke me the next morning. The heavy, fat, cold rain. Dorian and I looked at each other with alarm. This was the day we were going to backpack… out there… without our warm little home we call Lucille. However, determination soon set in and we began our ritual of packing up Lucille and getting our gear together. The drive to the trailhead was silent. After winding through the Makah Reservation, we found a parking spot in someone’s front yard for $20 a night. I scowled at Dorian the whole time while packing our backpacks… even though it was my damn idea. Finally, Tilly hat secured and rain jacket zipped, we began. After ambling down to the trailhead, we headed into the damp, silent woods towards the beach.

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How many mud puddles can exist in this world? On our hike there was a total of one, and it was the entire two mile length of the trail to the beach. Misery, it was pure misery. Hiking in the cold rain, shucking mud, dodging branches reaching to smack us with their wet papery fingers… was I grumpy earlier? Now I was stomping my way through the muck and repeating the mantra “tide pools, tide pools, tide pools”, while I silently dared Dorian to tell me how great this is, which he did often. And then, a break in the woods. The perfect picture frame of the ocean with giant misty covered sea stacks and swelling waves as far as the fog would let you see. The utter, pristine blue of the Pacific Ocean.

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We began to head to the beach, tumbling and grasping our way down a steep embankment with tangled trees and holding on for dear life. After a bit of bushwhacking, the beach presented her face. It was grey. And foggy. And sort of cool, probably not unlike a mysterious woman. But if you’ve seen one beach in the fog, you’ve seen them all. And where the hell were the tide pools anyway? Turning south, we trudged down the beach as the sand determined to beat our calves to death and the wind whipped our faces. There wasn’t a soul on the beach with us. As much as we heard about the overcrowding at Shi Shi, we had three neighbors on the entire stretch of beach. I suppose the rain scared them off, luckily for us. At the campsite 1.3 miles later, we set up camp in the rain and surveyed our surroundings. It was decided to hike to Point of Arches, a spot a bit further down the beach, where we hoped the tide pools lived.

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As we began down the beach to Point of Arches, Mother Nature took pity on us. The sun began to tentatively show her face and the entire beach lit up in a dewy glow, as light beams danced around in the fog. We reached Point of Arches just as low tide was at a peak, and I began my search for the sea creatures.

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This was the highlight of my life (besides getting married, and being alive, and adopting Kai.. of course). I felt like a kid in a candy store, where every turn reveals new and interesting delights that you always thought someone photoshopped in. Every tiny glass pool held curious sea creatures of dizzying colors. Bright orange and purple starfish dotted the newly revealed sea cave walls, happily spending time with one another. Billowy anemones were every shade of neon you could think of. Yellow, pink, blue, green, it was a microcosm of the Las Vegas strip in every pool. I jumped from tiny world to tiny world screeching in my delight, the miserable trudge to this place totally forgotten.

Dorian told me he has never seen me this happy before, and I believe him. It was amazing to me to see all this life in a world that is slowly suffocating its oceans. A few months before our trip to Shi Shi we visited Acadia National Park, another place known for its tide pools. The glassy pots of ocean were all empty in Acadia. It may have been the time of year, or a luckless journey, but in my mind it was a stark reminder that these small beauties are disappearing. And in some cases such as the Great Barrier Reef, large swaths of beauty are gone before we even have time to comprehend… even with the echos of warnings for years. I would have scoured that beach in the largest of tempests, if I had known what we would discover.

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As we headed back to our campsite as the sun was setting, we reflected on what this life on the road affords us. I don’t regret a single second. Happy trails, y’all.

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P.S. I think it’s worth mentioning that Dorian stayed up all night in fear of an intruding critter that was prancing around our tent until the wee hours of the morning. I slept like a log.

P.P.S I also think it’s worth mentioning that he took all of these photos. Check him out on his website. I keep trying to tell him that we would make a fabulous team, but he says I don’t take criticism well. I whole-heartedly disagree.

P.P.P.S If you want to backpack and camp here, make sure you snag a permit from a Ranger’s station in ONP. It’s about an 8 mile round trip journey. Also, for the love, pack out what you pack in. This place is a gem, let’s keep it that way. Last tip: The tide pools are seen best at the lowest tide. Check out the tide charts before you go.

 

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