We made it to Amurica!!! All the prep Chris did to make it possible to import Ole Smokey and the trailer worked. It turns out crossing through Port Angeles was a stroke of genius. Small crossing where they mainly deal with snowbirds and the schedule is set by the ferry so I imagine they have a fair amount of down time. They asked us to just park on the street in front of the little office. I made a few calls, the kids – you know – watched shows and Chris did the leg work. Of course Sabine needs to pee right in the middle of everything – we are on the side of the street and the main office is already closed. So we have to go to the washroom in the officers building. Once inside I discover the bathroom is filled with uniforms and bullet proof vests. I really want to try one on – I feel like we could be in a spy movie getting across the border and stealing uniforms to do some – you know – spying. Disguised as a family but really we are highly trained elite athletes – the Doritos we eat are in fact disguised specialized space age food containing all the nutrition we will ever need to perform to the best of our abilities. I break out of my reverie and exit the bathroom with Sabine leaving the bullet proof vests behind. The next leg of the journey has begun.
HELLO AMERICA thanks for not letting us starve. I always forget just how much there is – big box stores, big gas stations, all the fast food and more all within reach all the time it does make Canada feel so quaint. It’s always a little overwhelming. The most amazing road sign – Litter and it will HURT. For reals – corporeal punishment in Washington? The highway signs all have a black shadow profile of a little girl with a ponytail – until I realize it’s a stylized George Washington.
The first few days of our drive down the coast are spent outrunning the weather – rain and rain and cold. Deep grey skies and rain falling relentlessly straight down. Washington slips into Oregon. Finally it shifts to pale lavender greys, long beaches with waves rising out of the the mist and white foam racing to the sand. Slowly we get breaks in the mist and grey with rays of sunshine breaking through the cloud. Still we are rushing to get to Los Angeles for Halloween so the kids can go out with their cousin and I can dress up with Paul and Carla – Halloween is a Malin sibling favourite and we haven’t done it together in over ten years.
In Oregon we are excited to stop at Tillamok Cheese it’s been on menus as we have traveled down the state. It turns out it is a big production facility attached to a huge industrial farm. It’s trying to masquerade as a small artisanal home farm with sweet chalkboard signs (styled and painted) and homey old fashioned black and white photos. But when we head upstairs we find plate glass windows looking down on a huge factory. We are slowly and gently lead along past the windows filled with vats and giant metal tubing leading to conveyer belts onto which enormous blocks of cheese are dropped out of tubes and wrapped in plastic and packed in boxes and then the boxes continue on around the corner. We are guided across the room to the other side of plate glass windows where we pick up the trail of the boxes. They bump along and are OPENED the cheese unpacked and cut out of it’s package and then fed through cutters and repackaged!! WHAAA? SO that package of cheese you buy is actually doubly wrapped. Annoying. Then we are guided to the tester trough where we are allowed unlimited little cubes of all manner of cheddar. It’s yummy – it’s cheese. The we are fed into a giant cafeteria serving grilled cheese, cheese burgers, pizza, tomato soup with cheese (this actually could be delicious – cheddar curds melting and gooey but still maintaining their shape in the hot soup – except the soup is atrocious). It seems our transformation into cows is complete as we mill through the endless cafeteria steered toward the ice cream until we are dumped into the final milking station/gift shop. We roll ourselves out to Ole Smokey and hit the road only to discover a sign a few kilometres down the road advertising “French style cheese and wine”. Whoops sucked into the giant tourist trap.
Oregon is beautiful with the most incredible bridges – forget Madison County. The twisty coast road becomes California with layers of hill and mountains descending into the water as far as the eye reaches. Huge rocks are scattered along beaches some with arches in them. The bays are churning devil bowls. Then we hit the Redwoods – Avenue of the Americas – the land of Bigfoot and trolls – ok it’s not specifically known for trolls but something hits the side of Ole Smokey so we stop to investigate and decide it must be a troll who lives in the giant mushroom village sprouted at the foot of a 300 foot tree. Disappointingly the kids are still lacklustre about walking and exploring so we do the drive attempting to video out the window. What is the matter with my children and will they one day remember what twits they were?
Just after the big trees we spot some giant elk nestled into a lush green meadow in the shadow of more giant forest, it’s deeply quiet and magnificent. We stop for the evening in a small mountain town that seems a little sketchy and run down. The first three motels we inquire at have gates over a service window and they all claim to be full – while at the same time the parking lots seem desolate. We finally get a room and venture out for some dinner – inadvertently finding the most delicious Mexican food – spicy and fresh. Then it’s off to the hotel room to begin building Anderson’s Halloween costume which requires paper mache. True to form I am biting off more than I can chew – he wants to be a character from Fortnite and it’s going to be HARD plus he has already warned me that last year’s costume was a bit of a disappointment – that was the satyr costume that also included paper matches and foam. On the bright side I am ambitious I just have with poor follow through.
We wake up and hit the road but fail to realize that our bike rack was vandalized and Chris’s bike tires and seat were stolen. Boo. What I do notice are the rows and rows of grape vines up pale yellow hills we have hit wine country around San Francisco. I can’t even believe we aren’t stopping for wine tasting – The perils of traveling with underage minors and a husband who is on the wagon. It’s back to the coast with long dessert grasses like dust mops upended on one side and pounding, foaming surf racing up endless sandy coast disappearing into the mist and sparkling light on the other.
We drive through Big Sir and opt for the budget friendly town of San Simeon where more costume building happens late into the night. We now have cactus and Palm trees and surfers to watch and the towns are filled with tiled roofs.