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(>Pictures at the bottom!)
We still had some hope that we would be able to get worldwide collision insurance in the next few days. So we chose our route westward along the US-Canadian border. The route via Revelstock (Canada) seemed to be not feasible for the time being. We again roamed through huge forest areas, where probably not too many overseas tourists get lost, and the border to the northern country was in sight more often than not.
Almost unnoticed we reached Idaho again and, for American conditions almost only a stone’s throw away, Washington (State). In these wide forest areas, the crossings of the individual American states are not marked with large signs; only when shopping, one recognizes this by the changed sales tax. But also the prices of the fuels are very different in the individual states and sometimes the necessary “juice” is offered almost to European conditions at the gas pump.
At Franklin Roosevelt Reservoir – the largest reservoir in North America, and launched by President Roosevelt during the recession years – we spent the night at a campground at the lake access. To our surprise, a fire was prohibited in the designated barbecue area. The dryness let the forest fire danger rise strongly in the last days and, since the Yanks cannot make normal fires, a general fire ban is pronounced immediately. So the cozy evenings at the fire were over and we had to retreat earlier than usual into the interior of our camper. In any case, the warming auxiliary heating proved to be of valuable service.
The general danger of forest fires and the prohibition signs accompanied us from Roosevelt Lake on and we became more and more aware of the forest fires. Smoke could be seen rising from the forests everywhere and the fire camps – camps of firefighters – could not be overlooked in the woods. Continuing our journey, we took a ferry across Roosevelt Lake and reached a larger Indian reservation. Presumably, the people in charge in this area have a different relationship to fire and its benefits and an evening fire would have actually been allowed. But we were put off by the respective prices of the campsites, especially since the facilities were mostly in very poor condition. Actually, we would be willing to pay a fee for our overnight stay; the available sites were located in very idyllic landscapes. But if an exorbitant price was demanded for nothing, we were not ready to accept everything and thus looked for the distance.
Thus, the visit to the Colville Indian Reservation was correspondingly short and in the National Forest of the same name to the north we found our quiet place to sleep. Although a larger fire was blazing not far from us in some forest patch, we were allowed to make our fire in this campground, which was located in a dense forest. Of course we were very cautious and only added enough wood for cooking, while a few places away a huge fire was blazing.
After the many kilometers through the forests we were always glad to drive through open landscapes. The many small towns in no man’s land always awakened in us the fantasy that the last stagecoach had left just a few minutes ago and that we were always waiting in vain for a horde of wild cowboys to come riding around the corner. Then followed again places where one could settle down right away and feel comfortable. If you buy twice in the same store or drink a whiskey at the only bar in the village, you almost belong to the village community and people suddenly wanted to know everything about us 😉
But for a life in this remote area, surrounded by forests and endless expanses, you have to be made for it. Anyway, we moved on to the western main range of the Rockies and up to Washington Pass. The air was already very smoky as we climbed the eastern mountain, and even before we reached the pass, large information boards called attention to the forest fires. There were information boards everywhere with detailed directions and information. So almost the whole area of the North Cascades National Park was closed for any outdoor activities. The rising smoke from various valleys and the omnipresent firefighters made the acute danger clear. So our stay in the mountains was shortened and in a brisk drive we headed for lower lying areas.
It was only a few kilometers to the peninsula of Anacortes. Here outside on the urban recreation park, which is surrounded by the sea, we were allowed to enjoy our evening fire again. We love the crackling of the fire while we stir with the ladle in the pot and enjoy a glass of wine in the warmth after dinner. That’s when we get the most amazing ideas about how to spend our next day and where to go.
So we took the ferry across to the peninsula of Mount Olympus (Olympic N.P.) and followed the north coast of the “Strait of Juan de Fuca” in western direction, where we looked longingly over the water to Vancouver Island again and again. In the far northwest we reached the Makah Indian Reservation and, or so it was written, the westernmost point of Washington (State). The hike through the jungle as well as the view over the cliffs were overwhelming and the nearby campground was just the right place for the coming night. The sunset enchanted us far into the evening and despite the many tsunami warning signs our feet stayed dry.
On our onward journey we circled the Olympic-N.P. and on the south side roamed through wide forest areas, which are partly National-Forest or belong to the state of Washingten and are managed by timber companies. Through the National-Forest you can drive through without problems, but you don’t always know where exactly you are and often we stood in front of massively closed gates. In any case, the respective signs were always unambiguous and we had to make our way back. The private timber managers apparently don’t want any through traffic in their forests, where they harvest whole sections of forest with huge machines.
In spite of the odysseys, this forest, where there was no industrial logging, was still in its very original state in large areas. Partly ancient tree stands suddenly make our human existence seem small and insignificant. So we were allowed to spend a few nights in such forests under huge cedars or other mighty conifers. Estimating the age of such a giant tree was almost impossible for us, but surely there are more than one human life and the lichen cover transformed some parts of the forest into fairy tale landscapes.
Once again we reached Puget Sound, which with its countless arms separates the peninsula from Seattle to the east. While thick clouds were moving over the peninsula from the west, we took the ferry across to Seattle.
Still during the crossing we received a negative message from our insurance agent from Germany and the explanation that they still could not offer us a worldwide hull protection in the next weeks. Somewhat perplexed, we looked at our map and immediately rescheduled; the flying visit to Canada had definitely fallen out of the plan.
But even without the northern excursion we quickly found our way on: In Washington there are mountains with a special past and wonderful landscapes. Hopefully the upcoming bad weather front won’t wash us right down from the mountain through the wide landscape.
Chantal & Tom/October 2023
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