As it goes by

For the last three days I’ve been in the most beautiful places. Places without internet, or mobile coverage, but beautiful none-the-less.  As I travel, my phone will suddenly get 19 texts, and 48 notifications, and I’ll snatch it out of my pocket, text everyone back, post a picture to instagram and hit send on nine emails. It’s so weird –  and makes it all seem urgent and strange, and then eleven seconds later I have no coverage at all, and it stays that way for hours and hours.  Connect, disconnect, all at the whim of the wind.

I left the Columbia Gorge Fiber Festival on Monday with my friend Judith.  (It was a terrific event, by the way, so if you’re ever in the area…) I’d decided, since I had to be in the country until Monday for that event, and then back today, that it would be sheer lunatic nonsense to fly home, all the way across the continent, only to fly back two days later. As homesick as I am right now, I know I’d just be so tired if I’d done it the other way.  So I made a decision that I’d stay, I’d see things with Judith, we’d have a little time together – we’d work, I’d get some stuff done… it would be great. Now – we’re not the sort of women who don’t make things nice, so we decided there was no need for that work time not to be as beautiful as we could make it, so as we travelled from The Dalles to where Judith lives in Forks (yeah, that Forks) that we would take the best route we could.

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We meandered up the Columbia Gorge, following the river, and it was ridiculous. I mean, it was beautiful to the point that at some points the feeling that you were driving through an impossible postcard was overwhelming. At one point I stood on the edge of a cliff, looking out across the river and thought “oh, C’MON OREGON. Get a hold of yourself.”

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We saw waterfalls, and camels and zebras (I know. I don’t know why they’re there either) and a volcano and it was amazing. Nothing short of amazing.  I could barely knit in the car, that’s how lovely it was. I was too busy shouting LOOK AT THAT DO YOU SEE THAT OH MAN.

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We kept on trucking, and night time came, and we were still driving, and we arrived really late, and after a debacle or two, I got myself tucked into a little room on the Quileute Nation, at La Push. (Yes. Those Quileutes. But the real people.) It was dark, and though Judith told me the ocean was there, there really wasn’t a ton of evidence. (There was the sound. I grant you that, but it could just as easily been a constant, enormous train.)

In the morning I woke up so early, about 5:30 in the morning, and I lay in bed, looking out the window and watching the stars wink out as the sky began to brighten. I was excited for dawn to come, and to see the ocean, and all of a sudden something came together in my mind.

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How often, I wondered, will I wake before dawn in what is supposed to be one of the most beautiful places on earth? I got up, I made coffee, threw myself and and out of the bathtub, swaddled myself in wool, grabbed my knitting and my camera, and threaded my way down through vast rafts of driftwood, down to the beach.

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La Push is gorgeous. It is wild and huge and the waves are bigger than me, and there is driftwood the size of houses. Whole centuries old trees flung up on the beach, where they will sit and weather for centuries until another storm takes them away, keeps them in the sea for years and years, and then flings them up on another beach somewhere else in the world.

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(Bonus points if you can find my coffeecup in that one.)

When you stand on the beach at La Push, and look out to sea, and take a step towards the waves, you are moving in the direction of Japan. There is nothing between you and Japan. Not an island, not a peninsula… nothing.  Just the sea, and then the sea, and then then sea, and then Japan.  The sun rose while I thought about that.

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I looked at it all, and I took a thousand pictures of waves, and I watched the light change, and the beach and water re-make itself a thousand times. It was so beautiful that even though I am not really the mushy type, I may have had a little cry.

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The waves rushed in like horses, and it was spectacular.

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I’ve seen a lot of really incredible things over the last few days, but I think that dawn on the beach at La Push was something I’ll remember for a long, long time.