This blog post is dedicated to my friend Allison, who says we should write our stories; and to my friend Christine in the Bronx who might have been more white-knuckled than I was this morning when I told her I was driving a dark two lane highway for a five hour round trip up US 101 to Port Townsend and back today. This story and all my blog posts are just for those who like to travel vicariously and share stories, like I do. It is also for my friends who live in very different spaces, than we Pacific Northwester's do. Those who cause me to remember that not everyone has a vision of one-hundred foot Douglas Fir trees, moss, mountains, icy rivers and the cold, gray amazing Puget Sound.
Yeah, I am a good driver, an experienced driver. In the Northwest winter I head out to work in the dark and head home in the dark. Okay, let me be honest. I am an experienced I-5 South commuter. I have my heated car seat and my cup holder for my fresh brewed morning Starbucks coffee and maybe an afternoon school made Chai or green tea. My car practically goes on auto-pilot to and from school for my thirty-five minute commute. That is except for those times in the rain when I am virtually wiped out by the backsplash of speeding semi-truck trailers.
I was ready to head to a nine a.m. family appointment in Port Townsend. My vision still was of the heated car seat, National Public Radio, and that cup of coffee. It wasn't of driving though. Why bother, my husband, the master of Washington's back roads and timber roads would do the dark part. Sigh, the moments when dreams become reality. He woke up with the general malaise.....no road trip for him today. Okay, I said I can do it. No problem.
Off I went at 6:10 a.m. Pretty dark once I hit the 101 exchange toward Shelton, but no worries with the four lanes. My focus at that point were the speed zones. We all know the State Patrol cadets are there training, ready and willing to pull us over and give us special citations for the holidays.
Then the real trip began, down to the narrow two lane highway now. I passed Potlatch State Park and could barely see the sign. I was gripping the wheel tighter.....trying to do some yoga breathing. Ten miles pass. It's just me alone in the Olympic National Park, in the pitch dark. No, Steve Inskeep (NPR announcer), it doesn't help me when you say sunrise is not until 7:56 a.m. Maybe I should just go back home? No, keep going. It is eerie when the Puget Sound gleams brighter than the forest shrouded highway. Just keep your eye on the white line on the edge of the road Sue, you know the drill. Yes, my early bird students will tell you I frequently have a dialogue with myself as I organize myself for the school day. They worry, since I am their Psychology teacher. I reassure them that it is still in the realm of normal behavior, and they should not worry until I begin answering back as another person. Maybe I am getting close to that now.......
Five miles later and it is really dark. Now I really have a word with myself, Sue, you do have bright lights! I might not have ever used those in this three year old car. Phew! Big sigh of blessed relief. I can now see every twist and turn in the road, even when the faded white line seems to disappear at times.
By 7:30 I am "home free", I can see as I cruise along Discovery Bay making my way to a family home. Our meeting is worthwhile, and the excitement about life and the celebration of Christmas is palpable.
Satisfied and refreshed, the lingering taste of coffee and chocolate croissant on my lips, I am ready to enjoy my drive home in the light! Ipod set to Christmas Carols, celebrating the miracle of daylight, I enjoy my drive home and turn it into a tourist adventure to share with you.
I know that food should be involved for a good tourist day, so I stop a mile from my home at the local wood fire pizzeria and enjoy a slice of the vegan special of the day, and I blog to share a Washington winter experience with you. I am glad I spent this day having a driving adventure. So much better than the shopping mall! I actually love blustery days!