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Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Now That I've Told You I'm Pregnant

I can tell the story of our anniversary trip this past December.

We spent two nights at a bed and breakfast in the sleepy town of Forks, WA. The Miller Tree Inn was a lovely place, with incredible breakfasts and friendly hosts. They had a heated toilet seat which was also a bidet, and was quite entertaining. There was a fireplace in our room and a nice, large, jetted tub. Except for the couple in the room next to us doing weird Kabalah chants, and they were only there one night, we had an entirely restful and romatic time. We explored the rain forest, the beach, and went on a cursed hike.


(see if you can find me in this picture, I'm toward the bottom, in a red sweater with my arms at my sides)

We were told by some other guests that Ozette was a nice easy, but long hike, about nine miles. It had boardwalk almost the whole way, one leg to the beach, one leg on the beach and another boardwalk leg back to the head of the trail. Our room had a little hike the sights type video, and it also featured this trail, and it looked nice and relatively easy. That they never showed the beach should have been a clue.

We figured on about four hours to allow for beach walking, and looking at the sights. We had about seven hours, though, before we were to meet anyone, and we knew that we were going in the winter instead of summer, so it was wetter, so we gave ourselves some time and thought we had ample time.

First, the boardwalks were not easy, they were slippery and I slipped off in the first half of the first leg, scraping my leg through my pants and walking on a hurt leg. It would have been better to put gravel in or leave the dirt. Since we were still under the impression that the walk wouldn't be that bad, when Rich asked if I wanted to go back, I said, no, I'll just go on, we'll just walk slowly.

We get to the beach. Our second clue should have been that nobody else was continuing down the beach besides us. As we got farther down, we realized that this was an ill named beach. Beach implies pebble or sand shores, right? Not here. Rock face. With slippery seaweed. We had been told that you could only do the beach leg if the tide was out, so we had duly checked tide tables and were fine. The reason you can't, is because the water goes all the way to the trees when the tide is in. There were highland markers if the tide was coming in so you could get up and inland, these were comprised of 45 degree angled "paths" and a rope. I kid you not. We were told that hiking boots weren't necessary, and might get in the way because of the boardwalks, though I had some on anyway as my alternative was Keds.



At this point, I was hurting quite a bit, but we were more than halfway, and it was pointless to turn back, and we still held hope that this rocky section would give way to beach soon. I should mention that Rich is the kind of person to enjoy all the beauty around him, and he was stopping and looking at all the lovely things to see while I was trudging along hoping that prenatal experiences didn't shape babies too much, as I didn't want a rock climber. I was just trying to get to the next leg so we could head to the car. Oh, did I mention that Rich had no cell coverage, so if something happened we couldn't call anyone? And that there was nobody at the "manned" ranger station.

So we got past the first rock face, me holding on and Rich leading me and slipping and sliding around, with my balance messed up from being pregnant. We got to a section of sand! Covered with logs that the ocean had tossed on shore. We found that the cedars were the easiest to walk on. Then more rock face.

By this time, it was getting toward sunset, which I didn't enjoy, and it was closer to the time for the tide to come in again. I was just worried we'd miss the entrance to the forest path in the dark and that we'd be stuck out there during high tide. Even Rich got a little concerned at that point. We knew our next point of reference was a campsite. And we couldn't find it. It was getting dark, tide was coming in and we couldn't find the entrance. We started walking a bit closer to the forest side.

I was dragging and Rich suggested that he run ahead and try to find some forest service road to bring the car, or a forest ranger, but I said I just wanted to go with him and leave. So we kept on. We passed the point that looked like the spot right by the campsites on our little pictorial map, but still no campsites. At that point, it was past sunset, and I was broken down, beach walking is tough when it's just sand, but this rock and slipping and logs and me hurt and pregnant and tired, it was not a good combination. I was contemplating just sending Rich ahead and letting myself go out with the tide, until a log hit me on the head or I was crashed on the rocks, just have him tell the kids I loved them and get himself out.

Oh, I forgot, we kept seeing footsteps on the little patches of beach we'd get, and this was the only encouragement we had, that someone else had walked this relatively close to the time we were, that we weren't completely alone. I also began to smell camp fire as we rounded the point. We never saw another human, nor a fire, and I'm certain it was God helping us on and giving us steps to follow.

So, at this point, we didn't want to walk the whole Washington coast and die out there, and we looked toward the woods. At least we could get shelter if we needed to wait out the tide, until the next day. We had flashlights, some food, water and ponchos, aside from our clothes and coats we were wearing. I think we had left the matches in the car. Although, everything was so wet with the beach and the rain forest, it would have been hard to light a fire anyway.

We decided to go inland and try to find a way to the path that way, or find shelter failing that. We walked right into what looked like a fire ring. I might mention that there was not a single marker on the beach side of the campsite or the path. We walked past it a little bit and came up against a dead end bordered by planks. This encouraged us, as it looked like a camp site. We walked the other way, and found more marked paths and about 20 yards in found the sign for the forest path. We turned right into the camp sites.

This was a blessing given to us from God, because I was really at the point where I just thought I couldn't go on any more. It was dark, I was in pain, and we were tired. Rich asked if I wanted to stay, so he could go up the path and find help and maybe take a forest service vehicle down the path to pick me up. I just wanted to get to the car, so I said I'd trudge along. Looking back, it's good we did it that way. I had enough energy just to make it, and wanted to get out of the forest. I think I said something to the effect of "I just want to leave."

We had about three miles to go. We also suspect that the beach path wasn't three miles, perhaps if you took a straight line and measured from point to point, but not the way you actually had to walk.

It was dark, it started to rain. We pulled out our flashlights, and put on the ponchos. At first I was panning the light back and forth so I could see what I was walking next to as well as the path. However, I realized that the only thing left to happen on this hike was for us to have a run in with a cougar, and the only thing you can do at that point is challenge and fight back, but you might get by it if you don't make eye contact, so I decided that I didn't want to see what was in the woods. Rich, evidently also came to this conclusion, independently. We went about a third of the way in when Rich's flashlight went out. So, since I was leading anyway (Rich wanted to be able to catch me if I slipped), and my flashlight was still working, I called out the steps, the roots, etc to Rich. He had one of those glowsticks, so he got that out just so he'd have some light. We went on and on. Every time we came to a dirt section, my hopes would get up, since I knew that was how the trail started.

After what seemed like an eternity, and much slippery balancing, we finally got to that last leg which led to the ranger's station and the parking lot. It had taken us over seven and a half hours. We were two hours from where we were supposed to meet our friend for dinner. Rich's cell phone had no coverage, remember, so we tried the pay phone. Which didn't work.

We drove out a little ways, and found a resort type place and used their pay phone. We were thinking we were only an hour away at that point, but because of the curves in the road, and the rain, it was really more like two and a half. He said to come to his house and he'd fix us something to eat. We had originally been planning on having dinner with him and heading home, which was another two hour drive (for real), but had pretty much decided to stay at his house to sleep and go home the next morning. We got to his house at about 9:30 or 10:00.

Rich was a bit revived from the meal and the rest, and said he could make it driving the rest of the way home. We left at around 11:30 and got home at right around 1:15. I now believe my job in life is to thwart the National Forest Service, and pave the entire dang thing. We can't figure out if the people in that area just tell innocent looking, slightly out of shape people that this is an easy path as a trick, or if nobody has actually taken the beach path (lots of people go in via the forest and back out the same path), or if they all just forgot. The ill named "beach," the "easy" boardwalk, the slow and easy path. All were lies! We had never been so happy to see our car in a parking lot. Our situation wasn't aided by the lack of ranger, working phone and such. I did think of how it would make a good blog entry one day. It only took two or three days for my leg to recover and it made a good story at church after the service, the following Sunday. Oh, did I mention that we got home to do the cooking for our big New Year's/Anniversary party, and that I had a half day to work at the yarn shop that day? We still managed to enjoy ourselves, even while I cursed Ozette Beach and the National Forest Service.

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