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The OPC, yeah you know me. Who's down with the (O)lympic (P)eninsula ©rew? Got a late start and wasn't on the Edmonds-Kingston ferry till 11 o'clock. I've always enjoyed riding the ferries. Its a chauffeured trip where you can do whatever you want--get out in the fresh air and watch the organized chaos of the wake or sit inside and check out the people. If you make an effort, you can corner one of the couch style seats and let the vibration and humming of the engine lull you into a short nap. You get to turn over responsibility for your travel and become a willing captive for an hour or so. Unlike a bus or a plane, though, there is none of the stale air and claustrophobia. Generally on a ferry you can be as alone as you want or you can relate to people without being stuck in a situation where either is compelled. When we were young, our dad the captain told us the fire axes attached to the walls around the ferry were for fighting off huge sea serpents. Though rare, he said the sea serpents would occasionally wrap their coils around the whole ferry and try to drag it under. The axes were for chopping off the tentacles. For a long time, I believed this and repeated it as gospel to my friends, who also became believers in the serpents of Puget Sound. At some point I realized that there weren't such things as huge sea serpents and I was disappointed. Any less use for axes seemed mundane by comparison. One by one the mythical mysteries of childhood are revealed to us and magic leaves the world. True in one way, but at the same time there is no shortage of the mysterious, wondrous and awe-inspiring in the world here and now. Its just that we lose the sight to see it, our imaginations repressed by the scientific method, a culture of cool calculated contempt for that which falls outside the bounds of our understanding. We are resigned to not knowing and lack the child-like audacity to make it up. But what the fuck am I talking about the ferries for? The engine slowed and I returned from my reverie to the lower deck. The unloading began--always a good spectator sport. First, the bicyclists are freed and they sprint for safety like spooked deer. Having given the poor peddlers a sporting lead, the deckhands let loose the snarling pack of hawgs, ninjas, phantoms and other rice-burning crotch rockets, which blast up the ramp in hot pursuit of the terrified cyclists. Lastly, the four-wheeled superpredators of the pavement rumble off the ferry: the Ford Super Duties, Peterbilts, Komfort Kampers, etc. Each piloted by a twitching, traffic-twisted, caffeine-crazed commuter. And thus carnage commences! Blacktop Darwinism in action! I hurtle westward into the foggy forest and smell the smell of wet wood burning from the few unseen shacks tucked back in the dark caves beneath the trees. The further westward you go, the more you get a sort of creepy feeling unique to the Olympic peninsula. Remote, wild, shrouded in rain and fog, the Olympic Peninsula is haunted. Its more than just the edge of a continent--it’s the edge of reality, a border of sanity. I pass through a portal of dark towering trees and oppressive gray sky and I entered a world tweaked in some fundamental way. The sound of a forest: respiration. Rural poverty, the drip of water, angry loggers, alcoholism, guns, stumps, the ghosts of Indians dead, the smell of wood smoke, rot and rain. A while ago I met a girl in Forks who collected mushrooms and moss in the forests of the Olympic peninsula. She would spend days at a time wandering alone in remote areas of the peninsula forests. She says there were many times that she could feel somebody watching her. She said there were many people who lived way out in the woods, even whole families who would live for months at a time without contact with the outside. You occasionally spot the "tree people" as they were called walking along a deserted road. If you turned around, they are gone, vanished into the darkness of the trees. Don't believe in Sasquatches? Evidently you haven't been to the Hang Up Tavern in Forks, WA on a Saturday night. I witnessed a charming act of kindness at that particular establishment: After beating a uniformed military officer silly, a huge hairy cranked-out logger was kind enough to put the guys missing teeth into his front pocket of his bloodstained dress whites so that when consciousness found him, he would find his teeth. Thus the stage was set for our climb that weekend. A climb which turned out to be every bit of a vicious, knockdown, dragout street brawl like the one we witnessed in Forks. More coming later...