Saturday, March 6, 2010

Road trip to Port Angeles, Washington

Dear Reader

It is late afternoon in Los Angeles; the sun is slowly setting as I head up, Interstate 5 north of Castaic, California. My destination is Port Angeles, Washington a twenty-four drive in a motor home. My goal tonight is to make it to the first truck stop north of the Grape Vine. I have been working the last three days and I am exhausted. I have three days to get to Port Angeles, so I can take my time. Just north of Highway 166, I spot a truck stop, since I have a commercial drivers license, I can utilize the professional drivers lounge and showers. Fortunately, I have everything I need in my motor home, including a bed and a shower, so I decide not to use the driver lounge.

The next morning I head out, destination Medford, Oregon. The time is 4:45 in the morning; my goal is to make it through the Siskiyou Mountains, before nightfall. It is winter, I do not want to hit black ice, black ice can form when the wet roads turn icy. For a seventeen ton vehicle black ice can ruin a good day, not to mention a very expensive vehicle.

Rain starts to hit my windshield, I slow down to fifty-five and let the dare devils pass me like I am motionless, safety first is my prerogative. I stop at a Denny’s for breakfast at 7:04. By 7:46 I am back on the road. I notice the CHP is giving out free speeding tickets, they ignore me, I am traveling below the speed limit. By the time I reach Shasta, I am fighting near blizzard conditions, I back off on the accelerator, if conditions worsen, I am going to call it a day and search for the nearest rest stop or truck stop. As I head to Yreka, the snow stops, I engage the cruise control and let the Cummins diesel engine push me up the pass. I make the descent into Ashland, Oregon; the exhaust brake helps me keep a steady speed down the pass. North of Medford, I find a truck stop and call it a night.

At five in the morning I am on the road again, I have one more pass to go through and then the drive to Port Angeles is relatively flat. The sky is grey with an occasional showers; small towns dot the scenery, ambiguous towns, until the mountains make way to cities like Eugene, Salem and then finally Portland. I have been to Portland numerous times; surrounded by two major rivers the Columbia to the north and the Willamette River to the east.

The GPS comes to life; I am approaching WA 16 West; now I am driving in unfamiliar territory. The rain is coming down in buckets I am slowly making my way up the peninsula. I have several options; only one includes a non-ferry trip. I decided to avoid the ferry and enjoy the view of the rain forest, the Olympia Mountains on the left and the Puget Sound on the right.

It is now late afternoon, Port Angeles is several miles away, and the mighty Highway101 is nearing its end, about forty miles north west of Port Angeles. My destination is on my right, the Red Lion Inn, there is a large parking lot to greet me and a king size bed to rest my head on.

The next day I put my walking shoes on and I get a taste of Port Angeles. I walk along the shoreline watching a man play with his dog; a small sailboat heads south along the bay. Several cargo ships unload their cargo; a ferry ship from Vancouver Island slowly emerges from the early morning fog. I head north on Front Street; Port Angeles is a timeless city made of brick buildings, cafes and boutiques. I find an old movie theatre, something that was modern in the fifties; a marquee shows the name of a movie now showing. I put a mental note in my head, I

come back at five in the afternoon, I cannot wait to see what the theatre looks like inside.

I get a text from the Producer, dinner at 7:30, meet in the lobby. I retreat to my room for several hours to get some much needed rest; I have four busy days ahead of me and a two day drive back to LA.

To be continued…