Hoh On Tight! It’s Gonna Be Olympic Gold!

Hoh On Tight! It’s Gonna Be Olympic Gold!

 

“We lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.”

 

 

This morning we said an unexpected goodbye to Brynn.

 

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I ran out of spoons. Friends, I came home early. After 10 days in the RV, I was completely exhausted. When I told Calvin of @monsoondiaries I had decided to go home, he asked what was on my mind. I just told him that very simply, I was exhausted. After a quiet pause, he said “you have no more spoons”. I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear him say that- it is rare to have someone bring up the spoon analogy. I didn’t have to explain myself any further, because he got it. The spoon theory was an article written several years ago by Christine Misanderino. In it, she tries to explain to a friend what it is like to live day-to-day with chronic illness. If you’ve never read it, you can check out the link in my profile. The spoon theory basically serves as a metaphor for fatigue and the mental or physical energy a person has available to perform everyday tasks of living. I have lived with several auto-immune disorders for about a decade now. I don’t talk about them because I never wanted them to be an excuse. To an outsider, it would be extremely difficult to perceive. I put myself through nursing school while working several jobs, have competed in triathlons, and traveled the world alone. I’ve climbed mountains in Morocco and gotten altitude sickness, had my first seizure on the streets of Mexico and, four years later, had 3 of them my senior year of nursing school. I diligently take 3 pills a day, every day, and have done so for years. I know how to listen to my body. I have chronic infections that pop up when I’m stressed and overtired. But I don’t talk about it. It’s not shame or fear of stigma, although I do pause to decide whether or not I want to check off the disability box on a job application. Because I don’t think of myself that way. I ran myself right up against that wall and, with no spoons left, there wasn’t anything left to do but sit down and rest until they come back again. I got to see more of this beautiful country than I ever have before. I’ve met incredible people. I was joyously reunited with others. I poured my whole self into this journey, and I believe that, in return, I have received more than I know in this moment.

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After hugging her goodbye outside a lonely coffee shop in Port Angeles, we set out early morning at 8am for a drive further into the massive Olympic National Park, beginning with the scenic highways themselves:

 

 

Along the way we reached the town of Forks, which I guess is a big deal for fans of the series Twilight:

 

 

A few minutes more west from Forks and you’ll hit the Pacific Coast at Rialto Beach, unique for its landscape of sea stacks, geological formations & driftwood.

 

 

Then turning back we drove another hour inland towards the surreal dreamscapes of Hoh Rainforest, one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

 

From the visitor’s center you can take a quick 20 minute 0.8 mile hike looping along the Hall of Mosses Trail:

 

 

After the hike we headed back out of the forest for another hour’s drive south to the similarly picturesque Ruby Beach.

 

 

From Ruby Beach we began to get hungry, heading back inland past the Tree of Life and southeast to Lake Quinault for a late dunch:

 

 

Here you can find the world’s largest spruce tree:

 

 

After filling ourselves with guilty comfort food and store snacks, we continued onwards another hour’s drive into Aberdeen, the birthplace of Kurt Cobain. The house where he grew up still is up today:

 

 

Then to finish our day of sightseeing, we took one final  detour to the enigmatic grounds of the Satsop Nuclear Power Plant, a worthy entry in the Atlas Obscura folkore.

  

 

One of the most ambitious nuclear power plant construction projects in the U.S. and built to withstand earthquakes, the firms behind Satsop Nuclear Power Plant soon ran out of money and construction immediately ceased despite being half complete with gargantuan cooling towers and reactor containment domes. It stands today as a campus to an eclectic mix of uses such as world-class acoustical lab to film sets to a training site used by the City of Seattle Fire Department.

  

 

We finally ended our day in Westport at Mariners Cove Inn, arriving by 9pm.

 

- At time of posting in Westport, WA, it was 19 °C - Humidity: 67% | Wind Speed: 13km/hr | Cloud Cover: cloidy

 

When the Monsoon Meets a Hurricane

When the Monsoon Meets a Hurricane

 

About yesterday:

 

 

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye.”

 

More goodbyes this morning.

  

 

After officially saying our farewells to Noeleen, Brandon, Dan, Raubern (who even returned for a final encore last night to shoot final videos), and our RV affectionately named Wayne from part one of the trip, we set off for more an even more ambitious itinerary down south on the Pacific Coast Highway.

This would be complicated even more when we all agreed to begin our trip with a 1-2 day detour northwest to the country’s only rainforest (yes, did you know that the USA has a rainforest?! in North America?!) at Olympic National Park.

 

 

Undeterred, Mihaela and I began our journey by a simple 5 minute walk over to a local Avis and picked up our rental: a Dodge Durango we affectionately named Noeleen.

 

 

We then drove back over to our apartment where the rest of the group would be waiting to pack the car.

 

 

By then it was 9am, and the group was getting hangry. Luckily a friend I had gotten to know during the pandemic, Magdalena, insisted that we have breakfast at The Crumpet Shop at the last minute.

So we did just that:

 

 

Then we follow in the same vein immediately afterwards at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery thanks to the recommendation of a random instagram follower and former Starbucks employee who had informed us that the “first Starbucks” we had visited yesterday was not a true first, but rather an imitation. 

This one here at Pike Street is the real deal:

 

 

It felt like a playground for adult coffee snobs willing to get Starbucks another chance:

 

 

After spending 30 minutes here and sampling some fine coffee, we then set out north when we began to notice that our tire pressure sensors were suddenly unable to read the pressure of our front right wheel.

That’s right. Not even an hour into our trip our Dodge Durango was already screwing up big time. And not wanting to take a chance so early into the trip, we were then advised by the Avis hotline to instead send it in to the closest local shop.

And with that, Evie went to town on the phone with them:

 

 

After an hour figuring out whether to switch to a smaller Nissan Pathfinder, a much larger Chevy, or drive an hour to SEA airport for a more complete selection, we ended up choosing the Chevy.

 

 

Cutting our losses, licking our wounds, and naming this car Noeleen as well, we then drove over to the Edmonds Ferry Stop for one of the many famous ferries across Puget Sound to the Olympic National Park Peninsula.

 

 

After a 20 minute ferry ride, we then drove an hour towards Olympic National Park, cutting through the local town of Port Angeles, and driving up 35 minutes to the Hurricane Sound Visitor Center.

 

 

We spent an hour up here enjoying the stupendous views and small trails.

 

 

Here you can also meet the local deer that are not close to being afraid of coming up to you and saying hi.

 

 

Then after about an hour on the ridge, we headed back downhill to the local town of deserted Port Angeles.

 

 

After checking in at our local charming motel, we walked over 15 minutes to downtown Port Angeles for the scenic port and harbor.

 

 

Whether you want views of Mount Rainier or Canada, this is the place to be.

 

 

And it just so happens tonight that a close friend and colleague from medical school AND residency, William Chiang, happened to be nearby!

So we met and caught up over a quick Vietnamese pho dinner; the last time I saw him was 4 months ago when we were both fighting the first wave of COVID-19 in NYC together.

 

 

Tomorrow we have a lonnnnnnng ambitious day ahead of us, so we turned in early at 11pm afterwards.

 

 

 

- At time of posting in Port Angeles, WA, it was 19 °C - Humidity: 81% | Wind Speed: 18km/hr | Cloud Cover: clear

 

Views So Good, Almost Can’t “See-It-All”

Views So Good, Almost Can’t “See-It-All”

 

 

“Maybe that’s what life is… a wink of the eye and winking stars.”

 

 

It’s time for every journey to close a chapter. Noeleen and I woke up early at 6:50am to drive our RV for one last hurrah.

 

 

With just the two of us (everyone else was asleep back at our apartment rentals), we decided on a last minute whim to drive up to see the Fremont Troll, best known for an appearance in the 90s romcom 10 Things I Hate About You:

 

 

Then we drove 5 min away to peek at the random Lenin Statue in the neighborhood:

 

 

After the drive-by we headed back south towards the RV park, during which we stopped uphill for a shot of the Seattle skyline from Kerry Park:

 

 

Then Noeleen and I bid one final goodbye to our RV at the local Road Bear in Seattle.

 

 

Taking 20 minutes checking everything and being charged a bit for going over the mileage by 450 miles, a few hours of generator use, and unfilled gas, we took a Lyft back into Seattle and met the rest of the group at Biscuit Bitch:

 

 

In addition to great coffee and biscuits, they also call you various insults in good humor as they serve you.

 

 

We then turned the corner to the famous Pike Place Market:

 

 

Here at the open air fish market on the corner of Pike Street and Pike Place, there is a local tradition where fishmongers literally throw fish that customers have purchased before they’re wrapped.

 

 

It is also where the reportedly first ever original Starbucks is located (although controversial as the actual real original Starbucks burnt down and this one was rebuilt instead for the lore and added business).

Because of COVID-19, there were NO LINES.

 

 

The video of the tiny interior (and without the crowds!) is on my instagram:

 

 

And at Raubern’s suggestion — even if you would have otherwise avoid a Starbucks in your daily routine — at least consider purchasing their daily reserve beans as this is the only Starbucks in the world where you can get them.

 

 

Since the greater city of Seattle is known for their coffees, just know you’re not alone if you have a hard time choosing which to drink…

 

 

We then headed down the steps underneath the Fish Market to see the famous Gum Wall:

 

 

… where Dan made his contribution here on our behalf:

 

 

From here we walked a few minutes further inland for some doughnuts at Top Pot Doughnuts before returning back to our apartments.

 

 

And during this whole eventful morning we somehow pulled off a monsoon shuffle: We bid our goodbyes to Noeleen and Brandon as they hailed an Uber for the airport for their early afternoon flights home, and later to Raubern as he set off later to see family. In the same vein, Sina, Evie and Karen would fly in during the same time to link up with us for part 2 of the trip.

FWIW, Noeleen was very forthcoming with her thoughts on the trip once she landed back in NYC:

 

 

Ughhhh, so hard to move on. We’ll miss you and your daily vlogs Noeleen.

Once the new group had formed, officially our first stop together in Seattle would be a visit to the famous Space Needle:

 

 

You can buy tickets online or at one of the outdoor kiosks, and there’s a whole COVID-19 proof screening involving the following:

  1. Face coverings on and up to your eyes at all times inside
  2. No talking or whispering during the 41 second elevator ride up to the observation deck since you can’t physically distance a crowd in there
  3. An airport metal-detector shaped UV device that you have to dance in a circle under for 20 seconds to disinfect yourself

 

 

Up to you if you think the views are worth the effort!

 

 

Afterwards we toasted to our new travel group and the second part of our trip in Fremont, inviting along Spencer, who’s the link for getting Dan to come on our trips after hearing about us via Melissa Weinmann (and despite this mutual connection, Dan and Melissa have yet to meet in real life!).

 

 

And thus we toast to one final hurrah to Seattle on the rooftop, where Raubern rejoined us for one last encore as well as a friend I know only via Instagram, Angela, would even meet up with us.

 

 

Tomorrow we officially begin the long epic drives along the Pacific Coast Highway!

And if it isn’t obvious by now —

 

 

- At time of posting in Seattle, it was 26 °C - Humidity: 44% | Wind Speed: 33km/hr | Cloud Cover: minimally cloudy

 

Cas-cades A Spell Over Me

Cas-cades A Spell Over Me

  

“Live, travel, adventure, bless, and don’t be sorry.” 

 

 

After spending the night parked in a KOA outside of Spokane near the no-mask country of Lake Couer d’Alene in Idaho, we set off for one final push west 5 hours in North Cascades National Park

The group also decided that instead of a night’s stay in the North Cascades by Winthrop, we could instead head straight into Seattle a night earlier instead. So we did just that.

 

 

By 2pm we passed the North Cascades Visitor’s Center and made a pit stop at Ross Lake, which faces Canada to the north.

 

 

We then took a quick dip about 30 minutes later at Diablo Lake;

 

 

And then it would be another 4 hour drive to Seattle, first dropping off Brynn with her godmother who lives here, and continuing onwards into the city to reach the Belltown area by 7pm:

 

 

After 10 days on the road in our RV, we finally cleaned out Wayne and left it behind at a parking lot. Hope it’s still there tomorrow.

 

 

And then, taking our luggage for a 9 minute walk uphill to our apartment, we finally settled in our temporary digs in Seattle. I had asked the apartment — which we had originally booked for tomorrow — to extend our stay an earlier night, which they happily obliged at the last minute.

And thus we enjoyed the views for our final night together:

 

Now it’s off to see the town where Brandon will have his first Vietnamese pho experience!

 

 

- At time of posting in N. Cascades National Park, it was 13 °C - Humidity: 62% | Wind Speed: 13km/hr | Cloud Cover: partly cloudy