The original plan had us driving out on Monday, July 10th, but neither one of us wanted to wait to get on the road. We had been waiting for this trip for 5 years now, ever since the last time we left the coast behind. 2020 had been the desired year for our return trip, but the pandemic delayed us. Now, there was no more delay needed. We headed out, aiming for Pendelton, OR to stay the night, mostly because they have an amazing Thai food place there.
Most of the drive was uneventful, but we did run into a pretty explosive rain storm in the late afternoon. The rain was coming down so hard that motorcyclists had pulled over to stop and wait it out (one lucky one was under an overpass, but another was out getting soaked). It probably wouldn’t have stuck in my mind, but we had a tiny little ding in our windshield, which should have been addressed when it happened, but it wasn’t (lesson learned!). The tiny little ding, under the weight of the rain, stretched itself out into a crack before our very eyes. Neither of us had any idea of what to do about it, so we kept driving.
After eating at Thai Crystal, we decided to get a hotel for the night. We ended up at America’s Best Value Inn for the night. Definitely not fancy, but clean and sufficient for our purposes. The most important thing was that it had a shower. This was to be our last shower for the next 12 or so days.
I used the hotel WiFi to see what we should do about the window crack. The wisdom of the internet indicated that superglue was the fix we would be able to get most readily. Not a permanent solution, but something that would give me some peace of mind. The last thing I wanted was to see the windshield dissolve into a spiderweb of cracked glass…
We both showered in the morning before we headed out to the road. First stop was a gas station, where Ambrose filled up the car while I went inside to try and find superglue. They did indeed carry it in the convenience store, but the clerk had to reconcile receipts before they could help me so it took a while.
I applied the glue to the windshield. I could just barely see where it had been applied, so I’d be able to tell if the crack grew or not. And I kept a paranoid eye on that sucker as we drove.
We made our way to the outskirts of Portland and turned north for Washington. Over the bridge, and then a few more hours of driving. We got to Olympia just about in time for lunch. We were stopping at the REI there to pick up a few items, but what did we see when we turned into the mall parking lot but a windshield repair stand?
It was like fate.
I drove us over to the tent and a guy with a British accent came over to see what he could do. He couldn’t completely repair it; it was too far gone for that. But he could seal the crack and prevent it from spider webbing out. He warned me that he had to create a “bullseye” at the end of the crack to prevent it from spreading, and that there was about a 10% chance that the creation of the bullseye would actually cause the crack to spread.
I told him to go for it. Better to take that chance, here and now, then to not repair it and find the windshield perhaps destroyed after leaving it on the shore of the ocean for 10 days. We left the car with him and walked over to REI, where I got a new spoon and liner socks and Ambrose picked up some food as well as something to protect his key fob.
The windshield repair guy was just about done when we walked back. I was happy to pay $60 for the peace of mind of not having my windshield actively cracking. Then Ambrose and I ate lunch at a nearby Mexican restaurant.
After that, it was time to continue on our journey north and west. We wouldn’t be quite going to the most northwestern point of the continental US, but close. The map directed us to avoid 101 and we ended up on some lovely back roads. We arrived in Forks in the afternoon and made our way to Mora Campground.
We’d wanted to stay at Mora the first year we came, but it was full to capacity. The next time we came, I did try to get reservations at Mora, but they get snapped up. Both of those years we stayed at a RV/Camping park, but this year that place stopped offering tent sites. I booked a different RV/Cabin/Camping place, but Mora releases reservations in three waves. I had missed the first wave, and the second, but the third was two weeks before the dates. But I was going to be backpacking when that third wave opened up, so I just kept checking for cancellations until I found the dates we wanted.
Mora Campground is worth the effort that it took us to get there. It’s situated in temperate rainforest near the Quillayute River. Our site was nestled in among enormously tall, old growth trees. The air was cool and moist, with a tang of salt reminding us we were less than 2 miles from the Pacific Ocean.
I pitched our tent on soft loam, and discovered that our car camping tent, which we had started talking about replacing, needed replacing NOW. I didn’t know nylon could do this, but it was disintegrating before our eyes. Seams were dissolving, gaps showing at various corners. I’m just glad there weren’t any mosquitoes around or we would have served as buffets while we slept. Ambrose and I agreed that when we left Mora, we’d be leaving that tent behind in one of the dumpsters.
Crows cawed around the campsite, flitting about in small groups. Ambrose went for a walk while I was setting up the tent. He found the nearest restroom as well as a disaster site where some campers had left their food unattended. The crows had had a field day! Wrappers were scattered in a blizzard, and lots of food disappeared.
The restrooms were decent. There were three, one in each of the loops of the campsite except the one we were staying in. I went to all three at various times. Two or three stalls, flush toilets and faucets that were sometimes automatic and sometimes not even though they looked the same… No soap provided. For some reason, I was expecting showers, but they don’t have those now if they ever did.
After that, we spent some time hanging out and got dinner when it was time. Despite the holes in the crumbling tent, there weren’t any mosquitoes in our tent. I slept well in the cool, moist air.
The next day, we were headed to Port Angeles to pick up our permit at the Wilderness Information Center (WIC). While there is now an option to print one’s permit, we needed to go to the WIC to pick up a bear canister for Ambrose to use. It’s a nice drive to Port Angeles from Mora, but not a fast one, because the road traces the edges of Lake Crescent. Traffic has to slow for all those curves.
The WIC was much less crowded than we’d seen it in prior years. There was no wait to talk to staff about our permit, and the staff member who worked with us even helped us out. See, there’s a charge per night and per person for the permit. Once you go over a certain number of nights, it’s more economical to buy a pass instead. We hadn’t bothered to buy the pass this year, because it is such a pain in the butt to figure out how to buy it and then how to use it online. But the staff member went ahead and switched us over from nightly to pass and saved us some money, along with providing two bear canisters.
I had decided that I wanted to try the bear canister in my pack, because my memory told me that these size canisters fit horizontally inside our packs. The staff member also told us where to go in town for some last minute supplies that I needed.
We got to the outfitters without too much drama, and then I went in and bought a water flask, a fleece and a poncho. The poncho would go rather than my bulky raincoat, the fleece instead of my down jacket, and the lightweight flask would replace my 16 oz Nalgene bottle.
When we got back to Mora, both of us repacked. The problem I came across was that the bear canister did NOT actually fit inside my pack horizontally. Both Ambrose and I were going to have to put the bear canisters on top of our packs, on the outside, so I decided to stick with my own bear canister, which has velcro stuck on to it to help the straps hold it onto my pack.
I also rediscovered the pancake method for packing food in bear canisters. Typically, we’ve got each day’s food in a baggie, and then we’d stick each baggie in our food bag. But with a bear canister, and with packing so much food, the preferred method is to take the day’s food out of the baggie and layer it from the bottom up, with each day’s baggie serving as a loose divider. That technique helped me go from not being able to pack my last day’s food to getting everything inside.
My pack was still way too heavy when I finished repacking with the new gear. I’m not sure on the exact weight, but it had to be close to 40 pounds. That’s a bit over the pack’s rated weight. But it was lighter than it had been at home, I thought. I hoped.
We walked around the campsite a bit after packing was complete. There’s a little trail that leads to the river, as well as the campsite loops. This was the calm before the storm, so to speak. Our last chance to relax with flush toilets. We drove down to Rialto before dinner, checking things out for the next day.
That’s when I learned that they took the flush toilets out from Rialto, replacing them with pit toilets. Not a huge deal, but I’d have to remember that my last chance for a flush toilet was at Mora. The parking lot wasn’t as crowded as we’d seen it before, but that could change the next day. Or maybe it wouldn’t, since temperatures were in the 60’s. Not ideal beach weather to most people, perhaps.
We bought dinner from a taco truck, getting some burritos to take out for the next day’s lunch in addition to the day’s dinner that we brought back to the campsite. After dinner, we just hung out. I tried to spend time outside the tent at the campsite to start my body acclimating to the temperatures, but I followed Ambrose into the tent when he decided to take refuge.