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Monday, October 10, 2005  

Plumb the Depths
Where are we? What day is it? Why am I sticky? These were the thoughts occupying our minds as we rolled into Longview WA (except for the sticky part. I made that up.) As we had made the drive from Portland into Washington after nightfall we missed the road-side scenery and as a result felt oddly disconnected from the landscape as we motored into the Ramada Inn’s lot. It was just another place that wasn’t the car. However, compared to the Motel 6 in Weed, CA the Ramada might as well have been the Ritz. “Look! A fridge!” I exclaimed. “Oh my god, there is a coffee machine and a Microwave.” Feeling pampered by the indulgences of a bed we slept like Bedouins. The next morning we hit-up the free breakfast but were repulsed by the “coffee” (or at least the tan liquid that spurted out of the thermal-pump-thingy) and decided to flee figuring we were in Washington and finding a Starbucks should be much easier that NOT finding one. It actually took us nearly 10 minuets before we found a drive-though espresso shack where 4 shots of espresso were expertly pulled by the teen-aged barista. It was that moment that I began falling in love with Washington. A tiny shack alongside the main-drag of the small-town of Longview (which I actually quite-liked) provided us with one of the best coffees we’d had on the trip (the Iced Americano I had on Alameda still reigned.) Our drug-cache newly restocked we hit the interstate and plotted a course to the very heart of an active volcano.

The weather threatened to turn ugly as we parked at the “Ape Cave” trail-head (so-called because the caves were discovered by a local Boy Scout troupe named the Apes.) We donned our “caving” gear and added some scarves and the descended into the 2000 year-old Lava tubes. The cave/tube was awesome. Usually 30+ feet from wall-to-wall with towering ceilings it wasn’t the claustrophobic cavern I had imagined. At one point when we were walking back towards the entrance to the cave a church-group of 20-30 elementary school aged kids was walking the other direction and of course we could hear them long before we could see them. I couldn’t help but feel that they were a slavering hoard of goblins (a la Moria) as the light of their lanterns rounded a bend. We finished the mile-and-a-half hike and decided to take the long-way around the mountain so that we could see the devastation wrought by mother nature some 25 years ago. Unfortunately as we neared the choice viewing areas the weather took the previously threatened turn towards ugly and visibility was reduced to about 20 feet. Julie was disappointed that I wouldn’t get to see the mountain’s scar, but the fog and rain would make any further progress towards Spirit Lake pointless. Instead re-joined I-5, determined to make Seattle before nightfall.

We hit the city right as the rush-hour traffic began to congeal on the interstate and as the rain began. We were happy to be at our final destination city and soon enough we would be at John and Gress’ place and hopefully soon after that a Pizza joint.

Tomorrow: Jet City tourists strike at the heart.

posted by JMV | 10/10/2005 11:46:00 AM
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