It has sometimes felt like that to me, gazing down from Hurricane Ridge above Port Angeles and looking out to glacial ridges, snow-capped mountains hovering to east and west, and the immense Pacific cresting beyond. Hurricane Ridge is a gateway — and great introduction — to Olympic Nat’l Park, a true gem in our National Parks system. Leaving Port Angeles today I drove out to Cape Flattery and Shi Shi beach, the latter just north of an amazing archaeological discovery of the Makahs, dating back more than 500 years. As I walked along the muddy trail to the beach, I thought about how it was not just a different world, but a different planet, and how the things I saw within a finger’s reach were things I had not seen before and would probably not see again.
I also thought about John, the motel manager, when I returned my key to check out this morning and asked him if he still did any fish guiding or charters. “No,” he said, “I can barely walk now without a cane.” He told me how he had signed up to be a cook, but when they found out he could handle a gun, it was front lines, infantry. Vietnam, ’67-’69. “Agent orange,” he said with a soft smile. He and his wife moved to Sequim from Clallam when John returned from Vietnam. A better school system, he was told. His two kids are doctors now, doing well in Bellingham. John and wife still reside in Clallam.