A Short Break

I like to think of myself as a person of regular habits.  I find a certain comfort in routine.  It is a way of finding order in a chaotic world.  But at some point, the routine gets tiresome and I need  to break out of it, at least temporarily.  And once the break occurs, the routine is resumed not as it was but establishes itself in a different way.  Perhaps that is one reason a career in the military suited me – every two or three years I would be moved to a new job at a new location, where I would establish a new routine.

One way I’ve always broken the routine has been to travel – to get on a motorcycle or in a car or even on a bus or train or, if everything else fails, an airplane – and go somewhere new.  Or at least somewhere different.  It is the physical motion, as well as the new scenery and the new strangers, that appeals.  (The trouble with airplanes, aside from the huge hassle at departure and arrival, is that I get little sense of motion and see little that is interesting during the traveling.)

Our recent trip to California wasn’t satisfying.  Aside from the difficulties with the weather, I think it was less satisfying because it had no structure.  Twenty years ago I set out on a motorcycle trip with no destination and no idea of when I would return home.  Each evening I would look at the maps and plan the next day’s ride.  I had no cellphone or laptop on that trip and was disconnected from the world beyond where I was on any day.  It turned out to be a 90-day ride.  It was wonderful, and I’m really glad I had that opportunity, but I find I can’t do that kind of traveling anymore.  I don’t think that it is just that now I carry a cellphone and laptop.  It’s also that I’m stuck inside a car instead of riding free in the air through which I’m traveling.  But probably it is mostly that I am older, with more limited capabilities, and miss being at home.  I need a more structured trip these days.

The Tesla Motors Club has an informal contest to see who can charge their car at the most supercharger stations.  It is an international contest, but of course not that many participate.  I’m ranked somewhere in the 40s.  This contest is the kind of thing that, as my daughter says, brings out my idiosyncratic competitiveness.  I thought we could drive up into Washington and collect some more superchargers – the ones that have come on line since we were last there – and move up in the rankings.  Last Tuesday we set off north with that in mind.

The first day was busy with stops to charge.  One of the rules of the contest is that we have to plug in for at least ten minutes.  Finding the chargers and waiting for 10-15 minutes at each one ate up most of the day.

But we had time to stop by the Weyerhauser headquarters and walk the trail to their bonsai garden.

It is a remarkable collection, and you should stop by if you are in the area.  I was a little startled to see some of the trees without leaves before I realized of course deciduous trees lose their leaves in winter, no matter how tiny they are.

We spent most of the second day in and around Seattle.  A lot of the urban chargers are in parking garages, which makes them harder to find.  And neither of us likes driving around Seattle.  I lived there 40 years ago; Andrea lived there 50 years ago.  A lot has changed since those times.  

dashcam photo

In the afternoon we headed north on the interstate to Blaine, on the Canadian border, finally free of the urban areas.

The third day was travel more to our liking.  On a beautiful winter morning, we drove out onto Whidbey Island and took the ferry across to Port Townsend.

And then it was the long drive out to Forks, near the northwest corner of the Olympic Penninsula.  It’s a sparsely populated area of mountains and trees.  

And deer.  This creature looked to be a lot closer as it darted across the road in front of us.

dashcam photo

Usually when we travel, we stay in motels of one brand.  Or, if there are none available where we want to stop, we stay in one of a similar brand.  On our third night, none of them were available and we tried something else.  It was a big room but the heater was sized for something smaller.  We weren’t sure it would ever warm up, so I brought one of our emergency sleeping bags in and opened it up to be a blanket.  As it turned out, the bed blanket was sufficient.  But we never did get hot water.  We ran the tap for quite a while and finally got something barely tepid instead of icy.  Evidently the boiler was too far from the room to cope with outside temperatures below freezing.  We slept all right, but we left in the morning without our usual morning showers.  We won’t stay there again, but it was a good exercise in resilience.  We ate breakfast on the road and continued home.

It was nice to get away.  It was nice to check off some more chargers and move up the list a little.  It was nice to spend time together, cruising down the highway.  It was fun to ride the ferry.  It was wonderful that the deer made it to the other side of the road.  And, in a way, it was nice to stay at a motel that was definitely a break from our routine.

Hmmm.  There are some chargers in eastern Washington we haven’t been to …

3 thoughts on “A Short Break

  1. Sounds like a fun trip…considering! A few years back my son and I were on our way to Denver and our first night out we stopped in Burns, OR. Looking for a motel where we could park the truck and camper close to the room since I would be in the room and son and big dog in the camper. Well I saw a sign…$39. a night, new rooms. I said let’s take this one. We did. Bed was good, sheets were clean as was the toilet! Friends had obviously tried to “fix” the shower! Room was probably new when the units were built, I’m guessing prior to WWII🤪 and we slept well in our respective locations! Would not recommend that place to anyone without a sense of humor. 😍


  2. We used to stay at a motel in downtown Ensenada,, Mexico that was listed as “emergency only” by the AAA. The sheets were mended but clean, and there was not water for a couple of hours every day. The lap of luxury.


  3. I loved hearing your thoughts and tales of your journey. The photos of the scenery were beautiful. I go on a Roads Scholar trip to Yosemite May 15.


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