Several weeks ago, I decided to do a big girl thing and take a road trip by myself. I’ve been on many a road trip, but never by myself. Wait, I just recalled I drove from Vancouver, WA down to Eugene, OR by myself several years ago. Thinking about it, the only thing I can really remember is that horrible stretch of I-5 between Albany and Eugene: flat, brown and boring.
I have been places: Grand Coulee Dam, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Yakima,(pretty much the majority of Central Washington Cascades); I’ve been through quite a bit of Oregon: Warm Springs, Bend, Sisters, Detroit Lake (with and without water) and Mt. Hood, being lucky enough to be at Timberline Lodge for the first snow of the year, yet even more impressive was being able to see Mt. Jefferson from the window of the bar, which is about 100 miles directly south. Just in case anyone was wondering, I have actually been out of the Pacific Northwest, but that’s for another post.
Thus the severity of my traveling over 150 miles to a place I have never been before. I have been to Seattle, and I have been as far north as Bellingham; I have also been as far northwest as Neah Bay, I’ve seen the rainforest of Lake Quinault, but I was always with someone and I never drove.
Which is why my trip to Bremerton was just epic for me. This was the first time I was venturing out on myself, and it wasn’t even a vacation. I wasn’t staying; I was visiting a sister blogger and a soap-making friend of hers for the first time. My sister blogger I have known on-line for quite some time but we have never met, and her soap making friend I never heard of, let alone knew until my plans were solid and my sister blogger asked if a friend could tag along. Sure, why not? I’ve never met a soap maker in real life, and yes, that might sound corny but for me it was exciting! I was finally going to meet my sister blogger Melissa Whitman and Shannon, her “personal” soap maker. Dear Santa, please may I have a personal soap maker beneath the tree?
Armed with a Google map, a general idea of where I would be stopping at Starbucks along the way, and a solid promise to a friend to not stop in Tacoma, or anywhere in Pierce County. My trip was going to be pretty easy: Hwy 30 to Rainier, cross the Lewis and Clark Bridge into Longview, WA, hit the Ocean Beach Hwy Starbucks on my way to I-5 Northbound, drive about 100 miles until exit 136, take the 16 through Tacoma (not stopping, remember) until I hit the 3 into Bremerton. Over the course of nearly a month, I had stared at enough maps and satellite images to get the route down in my head, but I printed off directions from Google just in case. I hit the road on a foggy Saturday morning around 8AM, thinking I was going to get to Bremerton around noonish, which was about right. What I didn’t plan was Longview being a hurdle I just could get across.
Yes, I admit, it’s horribly sad I spent a half an hour in Longview, getting lost, trying to find the Starbucks on SR-4. I turned off 15th when I should have remained straight. Even worse, there’s the Oregon Way Starbucks right off the Lewis and Clark Bridge, but I wasn’t to hit that one until I was on my way home. I had a process and I was going to stick to it, even though I drove around Longview like a moron for what seemed to be forever. I finally found it, right before I was going to give up and call home.
I blame Google. Totally.
Eventually I got there, and eventually I found how to get to I-5 Northbound. Once I hit the interstate I was home free, all I had to do was drive the 100 miles to exit 133ish to hit the 16. The speed limit is 70 for passenger cars the majority of the way, so I made good time as I didn’t stop anywhere after my epic fail in Longview. Truly, I was humiliated by that little mistake.
The fog wasn’t going anywhere, so there was nothing to look at. I passed Ft. Lewis (I had forgotten they merged with USAF McCord Air Force Base back in 2010, so it’s now known as Joint Base Lewis-McCord. I remember driving along, wondering what the heck JBLM stood for) thinking that was super cool, but I was driving on automatic. I hit my exit, and then I really woke up with I came across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
It was cool. Why lie, I thought it was super cool. I’ve never been across it and for some reason there was something majestic about it. I have quite a relationship with suspension bridges, having grown up in the bay area, but this was just awesome and amazing.
The trip from the bridge up to the 3 was boring and rather reminiscent of the Merritt Parkway in Connecticut, without the overpasses.
When I hit the 3 I really started to pay attention because I didn’t want to mess up and end up in Port Townsend. I was totally, absolutely blown away by the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and the three massive, decommissioned aircraft carriers. Up until that time, I have only seen carriers on TV, and I had absolutely no idea how damn huge the things were. I found out later that I driving past the Independence, the Constellation and the Ranger. They were stripped down but that didn’t take away the sheer strength that exuded from them. Apparently, the Independence is waiting to be sunk as an artificial reef. The Constellation is waiting to be dismantled, and the Ranger (which was used in Star Trek IV and you know that is just uber cool) is currently being considered as a museum in Oregon. It’s difficult to drive while you’re gawking out of your passenger window. About 15 minutes later, I had found the restaurant in the Fred Meyer parking lot that was my destination. The sun was out by that time, and boy how gorgeous were all the trees, the water, and just everything?
The visit was amazing. The three of us couldn’t stop talking long enough to order, the wait staff was losing their patience with us but we had so much to say and look at. The menu was the last thing on my mind. The table ended up strewn with bags full of goodies: Melissa had made me a wonderful Cinnamon Orange Body Butter, bath fizzies, a coffee sugar scrub and an amazing cream deodorant that actually works. Shannon loaded me down with different types of her soaps (her Lavender Oatmeal is absolutely amazing, check her wares out over at www.hensonsoapcompany.com) and I came weighed down with teas and goodies from Owens Acres. I don’t even remember what I had to eat, once we finally ordered. Whatever it was I do know I ended up taking the majority of it home, as we just couldn’t eat around all of the talking we were doing.
While we were together, the clouds burned off completely and there was nothing but blue sky, which I took as a good omen for the drive home. We parted ways with hugs and promises of another visit (my goal is to get back up in the beginning of December, as I have another load of Owens Acres products to unload) and I couldn’t get the grin off of my face as I indulged in the ultimate luxury of pumping my own gas before I left town.
It’s the little things.
I managed Longview just fine on the way back, hitting the Oregon Way Starbucks without a problem. Well, that’s the Starbucks you can’t miss, it’s right at the entrance to the Lewis and Clark Bridge, but the parking lot is the worst to get to as you travel west towards the bridge. I committed the most heinous u-turn to get into it, but hey, when you need coffee…
All in all, I did it. I had no problems (other than being owned by Longview, WA), was able to meet two wonderful people, and was able to prove to myself I can do things on my own, far from home. I can’t wait to do it again.