The Old Photographer, Hot Springs, Toast and Jam, Day 24

Awoke to drizzle and fog after a restless night. Stiff. Old bones aren’t meant to sleep on the ground, even if the ground is sand and a camp pad.  Went for walk on beach to loosen up.  The rock was totally exposed so explored the sea cave.  Lots of crawly things, and a couple of big sea stars.  Did a few yoga poses and contemplated the surf.  The tide was even lower than yesterday and the rocks were even more exposed, reaffirmation for my decision to not paddle out yesterday.

The other campsites were growing restless as the morning filled in.  The smell of bacon mixed with the salt air and fog to clog my arteries.

I spied a photographer with a tripod up the beach.  I decided to approach him.  He had 3 big cameras and a tripod.  He was older, at least in his late 60s, and obviously a pro.  I told him I was always curious about what photographers saw that led the to snap great photos.  That hooked him.  I think his name was Larry Levine, and he was from San Diego.  He teaches photography.  He was on a trip documenting all the lighthouses on the Pacific Coast for some kind of book.  We talked about the how he was rebuffed by some of the native tribes who had legally reclaimed the land on which the lighthouses were built.  He told me his teacher a long time ago said to take a picture of a naked horse. I contemplated on that for a while, and came to take it as looking for something unique, that tells a story.  He told me a story of how he once set out to photograph all the missions in California, but found them so ugly that he stopped after a half-dozen or so.  He lamented about how photography is a dying art, at a time when access to cameras is at an all time high.  Apple wants to kill the camera business and convince everyone that their phone is a good enough camera.  The  Tribune company took away the photographers and gave all their reporters cameras.

He asked me how I came to Second Beach.  I told him I just stumbled upon it looking for surf.  He told me that it was the best spot on the Washington Peninsula. I told him I was heading to Port Angeles, and he told me that it’s an ugly city.  He went there with the intent to photograph it, and found nothing worthy.  But Port Townsend, he said is another story.  Go there.

Larry was in interesting cat, and I wished him well.  I packed up my stuff, but not before grabbing one more shot of him as he set up down the beach.  I think there’s a naked horse in this picture somewhere.

I drove back to Forks, and picked up the 101 north.  I was going to branch off to stay along the coast of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca, but something compelled me to stay on 101.  The bus was running a little rough, and I was having a hard time starting it these last couple of days.  That might have been part of it.  I was also interested in getting to Port Townsend to see what I could see.

I passed through part of the Olympic National Park, and saw a sign that said Hot Springs.  I jammed on the brakes and turned right.  After a chilly night and morning in the fog and drizzle, a hot bath sounded too luxurious to pass up.  The Sol Duc hot springs are legendary, and date back to the late 1800s. In 1912 an elaborate resort was built there, but burned down only four years later.


Since then a much more modest outpost has been operating here.

The hot pools were disappointing, mostly due to the size and crowds. They were small and packed with people.  But it was interesting, as the bathers were from all over the world.  I heard lots of eastern European languages.  I closed my eyes and tried to imagine I was somewhere else in the park. It almost worked until an older couple next to me started debating what all the floating particles were in the water.  I think its undissolved minerals, said the husband.  No, I am pretty sure its flaked-off skin, replied his wife.  I headed for the shower to scrub.

The couple parked in the lot next to me were interesting.  He was an African-American, and she was an overweight white blond.  His name was Ra, after the Egyptian Sun God, and her name was Brittany.  They were living in their Ford Explorer.  He was a cook at the hot springs, and was offered a bed in a bunk-style employee housing.  But they wouldn’t let her sleep there.  He called her his girl.  He was the first person to offer me pot, as everybody else assumed I had a bus full of it I guess.  They were sweet and generous, and we chatted for half an hour about life on the road.  They were going to spend the rest of the summer here, and then head somewhere warm for winter.

While we chatted I decided to make breakfast.  I cooked up some bacon, sautéed some veggies and scrambled in some eggs.  I offered them breakfast burritos but they had already eaten, so I devoured two myself and put the leftovers in a ziploc bag for tomorrow morning.  I always try to make extra breakfast so I can just warm it up the next day and wrap it in a tortilla, as preparation takes most of the time.

I drove back out of the park and onto 101 towards Port Angeles.  On  the way I saw some deer, and there were some guys on motorcycles that were obviously on a trek.  One had a GoPro mounted to his helmet and gave me the thumbs up that he took some pictures.  Maybe hell post them on my Instagram.

I stopped for coffee at a little shop called Renaissance in Port Angeles, despite what Larry advised.  It was right on the water with an amazing view.  I had their specialty coffee (which I don’t remember the name of but had cream and sugar and was amazing), and toast with fresh cream and jam.

My first attempt to camp was at Fort Worden.  Its a state park on an old military base.  They’ve preserved all the buildings, and its a really cool park.  It was full, but I am going to have to return there.


There was a county campground nearby in which I figured Id have no problem finding a site.  And I was right.  It was private and near the water.  There was a wood burning ban in effect in the entire state of Washington, so I settled into the bus to listen to the Broncos game as they were playing Seattle and it was on local radio.