Here, the caravan once again split. An advantage of modularity, with the theoretical downfall that there's something special about a road trip where too many people are packed into one car. Brandon and Stina left us, with their kayaks in search of friendly waters and the remaining four drove across the street in search of breakfast. We will blame this decision on Jeff.
At the diner (cutely named the In Place) there was a distinct eagle theme -- garishly painted tables, wooden statues, and a bench outside. Despite our simple order for mostly pre-prepared foods, we waited forever before asking for an expected time of arrival. When the non-waitress reported that our food wouldn't even be started until two more tickets were completed our table erupted with a variety of expressions like "oh, hell no!", "this place needs a sous chef!", and "I'm sorry, there's no way." Carolyn threw some cash on the table out of guilt and we fled the scene in favor of the reliable Thriftway.
On our happy exit from town, we dropped off the stolen salt shaker in a very non-stealthy manner.
With that, we washed our hands of Forks and headed off to the most Northwest point in the continental United States, also known as Cape Flattery. Even though we had four people and two cars, I elected to ride with Carolyn and Betsy because their car was better stocked with breakfast foods. Eventually, though, we ditched Jeff's car at a gas station so that we could all experience the collective joy of driving together.
Cape Flattery is located on the Makah Reservation, which typically collects fees from visitors. Apparently they don't open their permit office on weekends, which seems really short sighted if they were interested in making money to support themselves or to maybe pave the roads. What do I know? It's possible that the heaviest tourist activity occurs midweek during business hours.
So, the upside is that we got in for free and navigated the pot-hole filled dirt road out to the most NW parking lot in the USA. Even though it probably wasn't necessary, we donned our hiking boots to feel better about having packed them and made the trek to the point. Along the way were many scenic vistas, and we occasionally strayed from the trail into the thick cliffside brush to get better views of the massive waves and intriguing caves.
olympic peninsula photo set [flickr]
I really can't imagine a better day for walking to the edge of the country. It was fantastically clear and sunny and warm, which made staring out at the ocean toward Canada and back toward the massive South and Eastern expanse of the country pretty phenomenally great. On the observation deck we ate cheese and crackers, which amused the other guest who might not have expected to see people hanging out in the sun with a massive brick of colby jack and triscuits.
On the way back, we criticized the grammar of the signage, which entertained us for the first few miles of the drive back east. Along the way, we pulled off of the road to look at a soaring eagle, to explore the rocky beach, and later to look across the Straight of Juan de Fuca to see the often-elusive Mount Baker.
Eventually we returned to the gas station / convenience store / car drop off point. Jeff had tired of the appropriate speed scenic driving and sped away. He was also opposed to taking the Ferry, which is just insane.
Sticking to our scene seeking, we made a special stop at a lake to watch the sun set over the cascades at be creeped out by the barnacle encrusted beach. This caused us to be slightly lost when we tried to get back to Kingston, but our killer map reading skills paid off and we made it just in time.
By just in time, I mean that we had enough time to walk up the street to a really fantastic creperie to eat the breakfasty foods that we didn't dare to order in Forks. It was a perfectly tasty way to end the Olympic Peninsula experience.
The other amazing feat of timing was that Brandon and Stina ended up on our ferry, just one lane away from us in the lineup; so we had time to update each other on our separate but equal adventures before making the drive home to our own comfortable beds.