Friday, June 10, 2016

My 400th Post... end of the world or beginning?

On Highway 112 from Joyce to Clallam Bay, on a clear day
it is easy to see British Columbia across the Straits of Juan
de Fuca (entrance to Puget Sound).
How fitting that my 400th post is about the world's end because this is not an 'end of the world' story.
This is a story about getting to the farthest, westernmost portion of the United States which is actually called 'the beginning of the world' by the Makah tribe.
On the weekend of June 4, I drove with a friend up to Neah Bay, WA, to see the island that represents the final headland of the U.S. for mariners heading west, land that is still under the care of the original settlers, the Makah.
This view from Highway 112 looks westward toward Clallam
Bay and also Neah Bay, reserved lands of the Makah tribe.
With a history that easily goes back at least 3,000 years, this is a not-to-be-missed journey.
Beyond Pillar Point you can see Vancouver Island, B.C.
It's just that last summer I didn't get up here although I'd heard about it.
The drive to Neah Bay from Port Angeles will take about and hour and 45 minutes. Stopping for photographs or just to see the views will add to the time.
The most scenic route is to take Highway 112 and veer off before Joyce on a winding route with several scenic pull-offs. (At present this route is also under repair from several landslides last winter, so motorcyclists should be prepared for gravel in the road in several spots.
This information board at the vista describes the various whales to be seen.
We brought our own lunches but there are a couple of places in Neah Bay to get supplies and the required Reservation Pass. Although a pass is 'suggested,' the fine for not having one is significantly more than the $10 required.  
My friend, Rose, leads the way.
Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island are six miles north of Neah Bay and it promised to be a great photography day since the summer heat had arrived with clear skies.
The cape was named by Capt. James Cook when he was here heading north to Alaska.
He didn't actually stop that day in 1778, it appears, because of the fog, but the claim is that he he was 'flattered' to think there might be a harbor and thus named it Cape Flattery.
That doesn't make sense to me with all my maritime explorations, but it doesn't matter because that is what it is called now. However, if that is the reason he called the 'harbor' he was expecting was truly named that, it is false flattery as it is certainly not a safe one as you will see from the photos.
A bicyclist, Brian from Camano Island, rode on the planks
to this viewpoint. He said he had been training for this ride
for some time. We saw him again later in the day near Forks.
Ten years after Cook's visit, Englishman John Mears found out about Tatoosh Island and named it after the local Makah chief.
This was my first view of the Pacific. Tattoosh Island is
further down the path and a little to the right.

The Makah have been fishing and whaling and managing to continue living on their tribal lands for centuries, although the reservation was established in 1855. Now a 27,000 acre site, there is evidence that an earthquake and landslide in the Ozette area created a tsunami that traveled to Japan (read this report) in about 10 hours on Jan. 26, 1700.
The ancient fishing village of Ozette had been operational for about 2,000 years before the landslide and the Makah's museum in Neah Bay is a world class presentation of the on-going archeological efforts to discover and preserve information and artifacts from that era.
The trail starts out with a broad path and quickly narrows down. Walking on planks and rounds of wood, single file for about a mile, the sound of birds and crashing surf are dominant. It is lush forest with layers and layers of needles which help to moderate all sounds, including that of tourists who were less reverential than we were.

And the vistas, when they are reached, are well worth the effort.
The brilliant Pacific Ocean crashes up on the rocks and cliffs while cormorants and gulls dive for food and sun themselves on craggy ledges.
There are spots where gutsy photographers have gotten really close to the 100-ft drop to get a better shot. I am exceedingly nervous near those locations... anxious for myself as well as for others. But the urge to have a clear shot without any tree limbs does drive one closer. 
It's just that taking 'selfies' too close to the edge could have an unexpected ending to a fun trip.
Tattoosh Island, the last bit of the United States, seems very
small for a lighthouse keeper and family, and a pretty rough
approach from any direction with strong tidal activity.
A closer shot of the lighthouse....
Closer still...
Where does one dare to make an approach to this craggy shore?
This location is on the National Register of Historic Places so if you are keeping track of all those visited, you'll probably want to have someone take your picture with the island in the background. The viewing platform is up a short ladder and has 360-degree views, safely behind a log railing.
The wind blows hard off the Pacific so even on the sunniest of days you may want to have a windbreaker or light jacket by the time you reach this end, or beginning, of the world.
There is some elevation downward to the walk (thus a slight climb up on the return) and it is not handicapped accessible so it is not a walk for anyone without stamina.
But I will do it again and try to arrive nearer sunset instead of high noon for a different angle for my photos.
Hobuck Resort and Beach is an exotic name for a nice place
that offers camping sites and bathrooms for a reasonable fee.
Our stop on the way back was at a lovely beach just before you return to Neah Bay.
We had our lunch there, walked on the sand, got some warm sun and got back to Port Angeles in time for the last contra dance of the season.
Someone said you can get rich at this beach... there are
gold dollars everywhere... there are... sand dollars!


  1. Just last week a man fell to his death in Acadia getting a picture from a cliff. It happens. That is some amazing scenery.

    1. I remember when Big Brother and I were traveling with Dad and we stopped to overlook some awesome scenery but it had a serious drop-off. I told him to stay away from me because I was afraid he was acting a little too goofy and might knock me over the edge. I still steer clear of areas where there are lots of people and not enough railings or common sense.