Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Only Hurricane here is the Ridge

I am more than grateful to not have to board up my windows and stock up on water and food like my son and friends in Florida have to do for the next two months.

You see, it's hurricane season there: June, too soon; July, stand by; August, a must; September, remember; October, nearly over; November.... well, who knows what it was for November? Pretty rare for intense storms in November.

So the only hurricane I think about out here is Hurricane Ridge... is it open? Are the roads clear? Can I go up in my car or do I have to take the shuttle (because there's too much snow).

Deer are unafraid of humans on the Ridge. 
Going up to Hurricane Ridge reminds me ever so faintly of the family trips up to Miller State Park on Pack Monadnock in Peterborough, N.H. (And I find it interesting we have a Miller State Park here in Clallam County, too, but not for the same guy.)
Driving back down from the Ridge taking photo from sunroof.

First, there was the decision to go, and sometimes it must have felt to my parents like herding snakes to get all four of us into the station wagon.

Then there was the food, coolers of beverages, fruit, ingredients for cooking over the campfire and as I'm remembering it, I was 9 or 10 and probably not a lot of help.

The drive from our house to the base of the mountain was less than half an hour, but as most kids remember things, it seemed so much, much longer.

The road was winding, and sometimes when I have dreams of roads up mountains, my brain uses that one as a backdrop.

Once on top, we charged around on the smooth granite looking for the best site to claim as our own for the evening, expecting it would get cool enough for a campfire. I know we usually went up there late in the summer because the hunt was on for blueberries on the low-growing bushes.

And the best part of all was climbing up the forest ranger lookout tower  (The link will take you to Chuck's webpage about the park and you can see his photos. I don't have any to share.) to see how far we could see without binoculars. For me that was the stair in front of me because I was so nearsighted.

But I could push my coke bottle glasses into my face and increase the clarity a little bit that way. Honestly, I didn't mind it because I didn't know any different. My life was a haze from early on and only by the light of the moon at home in bed could I read without straining my eyes. Strange.

What moves this even more into the Twilight Zone is that the park was named for General James Miller, a hero of the Battle of Lundy's Lane in the War of 1812, and a native of Hancock. I was unaware of the humor of the Universe that would 10 years later march me down the aisle with a guy who had the same name, but I'm not sure if the joke extended to his being a distant relation of the General.

Coming down the mountain after running around, eating all kinds of foods, including marshmallows, melted chocolates and graham bars, it was almost a certainty someone would call out, "I'm feeling sick..." and my father would rush to find a wide enough spot to pull over before his vehicle was permanently sullied.

And my last visit to the park was when we drove my mother up there for a picnic with assorted other relatives and by then she was getting a haze in her eyes as she was approaching 90, I think. As we reminisced about 'the good old days,' she reminded me that coming up to have a cook-out was no picnic for her. I said, "Yup, that's pretty much what I'd think about it now if I had to bring a wild bunch up here, but I am grateful for the memories I have."

I'm not sure if I knew then that might be my last visit as well... who knows when I might return? But my memory carries me up and over that last hump in the road to the parking lot and I don't have to ask permission to get out of the car and rush to the highest rock to look down on home.

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