I woke up to a little creature stepping with needle-like precision all over my body. Chester, our once tiny kitten, now pained us with his elephant legs with every step he took on our fragile body. It was 4:30 in the morning. I got up to give him his wet food. Purr Chan is spoiled. I know.
Normally, I would go back to bed, but not today. Today we’re driving to the Olympic Peninsula to camp at Lake Crescent. It’s a 4 hrs drive that includes a short ferry (if you don’t have to wait in the often-crowded ferry lines, that is). Ugh… why am I doing this again? I thought to myself. 4:30 in the morning is the perfect time to start thinking about all the “responsibilities” adulthood crams down your throat: a looming presentation to the regulators the Monday after the trip, a delinquent book to put together, finances to put in order, house repairs to complete, mountains to climb, oceans to swim across, cheeseburgers to devour, and so on and so on.
Despite the lethargic start, we managed to get to the ferry in time to watch it leave the dock. Perfect timing. Luckily, we scored a sweet spot at the front of the line, which, as a consolation prize, felt oddly satisfying. 50 minutes later, we drove aboard the Spokane (name of the ferry) and off we went.
Rain chased us from Seattle to Port Angeles. I cursed the blasted weather for robbing us of summer. Rain in late July? C’mon now! But as Port Angeles faded away into the distance, gloomy sadness gave way to fluffy white clouds and blue skies. Spots of sunshine dotted the mountainside, painting a rather picturesque setting for our eyes to feast on. At every curve and turn, glimpses of the lake dazzled us. Over on the northern shore, little cabins blended with evergreen trees. A light layer of fog permeating through and above the trees offered a mosaic of colorful hues that is forever burned in my mind. The road took us on a windy journey around the south side of the lake. It took 12 miles to get from one end to the other. I had forgotten how vast Lake Crescent was.
Shortly after reaching the other side of the lake, we turned into and up the hill the campground’s parking lot. It was a long drive. I was tired and my mind continued harping on the various demons lurking back at home. And now another worry surfaced… what if we can’t find a campsite to rest our weary minds? Finding a spot can be a most difficult task in the Pacific Northwest as people flock to the parks to relish in the short summer months.
So off we went on a frantic search-and-secure mission through the campsites. My eyes darted left and right in search of a miracle. Then I looked up and straight ahead. Our drive was at ground level with the lake so we couldn’t really appreciate the mesmerizing colors that now bared the lake’s soul to us. A deep emerald, the deepest I’ve ever seen, bombarded my eyes. Sunlight hitting the soft waves created a most splendid display of stars flickering on the lake’s surface. The nagging “responsibilities” at home left my mind almost immediately.
We continued our hunt and when all hope was lost, we noticed an empty campsite down the steep path. Could it be true? The last lakefront spot! A miracle! We rushed down and looked around like two confused children. Should we take off our clothes to claim the spot? Should we pee on it? The commotion probably caught the attention of campers in the campsite adjacent to us. They came to assure us the spot was empty – the previous tenant JUST left. What great timing! I ran up the hill and back to the car, grabbed our tent, and pitched it in record time. We made several trips back to the car to grab the remainder of our goods. And for good measure, I threw my shorts on top of the tent. Why? It’s equivalent to a flag in the camping world.
No, it’s not.
With the campsite secured, we settled down to relax and took in the beauty all around us. Up this close to the shore, I finally noticed how transparent the water was. Looking down, one can see decaying logs, branches, and leaves on the lake’s bottom. The shallow shore teemed with little fishes. Kids casted reels hoping to catch a fish or two. Out a mere 20 feet, the lakebed abruptly dropped in a steep transition from shallow to deep end within feet. This sudden change gave the lake that surreal emerald gradient.
We strung up the hammock. I thought it was too perfect so sit in so we stared at it from afar. I also didn’t want to fall asleep. Not in this setting. I wanted to stay awake, to absorb this serenity, to listen to every little sound, to feel the breeze on my sun-soaked skin, and to be at peace.
I don’t know how long I sat there absorbing the surrounding, but it felt like years. Finally, we walked towards the boat launch. The view from here could only be experienced. Neither words nor pictures could do it justice. We dipped our feet in the glacier-fed ice water. My fiancé recoiled in utter shock. I wanted to jump in.
So we hand pumped our inflatable stand-up paddleboards for a quick cruise around the lake. A short 10 minutes paddle later and we disappeared from the hectic campgrounds. In a little cove, we mediated on our boards. This was the closest to nature I had ever been. When you’re surrounded by this tranquil silence, you start to hear things, like your inner voice and soul; however, I didn’t want to hear anything, think about anything, learn anything new, or have an epiphany. I wanted to float, to drift, to be mindless, to be and do nothing.
At last, I found peace.
When was the last time you gave yourself a break? To stop thinking? To stop doing? Sometimes, the best thing to do is nothing at all.
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Travel on my friends.