excerpts from

Three Years
on the
Nowhere Road

Forks, logging capitol of the world

Sometime later that day--- or maybe it was early on the following day--- I found myself approaching the little town of Forks, on Highway 101. The further north I had come through western Washington, up the Olympic Peninsula, the more evidence of logging I saw everywhere. But nothing could have prepared me for the miles of clearcut slopes that greeted me as I approached Forks from the south. All I could think to compare it to was a war zone--- a war against Nature herself. I thought I knew what to expect; I had seen logged-off areas before in other parts of the country, but nothing like this. This was logging on a major industrial scale, like No-Manís-Land in the First World War, mile upon mile of indescribable carnage. It was deeply sobering.

And then I was in Forks, staring up at the mounted cross-section of a huge log which announced in bold letters: Welcome to Forks, Logging Capitol of the World. Which it certainly was: filled with big gleaming Peterbilt, Kenworth and Mack logging trucks, some of them hauling logs so large that a single log filled the entire trailer. The little town bustled with activity, filled with big men in red suspenders, hickory shirts, stagged pants and heavy nailed boots. The whole northwest was in the biggest logging boom in its history, and the little town of Forks was its epicenter, full of raw swaggering energy, and an air of brash assurance.

Notwithstanding my revulsion at the clearcutting, I found the atmosphere in Forks utterly invigorating. I was two months out of work, flat broke, and had a wife depending on me. I was desperate for wages and here, by god, was the place to find them. Beyond that immediate need, the prospect of such old-style labor in the woods, steeped in legend and peril, was transfixing. Despite a gnawing apprehension for what I might face, I felt in my bones that I had come to the right place--- that here I would find my young manís great adventure at last--- like Melville's Ishmael looking down on the whaling town of Nantucket and a harbor full of whaling ships for the first time, inhaling deep draughts of the heady salt air and swallowing back the bile of his fear.

More excerpts from
Three Years on the Nowhere Road
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Off to the wilderness

A bus from the Twilight Zone

I am picked up, then dumped

On a dark, deserted highway,
the kindness of a stranger

My first ride in a logging truck

Forks, logging capitol of the world

To a camp on the Calawah

Job Interview

Up before dawn, a loggerís breakfast

My first day at the mill

A dip in the river

Working deck at the mill,
and almost losing a hand

To a new camp, further downriver

Robert Lee:
the old logger who lived in a box

The Dickey River People

When a barrel stove becomes a cannon

Alone at last

At the outfitters

On Christmas Day, I am flooded out

At the mill, I am promoted to splitter

Encounter with a sasquatch?

A scene out of Dr. Zhivago

I settle in for a solitary winter

Hanshan, the mad hermit poet

Hiking the coastline with a tomcat

A night on a seastack

I join an encampment of friends
on a tributary of the Hoh

Calling at the country estate
of Robert Lee, Esq.

Visiting around the Peninsula
in Robert Lee's 2-gear sedan

A visit to a Makah family on Neah Bay

These opening chapters represent
about 20% of the entire book,
which I hope to release
later this winter.

BJ Omanson
Nov 2021