excerpts from

Three Years
on the
Nowhere Road

A scene out of Dr. Zhivago

It was sometime early in January that I received a letter from my wife Vickie asking for a divorce. For all our troubles, I had not expected this. And for all that I needed a period of time away from everyone, I would never have come out to the Peninsula if I hadn't needed a job. I had always assumed that I would return to Rockford in the spring, when I could reasonably expect to find work again as a tree trimmer. We had our troubles between ourselves, and I had my problems with people in general, but I loved her and I didn't want to lose her.

That night I walked to the only phone booth in Forks, six miles away, in a heavy snowstorm. I kept thinking of the scene in Dr Zhivago of the the poet Yuri walking for miles through deep snow and arriving half-dead and nearly frozen at Laura's doorstep. The part about trudging for miles through deep snow was the same, only for me there was no Laura in a warm bed at the end of my long trek, but only a forlorn icy phone-booth. "I was expecting your call," she said, when she picked up the receiver. It was about 3 a.m. her time. Whatever else passed between us I have long-since forgotten, but I know that when I hung up I had not shred of hope left, and that six miles back through the still-falling snow to my cheerless shelter above the Calawah was the longest six miles I ever walked. By the time I returned, the cold gray dawn was not far off, and I did not make it into the mill that morning.

The next few days and weeks living alone in the winter woods were among the roughest of my life. I continued to work at the mill for a time and was able to put aside a small nest egg, but I had a hard time concentrating and after several near misses with the splitter blade that nearly cost me a finger, due to my distracted state of mind, I decided I should quit, at least until I had regained some mental balance.

I was under considerable pressure from my parents, and especially my mother, to return to Illinois and deal with details of the divorce, but I was in no mood to haggle over terms or possessions. I contested nothing. My mother was livid, and demanded I return and take up the fight in person. I ignored her. I had been thinking back over the few years that Vickie and I had been together and remembering all the times I had been thoughtless and even callous in some of the things I had done or said to her, and I decided she had just cause to leave me. We were very young when we married and I, at least, was very far from mature. I had scarcely known how to behave around women, and now I began to see all the mindless mistakes I had made. I clung to the forlorn hope that I could somehow win her back, or that we could at least-- somehow-- become friends again.

What I knew for certain was that I could never face returning to Rockford just then. If I had to live without her, then I would do so a thousand miles away in the wilderness, and I would stay away for at least a year. I imagined myself as Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights, trudging off to a life of voluntary exile after being forsaken by Cathy, determined to transform himself into a different man before seeing her again.

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 logger’s 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