excerpts from

Three Years
on the
Nowhere Road

Hiking the coastline with a tomcat

Whenever the mood took me, whenever I found myself growing grim about the mouth, whenever it was a damp, drizzly November in my soul; then I accounted it high time to go down to the sea again, as soon as I could.

Now that I was single again, and only required a few dollars a week for necessities, I had time on my hands--- so whenever it looked as though there might be a several-day break in the long weeks of inclemency, I would hitch-hike the twenty or so miles to the Indian town of LaPush on the coast and go for a little hike with my buddy, a half-grown nameless tomcat.

I preferred traveling light, with just a mummy bag, a small tin cooking pot, some dried meat or fish and brown rice, two or three books, a knife, and not much else. The coast was broken up with immense headlands and, as I didn't have a tidal chart, I never risked hiking around them. If you were caught by the incoming tide, you would be battered to death against the cliffs and swept out to sea. Instead, I always clambered up over the headlands, no matter where the tide was.

Some stretches of the coast were barely frequented and it was not unusual to hike an entire day without seeing another soul, especially in cold weather. My cat generally preferred riding on my pack during the long level stretches, but invariably chose to do his own climbing up the sides of the headlands or the nearly vertical rock faces of the seastacks, which we sometimes climbed just for our amusement.

Often we made camp on the tops of the headlands near the cliff's edge for a view of the sea, sleeping in a grassy hollow like a hammock, while at other times we slept on the beach in some protected rocky niche or among the driftwood logs, laying out the mummy bag in a shallow depression of sand.

If I felt ambitious enough to cook dinner, I would make a tripod out of three sticks and suspend the pot over the fire to boil rice and whatever else I had, be it dried meat or fish, or kelp that I had picked up on the beach. Once I spent an hour or two searching the tidal pools for something to add to the pot, but when I actually caught a decent-sized crab I couldn't bring myself to kill it and ended up releasing it back into the sea.

Only once were my cat and I caught in a storm at night. We had curled up together in my mummy bag, positioned in the lee of an earthen bank on the shore, which I hoped would provide some some cover. It did block the wind, but not the heavy rain, so we spent the night in the mummy bag lying in cold water and listening to the roar of the waves and wind all night long. I was never so glad in my life to see the arrival of the dawn and the breaking of sun through clouds. I spread out the bag over some driftwood in the warmth of the sun, and simply wore my sodden clothes, and by the afternoon everything was mostly dry. The next night another storm came in, but we were fortunate enough to find a shelter built by the park service and were able to sleep under a roof.

We went as far south from La Push as the mouth of the Hoh River, which we were unable to cross. We could have walked out on the Oil City road and perhaps caught a ride to the highway with some Indians, but I wasn't ready to leave the ocean just yet, and so decided to turn around and walk back to La Push. Along the way, among debris left by the storm, I found a blue Japanese glass float the size of a basketball and carried it all the way back to La Push, from where we caught a ride on the highway back to our shelter on the Calawah.

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