Five years ago, we woke up in a campground on Dungeness Spit on the Olympic Penninsula in Washington State.
The day before we had come through the Strait of Juan de Fuca on a ferry from Vancouver Island. That night we ate some famous Dungeness crab at a small restaurant. The waitress told Allen that the locals eat it cold and so that’s what he did.
We had already been on the road for a month and a half and the campground was one of the nicest we had stayed at. Still, the night of September 10th, 2001 found me restless, unable to sleep. I imagined I heard mountain lions outside our tent. I felt endangered.
The next morning was beautiful. Allen built the fire and I made oatmeal and coffee on our camp stove. I was writing on my computer when a ranger came and told us what happened.
He was young. We thought he was fucking with us.
We listened to the radio in the car, tried to call our families. Got through to some, didn’t get through to others.
You know how it was. Some of you were at the gym and saw it on television. Some of you were at work and heard about it from coworkers. Some of you were in school and unaware of what was going on.
Some of you were in backwoods camping like the fellows we met on a trail a few days later, who were blase about the whole thing when we talked to them.
Yeah, we heard, they said.
They had not yet seen.
Still, what to do that day? We were away from everything, one, that we loved–except for each other and except for nature. And so we hiked.
And this photo is of me. And this is what I saw.
It wasn’t until much later that day, when we were at Radio Shack looking to buy a radio we could listen to in our tent, that I saw what happened on a wall of televisions. I had heard about it all day on the radio, but not yet seen it. My mind had visualized something, but it was not that.
How could it ever be that?
Today, I offer you this image of peace–a hike up high, a cloudless sky, the air is clear. There are mountains all around you. In fact, you are above them.