Fishtale Organic Pale : Fish Brewing Company / Fishbowl Brewpub : Pale Ale
Union Jack India Pale Ale: Firestone Walker Brewing Company: IPA
Salvation : Russian River : Belgian Strong Dark Ale
Where you disembark in Port Angeles, there’s a little diner in the three block downtown that’s just now stopped serving breakfast. The cyclists from the ferry slip past, while you eat hamburgers and dream about the donuts from next door’s Cock-a-Doodle Doughnuts.
A short while later, cars string out to pay their entrance fee for Hurricane Ridge in Olympia National Park. When it’s your turn, you’re eager to spin up the winding seventeen mile climb that steeply twists away from startling views of the sound, turning inward to an endless range of greenery.
And when you reach the top, there are the cyclists have already finished the climb; they stand with cups of coffee in their hands. “About two hours to get from the ferry to here.”
Yeah, and about ten minutes to make the descent, I imagine.
Olympia is an infinite range of untouched eternity, the forest carpet without intrusion. We are headed around the wilderness on this day, looping west and then south in a giant circumvention of the mountain range. With a stop at the Forks, Washington welcome sign for photos; the ninja bike riders stop for pixs too, but they miss the real Fork’s icon, hidden in the twilight of the town’s outer limits.
It’s sunset when we reach our destination. My wife Judy stumbles free from the car, breathing relief deeply, saying, “I was getting wilderness anxiety out there.” True, most of the last four hours have been spent spinning through tree-lined roads and clear cuts, with only the occasional break revealing the house that the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movie was shot in. (Little-known cinematic fact.) But heck, it’s worth it because we’ve ended up at the Salmon Lodge and it has been over 48 hours since we last ate salmon.
“I can’t wait to see New York City!” Our hostess announces her anxious excitement to visit her new boyfriend from upstate New York. She is painfully unaware of the terrible distance between upstate and the city, but is convinced that she will “see broadway.” She says it just like that: “see broadway.” I think about home and all I can picture is big trees.
Our server (as they say in Portland sushi houses) has a different story, a Philadelphia story, as it were. She’s from back east and fell in love with a local when her parents took her here on vacation. (I can see Judy cringe at the possibility.) She moved out here to be with him and now lives on a nearby reservation.
“I work here and at the prison,” she says casually, “because it’s so beautiful out here, but there’s isn’t much work out here.” The drive here emphasized that underlying fact, where the economy has made a ghost of the landscape. “You know about the Spotted Owl, right? That they used to clear cut for lumber here, but they had to stop because everyone was concerned about this owl and so they stopped and now there are no real jobs out here and…” She leans into the table, like she’s sharing a sincere secret. “And the funny thing here is that apparently the owl used to use the open fields from the clear cutting for hunting and now that there’s no more clear cutting, the owls are dying off everywhere.” She straights up, tossing her head to slightly to the side and concludes, “so now there’s no more lumber jobs and no more owls any where.”
Hmmmm…this sounds like beer logic to me, so I order the Fishtale Organic Pale. Fishtale. I’m thinking about Ray’s mix of native culture and modern environmentalism while I sample a beer the color of fresh trout. It has earth qualities, a little more cracker than biscuit, and flows easily, like a Philadelphia girl’s west coast aspirations.
I try to figure out how one convinces oneself of the easy truth that environmental efforts distorted and destroyed the environment. We are all conflicted by nature. I order the Union Jack India Pale Ale: I’ve had it long ago at the start of this crazed exercise and it’s the other beer on the menu. More richly the color of salmon (begging the question of whether your drink should color coordinate with your food) and wonderfully orange and hoppy. Cold, crisp, it benefits even more from being on tap. We may all be conflicted by nature, I conclude, but some beers are right on target.
This is our last night out from Portland. Tomorrow Judy and I will discover if the ten days since dropping off our daughter has proven sufficient to start her off successfully at college. It has too: I didn’t buy her a return ticket.
To celebrate, I open the Salvation ale, again served in small glasses. (By the way, the Riedel wine glasses in Victoria were the best beer glasses of the trip.) Man, I once had a slice of homemade bolo pretu, an eye-opening, tummy warming delight. This is the liquid equivalent (although lighter on the palate and you don’t have to slice it). Loaded with fruit flavors…raisins, prunes, figs…tossed into burnt sugar.
There is mystery and magic here and so Salvation makes it a fitting conclusion, as the tour turns south to Portland, and, yes, inevitably home.
Rating Fishtale Organic Pale : 69%
Rating Union Jack India Pale Ale: 81%
Rating Salvation : 92%