The first thing I encountered after leaving Aberdeen and heading south on 101 early Tuesday morning was a place I'd seen mentioned in some article or other as the epicenter of toilet tissue production for the U.S., a city with the intriguing name of Cosmopolis (Greek for "city of the world"). As I drove past acre after acre of fields barren but for a smattering of toddler-sized tree stumps, it began to sink in how weird and apropos it was that this place was called Cosmopolis. The unofficial motto of Cosmopolis is "City of the Future!" which when said with fervor sounds deludedly optimistic in a Buck Rogers sort of way. Especially considering this worldly city of the future is the epitome of rampant suburban sprawl and old growth forest devastation - powerful reminders that our consumption doesn't happen in a vacuum. [She fashions a jerky mechanical wave of the hand while chirping in a robotic voice: "Happy motoring!"]
I decided I was already pretty familiar with what inexpensive yellow cheddar cheese tasted like, no matter what shade of marigold you selected, and so instead chose to head over to the Tilamook ice cream parlour where for a mere $2.00 I procured the best root beer float I've had in a very long time. Generous amounts of good hard vanilla ice cream bobbing in homemade root beer - yum. What a culinary triumph the day had been! Freshly shucked oysters for breakfast, a hand dipped corn dog for lunch and now the perfect ice cream float at tea time! Yahooo!
After my brief dalliance with all things dairy, I hit the road again. The weather had been wild and woolly all day: strong gusty winds, persistent intermittent rain and bitter cold (around 40, but bitter when you consider it was May, anyway). I myself relished the weather, however, and it merely intensified my enjoyment as I drove along.
It was getting to be late in the afternoon and I hadn't had my walk yet, so I decided to play the Next Impressive Place game. The point of the game is to stop at the very next place I encounter that piques my curiosity, for whatever reason. Then the focus shifts to spending at least an hour walking about, finding out what's wonderful about the spot I chose, because there's always something - always.
So, driving south along 101, somewhere in the beautiful Siuslaw National Forest, the next thing I encountered was a sign for the blah-blah waterfall trail blah-blah which gave me immediate cause to turn off. Hell, what's not to love about a waterfall? The road to the trailhead wove gently through stands of ancient moss draped trees and a carpet of huge tree ferns. After about 10 minutes of slow blind-faith driving along a washboard road that was pocked with rain filled potholes, I came upon the promised parking lot which was literally carved from the lush forest surrounding it. Happily, if automobiles were any indication, I was the lone person in the vicinity. As I prepared for my hike, I donned every single layer of jacket I had brought with me and soon set out snugly, warmly and happily to see what I could see of the blah-blah falls. (It's rare I don't remember the name of a place I visited and am not able to figure it out!)
I felt a bit like a dinosaur, weaving through the primeval forest alongside a fast running rivulet of pristine water, bathed in verdant solitude. It wasn't long before I came to an official looking barricade which blocked further progress and bore a cautionary sign warning of 60 point red font DANGER of the direst sort - I'd turn back if I were you! Well, I'd walked all that way and could just barely see the falls in the distance, and the terrain ahead certainly didn't look all that dangerous...add that to the fact that the warning sign was posted just above an obvious pathway that had been worn by scofflaws such as myself who simply walked around the ineffective boundary, and the choice was clear: take my safety into my own hands and ignore the damn sign.