The Passport Trip – part 1

-5 journals of a summer trip through WA, OR, and CA in 2010-

– Rain forest, hot springs, and San Francisco –

* * *

Parvin and I are still German citizens, and every 10 years we have to extend our German passports. This time they have implemented a new type of high-tech-security document with imbedded digital fingerprints, so one has to show up in person at the consulate to apply for the extension. I can’t help to find it extremely arrogant that each German expatriate on the entire west coast of the US has to travel to the consulate in San Francisco now to get his/her passport renewed. It reminds me a bit of why I once left this beautiful over-regulated country, but maybe I’m too harsh. We decided to make it a holiday trip, and it turned out, by all means, to be a marvelous trip.

* * *

 We started out in our own backyard: 

Now in late spring, the rainforest in our Olympic National Park is at its best.

 The moss is over saturated from the endless rains in winter…

 …and the new growth is pushing out everywhere.

 It rained of course. The elk are used to it.

 Everything gets overgrown. Even trees try to grow on a bridge.

 Remains of a fallen tree.

* * *

 We slowly make our way south. It still rains and rains. For two days we drive on lonely forest roads and don’t see a single village. Somewhere in the mountains of Oregon we find the first hot spring. (Bagby) An ancient bath house, far away, deep in the forest, with old carved out tubs.

 Another one near Oakridge; much simpler.

        Early in the morning steam fills the air. The rain has ended.

 * * *

 Further down in southern Oregon we stop by at an old familiar place at the wild Rogue River.

We often rest here on our migrations.

 High on a cliff above the river, deep in pristine wilderness.

 In the morning there is often fog in the valley. You can hear the roar of the river through the clouds.

 Later the mist rises, and soon the sun rules the days.

 It is a very remote area. There are places you can only reach on sketchy, narrow one-lane roads. There is so little traffic that we never met a car there in years.

* * *

And then we went to San Francisco. Our dear old friends Gabriele & Robert in San Rafael gave us shelter, and we made our appointment in town. Just as expected, it all went with the familiar German clockwork precision. We were awed by the impressive establishment of the consulate high on a hill, overlooking the magnificent city. I didn’t know the guy on the big picture in the office. “This is our president” said the lady and was not amused. “I can’t read this” she said, looking at Parvin’s Iranian birth certificate. “Madam, don’t get me started, this woman is a German citizen for over 30 years, please look at the translations and do your job.” In the end she wished us a pleasant return journey. Parvin grabbed my elbow and lead me away before I could say anything rude.

***

And I had to see “the bridge” again, of course.

 * * *

It was windy and foggy – of course. But I had to say hello to my bridge. The traffic noise is overwhelming, the wind, the slight trembling, the fantastic beauty of the whole thing, it takes your breath away, each time.  It was 44 or 45 years ago when I was here. Looking back I don’t entirely understand what it was that happened here. Thousands of people killed themselves on this bridge. It is a mysterious place. I didn’t jump, I climbed instead. I climbed up the cable all the way to the top. (click for more)

I wouldn’t know what to say to a jumper. That moment may be as close to real freedom as you can ever get.

 Something changed on that day. I began to understand it much later.

What a wonderful beginning it was.

* * *

                                                                            Klaus   End of June 2010

This entry was posted in 2010, Other Travels, Passport Trip 2010, Summers and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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