By Tom Groenewal
Sunday, November 17, 1991
I load my possessions into a brand new rental truck and leave west Michigan for Forks, Wa.
I drive through Chicago and the rest of Illinois, around the bottom of Lake Michigan, heading northwest to Wisconsin and Minnesota, the Badlands and the constant dusty winds of South Dakota; no trees here, too dry.
The mountains of Wyoming and Montana and Idaho tell me I’ve made it to the west.
Eastern Washington is next: wheat, the Columbia River and the bridge over it. I don’t want to cross the bridge. Side winds of about 30 mph are unsettling. This truck will act like a sail and likely be pushed over the edge.
Off I go, anyway. I don’t look over the edge. Why tempt fate? I keep my hands clamped on the wheel steering against the gusts of wind. I am yelling out loud that the wind had better slow down. The wind dies the closer I get to the other side. I head for the Cascades and the ride down the other side.
I am close to the fog belt of western Washington but I’m staying with a friend in Seattle. I unload the truck and put my belongings in storage. We hang around town. I want to throw a fish at Pike’s Market, so I ask if I can get involved: no. I feel like buying my own fish and throwing it at someone, all in good fun.
Into another rental truck go my belongings. The manager of the U-Haul place in Bellevue left me a lousy truck and a cute joke. You should have no trouble finding the U-Haul dealer in Forks; everything is next door to each other. Good, life might be much simpler in Forks.
I drive away in a 26-foot aging truck slowly sway back and forth grinding gears and puffing blue smoke. The vintage 1965 12-foot car trailer I tow behind looks like it was riveted together in someone’s weekend garage, custom built for an off road elk camp.
An H pattern for shifting. I go for first gear but I get a grinding of well-worn teeth. I think I hit reverse. I try again, it grinds and clunks. It catches first gear, I think, and I’m on my way.
Darkness falls and the rain starts soon after I turn south taking a southern curve around Olympia and Puget Sound and head for Aberdeen. The rain comes lightly at first but by the time I was 20 miles north of Hoquiam the real rain began. The rain pounded on the windshield and drowned out the sound of the whining transmission, I hope the drive train has another two house of use left to get me up the coast. Sometimes I can’t see but I keep going anyway. I give an encouraging tap in the dashboard and urge my truck up the last hill, crossing over the Calawah River. The checkered flag flies at the Forks Welcome sign.
Earlier in the day I called Kathy Cunningham, the realtor, to let her know I would be arriving at my rental house on Robin Hood Loop. She said she would have the heat and porch light turned on to make the place feel like home. She offered to meet me as I pull into town and guide me to the house. I assured her that I could find the place in the dark and there was no need for her to meet me and my smoking U-Haul truck, of which I was getting embarrassed after too many gas station onlookers. People came up to talk with me as though I was going to a vintage truck convention.
In spite of the rain and darkness I find my place on Robin Hood Loop at the end of the Sherwood Forest subdivision. It’s a three-bedroom ranch, a rambler as they are called here, with a fireplace and a two-car garage. No basement, several yards of rain falling every year. I am home and call my mother to let her know I made it to Forks. She is happy.