We saw each other for the first time, after a thousand days apart, at the airport in Salt Lake City. It was an unlikely place for us to meet, that dreary room in the middle of Utah someone had decided to name Gate C6. We had both flown in from our respective hometowns—London (mine) and Chicago (hers)—to catch a layover flight to Portland, the first destination on our road trip through the Pacific Northwest.
It was a weird time in both our lives. I was going through a messy break-up, as was Elyse, and we both felt a little lost. Then, a few days after our trip ended, my grandma passed away and Elyse lost her dog. Our lives became jumbled again. But between those two bookends of sadness we had that week to heal together.
There was no feeling better than catching up after three years apart like no more than three minutes had gone by, warm in the comfort of our car, singing our hearts out to Elyse’s road trip playlist, happy to be together again among the beautiful pine trees that seemed to follow us everywhere.
This photo is of a roadside diner somewhere in Oregon.
Elyse, rocking her cowboy hat. Happy.
Cannon Beach, a couple hours’ drive west of Portland. Those almond-shaped rocks are hundreds of feet tall, stately and proud. We stood there for a long time, watching the waves.
We were listening to “September Song” by Agnes Obel when I took this photo. The piano-heavy instrumental song fit so snugly into that moment. I remember watching the shaft of lights dance around the trees as our car wound its way around the road. I felt like I was in a movie.
This was the first picture I took in Washington. We stopped by the side of the road to look at the mist.
Elyse in Mount Rainier National Park. We collected different plants on our hike so we could collage with them later. This never ended up happening but I did lay them out on my table at home. I look at them wistfully every now and then, wishing I could be back in Washington with Elyse.
One of many cherry pies we ate that week. I was so hungry I barely remember anything about that meal.
Headlights on Elyse. This was taken right when we arrived in Seattle, outside our friend’s house. I love how ghostly the trees behind her look.
The chewiest donut I have ever had.
I took this from inside the car. We were probably listening to music and singing our hearts out. We’re maybe both tone deaf but this is unconfirmed. We think we sound great.
Taken in Ashford, Washington, which is mostly forest and lies at the base of Mount Rainier. Later that night we fell asleep to the most ear-shattering thunder I have ever heard. I have a recording of it on my phone and still freak out whenever I hear it.
Gazing down at a waterfall before heading to the Mount Rainier basecamp, where we were the only two without climbing gear. After walking past ambitious, sporty types beginning their three-day trek to the summit of the volcano, we realized that we probably couldn’t climb the mountain in our sneakers. We headed down in fits of giggles. Because of the rain and the fog, we never even fully got to see Mount Rainier—not until we got to Seattle and observed it from a distance, gigantic and majestic as hell.
A stark black-and-white landscape, sheets of snow pinpricked by the occasional pine tree. It was really quiet and we were the only ones around. I loved the silence and the gloom. The weather changed rapidly as we drove in loops back down to Ashford.
When trees fall like that they start decaying until they are part of the ground. They provide the forest with so many nutrients that their death ends up giving rise to all sorts of beautiful, mushroom-y life.
Elyse in the bathroom at the movie theatre. We had just gone up the Space Needle. It was our last night together; I was flying back to London the next day and she was heading home to Chicago.
On our last day together we drove out to North Bend, Washington, and went to Twede’s Cafe, which is the diner featured in Twin Peaks.
I got a damn fine cup of coffee and we ordered the famous cherry pie. Now I finally get what Detective Cooper was talking about.
Snoqualmie Falls, just around the corner from Twede’s, is the waterfall featured in the opening credits of Twin Peaks. It was a beautiful place to go right before saying our goodbyes at the airport.
This is what you see when you’re in a forest in Washington, looking up at the trees with your best friend.