At breakfast I announce my intentions to strike off into the wilderness of the Olympic National Forest. If I'm going to be in the middle of nowhere, I'd like to face the remoteness head on. I enjoyed driving aimlessly through backwoods Washington for eight years, so why not try it now? My brother shows interest in coming along, and I think it would be good to spend some time alone with him. We start driving. We continue for an hour or two, mostly in silence. Then we turn left where the sign says "Hurricane Ridge". I don't really have any plans, and one place seems as good as any other. I will later find out that this is not what my brother had in mind.
The road to Hurricane Ridge begins to climb. Snow soon appears on the ground, followed by a heavy dusting on the trees. I stop several times to take pictures or admire a view of the bay. My brother sits in the car. As we get higher, the trees begin to thin and the snow becomes several feet thick. I realize that Hurricane Ridge is a skiing location. This is uncomfortable. For some reason I park several hundred feet from the lodge and walk to it. The wind is blowing so hard that ice crystals whipped off the snow pierce my zip-up hoodie and embed themselves in my intestines. I lose all feeling in the windward side of my body within seconds, but somehow I reach the lodge. I spend five minutes inside, gathering the will to go outside again. Halfway back to the car, a snowboarder sails in front of me, blown out to sea by a particularly strong gust. The inside of the car is gloriously warm. My brother is not happy.
Halfway down the mountain I stop to take a picture of an abandoned pickup-plow that is almost completely covered by snow. My brother asks if he can drive. This frees me to take some (I think) nice pictures of the sun struggling against the oppressive clouds. To take these, I open the window and hang out the side of the car. The waves of discontent rolling off my brother, which had diminished, renew in intensity. He announces that he'll be driving back to Port Townsend. Since I'm nowhere near ready to return, I suggest otherwise. It turns out that he thought that I wanted to go somewhere specific in the National Forest and then start hiking. This sounds like an OK plan, so I suggest we go do that. Suddenly he wants me to drive again.
We're now on our way to Deer Park, the nearest location within the national forest that seems reachable by car. As we drive, I am struck by the scenery and stop to take a picture. My brother asks "What's with all the pictures?" I give a typically sarcastic answer. Tension builds. After about 15 minutes of driving, the road begins to climb and snow appears on the ground. It quickly becomes obvious that any hiking at Deer Park would have to be done in conditions that my brother does not look forward to. We turn around and begin the drive back to Port Townsend. Neither of us says anything for 45 miles. I earnestly wish that I stated by intentions to aimlessly drive/wander before embarking.
When we return, my parents have cooked a belated Thanksgiving dinner. The stuffing is absolutely delicious, as are the potatoes. The wine leaves a little to be desired, but beggars can't be choosers. My mother begins the anticipated campaign to fatten me up, and attempts to force several extra servings onto my plate. She relents surprisingly quickly, having only offered me extra cranberries, stuffing, potatoes, and broccoli. Everything seems to be going well, and conversation is rolling along at a decent pace.
My brother, who has been silently pushing the remains of his dinner around with a fork, suddenly announces his intention to leave the vacation early. He would like to drive back down to Portland on Monday. This could be trouble, as he was to be my ride to the airport on Thursday. Again, tension builds. He eventually relents, but the mood has been broken.
Later that night, my brother says that he has changed his mind about applying for at networking job on G___'s team. He claims to hate working in IT. I'm beginning to see what my parents have been going through.