There are probably several fanatical accounts citing the significance of the Wishkah bridge on the Internet. And hopefully this will inspire you to check them out over a can of beer alongside some righteous tunes.
I am not capable of delivering as thorough a report because I have not yet done such research, and arrived here sort of happenstance. It’s day 05 of a soggy tour of the Olympic Peninsula in search of concrete tranny and secret left point breaks on Indian reservations (shhhhhh). The fourth such trip to the Pacific Northwest and I’ve enjoyed one session, in four years. You probably think that’s exaggeration, and if you find it ridiculous then book a fuckin’ boat trip ya yuppie.
Rather than surf, we found the dripping Hoh rainforest so verdant it appeared carpeted by a rug of fallen purple, decomposing into regenerating nitrates. Art guys and kindergarten teachers will tell you the primary red and blue colors make the secondary purple, but we found another mix. Just offset against hanging sage moss from evergreen bows, apply a burnt brown bark and fallen deciduous late autumn orange and I promise it will be purple you trudge through. Hope your Vans are black and hi-top cause otherwise they will look like they were washed with a melting grape popsicle and be fucking miserably wet.
From the Hoh Rainforest the drive was awe-filled, and after a couple hours peering between wiper blade cycles we arrived at the base of Gray Harbor where there resides an unofficial memorial dedicated to just about everybody born in the last four decades’ hero: Kurt Cobain.
It was not easy to find and we drove by several times on the lookout for something Disneyland grandiose. Upon realigning our expectations, a conspicuous two-foot high concrete cast guitar appeared surrounded by a few plaques of solemn words by local artists.
It was raining, as it had been for the last five days and frankly as it should have been. We ran to seek shelter under the nearby bridge slipping down a muddy chute on a slight incline and almost went for a certainly unintended swim.
And here found perhaps the real memorial. It felt like the nighttime dwelling of an angst-fueled adolescent seeking shelter from a mistaken world. There was evidence of a small fire having recently been burnt to keep its patrons warm using the above bridge as an umbrella. An evening retreat in the otherwise insignificant suburban sorrow of Aberdeen, WA.
There were innumerable scrawling and spray painted tributes, and their tone ranged from sorrow to teen pop to anger for him having left the earth too soon.
The photos show it better than I can by simple description.
After Kurt’s suicide, the remaining members of the band released a compilation of slightly obscure live recordings they believed portrayed how he longed to be remembered while he was living. They chose the title “From the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah” to pay homage to his boyhood home and nighttime retreat. The song “Something in the way” also immortalizes the location.
Dripping wet, frozen and completely beside ourselves, we drove back east towards the I5 stopping at a McDonald’s to download the album with their free wifi and continued south to Portland. It was more nourishing than their food.
In Portland we drank the beautifully plain Rainier lager from a can and sketched a tribute to things we love about the Pacific Northwest on the Jupiter Motor Lodge door. It was happy hour and although we’d easily blown a grand in the last five days, the tab was only $20 and we were gleeful and silly with a day on the road well spent.
What a surf trip.