Honeymoon Happies: Port Angeles (AKA Carver Country Part II)

After a lovely time on the southwestern tip of Olympic National Park, we drove along the Washington coast (initially forgetting something at the hotel an hour into it and having to go back, but fortunately it was a lovely drive!) and up to Port Angeles, where my husband’s favorite writer, Raymond Carver, spent his final years with his beloved Tess Gallagher. (Part I of Carver Country, by the way, was when we visited his birthplace last summer, much closer to home in Clatskanie, Oregon).

Not expecting much of the town, we were pleasantly surprised how much it fit us. Nice people, laid back vibe, and simple little downtown area. With little pretention, it was definitely a place we’d love to go back and get to know better. And super nice folks at the Olympic Lodge where we crashed for the night – congratulations card (hand signed by everyone on staff!) and chocolates awaited us in our room 🙂

Port Angeles – love this li’l place and the beautiful street murals!

This piece is part of Avenue of the People, a collection of sculptures by Bob Stokes lining one street.

We kicked off our arrival to Port Angeles at the Cornerhouse Restaurant, where I’d learned (in an article about the Raymond Carver Festival held here in the spring – when we were knee deep in immigration & wedding planning) that this is the spot where he and Tess regularly had a booth by the window when it first opened up in the 1980’s. It’s a classic diner with friendly staff and tasty bites (mmm, I can still taste the hot dungeness crab sandwich!), and of course we snagged a booth by the window!

By far the most touching moment of our honeymoon was visiting Raymond Carver’s grave at Ocean View Cemetery. A gorgeous but not gaudy headstone at the top of the hill overlooking the water, it gave my husband some good quiet time to pay homage to the writer who inspired himself and so many others over the past decades.

To hear my husband read this aloud to me as we stood there paying our respects to Raymond Carver was so amazing. This gets him all “sookie la la” as he puts it – the story is one of sheer gratitude and climbing mountains to get to real happiness. I love my husband and this is one of the many reasons why.

Making the journey to Carver’s grave also meant adding to the journal that Tess leaves for his fans to write a few words to him. And yes, there are word from her as well as she still lives nearby. Everyone has a story – we won’t share what we wrote, just that to have the chance to thank the man who inspired so many and overcame so much himself? Priceless.

Leaving words of our own in the notebook inside the box at his gravesite, we both expressed our own thanks. I thanked Ray & Tess for sharing their love in these words and for being a small but indelible part of the life I share with my husband.

This sums it up. On the inside of my husband’s wedding band, I had it inscribed “I call you my beloved”, honoring how Carver’s words in this poem came to describe our own love story. My name means beloved in French and this poem is all about remembering what’s most important – love. Late Fragment was also the last poem in the final book Carver wrote before he died of cancer in 1988. Thank you, Ray.