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Tour d'Joko:DISASTER at Fort Flagler

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Published on Feb 5, 2012

The weekend off. Beautiful, unseasonably warm winter weather. A full tank of gas. Where, oh where in the Evergreen State should I go on the next Tour d'Joko?

My last three trips had been to the east, hiking mountain trails (or trying to) in the Cascade Range. I wanted to see something different this time. Different terrain. Different subjects.

As you can see by the map to the right, representing the comfortable driving distance from home (the yellow circle) for a Tour d'Joko day trip (recent tours represented by the orange stars), the next trip should be to west. I was also thinking I wanted to see something cultural, something historic rather than just scenic. Out of the woods and off to historical places.

I was hoping to find perhaps a restored Indian fishing village, or something of the like. There are several sites here on the coast where archaeologists have uncovered Native American sites hundreds, even thousands of years old. The ones I knew of were way over on the other side of the Olympic Peninsula. Driveable, but a bit of a stretch for a one day trip.

An island in the Puget Sound (one of almost 200) caught my eye. Indian Island. Aha! There should be relics of some sort there, right? A quick check of the Washington Trails Association's website, indicated that yes, there is a nature hike on Indian Island. It's short, and you really can't go anywhere else from there on Indian Island as Indian Island is closed. Closed to the white man? No. Closed to anyone. 99% of Indian Island is a military installation. A munitions dump, if I remember correctly. No one allowed in. Damn. A whole island?!? What do the Indians think about this?

No worries, as just adjacent to Indian Island is Marrowstone Island, sparsely populated, reachable by bridge and home to Fort Flagler State Park. Aha! I have a yearly pass that allows me unlimited access to state parks! The next destination had been found and off I went!

The first difficulty I encountered was with my equipment. The flip-out screen on my video camera has finally given up is functionality. It's a bad connection wire. For months now, I've had to angle the screen at just the right spot to get a picture, otherwise, it just would go black. Lately, I've been unable to see the image of myself if I was pointing it at me (which explains some of the weird framing and zooms in recent videos). Now, basically I just have to point it at what I want to record, and guess. I just hope I'm recording what I want to, because I can't see it.

I also can't see if I'm actually recording. There was a point in the video below where things turned for the worse. I had been marching along the old military installation of Fort Flagler, recording beautiful vistas, historic buildings and massive weaponry where I went back to the van to drive over to the other side of the fort.

I started the truck and it immediately died. I started it again, there was a screeching noise and then the horrible sound of metal hitting the pavement beneath my engine. Something large and important had just fallen out of engine compartment. The engine was running but making a really bad continuous sound.

Hopping out, I notice also a big puddle of coolant that had not been there before. Under the engine, I found a spring and a fist-sized wheel looking thing, obviously part of the belt assembly. I later learned this was my "tensioner".

The truck was undriveable, and here I was in a state park, 100 hundred miles from home and maybe 20 miles from the nearest decent sized town.

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