Washington – Part Two 9/26/17 – 10/8/17
With a couple more weeks in Washington, we continued to travel along Route 101 along the northern area of Olympic National Park, then went southwest to Forks.
As a family, we visited downtown Port Townsend and peeked in the Palace Hotel. A well-known brothel in the Depression, with beautiful Victorian-style rooms named after former working girls, took us back in time. The town has some fun stores and businesses with a mixture of new and old architecture. We walked along the beach at Fort Worden State Park then had some delicious Fish ’n chips at Sea J’s Cafe.
Early one morning, we took a one-hour ferry ride from Port Townsend to Victoria, Canada, then a one-hour bus ride to Butchart Gardens. It was highly recommended so we decided to go for it. Was it a nice garden? Yes, beautiful! Was it worth the trip? Sure. Would I go back? Maybe, offseason. Because of the large crowds, it was hard to truly enjoy this garden. My favorite section was the Sunken Garden which was originally a limestone quarry that was transformed into gorgeous gardens of annuals, trees, and shrubs with a rock mound fountain and a bog garden overlook. Back in Victoria, we enjoyed walking around Market Square and seeing the lights on the British Columbia Parliament Buildings. It was a long day but it was fun to use our Passports again!
Olympic National Park
Back in Olympic National Park, we went to Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center to see the summit but since it was cloudy the visibility wasn’t great. So we drove back down and decided to check out the Switchback Trail for hiking. Appropriately named, there were many, many, many switchbacks up the mountainous hills. It was challenging but it had beautiful views!
We stayed at Heart O’ the Hills campground in Olympic National Park for a few days which is a very nice park but we got infested with mice so we couldn’t wait to leave. See the other blog post if you dare to read about this dreadful experience! Yikes Mice!
Frightened about staying in the woods again, we decided to head to the town of Forks where the Twilight books were focused on. Of course, we followed the Twilight tour to see the movie set exhibit, Belle’s car, Forks High School, etc. Alyssa was reliving her middle-school years! We camped at Forks 101 RV Park which was located across the street from a combination grocery, hardware, clothing store. Very convenient and a fun town!
Olympic National Park – Hoh Rainforest
In the western area of Olympic National Park is the Hoh Rainforest where we hiked the Hall of Mosses and saw our first banana slug. If you’ve never seen a banana slug, it is 3-4 inches long and looks just like a banana. Some have brown colorations so they look like rotten bananas.
Along Spruce Nature Trail we came across a huge elk laying under trees. He was just chewing on grass and had his eyes closed enjoying the day. It was a real treat to see him so close. Another day in the rainforest we hiked 6 miles to “the quietest square inch in America,” a place that Alyssa learned about from a google search: http://onesquareinch.org. The directions were a little vague like follow the elk trail, then pass through the split trunk of a Sitka spruce tree, cross through the muddy wetland, and find the red rock on a fallen tree trunk. There are GPS coordinates to help but we ventured out with only the written directions. We were excited after each milestone but had trouble finding the red rock since it was difficult to see with all the overgrown moss around it. Was it really quiet? Seemed to be … when we all stopped talking!
We took a day trip back up to the northern area of the park to see Sol Duc Falls and Salon Cascades. Very nice trails with running salmon, overlook bridges, and beautiful waterfalls.
Beaches, Beaches, Beaches
The coast of Washington has many breathtaking beaches which are all different and special in their own way. Our favorite sunset spots were Rialto Beach which we visited a few times, and First Beach (La Push). Second Beach had a great 4-mile round-trip hike down to the ocean and fun-to-explore tide pools filled with anemones and starfish. We met a young couple (Phil and Claire) on Second Beach who had just finished hiking a few months on the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). They shared stories of their journey and amazed us at how they lived out of their backpacks.
On Beach 4 we discovered sea otters playing in the ocean waves. At the Kalaloch campground, we watched Blue whales off the shoreline and saw the “Tree of Life” holding onto the eroding hillside. Ruby Beach is well known for its rock formations and is popular at sunset.
We spent about a week exploring some of these great coastal beaches. Much more to see … next visit … the rainy season is coming so we need to keep moving.
Up next … Oregon!