Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Olympia National Park, Washington

Loved Astoria, OR, but have a schedule to keep. Took the motorhome into Astoria to fuel. Found a Chevron just inside the town and got in and out just fine with the motorhome. Crossed the Columbia River bridge with no problem. There is a light signal right at the end. Right or left...decisions, decisions. We went left to continue up 101 to Olympia NP. Our previous schedule had us going east to Mt. Rainier NP and then back west to Olympia. Time to change so we thought it was better to continue north and then head to Seattle area to camp for a couple of days and see Mt. Rainier from there.
Beautiful scenery all the way up 101. A little bit on the coast at the beginning and then headed inland for the rest. We stopped at Lake Quinault which is actually in Olympic National Forest. Found a nice little campground right on the lake. Decided to do the drive around the lake. Some paved road but mostly gravel. Very spooky...the road is narrow and overhanging with moss covered tall trees. We saw a doe with THREE little baby deer crossing the road. They looked very small. We stopped and did a hike to see the Big Cedar...actually the World's Biggest Red Cedar. We had to go up a tiny trail over tree roots and up..up..up. Finally got to the tree. Saw lots of fallen trees on the way..one huge one. When it fell it actually seem to break apart in planks! Amazing! The Big Cedar is hollow at the base. We both got inside and took some pics. Going back down was fun but a little scary...the trail is so natural and so tiny it was hard to find. Jim said he thought I was dropping breadcrumbs on the way up. HA!
Got back to the motorhome and just had a nice evening.

This morning we wanted to do the trail to the largest Sitka Spruce. The trail marker was on the road just outside our campground. We walked all the way up to the road and to the trailhead. The trail was beautiful in the morning...very natural with big trees, moss, ferns. Had a nice morning walk. We were able to see into our campground on the way through the trees. A small creek ran along side between the trail and our campground. We finally got to a little bridge and as we crossed we saw the huge tree. It was in a nice little open area right at the end of our campground! We could have just walked down at the end of where we were camping and got to the tree. Oh well, we enjoyed the walk.
Time to pack up and get back on the road.
Got back on 101 and headed north. We've found some campground up at the top of Olympia NP. Will call and see about getting in later.
The road (101) headed back to the coast. Couldn't see much through all the trees but looks like lots of places which would be interesting to visit but we have no time to stop now. We're headed to Ruby Beach and hope to be able to stop there for a little visit to the beach. Got there quickly and there was a nice parking lot big enough for us to park and get out. We hiked down to the beach to see the "flowerpots"...tide was going out. We saw an old man with two walking sticks walk over some logs to get to dry ground. That's determination! We only stayed long enough to get a good look and take some pics. Happy we were able to do that with the motorhome.
We've enjoyed the drive along 101...really beautiful and exciting. Some placed have warnings about landslides...usually they mean the rocks may fall onto the road but this also means the road may slide down the hill! Some places on the downhill side of the road are cracked and slipping and some look like they've already done that and have been repaired. Makes me feel a little scared riding in a 12 ton motorhome! We got through safely and made it to our stop...The Dungeness Recreation Area. It's located just at the base of the Dungeness Spit...a little strip of land extending into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We got to the front of the campground but I couldn't see down the road. I got out and found the ranger and asked for help. I told him I didn't know how to go and didn't think my husband would forgive me if I guided him straight off the spit! He laughed and came out to help us. There are two loops in the campground and he let us just go find a place. We did find site #55 in loop 2. We were hoping the sites would look out over the Strait but no such luck. After we got the motorhome set up we went looking for the water. We were able to walk down a path to the bluffs. There were places all along the bluffs which had washed away and there were warnings everywhere. Very windy and cold up there. Took some pics before going back to the rig and heading out to the park. Drove up to Hurricane Ridge...more snow. Saw some deer along the road...one was a doe with a very new baby. Too quick for me to take a pic. Finally got to the top and there is snow everywhere. Got some hot coffee inside the visitors center and took some pics of the Olympic Mountain Range through the clouds. Wished it was better weather to see the peaks more clearly defined. It was awesome enough. When we got to the car to leave we saw lots of people in front of our car looking at something down below. Of course, I had to see what all the fuss was about...there were four or five deer right there! Right below the wall just eating grass! So cool.
Drove back down and went to the port in Port Angeles. Parked near the ferry terminal and walked around the area. Walked out onto a pier and looked out over the Strait. Big ships and sailboats on the water. Found a restaurant to have a beer. We wanted to try some local brews. We both enjoyed what we ordered. Didn't eat there since we planned to grill some pork chops at the rig. We stopped at the Wal-Mart and bought some veggies and such to go with dinner. Delicious...Jim grilled the chops and I cooked some corn and sauteed some kale with garlic. Perfect meal to end a great day.

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