Olympic National Park - Thursday, June 20, 2002

With Heimo’s new transmission and clutch, we left the comfort of the Jerry & Carolyn’s home for 5 days on the road in the Olympic National Park.

The Olympic National Forest is located on the western most peninsula of Washington. Within the forest boundaries is the Olympic National Park, which includes famous rainforests, hot springs, hiking, camping and backing packing. The views range from the beautiful mountains, forests, and glaciers on Mount Olympus to the rugged and desolate coastline. The forest is huge and 5 days was not nearly enough time to explore the park.

Day 1:
Our trip started with a most beautiful ferry ride from Seattle across the Puget Sound to Bremerton, a town on the Olympic Peninsula. From the ferry, we drove 2 hours west to the beautiful shores of Lake Quinalt and found a remote and free camping area ~12 miles east of the lake. Traveling the very bumpy forest road into our campsite, we passed by a migrating herd of Roosevelt Elk. The trees in the forest grow tall and very thick, essentially blocking most of the light out. Though it was to close to the longest day of the year, it was dark after 6pm.. Early night since we forgot the firewood—doh!

Day 2:
We scrambled early to secure our next campsite near the beach, stopping at the historic Lake Quinalt Lodge for a yummy breakfast. The Lodge was built in the 30’s as part of Roosevelt’s focus on the country’s national park system and felt very rustic yet elegant. The food rocked! I’m also easily impressed after an evening of car cooking…

We had hoped to stop at the Quinalt Rainforest on our way north to the coast but were beaten to the trailhead by a bus full of rowdy elementary school field trippers. Skipped that hike—didn’t want a headache! Oh well, we’ll get back there.

The 2-hour drive up the coast was very scenic as we were able to hug the storm-ravaged coastline almost the entire drive. The effect of logging on the countryside made quite an impact on me since I spent most of my life in Texas nowhere near a forest. I wasn’t expecting to see complete tracks of forest, miles on end, cut to the stump. It reminded me of the book by Dr. Suess, The Lorax. Sad. However, it was some consolation to see that the logging companies seem to make a concerted effort to reforest areas that have been cut down.

After picking up some chow in the town of Forks and checking e-mail at the local library, we headed west towards a dilapidated town called LaPush which is situated on the Quileute Indian Reservation. On the north shore of the Soleduck River between LaPush and Rialto Beach, we scored a remote campsite for the night and took a trip down the beach. The coastline is so eroded from storms that small islands called seastacks have formed a short distance off shore. Also, logs are strewn all over the beach. We spent a few hours there listening to the crashing surf, napping, and reading. RELAXING! Too bad we didn’t dedicate more time for this adventure, as there are some amazing coastal backpacking trips to be had up and down the coast.

Day 3:
We headed out early in search of a campsite on the north coast of Washington along the Straights of Juan de Fuca. We found a great park – Crescent Beach - after several stops about 2 hours up the coast. The park incorporated a former military base complete with old bunkers and gun placements used to protect the Straights during the 1st and 2nd world wars.

The camping area was tree-filled, remote, and had great views with beach access. The ocean on the north coast is much calmer than the west coast since the straights are protected from the battering of the open ocean by being wedged between Vancouver Island (Canada) and Washington state.

It turned out to be in the 90’s, so it is pretty fortunate that we ended up at the beach that day. Unfortunately the water was FRIGID!! Chuy went swimming, chased crabs and sand shrimp, and basically dirtied up Heimo with her sandy, seaweed smelling self. Pain in the neck….but we love her. We hung out in the sand reading and relaxing, sometimes braving a trip in the water to cool off.

Day 4:
Woke up to the sounds of rain hitting the pop top. Pulled the top top down, had a quick breakfast and hit road. So much for sunshine! We decided to drive towards Port Townsend, where Jen’s (sis-in-law) parents graciously lent us the key to their vacation condo on the beach. Heimo is not much fun in the rain with the pop top down, especially for tall Dave. We stopped in and relaxed for a while and headed in to check out the cute town then decided to see “The Bourne Identity” at the local theater. It was pretty late by the time we got back to the condo, so when we saw that Jen’s step-dad David was there we decided to just head straight back to Seattle so as not to disturb him.

The only memorable thing about the trip home in the dark was the 3 miles of panic until we hit a gas station once we realized we had been riding on fumes since we left Port Townsend. Whew….made it without having to call AAA.

That’s it!!! Quick and beautiful trip. Would take two weeks to do it again next time..

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