Sunday, July 21, 2013

Olympic Peninsula

I found the Olympic Peninsula to be a spectacular area to visit.  The National Park is huge and offers a variety of different experiences.  The Lake Crescent area was only a couple of miles from where our RV park was.  We drove the scenic road meandering around the lake on Route 101 several times on our way to visit other areas of the park.  Because the lake naturally has very little nitrogen, the water is a unique aqua-marine color and surrounded by lush greenery making it the beautiful area that it is.

We spent an afternoon exploring Hurricane Ridge which is a scenic drive up into the Olympic mountain range where the views were astounding.  The other amazing thing was the number of deer that were at the peak and how unafraid of people they were.  People were able to get as close as 5 feet from them in their natural environment.  It was a wonderful way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

We took a hike one day to Marymere Falls, which is in the Crescent Lake area of Olympic National Park, and was just superb.  It was a beautiful trail through deep woods, very similar to the rain forest that we visited later, with the sound of trickling water slowly building up to the crashing sound of the falls.  The trail was only a mile or so, but with a steep incline to get to the falls.  It was a great way to work off lunch.

The next day I drove to the most NW point on the contiguous United States, Cape Flattery.  I drove west on Route 112 until the road ended and then did the mile or so hike to the point.  It was a beautiful walk through the lush woods with stunning vistas of ocean at the end.  There were tons of mussels attached to some huge rocks on this point, but unfortunately no way to reach them.  On this day, the hike was a wonderful way to work up an appetite for the lunch I had brought with me.  I ended my day with a tour and another hike around Lake Ozette.

The next day we checked out the Hoh Rain Forest which is one of two temperate rain forests in the U.S.  We hiked for a couple of miles in the very quiet forest surrounded by greenery of all sorts, deciduous and pine trees, lichen, and various grasses and herbs.  The Sitka spruce trees towered above and when any of them fall they become nurselogs for all sorts of other growth.  It was very peaceful and beautiful.

From the rain forest, we did a quick side trip to Rialto Beach which is on the Pacific coast and very primitive.  I visited two different beaches during our visit to Washington state and I found both of them to be similar.

We finished off our tour of the peninsula with a ferry trip from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island which had a little bit of a New England coastal town feel to it.  We drove up to Deception Pass which is a huge steel bridge towering approximately 180 feet over the water with some hiking trails nearby which we were able to take Newman on (most of the trails did not allow pets).  I walked across the bridge to catch some stunning water views.  We toured the historic town of Coupeville which is where we had Penn Cove mussels for lunch.  Coupeville happens to sit on Penn Cove so we just had to have the mussels.  We  finished our tour with a visit to Fort Casey State Park which has this beautiful light house that you could tour.

I loved the time we spent on the Olympic peninsula and it was a great way to end our tour of Washington state.  I felt very connected with nature and it made me sad to leave.  As great as it was to connect with nature, the downside was the lack of certain amenities that we are used to like cellular phone service at any time (I had no service in all areas of the park), lightning speed Internet service (our hotspot crawled along most of the time and not at all other times) and a choice of more than one restaurant.  The closest restaurant to us was Granny's and it looked like it had been built when Granny was a teenager.  The food may have been good, but we decided not to try it.  Because of all the time I spent touring the area, I found myself wanting to make familiar and simple meals for dinner so I did not post a whole lot of new recipes this past week.

We left Washington Friday and drove to Portland, Oregon where we will be for a couple of weeks.  I am not planning a lot of side trips for the next few days since I drove so much last week.  I actually used up three tanks of gas in four days in the Jeep that we use for touring around.  I am ready to stay put for a bit and get back to making new recipes.

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