Monday, 16 September 2013

Olympic National Park, WA

Lindsay has always wanted to go to the Boeing factory which was only half an hour away. The place is gigantic as you can imagine and 41,000 people work there. 30,000 work on the day shift that starts at about 5.30am, in 6 minute increments. We got to see the new 787 which is made out of composite - carbon fibre; what Lindsay used to make his yacht masts out of 20 years ago. Qantas had one on the production line that will only carry about 200 passengers and will cost about 300 million. For obvious reasons you aren’t allowed to take anything in there that could take a picture or movie. While they sound like they are the only ones making planes and they do make a lot, there are other competitors out there. They have orders for the next 20 years and as you have to make a one third down payment at time of order, they must make a fair bit of interest on their customers’ behalf. The first night it rained but since then the days have been lovely, warm and sunny. The guide at Boeing said it was unusual as the rainy season was usually from the 31 August to the 1st of August, so pretty much all year round!

After the Boeing factory tour, Lindsay also wanted to visit the Museum of Flight, which he thought was fantastic. Me, I could take it or leave it. As this is south of Seattle, we did this on the way to the Olympic Peninsula.

When I first looked at Olympic National Park, I didn’t know where to start, the places to go are spread throughout the peninsula, so I emailed a friend that we met last year whom I knew would know the area to get some ideas. Looking at my Allstays app there was a pretty good chance that we wouldn’t fit into any of the camping grounds in the parks as they had a limit of 21’. Some of them said there were a few 35’ sites, but really who were they trying to kid?

Hurricane Ridge


Wednesday and Thursday were due to be fine, so we had set off on Monday to be near the park when the weather improved. Port Townsend is a pretty little town and we stolled along the streets. We used Port Angeles as a base to visit Hurricane Ridge in the NP, there is a ferry that goes to Vancouver Island, so we’ll keep that in mind for another trip. The first time we went into Olympic, the ridge was mostly covered in low hanging cloud. Other friends had suggested that we go there for sunrise, so we got up just before 6 to be up there at 7. Even though we had driven it the first day, we missed the turnoff and wasted precious time. The drive up to the ridge is narrow, twisty with the normal roadworks to slow you down. There were two trails to sunrise point which looked the same distance on the map. The one we took was incredibly steep and long. First thing on a cold morning when your muscles don’t want to work and your lungs are saying, hey we are at high altitude here; it wasn’t fun. I couldn’t carry anything; it just slowed me down too much. We arrived in time to set up the tripod and camera before the sun had risen. The morning was clear with no clouds in the sky whatsoever (bummer), but I’m sure if there had been, they would have been covering the mountains. The light was beautiful. As the sun came up behind us, it spread a pink light on the snow caped mountain range in front of us. The steep walk had been worth it. We took the other path back down, which of course was a lot shorter and not nearly as steep, so take the left hand track!


Next was a walk through a rain forest to Marymere Falls which was really pretty. The drive around Lake Crescent is also really pretty. Sol Duc was next on the list, but we will do that another time, it would have been a good idea to do it as a day trip from Port Angeles.

Olympic National Park


Across to the coast and we checked out Mora campground which is where we decided that none of the campgrounds would fit us. There were two RV parks in Forks, the first we couldn’t get around but the second was extremely spacious and even allowed Lindsay to wash the trailer for the first time since the carwash episode in Whitehorse. We knew it was going to rain, but rain doesn’t clean a dirty trailer and so at least it would be easier to keep clean.

We went out to Rialto Beach at sunset and while many people were photographing the sunset out to sea. I was photographing the light on the fallen dead trees that litter the beach. 

Rialto Beach


Onto the Hoh Rain Forest, which they suggested you visit when it’s raining and of course it was. There was a herd of Elk on the way in, but they were just grazing and we didn’t see any males with racks, so we didn’t even stop. I was planning on two walks there but one was closed off, so that left only the Hall of Moss, where moss grows on everything. The heavy rain held off to a drizzle while we did our walk and then started again as we headed towards the car which was perfect. On reflection, we both thought that the drive in was actually prettier than what we saw on the walk.

Hoh Rainforest
Lake Quinault was supposed to be pretty at sunset, but as it had been raining all day, there wasn’t any hope of that. The 31-mile loop drive around the lake would have to be the worst sign posted tourist attraction we have come across, we missed all but one of the waterfalls, we just didn’t see them. The grey day reflected grey in the water, so the pretty pictures we had seen in the map/brochure were nowhere to be seen. We came across a herd of Elk at the ranger station that kept Lindsay entertained for a while. There was one male with a rack that was having a great time digging his antlers into the mown grass and tossing it everywhere.

Elk



We were lucky we arrived when we did, a few days down the track and all the national parks are closed due to the government shutdown, not even their web pages are accessible.

The rest of the trip we met up with friends in Ocean Shores, Portland, Grant's Pass, Watsonville, Carmel Valley, Paso Robles and of course Yucca Valley. 



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