Olympic Peninsula

September drive through

Olympic Peninsula

Beautiful morning on the ferry with blue skies and sparkly sunshine. So beautiful it makes me wonder why we are leaving, however I know it’s time to slow down after a busy summer and we have to leave the retreat to get away from the work involved. I have Rod Stewart’s song in my head - We are sailing, we are sailing….

After a quick trip to the border, we ended up waiting just 5 minutes shy of 2 hours and delayed even further when they felt the need to inspect the camper. “Yes” we said, “we have 1 frozen chicken breast” but due to the avian flu scare, they decided to take Gary’s dinner from him. All we wanted to do was go so we were polite and the border guard was very nice. No problem there.

The problem came when we followed google maps through the small town of Edmonds to catch the Kingston ferry and came upon an intersection to turn right to get into the line up. A vehicle seemed to let us in. They were just sitting there with a 15 foot gap in traffic so away we went. Little did we know that we had just butt into line and they weren’t going to let us get away with it.

When traffic came to a halt, we had a visitor from behind come to our window and tell us that we should take the next right and come around to get in line again. She also said that several people behind us have taken down our license number and will call it in so be prepared for a $250 fine. We laughed and didn’t really think too much of it until the traffic guard paid us a visit and said they had several complaints about us. Again we just thought what’s the big deal? We thought he would give us a break. It’s not our fault they don’t have a traffic light or signs there. It’s one vehicle! We’re the length of a pick up truck! So he said ok we’re going to put you in a “time out” to take the next ferry. We were a little bit surprised and we said Ok you want to put us in time out whatever… that's a first.

So we go through the line up and when we get to the dock they directed us to the side lane. Gary said to the guard - oh this is our time out and laughed. For the next ferry we sat and watched all the people that complained get onto the ferry. I’m glad we didn't get on that ferry. I don’t think I could have taken all the accusing stares and who knows, maybe they would have thrown us overboard.
Anyway it put us behind a bit but we were very entertained by it all. We better watch our P’s & Q’s here in the USA!

Drove through Port Gamble which was an old settlement on the water with homes very well kept probably built in the late 1800’s. Beautifully manicured and very cool. We'll stop on the way back. Over the Hood Canal floating bridge as the sun was going down with just a touch of smoke in the sky, very pretty orange colour.

Got into some nice forests and all of a sudden we could see smoke straight ahead. Looked like we were heading straight for it. Sure enough we came upon a traffic stop and they were letting 1 lane through at a time. The fire was not huge but the helicopters were working along with 2 or 3 fire trucks. We could see that they would have it under control in no time so we weren’t worried. It just happened so quickly and then we were on the other side of it.

Driving into Sequim Bay the sun was even more orange and misty but it sure was pretty reflecting off the surface of the water. Casino energy mostly and a few residences.

We arrived at our campsite at Sequim Bay State Park and we were allowed to have a campfire! Just moments after driving through a forest fire! Bizarre. 

I think we were still wound up from our busy week so sleep was not great but we wondered what would unfold in the coming days after having filled this one with the surprises we had. On the road in good time, we know we have a long way to drive today so let’s get some miles under our belt. Excited to see the ocean!

Coming into Port Angeles on a Saturday morning just seemed like the kind of place that would have a Saturday market. Sure enough down by the docks there is a circle of canvas canopies calling my name. It felt like a artist alley with sculptures on the street where the ferry comes and goes. We discussed how we might sneak into line and laughed as we conspired.

I met a lovely woman who makes creams and salves and found myself talking about the retreat like it's the best place for her to visit. Another vendor I bought bar shampoo soap and conditioner as well as bar lotion for our upcoming trip overseas. Another stand had delicious chaga cinnamon tea and we talked jokingly about budding into line at the bakery but we thought better this time. LOL

Drove, drove and drove along the shore of Crescent Lake with beautiful crystal water and guard rail all along the water’s edge. Skies were clear but they started to look a bit smokey as we climbed into the mountains. Beautiful forests all around as we had expected. Native tale was that Mount Storm, the tallest peak was angry that the people were fighting so he brought down a landslide that divided the lake into two lakes. Now the fish are landlocked salmon we think may be known as steelhead.

From the art gallery in Pt Angeles we found a beautiful painting of Rialto Beach rocks so we looked it up and it was only about 20 minutes drive off our path. We had to go through Forks, a tiny little town with a fork in the road ;) We chose the right one so onward to La Push, an oceanside village. 

I was glad we decided to come here as it was quite magical. Mostly native settlement with a resort along the water, the huge rocks in the painting were the backdrop to the village, quite a spectacular site, just off shore. 

The white sandy beaches had big energy with swelling waves that broke furiously onto the shore lined with massive logs. Many wooden spits were built out into the bay around the marina to help to manage the open ocean. Waves from the beach were so powerful but felt calming at the same time.

We purchased a white wolf necklace from the local native crafts women. The elder told the story of the white and black wolves representing the good and bad in each of us. She also told of the clan families being divided back where we had just turned around to get on the right road. 

It was so hot in the sun when we ate lunch at the picnic tables overlooking the marina. Seemed like such a quiet and peaceful location with fishing boats and all kinds of birds hovering around the fisher people busy cleaning their fish on the porch of the boathouse.

Along the way to this place were Beaches 1, 2 & 3 clearly marked with full parking lots and hikers making their way onto the trail to these remote shorelines. We realized what a great experience that would be however we are already out of our way and not equipped to do that trip. Something I would highly recommend checking out if you're ever there.

Back onto the drive toward our destination we head into the forest but we initially followed the water before we climbed in elevation and encountered beautiful cliffs down onto the longest sandy beach.  We suspect most of the campers at the top of the ridge were likely die hard surfers. Smoke was gathering quite quickly so we were not able to see too far but the beach was the focal point here. 

It was like Tofino on steroids with the wind swept trees and long long beaches. I’m sure I even saw ferns growing in the trees.

We finally found our way to Ocean City State Park where our campsite was quite private and you could hear the waves somewhere over the trees to the west. We could see the sun setting so we followed her and found our way down to the beach by foot after setting up camp.

It was a good long hike with the latter part of it through sand dunes making every step heavy. It was well worth the hike as the beach was amazing. So much sand and beach grass along the way it reminded us of our 2015 trip to Cape Disappointment, just not as grand. Strange thing about this place was that cars and trucks could drive on the beach. Glad there weren’t too many vehicles. I think they were locals digging for clams along the way.

After a nice fireside chat video with the Miller clan we saw the full Moon in Libra rising in the east through the trees. So pretty.

We got up the next morning, made coffee to go and walked down to the beach again. Needed to see it in the morning light even though we knew it was going to be a long haul. It wasn’t so bad. We played in the waves a bit and when I put my sandals down to take a video, they were swept into shore getting soaked with the bubbly surf. Oh well, I’ll have to walk back with wet sandy sandals.

Decided to drive south onto the jetty where we found similar style houses all along the sandy outcrop. They would not have a basement but most built 3 stories high for the ocean view and some had lookout towers. The horizon was smokey so we didn’t see beyond the lighthouse but we spotted a pod of pelicans flying along the beach. So cool.

Most of the jetty was commercial with water sports theme, a few other businesses and restaurants and then all along the jetty and around the point in several circles were residences. Many looked like they had seen better days but it wasn’t appealing to me to even take pictures.

Headed back into the forest and higher elevation we drove through Aberdeen, clearly an old settlement built on the Chehalis River. Onward through McCleary, Hoodsport, Lilliwaup and north to Brinnon. Dosewallips State Park is our last spot before heading home tomorrow. All along the water in small settlements are oyster bars and because of it, many piles of shells left from gatherings of seafood lovers. 

Finally coming to our place we turn right onto the water side and we realized this was a picnic area so we turn around to find our way to the campsite. It was in an open area with huge cone shaped trees that created a big beautiful canopy for shade. After setting up camp, we headed back over to where we started and realized this was not the beach. The trail we took went along the Dosewallips river where we sampled blackberries, saw elk droppings, a huge eagle’s nest and some whitewash drops in the bushes probably from the spring heron nests. We were glad we went the wrong way first as we may not have gone afterward. 

It was warm and a wonderful summer feel came over us as we made our way back, even though we noticed the smell of fall leaves decaying. From the bridge overpass walkway we noticed fish flipping around in the river and later read that they were summer chum, an early salmon making their way upstream to spawn. This nest was massive and might have been empty right now, but I'm sure it will be occupied soon. We checked out the viewing deck in the bird sanctuary and after watching seals breach the water with loud splashes we decided to walk for a bit where I soaked the 2nd pair of shoes today. 

Dinner was quiet with not many campers in our area and the sun gave us a spectacular sunset of bright pinks through the large popcorn puffs of cloud overhead. I don't think I've ever seen a more vivid pink and purple sunset.

We got out the playing cards and taught ourselves a new game. Later the moon came up in the east through the trees. So beautiful.

Got an early start the next day and we’re so thankful that we have a short distance to drive before we join the freeway home. It’s been a wonderful most needed relaxed time to reflect and organize my thoughts for the season. So grateful especially this time of year after the work has been at it’s peak. Time to shift into a slower pace now.

This was a perfect feeling for our next stop where we embraced times gone by in Port Gamble, WA on the Kitsup Peninsula. Tucked into the bay of the inlet they are just out of site of the Hood Canal Bridge. It’s a period village with most buildings labeled with the historical reference at the time of establishment over a century ago.

Most visitors in the 1800’s and early 1900’s came by canoe and shortly after I felt this was a very white town, I saw Black Lives Matter posters in the windows, “everyone welcome” in another. Clear signs of how we are shifting. Soon we won’t need those signs, it will be our default pattern to accept everyone.

From the time we left this long ago existence and the familiar ferry proceedings, we felt love for this place and the realization that we can go anywhere and explore any place with our home on our back. My mind started to envision the next camping adventure. Maybe we need to explore the east coast!