Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Olympic National Park - Hoh Rainforest

Feeling like an interplanetary traveler, I go from beach




To rainforest in the space of an hour.



Well, that’s the Olympic Peninsula for you!



Who wouldn’t want to hike these two trails?  The Spruce Nature Trail and the Hall of Mosses. Both are easy footpaths with trailheads at the Visitors' Center.  Low-hanging fruit, but rewarding nonetheless.  




It’s a lucky sunny summer day in the forest, considering that this area gets about 12 feet of rain annually.  If you want to understand why this is so, here's a rather unromantic analogy: the Olympic Mountains to the east act as a giant shower curtain to the prodigious moisture from the Pacific.  The wet stays here and the results are freakish and enchanting. 







Giant Sitka Spruce, Douglas Fir, and Western Hemlock - all dressed in moss - tower over the soft forest floor.



This Red Alder trunk on the left displays evidence of an Elk with the munchies. 



Unlike other conifers, the needles of the Western Hemlock have a feathery texture. 



What a thrill!  We all have our favorite hobbies but, for me, there is nothing like lacing up my hiking boots and setting out to experience a magical part of the earth.



Speaking of worthwhile hobbies (and by that I mean food), I confessed to Debbie yesterday about my intrusive and persistent thoughts of cheeseburgers.  After my hike, I can fight it no more. My enabling GPS finds this drive-in located in Forks, WA.



While it’s not the best road burger I’ve ever had, it hits the spot. 




Forks is my home for the night.  Tomorrow morning I'll re-provision and head to Mora Campground and reunite with the caravan.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Olympic National Park - South Beach

We checked-in here 2 days ago.



South Beach Campground is a $10/night, first-come-first-served overflow area for nearby Kalaloch Campground.  Basically it’s a large gravel parking lot with one serious advantage seen (barely) to the left.  An awe-inspiring view of the Pacific.   



My photos in no way do justice to the view from the GDB living room window.   




The campground has steep short paths to the beach.  



We experience approximately 1 hour of clear skies this morning.  But, hey ..... it’s a rain forest!

Ruby Beach

If you are into diverse ecosystems, this is the place to achieve the trifecta – Coasts, Rain Forests, Mountains.  Tip: bring a 4-season wardrobe.  

Our 2 days here have been occupied with 1) finding just the right spot with a coveted ocean view and 2) strolling the miles of powerful untamed beach.  




Chuck, Carla, Gayle, and Debbie are ambitious enough this morning to attend a ranger-led walk and learn more about the fascinating life of tidal pools.  Gayle got some fabulous photos, so stay tuned for her imminent post on the subject.  

I've wanted to visit Olympic National Park as long as I can remember.  What a thrill it is to finally be here!  I so look forward to experiencing the rest of this immense peninsula.  Tomorrow, I move on and explore a different section of the park - Hoh Rainforest.  After that, I'll rejoin our most excellent caravan again on Thursday at Mora Campground.

To make up for today's gloomy fog-laden photos, I'll leave you with Debbie's 2 boys - Rupert and Elliot - from a former, sunnier locale.  Action photos courtesy of JimTM   






Saturday, July 26, 2014

Ocean Shores, WA

Hello from the Quinault Beach Resort & Casino on the central Washington coast.



I happily reunite with Jim, Gayle, and Debbie - already installed at Camp Lazy Daze.



The casino has a large RV lot 



with easy beach access over trails like this.





Ocean Shores is the self-appointed Kite Capital of the World.  



We are joined by Chuck and Carla, old friends of the trio.  Chuck and Carla also travel in a Lazy Daze and are spending this summer on the road.  We stroll the beach.

Jim, Gayle, Carla


On Saturday, Gayle finds a sensational hike for us – Damon Point - a 4-mile beach loop that circumnavigates this spit of land on Gray’s Harbor.  



The clear blue skies enable us to see far-off Mt. Rainier.  This is the best photo I can manage – can you make out the hulking mountain hovering in the distance (below the clouds and behind the boat?).  



The abundant driftwood offers intriguing sculptures fashioned by Nature, the greatest artist of all.



Part of the land is a designated Wildlife Refuge.  Come here in the winter and you might spot a Snowy Owl!  

The casino is hosting an event this weekend that has caused us no end of amusement. 



Hogs.  As in Harleys.  Think Sturgis-on-the-Sea.  

Web Photo
With a beer garden, live music, tattoo competitions, and a Hangover Breakfast Buffet, we expect rowdy behavior for the next 3 days but it’s surprisingly peaceful.  See Gayle's post regarding the Men's Tattoo Contest.  

In other casino news, Debbie gambles.  And wins!!!



It's been great fun.  The weather has been ideal with clear skies and temps in the 60's.  

After the weekend, we move on to Olympic National Park.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More Seattle

Monday

After successfully resisting the urge to work, I hop the bus and return to the big city.  

Pioneer Square Station

The weather is to die for.  Well ….. at least to drive 3,500 miles for!  The sun stays out all day and temps top out in the low-70s.  Now THIS is the way to do summer.

I tell myself I want to sample more of the city, but what I really want to sample is the yummy-looking menu here at the Market.




More about that later.

First I head to the Seattle Public Library.  I hear it’s something to see. 



Indeed it is. 




I see things I’ve never seen in a library before – like a Gift Shop.  And decoratively-carved wooden floors throughout.  

Web Photo

Four stories of the book collection are built on an ingenious series of slanted floors labeled with a continuous run of Dewey Decimal numbers.  



Brilliant.  Why don’t all large libraries do this? And dogs!  I’m not sure if their presence is legal but I see several and I don’t see snooty signs stating Service Animals Only

I notice other things on this 2nd foray into Seattle.  People are so nice!  A young guy waiting near me at the Park and Ride shyly asks if I’m sure I know the right bus to catch.  He wants to prevent me from accidentally ending up at the airport.  (So much for blending in).  

The bus drivers say Welcome Aboard.  On my first ride, I don't have exact change, and the driver waves me on anyway.  Notice the beautiful patterned fabric on the bus seats.  What other city does that? 




In town, people smile and speak.  In heavy city traffic, if a car honks, people turn to look!  NYC it ain’t. 

The tacos are delicious, BTW.  The mole sauce is mucho flavorful.




Wednesday

A day at the park!  



It's the Mariners versus the NY Mets.



Safeco Field is my new favorite big-league ballpark.  It’s no surprise that Seattle does it well, with an eclectic and abundant food selection. 


Of course I did.




And well-considered seating.  I practically hover over home plate.



Unfortunately, it rains hard.  All day long.  I, along with thousands of other fans, arrive soaking wet after the 10-minute walk from the transit station.  I reach my seat 5 minutes before the National Anthem.  



My shoes, socks, and jeans are soaked through.  The fact that I never do dry-out or warm-up doesn’t diminish one single bit the thrill of seeing a tight game.  The Mets win 3-2 after a ninth-inning rally by the home team.  



New York's 41-year-old starting pitcher, Colon, throws a perfect game through the seventh–inning.  I think we might witness history.  But it wasn't to be.  



Another memorable day!  Though I am glad to be back home - warm and dry.