Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Friday, September 4, 2015


The next stop on our Northwest Odyssey was Olympic National Park.  If you're not up on your mythology I'll remind you that Mt. Olympus is the home of the Greek Gods - and as soon as you see the mountain part of Olympic you understand the reference.  

Olympic is HUGE and consists of three distinct types of environments.  There are the mountains: alpine trails, snow, mountain goats, a continuation of the volcanic ranges to the south.  There are the beaches: classic Northwest with giant trees hugging the coast, rain and fog, huge drift wood logs, rocky shores and immense,craggy rock monoliths just off the shores.  There is the temperate rain forest: banana slugs, big ferns and even bigger trees, mosses, water falls, and rain, rain, rain.  Not only is the terrain diverse, it is spread out over a very wide area on the Olympic Peninsula.  This is not a one day park.   

We spent a week at one base camp near the ocean.  Typically we have found it easiest to set up camp once and then make day trips.  However, Olympic was so massive that if we visit again we'll move camp more frequently and spend time exploring specific areas.  I had wanted to do some ocean canoeing and whale watching, but the distance was just too great.  We wound up doing a lot of driving and having some very long days.  Also, for us eight days camped right on the Northwest Coast was eight days too many of damp, rain and fog.  At one point it seemed like absolutely everything we owned was wet.  I thought we would never be dry or warm again.  Olympic should definitely be on everyone's travel list.  

One of our day trips was to the Hurricane Ridge section of the park.  We had an excellent hike up into the alpine.  

Look at that hair!  This picture makes my heart melt.

Another great day trip was to Ruby Beach.  It was one of our few sunnyish days on the coast.  The kids spent hours tide pooling, playing with rocks (making stacks and sculptures), exploring sea caves and enjoying drift wood play houses created by others.

This was what the coast looked like most of the time - fog, fog, fog.

When the sun came out it was gorgeous.

The Northwest Coast is the best place to tide pool.

We spent another day on the Makah Tribe Reservation at the Western Most Point in the U.S. - Cape Flattery.  The Makah also have a wonderful museum.  We really learned a lot about the Northwest Native Americans.

We also spent a lot of time at Kalaloch Beach (we camped on the bluffs right above the ocean), but sadly we had no ocean view.

The water was so cold your feet turned numb right after putting them in the water.

Unlike the East Coast beaches - you didn't need a fire permit, which made for some nice evenings

I was dressed like this most of the time - it was the end of July!

Of course, this part of the Washington Coast is now famous because of Twilight - being a teacher of high school English I did feel that I needed to make the pilgrimage to Forks, and we did walk on the La Push Reservation beaches.  It was easy to see why Stephenie Meyer decided to set her books there.

We did hike to and through the hole in the wall on the coast.  

Finally, we spent time in several of the rain forests.  They were my least favorite part of Olympic.  We had already experienced several temporal rain forests at that point in the trip - and to me, you've seen one, you've seen them all.  Banana slugs and giant trees are great, but I can only get excited about them for so long.  There were a few nice waterfalls, but the drive to see them was very long.

You really can't describe how big these trees are - you have to go see them for yourself.

When we left Olympic we headed east again, this time we wouldn't be turning back towards the West Coast.  There was a lot to see before we landed at home, but still, it was good to be heading towards the sunrise again.

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