October 17, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Three

Tuesday, September 19, 2017
Day Trips: Lake Quinault Lodge; Quinault Rain Forest Nature Trail and Loop Trail

First things first.

It rained on and off all night, at times pretty hard (which can be very loud on the roof of a travel trailer!), but it stopped as we woke up, so I took my cup of coffee down to the river. It was cool and cloudy, but still absolutely gorgeous. The water was clear and fairly calm; the only sound was that of a few fish jumping. A very peaceful way to wake up, if you ask me.

We continued to have a nice slow morning, enjoying our coffee and breakfast, but around 11:00 we decided it was time to go check out the sights. Rod was busy editing, so unfortunately he stayed behind while we headed over to Lake Quinault Lodge.

This is quite a rain gauge. 15 feet in one year!

Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926 in two months! It's one of those grand, old lodges that brings to mind vacation retreats and old money, the kind of resorts that are shown in movies like Somewhere in Time and Dirty Dancing. The view of the lake and surrounding mountains is quite spectacular, especially with the clouds and mist hovering over the trees. We decided to have lunch in the lodge and enjoyed the beautiful view from our table. I had a delicious cup of clam chowder and a pretty decent plate of fish & chips. After our leisurely lunch (the service was a tad bit slow...), we headed out for a walk in the Quinault Rain Forest.

The trails are well-marked and we found that we pretty much had one to ourselves as we headed down toward the path along the beach. The woods are filled with large ferns and the trees were dripping with moss. Lots of moss. We came across an enormous Douglas Fir that is estimated to be 400 years old.

We knew there were waterfalls further east along South Shore Road, but we weren't expecting to see this small waterfall, which is part of Willaby Creek, on our walk on the Quinault Loop Trail. It was lovely to relax for a little while, watching and listening to the water flow by with its rhythmic, burbling song.

Eventually, we made our way along the shoreline where the trail continues east toward the Lodge and Ranger Station. The sun drifted in and out from behind the puffy, white clouds, casting shadows over the water and mountains, creating an ever-changing picture. I could easily have sat on a dock, gazing out on the water and sky for the remainder of the day. 

It wouldn't be a hike in the Pacific Northwest without the ubiquitous banana slug.

Honestly, it felt like we were on the edge of an Alpine lake. Those mountains and water took my breath away!

We came across a lot of fallen trees, but this particular log caught my eye and it seemed to beg to be touched. It was so smooth, as though someone had spent a good deal of time sanding away all the rough edges. Did the rain do it? Time, sun and water? It also reminded me a bit of an elephant's head and trunk. Do you see his eye?

I love the way the dew drips from the moss, dangling like jewels on a thin strand of lace. This temperate rain forest gets an average of 12 feet of rain per year!

We enjoyed our hike, but it was time to head back to camp and start thinking about drinks and dinner. Rod and I took a stroll down to the river before the rain returned. 

(photo credit: Mike Jackson)

I'm so glad Rod travels with one of his guitars! It's very pleasant to sit and listen as we enjoy our cocktails.

Click on the photos for a larger view of the image.

October 15, 2017

Olympic Peninsula Trip - Day Two

Monday, September 18, 2017
Hammond, Oregon to Amanda Park, Washington
Distance: 139 miles
Campsite: Quinault River Inn - Space 4
Cost per Night: $44.72
Duration: 3 nights
Weather: 53 and raining

I had hoped to take a quick walk and see the Wreck of the Peter Iredale before we headed out in the morning, but it was pouring. I knew we'd be spending another night on our return trip, so I wasn't too disappointed. Check-out time wasn't until 1:00, but we wanted to get on the road and get to Quinault before dinner, so we headed out at 11:00. 

As you can see, it's not always glamorous, especially on a travel morning!

Heavy rain and a huge bridge (4 miles long) over a huge expanse of water (the Columbia River).

It doesn't look quite so bad with the window down. Lots of cargo ships on the river.

The Astoria–Megler Bridge is a steel cantilever through truss bridge in the northwest United States that spans the lower Columbia River, between Astoria, Oregon, and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington. Opened 51 years ago in 1966, it is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America.
Located fourteen miles (23 km) from the mouth of the river at the Pacific Ocean, the bridge is 4.067 miles (6.55 km) in length, and was the final segment of U.S. Route 101 to be completed between Olympia, Washington, and Los Angeles, California. (Wikipedia)

Once we were across the river, we decided to stop for a few minutes at Dismal Nitch and take in the view. "...waves, strong winds, and torrential rains of a Pacific Northwest storm." Pretty much the same 212 years later. 


The weather started to improve the further north we drove and we decided to stop for lunch at Willapa Bay, near South Bend. The view was beautiful from our vantage point in a large, empty parking area. It's actually a field, but there was another RV parked there when we pulled up, so we figured why not?

We stopped in Aberdeen for gas and then took a random detour when I decided to pull off the road to let some cars pass. A large dump truck just happened to pull up right behind us, so I couldn't maneuver my turn back onto the highway and decided to just continue on down the road and turn around when I found a wide enough spot. Well, that wound up taking us several miles and twenty minutes out of our way! I'm just thankful we found an area large enough to make a wide turn without getting stuck in the mud. We were out in the middle of nowhere. And, of course, without any cell service on either phone. (And, yes. We have now purchased a CB radio.)

More rain, but very beautiful.

After that little adventure, it wasn't too much further before we pulled into the beautiful Quinault River Inn. It felt so good to have arrived and to know that we wouldn't have to leave for another three days.

The Quinault River Inn borders the Olympic Peninsula and is within just a few miles from Lake Quinault and the Quinault River Valley. In addition to the Inn, there are 5 RV spaces, each with electricity and water, but no sewer hook-ups. There aren't any shower facilities, either. Not quite dry camping, but somewhat limited. Each RV space backs up against a large grassy field and includes a picnic table and a gravel parking pad. The sites are fairly close to each other, but easy enough to back into. There were only two other RVs during our stay, so it was nice and peaceful. My dad and stepmom (who were traveling with us on this trip) were on one side and a couple from Texas were on the other side. The inn is right off of 101, but the traffic wasn't too terrible later in the evening. The only real noise was a little bit of road traffic from the logging trucks driving past during the night.

After we checked in and got set up, we wandered down to the Quinault River, which is just a few yards away from the campsites. There were several chairs set up around a large fire ring, as well as a gazebo and a couple of adirondacks scattered off on a large, grassy slope. The view of the mountains and the river was breathtaking! Unfortunately, it was a little too damp for a fire.

Click on the photos for a larger view of the image.