The National Park, not the Games.
We’ve been waiting a long time to get here, and it was well worth waiting for. With an RV, the journey is just as much fun as the destination (except the white-knuckle descent into Death Valley from the west), but our 10 blah days in Oregon left us really, really excited to press on and get to the park. We had big hopes that simply didn’t live up to the grandiose expectations we had set, and we were eager to get into Washington and experience the wonders that the Olympic Peninsula had in store.
The road from California to Washington’s Olympic is a long and bumpy one. Even with a 41’ 37,000lb RV with an extra 4,500lbs of Jeep in the back, we experienced more porpoising through Oregon on Highway 101 than we’ve come close to anywhere else. It was so bad, that as soon as we settled into our wonderful spot at the Port Ludlow RV Park, I ordered a set of the Koni adjustable shocks for Bighaus – never again will we experience that crazy ride! But as we rolled out of Astoria Oregon into southwestern Washington, the road amazingly seemed to smooth right out. Just an illusion due to our disillusionment with Oregon? Creaking cabinetry and teeth fillings rattling out don’t lie.
After a couple days of watching deer right outside our window while we casino camped at Quinault Beach Resort & Casino in the extreme southwestern corner of Washington, we ventured up to our first real stop, Lake Quinault, home of the world’s biggest Spruce tree. Well, it used to be, but somebody found a bigger one. But you can walk from the road to this one, so we’ll count it as such, and check “see world’s biggest Spruce tree” off of our bucket list. Next! Lake Quinault is actually a gorgeous area, with plenty of the huge lake still left undeveloped. We thought it was worth a return trip, and actually brought Shelby and my mom to see it as their first stop when they flew in for their visit. Really not that much to see in terms of memorable checklist items, but beautiful and serene.
Next on the route is the Hoh Rain Forest. We booked a ‘spot’ for Bighaus at the Hard Rain Café, an RV “resort” right outside the entrance to the Hoh Rain Forest. I’m not quite a walking dictionary, but I guess I have a vision in my head of what the word ”resort” entails, and it certainly isn’t the Hard Rain Café. On the plus side, we had a nice level spot on a grassy field all to ourselves (we were the only people in the “resort”), on the downside, the guy who owned the place apparently grew up on a farm and thinks of the “service” in “customer service” being pretty much the same as a stud bull “servicing” a cow. Bad visual, but now you know what its’ like dealing with the guy. We recommend steering clear and moving along to the next spot.
What the “resort” does have though, is location location location. Being on the entry road to the Hoh Rain Forest does have it’s perks, one of which is being able to rise early and get into the park before the crowds hit. Which is what we did. The drive into the park winds along the incredibly beautiful Hoh River, colored a gorgeous light blue by tiny chunks of glaciers that have flowed downstream called ‘glacial flour’. If you look at our photos you might think that we Photoshopped the color in, but that’s really how the water looks. Amazing.
No more than 500 feet into the parking lot at the rain forest, with the early morning sun shining directly into my eyes, I barely miss running over (under?) a huge bull elk walking across the lot. Nothing good could come from that confrontation, and after he stares us down (who knew that elk could throw the evil eye???), we get parked and spend a couple minutes with the camera catching some photo ops. Nice!
There are several easy, well marked trails right from the Hoh Visitor Center which meander through the rain forest and along the river. Spend a few hours here, have some lunch (luckily the better half is an amazing provisioner!) along the river bank, and we’re out of the park before the crowds start blocking up the small parking lot.
From the Hoh Rain Forest, we hook the Jeep back up to Bighaus and begin our way up highway 101, first north as we go around the navigable edges of the park boundary through Forks (famous from the Twilight movies) and then east where we run along the southern edge of Lake Crescent.
Lake Crescent may very well be the second most beautiful lake that I’ve ever seen, second only to Lake Tahoe. Deep, blue, and mostly undeveloped, it’s straight out of a postcard. Unfortunately with a monster rig, and places to go, we’re stuck gawking at it from the road as we head east to our next casino camping spot, the 7 Cedars Casino in Sequim (pronounced sk-wim, it’s easily to tell the tourists around here!).
Two nights spent casino camping, staring out the front window at the horses next door, and we’re ready to set down roots. If gypsies (gypseas!) can actually grow roots, our plans certainly fit the bill.
We’re now in the Port Ludlow RV Park in beautiful Port Ludlow on the Olympic Peninsula’s northeastern corner, where we plan on spending the next two months enjoying the water, Olympic National Park, and entertaining family as Colette’s dad comes to visit for a week while I’m out of town with work, then Shelby and my mom come to visit for a week, then Colette’s brother Kevin comes to visit for a few days as he returns from a several week fishing excursion in Alaska. One would think that with 2 months in one spot we should be able to keep much more current with our writing than we have done, but somehow something always seems to keep us too busy to sit here and put the words to paper. We shall see.