Jul 16, 2010

Olympic National Park

This blog might seem a bit sporadic, I apologize for that. The areas we drive through along this roadtrip are very scenic and not very populated...when they are, sometimes we miss the chance or don't even think about stopping at a place that has Wifi...

This time our goal was to get to Olympic National Park, also in Washington. We started our trip from Mt. Rainier early in the morning and headed toward an alternate route to get to Olympic. On our way we  stopped at an area with many rocks and fallen trees and a gushing river. Chaz went a little crazy and forded the river over one of the many trees that had fallen over it to the other side...I was a bit worried, you would've died had you fallen into the river.

On the alternate route the scenery was very green but not too exciting-that will come later-we eventually came into  a small town.
quite an interesting town
My car had understandably taken a beating on the trip so it seemed necessary to stop and assess the damage-what would this roadtrip be without a few hitches? after fixing a small tire leak and getting an oil change the car was ready for more brutality. We  maneuvered our way onto scenic route 101, this would take us up around Olympic National Park and along Puget sound eventually coming around to the Pacific ocean.

Once again, the route was filled with some amazing landscapes, salt water air filled our noses and we passed through a few small towns with some kitschy shops. We passed through towns like Sequim, Port Angeles, and Fairholme.

In the town of Fairholme a little ways off there was a gorgeous, massive, blue lake to the side of the road called Lake Crescent. The water was pure blue, very clear, and very tempting...Chaz once again proved he loves the taste of danger and decided to (probably illegally) take a dip in the lake. Peering through the murky depths with the help of googles (we were perched on a fallen log jutting out) we saw a tangle of tree roots that went as far as we could see towards the bottom of the lake. An eery, creepy sight. Chaz jumped in, hoping to maybe explore just a smidge...but the shock of the cold and the unnerving creepiness of the tangled roots underwater stopped him...it was still an experience.

Driving more into Olympic National Park we came across some more towns and got the feeling we would need to find a campground soon. After a very disappointing venture into some “hot springs” (a glorified lodge/pool with smelly water from natural springs-maybe...) we came to an route that would take us out to a potential campsite and a beach!

The campsite was a no-go but the beach was unlike anything I had ever seen. Stacks, piles of driftwood littered the beach-which was made up of grey/black rocks-and the unrelenting waves of the Pacific Ocean pounded onto the rocks. Huge rocks jutted out a ways into the Pacific-the air was crisp and cool-we had to explore the driftwood piles a bit.

After Chaz tested his agility on the piles of driftwood we headed back to the car and headed toward a possible campground. On our way we had the misfortune of driving through Forks, WA...the infamous town where the Twilight series is set...it was more than sad and quite frightening.
so sad. so sad.

We found the campground a few miles down the road, set up camp, ate, and then rested for the next day: more Olympic National Park and driving down the coastal 101 highway into Oregon and hopefully California!

Washington State, Mt. Rainier

Our destination for sleep, Spokane, WA was a quaint, artsy city with an almost old-timey feel. After unsuccessfully trying to find a hotel and settling on the only one we could find, pricey as it was...we had a nice dinner at this restaurant called the Steam Plant Grille, the food was excellent and the interior of the restaurant-an old steam plant-was a feast for the eyes.
We left Spokane on West Coast time around 11 and after a quick grocery run started our journey towards Mt. Rainier National Park.

The interstate we traveled on for most of our journey into Mt. Rainier had surprisingly subpar scenery...wasn't Washington supposed to be the evergreen state? It seemed pretty bare and dry so far.

At one point the scenery, even though it was bare and dry, took a turn for the better. We pulled off onto this designated scenic viewpoint and it did not disappoint. The view was of this stunning river at the bottom of a deep gorge. Signs in the area warned of Rattlesnakes, but we never saw any. The view was very breathtaking and it was quite a nice area to stop and think a bit before heading out again.

 We drove through some mountains with humongous wind turbines, I'm guessing they were once used to generate power although none of them were moving anymore. Chaz said there was some controversy because of these wind turbines-I am not sure why they were not in use, but standing still and unmoving on the tops of those mountains/cliffs they looked strange and very morbid. Like giant, dead, beasts.
We drove on and came to the road we needed to turn onto to get to Mt. Rainier. Along this winding two-lane road we went through some more stunning scenery, many cliffs and mountain ranges. The area started to get a bit greener too.

Finally we arrived in Mt. Rainier National Park, we drove along and saw some majestic views of Mt. Rainier going along some winding roads. Some signs warned of geological dangers: falling rocks, flooding, avalanches, volcano evacuation routes...Some roads going into Mt. Rainier are closed during the Winter. We saw a few areas with destroyed, fallen trees where flooding or avalanches must have occurred. Snow was prevalent too alongside the roads, you could clearly see it on Mt. Rainier, Chaz pulled over and instigated a snowball fight, the snow was freezing! It was a strange experience, how many times do you get to have  a snowball fight in 70 degree weather?
heh heh

We found our campground, settled in, had some bacon and potatoes and felt content. The temperature was chilly but not unbearably so. We saw a short presentation at the campground amphitheater about the history of campfires throughout the National Parks, not too exciting...we did see a slide about the infamous Yosemite Fire Fall-that looked interesting-
bedtime and then the journey to Olympic National Park tomorrow!

More on Yellowstone

Yellowstone was such an enjoyable experience, the best so far on this road trip, so I wanted to elaborate more on what we saw and did.
A bit more about Yellowstone:

we entered Yellowstone through one of the eastern entrances coming off of alt. Route 14 in Wyoming. The ride into the park provided some awesome scenery as seen before. We were on winding roads with trees and mountain ridges surrounding us. One area of the park had a forest of burnt trees, there was a great fire in the park in 1988 and I am assuming those trees we saw were still healing from that fire...

We  drove on taking photos along the way. We passed by hot springs and an area called the mud volcano. throughout the park there were many photo opportunities which we took advantage of. So did nearly everyone driving through the park. On one stretch of road we were driving along behind a caravan of cars and all of a sudden every car stopped! Cars were pulled over to the side of the road and people were taking photos of something...I hopped out of the car and tried to see what the fuss was about, waaaaay off in the distance, just a little white speck to my vision, was a wolf! Wolves were recently introduced to Yellowstone and the chances of seeing them are still rare.

 We came to the area near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and tried to find it (you had to take a road to a lookout point). It was a truly awesome sight to behold! We hiked down to the closest point near the waterfall flowing into the canyon, it was right next to the rushing water and falls. You could've fallen over and died a horrific death had it not been for the barriers. After the long hike back that left me breathless it was time to make our way out of the park.

certain dooooom
 almost falling into certain doom
We drove through some more winding roads up a mountain, the scenery was beautiful all around, the rolling hills, the cliffs, the mountains in the distance, it was all so much to take in-amazing.
All throughout the ride we happened upon a few buffalo, they meandered about not taking any notice of the humans snapping photos. I got very close to one. On another stretch of road we came to an abrupt stop again, but not because of buffalo. More people had stopped in the middle of the road, cars had pulled off, people were standing on top of their cars taking pictures. This time it wasn't a wolf but a bear that had caused all the excitement...but it ran off just as we pulled up to try and see it, probably scared...

Finally, we made our way without any major stops to the northern entrance of Yellowstone. We passed through Mammoth Hot Springs, a small, cozy tourist area with its own hotel and other lodgings. Passing through the area we saw some more gorgeous scenery and once we were out of the park we came directly into Montana! More driving through mountain ranges and we made it to Spokane!
now on to the next day...