Olympic Discovery Trail

Today we hiked on a segment of the Olympic Discovery Trail.  The trail is almost 130 miles long reaching from Port Townsend on the east part of the Olympic Peninsula to the Pacific Ocean on the west.  We only traversed about 3 miles of the trail, making it a 6 mile round trip hike.  It’s a very nice trail and I would love to hike more portions of it.  It stays pretty level, so it’s possible to hike greater distances without exhausting yourself.  If there is time on Sunday, I would like to do a segment that overlooks and skirts the Strait.  I think Dart enjoyed the exercise.  Although he slowed down toward the end of the hike, after our two mile drive to get back to the campground, he was ready to go again.

There was a home along the way that was very decorated for travelers.  That house and another one offered water for pets.  See pictures below.  They also had a tree with a gorilla carved into it but the picture didn’t come out.

There were signs along the path that identified the names of people who maintain the trail.  We encountered a large branch that fell on the trail and Regis spent some time removing it from the path.  Afterwards, he decided that he wanted a sign indicating that he also maintains the trail.

The campground is filling up with families and dogs for the week-end.  It is amazingly quiet during the week and then full on the week-ends.

Haircut

Today, Regis and I went in search of a place to get haircuts.  We landed at a Hair School that accepted walk-ins.  We got our cuts pretty quickly.  It was $9 for a shampoo, cut, and blowdry.  Amazing!  The cuts are fine and may almost last until we get home.  I can’t remember ever getting a hair cut for $9.

We got some local scoop from the patrons and stylists at the school.  We found out that the local casino has a special prime rib dinner on Mondays through Thursdays for $12.95.  We decided to check it out.  The special is now a sirloin dinner for $10.95 and we got 10% off for picking up a player card.  I seriously considered playing some slots after dinner but decided I wasn’t currently in the mood to make a donation to the casino.  They have a seafood special on Sunday for $13.  Maybe we’ll go and I’ll try the slots then.

The weather has been in the 70’s during the day which is normal for the area this time of year.  It’s chilly in the mornings.  Now I’m worried about paddle boarding on Saturday.  If it continues to be this cold in the morning, I’m going to need a wet suit.

We had to empty the tanks in the RV today which required us to close everything up to drive the RV to the dump station.  Although it was a pain in the neck, the advantage of having to pack up and move is that the RV gets cleaned up.  Not only does everything get put away, but I usually take advantage of that and clean the floors, bathrooms, etc.  We also washed the windows.  Everything was covered in a fine layer of ash.

Cape Flattery

We went to Cape Flattery today.  It is the northwestern most point of the contiguous United States.  It was named by James Cook in 1778.  It is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington State.  He named it that because he was “flattered” to think it might be the entrance to a harbor.

Regis tells me the Ma and Pa Kettle movies were set in Cape Flattery.  Don’t know who they are.

We drove along the strait of Juan de Fuca to get there (and back) and saw several bald eagles.  On the way,  Regis’ phone started to sound like a pinball machine.  He was being informed that he was now in Canada.  Interesting that his phone did that but not mine and we both have Verizon Wireless.

We also saw signs that we were on a whale trail.  There are several locations on the Olympic Peninsula where you are likely to see whales.  We stopped in a couple of those locations but did not see any whales.

The hike to Cape Flattery from the parking lot was only a half mile.  Cape Flattery is on the Makah Indian Reservation.  The hike was very nice and there were several viewing platforms to see the cape.  

The hike was delightful.  We saw one otter swimming in the water and quite a few seals lying on a rock not too far from the lighthouse.

Regis was interested in getting some smoked salmon at the reservation, so we picked some up for dinner.  I’m not a fan of anything smoked. But, it was awesome.  We liked it so much, Regis is considering taking a ride back to the reservation to stock up on some salmon.  I’m not sure if he’ll do it, but I’m a fan of the plan!

On the way back, we were hoping for some good views of Canada.  Mostly, we saw smoke.  See the layer of smoke in the picture below.  This was taken from the reservation looking across the strait.

We walked on the beach on the way back and investigated tide pools.  Dart was so exuberant off leash on the beach that I don’t know what got into him.  I saw a small rock poised on a larger rock.  I went to check it out and continue to be puzzled as to whether it is natural or not.  I don’t see how it could have been put there by someone, but I also don’t understand how it could be natural.

It is amazing to me the remoteness of most of the Olympic Peninsula.  There are few roads, towns, and services.  Coming from the east coast, it is hard to comprehend.

Favorite sign of the day:  “Entering Fire District Number 5 Call 911”

Are you supposed to call 911 as soon as you enter the Fire District or wait for a reason?

Lavender

I visited the Purple Haze Lavender Farm today.  It was beautiful.  It made me want to come back home and garden.  Crazy!  I also liked their chicken coop.  If I ever have chickens again, I’ll keep it in mind.  

I also went to the Olympic Game Farm.  It was an interesting experience.  The farm was originally started by a couple that kept animals that were used in Disney movies.  When Walt Disney died, Disney no longer did as many animal movies so the couple continued to care for the animals and opened up the farm to the public.  They have since passed away, but the farm is still open and is also a refuge for animals that need a home.

You drive your car through the park.   In some areas, the animals are free and can walk up to your car.  In other areas, they are in cages.  You are allowed to purchase whole wheat bread from the Farm and feed many of the animals.  As a result, the animals consider cars food dispensing machines and stick their noses in any open windows in order to get food.  It became very scary when I was driving through the bison and elk area.  I much prefer watching bison in a National Park where they can be seen from a respectable distance.  I also hated seeing the animals in cages.  It was an interesting experience, but I would prefer not to do it again.  

It was also a project day for Regis. He replaced the intermittent bathroom “fan” with a real fan – moves much more air now! He got the top of the RV slides swept and rinsed off as well as the awning . That really needed to be done since our last campsite was under two shedding fir trees.

Seattle by Ferry, Nice!

We went to Seattle today and gave Coco back to Jason.  We went to Bainbridge Island and took the ferry into Seattle.  The ride was beautiful and we got on the ferry pretty quickly.  So, it was a very pleasant ride into Seattle and turned out to be a nice ride back also.   The following are pictures of Seattle from the ferry back to Bainbridge.

It was hot in Seattle and Jason does not have air conditioning in his apartment.  His apartment was HOT!  He bought a portable air conditioning unit this morning but it wasn’t working.  Regis and Jason exchanged it this afternoon and got the new unit running as soon as they returned.  Jason says it got down to 82 degrees at about 9:30 tonight.  Meanwhile, it was 59 degrees outside when we got back to the RV this evening.  We are about 73 miles from Jason.

This hot then cold stuff is driving me nuts!  I have to carry a jacket wherever I go, but have a no sleeved shirt as my base top.  It could be 90 or it could be 60.  Jeepers!  If you don’t like the temperature, wait a couple hours.

Dart still doesn’t like elevators.  His first time in an elevator was when we visited Jason a few weeks ago.  He had to go back in the elevator today.  He was somewhat braver but still not a happy guy.  He doesn’t like all the noise the elevator makes, so he hides behind my legs.

Smoke

Sadly, Canada is on fire.

This morning, we noticed that the sky toward Port Angeles looked strange.  At first, I thought it was fog over the water.  As the day wore on, the sky got more yellow.  We began to realize that something was going on.  Regis looked it up on the internet and saw that the problem was not smoke from the local fire in Olympic National park, but significant smoke drifting down from Canada.  There are numerous fires in Canada and it appears to be getting worse.  It casts an eerie glow here.  It looks like it is overcast but the color isn’t right for that.  I think we were probably cooler today because the smoke blocked the hot rays from the sun.  

Here are some smoky pictures.

On a lighter note, we saw some Black-Tailed deer on our way back the mountain today.

Some of the campers in our campground decorated for the Fourth of July celebration.  There was a contest in the campground for the best decorations.  The campers voted and selected our neighbor.  Following is a picture of their decorations.

Dogs

Happy July 4th!  Today is Dart’s fifth birthday.  I fed Dart and Coco treats to celebrate Dart’s birthday.  A couple hours later, Dart threw them up.  (I didn’t even give them that many and it’s treats I always give.)

There are almost more dogs in this campground than people.  It is amazing.  I think there are more dogs here than at the trials we go to.

We explored the local town and beaches today.  We went out on Ediz spit.  There is a paper mill located there.  Regis stopped to watch a truck unload at the paper mill.  This is something I would not have noticed.  I’m glad he did.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The truck is put in an almost vertical position to unload. regis:gives new meading to “dump truck”.

Afterwards, we picked up the dogs and headed for a place on the beach where the Elwha River enters the Strait.  It is called Freshwater Bay and it is a good location for paddle boarding.  It was a nice area on the beach.  There were lots of dogs.  Most were running free.  I saw one dog with a stick and other dogs were chasing him.  Coco was very interested in the seagulls and was ready to cross the Elwha river to get to them.  She also went chest deep in the river to go to a rock she was interested in.  We saw very tiny, baby fish.  Some looked like flounder or halibut.

The Elwha dam is a great story.  It was erected around 1930 and recently torn down to allow the fish to navigate back up the river again.  It is still recovering and being monitored.

If the sea gulls were closer I would have been hard pressed to keep coco back! It was shallow enough we could have crossed.

This is where the Elwha dam used to be. Behind that mound of dirt was a reservoir.  Thankfully, no more.

This is another place where I would love to spend a summer.  So far, it’s only two places, Missoula and the Olympic Peninsula.  The Peninsula is in first place.

I looked at some pictures I took in 2002 when my mom, Jason, and I visited Olympic National Park.  There was considerably more snow and Jason and my mom are in a jacket.  Regis and I did not need to wear jackets when we were there this year.

Olympic National Park

We have a nice view of the Olympic Mountains from our campsite.  This picture is taken through the back window of the RV. 

We headed up into the Olympic National Park today at Hurricane Ridge.  It was very hazy.  Lots of wildflowers were in bloom and the main road was lined with yellow flowers.  It was beautiful.  We saw a deer on the way in.  This picture is blurry but it also shows the wildflowers.

Here are some other pictures.  If you look carefully at the first picture below, you will notice a brown layer of air directly above the mountains.  We believe that is the smoke from the wildfire.  In the second picture you can barely make out the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Canada off in the distance.  Picture three shows that the Olympics can compete with the Smoky Mountains for the smoky look.

We ventured off on an 8 mile dirt road.  The last time I was here, we were in a rental car and didn’t think it was wise to give the road a try.  With a pickup truck and Regis behind the wheel, there was no stopping us.  I probably said “Oh my god” about 42 times.  It wasn’t because of the scenery.  Yes, the scenery was awesome.  It was because the road is narrow and poised on the edge of a mountain.  Going in, I was on the outside with a view of the steep descent.  If we slipped, no one would ever find us!  I got my adrenaline rush for today.  The following pictures should give you an idea.  

When we got to the end of the road, there was a trail head for what appeared to be an awesome hike.  We couldn’t take the dogs, so it is not possible to do.  But, I’m noting it for a future trip.  My favorite sign of the day was located at this trail head. Apparently, Olympic marmots have a tendency to climb into your engine compartment while you are off hiking.  


While we jump out and take pictures, the dogs have to wait in the car.  I took the following pictures of there usual places.  Notice the blue behind Dart.  It is sky.  That gives you an idea of our location!

Water

Yesterday, when we were crossing the sound on the ferry, it looked like someone had sprinkled diamonds across the water.  The tops of the waves sparkled and shimmered.  It was mesmerizing to watch.

Today, we went to the portion of Olympic National Park that is on the Pacific Ocean.  It is another scorching day on the peninsula, so we thought it would be cooler for the dogs to walk on the beach.  It was considerably cooler.  There was a fine fog hovering.  It was probably from the hot air sitting on the cold water.

This place is spectacular.  I did not know about it.  I wish I had known about it when I was younger and more willing to backpack and sleep on the ground.  I didn’t realize that the Olympic National Park includes a long strip along the Pacific Ocean.  It is very remote and there are very limited access points.  While standing on the beach, there are no human made structures available except for the picnic area and parking lot around the access point.  There are no boats or ships on the ocean within sight and only wilderness for as far as the eye can see on the shore going north.

You can hike along this strip of land and camp along the way.  It is an amazing part of our public lands.  We have so much to be thankful for in the United States that areas like this exist.

We were only permitted to take the dogs 1/2 mile up this beach.  It worked out okay.  It’s hard to walk on the beach because of the stones.  Even though it was cool, the sun was beating down and it made the dogs hot.  There are areas of beach further south where you can walk a long way.  We may stop at them and walk on our way to the next campground.  We plan to drive along the coast of Washington to get to the next campground and we should have time to stop for several hours to enjoy the ocean.

Regis found a camera someone left sitting on a large piece of driftwood.  I hope they come back and retrieve it.

Regis and I provided some shade for the dogs and just sat on a piece of driftwood and watched the waves crashing on the shore.

My mother would love this place.  The stones have been tumbled in the surf and they are beautiful.  You could spend hours in one spot looking at them.  I have one shot here of a few rocks I gathered.  

I didn’t see a single person walking in bare feet.  It was probably the rocks, but the cold water probably didn’t help.  There was no one in the water.

When we left the beach, it was 65 degrees.  Seven miles inland, it was 83 degrees.  It reached a peak of 94 degrees on the way back to the campground.  Apparently, that is not normal for this area.  Jason said the weather in Seattle has been abnormal.  It is much hotter than usual.

There is a wildfire in the park right now.  The following link has some information about it: Paradise Wildfire 2015.  The page says that the snowpack in the area was only 14% of average.

On the way back, there was a store called Burnt Mountain Store.  With some of the names of places, it makes me curious about the story that led to the names.

We drove by Lake Crescent on the way to the beach and back.  I have paddle boards reserved next week-end so Jason and I can paddle board on the lake.  It is so clear and beautiful.  I tried to sign up for a special paddle board class they hold on Sunday afternoons.  After your lesson you drink wine and/or beer.  It sounds good to me!  But, the class was filled.

Coco has taken over a corner of our bed and when she isn’t sleeping on Dart’s dog bed, she is often laying on the bed.  This morning Regis took Dart out first, then let him back in and took Coco out.  Dart took the spot on the bed while Coco was out.  Coco was a bit troubled about how to handle this situation when she got back.

Ferry

We took the ferry from Whidbey Island to the Olympic Peninsula today.  We left from Coupeville and sailed into Port Townsend.  I drove to get more driving experience with the RV.  It didn’t turn out to be as scary as I expected to drive onto the ferry.  We got to share the privilege with one other RV of being in the front of the ferry.  It was a great view!  Notice the hood of the truck in the second picture.  I saw a seal on the way over.

Here is a view of Port Townsend as we were coming in.

It was about 86 degrees this afternoon.  According to the local literature, it rarely gets that hot here.  The dogs did not like being in the sun.  I took them to the little dog park and they went under the picnic table and laid down.  Now that the sun is going down, it is cooling off.  We need to get the dogs out for some good exercise tomorrow.  If it is hot again, we’ll have to find someplace cool.  When you are in the shade, it is not that bad.

When hooking the RV to the truck today, the lube plate on the hitch broke.  We had to stop at Camping World after we left the campground to get a replacement.

Coco got a cut on her tail a few days ago and she is determined to turn a small problem into a big one.  She keeps licking it and making it worse.  I have wrapped her tail a couple times and she just rips the bandage off.  We thought we beat her at this game last night when we put duct tape over the wrapping.  This morning, the duct tape and bandage were in a pile on the floor.  Perhaps it was on there just long enough to work.  She isn’t bothering it much today.  I hope she is on the road to recovery.

We spent several hours this afternoon seeing if we could move into a public campground after the upcoming holiday week-end.  There are, what appears to be, spectacular campgrounds on the Olympic Peninsula.  Some are on the beach.  The size of our RV is very limiting.  There are no forest service locations on the peninsula that accommodate our RV.  In fact, most locations allow a maximum length of 21 feet and we are 37 feet.  Not even close!  Any campground that supports our length has no vacancies.

Our campground is fine.  It’s not that we hate it.  It’s just that there are so many beautiful locations close by that would make for a better experience.  I realize now that you have to plan way ahead if you want to stay in outstanding public campgrounds.  It also helps to have a smaller RV, but we have what we have.