8. Spring road trip….April/May/June.2019 

Day 32 5.23
As I left this morning, I found a new type of Scotch Broom along the roadsome of the bushes had red in the center of the flowers.so Love this Flower!

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I kept driving up the 101.  Last time, I went to almost every beach along the coast & spent about 10 days doing it.  But, I think the Washington beaches are quite as dramatic & jaw dropping as the Oregon beaches.  I knew what I wanted to see & where I wanted to go this time.  I pulled off the road at the Big Cedar Tree viewpoint.never get tired of hiking to see giant trees.  But, they are really difficult to photographas you can tell from all my former big tree photographs that are all over this website!

Then I went to Ruby Beachone of my favorite beaches to walk on in Washington.  Its rugged & filled with old huge pieces of driftwood & tons of tide pools.

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I’d never seen these pink ones before….

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or the green ones either...

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Olympic National Park is huge!  Like super big…I think there are like 4 entrances to the park & you can drive forever to get to them.  I was on the Hoh River side of the park (the west side) & you have to drive 16 miles to do two little bitty trails or one big huge backpacking trail.  I’d done the Hall of Mosses trail before & wanted to hike it again.  Last time I was here it was all rainy & cloudy, so I skipped the Spruce trail, but today it’s sunny & nice & for the first time in days I can take off both my puffy jacket & my raincoat!

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I’m really glad the sun is out, the sky quit dripping & it’s much warmer inland, but the rainforest takes on a much different look in the bright light than in the darker drippy days.  You’d think the sun would enhance the colors, but I don’t think it does. 

Look how clear the water is & the floating green mosses are beautiful.

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I’m not sure why, but I love these great big moss covered, kind of creepy looking trees!

The photo on the right is a close up of the lower right branch of the tree on the left…this piece was massive on the tree.

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So many different kinds of mosses & so much unique life growing on the forest floor.

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There were poems on plaques posted every so often…this one was my favorite.  I always love to see the trees with the little nooks & crannies.  

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Next I was doing the long drive out to LaPush.  Last time I was here I saw tons of Bald Eagles where the river meets the ocean & I was hoping for that magical experience a second time.  But, no eagles today.

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Right up the road & down through the forest is Rialto Beach. I didn’t stay here too long, because I wanted to get to MY MOST FAVORITE SPECTACULAR VIEW IN COASTAL WASHINGTON!…in my opinion.

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Cape Flattery is the northwestern-most point in the contiguous United State.  The drive to Cape Flattery is really long, it’s twisty & slow, but oh-so-worth it!  The hike is short & a lot of it is on these great old boardwalks. (Another cool tree!)

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But when you get to the end, it’s magnificent!  This place will always be special to me & always moves me to so much emotion.

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There’s an island across the way with a lighthouse.

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The Cape is on the tribal land of the Makah Indians & like so many places, their history runs deep here.  The colors of the water here are fantastic!

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It was early in the evening now, & I wanted to find camp before dark.  I scored the last site at the Lyre River Campground…another free DNR site.  I’ve stayed here once before & it’s nice.  I”m ready to land somewhere for a couple of nights, I’ve been on the move everyday except for the days I spent with the boys & the early days of the trip in Texas, but this ‘unreservable’ first come/first serve campground, has been reserved all weekend (it’s Memorial Day weekend coming up) by the Boy Scouts. Ummm…..Oh well, I’m grateful for such a nice place to land tonight.  I’m getting really used to & loving having a picnic table!

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Day 33 5.24
Not everything on a long road trip is exciting & getting my oil changed tops the list of un-exciting.  Im so used to Danny changing my oil & spoiled that he does.  So, on a road trip is the only time I ever have to deal with it.  I have detailed notes about all things ‘oil’ with Camper….because I can’t get boring stuff like that straight in my mind.  From the type of oil I use, (because they will always want you to buy the most expensive), to my follow up after I leave the shop to make sure they did it right.  And I’m pretty diligent about it…I don’t want any problems for my sweet girl!  So, I spent a huge amount of time at the “Change your oil in 15 minutes" Jiffy Lube in Port Angeles.  I also took a quick trip into their General Store…they sell sweet gear in there!  I stopped at the Post Office to mail Claire’s June pillowcase & of course, for cream & ice & gas…always ice & gas!  Having all the mundane junk done, I drove to the Hurricane Ridge VC on the north side of Olympic National Park.  This is my third time here & never before has the trail to Hurricane Ridge been open, but it was today.  Not quite to the trailhead, but close.  I bundled up (it’s pretty chilly here!) & took off up the trail.

Of course, I wasn’t sure I was actually going to get to see anything.  The mid mountain fog was heavy & covering so much of the view, but I was ready for hike no matter what.  So, I started on the trail…this was my view over towards the mountains…actually, this was my view all around!

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Hey, you’re in the Pacific Northwest…this happens a lot.  But, this little guy was cute that someone left along the trail.

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I’d get a glimpse of mountain peak once in awhile…

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But as I climbed higher on the trail, the clouds were coming in faster than I could walk.  The trail switchbacks & zig zags up to the top.

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There was a ton of snow on the other side that was easy to see from the top.

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It was a good hike & I was glad I was able to do it this time.  It started to rain as I got back to the car, then I had to drive back down to the bottom…that was kind of interesting.

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One of my favorite Washington towns is Port Townsend.  It’s quaint, filled with cool old buildings & lots of unique quirky shops.  It was late in the afternoon, but I was able to pop in & out of a few of them before they closed. The Worlds End store is all about Steampunk…& they hold a huge Steampunk festival here next weekend…someday I’d love to come to that!

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I visited with the couple that ran this t-shirt shop…I’d bought one of their designs last time I was here (they design all their own shirts) & they were delightful to visit with.  The woman said she’d lived there 38 years, & wouldn’t live anywhere else.  I get the feeling it’s a tight community, but fun loving & quirky.  I asked how their winters were…I always ask that…I’m am SO OVER WINTERING IN KANSAS!  btw…love this old building!

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and murals...

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 I ate at the Sirens brewery…another yummy burger & beer with a great view!

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No cushy campsite tonight…just random forest camping off a FS road.

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Day 34 5.25
I drove down into Olympia & bought coffee at Starbucks & Googled some ideas of where to go next.  Gig Harbor came up as one of the top 10 beautiful cities in the country”….I was 40 miles south & it was Saturday of Memorial Day weekend.  I decided to go someplace new & check it out.  It was a cute little town & it seemed alot was going on today.  I saw these dogs all sitting on rocks with their owners gently whispering to them…but other than that, I have no clue what was happening.

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Most of the stores weren’t open yet, but they had a cool little General Store that I strolled in to & bought a freshly baked croissant…& a locally made caramel….yum!

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Then I just started walking around.  I found a Monkey Puzzle tree!  And this one had lots of ‘blooms’ on it too!

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There was some kind of big event happening near the harbor.  I asked one of the volunteers what was going on.  It was the annual YMCA sponsored Scavenger Hunt.  Between 250-400 people come from all over each year to participate…some bike it, some run it but most just walk it.  All of the teams get the official map about a 1/2 hour before the start so they can strategize…then the timer goes off & so do all the participants.  It was fun to see them take off & then see them all along the streets as I went in & out of some of the cute shops for the 3/4 mile length of the town.  Little kids & very old people…seemed like everyone was participating & having a good time.

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I continued to walk around all morning checking out the harbor, the statues, & the shops.

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seems common for small tourists towns to have Christmas shops...

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But this one also had Halloween stuff!   No temptation for me…

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The homes that I saw along my walk were pretty cool & the yards were filled with flowers  I don’t know the history of this town, but I know the water is a huge part of what people do here.  There were tons of boats in the harbor,  & I saw a kayak event going on as well.  I’m sure fishing is big too.  Having been in a land locked state my whole life & not particularly fond on our brown lakes & rivers, I wondered as I walked, what it would be like to live somewhere that the waters…bays, lagoons, rivers, oceans were part of your daily life & for some, your livelihood.

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Clifton, the volunteer at the scavenger hunt tent, also told me about their local distillery.  Said it was great, had grown huge, had won many awards & was a sponsor of some of the state’s professional sports teams.  He also gave me some place to go when I went back through Tacoma.  On my way back up the street, I stopped into the distillery.  Im not a whiskey drinker & Im never quite sure what to mix with vodkaIm a beer geek first & foremost & I know I love Port…that’s about it.  But the guy in the Heritage Distillery was quick to educate me. I didn’t go for the tasting, but instead bought some of their small bottles, which happened to on sale for the weekend..some coffee vodka, some lavender vodka, & their most famous-brown sugar bourbon.

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The little shops in the town were all cute & their staff super friendly.  It was a pretty nice place!  Then I walked another block or two to the 7 Seas Brewery…another Gig Harbor success story.  I’ve probably been in at least 100 breweries & this was a first for me…they had some ‘circus girls’ in the brewery showing people how to do the whole twirl on a rope thing.  Evidently, they perform a show at the brewery once a month (there’s also a 7 Seas in Tacoma…so every other month their in Gig Harbor & the next time their in Tacoma).  I was tempted, but some old lady chicken voice inside me said “You’re too far away from home to injure yourself”….unfortunately I listened to that voice & just ordered a beer.

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My next stop I never found.  It was called Chalet in the Woods & was a Norweigian shop that sounded like a cool place to check out.  I put it in Mapquest & let my girl lead me to ….nowhere.  Usually she is right & I am wrong, but after my third time going around a round-a-bout with none of the signs having the name of the street she was having me turn on, I gave up.  The traffic was super heavy & I didn’t want to spend my day —literally driving in circles—then in long lines of stand still traffic.  So…I moved on over a huge pretty $6 toll bridge into the city of Tacoma.

Clifton, the volunteer, had told me to be sure to check out Pint Defiance (evidently there is a Point Defiance around here).  So, that was my first stop in Tacoma…a town I’d never been in before.  They had a few beers on tap & I LOVED the Ale Song Barrel Aged stout & they had a super great bottle selection…I chose a few to take home…dangerous for the budget!  While I finished my beer, the two locals & the two bartenders all gave me ideas of other breweries to visit & places to eat. That beer was delicious!

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I headed to downtown Tacoma to see the “bridge of glass” which is by the glass museum.  It was pouring down rain by now.  I found some covered parking (high enough for my Thule), paid my fee & first went to the museum gift shop to look around (I thought the glass burgers were a fitting piece of art for this trip)

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then I walked outside & up to the bridge to check it out.  It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but it was still pretty cool.  Would have been nicer if there wasn’t a deluge happening, but oh well.

The next place that had been recommended to me was the E9 Taproom.  I was fairly wet at this point, my rain jacket not doing it’s part to keep my dry & my pants & shoes & socks pretty wet.  But, I ordered a small nitro sat & ate a bag of chips.  I’d decided not to eat out after all.  

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Then I went to look for camping.  It was Saturday night of the holiday weekend, so I felt fortunate to find a camp spot in another DNR campground …this one was the Sahara horse campground.  Everything was wet but the rain had slowed down enough that kids were playing in camp & owners were walking their beautiful horses around the campground.  I tucked in & laid out my wet stuff & read a book for the rest of the night.

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Day 35 5.26
When I woke up this morningno rain!  Yay!  I made some coffee then hit the road & did the long drive into Mt. Rainier National Parka first time for me.  They had just opened the big VC at Paradise this weekend.  The skies were gray by the time I made it up there, & tons of climbers with loaded backpacks were getting ready to head up the trail after being dropped off by a shuttle.  I didn’t know much about this park, & was a little surprised just how big Rainier is.  While it only floated in & out of the clouds surrounding it, I could see it was huge.  There was snow everywhere too.  I could see so many people heading up the trail, but I had no clue where the trail went; how technical it was; how long it was….nothing.  The VC didn’t open for another hour, so I walked over to the new renovated lodge—by this time it was raining again--…I love these NP lodges!  Wow!  It’s nice inside & they had a fire going.  Part of by brain was saying “go hike now!” & the other part was pleading “just go get your Kindle & cozy up by the fireplace for the rest of the day!”.  I walked around inside, bought my postcard, checked at the lodges desk for a weather report & of course, read the menu offerings in the lodges restaurant.  

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Before going to the lodge, I’d watched as backpackers, skiers & hikers went onto the trail going up.  It looked daunting…snow covered, straight up, a cold wind blowing & I wasn’t that excited about going.  It made me nervous for some reason.  But, by the time I was done checking out the lodge, I had decided I’d go for it.  Quit being an old chicken.  I had the gear—just do it.  But first, I needed a few more details.

Finally, it was 10am & the VC was open.  So, I went to talk to a Ranger to get her suggestions about the hike (it was still raining).  She thought it wasn’t a good idea to hike to Panorama Point (the trail all those backpackers were on in the photo above..they were actually going farther to go to Muir Camp…then to try to summit the peak maybe).  And, the clouds were pretty heavy, so there might not be any Panoramic View anyway.  She suggested I do the Napsium Glacier hike…it was a little shorter, less intense, still on snow, but I’d get to see the glacier.  Then she threw in a couple of other hikes on the eastern side of the park, where all the snow had melted.  I grabbed my map she gave me & headed to the parking lot.  Next to Camper was a woman sitting in the back of her SUV changing from her wet hiking boots.  She had done the Pano trail so I asked her how it was…still feeling like I was taking the chicken way out.  She said it was cold & brutal.  She could see some of the mountain, but the winds & the rain were awful.

I quit feeling like a wuss, got my stuff together & hiked to the Napszium trailhead.  The rain, thankfully, stopped.  Once at the trailhead, it took me a few minutes to get snow ready.  I was excited to use the microspikes for the first time.  The Ranger had suggested snow shoes instead, but I had these & was going to try them.  Then I had to put my snow caps on the end of my hiking poles. The trail wasn’t long, but hiking in snow is a little like hiking in sand or volcanic ash…not as easy as a dirt trail.  The trail started up hill, but soon leveled better to gentle ups & downs for the remainder of the hike.

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That’s Mt. Rainier trying to peek through the clouds.

And the glacier

And, me…glad I was able to get onto some kind of trail today.

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Once done with my hike, I really wanted to eat lunch in the lodge.  The restaurants usually have really good food & always theres a great view while you eat.  But, I decided in the end, to just go to the other side of the park & get in more hiking.  The Ranger had suggested I go to the Grove of the Patriarchs hike so I made my way there stopping at all the pullouts to see what vistas & waterfalls were in view.

Looking down over the edge of the waterfall

Wow!  There were a gazillion people parked all along the road.  I managed to score a spot in the lot, grabbed my pack & to the trail.

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Giant Red Cedar Trees…loved this bark

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The trail crosses this bridge to a loop on the other side, then you have to cross the bridge going back.  On this Memorial Day weekend, with loads of people on the trail, no one was paying any attention to the sign stating “one at a time on the bridge’.  I counted 8 at one point.  But, a funny thing I noticed while waiting in line for my turn, the little kids were never scared…but the dogs?  they didn’t like the bridge at all!

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The water so so clear…very deep in place, but really pretty.

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The last hike the Ranger recommended started at the VC on the other side of the park.  I found a 30 minute parking spot, a sign saying 1/2 the trail was closed as well as all the bathrooms.  (I’d have cheated & stayed in the 30 minute spot for the hike, but they actually had a guy in a golf cart going around checking cars). So, then I moved the car to try to find the parking for the trail…there were a few spots, but all were filled.  They had you drive through the campground to try to find parking.  After three times of doing this (& I needed to use a bathroom), I gave up.  No last hike for me today.  I drove out of the park onto the White Pass Scenic byway.  The rain would come off & on during my drive.  The only place I had service was at the top of the pass & my phone was going off with text messages.  So, I taked to Danny & to Pete while I sat in Camper & watched it rain.  Once done with phone calls, I continued my drive over the pass & onto a Forest Service road around Clear Lake & found a spot for the night.  I tucked in Camper for the evening, picked up my book, opened a beer & ended another day.

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