Sunday, August 26, 2018

Here we go again...and this time it's very late...

Our flight home was uneventful - even the airport went very smoothly from the shuttle from the hotel to the security line. We did write some of the blogs along the way but we were tired at the end of the days to fully post them so like the Alaska trip, here they are in one big batch about a month after we returned (sorry - I got very lazy). Remember to scroll down to July 18th if you want to start from the beginning.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Ruby Tuesday

Our final full day of the trip includes a rainforest and a beach before heading back to Seattle. We got up a bit later than yesterday morning and stopped again to get something for lunch. We drove the hour or so to the Hoh Rainforest which I was personally excited about because it seemed like a highlight of Olympic National Park. Unfortunately, the line to get in took about 30 minutes at the entrance gate because the credit card machine was down so they had to write down all of the credit card numbers and for some reason, that took like 5 minutes per car that didn't have a pass.

After waiting in the line and finally getting through, the place was packed and there was nowhere to park. At this point we didn't want to wait too long as we wanted to get back to Seattle before it was too late and as we were about to give up on it, a spot opened up. We then went to the "Hall of Mosses" trail was about a mile loop through moss-filled forest. It was neat to see as the moss was cool and the trees were huge but since it's the dry season, it didn't feel like a rainforest. It was about 80 degrees and everything was pretty dry so I think it took something away with it not feeling like the Pacific Northwest.

We were running late so that was the only trail we did; after that, we fought off the bugs as we had another picnic in the shade which I found as enjoyable as the hike. We left Hoh and headed to our last stop, Ruby Beach. A bunch of the coast is technically in the park and we figured it'd be great to see a completely different area. What was crazy is that as we approached the coast, the temperature went from about 80 to 70 even though it was still sunny. As we got a few miles from the coast, the fog was visible and when we drove into it, the temps dropped in the mid-50's.

We were able to find a parking spot easier here so we grabbed some jackets and headed towards the beach which was a short walk down a hill. It reminded me of Cannon Beach but it was still cool to see the fog over the water and around the sea stacks near the shore. There was a lot of driftwood there too that can move around as the tides come in; thankfully it was nearer to low tide when we got there. We hung around there for a little bit and took some pictures, including having someone take a group photo of us.

Our final stop was for dinner at a restaurant in Olympia that was also pretty good (basically, Yelp never let us down). The traffic looked terrible on the way home but the slight delay with dinner helped clear things up as we got back to our hotel in Seattle without hitting any stops. We didn't stay in the same place as we had been at before - between some soccer tournament and cruise ships, nearly everything was booked up - but the Hampton Inn by the airport was perfectly fine. We certainly appreciate Mark and Laurel's offer to stay at their house, but since we already disrupted the baby's schedule enough, we didn't want to do it again with our early morning flight. It turns out that worked out since it was hot in Seattle the last couple of days and it was about 90 in the guest room of their house and it doesn't have AC in it.

All in all, this was a great trip and we were so glad we got to spend time with all of our friends while also seeing more National Parks and some sporting events!

(Hat tip to Mark for the title of this post, who said "Where are we going and what day is it?" when he realized it added up.)

As they say in the Hoh Rainforest, "May your moss be damp and your trees be tall." Note: No one says this.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Birthplace of the Crescent Roll...and Vampires

Our next day was to a different part of the park where we weren't so high up in the mountains. The first stop was at Crescent Lake where in 1912 at the lodge there, the crescent roll was invented (this may not be accurate, but is there truly any way of really knowing?). The traffic getting there was bad due to construction most likely related to tourists getting rolls (again, may not be accurate - well, the traffic was in fact bad).

The lake itself was really nice and there were a lot of people playing by the dock, out on boats and just swimming. I went down to the water expecting it to be really cold but it was actually just a little cooler than the air temperature. The lodge there was pretty nice inside too. We ended up getting out and stretching for a while and enjoying the scenery before moving on.

Sol Duc Falls was a little further down the road and required about a 2 mile round-trip hike to see it. Since it was around noon and we knew we wouldn't be close to anywhere to eat, we had picked up sandwiches and snacks earlier in the day so we could picnic when we got there. Again, it was pretty busy with the parking lot almost full but only one of the several picnic tables was being used. Unfortunately, it was the only one in the shade and since it was pretty hot and sunny at that point, we used their handy Aprimo blanket to sit on the ground before moving to the table when the other people left. It was pretty nice to just relax and eat lunch out in a park and give Sadie some time to move around.

The hike actually had some elevation changes and while we were mostly shaded from the sun by the large trees, the mosquitoes started to become a problem about halfway there. I'll give Laurel credit - she did all of that with a baby in front of her while getting bit up by the bugs. The hike through the different trees was nice and the falls themselves were cool - literally, as the spray from them was welcome after sweating on the hike up there.

After getting to the house yesterday kind of late, we got to today's place before dinnertime so we didn't have to rush getting everything out of the car. This house had a lock box for the key and we never met the owners and it was a little more relaxing to have a small, old house to ourselves. We stayed in Forks, famous for being the location of the Twilight books. Thankfully it wasn't a full moon so the werewolves stayed away and it was too sunny for the vampires to come out. The town goes all out for Twilight with a bunch of signs and stores that cater to that crowd, even years after the books and movies. It seems like the restaurants all have themed meals too for those diehards that stop by.

After dinner at a pizza place that I really enjoyed, we headed back to the house and spent a relaxing evening sitting around, drinking a few beers and chatting. We ended up staying up way later than we planned so I'm sure we'll pay the price tomorrow. Thankfully Sadie slept great the entire time - after we all went to bed, we never heard her fuss once (though I'm sure Mark and Laurel could hear every little noise as she was in the same room as them). This room was nicer and more comfortable because the bed was better and there was a fan, though the door popping open shortly after we went to bed was a bit disconcerting.

As they say in Forks, "The Edward Sauce contains no garlic." Note: I'm sure some there's some restaurant there that actually says this.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Finally, a Hurricane that doesn't disappoint

We tried to plan out a way to make our road trip easy for everyone so we decided that we'd leave for Olympic National Park when it made sense based on Sadie's schedule. Since we'd be driving out right past our hotel on the way out, Mark and Laurel were nice enough to just swing on by and pick us up from our hotel in mid-morning. It was another beautiful day as we headed out on the roughly three hour drive to Hurricane Ridge.

We made it out of Tacoma - including going over the (in)famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge (well, the new one obviously) - and since it was lunchtime, we decided to stop at the next place that looked decent. Laurel found a place on Yelp called Butchers & Bakers in Port Gamble and as we drove into the town, we were all impressed. It was very pretty with hills and water views and everything there was really nice. The restaurant was in an old building and served sandwiches but when we got there, the bakery part looked awesome. Jess and I ended up eating cookies and brownies for lunch and it did not disappoint. We even bought more for later.

We headed out and made one more diaper change stop at a rest area near Sequim and from there, we headed into the park. With a $30 entrance fee, we were glad we had one more month's use of our National Parks pass. For some reason the line of cars to get in was very slow and we found this to be a theme the whole time we were there - I still have no idea what everyone took so long with unless they were paying with pennies.

After a short drive up to Hurricane Ridge, we stopped at the the Visitor's Center there. It sits at 5200 feet and offers views of the Olympic Mountains on one side and a view of the Salish Sea on the other side. The mountain views are impressive and with rolling meadows in the foreground and mountains in the background, it looks like something out of "The Sound of Music". Mt. Olympus is just under 8000 feet so it's not terribly prominent but since it was a clear day, you could definitely see it and the glaciers on it. On the other side, you could see San Juan Island in the distance and see Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria in Canada. We did a short trail - after all, Laurel had 20 lbs. strapped to her which made it tougher - and saw the sights, such as the ski lift the native people built hundreds of years ago (we assume; there was no sign so Mark and I had to fill in the blanks).

After the drive back, we stopped in a park (which doubles as the spot of the Clallam County Fair) and let Sadie crawl around on a blanket. Too bad we forget our discs or else we could have played on the premier course on the Olympic Peninsula. After killing some time, we headed out for dinner in Port Angeles. Despite being at the height of the tourist season, it was dead downtown except for the one restaurant we wanted to eat at. Apparently, it's the best one on Yelp and that's all anyone wants to eat at. With an hour wait, we passed and went to a Texas BBQ place that was pretty good too (or maybe we were just really hungry at that point).

The hotel situation in that area is pretty bleak - it looked like mostly lousy hotels/motels and the couple decent ones were Holiday Inns and were very expensive. Even though I've never done it before, Mark and Laurel have used Airbnb before and had good experiences so we booked a place in Sequim. It was a pretty nice drive into it and felt like you were in the country which was nice. For this one, the owners were home upstairs with their dogs and we had the basement, which was fine in terms of space for us. The owners were trying to peddle their side businesses - hers was yoga and healing or something and his was Sasquatch sounds, about which he's written books. Yes, you are reading that right. The owner met us when we got there but otherwise left us alone which was good since we turned in early. Our bedroom was her yoga studio I think so it was creepy having a huge picture of a young monk right across from the bed. I swear that as we went to sleep his eyes were open but when we woke up they were closed.

As Mark says, "No one out here probably even knows what the Whalers are." Note: He said this as I was wearing a Whalers shirt today and oddly enough, as we were walking back to our car after dinner, we passed a group of young guys (smelling of weed, of course) and one had a gray Whalers shirt on. What were the odds?