Washington State’s scenic Olympic Peninsula – Apr 2019

Washington State’s scenic Olympic Peninsula – Apr 2019

I’m going to apologize up front for this long blog. I am so far behind! We are currently in Anacortes, WA. Since my last post we have toured the Olympic Peninsula, spent a week in the Seattle area, checked out the Bavarian-style village of Leavenworth, flew back East for a few weeks, visited Vancouver, Whistler and Vancouver Island. Like I said, I’m REALLY behind on my blog.

Below is a post covering our visit to the Olympic Peninsula. I hope you enjoy it. I’ll do separate posts covering the Seattle area, our flight back east and our visit to the Vancouver, British Columbia area.

(As always, click on the first picture in a series to start a slideshow.)

Port Townsend

This was our first stop on the Olympic Peninsula. We camped at the Fort Worden Historical State Park, in a large campsite near the beach. This park is a gem. Fort Worden was constructed between 1898 and 1917. It was home to nearly 1,000 troops and officers training to defend the Puget Sound. We enjoyed walks along sections of the beachfront and high bluffs, all with spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The park has more than 2 miles of coastline, an Artillery Museum, Marine Science Center, a 1914 lighthouse, and a very unique tapas bar. Not only does this park have 2 campgrounds but they also run a hotel out of the old barracks and officer’s quarters. We highly recommend checking out this Washington State Park if you are ever in the area: https://parks.state.wa.us/511/Fort-Worden

It was a bit chilly while we were in Port Townsend, but we did see some sun. Temps were in the 30s – 40s with very strong winds. Brrr!!! We had to get out the winter jackets, hats and gloves for our walks along the beach.

As I mentioned, there is a great little pub in the park. It’s called ‘Taps at the Guardhouse.’ The name comes from the fact that the pub is housed in the building which once served as the Fort’s jailhouse. The pub architecture incorporates some of the old jail artifacts, including the jail cells. We loved the atmosphere of the bar. We enjoyed happy hour sitting next to a fireplace playing a game of Yahtzee, provided by the pub.

The town of Port Townsend is lined with historic buildings and situated on the waterfront. There are a good number of quaint shops and restaurants. We enjoyed some of the best mussels we’ve ever had at Doc’s Restaurant, near the town’s marina. Their seafood mix was also great.

I loved all of the old wood doors found throughout the town.

Our waitress at Doc’s suggested we check out a new Speakeasy bar in town. It is in an obscure location, located halfway up a staircase to another restaurant. Hence its name, ‘In-between.’ There’s no obvious signage on the door, but we did find it and enjoyed a couple of Old Fashioned drinks.

There is an old style movie theater on main street. It reminded me of the one that was in Petoskey, Michigan back in the 70s. I visited it numerous times as a young child.

We stopped by the historic hotel for a look-see. I imagine that the lobby isn’t much different than it was back in the day.

After a couple of days in Port Townsend we moved down the road to Port Angeles.

Port Angeles

The day we arrived it was cloudy, windy and chilly. We parked the motorhome at the Elwha Dam RV Park and then ventured off to do a short hike to Madison Falls, one of the many waterfalls in the Olympic National Park.

Our second day in Port Angeles was windy again, although the temperature was rising into the 50s, finally.  We decided to head to the forest for a hike to Sol Duc Falls. The old forest trees buffeted the winds and we enjoyed our hike. The waterfall was beautiful, as was a nearby creek full of moss-covered rocks.

We also enjoyed a beautiful forest hike to Marymere Falls.

We spotted beautiful Pacific Northwest Trillium flowers along the path.

A sunny and warm day was finally in the forecast so we decided to take a day trip to Neah Bay. This is the most northwestern point in the continental US. It is an Indian Reservation and you have to pay $10/car to drive through the village. Neah Bay is a couple hour drive from Port Angeles. We headed out early in the morning. The drive was beautiful, most of it along the coastline.

As we got close to Neah Bay we spotted a couple of Eagles high in a tree, just off the road. In the picture below you can just barely see the 2 eagles sitting on a branch, hanging out over the road. We pulled over so that I could get my long lens out and capture a few photos.

We arrived in Neah Bay in time for breakfast. We stopped at the first restaurant, and maybe the only one, in the small village. We sat at a table with a view of the marina. As I looked out over the water I could not believe how many eagles were around. One tree had half a dozen of them sitting on the branches. Many boats in the marina had an eagle on its mast. It was crazy.

After breakfast we got our car pass and made our way to Cape Flattery for a short hike to the most north western point of the continental US. The landscape at the point is spectacular. I could have spent the entire day there, just taking in the view. Charlie got some great pictures with his drone.

We got back to Port Angeles late in the afternoon and decided to head up to Hurricane Point. At the top of the mountain the temperature was 37 degrees and there was a lot of snow. Once again we had to pull out our winter coats. Most of the trails on the mountaintop were closed due to the snow coverage so we simply enjoyed the view.

After visiting Hurricane Point we drove out to the Ediz Hook Reservation, which is a strip of land that jetties out into the waterway from the town of Port Angeles. It offers great views of the city and the Olympic mountain range.

We spotted this ship loading tree logs from the water. I’m always a little sad when I see a logging truck or ship go by, as I know it means more trees have been cut down.

By the time we got back to our campground it was nearly sunset and we were exhausted. However, it was the first time we were going to have a good sunset in what seemed like months. I wasn’t going to let it go by without getting a picture so I dropped Charlie off at the motorhome and then headed over to the Salt Creek Recreation Area. I had heard that it was a nice spot for sunset. I’m so happy that I went, as the scene did not disappoint.

Sunset view from Salt Creek Recreation Area

We originally planned to stay at the Salt Creek Recreation Area campground while visiting Port Angeles. However, there were no campsites available for the timeframe we were there. I love the park. It sits right on the ocean with gorgeous views. It is about 30 minutes farther from Port Angeles, and the waterfalls in Olympic National Park than where we ended up staying though. So, in the end, I’m glad we stayed at the Elwha Dam RV Park.

Another picture from the Salt Creek Recreation Area park

The following morning we packed up the motorhome and headed down the west side of the Olympic Peninsula. We really enjoyed our stay at the Elwha Dam RV Park. The staff was very friendly. Its location to Neah’s Bay, Port Angeles and the Olympic National Park can’t be beat.  Don’t look for a dam though, as it was torn down in 2011, after two decades of planning, to restore the river’s ecosystem.

Elwha Dam Overlook

Our next stop along the Olympic Peninsula was the beautiful Kalaloch Beach Campground. There are only a couple of sites at the campground large enough to accommodate our 40′ motorhome. We were lucky to find one available. This was the view through our windshield.

We enjoyed sunsets at nearby Ruby Beach.

We took a hike through the Hoh rain forest.

As I turned around a corner on the path I came upon this elk. I was quite startled as I was nearly nose to nose with him.

We found some beautiful scenery on the drive to/from the Hoh rain forest.

The Hoh rain forest was about an hour’s drive northeast from the Kalaloch Campground. We found the drive to be nice, but were actually disappointed with the rain forest hike. We thought that it was not nearly as lush as the other areas we had visited.

We did find the Quinault rain forest to be extremely lush. It is about an hour’s drive southeast of Kalaloch. We loved our hike along the Quinault rain forest trail.

Since it was early spring, the flowers were starting to bloom. I found this gold mushroom to be quite interesting. It looked like it had been spray painted gold.

This flower stinks, and is appropriately called a ‘skunk cabbage.’

The Quinault rain forest trail guides you through a beautiful area of the rain forest and then ends up on a path along the scenic Quinault Lake.

The trail passes by the historic Quinault Lodge, built in 1926.

After we completed our hike we drove around the lake to the Kestner homestead, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A local person we met on the Quinault trail told us it was a beautiful area and that it should not be missed. He was right. The area is lovely.

Back at the Kalaloch Campground we enjoyed walks along the beach and celebrated my birthday dinner at the Kalaloch Lodge. The sandy beach is very expansive, and peaceful.

There are a huge number of logs along the beach.

We loved our visit to Kalaloch, but missed having cell service and Wi-Fi so after a couple of days we moved on to our next destination on the peninsula; Ocean Shores. We parked at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino. They have a huge parking lot for RVs to dry-camp. If was still off-season so we were about the only ones there.

We spent a couple nights there, just chilling. We then moved onto Shelton, WA, for no apparent reason. We had to be at the Cummins service center near Tacoma, WA Sunday evening and Shelton was on the way there. We stayed at the Little Creek Casino RV Park. They had full hook-ups and Wi-Fi. Charlie played blackjack in the casino and won nearly enough money to pay for our campsite. We enjoyed a couple more days of resting and catching up on some things. This was our last stop along the peninsula. We had a fantastic time exploring the Olympic National Park.

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