Sunday, October 21, 2012

Luci and Ricky Visit (and The Olympic National Forest)

Just as summer shifted into fall, we had our last scheduled visitors of a very action-packed summer. Unfortunately, with the arrival of Luci and Ricky, also came the beginning of the rain. And rain it did. They got far more than the normal Seattle rain experience. More on that later.

Luci and Ricky saw all the 'must-see' standard Seattle sights and we took them to all our favorite places as well...
...for example Golden Gardens...
... for a photo-shoot of Sagan...
 ...and then back to Golden Gardens later to view the Olympic Mountains from the beach... sunset.     [if the background of these 2 photos isn't stunning, tilt your screen until it is.]
We also got to hang out with several of their friends from Richmond who have relocated out here. It was nice to meet them, and good for them all to catch up.

Over the weekend the 4 of us rounded out the trip with a car/ferry ride over to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington for a weekend excursion around the Olympic National Park.

Olympic Peninsula of Washington (highlighted in orange)
Olympic National Park (outlined in green). Seattle is shown on the right.
The first night we stayed at the charming ToadLilly International Hostel, in the quaint city of Port Angeles

Olympic National Park is 923,000 acre wilderness, complete with 3 main biomes, each of which we sampled: glaciated mountainstemperate rainforests, and picturesque coastlines.

After starting the morning off right with coffee and breakfast at The Oven Spoonful and were off to see Hurricane Ridge, disregarding both the forecast calling for 4-8 inches of rain over the weekend, and the webcam (which showed only a white blur of fog)! Our determination paid off as the wind occasionally would push the fog out of the way to reveal gorgeous mountain views.

From there we were off to the Hoh Rainforest, a place that redefines the meaning of green.  
We hiked the short Hall of Mosses trail, which I highly recommend, as it is amazing.

Ferns everywhere...

...Moss growing on everything...
...Trees growing out of other trees.
Even the moss is covered with moss!
The water in the stream looked like beer on St. Patty’s day!… it is truly a magical place.
Much of the park is made up of beautiful old-growth forests, and dotted throughout the forested parts of the map are labels like "Big Tree". These giant marvels are very reminiscent of our visit to the Redwoods, and often hold the title of "National Champion", the largest living specimens in the nation. 

That's a Cedar.    a "Big Cedar" as the map notes.

This Sitka Spruce is the largest Spruce Tree in the World

And although it was POURING rain, (more than usual, even for a rainforest), it was thoroughly enjoyable.  
What isn’t as enjoyable is being completely-soaked-to-the-bone, and returning to your campsite during a monsoon to find your tents in newly-formed ponds, with the outlook of making a fire… dim. 

These were the good times, prior to our tents becoming islands.
So we packed up all of our wet gear, our pruney bodies, and far more rain than our gear should have be able to retain, and drove off to the Kalaloch Lodge to rent an (off-season, discounted) cabin!

And damn was that the best idea ever. The cabin had a kitchen, bathroom, woodstove, and most importantly a roof! So instead of literally sleeping in puddles…we slept in down-comforters to the sound of a crackling fire. And with no regrets, because camping without a fire, isn’t camping at all… it’s just sleeping outside on the ground, like an idiot.

When in the wilderness, it is essential to be wary of potentially dangerous flora and fauna lurking around every corner. In fact, each biome within Olympic National Park has its own specific threats that must be taken seriously.  Throughout our journey there was a series of escalating warning signs to remind us of these threats.
The threats of each biome:    Rainforest -> Cougars.              Mountains -> Goats                       Coast -> Killer Logs !

Luckily we didn't see any of these threatening things...except the killer logs.

The next morning we checked out the ‘haystack’ rock formations on the beach where we saw otters!  ... and then we headed home. 

Haystack rock formations and "killer logs".

It turned out to be an action packed adventure. It was brief tour of a vast park, but I hope to get back very soon and explore much more. Maybe Luci and Ricky will decide to celebrate their third anniversary out here again with us.  Maybe next time we will see Olympic National Park without the monsoon.  : )

Photos Courtesy of Luci and Tess