We’re sitting in a trendy restaurant overlooking the water. The atmosphere is funky casual, and Ric and the waiter are bantering back and forth, each one trying to outdo the other with corny quips. Painted snow and surfboards decorate the walls, and I think my son would love this place.
“They are all done by a local artist,” Craig, our waiter tells us.
The cook has come out of the kitchen to discuss my menu options, and for the first time today, I am starting to relax.
It has been quite the journey to get here.
We leave Oregon at 9:30 a.m., and for the first hour, I nap while Ric drives along highway 5, headed north. All is well until we cut off to 101.
“Get your camera ready,” Ric says, indicating that there will be some postcard worthy shots ahead.
But the already grey day turns to a downpour, and we find ourselves on a two-lane highway, winding our way along what would normally be incredible views. Today, it just feels treacherous. In order to make the sharp turns, Ric has to drive under the speed limit, and that means we have to use the pullouts to let others pass.
Ric maintains his cool, but I am gripping the armrests. There are no shoulders on much of the roadway, and with traffic coming the other way, he has to keep our massive rig within our narrow lane. In some places, the slightest error could send us reeling down steep embankments.
Then, to make matters worse, the raindrops turn to snow.
“I don’t think they were expecting this!”
“No. Weather was supposed to be clear after Oregon.”
He’s matter-of-fact, and carries on slow and steady. The drive takes much longer than anticipated, and eventually, the road straightens and we enter a more populated area.
We are in Mount Olympic National Park, with the white peak of Mount Olympus reigning over the neighbouring mountains, and the scene is breathtaking. Our camp for the next three nights is on the other side of Port Angeles, at the Elwha Damn. Driving in to the RV Park, I am immediately charmed. It’s like we’ve been transported to another time zone.
The Elwha Damn RV Park is also a wildlife refuge. There are wooden carvings lining the entrance, and inside the office the ambience is essential oils and a healing vibe. The owners, Chris and David, are relatively young, and enthusiastic. I can tell this is going to be my favourite place.
“Too bad we’re only here for a few nights,” Ric echoes my sentiments.
Chris is up on all the local eateries, and when we tell her about my dietary restrictions, she recommends H2O.
So that is how we end up on the waterfront, with Craig the waiter, chilling over a dinner of cedar-plank salmon for me and wings and chowder for Ric.
We’ve got two full days of exploration ahead of us, before getting on the ferry and crossing over to Vancouver Island, Canada.