Three Seasons, One Day

springgreens.jpgAfter almost six months of journeying, we are on the way back to Ontario. A constant barrage of text messages fly back and forth with loved ones at home.  We are all excited for the reunion.

We still have over 2,500 miles to cross before we get there, though, and many new places to discover.

This morning, we stall our departure, not wanting to be caught up in the Seattle morning rush.  We will bypass Seattle and head south on highway 90.

SnoquamieThe day is clear and promises to warm up, which is very welcome.  Ric, a former skier, has been in this area of Washington before, and wants me to take pics with his phone, so I am juggling cameras.

“Do you think we need to worry about snow today?” Ric asks in response to the many warning signs as we ascend into the mountains.

snowinWASnow covered caps dot the distant views, but I can’t imagine that with these temperatures, we’ll encounter the white stuff.  I would be wrong.  While the roads are clear, up in the ski areas, there is still plenty of snow on the slopes.

It seems we will encounter a range of seasons throughout our drive today – the bright greens of spring, the white of winter, and the full bloom of an early summer.  It makes for an interesting and beautiful trip.

springblossomsRic has mapped out the drive home, and indicated possible stopping points.  My job is to call ahead and see if the RV campgrounds have room for us.  The park he has selected is full, so I need to scout out an alternative, which puts me into panic mode.

I am not familiar with the route, and although Ric has a wide range of apps to help with finding everything from RV parks to gas stations to wind reports, I am not versed in these programs.  He barks orders and my brain freezes up, and then we lose cell service.

 

sunsettingPascoEventually, demanding that I do it my own way, I find us an RV site in Pasco, Washington, just outside Richland.  While it is a little off the planned route, this turns out to be a nice area.  After getting settled, we have a light dinner and go in search of groceries for the remainder of the trip.  We find a fresh foods market and I am able to get a variety of items suitable for my diet.

We land home just as the sun is setting.  Our second day of travel has had many ups and downs – literally and figuratively.  We are both exhausted.

 

 

 

 

La Push, WA

drivetoocean“It’s up to you,” Ric places the decision heavily on my shoulders.  “You pick; I’ll drive.”

The choices are to drive two hours to Neah Bay, where if we are willing to trek over fallen logs and a bit of a rocky trail for a mile, we might be able to see whales; or to drive an hour and a half to La Push to see rock formations in the Pacific Ocean.

It’s still cold and rainy, and since I can’t be sure my legs will make the trek – although I would love to see whales – I opt for La Push.

rocksinPacificLa Push is situated at the mouth of the Quillayute river and part of the Quileute Indian Reservation.  We pass a parking lot for one beach, and drive right to the coast where the river meets the ocean.  There is a parking lot right at the beach and we pull in and hop out to get a better look at the place.  It is cold and the wind is relentless, but we are determined to capture images of the rock formations, and tiny islands that dot the shore line.  Rows of logs and other driftwood line the beach – signs we later learn of massive waves that passed through just a month before.

RiversEdgeRestaurantWe decide to get a late breakfast at the River’s Edge restaurant just beside where we parked.  Inside, we discover a bright dining room with a high-peaked ceiling and large picture windows overlooking the water.  Rae Lynn, our waitress, tells us they are now serving lunch, and at first glance, I’m not sure I’ll be able to find anything to eat.  I am on antibiotics now, but still need soft food.

rockformsWA.png“The salmon burger is the best,”  she tells me.  “It’s a real fillet, not chopped up fish stuck together.”

I order that, no bun, and the garlic fries she suggests.  Ric opts for a burger and the soup of the day:  cabbage meatball.

A binder containing photos and descriptions of the local wildlife sits on the table and we are soon entertained by the presence of sea lions rolling about in the water.  Rae Lynn fills us in on some of the history of the area, and tells us the fish must be plentiful judged by the activity on the river.

docklifeWhen lunch comes the salmon is just as she promised but I note that the fries are breaded.

“Can I get you a salad instead?”

I can’t crunch anything right now, so I tell her it’s okay.  She goes back to the kitchen and a little while later returns with fries, cut fresh and cooked just for me.

After lunch, we find a place by the river where we try to catch the sea lions in action, but apart from a quick nose or a rolling fin, we are not in luck.  The rain forces us to move on and we take a different route back, deciding at the last minute to go into Port Angeles and check with the ferry about tomorrow’s ride.

AmericanWidgeonI wander down by the docks and get a shot of these American widgeons playing nearby, and then it is time to head for our site and begin the process of packing up.

 

Olympic National Park, WA

Olympusmountains.png“We’d need a month to see everything here,” Ric declares as we pour over a map of the area.

We’re in the foothills of Mount Olympus, and the scenery here calls out to my spirit, begging for exploration.  It has been rainy though, and the temperature is not far above freezing.
MtOlympusParkWe decide to drive along highway 101 for a bit, stopping at posted areas and taking pics.

“All our pictures will be grey, unfortunately,” Ric remarks as the sky is heavy with cloud and threatening to rain at any moment.

No matter; we’ll take what we can get.  All the ingredients are here for an ideal shot:  mountains, tall trees, water, and rocks.  The area on the left has a trail leading to hot springs, which would be worth seeing, but I’m hardly dressed for the weather, our winter coats well packed away (if not left behind).  And then there is the problem of my legs.

“We can always come back here on our way back home.”

“I’d love that.”

We drive a little farther and come upon Lake Crescent, where we turn off the highway and follow a road leading to the town of Joyce and highway 112.  Like most mountain roads, this one weaves in and out, and as the traffic is light, we travel slowly, not wanting to miss the views.  As we come around one bend, I spot slight movement in the woods beside me.

Blacktaileddeer“Stop!  Back up slowly.”

Three deer are grazing, and equally as startled to see us, take a couple of steps back from the road.  They linger long enough for me to get a few pictures, before deciding to disappear back into the camouflage of the forest.

The map we are following is a roughly sketched outline of the area, provided by the office of the camp we are staying in.  Chris, one of the owners, marked a few spots we might enjoy, and that is where we are headed now.  A road, running off highway 112 and just past Joyce leads to a place called Salt Creek.  There are no signs posted, and at one point the road splits and so we just take our chances, driving past private property signs and another RV park before we come upon a small parking lot with a public washroom and a sign indicating this is our destination.

buffleheadfamilySteps formed by tree roots and rocks provide a rugged approach to the sandy area surrounding tidal pools which lead to the ocean.

“There’s Canada!”

Despite the greyness of the day, this place exudes tranquility.  The waters closest to the entrance are mirror calm, and just beyond a family of buffleheads play in the water.   As we raise our cameras to get a shot, a shadow passes overhead and I look up to see a bald eagle in flight.  Ric is quicker than I am and snaps a few shots.  I walk on towards the shore and watch as seagulls play in the surf.

Eagle&mate.jpgRic catches up to me and just as he does the eagle returns, flying past us at eye level, something long and fluffy in his grasp.

“Moss,” Ric explains.  “He’ll be building a nest.”

Sure enough, we watch as he lands high atop one of the giant pines, delivering his find and then flying off again to continue his hunt.  There are a pair of eagles we soon realize and we watch as they come and go and eventually return to the nest.  My camera focuses on the one nearest to us, but Ric manages to capture both sitting beside the nest.

A passerby directs us to another location further down the road, where we will see “tons of eagles”, and we decide to give it a try.

raincoming.jpgIt’s another beach, near the town of Sequim, and by the time we arrive it is clear that the rain that has so nicely held off all day is running out of patience.  There are no eagles to be seen, only a cluster of noisy seagulls, attracted by picnickers.

Time to head back to camp, and warm up.  Fingers crossed that tomorrow is a sunnier.

 

 

Driving to Port Angeles

H2OPtAngeles.pngWe’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.

downpour101.png“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.

Season'sclash.pngThen, 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.

ElwhaRVPark.pngThe 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.