We weren't quite ready to peel away from the Pacific Northwest coastline after it won us over while we traveled in Oregon. I booked us a last minute stop on Washington's Olympic Peninsula in hopes of gaining more time immersing ourselves in the bountiful sites and sounds of nature in this part of the country. Although we only got a sneak peek of the gorgeous surroundings that are tucked in the Olympic National Park, I am so grateful we got a taste of this stunning side of the state.
Knowing nothing about this area, I chose Port Angeles because if its close proximity to the park's many attractions as well as for the town's waterfront appeal. We booked Sea Retreat, through Vrbo, and couldn't have been happier with our choice. The house is beautifully appointed, spacious and spotless with an entire game room that kept us entertained on a Sunday evening. In addition, the house boasts unobstructed views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We wish we had more time in the house to really utilize all its amenities. In fact, we planned to explore the area more deeply than we did but the house just kept calling our name. In hopes of striking a balance we cut our excursion goals in half in order to relax in this retreat as much as possible.
Port Angeles has a small stretch along Front Street with restaurants, shops, etc... Admittedly, it is not as charming as some of the other coastal towns we have explored. There is an industrial feeling to the area with a large factory stationed along the water's edge polluting the air and seemingly pristine waters. Despite this, it is a perfect base to discover the wonderland that awaits in Olympia National Park and is an ideal launching pad to explore the great outdoors.
One evening when my husband and I were sitting outside enjoying the sounds of the crashing waves hitting our back yard, I noticed what looked like a rather large flame a few hundred feet away. We couldn't quite make out what we were seeing so I went inside to put on my glasses in hopes of more clarity. The ball of fire was actually the moon taking on the color of the sun resembling a fire ball floating in the night sky. Once again, the Pacific Northwest pulls out more magical moves to impress even though at this point I need absolutely no more convincing of how truly spectacular our beautiful earth is.
Over eleven miles of unimaginably pristine waters are tucked inside Olympia National Park. The exceptionally clear blue (and in some places green) hues of the lake are a direct result of a lack of nitrogen in the waters which stops the growth of algae. We explored the lake from many angles and were blown away by the beauty before us no matter the perspective we were viewing it from. Highway 101 hugs along the lake with many viewing points. In addition to the many look out points along the road we hoped to hike along the Moments in Time Trailhead but it was closed. We considered walking the Marymere Falls Trail instead, which along with breathtaking lake views also offers sightings of a waterfall. Unfortunately I was outnumbered with no one wanting to join me on the 2.5 mile hike. Instead, we enjoyed more stunning views of the lake at the very beginning of the Marymere Trailhead and stayed there for quite some time soaking in the scenery and learning lake facts that are posted on the trail head bulletin.
Rialto Beach is a quick, 10 minute drive from La Push, *note* La Push is on tribal land and is closed during the pandemic.
I have written a lot about our close encounters with nature's powerful forces while we roamed the Pacific Northwest. The most ominous location we have visited yet is at Rialto Beach. There are signs warning of the worst kinds of imminent dangers at every turn: quick forming tsunamis within minutes of an earthquake, logs that are not seen in the water during high tide that roll over swimmers injuring and sometimes killing them, sneaker waves that come ashore to whisk those who dare walk too close and fogs that make visibility difficult leading to confusion. Despite the inundation of looming threats, this beach is so damn beautiful. The monochromatic color scheme perfectly adds to the eerie and spooky tone of the landscape. Yet, if you take a minute to respect nature's signs and signals, and more importantly heed them all, suddenly its warnings dissipate and comforting things begin to appear, like heart-shaped stones. Pure magic.
There is so much buzz around this town mainly because Twilight, a popular book series and movie, put it on the map. Before the movie came out, no one knew about this tiny Washington town. Today, tourists flock to Forks for Twilight Tours, Twilight Fests and for actor meet and greets. As a caveat, I should mention that none of us have read the series nor seen the movie. Regardless, since it kept appearing in our searches of "what to do" in the area we drove on over and then just kept on driving... right out. Sorry, there was whatsoever no appeal in this city to us. On a better note, we will finally watch the movie on our next family movie night. Maybe then we will understand the town better...
Words cannot describe how truly sad I am to begin driving away from the western coastline. We have had it alongside us for the past month and I have felt its strong embrace the entire time. I know now more than ever that I am a gal of the sea, it just speaks to me. The nature along the Pacific Northwest is indescribable but more so it is impactful. It has humbled me. I now find myself surrendering to the forces of the universe rather than the forces in my mind. Things that once seemed monumental appear so trivial these days. I have forced myself to reflect more than ever on who I want to be while on this planet. More importantly, I have deeply contemplated new ways to give back to this world that gives us so much. My heart is heavy as I type my closing post on a place that has opened my soul to new beginnings and new possibilities. The prospect of these new possibilities are helping me face our next adventures with more eagerness and enthusiasm. But in all honesty, my heart is still with the ragingly beautiful waters that thrash along the sea stacks forcing its viewers to pay attention to their actions, their words, their thoughts. I swear, these waters know when you have heard their messages. As soon as my soul absorbed the words of the sea, I was always rewarded with a waterfall, a special shaped stone, a wildlife sighting. We formed a strong connection here, me and the Pacific. It's going to be difficult to physically leave her but in reality she is already a part of me now and will be with me along the rest of my journeys. Even the ones beyond this road trip.