Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Wild, Wet, Windy, Wonderful Washington Weekend

(Disclaimer: This post is about my recent vacation, it has nothing to do with gardening. But it was an interesting trip. Hope you stay to read it and enjoy it.)

Nigel and I just got back from a trip to the Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula is a large piece of land that sits to the west of Seattle, separating the city from the Pacific Ocean. It contains one of the world's few temperate rainforests, as well as a mountain range known as the Olympic Mountains. Mt. Olympus , the second largest mountain in the state (after Mt. Rainier) is in the Olympic Mountains.

View from the car

My first trip to Washington was 7 years ago, to visit a friend who was living in Forks, WA. I fell in love with the state just from that one trip, and managed to convince Nigel that one day we should move here. That day came a lot sooner than I anticipated, when we moved here about 3 and a half years ago from Massachusetts. This past weekend I got to share with Nigel some of the experiences that I remember from that trip.

Port Angeles

We stayed in Port Angeles, in the Red Lion Inn right on the waterfront.

The view from our room

It's about a three-hour drive to Port Angeles from where we live, so after arriving there in the early afternoon, we walked around the downtown area, where we checked out the little Farmer's Market, and some of the shops. The town has a lot of street art.

Welded seahorse sculpture on the Port Angeles waterfront

Welded bird sculptures in Port Angeles

We also stopped for a latte, my first in about two months.

Tastes great, but please put that camera down...

Crescent Lake

After that, we hopped back in the car and went to Crescent Lake, officially the second deepest lake in the state. Of course, just as we got on the road, it started raining torrentially. But we got out of the car anyway when we got to the National Park lodge, and took a look around.

Crescent Lake Lodge

It's wet, but I'm not really grumpy.

A pair of these cool birdhouses were on the lodge porch. I've got to figure out how to make something similar.

Not many people were out kayaking in the lake.

Nigel on the end of the dock

Cape Flattery

The next morning, the weather was great, just high, thin clouds and no rain or wind. A perfect day for us to go to Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States. To get there, you pass through Neah Bay, a town in the Makah Indian reservation, where you must buy a recreation permit at any of several businesses in the town. (Please follow the links to learn more.) To reach the furthest point of Cape Flattery, you must hike about 3/4 of a mile through the rainforest, along a path that varies from gravel to boardwalk.

The start of the trail

Everywhere in the rainforest you see trees growing out of nurse logs like this.

It's a truly magical experience.

At certain points the trail was very muddy, but fortunately, you could walk on these tree trunk circles.

Sometimes there were stairs, but at several points the only stairs were tree roots.

There was also a boardwalk.

Every so often, you could stop and look down over a railing at the ocean all around.

We saw an otter swimming in the water.

At the farthest end of the Cape is a view of Tatoosh Island, where the Coast Guard operated a light house until recently, when they ceded the island back to the Makah people.

Tatoosh Island

La Push and Second Beach

Our last full day on the Olympic Peninsula, we drove into Forks, where we stopped briefly for a Diet Coke and a piece of pie, then continued on to Second Beach, near La Push. There is a .7 mile walk through the forest and down toward the beach, and then a clamber across a huge pile of driftwood, created by trees that fall into the ocean from the erosion of the beach.

The hike down to Second Beach was a series of steps, some very steep.

Enormous pile of driftwood on the beach

Sea stacks on Second Beach

Barnacles and seaweed

Nigel dips his hand into the Pacific Ocean

The Dirty Old Man and the Sea

One of the sea stacks on Second Beach, left high and dry by low tide

One last look back at the beach

Kingston, where I visit a nursery

On the way back home, instead of driving all the way down the western side of Puget Sound, we decided to take the ferry from Kingston across to Edmonds. I don't know if it's a shorter trip, but it felt shorter. We passed a nursery on the road to the ferry, and of course, had to stop. I actually passed it at first, and said, "Oh!" Nigel said, "You can turn around..."

Could you have passed this sign without stopping?

The nursery was called Savage Plants and had an interesting selection of plants combined with industrial-style, rusty garden structures and ornaments.

They had the baby brother of that street-side seahorse in Port Angeles (only $775).

I thought about re-arranging our luggage in the back of the car to fit some plants in, but ultimately, decided not to. I really wanted to buy a variegated climbing hydrangea, but it was a good size, and I didn't want it to get squished. We are actually planning a future nursery-visiting, plant-buying trip to Kingston and Port Townsend, to visit Dragonfly Farms and Far Reaches Farm, which are only open from Thursday to Saturday. Hmm...if I make it the third weekend in July, maybe I'll even press on to Sequim, and go to The Desert Northwest's first Open House.

Of course, if I want to bring home one of those rusty trellis screens, I might need to go back with a truck.