Final note on Seattle: Years ago I heard or read about an alley located somewhere in downtown Seattle where the walls are literally covered in used chewing gum. Not exactly a sight-seeing priority, we have never found the time to find the famous “Gum Wall”. Now, with only one day remaining, I became somewhat obsessed with seeing it. I knew it was on Post Alley near the Pike Market, but had trouble finding it. So, when all else failed, I texted my daughter:
Me: “where is the gum wall at pike market?”
Emily: “you can google these things 🙂 it’s on post alley just south of pike”
Me: “I haven’t been able to find it on google!!!!!!”
Emily: “What! Search gum wall seattle”
Kids! So off to Post Alley just south of Pike we went, and there it was:
It was during our many trips to visit Emily at UDub that we fell in love with the Seattle area and Pacific Northwest. We were often fortunate to have great views of Elliott Bay and the snow-covered peaks of the Olympic Mountains in the distance from our various hotel rooms. We didn’t give much thought to the Olympics, except to admire their beauty in Seattle’s background. However, while researching and visiting the National Parks in Colorado and Utah, we also started learning about the magnificence of Olympic National Park in Northwest Washington. Sadly, all the information we found on the park said the roads and most of the sites pretty much shut down by the end of October due to the winter snow. We determined our trip to the Olympics would have to wait for another time. Then, a month later, we arrived in Seattle and settled into our apartment where we once again enjoyed a gorgeous view of the Puget Sound and those gorgeous Olympic Mountains. We decided to rethink our itinerary.
The deciding factor on whether or not to visit the Park was finding Colette’s B&B, located just outside the Olympics in Port Angeles, WA. Some of you may be familiar with the Port Angeles area from the Twilight series which took place on the Olympic Peninsula. Colette’s is nestled between the Olympic Range and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and includes 10 acres of gorgeous waterfront gardens and cedars. Worst case if it rained or snowed, we would be holed up in a beautiful lodge where I could get caught up on work, tv shows, or just read. If Colette’s was anything close to “as advertised”, we would be happy under any environmental circumstances. So, to the Olympics we went.
Getting to Port Angeles was half the fun. First we had to drive the “old home” onto the Bainbridge Island Ferry for a 40 minute trip across the Puget Sound, followed by a 2 hour drive up the spectacular Olympic Peninsula. After a quick lunch in Poulsbo (Bob used to travel there for work and fell in love with the place), we arrived at Colette’s and moved into our luxurious Cedar Suite.
As we’ve come to expect on this trip, we had AMAZING weather for mid-November in Northwest Washington. No rain in sight, no wind, a bit cold, but who’s complaining. Scratch work, we had another National Park to explore.
Monday started with a multi-course gourmet breakfast prepared by our fabulous innkeepers Dae and Clif. We can’t say enough about how wonderful our entire experience was at Colette’s. The food was delicious and their hospitality so warm and kind. After close to 70 destinations, we definitely rank this as our top accommodation.
Olympic National Park has more than a dozen car accessible regions, but it isn’t just a drive through the park. Almost every region is accessed from a spur road off of highway 101, which circles the Olympic Range. We picked out 4 of the most popular regions for our 2 day visit. Hurricane Ridge has spectacular vistas of the valley and Mount Olympus. The region earned its name thanks to winds that gust up to 75 mph and as much as 35 feet of snow falls annually. Mother Nature was kind to us as we happened to be there on a very rare temperature inversion. The temperature when we left our B&B at sea level was 37 degrees, but at the top of the ridge (5,700 ft), it was a balmy 54 degrees with not even a hint of a breeze. We quickly shed a few layers of clothing and hiked the Hurricane Hill Trail (3.2 miles round trip), thoroughly enjoying the beautiful panoramic views. We knew we had truly lucked out on the weather as fellow hikers (many in shorts) passed us with comments of “hope you brought your suntan lotion.” Wish we had!
We got back on hwy 101 and headed west toward the Sol Duc region of the park. Along the way we passed the picturesque 12 mile long Lake Crescent. The lake is known for its brilliant blue waters caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae. We also passed an abundance of logging trucks.
We had looked forward to hiking one of the more popular trails, the Sol Duc Falls Trail (1.6 miles) which leads to an unusual three-legged waterfall. We had seen pictures, but didn’t anticipate the falls to have much force since there had not been rain for several days and no winter snow melting. Boy were we wrong. Not only were the falls powerful, but due to the cold temperatures the spray from the falls had completely laid a layer of ice on everything in the area. Very cool…literally.
We finished the day with a scrumptious cioppino dinner @ Bella Italia in Port Angeles.
Tuesday began with another delicious and filling breakfast at the B&B and then we were off to visit the Hoh Rain Forest. This region is on the west side of the Olympics about a 2 1/2 hour drive from our lodging. We passed a herd of Roosevelt elk on the way. Olympic National Park contains the largest unmanaged herd and about 400 of the elk live in the Hoh area.
The Hoh (as the locals refer to it) receives 140-160 inches of annual precipitation. Of course absolutely no rain fell that day and temperatures were in the 40’s. We hiked the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles) and learned all about the area’s ecology. We can now identify a western hemlock, red cedar, and Sitka spruce.
The last park region we visited is called Mora and includes the pacific coastline. To get to Second Beach (they have First, Second, and Third Beaches….how original) we hiked a mile through a densely forested trail. We arrived right at low tide and, having the beach all to ourselves, ventured throughout while admiring and exploring the rocky coastline.
Afterwards we drove back to Port Angeles and enjoyed a fantastic dinner at the Next Door Gastropub.
After a sad goodbye to Colette’s and the Olympics Wednesday morning, we began our long drive to Depoe Bay, Oregon. We decided to take the scenic route, taking in as much of the Pacific Coast as possible. Here are some pictures of the Columbia River, Astoria, and the Oregon Coast.
Depoe Bay (we met a nice couple, Vivian and Neal from near Sacramento, at Colette’s. Vivian once lived in Depoe Bay and lovingly refers to it as Dopey Bay……so we do too now), is a really cute little coastal town in central Oregon. Our plan was find a room with a great ocean view so I could finally get in a good day’s work while Bob stared out at the Ocean. We checked into the Crow’s Nest room at Channel House. Perfect!
Of course the highlight of the visit was watching the Raiders beat the Chiefs on Thursday Night Football! We love our 1 – 10 Raiders!
Today we drove down the coast intending to visit the Sea Lion Cave in Florence OR. Bob and I stopped by many years ago and really enjoyed taking the elevator down to the cave and seeing the very large group of Sea Lions (Pod?). Unfortunately today, “Otis” (Inc) was there repairing the elevator! Oh well, just another reason to return some day.
It was a very pretty, very rainy drive. We did get to see more Elk. I’m starting to feel bad about eating one while dining in Wyoming!
We just arrived in one of our favorite little towns, Ashland, Oregon. We have a nice little room at the historic Ashland Springs Hotel where we will grab some dinner, watch the Warriors game, and get a good night’s sleep before driving home to San Ramon for the Thanksgiving holiday. Can’t wait!