Saturday, April 30, 2022

Olympic National Park Road Trip

Trip date: September 2021

Thanks to COVID, the PNW hiking trip that I had planned with my friends from Paris, Forest and Nicky, for fall of 2020 got scrapped. We had rescheduled everything the best we could for Sept of 2021, but with the USA still closed to non citizens, Nic had to pass on the trip again. Forest decided to brave the pandemic and fly into Seattle, it had been since Jan 2020 since I had seen my BFF, the longest since we have known each other!

We had a six day road trip planned around the Washington coast and ONP, all places that neither of us had stayed at before and we were excited! First stop, Kalaloch Lodge.

We stopped for lunch along the way at Chelsea Farms in Olympia. I love this place! We had some gorgeous oysters on the ½ shell and I had their decadent clam chowder. It's a great place to break up the ~3 ½ hour drive to the coast. 

Originally we had booked to stay at the Quileute Oceanside Resort, but tribal lands were closed due to COVID. Our cabin at Kalaloch sat on the bluff overlooking the ocean, had two bedrooms, a bathroom, small kitchen, and a wood fireplace in the living room. 

It was very rainy when we arrived, so after unpacking we got a fire going, set up a game of dominos, made some cocktails, and settled in for the night. The restaurant onsite was take out only so I had brought a batch of my mac and cheese that we just had to cook up in the oven, and a green salad. It was a super cozy and relaxing night!

The next morning the skies had cleared so we drove out to the Hoh Rain Forest, which was about an hour each way. We did the short 1+ mile Hall of Moss trail which is nothing less than gorgeous!

Pictures just can't do justice to the amazing hues of greens and yellows in the Hoh. I had never been in the fall before and it was stunning!
We were really hoping to see some elk as there had been sightings that morning, but no such luck! 

Just outside the park, we stopped at the Hard Rain Cafe for sandwiches, eaten outside on their front porch as almost everyplace was still closed for indoor dining. 

Back at Kalaloch we went out for a nice walk on our beach. We were the only ones out there, except for a couple of bald eagles!
That evening the sunset was just amazing! We put together a little happy hour and sat outside in our adirondack chairs enjoying the view.

Although our cabin had a kitchen and we were told there would be a bin of sanitized cookware, they only provided us with paper plates and plastic utensils. I had brought posole and quesadilla makings for our 2nd night dinner and we ended up having to eat the posole out of cooking pans! I also had to go buy souvenir wine glasses from the lodge as they only gave us paper cups! But they did provide each cabin with a bundle of wood per day so we were all set for a fire and dominos after dinner (pro-tip: no wifi at Kalaloch Lodge or the cabins).


The next morning we checked out after breakfast of banana bread and tea in the cabin and drove the short distance to Kalaloch Beach for a little hike along the shore and to check out the very cool Tree of Life. Afterwards, on our way to Ruby Beach we stopped for a quick look at Big Cedar which is indeed a very big cedar. 

At Ruby the tide was in so our hike was shortened drastically. But it is still such a gorgeous spot and we were having the best weather!
We stopped in Forks for a quick lunch before continuing on to 2nd Beach. This is a gorgeous hike thru the forest and then onto the beach!

It's about a mile through the woods out to the beach. 2nd Beach feels much more remote that Ruby since you can't drive right up to it. We had a great time exploring and were two of only a handful of people out there.


Three beach hikes done for the day! We got on the road and stopped to check out John's Beachcomber Museum but unfortunately it was closed. We drove through his property and could see that there was a pretty impressive collection of items ammassed!


It was just under an hour drive to Lake Crescent Lodge, which is where we'd be staying for the next two nights. We had rented one of the Singer Cabins, two seperate rooms connected inside and sharing a cute front porch with views of the lake.

I had been wanting to stay out at this lodge for years and it did not disappoint! Such a gorgeous setting! We hung out in adirondack chairs on the lake shore for a bit and then headed inside the lodge for cocktails by the big fire.

Because of COVID the drinks were served out of plastic cups but they were solid. We hadn't made reservations for dinner and because of reduced seating in the dining room there were no tables available so we ended up ordering off the take-out menu and having dinner in front of the fire as well.

The next morning we had breakfast in the lodge dining room on real plates and with a front row view of the lake. It was a gorgeous day and afterwards we set off for a short hike to Marymere Falls, the trailhead starting just behind our cabins. The 2 mile round trip hike is really pretty, lots of old growth trees, some deer sightings, and of course the waterfalls!


Then we jumped in the car and drove to the salmon cascades on the Sol Duc River and watched the salmon make their way upstream. I live near the Ballard Locks so I've seen this many times but I have never experienced it in the "wild" and wow, was it cool!!


We stayed for quite a bit watching and wondering how these salmon were not crushing their skulls on the rocks. The concierge at the lodge had told us about this when we checked in, it was a great tip. The salmon generally run from mid Sept to mid Oct so if you are in the area go check them out! 

Originally the plan had been to go soak in the Sol Duc Hot Springs, so we continued up the road and had a little picnic before checking out the pools. But just like my other time there, it seemed crowded with kids and not very relaxing, so we opted to head back to our lovely lodge. 

We settled into a couple of adirondacks with some wine and books and enjoyed the gorgeous fall weather. As it got later I bought a bundle of wood from the front desk and they delivered it to one of the fire pits for us. I made a small fire that we enjoyed before heading up to our front porch for a great happy hour spread that we had packed in our cooler.

Dinner that night was in the lodge dining room and it was ok, nothing to write home about but fine. I had taken the rest of our wood back up to our cabin, and after dinner we grabbed it and returned to find some other guests keeping our fire going with driftwood. We enjoyed some lovely rare whiskey around the fire, such a gorgeous setting!

The next morning after breakfast and a little more wandering around the Lake Crescent Lodge grounds, it was time to check out. I loved this lodge and would absolutely love to return; fall was the perfect season! 

Our drive to Hurricane Ridge was gorgeous and sunny until we hit Port Angeles. The weather turned drizzly and as we made our way up the road leading to the ridge clouds settled in so low that I couldn't see a thing in front of me. This was not going to make for a good hike, so sadly we turned around and headed back down.

We stopped in Sequim for lunch at Salty Girls which had been recommended. Unfortunately it was just ok. They shucked the wrong oysters for us twice and my crab melt was just luke warm. Maybe it was an off day.

Not to miss out on a last hike in the area, we pivoted (thanks Covid for teaching us all the importance of the pivot!) and drove out to the trailhead for the Dungeness Spit. 

It had been probably been 15 years since I'd been out here. And no we did not hike all the way out to the lighthouse! But it's such a unique and wild strip of sand and driftwood, it was a great last hike!

Our last stop on our fabulous WA Peninsula trip was Port Townsend. I had been thru the quaint town many times but had never stayed! We were booked in at the very well known Old Consulate Inn which at one time was the German Consulate. 


And in true BFF fashion, Forest and I had the honeymoon suite, which was up on the top floor of the house and had a sitting room in the turret! The views of the Pacific from the room were also fantastic!

We walked into downtown that evening; Port Townsend is such an adorable place, full of Victorian style buildings, gorgeous views, and more deer than people it seems!


Unfortunately the restaurant Finistere was closed the night we were in town so we decided to wander into to the Alchemy and get on a waitlist for a table. Thanks to social media I saw that my friends Andy and Carol were in town and were also at Alchemy! They invited us to join them for dinner and we had some very good drinks and bites! 

Breakfast was included at the Old Consulate and was served in a very nice sitting room. It's really a great house to explore, lots of antiques and interesting spaces. Afterwards we packed up and checked out, then drove into town and walked around doing a bit of gallery going and antiquing. 

Andy and Carol had told us they had spent a day in Poulsbo and thought it was really cute, it just so happened that there was a shop I wanted to check out there so after our walk around we headed to Little Norway as it's called.

We had a great time shopping along the main drag. Nordiska is a wonderful store full of everything Scandinavian and also has a lot of artist Anna Brones' work. We also found an adorable housewares/wine shop and did a little tasting outside while we waited for a table at The Loft for lunch.


We took the Bainbridge Ferry home because a ferry ride is *the* way all PNW trips should either start or end! 

This was such an awesome trip around the Olympic National Park and peninsula. I live in a ridiculously gorgeous part of the world and it was super fun to go exploring with my bestie who also has a deep love for the PNW.

All Washington Peninsula photos here.  

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