Sunday, April 15, 2012

Olympic Peninsula III

It was hard to leave our cabin the next morning after breakfast.  We sat over our coffee as long as possible, looking out at the ocean.  The waitress brought us a carafe and we went through the whole thing.

After checking out we drove north along the coast and stopped at Ruby Beach to see the rocks.  It's one of those beaches you frequently see pictures of in calendars.  You might even recognize some of my shots.  It was raining, of course.  But it's a beautiful place and we were happy to putter around taking photos and climbing on rocks for a bit.

After that the road turned east and we took a right onto the side road that went to the Hoh River Rain forest.  It was POURING with rain, of course.  We went to the Visitor Center, thinking foolishly if we waited a bit and saw the little information film first the rain might let up a little.  No such luck.  This time Tachy got left in the car.  Not only did I not want a thoroughly soaked little dog to take care of, he wasn't allowed on the trails.  We put on our hiking boots and rain coats and headed out on a 2 mile trail near the Visitor Center.  It was like walking through a green sponge.  One of the coolest things was the Roosevelt elk.  There were five or six of them grazing in the water meadow right next to the restrooms.  We kind of came upon them unexpectedly and were only about 25 feet away.  We felt like we shouldn't startle them, so we stood still for a bit (taking pictures of course), then backed off.  They were blocking the beginning of the trail, so we found the other end of it nearby and walked it backwards instead.

I like the temperate rain forests of the Northwest.  It's a very odd environment, especially after living the the arid Intermountain West for so long.  You feel almost like you're in a jungle, and you expect to hear exotic bird cries and see animals swinging through the moss-draped trees.  But in fact, there isn't a lot of wildlife in rain forests that's close enough to the ground to be easily seen.  Evidently most of them hang out in the tree canopy far above your head.  And we were there in March, so there weren't any wildflowers either.  But it was good to walk and see things, in spite of getting wet.  My little rain jacket, bought in 2003 when I visited England after my year in Korea, decided it was no longer waterproof.  I was wearing it over a fleece jacket, so my clothes didn't get really wet, but I was definitely not as dry and warm as I'd expected.

We passed through Forks, drove along the shore of Crescent Lake, and arrived in Port Angeles in the afternoon.  We found a hotel near the water.  Another dog-friendly room with a little balcony looking out onto the water.  There was a nice little park and a pier not far away, so we walked down to the end and back while it was still light.  PA is getting towards the rain shadow, so it wasn't raining quite as much as the previous days.  Tachy liked getting out for a walk without getting wet.

We found a restaurant on the pier.  Ken had something with oysters.  I had something that was supposed to have scallops, but there were only two or three.  Again we had local beer.

Port Angeles seems like a nice town, but the real reason we stopped there was the hope of driving up to Hurricane Ridge for a walk and a view of the Olympics.  The next morning it was pouring rain again.  We drove up to the Park Visitor Center to find out what conditions were like "up the hill".  The road was closed.  They were having a hurricane (with snow) on Hurricane Ridge.  So we watched the movie, poked around their exhibits and left.  We unexpectedly had most of a day when we'd planned to be in the mountains.  So we re-arranged our plans a bit, and drove west.

Port Townsend is a little town on a peninsula at the northwest corner of the greater Peninsula.  It's built on a hill over the Puget Sound, but its smaller peninsula sticks out of the larger Peninsula pointing east, like your right thumb when you look at the palm of your hand, with Whidbey Island just across to the right, and Victoria, Canada north and to the left.  It's a nice little town, with a lot of beautifully-restored Queen Anne/Victorian houses.  In fact there was a yellow one on the hill with great views of the ocean that was for sale.  $500,000.  We took one of the fliers from the Realtor box out front.  I could definitely have lived there.

It also has Fort Worden, a former military base turned retreat/event center.  There are all kinds of interesting things going on there for much of the year, including a well-known Scottish Dance weekend and a fiddle workshop.  We both hope to attend these in the future, but meanwhile it was interesting to walk around a bit and see the place.  The fort was very similar in architecture and lay-out to the old Fort Huachuca in Sierra Vista, AZ, where I spent a month on detail last July.  In fact, if you've been to the Presidio in San Francisco, you've seen pretty much the same thing.  White clapboard buildings, rectangular parade ground, etc.  But somehow it all looked so much nicer surrounded by pine and cedar trees and lush green grass.

We found a hotel, and made reservations for the ferry to Whidbey Island the next morning.  It was raining, but we wanted to see the town a bit.  So we drove into downtown, parked the car and walked along the main street, which is just on the water.  I found a yarn store called Diva Yarns.  It had some of the new Malabrigo colors in DK weight.  I'd been wanting to see the Indiecita colorway in real life, and it was there.  There was also a new color called Jupiter that I really liked - a variegated red, but I ended up with two skeins of Indiecita.  I already know what I'm going to make with it.

By this time it was early afternoon and we were getting hungry.  I found a little pub called Sirens.  It was upstairs in one of the old downtown buildings, and the back windows looked out over the water.  We had a very nice lunch with local beer from Port Townsend brewery.  In fact, we should have gone there again for dinner.  But instead we took someone's suggestion and went to another place because it has good seafood.  I got a dish that was supposed to have scallops in it, but there were only two.  Two.  It tasted ok, but I was under impressed.

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