Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Olympic National Park, WA


Beautiful Ruby Beach.


Our group managed to be up and ready and headed out of the casino parking lot by nine on Monday. We only had a 70 mile drive, but we wanted to arrive at South Beach Campground in Olympic National Park early enough to be sure we all got sites. I was a little stressed traveling with  four RVs wondering whether there would be room for all of us, since we had no plan B. As it turned out there were quite a few sites available when we arrived just after 10:30, and several people were still packing up to go. We all picked a suitable spot for the best views of the fog and filled out our tickets. $10/night, or $5 for those of us with the Senior Pass. There are flush toilets and trash dumpsters but no drinking water or dump. Those can be found about three miles up the road at Kalaloch Campground (reservations only).

This was taken later when the fog burned off. Sites are sort of scattered and hard to delineate, so people just seem to park any which way. Of course all the prime ocean front sites were taken, but we had a partial view.


In the afternoon Jim and I drove 30 miles south to Lake Quinault to hike in the Quinault Rainforest and drive the loop around the lake. How refreshing to see a natural glacier-carved lake instead of one created by a man-made dam. Our trail took us past the Lake Quinault Lodge, which was like stepping back in time. They were even playing croquet on the lawn.



The trail also went through the rain forest along a creek, very green, dark, and mossy. Although this area receives 120 inches of rain per year we managed to come on a clear dry day.

Olympic National Park, South Beach Campground

On our way back to the car we saw this interesting couple and their cat.


Along the scenic loop drive we spotted a couple cars pulled off the road and people holding their tablet computers up to take pictures. We thought there must be deer or some other wildlife, but as we passed I spotted this huge waterfall set back off the road and barely visible. Of course I made Jim screech to a halt and park. I’m so glad we didn’t miss this, although it wasn’t mentioned in the brochure we had. I did find the name on the map, Merriman Falls, 40’ high and quite picturesque.




This morning at 8 there was a ranger walk to the tide pools at Ruby Beach, 10 miles north. Jim and Kim didn’t make it, opting to sleep in to get their beauty rest, but Chuck, Carla, Debbie and I, and 50 or so of our closest friends, had the pleasure of getting to see this gorgeous beach on a rare clear morning.

We knew it would be good when we got this glimpse from the trail to the beach.


Our group, heading out to the rocks.


I lagged behind taking photos.


The deactivated Destruction Island Lighthouse is visible about 3.5 miles away.



As we approached the rocks the ranger pointed out a bald eagle. He flew off as we got closer.


We learned a lot of interesting facts about the sea creatures that get exposed during low tides.

A wall of sea stars.




It really was a glorious morning on the beach.


By the time we got back the fog had rolled in, but we went for a walk anyway.

Someone built this elaborate hut out of driftwood.


After the walk we spotted an RV leaving one of the prime sites by the water. Jim quickly drove the car over to hold it, and we moved the Lazy Daze to its new home for a couple days.

Now if only the fog would go away so we could actually see the Pacific out there.


Ah, now that’s better.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quinault Beach Casino, Ocean Shores, WA



We arrived at Quinault Beach Casino in Ocean Shores, WA on Thursday to try to beat the weekend crowd, which we did. Trying to get level was another story, but it seems like every casino parking lot we’ve stayed at is that way. Kimbopolo Kim showed up from Seattle a couple hours after we did and the girls decided to go into the casino and sign up for Club Casino to get our $5 free slot play. It was then we learned that a big motorcycle event, Hog Wild 2014, was taking place this weekend.



An oversight on our part when we looked at their website, so now what to do? Jim’s immediate reaction was to leave Friday morning, but our next stop is Olympic National Park and we were concerned about getting sites there without reservations on Friday. Also our Iowa friends Chuck and Carla were on their way to meet us here. So we convinced Jim it might be entertaining to stay, and here we still are. For the most part there are very few motorcycles back in the RV lot, and it’s been relatively quiet except for the music. It’s not often we get to open our windows and listen to the sounds of Skynnyn Lynnard!

On a positive note, the weather has been clear and pleasant and we are just a short walk to the beach.


Unfortunately it’s another drive-on beach.



Chuck and Carla arrived yesterday afternoon, and after a walk on the beach we had a fun happy hour catching up.

From left, Chuck, Carla, Debbie, Kim, and Jim, who was in rare form after only the first beer.


Today we drove over to Damon Point, a peninsula just south of Ocean Shores on Grays Harbor, where we took a four mile hike around the point.




We could even see the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier way off in the distance. You’ll have to trust me on that one.


The most interesting part of our hike was seeing thousands of velella vellella, commonly known as “by-the-wind sailor,” a hydroid polyp, which is a jelly-like invertebrate. When the wind is just right they get washed up on shore and die.



They look and feel like little pieces of cellophane with fine veins running through them.



When we got back, Kim, Carla, Debbie and I walked over to the stage to check out the Men’s Large Tattoo Contest. Only three guys entered, which was hard to believe. The guy with the Freedom Harley tattoo was the winner. And we don’t know what the prize was.





Tonight it’s the AC/DC tribute band, all female, called Hell’s Belles. We might just have to walk over and check them out. If nothing else the people watching should be interesting.


Our plan is to hang out here until Monday before moving north to Olympic NP. And it looks like our weather might just cooperate.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Trio of Forts


View from Fort Stevens.


Although Hammond Marina RV Park isn’t exactly our cup of tea, it’s in a very good location so we decided to stay a few more nights. One day we walked next door to Fort Stevens, where we had previously ridden our bikes. We wanted to get a closer look at the remains of the fort, once the primary military defense installation in the three-fort, Harbor Defense System (along with Forts Canby and Columbia) at the mouth of the Columbia River.

Typical fort stuff.

Hammond Marina RV Park Astoria, OR1

Another day we visited Fort Clatsop, part of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Park. There is a replica of the encampment for the Corps of Discovery where they spent December 1805-March 1806.

Hammond Marina RV Park Astoria, OR

We also watched one of the two films in the visitor center, the one recommended by the volunteers at the desk about Lewis and Clark’s winter at the fort. Normally we find the films in the national parks to be very good, but this was a disappointment and it was really geared towards children.

Replica dugout canoe.


Lewis and Clark River (formerly the Netul), near the landing where they reached Fort Clatsop.


The real reason we went was to hike the Fort to Sea Trail, 6.5 miles from Fort Clatsop to Sunset Beach on the Pacific Ocean. Since Debbie was with us, we left her car at the beach and drove ours to the fort. We really weren’t up for a 13 mile hike, and going from the fort to the sea had the advantage of being more downhill, so it was a nice hike.

It started in the cool, shady forest.


And crossed lots of wet areas over boardwalks, surrounded by giant skunk cabbage. Bet Lewis and Clark and the Clatsop Indians didn’t have the luxury of keeping their feet dry like we did.


We got a long distance glimpse of the Pacific at the Clatsop Ridge Overlook.


After the woods we had to walk through a tunnel under Hwy 101, where we then traversed farms and cow pastures.




Crossed the Skipanon River bridge.


Then came to the largest bridge on the trail over Neacoxie Lake, a good place for lunch.




We finally came to the Sunset Beach parking lot, but it was still another 0.3 miles to the beach, where the trail crossed the dunes on more boardwalks and bridges.


We saw plenty of Red-Shouldered Ctenuch moths, only found on the Pacific Northwest coast.



Another drive-on beach. We prefer the rocky coast that takes a little more effort to get to.


Our third and final fort of the week was the Fort George Brewery, good beer but lousy food.

I’ve had some tooth pain off and on since the root canal I had done in Mexico in January. It was worse over the weekend so I asked the very nice RV park manager if she could recommend a dentist. Just so happens her daughter is a dental assistant in Astoria, so I called and got an appointment for yesterday. The x-ray was inconclusive but she suspects there is a hidden canal that was not treated and is infected, or I could have a cracked root that also doesn’t show on the x-ray. She prescribed a strong antibiotic which may buy me some time if there is an infection. She said it won’t hurt to wait until we go back to Arizona this winter, so I am hoping I can tolerate the discomfort until then. If it doesn’t get any worse than it’s been I should be fine. I just don’t want to pay $1,000 or more to an endodontist for a retreatment of the root canal when it may fail and I end up losing the tooth anyway. We sure would like to get through an entire month without a medical issue!

Our run of good weather finally ran out and it rained almost all day yesterday, so after the dentist it was a good time for grocery shopping and laundry. The forecast looks great for the next week, so today we’re crossing the Columbia River into Washington, making our way to the Olympic Peninsula and a meet-up with friends. It’s hard to complain.