Ode to the Olympic Peninsula (+ Oregon)

I cannot describe the contrast between Seattle and the land on the other side of the sound. The land we met when we landed was rural, lush, green, and calm. It was wonderful.

We drove to Port Townsend where we ate a delicious meal at a quirky restaurant called the Owl Spirit Cafe. I had a pasta dish that one was of the best I’ve ever eaten. The food and the environment of the town was entirely therapeutic.

After dinner we did just a little bit of shopping and went to the waterfront for the rapidly approaching and lovely sunset. This stop set the tone for the rest of our days of this trip. I can’t express the amount of peace we felt at this time. It was so strong and palpable.

Olympic National Park, Washington – Day 6

Our first stop was at the visitor’s center where Cara fell in love with a ranger station play area. She loved it so much it was hard to pull her away. We got a few more hints about the path to the Devil’s Punch bowl and got on our way. Before we left Nate bought a slug crossing magnet. We were all really hoping to find some banana slugs today!

As you can see, we were not disappointed in our hopes. We saw four or five slugs crossing the trail and we were so pleased. Nate and Cara both touched the slugs. Ewww!

The path to the punch bowl left the main trail right before a large tunnel. Of course we had to check that tunnel out! I took a series of photos as we walked out. They are so fun!

After leaving the tunnel we quickly made it to the punch bowl. It was very cool to play around the edges and hang out on the footbridge. What a spot!! The partial cloud cover and dazzling sun on the lake was remarkable.

After we’d had our fill at the punch bowl, we started making our way back to the car and it started to rain. We’d unwisely left our umbrellas in the car, but still we enjoyed walking in the rain. There were some mushrooms along the path that I wanted to photograph. Here is a photo of one of them taken with an extremely low perspective.

Later we stopped at the Sol Duc Lodge for a delicious late lunch. It was so nice because we all found something we’d enjoy, all visited together, laughed, enjoyed each other’s company, loved the scenery out the big windows, and made our plans for the rest of the day. It was a key moment in my life. I shall never forget that moment. Never.

Finally we decided we didn’t have time to make it to the Hoh Rain Forest. So instead, we decided to hit the hike to the waterfall located just up from the lodge. It was a great choice!!

I was struck by the moisture and the green everywhere. It was quite rainforesty so I don’t feel like we missed much by skipping the other specific rain forest. There was hanging moss and fungi everywhere. I really enjoyed walking through areas so green. I recall walking and just feeling great as I took it all in.

After the hike we booked it for Ruby Beach on the coast. We made it just in time for the setting of the sun. I can’t really describe what it was like to be here with the tide fairly far out, the colors as they were, and with my wife and kids. It was yet again a moment in which I felt alive, free, and like I’m wining at life. I really didn’t have a thing to do with the plan (that praise belongs to Julie) but it felt just great to be there.

While walking back to the car we lost our way on the huge piles of giant driftwood and had to backtrack quite a bit to find the trail back to the parking lot. By the time we found it, dark had completely fallen across the land.

It was quite a drive to our hotel that night and we ordered pizza delivery before we checked in and it didn’t take too long for it to arrive. It was a great way to go.

Cannon Beach, Oregon – Day 7

This morning we wanted to get our eyes on the famous haystacks of Cannon Beach, OR and they didn’t disappoint.

In the photos above and below we are pumping our feet in the saturated sand. As we pump of feet sink into the sand up to our ankles. After we’ve reached our ankles we try to jump out of the sand. It was a lot of fun.

Nate found a little transparent ball and he scooped it up in this shell. We really had no idea what it was but it was very intriguing. Julie just informed me that it was likely some kind of harmless jellyfish. It was fascinating to play around with it.

After a time a the beach we walked back into town and ordered some very delicious crepes. We were all so hungry that we each ordered our own. Our savory crepe had fig, prosciutto, and goat cheese and it was so delicious! After our crepe lunch I took the kids over to a nearby park while Julie wandered around the town doing some shopping.

On our way out of town we stopped on the other side of town to get a nice view of the haystacks. I ran straight out to the water and caught some nice shots of the haystacks. Not until I started back to the stairs did I notice what the rest of the family was talking about. There were quite a few dead birds partially buried in the sand. So gross and weird.

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon – Day 10

Today we started the two-day process of heading back to SLC. On the way home we had a few great stops. We checked out the playgrounds at Washington Park in Portland and then booked up the highway to Mulholland falls. Julie and I both remember stopping here as a teenager and it was pretty much just as we remembered it. It was a nice stop but definitely a really busy place.

After that we went farther up the road to the large fish hatchery at Bonneville Dam. This was mostly a stop for Nate (as he loves fish) but I think we all really enjoyed it. We got to see some huge sturgeon fish (a favorite of Nate’s) and we were also there at the right time to see the salmon run. They were coming into the facility and trying to jump into the basins. It was very cool to see them jumping out of the water, hit their poor heads on the wall, and then fall back into the water!

After leaving the fishing areas we drove upland to the Mt. Hood area to a u-pick orchard for some apples. This turned out to be one of our favorite activities of the trip. We got to pick all the apples we wanted and we tried and really enjoyed some new varieties.

The next day we drove the rest of the way back to SLC. It was a boring drive, but we got home safely and soundly.


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