6 Travel Tips for this Spring

Here are six travel tips from a native Olympic Peninsula-ite, who thinks that winter and spring are special times to enjoy the outdoors here. Yes, of course, it can rain, but good gear will negate any reasons to not get out there to enjoy the lush greens and fresh air. You can find exquisite glimpses of nature that only happen at this time of year. There is a quiet solitude on most trails and the beaches entertain the changing weather. Late winter, early spring are good times to come visit. Whether you storm watch or shred the ski slopes, you’ll find yourself renewed.

Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent in Winter

Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent in Winter

  1. TRAVEL TIP #1.  Do some research before you come. If you aren’t one to make reservations ahead, at least check to see if there are activities that may limit hotel availability so you will be prepared. Be sure places you want to go are open and accessible on the days you plan to come. For example, at this time, the Hurricane Ridge Road is open Friday – Sunday. And it depends on the weather. Have a back up plan to find snow if the ‘Ridge road is closed and that’s your destination. Don’t over plan. Give yourself time to enjoy being here. The Olympic Peninsula Travel Planner can help with ideas. OlympicPeninsula.org. PS. If you are bringing your dog, be sure check out the Dog-Friendly Map info from another blog.
  2. TRAVEL TIP #2. Plan your visit by drive times, not by miles. Drive times and distance don’t always make sense. For example, if you are planning to drive directly to Neah Bay from Seattle it is only 154 miles, but it takes about 4-1/4 hours to get there. Magnificent scenery along the way, but no freeways. From Port Angeles to Forks, it is 56 miles and takes about 1-1/4 hours. These times are dependent on traffic and weather conditions. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the journey. Please obey the speed limit. There are multiple law enforcement agencies that will be watching!
  3. TRAVEL TIP #3. Pack for wearing layers and bring some rain gear. That’s an all-season recommendation for the Olympic Peninsula. You can drive from a sunny Blue Hole in Sequim to the damp, wet rain forest. Some tennis shoes are good for hiking on slick boardwalks and sturdy hiking boots are good for trails if they are muddy. I’ve seen flip-flops on the beach in the winter and wondered if the people hadn’t packed correctly, if they were trying to be one with the Pacific Ocean, or if they were just teenagers. I’m pretty sure their feet were cold no matter their reasons!
  4. TRAVEL TIP #4. Budget accordingly. Ferry (if you take one), gas, food, lodging, park permits, attraction fees and souvenirs. The Olympic Peninsula is abundant with things to do for free and low cost. Check out a previous blog for some free suggestions.
  5. TRAVEL TIP #5. Check out what the locals are doing. The communities around the peninsula are little jewels to explore. Take a look at the local papers, or bulletin boards at grocery stores or shop windows. Join the people who live here to see what they support in their communities. You can find everything from gem shows, to yoga retreats, to baking classes, to fly tying workshops, to “you-name-it” gatherings, to great local theater.
  6. TRAVEL TIP #6. Be realistic. I guess this is the biggest tip – to be realistic. Have an idea what you’d like to do, but remember all the variables. Weather, distance being the two main ones. Don’t try to do too much. Come and visit multiple times. Enjoy what you can do while you are here. Maybe one trip is only to go to Sol Duc Hot Springs and see one waterfall there. Maybe the next time you’ll go to the beach and stay, checking out a couple nearby beaches. The next time, maybe you will only camp at the Hoh Rainforest and do the hikes from the campground and take a raft trip down the river. You couldn’t do all of those itineraries in one weekend. Well, I guess you could, but you’d need some R&R when you got home!

Enjoy your visit. Relax, play, and let the nature of the Olympic Peninsula soak into you.

Hummingbirds in the winter? Yes!

Anna's hummingbirdIf you are a birder, young or old, you’ll add to your life list on the Olympic Peninsula. I’m interested in them, but I’m not a birder – YET. I know that this area almost always leads Washington State in high counts of species during spring migration. The Christmas bird count a big annual event for the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park along the Olympic Peninsula Discovery Trail. The reason for my investigation?  I’ve noticed hummers hanging around my house for the last few days. My curiosity was up. So I started some research about these lovely little guys that chose to stay here in the winter. Boy, was I surprised.     In looking for bird information, I found listings for over 350 species that visit the Olympic Peninsula.

We have three different types of hummers. Anna’s, Calliope and Rufous Hummingbirds all have been reported. Maybe on examination, I think I know which one I saw.

Anna’s like to live in the forests, brush areas and in town. It is a permanent resident along the West Coast from British Columbia to northern Mexico.

Calliope’s like to live in the forests and have only been seen on the Olympic Peninsula a few times. They are the smallest – about three inches long. (The ones I saw seemed more robust!)

That leaves the Rufous hummingbirds. They live in forest, brush areas and in town. They are rarely seen in the winter. They are common in the spring and early summer, and fairly common in the fall.

So I probably am not seeing Calliope’s or Rufous. But, I want more information. An email to my birder friend says that Anna’s should be the only ones hanging around at this time of year. According to ebird.org, there was a registered siting in Neah Bay on February 1. And, Anna’s have been seen on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles within the last couple weeks. Conclusion: Anna’s Hummingbirds are at my house!

All this is fascinating to me. Think how far birds travel during their life times. Much farther than many of us do over the course of our life times. This graphic from Cornell Labs totally mesmerized me. Be sure to watch the animated migration.

Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

Watch the animated version to see how far birds actually travel

Winter in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary photo - Winter Storm

Olympic Coast Marine Sanctuary photo

A winter visit to Washington’s Olympic Coast provides opportunities for a unique and
rewarding experience. You will likely encounter few visitors, giving you an even greater
appreciation for the remote wilderness of our rugged coastline. Winter storms create fascinating wave-watching conditions, with wind, rain and high tides yielding dramatic scenes of waves crashing against the rocky shores, as well as the numerous seastacks dotting the nearshore environment. Dress for the weather and make it a memorable day reveling in one of nature’s best winter wonders.

The winter is also a popular time for marine debris to wash up on shore. This is the perfect time for beach combing. If you feel like doing something wonderful for the environment, bring gloves and disposable bags to collect trash from the pristine environment you are enjoying and help keep our beaches clean and our marine organisms safe. You may even be rewarded by finding a rare item while beach combing – such as a prized glass float.

Particularly high, or “King Tides”, during this period take place on the following dates (based on

 December 23 high tide of 9.71 ft at 10:07am
 December 24 high tide of 9.84 ft at 10:55am
 December 25 high tide of 9.81 ft at 11:41am
 December 26 high tide of 9.59 ft at 12:25pm
 January 9 high tide of 9.2 ft at 11:24am
 January 10 high tide of 9.37 ft at 12:06pm
 January 11 high tide of 9.37 ft at 12:48pm
 January 21 high tide of 9.16 ft at 9:54am
 January 22 high tide of 9.27 ft at 10:45am
 January 23 high tide of 9.28 ft at 11:31am
 January 24 high tide of 9.17 ft at 12:14pm

For more information and locations of King Tides, visit:

Tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov

Remember to stay safe while enjoying the moody beauty of our Olympic Coast!

For more information about Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, visit:
OlympicCoast.noaa.gov
Facebook at www.facebook.com/usolympiccoastgov/

Twitter at Twitter.com/OlympicCoast

Thanks to Karlyn Langjahr, guest Blogger:  Olympic Coast Discovery Center Manager

Adventure Travelers Winter Itinerary #101 for the OP

snowboarders2010 agreementAdventure Travelers Winter Itinerary #101 for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

Winter activities on the Olympic Peninsula are pretty much the same as what you can do during any other time of the year – just with different attire! Hiking, kayaking, surfing, biking.

Two-day Adventure on the Olympic Peninsula

Arrival Evening in Port Angeles or surrounding area

Go for a run or bike ride along the Olympic Discovery Trail. Be sure to put your lights on!

Day 1 ~ Hurricane Ridge – Get up early and head to Hurricane Ridge for some outdoor altitude play!

 A 45-minute drive takes you into the Olympic Mountains. The road is scheduled to be open Fridays through Sundays and Monday holidays through the end of March, weather permitting. Depending on the weather, it will also be open December 26 to January 3. If the parking lot gets too full, the road may close temporarily, so an early start is good thing! Sitting atop an alpine meadow is the day lodge and observation point. From here you have many choices whether there is snow or no snow! No snow? Wander along the trails and stop at great spots for photo opportunities. Snow? Skiing, cross-country skiing, snowshoe, snow board! Carrying chains in the car is mandatory during the winter.

Take the Ranger-led snowshoe walk that is about a mile and takes about 90 minutes. Learn lots and see the area in a new way. Sign up at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center when you get there. These walks fill up fast. Minimal cost of $7.00 for adults. $3 for children 6 – 15. Free for children 5 and younger. Scope out places to take your cross-country daring-do. Here’s the scoop for Hurricane Ridge.

Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center

Wilderness Information Center

Olympic National Park

http://www.nps.gov/olym/

3002 Mount Angeles Road

Port Angeles, WA 98362

360-565-3130

Day 2 ~ Kayaking the the Morning  – Depart for Lake Crescent area

A deep, clear 12-mile long lake in the Olympic National Park, 17 miles west of Port Angeles along Hwy 101. There are several spot to launch: Fairholm at the far west end, public boat launch at Barnes Point or in front of Lake Crescent Lodge. Other nooks and launch areas can be found. Enjoy the gorgeousness of this special place. Short paddle, long paddle, your choice. Be aware that the weather can change very rapidly on the lake and the wind usually starts to gather steam at noon.

Feel like a short hike to loosen up the legs after sitting in the kayak? Trail options around the Barnes Point area are:  the Moments in Time or Marymere Falls.  The hike to Mount Storm King is longer and difficult but well worth the steep climb. Be REALLY careful in the winter when the ground is slippery. The cliffs are non-forgiving. If it is snowy or icy, save it for summer!

Moments in Time Nature Trail is approximately a ½-mile loop trail and offers nice views of the lake and winds through old-growth forest and former homestead sites. It is located between Nature Bridge and Lake Crescent Lodge. A 1/3-mile trail extends from Storm King Ranger Station parking lot.

Marymere Falls is a spectacular 90′ waterfall just one mile from Lake Crescent. The trail leads through old growth forest with flowering plants and mushrooms in season. If it’s snowing or freezing cold the waterfall becomes fairyland like you’ve never seen. Totally worth the hike, but be really careful crossing the bridge and along the switchbacks.

Across the lake near the headwaters of the Lyre River you’ll find the Spruce Railroad Trail that is also part of the Olympic Discovery Trail. The Spruce Railroad Trail connects the North Shore of Lake Crescent and Lyre River trailheads. Much of this relatively flat 4-mile trail runs on or adjacent to the World War I Spruce Railway bed and offers excellent Lake Crescent views.

Have a safe, warm, adventurous time!

Romantic/Foodie Travelers Winter Itinerary #214

Finnriver stop along the Red Wine and Chocolate Tour

Finnriver stop along the Red Wine and Chocolate Tour

Romantic/Foodie Travelers Winter Itinerary #214 for Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

Comfort food and wine tasting at its best. Take your Valentine wine tasting, stay in a cozy B&B or lodge, and taste exquisite food along the Olympic Culinary Loop.

Red Wine & Chocolate Winery Tour
February 13, 14, 15 & 20, 21, 2016
11:00am – 5:00pm
21 and older for wine tasting 

Taste your way along a leisurely romantic drive through the scenic Olympic Peninsula. The Olympic Peninsula Red Wine and Chocolate Tour is one we wait for every year. The tour travels around the peninsula so it is good to have a designated driver. We split the driving by one person driving the Port Angeles/Sequim area one day and another person driving the Port Townsend area the next day. The next tour (NW Wine and Cheese Tour in May!) we switch drivers so each driver gets to taste in both areas.

An online ticket is $40 and gets you a commemorative wine glass, complimentary wine tasting and chocolate samples at all TEN wineries on the tour. Tickets sold at the wineries are $45. Tickets are not required to attend. A $7 wine tasting fee will be charged at each winery for non-ticketed visitors.

Visit www.olympicpeninsulawineries.org for further information.

Each of the wineries will pair their special wines with yummy, decadent chocolate offerings and other tasty treats.

Olympic Peninsula Wineries on the Tour

Finnriver Farm and Cidery. Tarts baked in the wood fire oven. Variety of adult “cocktails”
Address: 142 Barn Swallow Rd, Chimacum, WA 98325
Phone: (360) 732-4337

Marrowstone Vineyards. Dark chocolates, white chocolates and caramels with new wine releases
Address: 423 Meade Rd, Nordland, WA 98358
Phone: (360) 385-9608

Lullaby Winery – New Tour Destination. Artisan chocolates from France and Walla Walla paired with four handpicked wines
Address: 274 Otto St, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Phone: (509) 386-1324

FairWinds Winery. They will have their chocolate fountain again this year!
Address: 1984 Hastings Ave W, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Phone: (360) 385-6899

Eaglemount Wine & Cider. Quince mead, Dandelion wine, local chocolate, hors-d’oeuvres
Address: 1893 S Jacob Miller Rd, Port Townsend, WA 98368
Phone: (360) 732-4084

Wind Rose Cellars. Yvonne’s Chocolates, new releases of 2013 Dolcetto and 2012 Bravo Rosso, live music Feb. 7, Feb 13 and 14
Address: 143 W Washington St, Sequim, WA 98382
Phone: (360) 681-0690

Olympic Cellars. Morphs into late 19th century Moulin Rouge. New releases. And 2009 Merlot and 2009 Syrah, both gold medal winners!
Address: 255410 US-101, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Phone: (360) 452-0160

Camaraderie Cellars.  Quadra, red wine blend is new to the tasting. Pulled pork with cocoa-spiced rub cooked in the winery’s wood fire oven
Address: 334 Benson Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98363
Phone: (360) 417-3564

Harbinger Winery. We Do Fudge from Sequim will be there….need we say more? Dark Chocolate Sea Salt and Caramel paired with Dynamo Red? Says it all!
Address: 2358 Highway 101 West, US-101, Port Angeles, WA 98363
Phone: (360) 452-4262

Any number of lovely B&Bs will add to the romance and keep you close to the winery tour trail. Check on the Inns of Excellence for ideas. InnsofExcellence.com

Also, check the Olympic Culinary Loop for dining ideas. You’ll find the cuisine of the Olympic Peninsula in establishments from casual to white linen napkins.  OlympicPeninsulaCulinaryLoop.com

Family List #100 – Twenty-one Free Things to Do on the OP

for web_ hurricaneridgepanolorespurchased - CopyTwenty-one free things to do on the beautiful

Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Family List #100.  If you are family travelers, start here to find 21 free things to do on the Olympic Peninsula. Have a great time planning what will intrigue, excite and stimulate your family. You can build your own itinerary at: OlympicPeninsula.org.  

back pack iconSign up and then click on the Backpacker Icon to get started. You can make more than one itinerary. Have fun deciding what you are going to do on each trip.

 

  1. OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK. Several times a year, National Park entrance fees are waived. Consult http://www.nps.gov/findapark/feefreeparks.htm. These days usually are:
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January;
  • five days in April for National Park Week;
  • August National Park Service Birthday celebration;
  • National Public Lands Day in September; and
  • Veterans Day weekend in November.

With nearly one million acres of playground in rain forest valleys, alpine meadows and 60 miles of unmatched wilderness coastline you’ll find plenty to explore: Hurricane Ridge with vistas revealing glacier-covered peaks and steep river valleys; Lake Crescent with 12 miles of pristine, idyllic water; and the ocean beaches with rocky headlands and fascinating tide pools are three popular locations to entertain the whole family.  http://www.nps.gov/olym/

  1. Take a Twilight tour in Forks to look for vampires. There are organized tours to see places from the popular Stephenie Meyer book series, or you can simply stop by the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to pick up a free Twilight map to make your own self-guided tour. While you’re there, take a picture with a replica of Bella’s truck! http://www.forkswa.com/HomeofTwilighttheBook.html

Check out really BIG TREES. The Quinault Valley has some really big living trees. The largest in world of their species are Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Mountain Hemlock. The Yellow Cedar and Western Hemlock are the largest in the United States. The trails to get to these big trees offer something for everyone. The largest Hemlocks are in an area called Enchanted Valley, a 15-mile, one-way backpack trip. The Western Red Cedar is found after a short walk. You can climb inside the trunk of this largest tree in the world outside California. (They have Sequoias and Redwoods, after all.) On an easy, five minute walk you can see the Sitka Spruce that is estimated to be over 1,000 years old. http://rainforestgetaways.com/html/valley_of_rainforest_giants.html

  1. Travel the “Magical Misty Tour” on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. A delightful way to explore the Olympic Peninsula, the Waterfall Trail offers year-round adventures and dramatic beauty. From the cliffs of Cape Flattery to the glacial fjord of the Hood Canal, waterfalls of all sizes and shapes abound. A sweet little summer trickle can be a thundering torrent during spring run off. There is a falls for every level of adventure. One waterfall can be seen from a paved, wheelchair accessible path, one can only be reached by kayak or raft, others require short hikes, some can be seen from the car, while others require route finding skills or a backpack trip. http://www.olympicpeninsulawaterfalltrail.com
  1. Walk the fragrant lavender fields in the Lavender Capital of North America™ Sequim, Washington. Visit the many colorful lavender farms in the Sequim Valley. With over 40 farms, lavender is one of the most fragrant and useful herbs. The weather conditions in Sequim are perfect for lavender. The U-pick season typically lasts from July to the first of October. America’s largest celebration of lavender is always held the third weekend in July with Lavender Weekend in Sequim activities throughout the valley. http://www.lavendergrowers.org/
  1. Explore World War II forts. Three forts offer history buffs in your family an opportunity to see where guns were located to protect Hood Canal, to check out the still-in-place bunkers or visit the museum at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. Hiking, camping, tide pooling and other activities are also in the areas of these historic reminders of our past.

http://www.parks.wa.gov/fortworden/interpretive.aspx

http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Fort%20Flagler

  1. Speaking of tide pools! Check out mysterious critters in the tide pool areas around the Olympic Peninsula. Salt Creek with its stunning views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia, is the perfect setting to explore some of the most exceptional tide pools in the Northwest. Come during low tide, and you’ll see starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, sea anemones, and urchins among the plentiful sea life on display. Many of these tide pools are located at the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary, which is under water at high tide. Slip Point near Clallam Bay and areas in Port Townsend also have great tide pools. http://www.visitolympicpeninsula.org/tidepools.html http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/salt-creek-recreation-area

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/its-time-tidepooling

  1. Take a hike to the ocean in search of petroglyphs. A nine-mile triangle hike (three miles into the beach, three miles along the beach, and three miles back to the trailhead) can be customized to your hiking level. Do the complete nine-plus mile triangle or opt to walk the northern trail to Cape Alava to see ancient petroglyphs of humans and whales.

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/ozette-wilderness-hike

  1. We have a 5-acre outdoor art gallery in Port Angeles. Part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the Webster’s Woods Art Park features art in many mediums from metal sculptured ferns to a “shoe tree” to a large labyrinth to walk in the meadow. The Woods are open all daylight hours year round. http://www.pafac.org/websters-woods.html. Port Angeles also has a free Art on the Town self-guided sculpture walk through downtown with its award-winning Avenue of the People.  http://portangelesdowntown.com/avenue_of_the_people.php
  1. Experience our wonderful native cultures. Each Tribal community offers places and/or activities for respectful visitors. In late winter and spring in La Push watch the migrating gray whales or join in traditional song with the Wednesday night drumming group. On the grounds of the Makah Cultural and Resource Center and Museum in Neah Bay there are several large totems. And, in Blyn, location of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center, Longhouse Market and 7 Cedars Casino you can find many more totems. The Resort at Port Ludlow in Port Ludlow and the Cedars at Dungeness Golf Course in Sequim also have totems. To watch this ancient art being re-created with traditional tools and methods, check out the House of Myth on the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Center property. Take a walk on the Warrior Path to an estuary of the Elwha River near the Lower Elwha Tribal Center to see birds and maybe even some river otters. To learn more about the Olympic Peninsula’s native people and cultures visit the web site www.explorepacificnwtribes.com

http://www.makah.com/mcrchome.html

http://www.jamestowntribe.org/#

http://www.elwha.org/

  1. Watch for real “tweets” at the Dungeness River Audubon Center. Want to see the detail of Bald Eagle tail feathers or the webbed feet of a seagull? Here’s the place to get up close to native species. Or, you can join a group for a Wednesday morning bird walk to check out birds in the wild. The Dungeness River Audubon Center is located at the site of the historic railroad trestle that crosses the river north of Highway 101. The trestle has been converted to a planked section of the North Olympic Discovery Trail. Territorial views of woodlands, river vistas, local wildlife and native flora beckon from th nature trails. The Center offers interpretive programs, summer science day-camps, and river talks and classes in the River center building, as well as exhibits, displays and specimens.

http://www.dungenessrivercenter.org/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/dungenessriverauduboncenter

  1. Sit in an old buggy at the Joyce Depot Museum. The original log train depot built in 1914 is home to the Joyce Museum.  Housing historical memorabilia from the towns of Joyce, Lake Crescent, Twin Rivers and the former town of Port Crescent you will find yourself surrounded by the rich history of the area.  The many displays of various artifacts are but a small part of what makes this museum stand out.  On shelves casually housing many historical books, you can find nuggets of treasure that bring history to life. Don’t forget to visit the Joyce General Store across the street. If you can’t find it there, you probably don’t need it! Be sure to take a photo of the mailboxes on the wall. The bulletin board outside the store will give you a good idea of things going on in this rural community.

http://www.joycegeneral.com/muse.htm

  1. Watch for whales on the Whale Trail. There are several locations on the OP designated good spots for seeing whales, if they are in the neighborhood. Bring your binoculars for scouting on the horizon, but don’t miss seeing ones that may be very close to shore. Keep your eyes peeled for other marine mammals, too.

http://thewhaletrail.org/

  1. See how far you can skip a stone in the ocean. Ruby Beach with a meandering creek, dramatic sea stacks, and drift logs is named for its sometimes garnet-colored sand. Witness this phenomenon especially near sunset. A gold mining operation was located here in the early 1900s. Olympic National Park protects over 73 miles of the some of the most primitive natural coastline in the 48 contiguous United States. The views of ocean, cliffs, headlands, islands and sea stacks, coupled with the dramatic changing sea, provide a unique wilderness experience. Most of the coast can only be accessed by foot. Rialto Beach and Kalaloch beaches, including Ruby Beach, are accessible by road. You’ll find prefect skipping stones at Rialto Beach near La Push.

 

  1. Indulge in a section of the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop. Local farms and markets are a source of entertainment for young and old alike, to say nothing of tantalizing the taste buds. Check out the open-air markets during most of the year across the peninsula. Or, introduce yourself to a row of carrots, some bushes of blueberries or take some photos of salmon in a stream or on your plate.

http://olympicculinaryloop.com/

  1. Pedal the Olympic Discovery Trail (ODT) or challenge yourself on the Adventure Route. There are many places to enter and exit the ODT that will eventually connect Port Townsend to LaPush with a 130 miles of paved, multi-user trail. This is a perfect place to bring the bikes and get out to see the area. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, take on the 25 miles of groomed, single-and double-track trails.

http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/

http://www.olympicdiscoverytrail.com/side_trips/adventure_route.html

  1. Explore a Lighthouse. At 5.5 miles in length, the Dungeness Spit is the longest naturally occurring sand spit in North America and home to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge is a sanctuary for over 250 species of birds, 41 species of land mammals and eight species of water mammals. Its trails and picnic areas offer breathtaking views of beaches, the Dungeness Harbor and the strait of Juan de Fuca. If you’re up to hiking the spit, you’ll find the old Dungeness Lighthouse, built in 1857 and now on the National Register of Historic Places. Access to the light Station is limited to hikers at low tide

Wildlife Refuge:  http://www.fws.gov/washingtonmaritime/dungeness/

Lighthouse:  http://www.newdungenesslighthouse.com/

  1. Indulge your inner cowboy at John Wayne Marina. The great film legend, John Wayne, was a frequent visitor to Sequim Bay aboard the family yacht, the “Wild Goose.” John Wayne was struck by the pristine natural elegance of Sequim Bay and believed it was the perfect location for a marina. An ideal destination for water adventurers, the marina stands on land donated by the late film star in 1975. The main Marina building has a collection of John Wayne memorabilia on display. The facility is designed to be compatible with its surroundings, so barefoot mariners can look forward to a quiet cove and excellent amenities. Visitors seeking restful waterscapes as a backdrop for picnics and uncomplicated walks will find this picturesque setting ideal.

The Marina offers a restaurant, showers, laundry and banquet facilities, and provides boat launch ramps, fuel facilities, public beach access and picnic areas. Transient moorage is usually available for those who wish to boat up to Sequim Bay and enjoy the weekend.

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/things-to-do/john-wayne-marina

  1. Get a history lesson at the Forks Timber Museum. Harvesting timber plays an historic and important role in the economy and development of the Olympic Peninsula. The museum displays exhibits depicting local history dating back to the 1870s. It is located next to the Visitor Information Center in Forks and is open May through October.

http://www.forks-web.com/fg/timbermuseum.htm

  1. Drive one of the newest Scenic Byways. Highway 112 from Joyce to Neah Bay is truly “scenic” – all 249 curves of it! Take the beautiful drive and count them yourselves! Make extra time to stop along the way at overlooks and at the easy-access beach turnouts! No telling what you’ll find.

http://www.highway112.org/

  1. Explore the historic Dungeness Valley. Driving around the Dungeness Valley Scenic Loop and around the outskirts of Sequim, (pronounced skwim), you’ll find an abundance of things to do and see. The organic farms, lavender farms, Audubon Center, Olympic Discovery Trail, and Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and Lighthouse (mentioned separately in this list!) are only the beginning of the story with this fertile valley. Steeped in history, this special place is located in the so-called “blue hole”. Contrasting to the 120 inches of rain in the rainforests to the west, Sequim is nestled in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains where the area only receives about 17 inches of rain per year. With the fertile valley and easy access to the Strait of Juan De Juca there is a rich history of this area. Some of these locations are geocache sites on the Geocaching.com website. To get more information about geocaching, check out https://www.geocaching.com/

Start your journey into history with the uncovering of bones from a 13,800 year old Mastadon by Emanuel Mannis in 1977. You can visit the field where he found the bones and then view them in the Sequim Museum and Arts Center. http://www.macsequim.org/exhibits/45-manis-mastodon.html

Pioneer Memorial Park has a spectacular view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. Many early settlers and their families were buried here, but have since been moved to other cemeteries. There are old tombstones and a lovely garden to see here. http://www.sequimwa.gov/Facilities/Facility/Details/6

Stop to see where a double-hipped carriage house stands to signify the location of the Evergreen Farm off North 5th Avenue in Sequim. The original barn, which is no longer standing, was built in 1911, attesting to the long-standing agricultural record of the area. The second story of this building has a solid wood floor so the children of the family would have a place to roller skate!

Another stop along the Dungeness Scenic Loop is the Dungeness schoolhouse, which opened in 1893 with 73 students, aged five to 20, closing in 1955 with the Dungeness and Sequim school districts merged. http://www.dungeness.com/schoolhouse/history.htm

The Knutsen Family Farm house still stands. It was ordered from the Sears, Roebuck and Company’s mail-order Modern Homes program! It is private property, so please park at the edge of the property. http://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC41702_mac-9-knutsen-family-farm

You know we’re all about big trees! One of the largest cottonwood trees in the area can be viewed by traveling south on River Road, west of Sequim. If it’s spawning season, you’ll be treated to a miracle of nature watching the salmon return to the river. Good viewing is also at the Dungeness Railroad Bridge at the Audubon center.

NOT QUITE FREE!!  Walk to the edge of the NW United States. OK. We realize that this is not exactly FREE because you need to purchase a parking permit for the Makah Reservation for $7.00 per car. But the price is worth the experience, view and bragging rights! You will have planted your feet at the most northwestern point in the contiguous US on Cape Flattery bluff overlooking views of the Tatoosh Island lighthouse, the Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Tatoosh Island is sacred place for the Makah. The trail to the overlook is a cedar plank boardwalk that takes you on a moderate hike. Likely you will see eagles, cormorants, sea otter and, if you’re lucky, one of the resident whales! Anticipating hearing the sound of the ocean as you walk through the trees is finally satisfied with the sound of constant wooshing waves when you.

http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/cape-flattery

http://www.olympicpeninsula.org/destinations/neah-bay-cape-flattery

http://www.neahbaywa.com/where.htm

What Kind of Traveler are YOU?

What Kind of Traveler Are YOU?  When you travel are you a foodie, an adventure traveler, a family traveler or are you looking for that perfect romantic getaway? Or is your travel a little bit of each? At the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Summit this fall, we asked local tourism industry experts to help put together a list of hidden gems that these types of travelers to the Olympic Peninsula shouldn’t miss. We have some ideas for each of these types of unique travelers and have a Winter Weekend Itinerary for each.

FIRST, who are you? Here’s a list of characteristics of four different types of travelers:

Do you travel to eat and take in all the culinary delights a region has to offer? Seek out restaurants specializing in “farm to fork” cuisine? Tour the local wineries, cideries and distilleries? Visit local farms, shellfish growers, and farmers markets?  You might be a Foodie Traveler. Do you…

  • … search Yelp or TripAdvisor for restaurants with high reviews and read all the restaurant ads in magazines before planning your next travel destination?
  • …have friends who tell you about a chef in an area that prepares amazing local, sustainable food and you start researching how to get there ASAP?
  • …watch TV shows that are on the Food Network and the Cooking Channel?

You could start planning your trip by looking at the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop’s map. It’s got yummy places to eat and where experience the local delights

Foodie Traveler Itinerary #214 is for a hybrid traveler, which we assume most people are, a Romantic/Foodie might want to take advantage of the Olympic Peninsula Winery Tour in February. It’s the Red Wine and Chocolate Tour. We wait for this all year!

Hurricane RidgeAdventure Traveler.  If this is you, you just want to be outside, no matter the weather. You look for exciting, challenging things like surfing, backpacking, mountain climbing, kayaking, cycling, fishing, sailing, or hiking. For you, it’s all about the experience and the challenge, plus getting back to nature with the thrill of excitement. This character might be about to embark on a hike in Olympic National Park or surf for the first time on the coast.

You might be an Adventure Traveler if…

  • …Washington Trail Association’s website is set as a browser favorite.
  • …the trunk of your car is a storage unit for at-the-ready adventures; a sleeping pad, dusty hiking boots, snow shoes, extra socks, bug spray, a carabineer.
  • …you are blown away by Ed Viesters and like each and every one of his Facebook posts.
  • … you love dirt and you tear up a little removing your bike rack at the end of the riding season

Check out Adventure Traveler Itinerary #101 for a great winter three-day escape to the Olympic Peninsula. Some biking, running, snow play and kayaking!

Family Traveler.  Are you all about doing things as a family, teaching the kids about the cool stuff there is to see and do on the Olympic Peninsula? Winter activities could include attending museums, going to some of the aquariums and science centers.  You might be a Family Traveler if…

  • …you plan based on what and where are we going to find something to do for everyone.
  • …your activities include touching, tugging, digging and discovering (running up, down and all around while discovering awesome stuff)
  • …you want to avoid driving endless hours and plan ahead for stop-offs every 60-90
  • … you are driven to make meaningful memories where coming away with some sand or dirt between our fingers and toes

Families are looking for inspiring ideas for things to do together over a couple days on the Olympic Peninsula should check the list of Free Things to Do on the Family Travel Itinerary #101 to figure out what suits you. Fourth graders are part of a project called “Every Kid in a Park” and can get a free Annual Pass to all of America’s 58 National Parks! (https://www.everykidinapark.gov/)

Romantic Getaway Traveler.  Just want to take off with your sweetie? Just the two of you? Rekindle something or nurture a new relationship?  Leave stress and your hectic life with kids or crazy schedules behind. Look for romantic dinners, cozy places to stay, spots where you can be alone. You might be a Romantic Traveler if…

  • …you seek out locations that will provide privacy
  • …you travel to make memories and plan trips that provide stress-free ease of travel
  • …you appreciate the journey as much as the destination
  • …you will make dining choices on atmosphere as much as on the food

Check out Inns of Excellence for B&B ideas for the romantic getaway you’d like to plan.

Our guess is that you are probably a combination of these travelers, so we hope our itineraries will help give you some suggestions to get away to the Olympic Peninsula over the winter months. Blogs to come with more itinerary details and ideas.

 

 

Two Military Airplane Mysteries

Tubal Cain Mine

Tubal Cain Mine

Downed Plane Story One.  The Tubal Cain Mine trail in the Buckhorn Wilderness on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula follows a pack trail dating from the 1890s. It’s a dog-friendly trail to the remains of the old mine site and the site of a 1952 airplane crash close to the mine. This trail is often hiked in early summer through fall and is known, not only for its history, but also for its abundant wildflower blooms. Washington Trail Association has a good explanation of the trail. And the Tubal Cain Mine History website has details, a great old photo and a map, if you are interested

The story of the World War II military airplane crash is pretty well-known around the peninsula. In winter, a B-17 with eight crew members aboard was flying in a blizzard with a radio that didn’t work. The airplane hit a ridge and slid down the mountain leaving a trail of debris. Three of the eight crew members died in the crash. The remaining five survivors were rescued the next day by helicopter from a shelter they had constructed out of parachutes and the lifeboat that had been on board the plane.

Locals and visitors have been intrigued with this story and have explored the area for many years.  According to Waymarking.com, the intriguing part of the lore around this crash is that the airplane might have been “returning from a mission to spy on Russians”, which might explain why the “US Government was quickly on the scene to salvage key parts of the wreckage!” The official story is “that it was returning from a search mission to locate survivors from a Korean airlift airplane that had gone down near Sandspit, BC, Canada.” Read Waymarking.com’s description of the event here.

If you hike to the wreckage, please remember that the nearby mine is too dangerous to enter. Do not go in it. Plus, it is owned privately. Please read and follow any posted signs.

Convair F-106A Delta Dart before the crash. (Courtesy Ernie White/McChord Air Museum

A Convair F-106A Delta Dart before the crash. (Courtesy Ernie White/McChord Air Museum

Airplane wreckage

Part of an F-106 that crashed in 1964. The wereckage is in a stand of trees that hasn’t been harvested – or visited in 50 years. (Courtest of Austin Lunn-Rhue)

Downed Plane Story Two.  On the west side of the Olympic Peninsula there is another mysterious downed airplane story. This one is on private land so there is no access to the site, but the story is interesting. An Air Force F-106, “the last breed of interceptors conceived and designed to interdict Soviet ‘heavy’ nuclear bombers, crashed in 1964. This aircraft was “considered the most powerful air-to-air weapon ever developed in the United States”. To follow this story in length, Air & Space Smithsonian has an article by Ed Darack from November 16, 2015.

The wreckage was re-discovered June 2014 by Austin Lunn-Rhue, a newly employed forester at a timber company on the Olympic Peninsula, and his forestry partner.  They could tell it was part of an aircraft and one of the pieces had a paint brush X on it, which was unusual because the logging industry uses a form of spray paint.  In addition to that, the wreckage was on private land where no one is allowed.

“…The mission of the plane that morning in 1964 remains a mystery.” It might have been scrambled toward a formation of Soviet bombers that had gotten too close to the USA. It’s also listed as a routine training flight. We do know that the pilot, Captain Webb H. Huss, Jr., parachuted to safety, was picked up by a boater on Lake Ozette and flown in a helicopter from Paine Air Force Base to a hospital. Which hospital? You can read more at 318 Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, Green Dragons, with photos of the plane, the wreckage and Captain Huss.

Thank you very much to Air & Space and to Mr. Darack and McChord Air Museum for giving us permission to quote some from his article and for letting us share the photographs and links to the longer story. Lets hope this part of our history does get transferred to the museum!

The Olympic Peninsula has a long military history. More blogs to come about Fort Flagler, Fort Worden and other military history.

A Beginner’s Guide to Wildlife Spotting on Hood Canal

Black Bear

Black Bear

“The Hood Canal region of the Olympic Peninsula is known for natural diversity. Home to dense forests, steep rivers, majestic mountains and breathtaking waterfalls, the region is stuffed with beauty. In fact, it is hard to think of a place more diverse and beautiful than Hood Canal. Each year, the region sees hundreds of thousands of visitors, each hoping to make a memory in this beautiful corner of the world. While most come for the beauty and solitude, many come to this corner of the Peninsula to see animals in true wilderness.”   

So begins this article by Douglas Scott, “A Beginner’s Guide to Wildlife Spotting on Hood Canal. It’s full of locations for potential wildlife sightings on hikes in the mountains, walks along the lush valleys, and along the Hood Canal with special spots along the water.

Olympic Marmot on the river bank - Photo by Joy Baisch

Olympic Marmot – Photo by Joy Baisch

Elk in the Dosewallips River by Joy Baisch

Elk in the Dosewallips River – Photo by Joy Baisch

 

Traveling in different seasons                                                                                                          The Hood Canal area and the rest of the Olympic Peninsula will give you more opportunity to see different wildlife if you travel in different seasons. For example, during the warm summer days you would be more likely to see an Olympic Marmot sunbathing on a rock. During the spring and fall, migratory birds show off all over the Peninsula. Eagles are year-round residents, so chances of seeing them are pretty good of seeing them in tall, dead trees. However, when the salmon come back to the rivers to spawn, you’ll likely see eagles around the mouth of the rivers. Roosevelt Elk can be seen in herds most of the year.

Mr. Scott’s article not only gives good advice on when and where to view wildlife, but he also includes links to other resource information about Hood Canal area, such as a link to Six Quintessential Hood Canal Hikes, or Seven Incredible Viewpoints and Stops along Hood Canal.

Most of all when visiting the Hood Canal, take your time. There is a lot to see and experience. Recently a friendly blogger suggested a four-day minimum stay to enjoy all the area has to investigate.

Hood Canal!

ciderrouteBeyond Voyage had a guest blogger, Elizabeth, who spent one week exploring Hood Canal and one week investigating Seattle with her eight-year-old son. One of the surprises she found was lower lodging prices compared with east coast costs of Cape Cod, for example. She recommended a minimum of a four-night stay, but stated that she could have easily filled two weeks things to do along the canal. 

They sampled local ciders (check out Cider Route map!) and Hama Hama oysters and generally had the canal experience with a side trip into Port Townsend vibe. She was impressed with the beauty of Lake Cushman after entering Olympic National Park at the Staircase entrance. All in all, made me want to replicate her visit! yogurtAnd, I live here. I thought it was charming that she found Oregon Tilamook yogurt and Pacific Northwest Marionberries were exotic finds. One of the many rewards of working with visitors to the Olympic Peninsula, learning that things we have and are normal to us, are special and memorable to our visitors. Thank you, Elizabeth!