Category Archives: Fall

Diary of a Lighthouse Keeper

New Dungeness LighthouseDiary of a Lighthouse Keeper #1

A week in January at the New Dungeness Lighthouse - An adventure and an honor

Six of us keepers left the lighthouse transfer station in Carlsborg, WA, about 6:45pm on a Friday night. Two 4-wheel-drive vehicles were stuffed with all our provisions and personal gear for the week. This was my first time as a keeper and not altogether sure what I had gotten myself into. Luckily, three in our group had been keepers before and I knew two of our crew. We were assured that although the drive to the lighthouse was going to be rough, bumpy, dark, and a little scarey, the drivers were experienced and would keep us safe.

I knew I was in good hands, but wondered if this was such a good idea - a week with three women I'd never met and probably a minimum of a six-hour walk for me to get "off the island". At this point, I was committed and it was one of the best decisions for a "vacation" I've ever had.

load and unload gear at the lighthouseWhen we arrived at the lighthouse the returning keepers had all their gear ready to be loaded into the trucks for their trip back to civilization. All of us scrambled to unload/load as rapidly as possible to ensure the trucks could get back on the beach during the low tide change. So, there were were, watching the red tail lights disappear down the beach. STRANDED! Or so it crossed my mind! Another slight moment of "what have I done?"

We had organized ourselves as three groups for planning purposes during the weeks before we left and for duty shifts at the lighthouse. My work rotation for the week was: cook, day off, lighthouse duty - Repeat! I at least knew what was expected from me.

Lighthouse RoomGiven all the boxes of food and luggage we had to carry in, and the good humor among all six of us, I knew: a. we would not starve and, b. we all seemed to be kindred spirits.

First order of business was to unpack the groceries and settle into our rooms. I had a charming room with a quilt on the bed and a desk upstairs facing the lighthouse. I didn't close the blinds the first night, nor any other night there. I wanted to see the light flash in my room on its rotation. Later that first night, we all sat around the living room, most of us knitting, and introduced ourselves with a little of who, what, when and how we all ended up on this adventure together. One person who knew us all and had made all our arrangements and facilitated communication among us prior to the trip.

I studied a bit about the lighthouse that first night. The property had been continuously occupied since 1857. It was the first lighthouse built on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. What an honor to be part of that tradition. Our Keeper's Quarters were built in 1904. The Coast Guard had lighthouse duty for a period of time until 1934. In 1934, electricity was brought to the property through a cable underwater across Dungeness Bay. In April 1980, New Dungeness Lighthouse welcomed Seaman First Class Jeni Burr, New Dungeness’ first woman Head Keeper.  So many dates and interesting changes to the property and much more to learn - tomorrow!

I slept like a baby in the new surroundings! More Day #2 at the Lighthouse in the next blog.

Hwy 112 Scenic Byway, Festivals and a Great Sale

Highway 112 Scenic Byway along the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is a must drive for visitors to Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Recently a blog post by Road Trippers' "Roads and Rides - Your guide to the best drives, coolest cars, and all things motoring", covered a trip along this Scenic Byway to the special places of Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, the most NW point in the contiguous USA - and stops
Hwy 112 map

Hwy 112 map

along the way.  The blog has 14 gorgeous photos, a map and generally great descriptions and ideas for following HWY 112. Check out this cool video before heading out. It highlights some of the best of the best along Hwy 112. Two exciting activities coming up on the highway are: Joyce Blackberry Daze, Saturday, August 6 and the Great Strait Sale on Saturday, September 10.
Joyce Blackberry Daze

Joyce Blackberry Daze

Olympic National Park Entrances

Hwy 101 Scenic Byway map

Olympic Peninsula Hwy 101 Scenic Byway

From Hood Canal to Lake Quinault, follow the Highway 101 Scenic Byway to find several possibilities for entering the Olympic National Park. Each place offers different terrain, experiences, and chances to learn more about the park. PORT ANGELES - The primary Olympic National Park Visitor Center is open daily 8:30am - 5:00pm. General information, a children’s Discovery Room, bookshop, maps, exhibits and a near-by nature trail makes this a must stop while in Port Angeles. Be sure to take time to watch the movie. If it isn't running, just ask one of the rangers to start it. For park information call 360-565-3130. If all you want to check is the 24- hour recorded road and weather update, call 360-565-3131. If you need backpacking information or permits, or to acquire required bear cans for backcountry camping, check with the Wilderness Information Center (WIC) May 1 - June 11,  8am - 4:30pm daily June 12 - September 10, 8am - 5pm daily (until 6pm Friday, Saturday) September 11 - 30, 8am- 5pm daily.
Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Hill walk from Hurricane Ridge

HURRICANE RIDGE - The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:30pm with information, maps, exhibits, an orientation film, and nearby trails. The snack bar and gift shop are open daily 10:00am - 6:00pm. The information desk is staffed daily 10:00am - 5:30pm. Enjoy the Terrace Talk, daily 10:30am, 1:00pm, 4:00pm. Learn about this amazing wilderness park at a 20-minute talk. Topics vary. Join the easy one-hour guided walk to explore life in the mountains for a Meadow Walk, daily at 11:30am. and 2:00pm. Discover wildlife, wildflowers and other features of the Olympic landscape. HEART O’ THE HILLS - At Heart O’ the Hills Campground amphitheater, join others to enjoy the Evening Program,on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday at 8:00pm. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards. Junior Ranger Forest Activities are on Saturday at 10:00am for one hour of forest activities. Meet at the campground amphitheater.
Fall at Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

LAKE CRESCENT - Storm King Ranger Station is open Wednesday - Saturday 11:00am - 4pm with information, activities for kids, and access to trails. Join the Marymere Falls Forest Walk on Fridays at 10:00am. Meet on the Lake Crescent Lodge porch for this easy, 1-1/2-hour guided hike. Got a younger one with you? How about them becoming an Olympic Junior Ranger? This program starts Saturdays 10:30am at Storm King Ranger Station. Join a ranger for an hour of hands-on activities. One of the highlights of summer in the park are the evening programs. Lake Crescent evening gatherings are on Tuesdays and Saturdays 7:30pm at Storm King. Learn more about the park after dark. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station. MORA - Beginning June 25, the Mora Ranger Station is open Friday - Monday 1:00 - 5:00pm for   information and maps. Bark Rangers - If you have a dog with you, you might want to show up on Saturdays, Sundays at 10am at the Rialto Beach Trailhead. Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. There is also an Evening Program - Monday, Friday 8:00pm at the Mora Campground amphitheater. Topics will be listed on bulletin boards at the Ranger Station.
beach

Kalaloch Beach

KALALOCH - Kalaloch Ranger Station is open daily with information, exhibits, bookshop, and maps. Science on the Shore is held Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday Times and topics vary with changing tides. Explore the shore with a ranger in this hands-on program. Schedule and location information will be listed on bulletin boards. Vacation Volunteers can take a walk on the coast with a ranger and help leave this park better than you found it -  Saturdays 10:00am - noon.  Bark Rangers - Daily, 1:00 p.m. at  at Learn how to visit the park safely with your pet and earn a Bark Ranger Badge for your pup. Meet at the Kalaloch Lodge Gazebo, daily at 1:00pm.  The Evening Program is held on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8:00pm at the Kalaloch Campground amphitheater. Topics on bulletin boards. QUINAULT RAIN FOREST - Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station on North Shore Road is open Thursday - Monday 9:00am - 5:00pm. It is closed for guided walks and lunch. You find information, exhibits, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. Life in the Rain Forest Walk is scheduled Thursday - Monday at 1:00pm. Learn about rain forest plants, animals and homesteader lore. Meet at Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station for this easy 1-1/2-hour, 3/4-mile walk.
Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

HOH RAIN FOREST - The remodeled Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center is open daily 9:00am - 5:00pm. At this visitor center you'll find general park information, a bookshop, maps, and nearby trails. You can get backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans here. There is the Rain Forest Walk at 2pm daily. Learn about giant trees, wildlife and more on this 1-1/2-hour easy walk on the Hall of Mosses or Spruce Nature Trail. Meet at the Hoh Visitor Center. The popular Evening Program begins at 8:00pm at the Hoh Campground amphitheater. Dates and topics on local bulletin boards.
Staircase trailhead sign

Staircase Trailhead Sign

STAIRCASE -  At the south end of Hood Canal you'll find the Staircase entrance to Olympic National Park. The Ranger Station hours vary. They do have information, exhibits, maps, trails nearby. If you are headed into the North Fork of the Skokomish River you will need backcountry wilderness permits and bear cans that are available. Thursday through Sunday at 2:00pm there is a Forest Walk.  Meet at bridge for 1-1/2 -hour walk by the Skokomish River. Discover Staircase!  on Sundays at 10:00am. Meet at the ranger station for this 1/2 -hour talk about the plants, animals or history of Staircase area. Fun for all ages! Evening Program is held Thursday through Saturday 7:30pm. Meet at the Staircase amphitheater.

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

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!

WHALE WATCHING! Post from Guest Bloggers

Two friends of ours, here on the Olympic Peninsula, submitted a recount of their special day whale watching. We don't know about you, but we want to go, too! From Ali and Brian, hosts at Chito Beach Resort: Having a free day, which we don't get often since we are usually busy with guests, we decided to take full advantage of our time and go out on a whale watching trip. We decided to go from Port Angeles with Port Angeles Whale Watch. The crew of three were fun and accommodating. The crew consisted of the Captain, a marine biologist and the galley chef.  Lucky us to have a biologist on board! He gave us information and updates on all the sea life we saw during the excursion.  The galley chef make hot chocolate, tea and warm food for all those in need. We were indeed spoiled for the day.
brians whales #1

Photos by Brian H Photography

The weather was brian whales #3 brian whales #2perfect and the Captain did a great job navigating us to the whales! We saw several Humpbacks on two occasions and the L pod of Orca, including the newest member- a two-week-old killer whale. We often see whales in the waters off the shore at Chito Beach, but this was so special seeing them from a different perspective. It was a day we'll remember. Here's access to information about the L pod. And a link to the Whale Trail. Chito Beach Resort is one of several accommodations along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You will find a list of other places to stay beginning on page 31 of the Olympic Peninsula Travel Planner. Whale Watching Tours. Find local whale watching businesses. Make your own special day.  

Traveling this Fall? Trip #32

Traveling around the Olympic Peninsula in the fall can be sublime. The days are usually warm, evenings cool and mornings have that crisp, clean warmth. Here's a quick 3-day itinerary to see the best of the best. Day One. Starting in Seattle or Tacoma. Be ready for a busy day.  Enjoy the splendor of the
Hurricane Hill Hike

Hurricane Hill Hike

Elk in the Dosewallips River

Elk in the Dosewallips River

leaves changing color along Hood Canal. Grab a bite to eat at one of the several places with local seafood. Check out the Olympic Peninsula Culinary Loop for suggestions. You'll probably see bald eagles and herons, and perhaps a herd of Roosevelt elk. If you pack a lunch, stop at Triton Cove State Park. Continue on Hwy. 101 North to Port Angeles. From

there it's about 45 minutes to the top of Hurricane Ridge. Hopefully, there will be new snow on the mountain range. Stunning hike to Hurricane Hill! You can see the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, B.C., Canada, and the interior of the Olympic Mountains. Overnight in Port Angeles or the surrounding area.
Fall at Lake Crescent

Fall at Lake Crescent

Day Two. Heading west on Hwy 101. Enjoy the beauty of Lake Crescent. Take a walk through the woods to Marymere Falls, one of the falls on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail. The trailhead can be found turning off Hwy 101 with the signs to Lake Crescent Lodge. The lodge is open until January 1, then closes for the season. Continue around the lake to Hwy 113, the to Hwy112 West. Hwy 112 is one of the newer Scenic Byways in our state. At this time of year the leaves along this route, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca sparkling water to the north, is one of the favorite drives. Scenic it is! Head to Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, the most NW tip of the contiguous US. There is a short hike, mostly on boardwalk to the overlook to Tatoosh Island. You'll often see whales and an array of marine animals and shore birds. Make a stop at the Makah Museum. World-class exhibits you won't soon forget. Either stay along Hwy 112 or wander into Forks or La Push on the Quileute Nation for the night.
Olympic Peninsula Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Day Three. Check out the Visitor Center in Forks, Land of Twilight. You'll be amazed at the map with pins representing visitors' homelands. There's John's Beach Combing Museum in Forks. Take a look at what washes up on our shores. Traveling south on Hwy 101, make a turn into the Hoh Rain Forest. Walk the Hall of Mosses for that other-worldly experience of hiking through canopies of drippy moss. Catch the Ranger-led walk if you can. Back to Hwy 101 and a stop at Ruby Beach. One of our favorites. Continuing south, Kalaloch Lodge has dining and accommodations right above the beach.  Or further down Hwy 101, you'll find Lake Quinault with many types of lodging and dining. Interesting fact about Lake Quinault. The National Park owns some of the property around the lake. The Olympic National Forest owns part of the land and the Quinault Nation has jurisdiction over the water. The morning of the fourth day, head back to Seattle/Tacoma/Portland/Olympia. It's closest to keep going on 101, making almost the entire loop. Olympic Peninsula Map

Outdoor Art – Live! Paint the Peninsula

D. A. Davidson "Paint the Peninsula" Juried Plein Air Competition
Draws Artists from Across U.S. and British Columbia
Plein-air poster artFor the second year, the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center is inviting artist, art collectors, tourists, families, and friends to this extraordinary event! September 7 through 14, 2014.
What's Plein Air, you ask?
It is painting that's experiencing a renaissance around the country, with artists painting outdoors using the natural light, working quickly, and producing a painting that often look impressionistic. You've heard of Vincent Van Gogh, Claude Monet or John Singer Sargent? They were all painters who painted outside.
'Paint the Peninsula' is a juried plein air competition on the Olympic Peninsula, with several events. Artist will submit three images of their best recent plein air art to be juried by a professional artist. The 30 best artists chosen will be invited to come and 'Paint the Peninsula' from Cape Flattery to Sequim. These 30 artists will produce a total of 150 original paintings of the Olympic Peninsula.
Jim Lamb painting outside

Jim Lamb painting outside

This is the only event of this kind and caliber in the State of Washington.
The artists will paint for four and a half days. Each day's art will hang on the walls of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center (1203 E Lauridsen Blvd) for sale.
On the 5th day, paintings will be judged by noted professional artist, Jim Lamb, and ribbons awarded.  The judging will be followed by a sponsors' reception.
On September 13, the gallery will be open for viewing and purchasing art.  In the evening, an artists, collectors, and community reception will be held.
Sunday September 14, is the final day of the event and all are welcome to Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. On September 15, 16, and 17, Judge Lamb will conduct a workshop on plain air painting for a dozen participants!  Come and enjoy this unique experience along with the artists!
Follow our facebook page - Olympic Peninsula. We will try to keep you updated on locations where artists will be painting. We will also try to Tweet any news we have about locations. Follow us on Twitter at @Visit Olympics, #oppleinair.

The Government Shutdown Isn’t Bringing Us Down on the Olympic Peninsula

Due to the U.S. Government Shutdown, admittance into both the Olympic National Forest and Olympic National Park has been ceased.  Calls to the ranger stations must go unanswered and websites now display a "not operating" message like this http://www.nps.gov/shutdown/index.html.
Kinetic 2010 Sally the Map Lady

Participants brave the Autumn waters during the Kinetic Sculpture Race

So what are visitors supposed to do?  Don't worry!  There is still a plethora of things to do and see on the 5,316 square miles of the Olympic Peninsula outside of governmental lands.    This weekend, October 5 & 6, is the 32nd Annual Shelton Oysterfest http://www.oysterfest.org/.  Enjoy wonderful seafood and watch the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship.   Then travel north up Hwy 101 to enjoy the Kinetic Sculpture race and events in Port Townsend http://www.ptkineticrace.org/.  Afterwards, warm up from watching those crazy-geniuses enduring the race's frigid waters at the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival, just 30 miles west in downtown Sequim http://www.fiberartsfestival.org/.  See beautifully hand-crafted woven arts and get in the cozy, Fall spirit! Even though camping and hiking in the National Park and Forests might not be an option, there are still plenty of beautiful areas to explore.  We're using this time to visit coastal grounds and towns as well as our beautiful State and County Parks that are located throughout the Olympic Peninsula.  On the east along the Hood Canal is the Dosewallips State Park http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Dosewallips and the Dungeness Recreation Area in the North http://www.clallam.net/Parks/Dungeness.html.  Both are open year-round with spectacular water views.  Travel along the Hwy 112 Scenic Byway to take in the Autumn splendor over looking the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Stop at the Salt Creek Recreation Area near Joyce http://www.clallam.net/Parks/Dungeness.html.  Explore the tide pools in Sekiu (watch for the giant red jellyfish this time of year, but don't touch.) and listen for the last of the migrating birds as they make their way south.
IMG_3068

The cliffs of Cape Flattery

This is also an excellent time to visit the Makah Indian Reservation at Neah Bay.  Spending an afternoon at the amazing Makah Museum would not be regretted.  Enjoy the boardwalk along Cape Flattery and scan the vistas for whales.  Also happening this weekend on the West coast is the La Push Last Chance Salmon Derby http://forkswa.com/salmonderby/.  Fisherman don't want to miss out on our record high salmon run this year! Hopefully these tips can replaces a few disappointments with inspirations as we endure these changes that out of our control.  For more information planning your trip or for a free travel planner, call us!  (360) 452-8552.  Our complimentary travel planner can also be downloaded from www.olympicpeninsula.org.