Category Archives: Spring

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.

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.

Thirteen Special Places

Get ready to overload your schedule with 10 + 3 special places on the Olympic Peninsula. There have been several lists compiled over the last few weeks, all with gorgeous photos and travel hints for the peninsula. Let's start with ExOfficio's  10 Totally Amazing Places to See on the Northern Olympic Peninsula. This list has amazing photos, as well as short descriptions of some of our favorite places.
Dungeness Lighthouse

Dungeness Lighthouse

We totally agree that the places on ExOfficio's list shouldn't be missed, but we think there are a couple missed opportunities to get into the flavor, history and fun. Dungeness Spit is mentioned #1 in ExOfficio's list and we are glad it made the list.  Dungeness Spit is especially precious. It's the longest natural sand spit in the USA. The 5.5-mile walk out to the New Dungeness Lighthouse is a test of endurance, since the walk is totally on sand.  You can sign up to be a lighthouse keeper for a week. Lots of responsibility, but a once-in-a-lifetime experience, or as the lighthouse keepers website says, Stay a Week...Memories for a Lifetime!
SR112 Joyce Museum

Joyce Museum

Joyce Museum and Joyce General Store count as one stop.  Summer hours for the museum are Thursday - Monday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try to go when Margaret is there. She is the all-knowing docent of wisdom when it comes to the area. The log building, built in 1914, was once the train depot. Now it houses historic photographs, newspapers and examples of the days gone by.  Lots of artifacts and info about the recent Elwha River dam removal project is housed here. Take a reality step back in time when you enter the General Store. It's still got its brass mail boxes and absolutely everything you could possibly need - from motor oil to Wesson oil, from brushes to clean mushrooms to brushes to paint the house. Plus they have bumper stickers that say, "I ♥ Joyce", a definite memento for anyone you know named "Joyce".
John's Beachcombing Museum

John's Beachcombing Museum

John's Beachcombing Museum. A new must-do on the peninsula - near Forks. Here are some comments from visitors to this unique collection:
  • "Some very cool and very unusual stuff in there!"
  • "This place is amazing!!! I am an environmental science teacher and I learned an amazing amount of information about what washes up on our shores. Thanks John for a great and informational time."
  • "Absolutely loved our trip through John's museum. It was great listening to John's stories and the kids were totally engaged from the drive in until we drove away... Thanks John, this is a must see and we will be back." Admission to tour the museum is $5. Prepare to spend some time there! It's open 10 a.m.-5 p.m., or for group tours by appointment, for more information or questions call 360-640-0320.    

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

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.

Sequim Irrigation Festival – A True Reflection of Community Spirit

For 119 years, the community of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley has come together the first week of May to celebrate the opening of the irrigation ditches that changed the valley from an arid prairie into fertile farm lands.

Irrigation Festival Logging Show

Irrigation Festival Logging Show

The Sequim Irrigation Festival is the longest running continuous festival in the state of Washington. This year the event is taking place May 2 through May 11 with two action packed weekends. There is truly something for everyone with parades, a carnival, logging show, strongman competition, art shows, street fair, and so much more. You can see the complete schedule of events at www.IrrigationFestival.com But what’s so remarkable about this festival is not only that it is a really fun and exciting week.  What’s most remarkable is the fact that the festival is organized solely by a group of dedicated volunteers and supported by local businesses that make it happen year after year.  This type of commitment is not new to the Sequim-Dungeness Valley community.  It is exactly how the irrigation ditches got built in the first place. In 1895, D.R. Callen convinced other local visionaries that water from the bottom of the Dungeness River could run uphill and be brought to the valley.  The Sequim Prairie Ditch Company was incorporated in November of 1895 and the pioneers worked all winter to build the irrigation ditch and flume.  Everyone helped.  The men dug the ditch, women cooked for the workers, and even the children helped by carrying water, running errands, and stomping clay into gravel. On May 1, 1896, the first impromptu festival took place when families gathered from all over the valley, and as far away as the cities of Port Angeles and Port Townsend.  Everyone brought more than enough food to feed the crowd as they anxiously awaited the flowing water.  After an opening glitch, the water flowed into the flume and made its way into the dusty ditch.  The irrigation water turned the valley into farmable land and began a sustainable industry that would support families for generations.  As you drive through Sequim and the Dungeness Valley today, you will see the irrigation systems still at work supporting farms of organic vegetables, grains, berries, and dairy cattle. Join us for the 119th Sequim Irrigation Festival and capture the true community spirit of the Sequim-Dungeness Valley “Where Water is Wealth.” To learn more about Sequim go to www.visitsunnysequim.com  

April Showers Bring May Flowers

Lupine flowers near Hurricane-Ridge Winter rains lead to a flower-filled spring transformation on the Olympic Peninsula. As the lush green landscape is dotted with delicate buds, our towns and parks are cause for celebration. In early spring the streets of Port Angeles are lined with yellow daffodils, pink cherry blossoms, and a rainbow of tulips. Washington's State Flower is center stage at Port Townsend's Rhododendron Festival in mid-May. This week long fete includes lots of fun events and the crowning of Rhody Royalty.  Peony Farm in Sequim, invites the public to see more than 200 varieties of its namesake flower during Peonies on Parade. Visitors to Brinnon, can enjoy a stroll and picnic among the flowering trees, shrubs, and blooms at Whitney Gardens and Nursery. Continue reading

Spring Greens and More Seasonal Culinary Treats

Steamers at Woodfire Grill

Steamers at Woodfire Grill

Spring is a great time to experience Olympic Peninsula's bounty at farmers markets, restaurants, and fun festivals. Here are a few ways to enjoy Olympic Coast Cuisine during the spring months. MARCH- Open Saturdays year round, the Port Angeles Farmer’s Market has all of the ingredients for creating Olympic Coastal Cuisine. Organic produce, fresh seafood, grass-fed beef, wild mushrooms, and artisan cheeses are sold at the market. In addition to delicious produce and products, visitors can pick up local artisan wares from jewelry to hand spun yarn, watercolor paintings to birdhouses. This farmer’s market has been around for over 30 years and was named the 2012 Washington State Farmer’s Market of the Year- medium size. Continue reading