Sunday, September 28, 2008

Summer in the Rain Forest

It is summer in Seattle! A month after experiencing EXTREME HEAT! ™ we have had a whopping two days of rain. So what did we decide to do with all this sunshine? Why go to the rain forest, of course! We drove west on July 25 and picked up U.S. 101. We followed it on its meandering path north, east, then south again to its terminus at the state capitol in Olympia. It wasn’t long before we reached the Pacific beach. We wandered on the warm sand, stood amazed in front of a giant cedar tree, and poked around the sea stacks of Ruby beach. The warm sun made us think we would not see any precipitation in the rain forest.
Boy, were we wrong! The skies darkened as we drove into the Hoh Rainforest. We scouted out a nice camping spot near the river and settled in for the night. We broke up the quiet night by going to watch the Ranger presentation about (I am not making this up) the danger of elk. Apparently elk are not as cute and cuddly as they look. The 1,000 lb. antlered beasts are quick to charge and kick when threatened. Who knew! Wait, didn’t I mention rain? We were not disappointed. By morning, it was raining steadily and we had to pack the tent wet. The rain let up just long enough to walk through the hall of mosses. Words cannot describe how incredible this was to see, so here is a photo:

The rain picked up again as we drove out to Neah Bay. The winding road seams to hang out over the water in places and really makes you feel like you are driving to the end of the earth…or at least the northwestern-most end of the United States. We capped off this portion of the trip with the best smoked salmon I have ever had! That night we camped at Lake Crescent. We got the last site in the campground, presumably because it was extremely rocky. The rain returned in spurts, but soon cleared up. It was warm by the fire and we stayed up late watching the fire dance across the coals. On Sunday, we drove into Port Angeles, hoping to see the incredible view of the Olympic Mountains from Hurricane Ridge. We soon learned that all we would see up there is the inside of a cloud, a view we have seen many times before and is not worth the 17-mile drive. Plan B was Dungeness Spit, an odd bit of coastal geology. The river current and the ocean tides combined to form a spit of land five miles long but less than 150 feet across at high tide. The inner bay attracts a great number of migratory birds, of which we saw exactly zero (they are all nesting up north). We enjoyed a nice, if loud, walk along the spit before heading for home. We eventually returned to reality, smelling of campfire and salmon. The rain stopped and the clouds parted as soon as we left the peninsula. We soon realized we had missed a beautiful sunny weekend. Oh well, at least we have a souvenir to show for it!

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