Traveling the US highways and interstates is the way to visit all of our national parks. Our travel days have been from 450 to 600 miles and with Olympic, Glacier, Crater Lake and Yosemite all located in isolated locations far from the madding crowds. Sometimes the roads are crowded and sometimes not. We have found that there is very healthy attendance at every park we’ve visited.
I filed my report last week just before the “Total Eclipse of 2017” took place. Our kids could not find eclipse glasses for sale so we used the old fashioned methods of viewing the eclipse through a pin hole from one paper plate to the other and with two homemade viewing boxes that used a similar design. Our reflected eclipse images were fun to watch as the moon covered the sun. Many guests at our hotel, the Lake Quinault Lodge in the Olympic National Park, came out on the front lawn for the eclipse viewing. Groups shared their glasses and looked over the unique methods like ours for viewing the eclipse. We had a 90% viewing, but even that left lots of sunlight illuminating the area. The total eclipse time was about two minutes in most areas. The party was over before we knew it.
Rain Forest, Beach, Lakes, Mountains
Later that day we experienced our first rain forest experience just down the road from Lake Quinault. Moss, big trees, and lots of ferns make up the shady forest, where the bright sunlight filtering through made a beautiful pattern. Our nature hike was only about a mile long, but it was enough to give us the idea. Later that day we took a ride to Ruby Beach along Route 101, where huge rocks in the ocean frame the beach and cool waves rippled in to the driftwood on the shore.
The next day we visited the Hoh rain forest, which is in the middle of the park, a larger temperate forest with many of the same features as the smaller one we had experienced the day before. We saw elk sunning beside the river and enjoyed lunch in a forest picnic grove.
The third day we moved north to the Lake Crescent Lodge, a historic property that was built in 1914 by Avery and Julia Singer and known as Singer’s Tavern along Olympic National Park’s longest lake. We had stayed there in the Singer Cottages on our previous trip in 1982. Lara and her family were in one of the Roosevelt Cottages, built in 1938 during President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s WPA program after the area was designated as Olympic National Park. The cottage was right on the lake and we enjoyed sitting out and watching the children swim and viewing the sunset. It had two bedrooms, a working fireplace and the mini-fridge we always hoped to find in our accommodations.
Crescent Lake was to be our headquarters for visiting Hurricane Ridge, the highest point in the park overlooking the Olympic Mountain Range. We drove to Port Angeles and then up, up, up we went on the scenic hairpin turn road to the highest point at 5,542 feet. Mount Olympus, at 7,980 feet, is the tallest and most prominent mountain in the Olympic Mountains and is the central feature of Olympic National Park. The view of the mountains is dramatic. I counted at least 14 peaks ranging from 6,000 to 7,980 feet. Most of the glaciers that I remember from our visit 35 years ago were greatly diminished or gone, but Mount Olympus still has several large glacier fields on its slopes. The area has been warming for more than 150 years, according to the rangers in the visitor’s center.
We enjoyed a ranger led walk along an area with diversified plants and views of the mountains, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria Island in Canada. The air was clear and fresh.
Sequim, Seattle, Kirkland
Leaving the Olympic National Park for our next stop in Seattle we passed through Sequim, which lies within the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains and receives on average less than 16 inches of rain per year—about the same southern California. Our destination was the Kingston to Edmonds ferry across Puget Sound just north of Seattle. The huge car ferry was on time and we boarded shortly after arriving at the terminal. The 30-minute crossing went fast and I noticed that my weather app on my phone listed “United States” as the location. On the water you have no land signature.
The Dicus family opted to take the Bainbridge Island Ferry to the downtown Seattle dock. They had plans to take in the waterfront, Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square areas. When I was in high school in Seattle in the 1960’s the “Market” was for wholesalers and Pioneer Square was home to the street people. Much has changed in the last 50 years to encourage tourism and the one-mile walk between downtown and the square is delightful.
Charlie and I stocked up on food provisions for our next three days at what turned out to be the delightful “Hobbit House” an Airbnb rental in Lake City along the route to the East Side o Lake Washington. I chose the location as it was close to my sister Victoria’s home and also to my cousin Dick Fawcett, who lives in Lake Forest Park. Dick is an enthusiastic Mountaintop Eagle reader and was delighted to tell me he had received the paper on Friday, when I called him to make plans for a visit. He said he enjoyed hearing about our Yosemite and Crater Lake visits.
Aunt Terry Drinkwine
Charlie and I travelled down I-5 on Friday morning to Federal Way to visit my Aunt Terry Drinkwine, who at age 92 is as sharp as can be and enjoys playing Internet Scrabble and games on the Fire Tablet my sister Victoria gave her earlier this year. I also send photos by email and Terry is getting proficient with her new electronic. She likes to do puzzles, knit and crochet, and converse with family and friends. We had a good visit and caught up on all the news from her family and ours.
Space Needle Later that day Charlie and I met the
Dicus Family at the Seattle Center, the site of the 1962 Worlds Fair and the location of the iconic 605-foot Space Needle. I had not been up in the needle for about 5 years and I invited anyone in our group to go up for a look on what was one of the clearest prettiest days ever in Seattle. Patrick, Kate, Maggie, Lara and I excitedly waited in line to board one of the three elevators that takes passengers up to the 520-foot observation level in 80 seconds. We could see Mount Rainier dominating the horizon to the south as we rose above the level of most of the buildings in downtown Seattle.
Once up top we walked around the outside observation deck and I pointed out the sites by name including the dome of my Holy Names Academy high school on Capitol Hill. The mountains, the bay, the islands in the distance, the hills in the city were all there. The Needle was built from 1961 to 1962 for the opening of the fair and is still one of the most popular attractions in Seattle.
Kirkland, Home Movies Saturday dawned bright and clear
and the plan was to drive to Kirkland by way of the north end route around Lake Washington. My sister Mary lives in Kirkland in one of the older neighborhoods with easy access to the town on foot or by car. Mary enjoys a daily walk around the town that is so changed from my youth I like to go back to see if I can find any familiar landmarks.
The town was bustling Saturday morning, when we paid a call on Aunt Mary, who has a new kitten she named Penny. Our kids love their two cats George and Lulu, who are vacationing at Country Kennels in Dorrance with Miriam Giza for the three weeks of their national parks trip, and playing with Penny was a crowd pleaser.
Mary brought out some movies my father had taken beginning in 1960 until he died in 1987, that she had digitized to play on Blu-ray disks and we were all entertained by the memories of a family trip to southern California and Mexico in 1960. Our seven member family, parents and 5 children, had traveled in a red Ford Falcon for the entire west coast from Seattle to Mexico, a distance of about 1265 miles one way, 2530 miles round trip to see the sights, visit Disneyland, and experience a new area of the country for us. The movie was a hoot and we all laughed until we almost cried. I was nearly 14 years old on that trip to California.
Special Friends and Family As the Seattle visit wound down
I hosted a small get together for my sister Victoria, my cousin Maureen McDonnell Williamson and her husband Fred, and my best friend from the first grade, Jeanne Hos Baker. My other childhood friend Suzy Martineau Banchero was traveling with her husband Lew to Wenatchee in Eastern Washington for the weekend. The group was just big enough to call it a party and we all enjoyed great conversation and casual food on our last night in Seattle.
Early Sunday morning we got up, ate a quick breakfast, packed our cars and headed for Glacier National Park in Montana. The 11-hour 625-mile marathon trip kept us on the road for most of the sunrise to sunset time, but at days end we were thrilled to be at our next destination. The mountains are high, the glaciers are shrinking, the lakes are sparkling and clear and we will be hiking and enjoying another unforgettable week on our National Parks Tour.