2013, Trip Six, The Northwest, July 18

Forks, WA July 18, Thursday

wildflowers along highway 101

wildflowers along highway 101

Today was our Beaches Day even though we did not see Bette Midler (Heimel humor). We left Tacoma early after giving our good-byes to Pat and Harold. We were unable to see Mt. Ranier as we left, the sky was too overcast. It was weird, for us, to be able to see (on a clear day) a mountain looming high on the horizon, even though it was 45 miles from Tacoma.

We drove through Olympia and then west and north to Olympic National Park. Our plan is to visit the park from southwest to northeast before crossing the border into Victoria, BC. Like many national parks, the land intersperses with national forests and Indian reservations.

Ed and Chris at Ruby Beach

Ed and Chris at Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

After Olympia, the road went through forests with four lane highway to Aberdeen, WA. After Aberdeen it was primarily two lane but now we picked up wonderful wildflowers along the side of the road. The Olympic mountains are not as high as the Cascades but supposedly Mt. Olympus does have snow year round. We will learn more about that later.

We did pass South Beach. It bore no resemblance to the one in Miami Beach. This one had cold water, chilly air, cold winds, no night life, and very little people watching. Instead we went to Ruby Beach and to Rialto Beach.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

one of many rock cairns at Ruby Beach

one of many rock cairns at Ruby Beach

The day was overcast and cool. Around 3 pm the wind came from the east and pushed enough of the clouds just slightly out to sea. That gave us some pictures with sun in them to offset the numerous cloudy photos.

Olympic National Park has mountains, waterfalls, forests, tall trees, and ocean beaches. We picked two of the beaches to explore today. The first, Ruby Beach, is so named due to sand grains with a reddish tint to them. You have to look real close to see the tint.

We walked along the beach for a good distance and had brought along our blanket so we sat for a while and watched the birds and ocean waves. For both beaches, the sand portion is relatively minor, rocks are more pre-dominant. In this regard, the beaches bear a resemblance to the beaches along the MN side of Lake Superior. Visitors enjoy creating rock cairns along the beach. These beach rocks are smooth due to erosion and relatively easy to stack.

We have not yet noticed as many international visitors as in the more well-known parks like Yosemite and Yellowstone. People from northwest United States are in the majority.

Our second beach was Rialto Beach. The tide was now starting to come in. We walked about 1.5 miles to a rock outcropping called Hole in the Wall and had to make sure we left enough time to get back to the trailhead before incoming tide cut off the path.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Besides the usual sea fowl like gulls and pelicans, we did observe two bald eagles. We have not seen seals or walruses; it is past the time when whales are migrating through the area.

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach

Both beaches have rock outcroppings in the ocean close to shore called sea stacks. These are remnants of rock formations of harder basalt rocks and have eroded more slowly than the surrounding features. We had observed these before along the Oregon coast a few years ago. The sea stacks make for nice photo opportunities. At this beach, there were more people and more camping activities than at Ruby Beach.

Twilight sign at restaurant

Twilight sign at restaurant

Our lodging for the next two nights is in the town of Forks. Unbeknownst to us, this town is the home of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight book series about teenage vampires-or so I believe.

The town is 14 miles from the ocean on a broad prairie. Several signs in town, including the burger joint we ate at for dinner, allude to the vampire theme of the books and movies. I believe tours of places mentioned in the books are offered but we intend to pass on this unusual treat.

Tomorrow we plan to visit a temperate rain forest section of the park.

Ed Heimel and Chris Klejbuk July 18 10 pm

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