West Coast Wander, Day 1: Seattle to Ocean Shores, Washington

We had a two-week vacation, and decided that it would be fun to drive down the coasts of Washington, Oregon, and California and then drop off our rental car and take a train back home. I’m calling this journey the West Coast Wander, and plan to blog about it every other day so as not to totally alienate those who have no interest in travel, and yet allow those who do to travel vicariously with us. I hope you enjoy it, dear reader.

We had every intention of leaving at 9 am that first morning. Really, we did. Really. We got out the door around noon. That’s not too bad, because this was to become one of our less hectic travel days. Even though we planned to go ever southward, we decided to first explore the Olympic Peninsula, north and west of Seattle. I’ve only had mere glimpses of this remote area up to this point, so I was really looking forward to it.

Here’s a map of the area, which is very rugged, has few roads, and is mostly inhabited by 17 Native American Tribes. Most towns are right on the coast, and those that aren’t are usually so tiny that if you blink you miss them. The central part consists of Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest. It was a delight to explore the area, but I was grateful that our car didn’t break down out there. I doubt the bears would take kindly to jumper cables.

Our first stop was Sequim. The first thing I learned on the trip was that it’s pronounced “squim”, and that when I say it to Google, it knows how to properly spell it. Fascinating. It’s a charming little town, so we decided to stop there for lunch, at a place called the Oak Table.

It’s really hard to eat healthy while road tripping, and it’s also expensive. So we brought a cooler with us, filled it (I might say overfilled it, but that’s just me) with healthy options, and vowed to only eat at restaurants once a day. The Oak Table turned out to be a relatively healthy dining choice. We had broccoli quiche and a nice salad which included the freshest, most flavorful cucumber I’ve ever eaten in my life. Honestly, my taste buds had been robbed up to this point. I’m ruined for grocery store cucumbers now. That’s one of the many things traveling can do to you. (Note to self: Try growing cucumbers next season.)

Stops after that included a little free library in the area (#63357) which had a garden and seed theme. I didn’t see any cucumber seeds or I might have partaken. But we did leave a few cookbooks, as we had brought along a box of books for the little free libraries that we happened to encounter.

I saw a flash of yellow out of the corner of my eye, and turned to see the brightest yellow bird I’ve ever seen in the wild. We happened to catch him in the act of mating on an electrical meter. I’m hoping my friend Jen will know what this bird is based on the inadequate photo below, and if she does, I’ll add that information here.) Our first natural encounter of the trip.

We also stopped for groceries and gas, and on the drive, when we could get a signal, we listened to a podcast series of 5 episodes via Radio Lab called “The Other Latif.” Can you imagine discovering that the only other person on the planet with your name happens to be an inmate at Guantanamo? It’s fascinating and I recommend it highly.

In the area of a town called Forks (where Twilight was filmed, lord knows why), we stopped at the entrance of Olympic National Park so I could get another highly prized stamp in my National Parks Passport. We had to knock on the door and beg for the stamp as they were already closed.

We knew we were in a different world when we saw a sign for “AFTER HOUR BEAR CAN RETURNS AND BACKPACKING PERMITS.” We spent much of the day on the outskirts of this gorgeous park, and the clouds became increasingly threatening, until it finally rained on the only day of the trip. But, oddly enough, given its northern location, much of this park is a rainforest, so rain is to be expected.

We passed a lot of intriguing places. Lake Crescent is a 600 foot deep glacial lake. Dancing Elk Road, Shuwah, Sappho, the Hoh rainforest. And we got our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean, which would be our intimate companion for most of our drive.

We got to Humptulips, and naturally had to stop and take a picture in front of the post office, and also take a photo of the street sign, just for you, dear reader, because why else would you believe me? It’s not every day that someone gets to Humptulips. It was fun, although brief. It consists, as far as I can tell, of a gas station store, the post office, and one other mysterious building.

Throughout the peninsula we saw numerous totem poles as well as a lot of bigfoot carvings and signs. We also saw enough Scotch Broom to fill the Grand Canyon. It’s totally understandable why this is considered an invasive species, even though the yellow blossoms are gorgeous. (You can see some under the Humptulips sign.)

Enjoy the photos below, and while doing so, wonder how many deer we passed without seeing them. The first deer we saw were wandering across the street in Ocean Shores, where we were to spend the night. It was a great start to the trip.

You can find the post for day two here.

The best way to travel vicariously is through books. Try mine! http://amzn.to/2mlPVh5

17 thoughts on “West Coast Wander, Day 1: Seattle to Ocean Shores, Washington

  1. Angiportus Librarysaver

    A different world for sure! Bear cans? How do they get the bears to go back in the cans?
    All right, I know it’s “beer”. Glad you have had so much fun traveling.

    1. Nope. Not beer. bear. A bear can is a can that campers can use to store their food in so that the bears won’t be able to smell it and be attracted to their campsite. And if they do come in, the bear cans are bear proof. They loan them out at the same place they do the hiking permits.

  2. Angiportus Librarysaver

    …And there was an innkeeper/brewer in the old days who had a sign out front that said “Try our bear.” When someone objected, he point out that it was his own bruin…

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