May 13, 2012

The Olympic Peninsula

We began to make our way yesterday morning to the Olympic Peninsula where we’ll likely spend several days.  On the way, Tim found a Burgerville, where we stopped for lunch.  You may remember that Burgerville is one of my favorite restaurants in the Pacific Northwest, despite the fact that it’s a fast food chain.  On our last stop we only had milkshakes, but yesterday we ate lunch.  One of the things I always try is the seasonal specialties.  This time it was golden fried asparagus spears from the Yakima Valley served with a garlic aioli dipping sauce.  Have you ever heard of a fast food restaurant that serves asparagus?  What a treat!  Naturally, we couldn’t leave without trying the fresh strawberry milkshakes one more time.

Lunch at Burgerville
The northwestern corner of Washington is a bit creepy.  Maybe it’s all the rain, or the isolation, but both Tim and I experienced an odd feeling driving though several of the communities.  It’s not surprising that this area lays claim to Sasquatch, also known as Big Foot, and was the setting for the Twilight saga.

We also began to notice small signs saying Stop Wild Olympics planted in almost every yard on our way up the coast.  We learned that Wild Olympics is a campaign that proposes to add additional protections to certain lands and rivers on the Olympic Peninsula.  It seems that many local residents consider this to be a “900 million land grab.”  Although we also found that this claim is not true, what is clear is that passions certainly run pretty deep here.

Passions Run Deep Here!
On the southwestern end of Olympic National Park is Lake Quinault, a majestic glacier-carved and glacier-fed lake surrounded by the Quinault Rain Forest.  It’s a beautiful lake and was our destination for the day.  We popped into the Lake Quinault Lodge, which sits directly on the lake.  This is a quintessential historic lodge and was designed by the same architect who designed the Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone National Park.  The expansive porch and green lawn that slopes down to the lake would be a perfect place to relax and unwind. Unfortunately no rooms were available, but we enjoyed exploring the lodge and learning a bit about its history.

Lake Quinault Lodge
The Lodge Has Such a Peaceful Setting
Lovely Lake Quinault
Another Side of Lake Quinault
We found a campground with its own beautiful setting on Lake Quinault, and I hauled my chair down to the lake and soaked up the view and the late afternoon sun.  I think I even fell asleep!  We took advantage of the adjacent restaurant and enjoyed some of the delicious local salmon.  That’s what you eat in the Pacific Northwest.

This morning we admired the largest Sitka spruce tree in the world, and it happened to be located adjacent to our campground.  The Quinault Valley is often called the Valley of the Rain Forest Giants because of the large number of champion conifer trees found here. 

The World's Largest Sitka Spruce
Olympic National Park is known for three distinct “faces,” and we experienced two of them today, the forests and the coast.  Temperate rain forests grow along the coast and are known for their lush, dense vegetation, the result of up to 140 inches of rainfall annually.  We hiked through both the Quinault and Hoh Rain Forests where we saw giant trees and moss and lichen-covered forest floors and learned about this complex ecosystem.  We even hiked by a homestead from 1891 that is being restored to exemplify life in this part of the world.  The weather was gorgeous again today, and it was a bit odd to be hiking though a rain forest with the sun shining.  The mood of the forest was so different in this weather.  It was cheery and happy, not gloomy and eerie as it often is in the rain.

The Hoh Rain Forest
In the Rain Forest
Dripping Moss

Pretty Wildflowers
Oregon Oxalis

Kestner Homestead
We reached the Pacific Ocean again today where we gazed at the gentle waves and marveled at the huge logs that had been swept ashore as driftwood.  The rain forest virtually touched the beach in most areas, and this section of the coast felt very different than the coast of Oregon and California.  The national park protects the largest stretch of coastal wilderness in the country.

The Pacific Ocean at Kalaloch
That's Mighty Big Driftwood


  1. That looks like a might fine lunch! Beautiful forest and campground too. Glad the sun was shining on you. LV

    1. LV, All in all, it was a very good day - good food, good scenery and good weather. What more could we ask for. Sarah

  2. I bet that fried asparagus was great. I do love asparagus. Beautiful how the drift wood has been washed up by the ocean. Love. A

    1. A, I also love asparagus, but had never tasted it fried. It was yummy! The size of the drift wood was so impressive. It was hard to imagine how such logs could wash up on shore. Sarah