Pacific Northwest: Last Days (May 18-20)

Even though our trip was drawing to an end, we needed some downtime. I did sneak out for an hour or so to visit the Museum at the Carnegie on Saturday, the last day it would be open before we left. It is a small but very nicely done museum that offers some great information about Clallam County. I bought two raffle tickets for a silk painting of red tulips to benefit the museum and thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the docent volunteer who was born and raised in the area.

With so little time left, on Sunday we hit the road to take in as much as we could.

We wanted to do a hike at Lake Crescent, the beautiful lake we'd driven by so many times on our way to other places. So we hiked part of the Spruce Railroad Trail along the lake's shore, just to the Devil's Punchbowl, a beautiful spot with incredibly clear and impossibly blue water. It reminded us a lot of Lake Tahoe or Crater Lake.

Lake Crescent

Surprised to see touring type bikes instead of mountain bikes on the muddy trail

Mike at the bridge over Devil's Punchbowl

Susan above Devil's Punchbowl

Falling water, but hardly a waterfall :-)

After our 2.5 mile roundtrip hike, we decided to drive back to Port Townsend again, taking a most circuitous route to see more of the northeastern part of the Olympic Peninsula. We actually left the Olympic Peninsula and set foot on the Kitsap Peninsula briefly by crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge. The bridge is the third longest floating bridge in the world, and the longest in a saltwater tidal basin.

Driving across the Hood Canal Bridge

Then we drove up through Port Ludlow to bag Ludlow Falls as our 10th and final waterfall of the trip. The town seemed very tidy and we had read that the trail to the waterfall was meticulously maintained by volunteers, but still we did not expect see one of them sweeping the stairs and handrails along the trail!

Ludlow Falls

A very well-maintained trail to the falls by proud Ludlow locals

Ludlow Falls, near Port Ludlow

Heading north, Mike accommodated my desire to look around and we detoured across Indian Island all the way to Fort Flagler State Park at the tip of Marrowstone Island.

View from the northeast point of Marrowstone Island and Ft Flagler SP,
looking across Puget Sound to Whidbey Island

Finally we arrived in to Port Townsend, stopping again at Sirens Pub for our last dinner. On our way back to our car we observed two colorful young women at their steampunk tarot card reader booth. Unfortunately, we did not photograph them, but I doubt that the memory will fade any time soon.

Our last day was filled with packing and cleaning up, in preparation for a long day of travel Tuesday. It rained a lot which made it a little easier to say goodbye to this place that we called home for the past month.

The view from our "home" in Port Angeles

Next time we visit the Olympic Peninsula we hope to:
  • Hike to Shi Shi Beach
  • Stay at Lake Quinault Lodge & explore the surrounding area
  • Hike in the Olympics in summer
  • Kayak
  • Visit Protection Island
  • Visit Damon Point in winter to see Snowy Owls
And on the nearby mainland and islands:
  • Visit the Skagit Valley at tulip time
  • Drive the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler, BC
  • Visit North Cascades NP and Mt Ranier
  • Whale-watch and kayak around San Juan Islands
  • Return to Butchart Gardens in mid-summer, fall and tulip time
  • Explore more northerly parts of Vancouver Island
We travel to a lot of places, but this part of the country, with its mountains, lakes, rainforests, ocean, lighthouses, beaches, waterfalls and wild places, will definitely be one of our favorites. 

Pacific Northwest: Victoria and Butchart Gardens (May 15-17)

We got in late Tuesday from Ozette, so used Wednesday as a rest and planning day for Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The ferry schedule just changed for the season and an early evening departure from Canada had been added. We would not need a reservation or to arrive 1.5 hours early, as would passengers taking their car.

Thursday morning we walked the mile or so to the ferry terminal with plenty of time to spare. We booked one night in Victoria at the travel bureau near the dock and planned to buy tour bus tickets in Canada.

The fog was heavy so we got no views on the 90 minute passage.

Mike on the ferry MV Coho, leaving foggy Port Angeles

We spent the day touring Victoria by foot and by bus. We visited the shopping district, Chinatown, the BC museum, and the inner harbor area on foot and the bus tour got us a little further out to Beacon Hill Park and the pretty Oak Bay Esplanade. Since we were running early, our driver had time for us to stop in at the Christ Church Cathedral and also to see some sea lions being fed at the Oak Bay Marina.

The grand Empress Hotel overlooking Victoria Harbor

Picturesque streets of Victoria


Our Gray Line tour bus

Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria

Totem poles in the Royal BC Museum

Oak Bay Marina

Tourists feeding sea lions at the marina

BC Legislative building

We especially enjoyed the parliament buildings where we dined at the legislative lunch room and later took the guided tour.

The rotunda in the BC Legislative Building

After dinner at the trendy brewpub Canoe, we walked through Chinatown and the entire inner harbor area again at dusk on a beautiful evening.

We had a very nice meal at Canoe

Chinatown at night

BC Legislative Building with Victoria Harbor

Victoria Harbor at dusk

The Empress Hotel reflected in Victoria Harbor

Fountain in front of the legislative building

Friday we took the CVS Express Shuttle to Butchart Gardens. We preferred this bus line over our Gray Line tour yesterday because the driver narrated what we were seeing.

Butchart Gardens was one of the top things I wanted to do on our entire trip, and I was not disappointed. Even in the rain it was spectacular and we stayed the entire day.

Umbrellas were provided at the gardens

Sunken Garden in a former quarry

Lots of umbrellas in use

Japanese Garden

Himalayan Blue Poppy

Former Butchart residence, now a dining room

Click here to see a larger album of photos from Butchart Gardens.

Too soon it was time to board our ferry again. It was Victoria Day weekend and we noticed the first cruise ships of the season in the harbor. The clouds gave way to a beautiful sunset with colors peaking just before we docked.

Cruise ships docked near Victoria

On our way back to Port Angeles

A rainbow saluted our trip back
Sunset on our way back

Back at Port Angeles

Pacific Northwest: Ozette Triangle Beach Hike (May 14)

We had rested the past two days specifically to be ready to take the early Tuesday morning ferry to Victoria. We got up super-early as planned, but made a last minute call to delay our trip until Thursday. So now what?

As long as we were up, we packed a big lunch and headed west, with a loose plan to stop at Clallam Bay via our 9th waterfall. Beaver Falls is located immediately off of Hwy 113, and after recent rains, the steep trail down was a bit more challenging. I went part way down, but Mike bushwhacked all around the muddy base of the falls looking for the good vantage points to shoot the falls. While he was shooting, I loaned my trekking poles to a mother/daughter pair who wanted to get closer to the falls.

Mike bushwhacking in to shoot Beaver Falls

Thick rainforest near Beaver Falls

Beaver Falls

Clallam Bay is said to have great sunsets, but I guess we'll have to go back because at 11AM in the rain we weren't inspired to hang around. With me still at the wheel, we decided to drive the 21 miles out to Ozette Lake just to see what it was like and maybe get a better feel for the 9 mile triangle hike on a future visit.

Swan Bay was our first stop and we encountered several Wilson's Warblers close by. Not much else going on there so we drove on in to Ozette.

Driving on Swan Bay Road; elevation 5 feet

Swan Bay

Wilson's Warbler

Expecting quiet remoteness, we were surprised to find more than one bus in the parking lot. Two or three middle school groups were preparing to backpack along the west coast trail. We were impressed with the great experience these kids were getting. One of the leaders chatted with us, suggesting this was a great day for a hike, "if you've got 9 miles in ya." Hm, well let's eat our lunch and think about this.

We didn't plan to do a big hike and it was already after 1PM. But as we mentally went through our supply list, there was nothing major we'd need that we didn't have with us. I picked up a tide table from the ranger station and we calculated we could make around the headlands and be out before dark it if we kept up our pace. Plus, we had our headlamps with us. Looking up at blue skies, we made the decision to go for it.

Susan, after checking notices and tide tables at the Ozette Ranger Station before the hike
We went to the right

Typical "trail" of boardwalk for the next 3 miles to Cape Alava

The groups had a good head start because we encountered no one on the 3.3 mile forest trail until it suddenly opened up to an unexpected grassy green hillside overlooking the ocean at Cape Alava. Another couple inappropriately dressed/equipped for hiking warned us of the difficulty getting down the muddy hillside. But it wasn't that bad and even if it had been, we were not about to turn around now!

Coming out of the forest at the beach of Cape Alava

The difficult part lie ahead as we gained an insight about what a wild beach really is. Gigantic timbers criss-crossed the width of the beach, and as the tide was rising we had to go over, under or through them. I had serious doubts about my ability to complete the hike at this point, but forged on after Mike's lead. When we got to the rocky headlands after about a mile, the water was too high and we had to go up rather than around. For the first time I took advantage of the rope placed for hikers to pull myself up the slippery slope.

Timber-strewn beaches made for a tough hike

The next headlands was not bad even as the tide rolled in, and we were able to relax a bit and pat ourselves on the back after the halfway point of the hike.

Susan on the rocky beach

Mike on the rocky beach
View from one of the headlands we climbed

The rest of the beach hike was easier, and we even extended a little past the trail back into the forest to climb up onto a narrow grassy headland at Sandy Point from which we could see Ozette Beach to the north and another beach to the south.

View from Sandy Point

Banana Slug

A lone Indian Paintbrush at Sandy Point

As we turned back to the forest trail, we shared some chocolate and homemade oatmeal cookies with a park ranger who was "babysitting" the school kids camping a little ways away. As we hiked the final 3 miles through the forest, Mike realized that we were in such a hurry to get over those headlands at Wedding Rocks, we completely forgot to look at the Ozette Petroglyphs. Oh well, we'll have to see if we still have 9 miles in us next time....

Heading back into the woods for the last 3 miles of boardwalk