Four days after Cate’s birthday (the 22nd), on Sunday the 26th, we escaped… in honor of her 34th. I know, that’s a lot of numbers, but math is important! A heat wave was descending on the Pacific North West and in particular Southern Oregon! Our original plan was to take I-5 to Mt. St. Helens, and move North to Mt. Rainier and then the North Cascades, but as the mercury climbed at the same time we climbed out of Grants Pass and over the passes of Happy Valley and Wolf Creek, we recalculated. The heat was only forecast to last a few days, so with that in mind, we decided to reverse our route and start with the Oregon and Washington coasts, working our way up to the Olympic peninsula, and then Eastward to the Cascades. We took the road from Salem to Lincoln City with an eye towards Hug Point, and were stopped in our tracks by a two hour traffic back-up… all because of a reduction in lanes…grrr. We were going to try to make it a bit further down the road but due to the traffic we figured we would stay at the Blue Heron Cheese Company which, btw is a great place for free overnight boondocking. Unfortunately (and probably wisely) they do not allow unhooking the tow vehicle for beach excursions, so Cate bought a block of bleu cheese and we soldiered on. It was getting late, and we were tired and frustrated, so our third option was to look for a dispersed site along the Nehalem River. As we travelled north on Highway 101 we were taken aback by the amount of traffic, and in particular, RV’s on the road. So it was no suprise that every camping site along the Nehalem river was taken. We settled on a small pullout along the road and Frankie and I decompressed while Cate headed back towards the coast for supplies in an attempt to catch sunset at the beach.
The following morning we made haste in an attempt to visit Hug Point State Park before the crowds arrived. We did beat the crowds and as we walked through the parking lot the sun streamed through the forest, laying hints of what was to come. Luckily it was low tide and as we rounded the corner of a cliff we saw three waterfalls bathed in early morning sunbeams and mist. I flew the drone while Cate took pictures and Frankie frolicked on the rocks. We explored a huge sea cave and as the people started to arrive, we took our leave.
We were hoping to make to to the town of Forks in the far Northwestern corner of Washington before dark. Along the way we made a quick stopover at the wreck of the Peter Iredel near Astoria.
After a wrong turn and a bit of a backtrack, we were able to make it! Cate’s research, as usual, paid off and we found a great camping spot on Upper Hoh Rd. The spot was originally a boat ramp access but it looked like all of the signs had been removed and the road was in rough shape. We parked the camper next to a well maintained vault toilet and journeyed 12 miles further into Forks to grab food and meet with an old friend.
In case you are not familiar with Forks, it is considered the rainiest town in the lower forty eight states, and is also the setting for the popular Twilight novels. Forks is very proud of their Twilight ties, they have a museum and vampire themed menu items at the local hamburger stand that are served with plastic vampire teeth.
A whole day of travel with no food made short work of the pizza we ordered. The evening sun shone in the blue sky as we made a call to our old co-worker and friend Abby, and her husband Jason who were living in Forks (and no they aren’t vampires as far as we know). We decided to meet at picturesque Rialto Beach to catch up and catch the sunset. As we neared our destination we rolled into a cloud bank and the beach, while still stunning, looked like a black and white photo. We caught up with our friends for a bit before making the drive back to the camper.
The following morning Cate made the short drive up Upper Hoh Rd to the Hoh Rainforest Hall of Moss (no goats allowed). Afterwards she collected me and the Franks and we drove to Olympic National Park’s Hurricane Ridge just south of Port Angeles. From there we gazed upon the Mt Olympus, the Olympic Range, Victoria Canada, and our next destination, Mt. Baker. On the way back we made a brief stop at Madison Falls and then travelled 90 miles south to Lake Quinault before catching the sunset at the Tree of Life at Kalaloch Beach.
The following morning I woke up at dawn, and did my own visit to the Hall of Moss at the Hoh Rainforest (no goats allowed)😜 Next stop North Cascades and Mt. Baker, but the question was how to get there. We could either go a long way out of our way through Olympia, and navigate through Tacoma and Seattle, which is never fun when you are towing, or we could attempt the Port Townsend to Coupeville ferry which would shave several hours from our trip and bypass the cities. The problem was the ferry was completely booked and was on standby status only, we may have had to potentially wait for precious hours or even overnight! As luck would have it we rolled into Port Townsend 10 minutes before boarding the 1pm ferry and were afforded the second spot back of the large vehicle lane and were immediately loaded! Due to the ‘Rona we were unable to take Frankie onto the deck for her (and the Argosy’s) maiden voyage, however it was a quick and calm crossing. Afterwards we stopped for a quick lunch before heading to our next destination, Mt Baker and the North Cascades! Stay tuned!