I always like to start these entries with a history lesson:
In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt, created Mount Olympus National Monument to protect the Roosevelt Elks,which were animals native to this area. Then in 1938, FDR, came to visit the Monument [and apparently stayed at the hotel that we stayed at] and declared it a National Park.
Olympic National Park is a very unique National Park. It has several different geological areas. There’s the coastal portion of the park, which is 60 miles of shoreline. Then there’s the glaciated mountains of the Olympics. There’s also a temperate rainforest, both Quinault and Hoh, are examples of this. Then there’s spots like Sol Duc hot springs.
And the different geological regions aren’t located close to one another. There are multiple entrances to Olympic National Park, and each entrance leads you to a different environment. Again, there’s a wonderful map the website provides of all the different areas: http://www.nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/gettingaround.htm, it’s especially useful as you plan your lodging because it tells you the distance between… let’s say… Quinault and Sol Duc, so aside from letting you decided, where you want to lodge, it also helps you plan your days out based on what you want to see while you’re visiting.
The park was about 2.5 hours from Seattle. I really wanted to take a detour to Mt. Rainier National Park, but it was just too out of the way to manage… so next time?
We arrived at the hotel, went to the Quinault Ranger Station, got stamps for our passports, as well as the Olympic sticker, and asked where we could find waterfalls. She mentioned that there were two within a drive-able distance from the lodge, so we thought “awesome” and headed along our merry way there.
The first waterfall was maybe ten or so minutes from the lodge on highway 101 called Merriman Falls.The falls plunge over about forty feet of rock into a lush rainforest full of ferns and moss and lots of trees. There was even a rocky path that took you to the top, that I climbed, in flip flops, cuz I’m cool like that, so I could even get better pictures of it. Justin also climbed to the top using his trusty hiking stick that he bought back in Grand Canyon. We were basically the only people there for awhile, until ONE car pulled up and some dapper looking dude with a tripod parked near us and took his pictures.
After getting our fill of climbing and picture-taking, we headed to the other falls nearby: Bunch Creek Falls, we weren’t nearly as successful with that. As soon as I got out of the car, a herd of angry bees started chasing me, and I literally was running down the road screaming at the top of my lungs…
Did you know I’m TERRIFIED of bees?
They don’t have any good intentions towards you. They chase you, and then they sting you.
Umm…. Luckily Justin and I were the ONLY ones on the road when I started screaming that the bees wanted to murder me and kill me, or we might’ve gotten some strange looks with me running at a sprint down the highway screaming like I was being murdered…. which the bees totally wanted to do.
Since we couldn’t defeat Bee-ma-geddon, I had to settle for some pictures out of the car window… Luckily they turned out okay, no dead bugs that had splattered themselves on the windshield made an appearance in those photos.
Have I mentioned…. I HATE BEES!!!!
On the bright side, we also had a lovely view of Quinault River during our trip, from varying angles.
Then we turned onto a bridge… which I may or may not have made Justin pull over to the side on and turn on the blinkers, so I could take pretty river pictures… and turned onto North Shore road.
I thought we were going to die on that road. It wasn’t even a real road… It consisted of lots of little rocks, and winded its way down a mountain in a twisty-turning way, and the road had barely enough room for one car, and was supposed to be a two lane road.
Man… National Park roads REALLY test your fears and limits.
We eventually made it back to the inn, checked into our room, which was very cute.
More history time. The original inn was built in 1880s and lasted during prohibition times. It was a popular speak-easy, where bootleggers brought booze over to the inn, and they would dance in the dance hall, which was right on the lake. In 1924, a fire burned the original inn down, and basically nothing was saved except for a piano. 53 days later, with crews of men working nonstop, day and night [half would work, then pass out in the boathouse, while the other half started to work], the current Lake Quinault Lodge was built. And that original piano is STILL in the lobby, though you can only play it until about 10 o’clock and that’s only IF you know how to play. The lodge was placed on the national ledger of historical places in 1998.
Anyhow, the point to that was, aside from history being awesome is that we stayed in the original building [well after it was rebuilt, of course]. The room was cute. It was small, but cozy. It had a queen-size bed, a dresser, a radiator, no AC though cuz Washington gets COLD at night, so there’s no need for one, a tiny desk with a coffee maker, and a private bathroom. It was an adorable room.
We dropped off out stuff, then signed up for a sunset cruise around the lake, and then decided to swim. We swam in the lake, just to say we did. It’s 240 feet deep, if you’re curious. It starts out shallow and then the floor just drops. Then we swam for a bit in the heated 9 ft deep pool, we love deep pools. Then we headed back to our room, ate cold pizza [yum], and then went to the dock for our cruise.
The cruise was led by Charlie, who was awesome, and you could tell how much he loved his job and Lake Quinault Lodge. We saw a bald eagle just chill-laxing on a tree, an osprey nest, and an eagle nest. We got to explore July Creek for a little while, which is a really beautiful and peaceful area nested in trees and has a really pretty creek. We also got to see somewhat of a sunset on the lake, though it wasn’t really that sunny, so it wasn’t much of a sunset, but it had some color.
Then we sat in the lobby, drank hot chocolate, played scrabble till about midnight [we didn’t finish the game, but Justin won] and it was off to bed.
The next morning, we woke up, made freeze-dried food with the coffee pot,and decided to drive to Sol Duc.
Sol Duc was 2.5 hours away from where, we’re staying, and we got to drive right through Forks, Washington.
Forks is the home of Bella Swann and her sparkly vampire stalker Edward live… Apparently it’s real. It’s real to the point of OBSESSION.
The Forks Visiting center proudly states that they have 5.5 vampires living there. That’s a wrong statement. There’s Edward, Bella, Jasper, Alice, Rosalie, Emmett, Carlisle, and Esme, and I guess Renesmee would be the .5, but that’s 8.5 not 5.5
Anyways, GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT FORKS.
At the Visitor center, there’s also Bella’s car from the movie, and from the visiting center, you can go on the twilight tour, which takes you to all the sights from the movie. No, we didn’t do that.
They also bring along nifty cardboard cut-outs of Bella and Edward and Jacob, that you can pose with at the various sites…
It’s just wow… NO WORDS.
And not only that… There are twilight themed hotel rooms, Twilight read-a-louds, at select hotels, and every single store in Forks is Twilight something… It’s a very scary place.
Unfortunately, we didn’t get to drive through La Push, for the Team Jacob tour, but we did see the sign for it.
But hey, GO FORKS, way to take advantage of cheesy teenager girls [and some adults] and their love for that book.
Finally after scary Twilight town, we arrive at Sol Duc.
Sol Duc is a beautiful river in Olympic National Park with some of the bluest water that either of us has seen, gorgeous waterfalls, and it’s the home of the hot springs.
The hot springs are at a resort, they’re free to people, who stay at the resort, but they aren’t that much to get a day pass either. They have three hot spring pools, a little kiddie pool that’s only 90 something degrees [yes ONLY], the fountain pool which was about 105 degrees, when we were there, and the medium pool, which was 108 degrees, while we were there.
The springs were interesting. They smelled like a lovely mixture of sulfur and who knows what else. There were a lot of dead bugs in the springs, but whatever, there are dead bugs in pools, as well. I found the springs to be too hot to sit in for more than let’s say 10 minutes, and even that was a challenge. I’m sure the springs are lovely early in the morning, when it’s cooler, or at night, when it’s cold, as well. That’s not to say I didn’t like the hot springs, I found them very relaxing, it was just hot during the middle of the day in summer.
There was also a large and cool swimming pool… well cool as in 85 degrees, but compared to 108 degrees, it really does feel cool and comfortable. The pool went up to 10 feet, and we had a good time floating, diving, jumping, and doing cannon balls into the pool.
We stayed at the springs till about three and it was very relaxing.
Then we drove a few more minutes till we reached the hiking trail to Sol Duc Falls.
The trail wasn’t hard or anything, it was just hot and sweaty, and we forgot to bring water with us, so by the time we got to the falls, we were dying! However, the falls were gorgeous, and totally worth almost passing out for. There were also lots of deer flies on the trail, which kept buzzing at us, which freaking me out… because bees buzz and I thought every time I heard a buzz, I was going to get attacked by a bee.
After the falls, we drove back to our hotel, had some dinner, took a nap, and then spent the night, updating our travel blogs [you’re welcome] and drinking more hot chocolate. Then it was off to bed.
Then we woke up this morning, had breakfast at the lodge, which was good. I had eggs Benedict, which I apparently have grown fond of on this trip, and Justin had some sort of sandwich. The bar also sold frappachinos, as well as other Starbucks drinks, so I grabbed a frap, bought some postcards, and then we were off to nowhere’s land Washington.
We had two days to get to Yellowstone.
But Olympic National Park was beautiful, and it’s so huge. We barely got to see all of it. We didn’t get to see the Hoh Rainforest or Hurricane Ridge or anything like that. We barely even touched the beauty that is Olympic National Park.
But that’s okay… we’re already planning another trip there in a few years 🙂
So we’ve been to… Grand Canyon, Petrified Forest, Yosemite, Crater Lake, and Olympic National Park now, and I have to say, as beautiful as the first few parks are, I think the Oregon/Washington Parks are much more picturesque and peaceful… Perhaps because they’re not as populous as other parks… Or maybe its the colder weather.
Who knows 😉