Sunday, August 3, 2014

Dungeness Spit, Sequim and Olympic National Park

July 29 - August 4, 2014:

We were on the road shortly after 9 AM as we wanted to arrive at Dungeness Recreation Area around 10 AM for a better chance of getting a first come/first served campsite.  It was an easy drive there and we arrived to find several available good campsites. We picked site #8, (one of the best) which is huge, level with lots of privacy and right off the bluff trail overlooking the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  (love that name) It is the polar opposite of our last cramped campsite with no privacy, next door to a family with young children and barking dog who were crying, bouncing off the walls and being yelled at all evening.  

Actually all we could see on arrival here was the fog, it was dense until about 3 PM when it lifted.  We took a walk to the adjacent wildlife refuge and out onto the Spit, but there was such a cold, wet, fogy, wind blowing that we aborted the walk early.  Instead we retreated back to the warmth of the Jeep and rode into the town of Sequim where it was sunny and mid 80's.  Sequim claims to be the capital of Lavender and if you like the color purple and the smell of Lavender, this is your place.  We visited a couple of the Lavender farms, even had some Lavender ice cream and then did a brief downtown tour.  The height of the Lavender season is past, the festival was a couple of weeks ago, but some of the plants remain in bloom and the farm stores are still open. The setting at "Purple Haze" was beautiful and we enjoyed the purple lawn chairs in the sun for a few minutes.

Twinkles enjoying the Lavender view at Purple Haze Farm

Lavender inside the store

Welcome to Sequim

Sand sculpture in downtown Sequim

Building detail in Sequim

I do hope I can get used to that fog horn blowing tonight ? 

I'm still hung up on those Tiny Hillerman books and just finished another, Sacred Clowns.  I wish the World could think and live more like Jim Chee, it would be such a better place ? 

The thing to do here at Dungeness Spit is to visit the famous historic Dungeness Lighthouse out at the end of the Spit.  There is only one way to do it, that is to walk, no bikes or even jogging allowed, an 11 mile round trip.  It is flat terrain and for the most part a packed sand surface so not so bad, just long. It was solid dense fog in the morning, but we set off regardless hoping it would lift latter in the day as is the usual case.  The early going was rough, no visibility at all, but about half way there the fog just lifted, on schedule, and it became really really beautiful.  The only scare we had was when Twinkles tripped over a stone or something and did a face plant in the sand. She was fine however, after brushing the sand off her face.  The Lighthouse was built in the 1850's, had quite a history, has weathered many a storm and remains a working Lighthouse.  Interestingly, it is manned by people who pay to spend a week there for vacation.

We venture into the fog

The New Dungeness Lighthouse in the sun

View from the top

Huge old tree trunks along the beach

Many look like pieces of sculpture

A distant view of the Lighthouse with
Mt. Baker in the distance

Dungeness Spit is the longest "Spit" in the US, they say, and still growing about 12-14 feet per year.  I may argue that claim as to me Sandy Hook in New Jersey is basically the same thing, just larger.  The Spit has lots of huge logs strewn about the shoreline, serious driftwood, which appear to be from trees cut a very long time ago. 

We lucked out on Wednesday, it was a beautifully clear day, excellent visibility, you could see for miles and miles. A perfect day to head to the Olympic National Park.  We drove into the park and then to the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center.  This took us from sea level to about 5,000 feet in elevation.  We arrived just in time for a 1 hour park ranger lead Meadow hike.  The Ranger was very personable and enthusiastic and it was a good informative hike with a large group of travelers.  We lucked out, it was a beautifully clear day, excellent visibility, you could see for miles and miles.  We then did a couple of short 1/2 mile hikes near the Visitors Center to scenic viewpoints of the Olympic Range, the Straight de Fuca, the Washington coastline, Mt. Baker in Oregon and even into British Columbia.

Mt Baker in the distance

The Olympic mountain range from the visitors center

A model of the Olympic Mountain range

Ranger demonstrating the rain shadow effect

View from the trail

View looking down on the entrance road from trail

A roadside view

It's July 31st and it is Twinkles ----?---- BIRTHDAY today !!!  We celebrate by going out for dinner at the Old Mill Cafe near Sequim.  It was nicely decorated inside in a sawmill Americana look with lots of stained glass, saw blades and old logging stuff.  The food was very good too, especially that Peach Cobbler.

There is a policy in many campgrounds concerning extra vehicles that is simply idiotic.  We have run into this at 2-3 places this year and Dungeness is one of them.  If you have a Motor Home and are towing a vehicle that you unhook and then use to drive around you aren't required to pay for an additional vehicle.  On the other hand, if you have a Motor Home and drive your other vehicle into the campground, (as we do) you are required to pay for an additional vehicle.  At Dungeness, no big deal, if you park your "extra vehicle" in the entrance parking lot instead of your campsite, then we don't have to pay, but most places don't allow that.  So, I am thinking about putting some cheap tow bar on the rear of the RV and tow brackets on the Jeep just for show, maybe we'll hook up just outside and tow in, them block the driveway for minutes while we unhook ?  That's my bitch for the day !

We checked out the Dungeness River Audubon Center and Railroad Bridge Park.  The Railroad Bridge Park is a "rails to trails" walking, biking and horse trail that is part of the Olympic Discovery trail system under construction.  This trail when completed will eventually go from Sequim to LaPlush, a distance of 140 miles.  The railroad bridge was built over the Dungeness River in 1915 by the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, latter the Milwaukee Road. Service on this line was discontinued in 1985.  The Audubon Center has a visitors center with many mounted birds and mammals on display.

The railroad bridge

On the bridge

Stuffed birds at the Audubon visitors center

Totem poles at Indian Casino

Sequim has a first Friday art event in downtown that sounded like a happening event.  Well the downtown event turned out to one Art Gallery with free wine or punch and crackers.  Okay there was a musician playing at the art supply store, but no art displayed and about two people there.  None of the other shops in town seemed to be participating at all, kind of strange. 

A return was made to Olympic National Park Hurricane Ridge area on Saturday, we don't normally go into the parks on weekends, now I remember why, it was so crowded.  We hiked the high Ridge Trail for a few miles that was pretty great, it followed a ridge line with much steep up and down terrain and great views.  We then went did a portion of the paved Hurricane Hill Trail.  It is a 1.6 mile trail that is paved the entire way.  I'm not a fan of paved trails, I'm a purist, want to hike on dirt or rock, not asphalt.  The trail however is extremely scenic with incredible wildflowers and views.

Mountain view

Lots of wildflowers blooming

View from the trail of the snowy peaks

That's the trail going off in the distance

Beautiful blue flowers 

The campground here at Dungeness really fills up on the weekend, as we expected.  It is a popular spot for good reason, it's beautiful.  If you want to come here either make a reservation or get here early in the week.

A view from the bluff area showing part
of the Spit

Wave action

A nice Moon shot

A ship fading into the sunset

Wildflowers against the waves

Coastline view

The next stop is the western side of Olympic National Park,
Twinkles and Slick

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