2014-04 WA/OR/NV/CA 1/6
Day 1/Monday/April 7:
We left our home @ 9:30am to catch the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry 11:45am sailing. The weather was perfect with blue skies and little wind. After a smooth ride in the front for a great view of our destination, we arrived in PT. A left onto Highway 20 took us to the junction for Highway 101. Usually we head along the inland route to swing over to the coast between Shelton and Olympia via Highways 8 and 12 for a shorter drive but we opted for a different route this time. We chose Sequim Bay State Park as it is right off the highway ( actually, 101 divides it in two). We drove into the campground choosing space 82 with a partial view through the trees to the bay and out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island. Our campsite was almost free because last October we purchased a Senior Off-Season pass which allows for free camping from October through March with April free from Sunday-Thursday. Well worth the $75 as we do camp locally in the offseason and pass through Washington coming and going to other destinations..
We wandered down to the beach via the boat launch road. The beach was eroded on one side preventing the use of several benches so we wandered along the north shore discovering some interesting round sandstone rocks on the shore and embedded in the cliffs. We then returned to the campsite to set up camp (just flip of the switch to raise the top and move sleeping bags to the bed to make room to sit. Another walk led us to a portion of the Olympic Discovery Trail System. We wandered down to the beach finding a ramp and dock to better view the area. On the way, we passed through a covered bridge built to scale for a trail. It passed over a stream meandering to the salt water. We saw trilliums in bloom, false Solomon’s seal, tiny yellow violets, ferns and other woodland plants. The tree canopy was a mix of cedar, fir, alder, maple and madrona.
After a dinner of soup that I made the day before at home, we lounged around then went to bed early. Toller now has his own sleeping bag, one of our daughter’s from when she was younger so maybe he won’t try to sleep on ours.
Day 2/Tuesday/April 8:
After a great night’s sleep (necessary to recover from late night of last minute packing), we awoke to walk Toller on a nearby trail so he could do his business. The early sun was shining on the glassy bay and brighteneing up the woods surrounding us. We left our campsite at around 9am to avoid early morning browsing deer and traffic along 101 heading for Port Angeles. There was actually little traffic but we did encounter road construction between Sequim and PA as the state was widening 101 into 4 lanes. What traffic we did encounter after PA consisted of logging trucks, locals plus a few scattered RVs.
We followed 112 from 101 to check out the Salt Creek Recreation Area, a county park. We met a nice couple from Belfaire who told us about a lookout over the decommissioned Elwah Dam. We walked a short woodsy trail to the overlook. The dam has been replaced by a large earth berm allowing the Elwah River to flow through its original channel to the Straits of Juan de Fuca allowing the salmon to return as they did in the past. We returned to 101, skirting Crescent Lake, a large deep lake colored a dark blue green. It began to rain hard then slacked off as we neared Forks, a town of about 3000+.
We stopped at Bogachiel State Park for a bathroom break and a stroll around the campground. It is situated between the Bogachiel River and Highway 101. The campground featured a woodsy setting and familiar wildflowers like huge trilliums, oxalis oregana, Solomon’s seal, tiny yellow violets and a large leafed plant with a whorl of white blooms called petatsites, all typical PNW woodland natives.
After arriving at the Pacific Ocean, we stopped at the Ruby Beach Overlook in the coastal portion of the Olympic National Park to venture down a path to wander the beach and check out the sea stacks. The rain had diminished and the sun hinted that it was still around, peaking from behind the clouds in the western sky. We didn’t find any agates but discovered that some of the large driftwood logs were a reddish color. We were surprised that we could bring Toller down to the beach (leash required) as most national parks won’t allow dogs on trails.
We drove a few more miles south to the Kolaloch campground between 101 and the Pacific Ocean. We arrived too late for a bluff site overlooking the ocean so we found a site in loop E that was between the bluff and 101. E11 was a good choice as the woodsy setting buffered the noisy surf. Because we have the Senior Golden Age pass for national parks and USFS/BLM facilities, our fee was $7, half of the posted price.We could still hear the surf but it was white noise soothing us to sleep. After setting up camp, we walked the dog, ate our supper of homemade soups then hit the sack or sleeping bags. Life is good. An added note: at a pull off along the Hoh River we saw a Four Wheel Camper Silver Spurs edition and at the campground there was an Four Wheel Camper Eagle model from South Dakota. Pop up campers in the PNW are rare so it was unusual to see 2 in one day. Having owned FWC previously, we are familiar with them.
Day 3/Wednesday/April 9:
That soothing surf became annoying after awhile and combined with the occasional vehicle buzzing by on 101, sleep was intermittent. Hard between bluffs of the crashing surf of the Pacific Ocean and highway 101, Kalaloch is noisier than a wooded spot inland but as lovers of salt water, we wanted to be near the water. Next time we will find that recommended boondocking site near Ruby Beach.
We drove south on 101 our only company being logging trucks and locals. We passed through many small dots of towns and some major ones like Hoquium, Aberdeen, Raymond. Hoquium flows into Aberdeen where 101 snakes through town after dividing into two two lanes separated by a block. We fueled up at a Shell on Highway 12 (big mistake as attendant was unaware of Fred Meyer rewards program, the nozzle leaked and we ended up paying $.10 more per gallon by using a credit card). We also stopped at the local Safeway for a few groceries.
We arrived in Long Beach to celebrate Toller’s 3rd birthday by allowing him a long run on the beach. That dog loves to run back and forth between us. We then drove on the beach (perfectly legal in that area) and encountered a large group of horseback riders. We cruised down the paved road to Ilwaco, a fishing village but our destination was a free night’s camping at Cape Disappointment State Park. Our usual spot by Lake O’Neil # 224 was available. No one except some biker/campers across the street were in that loop. Everyone else goes to the hookups near the ocean.
We set up then wandered over to Waikiki Beach which is in a protected cove by a lighthouse. It was sunny and warm and the wind was light. Toller had to be on a leash but was content to sit with us on the driftwood. As it was getting cooler returned to the camper, had dinner and went to bed.