Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Weekend trip to the Olympics

We took a weekend trip to the Olympics to reward ourselves for finally selling Mark's car. Due to only planning the trip a few weeks in advance, the only available place we could stay was at a campsite at a lodge just outside of Forks. The lodge provided tents, sleeping bags, and a propane fire (due to the burn ban), which made things easier. Shizuku and her friend Kurumi came with us.

Friday August 7

We decided to drive in a big clockwise circle so that we would have different scenery the whole time. Unfortunately, traffic was not our friend as we traveled through Tacoma and JBLM. By the time we got to Aberdeen we needed a break. Luckily we found a nice playground which included a splash park. We didn't have proper attire for Claire, but she enjoyed it just the same in her diaper.

We didn't have time for much aside from eating dinner and making smores night 1. We were out of propane for a while so we had Claire pretend to roast her marshmallow and she was quite content with that. It took Claire a long time to fall asleep due to all the excitement. We had her first sleep in Shizuku and Kurumi's tent, but she needed to switch to ours in the middle of the night. Lucky Liz got to share a twin size air mattress with her for 2 nights.

Saturday August 8

We had three things on our agenda for Saturday: visit the Hoh Rain Forest, visit Forks, and go to the Pacific coast at Rialto Beach. After an hour's worth of driving, we arrived at the Hoh Rainforest. Mark had been here once long ago, but this was the first time for everybody else.

We hiked two trails that ended up at about two miles of hiking total. We saw lots of flora but not very much fauna. The trees are very overgrown and many are growing out of nurse logs, and there's moss everywhere. Liz was disappointed she didn't see any of the monster banana slugs that Mark had hyped. We did see some Douglas squirrels and woodpeckers, but that was just about it for animals. Still, there was lots of nice scenery.

Next stop was Forks, which until recent years was only known for being the closest town to the rainforest. It became a tourist hotspot a few years ago due to the popularity of the Twilight novels, which were set in Forks. However, the Twilight economy didn't appear to be very strong any more, based on what we saw.

Still, a clerk at a gift shop told us that they were still doing more business now than they were before the novels and movies came out. Mark got a t-shirt (not a Twilight shirt, but a Star Wars-themed Olympic National Park shirt). We enjoyed some burgers and fries at a place called Sully's. Mark also grudgingly posed for a picture with Edward and Jacob.

Our final stop was Rialto beach, but as soon as we got there we knew we weren't going to be there very long. It was rainy, windy, and cold. Even Claire, who's usually quite adventurous when it comes to water, declared "I don't like this!" after the water hit her ankles a few times. It's probably very nice on a sunny day, but it was not this day.

Claire did not go to bed easily and we eventually negotiated a compromise with her: she could stay up if she remained in her stroller and behaved well. She amused herself by taking selfies on Liz's phone.

And this is what she looks like taking a selfie.

Sunday August 9

We packed up and got ready to leave on Sunday morning. A few words about our campsite: It was very convenient to have everything taken care of for us, and we appreciated the propane fire pit. The shower was easily the finest we've had at a campground, with electricity, hot water, and even an overhead heater. They decorated the trees near the shower with umbrellas, which made spotting it very easy. Claire had fun counting the umbrellas.

On the way home, we dropped by Lake Crescent and rented a pedal boat. The weather was much nicer today than yesterday, and we got to enjoy the lovely vistas and very blue water of the lake. Since pedal boats don't have a whole lot of propulsion, we didn't get very far out before turning back, but we still liked getting out on the water. Claire really wanted to go swimming but the water was very cold! Poor Greta was dwarfed by her life jacket.

After lunch, we drove the rest of the way to Kingston, and waited a very long time to get onto the ferry. Mark took Claire out to pick blackberries during the wait. After a short ferry ride, we made it home around 5:30.
View from the ferry dock

It was a fun, but exhausting weekend. It may be a while before we take our kids camping again, but we sure loved all the experiences we had here, and that Shizuku and Kurumi were able to join us for it!

Thursday, August 6, 2015