The park has a number of artillery batteries leftover from WWI & WWII. Not really my cup of tea but they are located at the end of a beautiful hike up the bluffs overlooking the Puget Sound. As we hike up the mountain, we come nose to nose with a family of deer. Now we’re talking!
The state park runs a shuttle into town every hour, but we opt to drive in and have lunch. Parking is a breeze in the Atlas and we go in search of warm slippers. We have found the floor in the Atlas is really cold so slippers would be divine. Will we find them?
And the answer is yes! There is a really cool store right on the water where we find slippers. Plus I find another pair of jeans with pockets big enough for my cell phone and reinforced knees for gardening!
Coffee shops are bustling along the Puget with musicians out in the squares strumming their guitars. And clean? Not a piece of trash in sight. Every store seems to have interesting, unique offerings with no bare storefronts.
As we enter The Silverwater Cafe, we are asked for our vaccination cards. I am impressed as this is the first time we have been asked.
The food is fabulous. Dale has mussels & clams and my taco is the best I have ever eaten. After lunch, we hit the Co-op grocery store & replenish our organic fruit & veggie supplies. We just wish we could stay longer but Dick’s Last Resort is our next stop & it is getting late.
Dick’s Last Resort
We have booked a Hipcamp called Dick’s Last Resort outside Port Angeles. Hipcamp is one of our favorite apps to find private, out-of-the-way interesting spots.
And Dick’s doesn’t disappoint. But as we drive up, there is a barbie doll on the fence. What is with barbie dolls this trip? First, it was a ranger’s description of a 5-year-old child carrying a naked barbie doll on a hike in Iowa (Great Plains Zoo & Our First Abandoned Campsite with a Twist). Now this!
After spending 2 wonderful nights, it is time to check out the Hoh Rainforest with a stop at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. We are some of Dick’s last customers as he is closing the campsite in a couple of days for the season.
The Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge
There are so many places to visit, it is hard to figure out the best ones. Sometimes it is random and spur of the moment. As we are driving between Port Townsend & Port Angeles, we see a sign for the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Making a quick detour, we stop by.
It turns out the Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in North America. But what is a sand spit as I have never heard of one? It is basically a long permanent sand bar. The refuge, including the sand spit, happens to be a sanctuary to over 250 species of birds.
As we walk through the forest to get down to the beach, we get educated with some great signs along the way. The area around the Hoh Rainforest gets about 200 inches of rain a year, yet this forest is in a “rain shadow” on the Olympic Peninsula and only gets 14 inches a year. Pretty cool as it is drizzling the day we visit. Learn more about rain shadows in “What is a Rain Shadow?”.
One of the birds spending time there is the black Brandt goose. Considered sea geese, they don’t need to drink fresh water. Special glands remove the salt from the seawater they drink.
At the end of the spit is a lighthouse you can tour if you want to walk the 11 miles roundtrip. We didn’t!
The Hoh Rainforest
Magical. Mystical. Stunning and out of this world. Words can not adequately describe the Hoh Rainforest. We have been warned of hour-long waits to get into the forest but we cruise right to the Visitor Center. From there, you can take 3 very different hikes and we do the 2 shorter ones and part of the longer one.
We would love to stay in the Hoh Rainforest, but the camping is all primitive and we have reserved another Hipcamp about an hour away.
We see lots of Roosevelt elk all through the forest. The elk are the largest of the 4 subspecies of elk but have the smallest antlers. But why? It is thought their antlers are small so they can get through the dense forest easier.
And guess who they are named after? Teddy Roosevelt! He originally created the Olympic National Park as an elk preserve.
Hoh Rainforest Cool Facts
Being the wettest forest in the US, we luck out and have a beautiful day. And we learn the Hoh Rainforest is the northernmost rainforest in the world.
Plus it has been designated both a World Heritage Site & a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.
Moss is everywhere. On the ground, logs, and hanging from every tree branch. With some of the evergreens over 300 feet tall, why doesn’t the moss hurt the trees? Because it is an epiphyte which is a plant that gets its nutrients & moisture from particles in the air & rain. Ahhh.
Next stop is Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. It is red wolves and more red wolves with a few jellyfish thrown in for good measure.
And what does Gibbs think of all this travel? He is helping me write the next blog!