On Tuesday morning, we drove out to the airport to pick up our rental car for the next phase of the trip: Olympic National Park. We stopped for breakfast at a highly recommended local restaurant, the Pancake Chef near the airport, although since I was still recovering I think I only had a quarter of a waffle. After that we went back into Seattle to Pike Place Market, since we really didn’t have a chance to see it the day before.
I was kind of disappointed by Pike Place Market. Maybe I didn’t see the right parts of it, but it seemed like it was just a lot of overpriced, touristy shops. I was still sick, and not really in the mood to explore, however. We did see the fish get thrown around, which was fun. I had wanted to get a crumpet at the Crumpet Shop, since I had never tried one, but again I could only eat a few bites. From the little I had, it seemed really good though. I also liked the tea I got there, which had an interesting smoky flavor, but I don’t remember which one it was.
Then we started out for Olympic National Park. When I was first planning a trip to Seattle, I was thinking about combining it with Vancouver. But then I saw photos of the Hoh National Rainforest, and I rearranged my plans. We could do Vancouver on a separate trip. I wanted to see a primeval temperate rain forest, gosh darn it!
Since I wanted to see both the rainforest and the coastal sections of the park, I decided to stay in the historic Lake Quinault Lodge, which was convenient for day trips to Sol Duc and Hoh, and the beach areas. Besides, it should be apparent by now that the words “historic national park lodge” set off a Pavlovian response in my brain that basically just hands over the credit card.
We had to wait to check into our room, so we went across the road to the little mercantile shop and got some drinks, and then wandered down to the lakeshore and the firepit.
We found out later that the lake was off limits. The lodge and lake are owned by a Native American tribe, and they were in the middle of negotiations with the National Park Service over contract terms or something, so no one was allowed to swim or boat on the lake. This was okay, because I am pretty sure the lake was freezing cold.
One of the best things about being in the Pacific Northwest in June was that it was in mid 60s every day, with absolutely no humidity, while Philadelphia was an oven of heat and humidity. Even though the whole area is a rainforest, it wasn’t humid at all. While driving to Lake Quinault, we passed through about 57 rainstorms, each of which lasted approximately 20 seconds. When it wasn’t actually raining, the weather was perfect. And it rained surprisingly little the whole time we were there. When I got off of the plane back in Philadelphia, the atmosphere felt smothering and I wanted to turn around and go right back to Washington State.
The only downside to the Lake Quinault Lodge was that there are very, very few other dining options besides the lodge restaurant. We ended up eating there several times, and the food was very good, if a little expensive. But the lodge is very much in the wilderness, and there aren’t many other choices. By the evening, I was actually feeling hungry for dinner, and I had a delicious smoked mozzarella pasta dish which I actually managed to eat a good part of. We asked the waitress about local wildlife, and she told us about a local bear who gorged on apples in a nearby former orchard. She also told us that the Native Americans believed Lake Quinault was home to a lake monster large enough to eat a cedar canoe. We did not see him, but maybe he was on strike until the contract got signed, too.