Goth Panda

November 22, 2013

Olympic NP and Snoqualmie June 2014: Day Seven

We said goodbye to Mike’s parents this morning. They were moving on to Vancouver Island, while we were headed back towards Seattle. We still had one more day in Washington.

Since we didn’t need to leave right away, we went over to the Quinault Rainforest and did a short hike. This was the only place in the park where we were attacked by mosquitoes. Quinault was not crowded at all. It was pretty early in the morning, and we were the only ones there besides the ranger.

They had trail brochures available, and I think this is how we learned that it takes the hanging moss on this tree 100 years to grow four feet.

Quinault rain forest trail, Olympic National Park

Quinault Rainforest Nature Trail

After our short nature hike, we started out for the kitschy pop culture portion of our Pacific Northwest tour. We went to North Bend and Snoqualmie, home of Twin Peaks!

We're at the Double R Diner!   Twede's Cafe, North Bend, WA.

We had lunch at Twede’s Cafe, which is still in the business of Twin Peaks memorabilia. They sold us a little map with filming locations on it, and we saw the police station, got lost trying to find the sawmill, and inadvertently drove past the high school while lost. We stopped at Salish Lodge and Spa for photos of Snoqualmie Falls.

Great Northern! (Salish Lodge and Spa, Snoqualmie, WA.)

From the Twin Peaks credits, I had always assumed that the Great Northern was in the middle of the forest somewhere, but the Salish Lodge is right in the middle of town. I was very surprised. We made reservations to come back that night for dinner.

I’m not sure we would have indulged in a Twin Peaks nostalgia tour if it wasn’t for another draw – spending the night in a treehouse. As soon as Mike found out this was a possibility, he was all for it. So we spent our last night in Washington State at Treehouse Point.

Our treehouse!

If we were going to stay in a treehouse, I insisted that it have a bathroom. So we ended up in Nest, which I think is one of the smallest ones. I didn’t mind the smallness and the bathroom worked fine. It had no running water, of course, but it had an incinerator toilet. I had no clue that these even existed before this trip.

The interior of our treehouse for the night.

We walked all over and looked at all of the other treehouses. There are quite a few to choose from, all in different designs. We thought it would be a great place to go back to for a family reunion in the future. Then we went back to the Salish Lodge for a very fancy dinner. It was an odd contrast to our rustic accommodations.

The only problem I had with Nest was that it backed up on a pretty busy road and we heard a lot of road noise. It detracted from the treehouse-in-the-woods experience. But the treehouse itself I liked. It was sweet and cozy, and it was hard to get out of bed the next (cold) morning to make my way to the shower. The bathrooms with plumbing and showers were shared, but no one else was up when I went down. I think most of the rest of the trees had been at a party the night before, but we had to get up early to get back to Sea-Tac and catch our flight home. We stopped for one last time at Twede’s Cafe and we were on our way.

November 19, 2013

Olympic NP June 2013: Day Six

We started this day out with breakfast at the lodge, and then we went to Hoh National Rainforest. We hiked both the Hall of Mosses and the Spruce Nature Trail.

Hoh Rainforest

Hoh was the busiest section of the park we went to, except maybe the Sol Duc Hot Springs when the high school class was there. There was a light rain only for a very short time while we were there, so we could bring out the good cameras.

Hoh Rainforest

Hiking in the rainforest was like stepping into an oxygen chamber. The whole time we were in the Pacific Northwest, the air was just unbelievably fresh and beautiful, but in the rainforest it was even more intense. It was like something someone should be charged money to inhale.

Hoh Rainforest

Near the beginning of the hike, we saw an otter! We hadn’t seen much wildlife while we were there. We were passing a stream, and heard a loud splash. At first we thought it was a jumping fish, but then it jumped out of the water again and we could see it was an otter. We giddily pointed it out to another hiker. We also saw a bunch of tiny fish in the stream that we later learned were baby salmon.

Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

That is a fallen tree stretched along side of the hiking path to give a sense of how tall the trees are.

Hoh Rainforest

Hoh Rainforest

The forest was filled with decaying plants and logs. We learned about nurse trees, fallen trees which nourish baby trees when they start to grow. This tree’s roots grew around a nurse log that finally decayed entirely, leaving behind the empty space where it used to be.

Hoh Rainforest

On our way back from Hoh, we stopped at Ruby Beach for a look at the ocean. Olympic National Park also encompasses a big part of Washington State’s Pacific coastline. By this time even the hint of rain had stopped, and it was a beautiful sunny day.

Ruby Beach
On the far right, you can see Destruction Island. Bwahahaha!

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

After that we were starving, so we had a late lunch at Kalaloch Lodge, which we enjoyed. I chose not to stay here this time because I wanted to be in the rainforest rather than the coastal area of the park, but I would definitely consider it if we come back.

We had dinner that night at Lake Quinault Lodge for our last night there, and then we drove around looking for elk and other wildlife. By the time we found some, though, it was almost too dark for photos.

November 12, 2013

Olympic NP June 2013: Day Five

Our room at the lodge had a huge screened window which we opened overnight, because I was addicted to the fresh, pine-scented Pacific Northwest air. We quickly learned that the only time the birds stopped chirping was during the frequent bursts of rain.

One of the historic “charms” of our historic lodge room was the steam heater, which woke us up several times each night with loud uncontrollable banging noises that I remembered from somewhere I must have lived as a child that had a similar system. I can admit that these nightly awakenings did slightly diminish my love for historic national park lodges, but not enough to stop me from staying at one in the future. Mike’s parents stayed in the Lakeside rooms at Lake Quinault, which were more modern than the lodge, so that is a good alternative if the lodge proves TOO historic for your comfort level.

It was rainy this morning, and we decided to make this the Sol Duc day, since that was the longer drive. We planned to go hiking and to the hot springs at Sol Duc. We stopped at the Hungry Bear Cafe outside of Forks, WA (apparently of Twilight fame), where the portions were huge, and the owner threatened to make Mike wash dishes for not finishing his pancakes.

We decided to hike first when we got to Sol Duc, because the hot springs were full of high school students on a class trip. We took Lover’s Lane trail out to Sol Duc falls. It rained intermittently, so I didn’t bring my Canon, just my iPhone for photos. We made many, many Lord of the Rings and Endor jokes on the hiking trail. I also taught Mike some Girl Scout songs.

Lover's Lane Trail, Olympic National Park.

Sol Duc Falls, Olympic National Park.

After we made it back to the parking lot, the students were gone and there was plenty of room in the hot springs. We paid for lockers and admission, and went in.

Now, I used to be very skeptical about the healing powers of mineral hot springs. I only wanted to visit these because I thought it would be nice to soak in some warm water on a rainy day where the temperature was in the 50s. I went in several of the different pools, but I stuck to the hot springs (either 102 or 105 degrees), unlike Mike who also went in the 70 degree chlorine pool. The hot springs water smelled slightly like sulphur, and was oily to the touch. It made your skin very smooth after soaking in it.

We didn’t stay long, but after the hot springs soak, all of the lingering soreness in my torso that had been bothering me since I was sick on Sunday was gone, and it did not come back. I was miraculously cured by the hot springs. I decided then and there that I don’t ever want to hike again unless there was a hot spring waiting for me at the end of the trail. I realize this might be difficult to achieve.

We got back to the lodge and went to the Salmon House for dinner with Mike’s parents. They had a beautiful view of the lake, and hummingbird feeders along the windows that brought in lots of hummingbirds. We overheard some German tourists asking the waitress about them. Do they not have hummingbirds in Germany? Wikipedia says no.

November 8, 2013

Seattle and Olympic NP June 2013: Day Four

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 think you are required to take a photo of this sign in Seattle.

Flowers at Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market

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.

Lake Quinnault

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.

September 25, 2013

Seattle June 2013: Day Two and Three

My first night in Seattle, I woke up around midnight and I was horribly sick. I couldn’t sleep again because of it. I kept thinking the whole night that I could get it out of my system and be fine by morning. But when morning came, I still felt so terrible that I wasn’t even disappointed to not be able to go out. I managed to sleep later that morning and slept most of the rest of the day and night. It was the first time I have ever gotten sick while traveling and it was No Fun.

I had been proud that for once I hadn’t overplanned for Seattle. There were a manageable number of things I wanted to see and do, and I had given us almost three full days to do them. But now that I had lost one day, suddenly it seemed like almost everything had to be done in one day, Day Three. And the worst part was I was still getting over the illness.

We all got up early, one of the benefits of the East to West travel time change. I was still sore and tired, and it hurt to stand, walk, and breathe. But I was determined to make the most of my now one full day in Seattle. We went to Citizen Cafe for breakfast and I will take everyone’s word that it was excellent because I could barely eat a slice of their toast.

After that we went to Seattle Center for the tourist highlights. The EMP Museum was still closed, so we took a round-trip monorail ride.

On the Monorail

On the Monorail

Just so you know my prejudices in advance, I have to say that I love the Monorail, I love the Space Needle, I love all of the remnants of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle and the preserved in amber vision of the future they represent. I wish Philadelphia had a functioning monorail. How much more awesome would that make my commute?

We spent the morning at the EMP Museum, which was tailor-made for Mike, with exhibits on science fiction, horror movies, and fantasy in addition to the music.

EMP Gift Shop
EMP Gift Shop

Hendrix at the EMP
Hendrix on the video display

Science Fiction Exhibit

EMP Museum in the sci-fi exhibit.

Captain Kirk's chair and tribbles.

Exterminate!
This Dalek looks a little worse for the wear

Powerpuff Girls animation cell.

Mike in the Scream Booth
Mike in the Scream Booth. My own effort in the Scream Booth was sadly marred by laughing.

Boris Karloff in the Horror Hedge Maze
Frankenstein haunts the horror movie maze

We had lunch at the Space Needle, and of all the touristy things we did in Seattle, this was one of the most enjoyable. It was expensive, but the food was good and the views were incredible. I could only eat a few bites since solid food was still not appealing to me, but my highlight was a cherry Italian soda. I think we did more than two revolutions during the meal, so we saw the city from all sides. The photo below looks like a movie screen, but it was that beautiful of a day.

View from the Space Needle

The floor revolved but the windows stayed still, and another diner posted a note that we all slowly revolved past. She was here with her daughter for her daughter’s 16th birthday, it said.

After lunch, we went up to the observation deck and walked around it before coming back down to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

The museum was compact and photogenic, which was good since I needed plenty of spots to rest. Mike spent a lot of the time taking photos of his dad posed so that the huge glass sculptures were coming out of the top of his head.

In the late afternoon, we took an Underground Tour, which disappointed me but it might just have been because I wasn’t fully recovered and there wasn’t any place to take rest stops. I enjoyed seeing the sidewalk skylights from underneath and hearing about the historical details. I think that, growing up on the East Coast, I got a very East Coast-centric history education and I don’t know enough about the history of the West Coast. I think if I had been feeling better I would have enjoyed it more.

We walked up to the Pike Brewery for dinner, and then walked around Pike Place Market, but almost everything had closed for the night. Mike and his dad then went back for the car to pick us up, while we rested outside of the Starbucks on the corner, which gave us plenty of time to observe the panhandlers and street people in the neighborhood. One passed the time repeatedly attacking a street sign. It was strange, but I never felt threatened by the Seattle street people, although I did think some of them could have used more psychiatric drugs than they were currently receiving.

We tried to go up to the Noble Fir for some local cider varieties, but we didn’t realize they were closed on Mondays. So we ended up back at the hotel pretty early, and I fell asleep immediately, still trying to get over my illness.