November 2016


Leaving Seattle, we took the Bainbridge Ferry to reach the peninsula and made our way to Port Angeles. Located to the north of Olympic National Park, Port Angeles was our main point of departure for expl20160720_194705oring the park over the next few days. While this involved a commitment to more time in the car, it also meant not moving locations every night. We loved the Red Lion Hotel and ate daily at La Belle Creperie. No, seriously: every single day,and we still didn’t get to try all the crepes that sounded amazing. We also had a fabulous dinner at H2O Waterfront Bistro, which had incredible fish and chips that involved fried salmon & cod–amazing. I’ve added a photo of some lovely Native American canoes that were part of a summer-long youth canoeing program to combat alcohol and drug use in teens. Lots of different tribes met up as they made their way south throughout the summer–really cool.

We were floored at the diversity throughout the Olympic National Park and we only had time to explore the top half of it!  Hurricane Ridge, a mere 45 minute drive from Port Angeles felt like being transported to the Alps. Eighteen miles west of Port Angeles you can canoe or have a truly fabulous fresh fish dinner at Lake Crescent Lodge. (It looked like an incredible place to stay but they were booked: 100th National Park Anniversary plus summer.) We enjoyed the nearby trails of “Moments in Time” and “Marymere Falls.” The hot springs with their familiar sulfur smell were still a fun way to soak away the aches of hiking. Further west is the Hoh Rain Forest, a temperate rainforest where moss covers maple trees. We were running short of time because of traffic due to construction work and so only accomplished the short “Hall of Mosses” trail. Stopping in Forks for dinner, we had a nice dinner at In Place, which had a good, fresh salad. Sunset at Rialto Beach was incredibly beautiful with the small islands dotting the oceanview and the forest behind us.

On our last day in Port Angeles, we went out with the Port Angeles Whale Watch Company, which took us out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. While we could see Victoria and Vancouver in the distance, the humpback and finback whales were what really caught our eye. That day there were no orca pods, but several humpbacks swam within ten feet of our boat. It was incredible. None of the photos we took can really do justice to the experience. I now wish we’d had another week or two in the area to see the rest of the park, more fully explore Seattle and to get into Victoria and Vancouver. It was an incredible vacation!

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When wedscn0160 headed out to see friends in Seattle and Tacoma this summer, I was not prepared for the sheer beauty of the area. The Emerald City with its plethora of evergreens is nestled between Puget Sound and Lake Washington with freshwater streams cutting throughout the city, thereby creating amazing bridge views (a perk considering the traffic congestion) with the Olympic and Cascade mountains in the distance. With only a short amount of time in Seattle, we enjoyed four classics: Seattle Japanese Garden, a tour of Theo’s Chocolate, the Space Needle, and Pike Place Market.  The market had incredible bouquets that were so reasonably priced I wanted to rent an apartment to have a place to put them. The classic “fish throwing” was definitely fun, and for lunch we decided on Maximilien for its incredible views on the terrace to go with the lovely French fare. To enjoy the Space Needle, I recommend what we were not able to do: book a lunch reservation and enjoy the view as the restaurant rotates 360 degrees to avoid paying for the admission ticket to the observatory and museum. (That said, I really enjoyed the museum, very Jetsons feel.) The Japanese Garden had such an air of peace and tranquility and was miniature dscn0345perfection. While that visit meant skipping the Arboretum and GasWorks Park, which I’d been excited about, we weren’t disappointed in our choice. As a chocoholic, I can’t recommend Theo’s in the Fremont District enough with its amazing samples both on the tour and in the gift shop.

It’s said that Seattle and Tacoma, its southern neighbor, “fight” over who owns Mt. Rainier, which to be completely accurate is a several hour drive from each city. However, each city offers different and stunning views of that mountain. I was particularly taken with the beauty of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma; I wish we had planned to be there for hours instead of a quick visit at sunset. The full moon rising over Mount Rainier was breathtaking. Driving up and down the San Francisco-like streets of Tacoma (who knew it could be so hilly), we stopped and enjoyed Corina Bakery and Ice Cream Social. We had a delicious supper at the Marrow, which sadly closed a few weeks after our visit. Tacoma is not lauded like Seattle, but it would make a great day trip if you’re in the area.