Saturday, 13 June 2015

Road Trip Diary: Olympia, Washington

Day 30
Portland to Olympia
Tuesday 2nd June 2015

It had been almost a month since our last Airbnb stay and we were missing sharing someone else's home, listening to their experiences and hearing their local tips. It beats any motel or hotel hands down. Our next Airbnb booking, a secluded cabin in a forest setting in Olympia, looked perfect after a busy few days in Portland.

We had been lucky with some awesome weather in Oregon so far (very unlike the pacific northwest apparently, although I think it gets a worse rep than it should) so we were not totally surprised upon leaving Oregon and entering Washington for the heavens to open and the temperatures to dip. We encountered some truly epic rainfall on the I-5 north and it was amazing and a little eerie to see mist shrouding the pine forests and mountains.

Our Airbnb host, Terry, lives on a road with a pretty recognisable name in indie rock and in particular riot grrrl. Sleater-Kinney Road is a long road that crosses Olympia and the band took their name from it after practicing nearby. Ellie is a big fan of Sleater-Kinney, so when we saw the cabin was on the same road, we took it as a sign!

Upon arrival, Terry quickly scooped us up in his ATV (all terrain vehicle- basically a beefed up golf buggy) and took us on a tour of his incredible land and property. He showed us his two idyllic ponds, the trails that weave through his land and the beautiful woodland that the cabin sits in. It was a fantastic experience, holding on for dear life as we rolled over tree roots and drove down steep trails, what a welcome!

He showed us round the cabin and got us settled in as we had stifled our excitement. He told us he likes to describe it as 'one step up from camping' but in reality it was so much better than that. It had been built so that the back was perched on a hill but the front stuck out into the little valley and was supported by stilts, so the balcony was at the mid-tree height. We loved sitting out at night, reading our books and hearing nothing but the birds and the stream at the bottom of the valley.

We settled down for the night with our microwave meal and our books. It was actually great to have no other distractions. We've got 80 days out here for goodness sake, we need some downtime!

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Day 31
Olympia
Wednesday 3rd June 2015

Having had a perfect nights sleep (hearing an owl hooting in the woodland is a perfect way for me to fall asleep) we made our way to downtown Olympia, but not before Terry, having done his research on our Airbnb profile which mentions Ellie is a huge fan of thrift shops, very kindly pointed out the local Goodwill. Ellie continued her US Thrift Hunt 2015 and picked up some goodies whilst I looked at the books.

Olympia had plenty of vintage and antique stores, Dumpster Values and Finder's Keeper's Antique Mall being our top picks for variety and value. By this point, after being dragged round the shops, I was hankering for some lunch.

In the lead up to planning our trip, we noticed that Olympia seems to have produced a multitude of bands over the past 20 years, from Bikini Kill to The Go Team and from Earth to Nirvana and I'm a huge fan of one particular band, Wolves in the Throne Room, who are a black metal band. Following some fanboy research, I discovered that the lead guitarist was a co-owner of a local cafe, Obsidian. On arrival I instantly recognised the David Bowie ambient track, we loved the stripped back modern decor and we tucked ourselves into a booth. I had an orange hibiscus tea and a bacon & goats cheese panini and Ellie had a cajun spiced dirty rice an iced latte. Coming to around $24, it was a great lunch with good, friendly service and a laid back atmosphere.

We still had time to kill and we wanted to walk off the food so we drove over to Priest Point Park, a small park next to one mile of saltwater shoreline. We lucked out as the tide was still out, which enabled us to walk out quite far on the mudflats. We were beginning to fall for Washington big time.
We headed back to the cabin for another peaceful evening and had a great conversation with Terry about his life. We have been so lucky with hosts so far, they have been so kind and generous with their time and advice. He popped down later on to build a small fire for us to enjoy below the cabin and we spent the night toasting marshmallows and drinking beer.

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Day 32
Olympia
Thursday 4th June 2015

We got up early and packed the car up for a day visiting another National Park and though we had seen a lot of mountains and rocks already, we knew that the Mount Rainier National Park would be special. Obviously, we wouldn't be climbing the full 14,411 feet of this beast but they do have a visitor centre at 5,420 feet which we drove to and then made the short hike to some of the best views of the mountain and Myrtle Falls. The weather was initially cloudy but seemed to clear a little as we reached the trails and Rainier popped its head out to say hello, which was an awesome sight. Some things we've seen so far on this trip have seriously made our jaws drop and we added this to the list. Being able to see the pale blue of the glaciers shifting atop the mountain and the spring flowers blooming amongst the tiny streams flowing downhill are scenes we will never forget.

We stopped for lunch in the onsite restaurant, which was nothing special but convenient and watched as the mist rolled back in to the car park as we left.

We made another Goodwill trip en route home, thanks to Ellie's keen eye and went for dinner at Hearthfire Grill which sat right on the edge of the waterfront.


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We were truly sad to leave the cabin and Terry's hospitality (and his smiling face which you can see below!). If you ever find yourself in the Pacific Northwest, you know where to stay!

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