Saturday, 20 June 2015

Road Trip Diary: Port Angeles, Washington

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Day 36
Seattle to Port Angeles
Monday 8th June 2015

Our drives from place to place have varied between an hour to five hours, so we're getting used to long car journeys but we try and do a bit of research to see if there are any interesting stops on the way.  One of planned spots, Port Townsend, received a glowing thumbs up from our Seattle Airbnb hosts Melissa & Abil.

Port Townsend's downtown area is full of Victorian buildings remaining from its gold-rush heyday and have all been restored to a beautiful standard. The town is a beauty of a thing and we spent an hour so walking by the bay, taking in all the independent shops and stopped off for lunch and ice cream at Nifty Fifty's, a retro-style Soda Fountain. The ice cream was some of the best we had so far, huge dollops of mint and cookies and cream.

We arrived in the afternoon sun to meet our next Airbnb host, Sharon, and her early 20th century house overlooking the port of Port Angeles. The view was something else and we could just see Canada rising in the afternoon fog over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, plus we spotted a deer resting in her garden a couple of days later. We had the whole upper floor of the house including a cozy lounge and Sharon made us feel at home with her kind nature and the delicious breakfasts she cooked us.

After a quick rest in our room and a perusal of the internet to see what was going on in Port Angeles, we took a quick walk to the main street downtown. It's a small place with a few antique malls and a little fantasy gaming store called Anime Kat for my inner nerd. We stopped off for the happy hour at a really busy bar called Next Door and ordered a burger and tacos, luckily we got there early as soon there was a queue out the door so we came to the conclusion it was a local favourite. We had a couple of pints of craft beer and took a tipsy stumble around the waterfront, marvelling at the huge murals, spotting a couple of seals and taking in the quiet evening streets in the setting sun.

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Day 37
Port Angeles
Tuesday 9th June 2015

Can you get bored of epic scenery, of snow-topped mountains and views that stretch for miles? Nope. That's my assessment after everything we've seen so far and today we saw some of the best. Olympic National Park in the Olympic Peninsula encompasses nearly a million acres of forest, shoreline and peaks, the most famous of all being Mount Olympus.

The drive to Hurricane Ridge, where the visitor centre is based, was winding and narrow at points but reaching the top felt like being on to of the world. The ridge looks out over the mountain range and after a little hike, from the opposite side you can see the shoreline and the cliffs of Canada. The steep sides of the ridge are also covered with black-tailed deer, which gave the whole place an air of calm and Ellie thought it was quite magical, especially when we spotted one of the famous Olympic Marmots, a fuzzy little rodent that is exclusive to this national park.

We decided to drive to Lake Crescent afterwards as it was another of the local sights on our list that Sharon had recommended we see. That's another great thing about Airbnb hosts, they usually know the area like the back of their own hand so they can give you the best tips on things to see! We made the hike to Marymere Falls, an incredible waterfall amongst the forest that you reach by climbing some very steep steps. Definitely worth it though, we just stood and watched it for a while as the mist rose from the pool.

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Day 38
Port Angeles
Wednesday 10th June 2015

When I first met Ellie, almost 8 years ago, she was into Twilight and though she isn't the fan she once was she instantly recognised Forks, the small town where the saga is set.

After another amazing breakfast from Sharon, an omelette, fruit and a smoothie, much better than another motel 'buffet', we set off on the 90 minute journey. Forks wasn't quite what we thought it would be. The town has taken Twilight to heart, nearly every shop and cafe had some sort of reference to it but sadly we also noticed that half of these had closed down and the whole main street looked a bit neglected. It seems as though the vampires have finally lost their dazzling allure and Forks has taken the economic brunt of it.

We left Forks to visit our next Twilight location, not that we were doing a tour or anything. La Push Beach features heavily in the books and films, but the stunning First Beach is more than worth a visit for the stunning rocks and the rugged beach.  The La Push Quileute Tribe have lived here for over 1,000 years and on Wednesday evenings they invite locals and visitors alike to the beach for a traditional storytelling session but we were sadly too early for it.
We sat on the beach on a huge driftwood log as Bald Eagles circled overhead and juvenile sea gulls gave us pleading looks whilst we chomped onto our Safeway sandwiches hoping for crumbs. A lot of the beaches we have visited so far, including this one, have been eerily empty because it's still a bit chilly on the coast. We practically had the place to ourselves, just us and the crashing waves.

We headed back for a night in writing blog posts, drinking beers, reading our books and packing up our things ready to move on again in the morning to Astoria.

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