The long days of summer have given way to crisp days of fall in this part of the world, and it’s time to relive the memories of summer travels. Oh, and Joe Biden became the 46th President elect of the U.S. a few days ago and I can breathe easier now.
The highlight of this summer for us, as for everyone else was the COVID-19 pandemic. As much as I was feeling the wanderlust, we limited our travels to road trips around the state. It helped immensely that we are within a few hours of three US National Parks. I did not want the summer to pass by without spending any time at the beach, and thus we drove to the Pacific Coast in the Olympic National Park, to see the best beaches in our state. While our first day and a half in the Olympic Peninsula was spent exploring mountains and lakes, for the next two days we made a beeline to the Pacific Ocean!
Kalaloch and Ruby Beach:
I desperately wanted the family to have some time by the ocean and the Kalaloch beach in the Olympic National Park really delivered. The soft sand, calm waters, driftwood on the beach and gentle waves provided for lots of opportunity to play in the sand, and watch some gorgeous sunsets from the lovely gazebo at the Kalaloch Lodge.
If you visit Kalaloch beach, you must make sure to pay homage to the Tree of Life, a tenacious tree with gloriously exposed roots balancing precariously over two boulders. We drove to the Kalaloch campground and found the short steps leading to the beach. We found the tree not too far along towards the north side. The tree is glorious and you can walk all the way to the small cave formed by its roots and the adjoining rocks.
We also drove a short distance from Kalaloch to Ruby Beach to marvel at the sea stack formations rising from the sea bed. Ruby Beach is also great for finding sea stars and anemones in tide pools, but we did not have any such luck.
If you have an opportunity to visit a real Rain Forest which just happened to be on the way to your beach destination, you would make that detour, right? So did we! And we are go glad we took that left turn. True to form, we did the easiest hike in Hoh Rainforest, the Hall of Mosses, which is a short 0.8 mile loop trail. This was an easy walk in the forest even for our 5-year old. We saw copious amounts of fern in this fairy-tale forest with impossibly tall and curiously shaped trees draped in moss, forming arches that you can walk under. This will be a walk in the woods you are sure to remember for years and years.
Lake Quinault is another beautifully azure lake in the Olympic peninsula. If you simply drive up the Lake Quinault lodge, you might be tempted to not stop, because the lake cannot be seen from the driveway. But the magic happens when you go inside the lodge and see a well-manicured grassy embankment leading to the shimmering blue Lake Quinault. We ordered a take-out meal from the Lake Quinault kitchen and enjoyed eating our meal on the picnic tables overlooking the lake. Next summer, we will try to stay in the Lake Quinault lodge for a day or two to truly enjoy the lake.
Thus ended our fifth National Park journey (after Acadia, Mount Rainier, Grand Canyon and North Cascades). National Parks are a real treasure of the U.S., and I hope we can keep adding to this list.