Part 1 of this post describes the first 3 days of our adventures in Seattle, Mt Rainier, Fort Casey, and Whale Watching. Click here.
Day 4 - Olympic Peninsula - Berry Picking and Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park
Waffle Ice Cream Sandwiches for Breakfast
One of the things we enjoy about staying in Airbnb’s is being able to make our own breakfast and lunch. It saves time and money when we travel, leaving more of both to do and see more when we’re out for the day! It could also mean waffle ice cream sandwiches for breakfast when you’re moving from one place to the next this morning, and you might as well use up that ice cream before you go! The kids were pretty excited about it!
Bainbridge Island Ferry
Getting to the Olympic peninsula started the fun, as we got to take our car on the ferry again! We hadn’t checked the schedule before we left, and just missed the 11:30 ferry. We left our car and walked to the nearest souvenir shop in search of a marmot. They really were cute. We didn’t find any, and by the time we got back to the car, it was time to load the ferry.
Graysmarsh Berry Farm
Our first stop was Graysmarsh Berry Farm. We had read that berries and lavender are in bloom in the region this time of year, and since this farm had both, we headed there first. They closed at 4, so by the time we got there we only had about 45 minutes, but that was just the right amount of time to explore the rows and rows of berries. We got to pick raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries! Coming from Florida, we are experienced with strawberry picking, but had never even seen how the other berries we get from the grocery store grow, so that was a lot of fun. And amazingly delicious!
We didn’t have time to try picking lavender, but they did let me walk out into the field before we left to smell the lavender and snap a few pics. Seriously, I could lay down in the field and chill there all day! Think they’d let me get a sleeping bag and sleepover? That’d be the best, most relaxing sleep ever!
Shoutout to my friend Sheryl from Why Not Adventures for finding this place! She travels a lot and takes the most amazing trips, and created a trip planning business to share this joy and talent with others. I love trip planning too, but for the past few years, I’ve consulted with Sheryl on my trips to help me not over plan, make sure there’s nothing I missed, think and talk it out when I need to review my itinerary, and find places like this!
Olympic National Park - Hurricane Ridge
I really didn’t know what to expect here, just that it was something we should see, and I was completely blown away. There were some steep, but other than that pretty tame loop hikes near the Visitor’s Center, and longer hikes had we had more time and daylight. We really enjoyed the wildflowers and wildlife (we saw a buck!) and amazing views. I also got one of my favorite family selfies of the trip (us at the top of the mountain looking at each other, the second image below the sign). I can connect my camera to my phone and use it as remote, which is pretty cool.
While watching the sunset, we spoke to some other visitors who were staying to watch the meteor shower, so we did the same. In making this decision, we had no idea the sunset would be so long! We loved the technicolor skies, but man, it was about an hour of that and got cold out before the stars came out! I didn’t have my tripod with me so couldn’t effectively capture my own night sky photo, so I picked one off Google that looked similar, just so you get an idea of what the night sky looked like. I saw one or two, maybe 3 shooting stars out of the corner of my eye, but none directly. I did see a bunch of moving stars, which I’m told were satellites, so that was cool!
Day 5 - Crescent Beach in Joyce, WA and Lake Crescent Bike Ride in Olympic National Park
Crescent Beach - Crescent Bay - Saltwater Creek Recreation Area
I had originally earmarked this morning to check out the Sol Duc Hot Springs, but we’d been travelling pretty heavily, and wanted a more relaxed morning. We checked in with our Airbnb host, who suggested checking out Crescent Beach. We looked up Crescent Beach on the map, and it wasn’t nearby. We took a closer look and found Crescent Beach Road across the street from where we were staying, and used the map to take that road until we hit water, assuming we’d figure it out. I love adventures like that! Not knowing where you’re going and exploring along the way!
Just past the Crescent Beach RV park, there was a small parking lot, where the signs read ‘Salt Creek Recreation Area’. We parked there, and explored the beach. We lucked out in that it was low tide, and the kids had a blast skipping rocks (they did that pretty much everywhere we went that had water and rocks), and the highlight of this beach was a see-saw that someone had made out of driftwood! For the rest of the trip, it was ‘see-saw beach’ and little man kept asking to return! I looked at a map after we left, and Crescent Bay is what appears on the map. I even looked it up on Google Earth, and you can see the parking lot and little tree island. So cool!
Lake Crescent - Olympic National Park
We like to make our travel active. In several of the places we’ve visited, we’ve done bike rides, or water sports like SUP or kayaking. My research led me to Adventures Through Kayaking, who rented us mountain bikes for the day to explore Lake Crescent with our guide, Jake (who photo credit for the images I’m in below goes to). We biked along the Spruce Railroad Trail. It was a solid trail, but much rockier and hillier than this Florida girl is used to! I also experienced a metaphor for life on the ride through the ups and downs of the mountain path: the uphill climb is tough, but the downhill coast is glorious. And the feeling that you earned it and worked for it makes it that much more satisfying.
After our ride, we had dinner in town in Port Angeles. The kids were begging to go back to the ‘see-saw beach’, and it was nearly dark by the time we made it there after dinner. We told them the see-saw was most likely inaccessible due to the tide coming in, and we were right. It was amazing to see nature at work, and how those many yards of open shoreline from that morning were now covered by the sea! Also, they got to throw a few more rocks, so, mission accomplished, ha ha ha!
Day 6 - Hoh River Rafting, Hoh Rainforest, Kalaloch in Olympic National Park
Chill morning at ‘home’ and Lake Crescent on the way out of town
This morning, we were planning to get up early and see the tide pools on the beaches of Olympic National Park. But I had left my sweatshirt in town the night before at a store that didn’t open until 11:00 am, so I stayed home with the boys to pack and supervise some summer reading and play while he went to get the sweatshirt. It was a pretty cool space with several interesting natural wooden touches, and some deer that visited the backyard in the mornings.
On the way out of town, we passed the opposite shore of Lake Crescent than the one we’d explored the day before, so we pulled off for one more look at the beauty, and of course, more rock throwing. The boys have mastered skipping rocks, especially big brother. Mom, less so, so I participated in the rock throwing contest for distance. I did not win.
Hoh River Rafting
Having enjoyed white water rafting in Tennessee two summers ago and kayaking in Arizona last summer, I researched if there was any rafting on the rivers that flow through the Olympic Peninsula. I was rewarded with the discovery of Hoh River Rafters. It was so peaceful, and unlike any other river rafting tour I’ve ever done. In the Smoky Mountains, there are many whitewater rafting companies to choose from, and each takes out at least a half a dozen boats at a time, and the busy energy can be felt.
This experience with Pat was a complete contrast. Our boat and the other who joined us were the only two out there. The river was wide and calm. The water flowed gently off the rocks into the river. There were a couple of slight rapids, but this Class II experience was such a contrast to the Class III and IV rapids of summers before. Asking about all of the fallen trees and driftwood we saw, we learned how the river normally towers at heights above where we were floating and roars through the area at incredible speeds as the seasons change. I kept commenting on my disbelief at the lack of crowds. The experience was so lovely, I was so surprised it wasn’t more widely experienced. It felt like magic.
Not wanting to risk the combination of my real camera and water, all I have from this experience are cel phone photos, but I am grateful for these memories. Sometimes the best camera is the one you have with you.
Hoh Rainforest - Olympic National Park
We were just up the road from the rainforest when we finished our rafting trip, so we headed down to explore the loop hike behind the visitor center through these ancient trees. It was so beautiful and so amazing. The signage throughout the hike was really well done, and told the story of the forest. The massive size of the trees and changing microclimates on this short hike was awe-inspiring. My little one especially came alive in the forest with curiosity and exploration.
Kalaloch Lodge - Olympic National Park
From the rainforest, we headed to Kalaloch Lodge for dinner and the sunset. We pulled over to see Ruby Beach along the way. We didn’t have the time to hike down before the restaurant closed, but at least got to see the stacks (rock formations in the water). Since we were headed to Portland the next morning, after dinner we kept driving to Olympia, where we spent the night as a nice halfway point. What a beautiful way to end little man’s birthday!
Part 3/3 concludes this amazing travel experience with visits to the Columbia River Gorge and Portland. Stay tuned for the link!