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  • Writer's pictureTim Robinson

Summer Send-Off: An Olympic Peninsula Road Trip

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

What better way to send-off summer and celebrate new beginnings (Cora starts kindergarten this month and Christine starts a new job) than with a family road trip? The Rob Mob kicked off September with a hop, skip, and a jump (more like a drive, boat ride, and more driving) over to Port Angeles, Washington. Port Angeles is a port town located on the northern end of the Olympic Peninsula and on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Across the strait (also known as the Salish Sea) you can see Canada, and more specifically, Victoria Island. On a clear day, you can even make out the city of Victoria (the subject of a future blog post we hope!).

Day One:

Port Angeles is about a two and a half hour drive from our hometown of Edmonds, Washington, and requires a ferry trip across the Puget Sound. The drive was full of spectacular views of both the Olympic Mountains and the Puget Sound, which separates the Olympic Peninsula from mainland Washington. Along the way we stopped in the town of Sequim (pronounced "Skwim"), Washington. Sequim is in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, making it one of the driest places in Western Washington. As a result, it also happens to be one of the top places to grow lavender in the United States, so of course we had to make a quick stop by a lavender farm. Between 1995 and 1998, eight lavender farms began planting in the area, and since then, more than 30 lavender farms have been established. We stopped into B&B Lavender Farm where we were lucky enough to enjoy a private presentation on the different types of lavender, its uses, and how it is dried and processed.

Following our visit to the lavender farm we made our way a few minutes north to investigate the Dungeness Spit. At more than 5 miles long, the Dungeness Spit (Link to more info on Dungeness Spit) is one of the world’s longest sand spits and is the longest sand spit in the United States. While we would have loved to have hiked the 5 miles each way to the lighthouse at the end of the spit, Cora and Leo were more interested in playing in the sand and building rock towers (not that Tim minded the latter). After a long day, we got back in the car and drove the remaining 30 mins to our cozy two bedroom Airbnb in Port Angeles.

Day Two:

On day two, we decided to make the trek to the Pacific Ocean. The drive from Port Angeles took a little over an hour as we made our way west along the northern coast and then up and through the mountains. On the western side of the mountains, the weather is much more stereotypical Pacific Northwest, a.k.a. rainy. In fact, the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains are one of the rainiest places in the United States, and contain a number of dense rain forests. The area is also predominantly Native American land, which has protected the area from excessive commercial development, leaving a relatively pristine coastline. Our first stop along the coastline was the town of La Push, Washington.

Despite the weather being magnificent the majority of our drive, as we approached the coast we found ourselves suddenly in the midst of dense, low-level clouds. The easiest beach to access in the area was First Beach, and given the whining we experienced on the "hike" to the spit the day prior, we decided this would be the best option for the kids. First Beach was covered with large pieces of driftwood that had been used to create oceanside structures, huts, and houses. The kids (and us) thoroughly enjoyed climbing and playing in and around the driftwood structures. The clouds even lifted (for a moment) allowing us to see some of the massive rock formations that Pacific Northwest beaches are famous for.

After an hour or two of exploring First Beach, we all hopped back into the car for the hour long drive to our next destination. This drive took us back inland through Forks, Washington (of Twilight fame), and followed the Hoh River south and then back to the coast until we arrived at Ruby Beach. Ruby Beach was a bit more scenic than First Beach. To reach the beach, you park at the top of a hill and descend down to where a stream meets the ocean. It is initially a bit more rocky than First Beach, but opens up to a giant sandy beach closer to the water. While we had hoped to do some tide pooling, the tides were not in our favor, but nonetheless, a fun time was had by all climbing and throwing rocks, playing in the driftwood huts and sand, and building rock towers.

Day Three:

On day three we drove into Olympic National Park and up to "Hurricane Ridge." While only 18 miles south of our Airbnb in Port Angeles, it took us about an hour to get there as it sits about 5,240 ft. above sea level. Hurricane Ridge provides incredible views of the Olympic Mountains and is a fantastic jumping off point for several incredible hikes. Unfortunately for us (Tim and Christine), Cora and Leo were not as enthused by the prospect of hiking (or moving in general) as we were. As a result, we were only able to manage a short trail (if one could even call it that), in which most of our energy was spent carrying cranky children. Despite this, in the end we were able to have a really nice family picnic (including several visits from a very friendly chipmunk) on the ridge while enjoying the incredible weather and views!

After our picnic, we headed back down the mountain in the direction of Lake Crescent. Lake Crescent is about 30 mins west of Port Angeles and is inside Olympic National Park. As a result, there are very few privately owned homes on the lake. The Park does operate a small lodge on the lake which features a gift shop, nice restaurant, and waterfront area for swimming with spectacular views. Despite the frigid water temperature, the kids had a great time playing in the water, and Cora in particular was very keen to show off her swimming skills. We spent a couple of hours hanging out by the lake and then headed home for the day.

Day Four:

On our final day we decided to make our way to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, another National Park lodge that features several natural hot spring pools. Here we all had a chance to swim in pools that are naturally heated by a volcanic fissure deep underground. One of the pools reached a temperature of 112 degrees F! After a couple of hours at the pools we decided to forgo the hike to Sol Duc falls given the kids general aversion to hikes of any kind on this trip, and opted instead to make a quick stop at the Salmon Cascades. There we saw several massive salmon resting as they prepared to make their way up the cascades. While the kids struggled with the concept of patience, the struggle was worth it, as they were beyond excited when they finally saw a salmon jumping up the cascades.


What an incredible place we live! Washington state and the Pacific Northwest are spectacular, and we are so grateful we get to call this place home! This trip was the perfect way to say goodbye to summer and enjoy some time together as a family before embarking on this next phase of our life. September 2021 is shaping up to be a busy month full of lots of new adventures and we hope you will stay tuned to see what the rest of the month has in store for us!


Cheers,

The Mob

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