It was a comfortable 60 degrees in the camper this morning with the outside temps pretty close. I take Mabel for a walk, the sky to our East an amazing orange in color. My camera was left back at the camper, so we trotted back to retrieve it, Mabel less enthusiastically than me. She remained in the camper and I was able to digitally capture a diminishing morning sunrise. I blatantly violated my ACAC (Always Carry A Camera) rule and paid the price with less orange.
Last night, the closest camper’s dog decided to pay a visit to our site in a spooky kind of way. It just appeared in the darkness, my flash light beam illuminating a very posture perfect dog looking towards our campground. Mabel wanted to play but the visitor was more curious and quickly grew tired, retreating across the camp road to its spot. The dog paid another visit this morning with more of the same results.
We took the trail behind our campsite and followed it towards the river. It was very lush, and the trees were covered with moss, either on their trunks or hanging from the trees. The vibrant green popped against the reddish-brown dirt of the trail and grew denser the farther we went. Mabel loved the freedom but stayed close, at times pausing to wait for her slower companion. She really enjoys the woods, and I can see the happiness in her eyes, just like at our beach visits. I don’t think Mabel leans either way in the beach vs. forest debate, she just likes to run without the restraints provided by a leash.
The forest was dense but not to the point where you would get lost if going off trail. The trees are tall and provide a canopy against the sun, but there is none this morning. I actually take two trips down the trail because I again didn’t follow ACAC and see a moss-covered tree branch that would make a great photo, at least in my head. So, we traipse back down the trail but I can’t find the branch and proceed past where we previously turned around. We start back, the trail looking unfamiliar, and I think this might be like the island in Lost, an ever-changing landscape designed to confuse and manipulate. Would our campsite even be there to come back to or would it be swallowed up in some type of cruel time bend? Thankfully I find the moss-covered branch, rippled in green it reminds me of a chunky baby’s thighs. Photo Mission accomplished, and our campsite was found, just as we left it.
Heading East on HWY 101 I see a paved Forest Service Road heading North and decide to veer off into the Olympic National Forest. Somewhere in my travels, I was told that road camping is allowed in the National Forests but not in the National Parks. This mini excursion would be a good opportunity to scout sites just in case I run into more problems like I had last night. The road was an easy drive and I found pullouts that would accommodate the car and camper. There was little activity on the road and I saw only one other camper nestled in a small site off the road.
We continue until I could feel an increase in elevation and the road turned to a pebble/dirt mixture. Mabel said she had seen enough so I decide to turn around and whipped the car in a tight turn towards my left. The first mistake of the morning! I soon found myself in a pickle; the car and trailer jackknifed at an angle that I didn’t need a protractor to tell me was trouble. The gully in front of me didn’t allow for much forward movement and the trailer’s angle to the car prevented backward progression. I had gone 70 days without having to unhitch the trailer and it looked like my luck had run out. My second mistake was unhitching the trailer! But in retrospect I was extremely lucky this morning and will only say God had to be watching out for me. At one point in this debacle I had visions of a splintered trailer resting at the bottom of the hill and me with my hands on top of my head. But it all worked out and with God’s help the trailer didn’t slide too far and I was able to re-hitch and go on our way.
This was the biggest mistake I made on the trip, bigger than travelling in the snow to see the Timberline lodge, and bigger than any other traffic decisions I made so far. I learned a valuable lesson from it though, never unhitch your trailer on a hill!
After my nerves calmed I headed back to HWY 101 and we then followed the Sol Duc River into the National Park to see the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. The river provided many photo opportunities along the ten-mile trip, but the Hot Springs turned out to be unimpressive.
The resort consisted of a number of nice and well-maintained buildings on an asphalt loop that led to the resort building. It was nice and provided the infrastructure needed for the concrete pools fed by the springs. The springs are open to anyone who is willing to pay the $10 admission fee and I contemplated it until I saw how many people were crammed into the pool. There was no room and I would have had to squeeze in between total strangers, so I opted for Plan B.
Plan B consisted of Mabel and me travelling farther into the park to see the Sol Duc Falls. This didn’t work either because, so many others had the same idea that the parking lot was totally filled. Also, there wasn’t trailer parking, so our progress was thwarted. I turned around thinking I might find space alongside of the road, but Plan C didn’t pan out either. So, we retraced our steps and I was thankful I had the Park Pass and didn’t pay extra for what was essentially a bust of a side trip.
HWY 101 brought us past Lake Crescent which reminded me of Lake George in Upstate New York. I loved my time at Lake George, even if it scared Sheri because of my lack of phone reception. It is second on the list for where I would like to spend my summer, only behind the Outer Banks in North Carolina.
The lake was large and nestled in the mountains, the road passing on its Southern shore. I got out at a pull off and looked at the amazingly clear and blue water. It was the color of Aqua Velva or that of a 1980’s Blue Hawaiian from the Arena Dance club on Austin’s 6th Street. I could see a few buildings on the North shore and they looked to be grouped into a small community. There were a few boats with what looked like people fishing, but they were far from shore creating uncertainty in their intentions. It is beautiful here and very peaceful, this could be number three on my summer list depending on what the other shore looked like.
Port Angeles is a small town on the Strait of Juan de Fuca and offers ferry service to Vancouver Island. Mable and I ramble into town and find a parking spot after scouting the area. It is Saturday and the waterfront park is filled with triathletes, spectators, and the equipment needed to put on a race. We make our way through, careful not to get in the participant’s way, and look for a place to eat. I didn’t search too enthusiastically, and we were soon back at the car looking for a Safeway to stock up on groceries. I usually exhaust a two or three-day supply of food before shopping and always have a jar of peanut butter in reserve. The warmer states dictated more frequent visits because of a faster rate of ice melting but I am finding the Northern climes holds ice longer. The Rtic cooler does a good job of keeping my food stocks cold, but the seven-day claim is only if the lid stays closed. Ice isn’t expensive, but food poisoning is, so I keep a close eye on my ice.
I find the Olympic National Park Welcome Center just south of town in its temporary buildings. The main site is undergoing renovations, but I still stop to look for a book on the area. I am in luck and give Sheri a quick call after my shopping spree. More challenges at home and she convinced me to stay on the road, but I really want to get home.
We head around the East side of the park and leave HWY 101 at HWY 104 to look for a ferry to Seattle. I have contemplated a few route alternatives but hear the ferry ride into the city provides an amazing view so choose that option. There is a ferry at Bremerton, home of a Navy base, and I pull into a deserted, late afternoon downtown. The post office is close, so we drop a few cards in the mail, not much more time for these as I will soon beat them home. We find the waterfront and stroll the docks looking at the decommissioned USS Turner Joy tied to the dock. It is closed and Mabel hates walking on metal grates, so we can’t go aboard for the tour. It is neat to look at something so large floating on the water.
We make our way back to the car passing the restaurant district and see a more bustling atmosphere. Mabel draws the attention of a group of high schoolers that ask a lot of questions and she loves the attention. She is now different around strangers and the miles have taught her to be friendly. I also think she likes the enthusiasm most display when they see her.
We get in line for the ferry, the ticket taker very nice and listens to our story. We have some time, so I use my phone as a hot spot to upload a blog post. We opted for the hot spot before leaving on the trip and I thought I would use it more. The ability to upload depends on the connection and I haven’t found many quick Sprint areas so far. Most of the trip has been a jog or slow walk, definitely not a Sprint. We are motioned on after maybe 20 minutes of waiting Mabel looks comfortable, so I leave her in the car. It is a 45-minute ride and I walk around taking pictures until we see the Seattle Skyline. It is breathtaking and many jostle on the bow to get photos. I think many of this year’s Christmas cards will display today’s selfie shots.
Mount Rainier is to our South and I talk with a gentleman who knows the exact height and how high you can climb. I think it is a source of pride for a Washingtonian to know this information. Many are excitingly gathering to watch the ferry come into the dock. I talk with a woman who owns a bookstore and has lived in Seattle since the 1980’s when an apartment cost $300 a month. Not anymore! I tell her my story and she tells of traveling in Europe and how she always wanted to bring her brother. He unfortunately developed Parkinson’s disease and their travel plans have dissipated. Because of that, she is very supportive of my trip and what I am doing.
We pull into the ferry station and exit the boat, but I miss my turn in the heavy traffic, the new route takes me along the harbor past rows of tents and cardboard boxes. It is a homeless village on both sides of the road, something Steinbeck would have labeled a Hooverville. Up the road I see a mass of traffic and people heading to a concert in one of Seattle’s venues. Do they know about the conditions I just passed or are they too preoccupied with their own lives? Is the separation intentional or by chance? I do not have time to investigate, the GPS is telling me to turn left and find the highway North to tomorrow’s destination; the Boeing factory.
It was hard to find camping and I contemplated looking for a Walmart or getting a hotel. It had been 22 days since I last slept indoors, and I wanted to keep the streak alive. Reviews for some of the close campgrounds didn’t boost my confidence in their safety but it was getting late and dark and I was hungry.
Finally, I found the Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell and pulled into a blind driveway that bordered some type of social hall. A woman walked towards me carrying her shoes and I wondered what type of place I would be staying at. The office said there were two spots available and I was lucky to take one of them. My luck was confirmed after talking with one of the guests while walking Mabel. We were separated from our neighbors by a high hedge and the pull-through asphalt pad provided a level surface that didn’t require a disconnect from the car. There was a slight sewer odor but nothing that prevented us from sitting outdoors and enjoying the night sky.
After dinner I talked with our neighbor and found out he is the source of the toilet odor. He bought a brand new, 2018 fifth wheel after selling his house and plans to stay the winter in it with his wife. The monthly rate is affordable on his cook’s salary but come summer he has a decision to make because the campground reverts to daily fees. He thought that these types of problems would disappear after selling his house but has had a few trouble spots with the camper and hopes the dealer will take care of them. His wife comes out of the trailer and they head for dinner, conversation is over.
The shower house is a decent walk but are clean and the water is hot. I don’t remember my last shower and am thinking it was three or more days ago. Camp clean has taken on a new definition in the North West and I seem to tolerate longer spans between showers when I don’t sweat as much.
Th reception here is great so I finish an entry and post to the blog before going to bed.
Thankful tonight that my mistake on the service road didn’t lead to disaster.