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Olympic National Park, an awayschooling family travel log

A continuation of our trip log started in the San Juan Islands


Another early morning, up, packed and ready to go. We shared breakfast together, and Calvin and Uncle Michael spent nearly an hour in the radio room again before we left. A ride to the airport, sad goodbyes, and the next leg of our journey began. The 10-seater flight back from the island was as smooth and easy as the flight out. We were early, and our shuttle driver took us directly from Boeing Field to the rental car building at SeaTac, meaning we were on the road over an hour earlier than expected! This was a good thing, and something we really hoped for, because the weekend forecast is now all rain all the time, and our best hope was to make it early enough to get in the mountaintop hike we'd planned for tomorrow morning tonight before the rain came in. The plan worked. The weather held! We even had some sun. We saw beautiful birds, the Olympic Chipmunk (only found here!), and Mountain Goats! A mom and baby who passed so close we could almost have touched them (but didn't! They get violent, we'd been warned). We to the actual mountain top (eek!) as the sun lowered and the wind picked up. As we drove back down the mountain the rain started up, punctuating the success of our changed plan with a satisfied "!" Back in town, our hotel turned out to be very nice and cozy. Exhausted, we picked up pizza and wine and took it back to our room, settled in away from the rain for the night. 

Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center, Olympic National Park

Olympic Chipmunk

Mountain goat and baby

Hiking Hurricane Ridge



We woke up to rain this morning. We knew we would, but it was still very disappointing. Breakfast in the hotel, then off to the Visitor's Center where we saw a great video on the park, picked up the assignments for Calvin's Junior Ranger Badge, and met the information that the pass we'd hiked the night before was closed due to the rain. Win! Then the word of the day was slugs! We started with a short hike at a falls (slugs! birds!), our first rain forest adventure, then moved on to a Bigger adventure at one of the parks main ranger stations—a three mile hike to a four story waterfall. Enormous trees draped in moss, plus slugs! beetles! Birds! So much gigantic beauty, and the rain slowed down to intermittent drizzle. After our hike we had lunch in the park lodge on a glacial lake partially obscured in misty clouds, and finished his assignments to earn his Junior Ranger Badge for the park. Then a two mile hike to another waterfall after lunch, shorter but more powerful affair, where we saw an Olympic squirrel (only found here!) before driving to our stop for the night. Our Bed and Breakfast stay in Forks (the supposed inspiration for the Twilight novels), was surprisingly nice. After check-in and a quick snack, we booked it to Rialto beach to catch the most beautiful misty day close at what felt like the end of the earth. 

In the Olympic National Park main Visitor's Center

Madison Falls Hike

Storm King Ranger Station, Olympic National Park (getting assignments for Junior Ranger badge)

Marymere Falls Trail, Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent and Lake Crescent Lodge, Olympic National Park

Back at Storm King Ranger Station, earning his badge

Sol Duc River and Sol Duc Falls trail, Olympic National Park

Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park


Started this morning with eggs benedict in the B&B—not bad, very friendly for a breakfast. Saw elk grazing at the end of our road before heading out. Our first hike of the day was a rainforest with more maples draped heavily in mosses and ferns, the floor so heavily littered as to be impassible. No rain, but certainly wet! Our second stop was back out to the beach where we watched a surging tide as it started coming in, and splashed Calvin where he sat on a washed up tree, watching the world roll in. The rugged coast is a beautiful surprise. We stopped at another park lodge overlooking the ocean for a snack and rest before making our way around the south of the park for our final park hike—another rain forest location, but this one almost all maples and red alders dripping in a thicker, darker moss. Then our final park stay was our first in an actual National Park Lodge, and it was memorable—a sweeping lawn overlooking the lake, Calvin read by the fire while we had drinks just outside the door on the large porch, then we splurged on a nice meal in the lakefront dining room. Our lakefront room was a comfortable place to sleep, listening contentedly to the thunder as storms swept through overnight.

Miller Tree Inn, Forks, WA

Hoh River and Rain Forest Trail, Olympic National Park

Glacial river, very cloudy and gray

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park

Tide coming in!

Quinault Rain Forest and Farm trails, Olympic National Park

some really, really old signage

Lake Quinault Lodge, Olympic National Park

Moby Stick...



We woke up still in the park and enjoyed breakfast at the lodge in the same 1926 dining room, with Calvin reading again in front of the lodge fire—a perfect way to say goodbye to the park. A fairly quick drive, mostly through fields and forest on a two-lane country road brought us back to the bustle of Seattle. There we visited the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Site where Calvin earned not only his Junior Ranger badge for that park, but also turned in the Centennial Junior Ranger booklet he'd been working on all week to earn his Centennial Junior Ranger Badge as well. Then, because Jon had never really done Seattle before we took him down to Pike Place market for a late lunch at Lowell's and a quick tour of the famous fish market and the original Starbucks (replacement) storefront, but it was too hazy to make the Space Needle a worthwhile trip. Our final fun was to visit our friend and his girls for dinner at a local brew pub. Our final hotel was a disappointing run-of-the-mill airport job so we could make it to the plane early, and by this time tomorrow night we'll be in our own beds at home.

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