Saturday, October 22, 2011

Alaska and Northwest Trip - Day 27

Super Cool Day

The primary focus of today was a visit to the Hoh Rainforest.  It's one of the largest temperate rainforests in North America.  Extremely lush and populated with a variety of ferns, mosses and wildlife, it was a priority for us to visit.  While there we saw two Roosevelt Elk and a juvenile, confused Bobcat.  Seeing the bobcat was one of the highlights of the trip, because, unlike most of the wildlife sightings, it was close, it was unexpected, and I was not in a boat, bus or car.  The elk was also the same scenario, but not so rare as a bobcat.

Along the way we stopped for a second time at Ruby Beach to get another view at a different tidal period and time of day.  Afterward we went to the Galway Bay Irish Pub in Ocean Shores, WA.  I'll review them later since I think they deserve more time and space.  We also stopped at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino and negatively impacted the Indian economy (that means I won!)  They had a $2 craps table with 10x odds!

Anyway, pictures and video!

Bobcat running on road

Flowers at the Lodge

Ruby Beach with reflection

Tide pool at Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Waves at Ruby Beach

More waves...

Ruby Beach in the Mist

River entering Hoh

Roosevelt Elk right near the entrance station to Hoh.  There was a traffic jam of picture takers.

Same elk

Different elk.  despite being just off the road in a parking area, most people missed this one driving in.

First shot I had of bobcat

Just before he took off - across the road, then along it, then into woods.

Hoh forest trail

Hoh mushrooms.

Moss everywhere

and here...

Cute little baby ferns on a stump

More mushrooms

Downed trees.  There are fallen trees everywhere we went in the Olympics.

Alaska and Northwest Trip - Day 26

Today we left our wonderful cottage in Sequim and headed for the Lake Quineault Lodge.  On our way out (second way out since we left camera battery at the cottage and got a quick call from the manager to come back) we saw the tamest deer in the world.  They were on a cul-de-sac that had a sign right at the entrance: "No Hunting this Street by agreement of all owners."  I didn't realize deer could read, but I was clearly wrong.

Our road trip included Lake Crescent, a beautiful glacier-formed lake, Ruby Beach, Forks and Big Cedar.

Ruby Beach was amazing!  The rock formations, crashing waves and incredible beach were breathtaking.  I didn't include a picture of the dead sea lion that apparently met one of the rocks head on.

Forks - don't bother - unless you are, or know, a Twilight psycho.  Just be aware that the town has turned into a tourist trap for Twilight fans.  Also realize that the author had never even been there before writing the books, the movie was not filmed there, and even the character's houses were just assigned by the town.

Big Cedar is a nice quick stop.  The Cedar Tree is within 50 feet of the parking lot.  They also have a trail that goes further but it's blocked in several places.  We made it through the first blockage (not a good idea) but had to turn back at the second less than 100 feet further.  I heard that the park service is trying to clear tons of blocked trails from some storms.  I'm guessing Big Cedar is low on the priority list.

We arrived at the Lodge in the evening and had a nice meal in the Roosevelt Room.  The Salmon was good, but we've eaten too much incredible salmon to truly appreciate it.  The Wild Mushroom Ragout was extremely tasty.  The lodge has nice atmosphere music and Kari and I finally figured out what it was.  We decided it was the background music to a nature show.  We even made a game of guessing what scene was playing to the music: "A herd of wildebeest running across the plains", "an antelope being taken down by a lion", "the camera flying low over snow topped mountains and glaciers."

Also, several people we met recommended calling the Lodge to make reservations rather than doing it online.  We also upgraded to a fireplace room on their recommendation - a great idea!

To the pictures:
The Olympics as viewed from Sequim
Yes, they are in someone's driveway.
Isn't she cute


Clearly not concerned about people.

Lavender honey anyone?

Lavenders in bloom

Crescent Lake

Another natural, giant bonsai tree

Yep, we went there...dang niece.  Sent her a picture of some cute dude with pasty skin.

Ruby Beach

The picture doesn't capture the creek that breaks around the rock forming an almost perfect circular island.

Ruby Beach again.

and again

and again

Big Cedar

It really is big.

And funny looking

This is the first blockage we crawled through
Lake Quinault Lodge

Not the same deer from the first pictures, this one was in the Lodge

Sunset from the Lodge

View during dinner

Friday, October 21, 2011

Alaska and Northwest Trip - Day 25

This was our second day in Sequim, a town which we are really coming to appreciate.  It's a lot smaller than Port Angeles, a lot friendlier, and a lot less crowded.  I expect this would be even more important during the busy season.  I still think the Dungeness Bay Cottages are the place to stay here.  We woke to spectacular views of the ocean.  You could even see Canada across the straits.

Today we checked out Nash Farms, a local farm stand that looks like it has big expansion plans.  We wanted to visit a lavender farm (lavender is a huge industry here) but they are all closed for the season.  So we settled on the Purple Haze Lavender Shop.  They had a huge tub (like claw foot bathtub) of lavender right inside the door and an almost overwhelming smell of lavender upon entering.  We also saw the City Visitor Center - the people were amazingly helpful and friendly here.  They had a webcam of Hurricane Ridge so you could see the weather conditions before you go (more on that later.)  A quick stop at the Olympic Cellars Winery made for a good close of the day.

The two highlights of the day were a state salmon hatchery (Dungeness Hatchery) and Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park.  Don't let the webcam with crappy weather keep you from going.  The 15 mile drive in is worth the trip.  It was cold and very windy at the top, but we still enjoyed a couple of walks at the top and along the way up.  Take your time and stop at the roadside pullouts on the way up and down.  The salmon hatchery we caught at just the right time.  they had just started trapping adult salmon, so the pond had plenty to see.  Inside you could see very young salmon in a tank and you could see older salmon in a retention pond (though mostly you just see splashes as the little buggers jumped out of the water.  The worker at the hatchery was super friendly, patient and knowledgeable.

Hatchery Photos:
Salmon trap takes diverted water from the river and captures adult salmon preparing to spawn
Adult salmon.  Remember, these salmon are going to die anyway.  Now there babies will have a much better survival probability
Another adult salmon.  The hatchery will harvest eggs(roe) and sperm and will put them together and then incubate for several months.
Baby salmon after hatching.  They will later be moved to outside tanks, then an outside pond, and then released to wild.
Close-up of baby salmon
Holding pond for older salmon before releasing.
Hurricane Ridge Photos:

Ghost forest from an old wildfire. 

They say the fire burned so quickly and then was snuffed out by high winds so the needles burned but not the branches.

Dungeness Spit with Canada in the background.

View of valley that used to ba a lake caused by an ice dam.  (Thousands of years ago - not a result of man-made global warming.)

Just liked this tree.  Like a giant, natural bonsai.

The moss grows thick all over the Olympics.