Thursday, August 6, 2015

Just Like That, Only Different

La Push is the furthest northwest we were going to stay, so Sunday we made a day trip to the furthest northwest location in the lower 48 - Cape Flattery and Neah Bay, WA. 

Most of the roads in the area run through the Olympic National Park/Forest so the default is OMG-beautiful everywhere you go. Trees, rivers, meadows, ocean, wildflowers, history, lakes - all of it is everywhere up here. And it is always different.

Another beautiful drive

So the drive to Neah Bay is all that. Just like what we've seen and like nothing we've ever seen before.  All of Neah Bay is reservation land. I'm not sure how that works inside the national park, I should probably look it up.

Unlike La Push though is the requirement for a recreation pass to be there. Signs tell you they are available everywhere. Until you drive all the way out to Cape Flattery and there's no place to get one, and you need one to park and take the trail to the cape, and you really don't want to come back and find your vehicle gone (not likely, but possible) so you call it "close enough" and turn around and drive back. And pay for a pass at the local eatery.

Neah Bay has an interesting mix of campgrounds including a big field along the beach where mostly tents and a couple smaller trailers are planted where they landed, with extension cords running across campsites and roads connecting to a couple power poles. Mostly young families and younger singles - it looked like they were all having fun. Nearby is a 10-FHU-site park with small cabins, also very close to the beach.  In town are two small parks with FHUs on grass fields.

The good size harbor on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca is "just around the corner" from the Pacific Ocean. It was hard for me to make sense of which water was which!

Neah Bay where the Pacific meets the Strait


Neah Bay Harbor
We've seen other areas of the Strait. This is a very different place. Rocks of different shapes and colors and sizes along the mud flats of low tide, under an umbrella of light fog, gave this "beach" a very other-world feeling. And then we heard it.

The blow of a whale spout! Bill saw it's back first so we knew where to watch. I was pretty sure I couldn't catch it with the camera, and didn't want to miss it, so I just stared. There! Another blow and the shiny black skin just whisking the surface next to the rocks. Amazing. Powerful even in the brief glimpse.


Low fog obscured the Canadian coast
 
No running on this beach


Amazing rocks
And just beyond these - was the whale!
 
Seiku is east of Neah Bay and looks like a cute little marina town. We drove down to take a look.
 
What we found was the most bizarre assortment of boats and RVs. Everywhere. Boats in the water and on trailers. RVs in every spare spot, on every level of the terraced little town. RVs with boat trailers. I think there are three "official" RV parks and then there are "sites" along the water and in parking lots along the small main road. I've never seen anything like it (again).


 
Boats tucked in every where
RVs tucked in everywhere
RVs and boats on four "levels" of town

Back to Forks with the only consistent cell/internet coverage to check in with family and load a couple more books on the Kindle, then home for the night.
 
Monday morning was chilly and overcast as we headed for the Hoh Rain Forest. Yep, there's one of those here too!
 
Just 25 miles south on Hwy 101 (we've now covered all but 112 miles of it) we turned inland. And the sun came out bright and warm. Didn't feel very rain-foresty.
 
Sunny rain forest
 The Hoh River is the only one not closed in the area and we were happy to see a sign for public fishing. Happy to have the Jeep as well, finding our way to the river's edge over more of those gnarly rocks. River Rock. It really comes from rivers!
 
It's a river of milk. Milky water. It's weird, and very beautiful.
 
Glacier flour is filling the river due to the unusually warm temperatures, turning it a unique silvery, blue-gray. This place works really hard to make sure every day is unique.
 


Hoh Hoh Hoh
A couple and their two sons were tent camped with their boat and had caught a good size steelhead the night before and soon after we arrived a guide and two customers launched a small boat so we figured there must be fish here.
 
Bill saw a couple rising in the area, but neither he nor the boys in the boat pulled in anything. The rocks on the river bottom did manage to pull in a couple lures and sinkers though :-(
 
Again, we would have missed this beautiful spot if we weren't looking for fish so it wasn't a wasted effort. And a camera and a good book make any spot a good one to hang out.
 
Rockhound
Love having our America the Beautiful Pass. The VC at this end of the rain forest is very small with a couple of exhibits on the fungi and other flora. We read about the forest, but with a full parking lot, many people on the trails, and no dogs allowed, we returned to our auto-hike of the area.
 
 
Hoh Rain Forest
Just outside the park is a cute little stop called Hard Rain Cafe. In addition to the café and store are about 8 RV sites. On grass and not looking too level, some had FHUs and others just W/E. There were a couple tent-only sites. It's one of those places that never show up on a search engine, are very close to cool stuff to see, and that we'd definitely stay at if we knew about it. Make a note.
 
 
Sasquatch hangs out here after a day on the river. A fine endorsement.
Tessa and I spent some more time playing on the beach when we returned. We'll miss having it so close to home.
 

 
 
Can't we stay forever?
At the same time we are happy to be returning to the equally beautiful Lake Crescent area.  Life is definitely good on the road.
 
 


21 comments:

  1. Sounds like the Northwest is as crowded with RVers as everywhere else! Glad you had such a beautiful time.

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    1. I think they must all have been there for the fishing, it really was crazy. Most of the parks here are full weekends and then about 1/2 to 2/3 on week days.

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  2. We did not make it up to the furthest NW corner last summer, thanks for taking me there. All those RV's and boats everywhere looks like a holiday weekend!

    Love the rockhound!

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    1. Thanks Lisa :-) , she adapts so well! There weren't any signs, but I thought it might have been some fishing event - and no place to eat or shop there either (that we could see).

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  3. I've definitely made note of it! Loved the Ho Rain Forest. Well just Olympic NP in general. OMG gorgeous everywhere is exactly right. Love that you are seeing all these spectacular things and sharing them. It's a wonderful life for sure!!

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    1. It was the cutest spot on the side of the road, and only 3 miles to the park entrance. It would be perfect for spending several days hiking and kayaking :-)

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  4. This is an area we have yet to get to visit but hope to be there next summer. Thanks for so many beautiful photos. That was some milky water. Too bad Bill didn't get a nice fish for dinner. The Rockhound, Tessa, looks very comfortable. She definitely is agreeing with this life style!

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    1. I really had no idea there was so much to see here. There are a lot of 3-10 mile hikes all over the place, both on the water and in the forest. You could be here the whole summer and just be getting started :-) We missed the area on Hwy 101 between Astoria, OR and Forks, WA, and will probably include that next time. Although the Hood Canal area was a favorite!

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    2. And Tessa is the poster-dog for fulltiming - she loves every trip and having the big window to watch the campground is her favorite.

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    3. Thanks for the extra tips, Jodee:) I am looking forward to getting to the area maybe next summer.

      Glad Tessa took to fulltiming as well as you and Bill:)

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  5. You are definitely bringing back some memories. It is such a beautiful place and especially when the sun is shining.

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    1. We've been surprised at how much sun we've had. Of course rain is needed more than sun right now, but for exploring it's sure been sweet. You lived in a gorgeous area!

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  6. We loved Neah Bay -- we stayed at the campground you described (Hobuck RV Park) and it was the perfect place for our explorations. You would absolutely love the trail to Cape Flattery -- it's a meandering trail through mosses and ferns to spectacular views of sea caves and the lighthouse. Great photos of the moody beaches! And thanks for the tip on the Hard Rain Cafe RV Park. :-)

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    1. We liked Hobuck and would definitely stay there too. When we go back to see the Cape!

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  7. Jodie....do you use your microwave very much, like to cook a roast, bake, etc. Ours is the frigidaire (Thor). If you have, can I pick your brain how to use it? Finding the manuals are useless and everyone I have shown, can't figure it out either. Thanks in advance

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    1. We have the Whirlpool microwave/convection oven and have to agree with you on the manuals, no help at all. I haven't tried the convection yet, but love the microwave. The menu that comes up is pretty easy on this one, although the options are limited for auto cooking. When we are at our three week stop in the Seattle area I plan to figure out and start using the convection and will do a post on how I like it :-) Good luck with your Frigidaire!

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    2. Thanks Jodee. Did a lamb roast and it was done in 45 mins. Pretty good. Used bake/micro. Good luck with yours. We are just north of you. B.C. You will love Seattle. Are you crossing over? You would love BC. Safe travels

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  8. Absolutely love those lush rain forests. Thanks for the memories.

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    1. Thanks for coming along. No place else has smelled so green!

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  9. Looks like you are sure enjoying your time on the road so far! We loved the far NE. So much exploring to do in that area. Looks like Tessa is a natural at fulltiming too!

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    1. We would love to get up there as well - those tiny states have some really beautiful spots! She's having a ridiculously good time and loves riding in the rig on travel days.

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