Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Seattle and Olympic National Park


Fast elevator: the trip up takes about 45 seconds.
Turns out, it does not rain continuously in Northwest Washington state! We had eight sunny days at the end of August.

The Space Needle, built as the centerpiece for the 1962 World's Fair, is a must-see. The day we visited was crystal clear and the view from atop the 605 foot structure was spectacular, although Mount Rainier was not visible. Luckily, no swaying as it did during the Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964.
Great view

Great tour guide

We took an interesting tour of Seattle's Underground. We explored old sidewalks one story below the current ones. To make a long story short, Seattle's "ground" level was raised one story after a major fire in 1889. This was done to prevent flooding and sewer backups during high tide. Walking in this underworld, you can see the original first floor (now the basement) of several buildings and look up through skylights in the current sidewalks made of small pieces of glass.



It seems everyone visits the Pike Place Market. Even if you buy nothing, and it is nearly impossible not to, the people watching is outstanding.


The Japanese Garden

Washington Park provides access to Lake Washington and hosts a beautiful arboretum maintained by the University of Washington.
A friendly place

We spent an enjoyable hour or two at this old saloon at Pioneer Square on our last evening in town. Great bartenders. Also on our last night, we stayed at a hotel near Sea-Tac Airport, which is a distance from downtown Seattle.  We took the light rail from the airport to Chinatown.

That was a big tree
Olympic National Park

The temperate rain forest was a "bucket list" item, and it was nice to visit it on a sunny day! Unlike tropical rain forests, which consist mostly of deciduous trees, this forest is primarily coniferous: Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, western hemlock. A few glorious big leaf maples can also be found.

Almost tame

Why is there a rain forest? Because the mountains on the Olympic peninsula block the cold Canadian air sweeping down in the winter. Warm wet air comes up the coast from California.

We met this black-tailed deer on a spectacular hike at Hurricane Ridge.  Our presence was only a minor annoyance to him.

Mount Olympus, 7980 feet
Sea stacks, fog, and gray sand at La Push on the Pacific coast.

Hurricane Ridge was also our vantage point for viewing the several active glaciers near the summit of Mount Olympus. (Zeus does not reside here.)

A separate section of the National Park along the Pacific coast provides a mystical scene and cool temperatures. Signs warn of Tsunami danger.

Port Angeles and Port Townsend

View of Port Angeles

To visit the park, we stayed at the Quality Inn in Port Angeles, which is on top of a bluff giving a great view of downtown, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Canada beyond. A staircase connects top and bottom right outside the hotel, which was convenient.

Lumber is king here. There is a constant stream of logging trucks in and out of town. There is also a ferry to the city of Victoria, Canada, just across the Strait, that leaves several times a day.

The Lake Crescent Lodge

We went swimming one day at Lake Crescent, an absolutely beautiful lake in the park, and had lunch at the Lake Crescent Lodge.

Port Townsend was our last port of call. It's a charming city with a lot of Victorian architecture. It's more upscale than Port Angeles, with a lot of shopping and restaurants on the waterfront. And be sure to visit Fort Worden Park, with its beach and lighthouse.

Port Townsend