23 April, 2012

Weekend away to Olympic National Park - part 1

There's a wealth of things to see in Washington State and it was hard picking one for a weekend away but in the end we went for the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park. We booked a night in a cabin at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort (thank you Moriah for starting a family obsession) and headed there on Saturday morning. First we had to take the ferry which is an everyday event here for locals as so much of the Seattle area relies on them for easy and quick access to other parts. For us, this is something we do to get to mainland Europe and for me always involves a certain amount of tension, as I hate being late, even when I don't know what time I'm actually going to get there and it doesn't actually matter. Turns out it's really easy - roll on, roll off. We took the boat to Bainbridge Island - a short trip across the Sound, due west of Seattle. Beautiful views in both directions across calm blue water.

After that we started our drive towards the park along the coastline. It was rather more built up than we expected - more suburban - but still lovely with wooded hills, blue waters, spring flowers. We stopped for lunch at a cafe in Sequim which reminded me of Poole or Bournemouth. Clearly a retirement destination there were two substantial birthdays being celebrated in the cafe and we felt rather on the young side.

Then we took a detour towards Dungeness Spit for a walk on the beach. On the way we passed ten large churches one after the other, all different shades of Protestantism, and also at least a couple of Ron Paul 2012 signs. Two things which signal that we're not in San Francisco now! Also based on our road trip so far, if signs on the road counted as votes, Ron Paul would be a shoe-in. He's the only presidential candidate creating enough enthusiasm in his supporters to lead them to advertise it on the side of the road - not so much as a pennant for Romney or Santorum or Gingrich. I wasn't necessarily expecting any Democrat signs as my time in California has taught me that Obama supporters tend to be urbanites, and the further into the country you get the redder it gets. (Actually, why is the colour for the Republican party the same as the colour for Communism/Socialism?)

Dungeness Spit is a 5 mile long spit of sand reaching out into the Sound at the end of which is a lighthouse. We didn't make it that far but we pottered along, looking at the lovely view of the mountains, clambering on the driftwood trunks, sorting through beach pebbles.

We were still over an hour from our destination so we got back on the road and drove along the 101, past lakes and through forests, until we reached the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort up a valley in the park.  I think I was a bit disappointed by the hot pools - Indian Springs resort has rather spoilt me. They have three different hot pools here at different temperatures which they close in rotation and then completely refill. And they have a cold freshwater pool. When we arrived the place was busy and the largest hot pool was closed off so everyone was packed into two others - looking a bit like hippos in a river, and I do mean hippos, I'm afraid. There was something a bit undignified about everyone scrabbling from one pool to the next when it was open to get to the best spot.

Tom went for regular swims in the cold pool - which he highly recommended but which temptation I completely resisted. The girls dipped toes or possibly legs into the 60 degree water and then rushed back. An all right dinner followed with well meaning and apologetic but rather ineffectual service. We've been getting a lot of this as we travel - everyone is very very nice but sloooooooowwwwww and I am wondering if it's because we have children and they can't be bothered?

And so to bed.

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