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4-29 thru 5-25-2015 - Working, Exploring, and Playing on the Olympic Peninsula

Look how close we are to Canada
This post is kinda long - sorry, I know that I really need to do them a little more often so you don't have so much to read.  Marty has taken lots of photos so you can just look at those if you don't feel like reading.

We arrived at our summer destination of Forks, Washington on Wednesday, April 29th.  Forks is on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula about an hour away from the northwestern most point of the mainland United States (Cape Flattery) and about 3 1/2 hours from Seattle. Our job for the summer is volunteering at the Forks Timber Museum and by the end of the summer we should be able to answer any questions you may have about logging (at the very least we'll make up something believable for all you city slickers). 
Our home for the summer, see Bella's red pickup truck in the background
We are parked behind the museum and next to a large pine tree - that took a bit of maneuvering, it's been a while since we've backed into any spot and this one had a few obstacles (hi Earl) to avoid (a sign, large boulders, the museum).  Our spot is very nice, there is a 1/2 mile trail right behind us that goes through some woods and there is another wooded trail at the end of the parking lot that is about a two mile loop. We hike the smaller trail at least once a day (1200 steps each time). The two mile loop trail is a little more strenuous (4000 steps and 23 flights of stairs) so we try for 3-4 times a week. 

Once we were settled in, the museum manager Linda and her husband (and volunteer coordinator) Joe invited us to their home for dinner and to go over our duties.  We are the first work-campers they've used here and we will work a total of 28 hours a week,  Saturday thru Tuesday.  We will have a week off every month so there will be lots of time for exploring.  On Thursday morning Joe and Linda picked us up and gave us a quick tour of Forks.  All the important sites were covered - the post office, the library, the hospital and, for you Twilight fans, the Cullen house.  The Twilight book series was set in Forks and it's still very popular with tourists.  We even have Bella Swan's red pickup truck parked in our parking lot which we share with the Visitor's Center next door. There is a nonstop flow of people taking pictures with Bella's truck - I'm amazed at how popular Twilight still is.

On Friday we were given an orientation by a fellow volunteer and long-time resident of Forks, Tom. He explained each exhibit and then showed us a video of when the museum was built.  It was built by the Forks High School carpentry class in 1989-90.  They did everything except the mechanical systems. From the look of the building I'm sure they all got A's. 

We were both trained so either one us of can work any of our  days.  So far, we've worked together because the museum has great wi-fi and even though our rig is parked right behind the museum our wi-fi in the rig has been very spotty.  While we are in the museum we have full access to their computer and wi-fi so we are both very happy to be inside the museum. We started working by ourselves on Saturday, May 2nd and had a total of 13 visitors in our six hours there. Our next three days weren't much busier, on Monday we only had three people. It's slow because we aren't quite into tourist season yet, things should pick up after Memorial Day.  Linda has a lot of projects she'd like to get done and we're hoping to help with some of those, that will make our days go faster.

When we applied for this job and talked to Joe and then later to Linda they both emphasized how rainy and gray this part of Washington is. They wanted to make sure we'd be ok with that since we were committing to be here until September.  Forks, Washington has an average rainfall of 119 inches a year!  We've been here almost a month and it's only rained hard two evenings and a little bit one afternoon.  Most of the time it's grey but we have had some beautiful blue sky days too. The temps are mostly in the 60's so as far as I'm concerned it's pretty much perfect and only going to get better as we head into summer. 

It looks like we really lucked out coming up here, there is a lot of stuff to do in the area, our job is interesting, the weather has been good and we couldn't ask for better bosses. 

 The closest big towns to Forks are Port Angeles (about 60 miles) and Sequim (about 75 miles northeast of us. If you look at the map you can see that one way to go is to take 112 along the Straits of Juan de Fuca, a beautiful drive.  We did take this route and my phone beeped with a new message -
Oh, no!  I left my passport at home!

We are only about 15 mile east of LaPush (home of Jacob Black) which is right on the Pacific Ocean.  There are three beaches there; First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach (such imaginative names). We have visited First and Second Beach and hope to visit Third Beach soon.

First Beach at low tide

Second Beach - the hiking/climbing over logs was worth it!

More pictures of Second Beach - Anemone we spotted in a tidal pool at low tide

 We also visited a very rocky beach in Clallam Bay hoping to see whales.
 One evening, after work, we drove about 1/2 hour south to the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Forest.  We hiked the "Hall of Mosses" trail and walked around the park a little before heading home. There are more trails to hike and so many more beautiful areas to visit, it's a good thing we're here for four months.
These trees are amazing!

We saw this deer a few times while we were hiking

As we were driving along 101 we saw a sign that said "Big Red Cedar" so we decided to check it out.  We turned down the road and about 1/4 mile later we were there and it was a big red cedar which used to be even bigger.

This tree is massive and fun to explore

Looking inside the trunk of the Big Red Cedar


Further down the road there was another sign that said "Big Red Cedar" so, once again, we decided to check it out.  This road was quite an adventure - we drove about four miles with the road becoming gravel with lots of potholes and getting narrower and narrower.  It was a logging road and it's hard to imagine the big logging trucks maneuvering on it. Once we finally got there we walked the overgrown boardwalk trail around the 19.4' diameter of the tree. 
Our 2nd Big Red Cedar Tree - The Duncan Memorial Tree
One Friday (5/8) we visited Cape Flattery the northwestern most point of the mainland United States.  It's about an hour to an hour and half drive northwest of us and we also stopped at the Makah Museum in nearby Neah Bay.  The museum was pretty interesting, here's some information on what's there:

Ozette Archaeological Site
In the winter of 1969-1970 a storm caused the bank at the Ozette village location to slump, exposing hundreds of perfectly preserved wooden artifacts! A hiker contacted the Makah Tribe, then the Tribe phoned Washington State University, and in April 1970, some two months after the storm, excavation of the Ozette Archaeological Site began.

Makah oral history told of a “great slide” which buried a portion of Ozette long ago. Archaeologists collaboration with the Tribe proved this oral history correct. Radiocarbon dates demonstrated that a slide some 500 ± 50 years BP (before present) buried six longhouses and their respective contents, locking the pre-contact wooden and wood-based artifacts in a shroud of mud. The 11-year excavation produced over 55,000 artifacts, which the Tribe kept on the reservation. Consequently, the MCRC came about from the Tribe’s desire to curate and interpret this unique collection.

The hike to Cape Flattery was about one half mile; much of the hike was on boardwalks because of the marshy ground.  The beginning of the trail was downhill which is never a good thing - what goes down must come up!  It really wasn't too bad and well worth it - if you're in this area you have to come here just to be able to say you've been to the northwestern most point of the U.S.  
The northwestern most point of the United States!!
The view of Tatoosh Island from Cape Flattery

One night on our way to dinner with Joe and Linda they showed us a waterfall right off the road that we would never have noticed - Beaver Falls.  We drove back a few days later for some pictures.
Beaver Falls, one of many waterfalls in the Olympic Peninsula
This tree isn't pregnant just "burl"y (sorry, I couldn't resist)

Here's an example of a type of burl use

That's it for this post, we are off work until next Saturday (5/30) so it's time to do some more exploring - life is good!

4/17 thru 4/29 - ORegon


Oregon is a beautiful state, from it's mountains to its miles of coastline.  We stayed in three different parks for the almost two weeks we were there and enjoyed exploring all three areas.  

Pacific Crest Trail
Yes, that is a SNOWball!
When we left Boise on Friday, 4/17
we traveled west on Rt. 20 (the same route 20 that's in Chicago - it runs from Massachusetts to Oregon).  We stayed two night in an RV Park in Sisters, OR and did a little exploring of central Oregon.  It's a mountainous area and we took a drive to the Pacific Crest Trail for a short hike.  If you saw the movie, "Wild", this is the trail Cheryl Strayed hiked for 1100 miles from the Mojave Dessert in California thru Oregon to the Washington State border. 

I'm in, how about the rest of my sisters?
From Sisters, we continued our journey west until we hit the Pacific Ocean. We found a nice park to stay in, Carl Washburne State Park near Florence, OR.  There were only 5 or 6 spots that our rig would fit in but luckily this was a first come, first served park and we got there on a Sunday after the weekenders left. There was just one thing wrong with this park/area - no tv signal, no phone signal and no internet!  And we were here three days!!  Luckily I had downloaded a bunch of books and Marty had lots of podcasts to listen to.  And we were at the ocean and there was lots to do so who needs internet/tv/phones anyway?

Once we got set-up we took the 1/2 mile trail next to our campsite through a beautiful, moss covered forest to the ocean.  We walked it a least once a day (gotta get those steps in - right fitbit friends?).  We stayed there three nights and it was nice to be back in nature.  We even got a campfire going one night and we haven't done that since October!
Walking thru the woods

We checked out the Heceta Head Lighthouse which was a short drive (or long hike) from us.   Heceta Head lighthouse was built in 1882. The Oregon Coast has lighthouses every forty miles and each one has a different light signal; Heceta Head Lighthouse blinks a white light every 10 seconds. We were able to take a tour and almost climb to the very top.  As you can see below Marty even took pictures of the inside light. 
Dogs can run free on Oregon Beaches and Maddie loved it.

Heceta Head Lighthouse

This is a view from inside the  prisms of the Lighthouse
View of the Pacific Ocean from Heceta Head Lighthouse

We left Carl Washburn SP on Wednesday, 4/22 to head north.  We are due in Forks, WA on Friday, 5/1 and decided to spend a week on the northern coast of Oregon.  After calling many state parks and having no luck because of those darn weekend people we found a private campground right on 101 near Seaside, Oregon.  Seaside is a cute town with a 1 1/2 mile "prom"enade right on the ocean.  It also has lots of cute touristy shops which we didn't visit - don't need any more stuff.

The weather was good every other day so on Thursday we visited Fort Clatsop - this is where Lewis and Clark had their winter encampment after reaching the Pacific Ocean.  It rained Friday and we did computer stuff and laundry. We drove south from Seaside on Saturday when the weather was beautiful.  On Sunday it pretty much rained all day, when there was a break in the clouds we ventured out to Seaside to walk the "prom" until the rain came back then we headed home.

Mary and her friend, Sacajawea

We took Flat Stanley with us to Fort Clatsop.
We saw these signs all along the coast
On our way to Ecola State Park we saw this guy on the side of the road
Ecola State Park Beach
Ecola State Park Beach
I think it's a little chilly to "catch a wave" - Ecola State Park

Waterfall at Cannon Beach- Hey, how did you get up there?

Waterfall at Cannon Beach

Rappeling rock wall at Cannon Beach

On Monday we drove north along the coast to Astoria. We walked along the riverfront admiring the 4 mile bridge over the Columbia River which connects Oregon via Highway 101 to Washington.  Then we drove up and up and up until we reached the Astoria Column.  Here's some information on the Column: 

Standing above the city–600 feet above sea level to be exact–the Astoria Column unleashes an unrivaled view of Young’s Bay, the Coast Range, the mighty Columbia River, and in the distance—the Pacific Ocean. Its light shines each night as a silent testament to the pride, fortitude, and resolve of the people who settled the Pacific Northwest, and to those who live here today.

how many stairs??

164 stairs later we made it to the top for a selfie

Astoria-Megler Bridge.  We will be traveling on it Wednesday - Yikes!

That's it from Oregon.  This has been one of our favorite states and we still have so much left of it to explore.  Our next four 1/2 months will be spent in Forks, Washington - here's a link to where we'll be working   Stop by if you're in the neighborhood!