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2006 Pacific Northwest Vacation - July 23 to August 12, Part 3


My 2006 Pacific Northwest Vacation - 21 days, 6700 miles.
Days 6 (continued) to 8, Olympic National Park to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Kalaloch Beach - July 28 & 29

We spent the night at the Kalaloch Lodge, on a bluff above Kalaloch Creek just behind the beach. It afforded wonderful views of both the sunset, and the subsequent sunrise, where otters played in the tidal pools while the sunrise painted the clouds a beautiful red against the blue sky.

We got a room with an ocean view, and trust me, if you ever have the choice between a room with a view, and a room with a view of the parking lot, get the room with the view.

It wasn't long before I left for this trip, that I found out about the Cascadia fault. I'm sure you remember the Indonesian Christmas Tsunami of 2004. After that quake and tsunami, scientists started looking for similar fault lines throughout the world.

One of them, is the named the Cascadia Subduction Zone. It lies about 50 miles off the West Coast, from Northern California to Vancouver, British Columbia, a distance of 700 miles. It is every bit as large and potentially deadly as the Indian Ocean fault that caused the Indonesian Christmas Tsunami. Scientists believe it lets go about every 300 to 900 years, with the last major event occurring on January 26, 1700. They estimate it let go with about a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. (Believe it or not, they know of several events from accurate records kept in Japan of Tsunamis and the direction it came from.

Okay, so the chance of it happening when I was there is about the same chance as Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens or the super-volcano in Yellowstone erupting while I was at those places. It didn't stop me from looking at a topographic map and finding a safe route out. :-)

Interestingly, the Hoh's Thunderbird and Whale legend may have been one of these Cascadia earthquake / tsunami events. Oral histories have a way of turning catastrophic events into legends of gods and their interactions.

Just don't be on the beach if the Thunderbird battles the Whale.

Olympic National Park, Kalaloch Beach
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Quinault Rain Forest - July 29

Merriman Falls
I thought these shots only existed in National Geographic. Merriman Falls, Quinault Rain Forest, Olympic National Park
After a beautiful sunrise at Kalaloch, we continued South on US-101, and passed the Quinault Rain Forest entrance. So we went in, following the North Shore Road then came out following the South Shore Road.

Olympic National Park, Quinault Rain Forest
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Mount Rainier National Park - July 30

My experience at Mount Rainier started crappy, and ended crappy. It was a pretty good trip up until that point, having eaten lunch at the Ranch House BBQ, just outside of Olympia, Washington. (It's since been destroyed by a mudslide, but they're still in business.) Their pulled pork and potato salad is the best you'll find outside of the Southeast.

We had reservations at Nisqually Lodge, a hotel just outside of the park's boundary. Here's where the trouble began. We got to the lodge to find we didn't have a room. They had my reservations, but not a room. They had enough rooms for the bus tour that stopped there for the night, though. The proprietors were inept, bordering on unethical. (I wonder if they would have had a room for me if I arrived before the tour bus.) They kept records with a pencil on paper. Thank goodness I had a copy of my reservation.

They finally found me a room at Mountain Meadows Inn Bed and Breakfast, and on top of it all, gave me the WRONG DIRECTIONS ON HOW TO GET THERE.

Hint: ALWAYS get written confirmation, and bring a copy of the reservations you have with you. I have to stress again, through, this is the *ONLY* hotel I've ever had a problem with. Trying to straighten out this problem pretty much destroyed anything we could have done that evening.

The next morning, we headed into the park. Unlike the day before, which was sunny and nice, it was raining and crappy. And cold. In July, while the rest of the country was suffering in record heat. Figures.)

Worse, that cracked exhaust pipe that I started to develop at Pompeys Pillar cracked all the way through, and was echoing off the canyon walls like an engine with a cracked exhaust pipe. I'm sure I annoyed people. I tried my best to become invisible when others were around.

Mount Rainier National Park, Part 1
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Mount Rainier National Park, Part 2

We drove East on SR-706, and North on SR-123 toward Sunrise, my broken exhaust echoing off the walls of the canyons while my car put the power down to climb into the clouds. I'd have to get the exhaust fixed soon...

We made it to Sunrise, but the weather never cooperated, and I never did get to see Mt. Rainier. (That's partially untrue. I did see the volcano as I was leaving a rest stop on I-90, on the way to Seattle. Did I take a picture? No, I'd have plenty of chances, right?) The clouds/fog never lifted. I was like in 1998, when I only saw the 'tons' in the Grand Tetons.

Well, not every part of a Road Trip can be perfect. :-)

Mount Rainier National Park, Part 2
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Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - July 30

The morning was spent at one active volcano, the afternoon at another, probably the most infamous in the United States, Mount St. Helens. There's a pull-off right at Hoffstadt Creek Bridge, which is the edge of the blast zone. Everything in front of us was pretty much wiped out during the 1980 eruption. We were looking at the newest land in the continental United States.

I have to say, Mt. St. Helens impressed me. While much of the devastation has been overgrown, the evidence that still exists does show much of what the volcano did. Many trees still lay flat away from the mountain, buried in the ash.

Without any reference, it's hard to fathom the vastness of the volcano and the surrounding land. There was a hunter there, not hunting, but had a 35x monocular set up at one of the viewpoints. He called me over, had me look through the scope, and you could see Elk that weren't visible with the naked eye. He blew an Elk call, and 6 or 7 seconds later, they all looked up at me. So I was probably looking a mile-and-a-half out and most of the pictures here are 10-12 miles from the mountain.

We spent the night in a Comfort Inn in Kelso, Washington, where I got a beautiful sunset over a Sears store in a mall. We had dinner at a place called Azteca, a McMexican restaurant, one of those generic Mexican places. Because we got a 10% discount from the hotel. That's why.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
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End 2006 Pacific Northwest - Part 3.

Jump to: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6 Part 7 Part 8

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