Washington State: All Things Considered

Crossing the border into Washington State we had high hopes for the first National Park on our trip: Olympic. The park encompasses more than 900,000 acres in the north-west of the state in a thin (and globally rare) strip of temperate rain forest. A product of the Roosevelt’s — Theodore established Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909 and Franklin signed it in as a bona fide National Park in 1938 after congress voted for a re-designation of National Park status — Olympic is a mossy swath of old growth cedars and firs drenched in more than 150 inches of rain per year, making it the wettest place in the continental United States!

Natalie Meets a Giant Douglas Fir

After seeing massive amount of old growth clear-cutting on the way up the coast it was a bittersweet sight to see the old growth drift wood trees along Olympic’s beach region where we spent our first night camped on the sand watching the waves crash around huge monoliths of earth rising out of the sea. While it’s wonderful to set aside land as parks, it’s unfortunate that we have been so ignorant to the importance of old growth forest as to have cleared the majority of these ancient and biologically significant places from the continent.

Massive Old Growth Driftwood, or, perhaps, a Dinosaur Bone..?

Our second day in the park brought us down the Hoh River road past 12-foot-diameter Douglas Firs where we set off on a 10-mile round trip hike to 5-Mile Island Campground. While the campsite was cozy, it was also fairly full of campers taking advantage of the unusually dry, sunny, and warm weather. We decided to heed the recommendation of a passing ranger and hike another 1/8 of a mile past the campsite, then bushwhacked through to the river’s edge, and finally cross the water over some fallen logs to a sandy island in the middle of the river where we could camp in quite solitude.

Our Island Campsite!

The next day we took the ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle (only $15 for the car, Natalie, and I! Cheaper by far than the Alaska Marine Highway, and very efficient!) to meet up with our second Adam of the trip: A friend of Natalie’s from high school and former roommate of our mutual friend, Rohan.

While Seattle boasts the variety and access of a major city, it seemed to lack the cozy community we usually enjoy. Nevertheless, Adam gave us some great tips on seeing some of the city’s sights including but not limited to: The FIRST Starbucks (Ooooo!), famous Pike Place Market, the Troll under the bridge, the Lochs, Kerry Park, and my favorite, Victrola Coffee Roasters. Victrola is not necessarily a famous establishment, however I was excited to take part in their weekly, free, coffee cupping class that they hold weekly! Mmm, Coffeeeee…..

"Classic Seattle" from Kerry Park (and Mt. Rainier in background)

There was something about Washington that makes it difficult to leave, despite it major city’s average appeal. After two days of driving we only managed to make it to the other side of the state and decided to spend the night in Spokane. Natalie’s good friend Rebecca, whom she met in Alaska this past year had gone to school in Spokane and had friends we could stay with. Tyler and the rest of their housemates welcomed us with open arms and we enjoyed a great chat and a beer after walking around Spokane’s river front park in the cool evening breeze. There was a comfortable vibe about Spokane, the kind that slows your breathe and eases your guard down. As we relaxed with our new friends they too agreed that perhaps Spokane had the sort of community feel that we felt Seattle had lacked.

Spokane Sunset


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