Oregon Coast, Olympic National Park and Great Friends
26 April - 2 May
As we continued our way north along the Oregon coast, the number of beach towns increase as you move closer to the population centers of Eugene, Salem, and Portland. We met up with some dear friends, Clara and Carlos at Nehalem Bay State Park, which is just north of Tillamook, home of the renowned creamery. It can be hard to put into words how wonderful it was to see them again. The social isolation that Covid imposed on us makes these reunions even more special. Carlos nailed the sentiment with: “reconnecting with you was a balm for both our souls”. It probably won’t surprise anyone that we spent more time sitting around chatting and catching up than we did exploring. But we did manage a nice walk on the beach and a short trip into the cute little town of Manzanita for lunch and a stroll. I also introduced them to Maryland style friend oysters, which they found to be delicious as did we. Thanks Dad, for the refresher on making them correctly.
Our next destination was Olympic National Park, where we managed to get a campsite right on the ocean in Kalaloch campground, which is in the southwestern part of the park. After taking a walk along the beach, we broke out the binoculars in hopes of seeing some whale spouts but had to settle for a pair of bald eagles, flocks of offshore birds and watching a murder of crows go clamming as the tide rolled in during a beautiful sunset. And then there was the joy of falling asleep to the sound of the ocean.
After a day of heavy rain, we got some sunshine and checked out Ruby Beach, where the Cedar Creek runs down into the ocean and there are multiple rock formations right on the beach. Perhaps a better name would be Ruby Rocks, as there really wasn’t much sand to be had. The beach is a collection of ocean-tumbled smooth rocks of all sizes and shapes, but no rubies that we could find. We also visited some of the oldest and largest Western Red Cedar trees in the park. One of the trees is nearly 1,000 years old, it used to stand 175 tall, but was split in half during a storm in 2014, the fallen half is now a nursery log for the next generation of big trees.
Our final morning at Olympic National Park we drove up to Hurricane Ridge. We had been up there once before in August and remembered it as one of the most amazing views we’ve ever seen. Coming in early May only enhanced the vista and as there was still lots of snow around, enabled Lola to get a good snow roll in as well. The 17-mile drive starts at sea-level and gains about 2400 ft, so you pass through several types of forest ecosystems along the way. The view is of the numerous peaks and glaciers that make up the interior of the park and are reminiscent of the Alps.
From Hurricane Ridge, we drove east to Kingston and picked up the ferry to Edmounds, which was a 45-minute drive from our friend Brian’s house in Woodinville, WA. We’ve known Brian since our early days in California so again, it was just wonderful to spend time with him. You know how it is with those friends that you may not talk to for years, but when you meet, it’s like no time has gone by at all. We spent most of the time chatting and catching up, but our hopes of going out fishing were dashed by more crappy weather. Regardless, we had a heck of a nice visit and lots of good laughs.