Saturday, January 17, 2009

September 2008 Road Trip (51)

September 20, 2008
On the Road around Olympic Peninsula

Our plan was to head for Port Angeles and take the ferry from there to Victoria. To get there from Seattle, Highway 101 is the obvious choice. If we'd headed the way most would go (more or less north from Seattle), we would have gone through a lot more civilization and arrived with less driving. But Joe decided he'd like to go all the way around the Olympic Peninsula, to see what is there. So we headed directly to the far west. This required quite a bit of driving through some relatively unpopulated areas. Highway 101 is called the Olympic Loop Highway. Not surprisingly, it loops around Olympic National Park. The highway parallels the ocean for part of the journey on the far west side of the peninsula. Much of the scenery is quite beautiful, if rugged, especially at the ocean.

There was an industrial complex that we could see in the distance and wanted to decide what it was. We never did quite figure it out - it had some sort of incinerator - but we come up to this marsh area, which was quite pretty due to the reflections on the water and the wild flowers.

Then there was a forestry road that I couldn't resist. This is a good example of clear cut stages. The mountain in the distance is recently cut, and nearer to the highway are various stages of regrowth. This type of forestry activity occurs commonly in the Pacific Northwest of the US and Canada.

Back on the road I snapped this shot (below) - we drove for miles (kilometers) through this kind of "scenery."

We turned off here:

This is a pretty spot - there is a lodge, small town and campground - it's likely a summer cottage settlement. It would be really nice in the summer sun and warmth. As you can see, there wasn't so much of either of those things while we were there.

Later we did actually get to the ocean. The highway doesn't hit the ocean much, but when it did it was worth getting out of the car. The forest/beach areas there have two very interesting features. The spruce burls in the trees and the logs that line the beach for as far as the eye can see.
No one is sure what causes the strange bulge-like “burls” in the area’s Sitka spruce populations—perhaps some kind of rare virus or just a reaction to the constant barrage of salty sea spray—but the trees don’t seem to mind: Many of them are hundreds of years old and reach up 125 feet into the coastal canopy.

The second interesting feature is the drift logs. As the ocean slams into the shore, it undercuts the sandy banks where the tree grow. Eventually the trees that are closest to the water fall onto the beach and over time the water and weather turn them into giant drift wood.

Further on now we stopped for a quick break.

Then another drift wood beach stop. We followed the path that lead to a stairway down to the beach....

Watch out for those killer logs!
Seriously - no swimmers on this day, but I imagine there would be at least a few brave souls who would try it in the summer - my guess is they'd be more likely to be whacked by a log than a shark!

I think this is really beautiful - look at the mist down the beach. Only a few other people were on the beach - it felt very rugged and remote.

This is an example of the bank being undercut. This big tree is going to land on the beach one of these days!

On the way back to the car ...

Another beach stop....

Note the fellow fishing way down there!

One last stop by a lake ....

As you can see, by this time it was getting late and dark. We got into Port Angeles well after we could see much, found a hotel, went out to a nice spot for dinner and to Jo-Ann's fabric store! So while it was a long day of driving, now we know what's on the far west side of the Olympic Penisula - some very beautiful places. And I found some good fabric for Craig's quilt. Next up - from Port Angeles to Victoria.

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