Home » 2001 Cross Country Road Trip

Olympic National Park, WA

Friday, July 20, 2001 - 7:30am by Lolo
202 miles and 4.5 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay

Travelogue

Trip fatigue was setting in. We were averaging 6+ hours a day of driving and we hadn't yet stayed 2 nights in the same place. The itinerary was definitely too aggressive and we couldn't slow down now because we had reservations and friends meeting us in Banff in 5 days. We would just have to try to relax and recuperate. Once we hit Banff, we would be staying in the area for a week.

Andrew in Rain ForestAndrew in Rain ForestLuckily we were able to get a campsite overlooking the beach at Kalaloch in Olympic National Park in. Our plan was to stay for two nights so we could get energized and recharged for the rest of our journey. Having said that, we immediately went against our own good advice. Instead of relaxing on the beach, we drove about 35 miles each way to see the Hoh Rain Forest. It was like we were driven by the need to see everything in the park.

The Hoh Rain Forest was very nice and we did take a lovely hike through a forest of giant ancient trees, but we returned to the campground tired, hungry, and cranky. I can still remember Herb looking out at all the happy campers clad in jeans, flannel shirts, and woolen skull caps laughing around their campfires, which by the way, they needed for warmth. "This is July!" he fumed.

We turned in early that night because the ranger-led tidal pool walk was at 6:00 am. They don't mean to be cruel. It's just that that's when low tide was. So, we dragged ourselves out of bed and lined up with the other tourists to hike along the misty, damp beach to examine the sea life in the tidal pools. It really was fascinating and we got to see some interesting organisms--orange and purple starfish, sea anemones that closed with the touch of your hand, hermit crabs, and much more.

Tom with tidal pool starfishTom with tidal pool starfishI think under different circumstances, we would have enjoyed Olympic much more. We were just too trip fatigued. Moods were bad, tempers were short, and the weather was cool and damp. We probably were at a trip low. What could possibly be worse. We soon found out.

Determined to have a good time, I went for a run along the beach while the kids played on the driftwood near the shore. Herb was too far gone to even come out of the RV. After all, he was the one doing the driving on the long days that brought us here. The run was spectacular. I ran along the beach weaving around driftwood and tide pools, with sea stacks rising out of the mist. I was having a runner's high and achieving inner peace. Back at the RV, I encouraged Herb to go out for a run so that he could have the same wonderful experience that I just had. He wasn't buying it. In fact, he suggested that rather than stay another night, we move on to some sunnier conditions.

I went down to the beach to retrieve the kids who were busy prancing happily around on the driftwood. I gazed out at the water while waiting for them to come. All of a sudden, I felt something hit my head. The next thing I knew I was down on my knees. Blood was everywhere, and I had the sensation that my teeth had fallen out. I had no idea what hit me. The kids were soon by my side and I kept saying to them, "Find my teeth." Andrew kept moaning, "I'm soo soo sorry," making me realize that he had something to do with my predicament. "There aren't any teeth here," they cried after frantically sifting through the bloody sand in front of me. Frantically digging in the sand and finding no teeth, the kids looked at me to assess the situation. There was a 2 inch long gash in my forehead, which was the source of all the blood. My front tooth was broken in half, exposing a nerve and thereby causing the tingling sensation throughout my entire mouth. Tommy quickly whipped off his t-shirt, which fortunately was black, and I clamped it against my head to slow down the bleeding. He then ran back to the RV to get Herb while Andrew remained by my side, sobbing "I'm so sorry" over and over again.

Herb with boys at tidal poolHerb with boys at tidal poolTommy and Herb returned to what wasn't a pretty scene. I was toothless and covered in blood. "When things calm down, I want to know just what the heck went on here," Herb said as he carried me off the beach, triggering even more sobbing from Andrew. Andrew was a wreck. I wasn't doing too great either.

Back in the RV, we got the bleeding to stop and the kids started to explain what happened. They had been climbing on the driftwood and throwing rocks into the ocean. Having recently learned how to shot put from a friend, Andrew was attempting a shot put motion with a large 3-inch rock, when he slipped off the driftwood, causing the rock to shoot sideways right into my forehead. Although the rock hit my forehead, I must have bitten down, breaking off my front tooth.

Now, I want it understood that Andrew is not an aggressive or violent child; in fact, he is the furthest thing from it. He has such a kind nature and big heart that when he was little, he couldn't even listen to the lyrics to "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" without crying because Rudolph didn't have any friends. Therefore, the thought that he had almost just wiped out his mother was devastating to him and he could hardly speak.

It was obvious that we had to seek medical attention right away so we drove to the nearest ranger station. When he questioned us as to what happened, I just couldn't get the words out that my son had hit me in the head with a rock. Instead, I told him that I had fallen and hit my head on a rock while running on the beach. Although I had running clothes on which seemed to corroborate my story, I don't think he really believed me. Herb said that he probably thought that he was a wife beater, which he probably would become if we didn't slow this itinerary down.

He directed us to the nearest hospital, which was in Forks, about 30 miles north on US 101, the direction we were going in anyway. I was a little concerned about what kind of medical expertise we would be getting out in this remote area on a weekend, but I had no reason to worry. I was treated by a very cute doctor from Seattle who loved Olympic so much that he worked in the Forks Hospital one weekend a month. He stitched me up--7 external stitches and 1 internal one--apparently the gash went right down to my cranium. There would probably be a scar, but my bangs would cover it. Since the stitches had to come out in about a week, he showed Herb how to do it.

One problem down, but there was still my tooth to deal with and that's what was causing me the most pain. I couldn't even sip water without the pain sending me through the roof. Since it was a weekend and dentist offices were closed, the doctor's plan was to give me pain killers to get me through the trip and for me to deal with the tooth when I got home. I don't think so! No way was I going to spend the remaining 2 weeks of my vacation toothless. Can you imagine the family photos? The nurse at the hospital was kind enough to start calling every dentist in the Port Angeles area to see if they would be willing to come in and work on my tooth. Finally, she got one, so off we went to Port Angeles.

The kids were really quiet in the RV. I think they were in shock. They just kept staring at me and asking me if there was anything I needed. Tommy seemed to be taking the blame along with Andrew for what happened - after all, he was throwing rocks too. I tried to assure them that it was an accident and that I wasn't mad at them, but that I hoped they had learned something about throwing rocks.

When we got to Port Angeles, the dentist was at his office as promised. Four hours and $1,200 later, I was no longer toothless. We were back in business and ready to move on.

Description

Olympic National Park encompasses over 1,400 square miles of the Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington State. It is a land of tremendous variety with several distinct ecosystems: glacier-covered mountains, 60 miles of rugged Pacific coastline, a lush temperate rain forest, and subalpine meadows full of wildflowers. The western slopes of the mountains receive more than 200 inches a year of precipitation, giving it the distinction of being the wettest climate in the Continental U.S.

Blonde starfish have more funBlonde starfish have more funThere is no road that runs through the entire park. While US 101 goes through a few sections of the park, access is mostly from spur roads that lead from US 101 into such areas as Hurricane Ridge, Sole Duc, the Hoh Rain Forest, and Rialto Beach.

Most visitors enter Olympic from the city of Port Angeles in the northeast corner of the park. From there, a 18-mile road leads to Hurricane Ridge, a beautiful subalpine meadow nearly a mile above sea level with spectacular views of the glacier-covered Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At the end of the road is the Hurricane Ridge Trail, a 3-mile roundtrip hike through the meadows with tremendous views along the way.

Twenty miles west of Port Angeles, US 101 skirts the southern shore of glacier-carved, 900-foot deep Lake Crescent. On the shores of the lake is the historic Lake Crescent Lodge with its stone fireplace and sunroom overlooking the azure waters of the lake. Canoeing and trout fishing are popular on the lake. From here the 1.75-mile roundtrip Marymere Falls Trail leads through a forest to a beautiful 90-foot waterfall.

From the western end of Lake Crescent, a 14-mile spur road leads to Sol Duc Hot Spring, the most commercially developed area in the park. Tourists have been coming to the resort here since 1912 to experience the medicinal healing of the hot springs. Today, for a fee you can have a massage or a half-hour soak in the hot springs. From here, the Sole Duc Falls Trail leads through a forest to a waterfall.

About 30 miles further west and then south on US 101 is the 15-mile spur road to the Hoh Rain Forest. From the Visitor Center there are two nature trails, the .75 mile Hall of Mosses Trail and the 1.25 mile Spruce Nature Trail, both of which pass through a lush rainforest with giant ancient cedars, spruce, and hemlock trees, measuring more than 25 feet in circumference and over 300 feet high.

After the Hoh Rain Forest spur road, US 101 continues southwest to the Pacific shoreline where there are 57 miles of coastal wilderness. The most accessible beaches are those along the stretch of US 101 from Ruby Beach to Kalaloch Beach. These beaches are broad, sandy, and covered with driftwood washed down to the beach during storms. Rock outcroppings, called sea stacks, rise eerily from the sea, causing many shipwrecks. Many of these sea stacks are reachable during low tide. Numerous tide pools thriving with sea life are also exposed for exploration during low tide. Each day at low tide, there are ranger-led walks to explore the tide pools.

There are 15 RV campgrounds in the park.

Olympic National Park location map

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