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An Olympic Day

August 21, 2013

Washington – Friday, August 9

Since I was hoping to see Mt. Olympus in Olympic National Park, in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington, and was going to make a donation to a place in Olympia, I figured it was an Olympic day!

One of the visitor centers for Olympic National Park wasn’t too far from the town of Port Angeles, and that was my first stop of the day. One of the reasons I didn’t want to venture too far along the perimeter of Olympic National Park last night without a firm destination was that I’d heard there was a small fire in part of the park, which had forced the closure of one of the campgrounds, and another area was temporarily closed due to some construction issues. When I got to the visitor center, the ranger told me it was a very small fire, and nothing really to worry about. He gave me a couple of suggestions for hikes, depending if I was in a mountain mood or a lake mood. Mountains it was! I got Tula out for a walk near the visitor center since she wasn’t allowed on the trails, and then drove the slow 17 miles up the mountain to the next visitor center and the Hurricane Ridge trailhead. I was going to hike the Hurricane Ridge Trail, which climbs through sub-alpine meadows high up into the mountains with clear views of Mt. Olympus and other peaks. No roads go through the national park, and this is a popular hike because it”s only about 3 1/2 miles, and offers a wilderness experience without going deep into backcountry territory. And what a beautiful hike it was! The trail pretty much went uphill most of the way, starting off with a gentle grade, and then getting a bit steeper. There were wildflowers all over the place – reds, yellows, whites and a couple shades of purple. I saw a western blacktail deer (as opposed to the whitetail deer we see in Michigan) and listened to birds and squirrels chattering. The sub-alpine meadows were green with rocks here and there, and there were snow-capped mountains all around, and the whole scene kind of makes one want to burst into the Sound of Music song – “The Hills are Alive!!” It was a clear day, and the mountains were visible in all their snowy, glacial glory. Despite having to take numerous short rest stops on the trek to the top (along with everyone else except one crazy person who was jogging up the trail!), I loved every step of the walk. I’ve been on so many pretty walks, but this one was something different again – which is why I never get bored with all my walking. From the top, the view on one side was all the mountains, and the view on the other side looked down into Puget Sound, with the town of Port Angeles way down below, and Victoria, British Columbia on an island off in the distance. I took some time to soak in the views. Then I headed back down the trail, which of course went more quickly than the uphill climb. I took Tula out for another walk in the visitor center area when I got back, and we saw another blacktail deer, and then we drove the scenic 17 miles back down out of the park. It was beginning to cloud up, and I was really happy I went when I did.

Then I had to kind of change my plans for the day. I had dawdled a bit on the hike, and with the drive up and down part of the mountain, I wasn’t going to have time to squish in a drive around the rest of the national park (which takes up most of the peninsula and it’s slow driving in the mountains), then south to the town of Olympia, and then back north to Bellevue, where my sister Christy lives. The ferry to Seattle across the Puget Sound was a much more logical option, although I wasn’t sure how long I’d have to wait since it was the start of a weekend, and I had a good hour’s drive to even get to the right departure place. Since I didn’t have time to drive all the way down to Olympia, I was going to have to mail in my donation, because I still wanted to make one in the town of Olympia. Today’s donation was going to a women’s shelter called Bread and Roses – a shelter focused on hospitality where the homeless and poor have been welcomed as guests for the past 25 years. The guesthouse provides a home-like environment complete with books and music, and offers breakfast every morning, and always has coffee and fresh fruit available. And the large garden outside is a nice oasis for those who are living through some tough times. Although I would have liked to make the donation in person like I typically do, it just wasn’t practical this time, and I wanted Bread and Roses to get the donation for today. So I’ll have to settle for mailing it in, which doesn’t really affect them one way or another!

I had a bit of a drive to get to the ferry terminal, and I pulled in about 6:25, knowing a ferry was leaving at 6:30. Since it was now Friday evening, I assumed I would have to wait for the 7:10 ferry or even later, and to my astonishment, the ticket lady told me I could still get on the 6:30 one! The van was the last one on, and the crew put the blocks behind the wheels since it was the last in its row. This crossing was also about a half hour, and it was pretty watching the Seattle skyline get closer. I didn’t really like the heavy traffic between Seattle and Bellevue though! I got to my sister’s house, and her hubby Rick had grilled up a delicious dinner – chicken and veggie kebabs, corn on the cob, and zucchini quarters – a far cry from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! We ate outside and enjoyed a nice evening.

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