We returned from the Netherlands after a very sad goodbye to my sister (only months to live diagnosed Pancreatic cancer) and Clary her mother and father. (Clary her mum passed away while we were at the airport)
Sadly, my sister passed away one week later while we were back in the USA. Lucky, we said our goodbyes to her the week before in The Netherlands.
Major service done, said goodbye to fellow overlanders Jeff and Shyanne who looked after our truck while we went to Europe. Ready to start exploring Washington.
Washington state is known for its rich history and cultural heritage in the Northwest region. The state is named after George Washington, the first US president. Washington is known for its mountainous landscapes, and birthplace of some of the biggest global companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. 3 famous people born in Washington are Jimi Hendriks, Bill Gates, and Kurt Cobain
First stop Mt St Helens around 130KM North of Battle Ground (Portland)
Mount St Helen is part of the Cascade volcanic Arc and part of the Pacific ring of fire. Mt St Helens erupted in 1980 and until now the deadliest volcanic event in the USA. Just under 60 people lost their lives, over 47 bridges, 30km of railways, 300KM of highway and over 200 homes were destroyed. Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980; this reduced the Peak of the mountain by around 450 meters A cloud of ash rose nearly 20KM in the air. Mount St. Helen’s landscape is still recovering from the eruption in 1980 today. One of the most popular places to observe and learn about the mountain is the Johnston Ridge Observatory. At the time of our visit the road was closed 7 miles before the observatory due to a landslide
Our next stop was Mount Rainier National Park. The highest mountain (dormant volcano) in Washington, at 4367 meters. The park offers stunning scenery, mountain meadows and waterfalls. The park is full of wildlife, Black tailed deer, Elk, Black Bears, Goats and Squirrels, Marmots and Raccoons. Mount Rainier is an iconic Washington landmark seen miles from every direction.
The peak of Mt Rainier is permanent ice and snow and include over 20 glaciers s around the summit area. The largest of these is Emmons Glacier along the northeast face. Two areas of particularly stunning interest include the Sunrise and Paradise regions of the park. More bad luck the weather turned nasty (Rain and Sleet), and the planned Stevens Canyon Road was also closed for traffic from Monday to Friday. hence, we entered via Elbe, stayed overnight just outside the park, and visited Paradise the next morning. Returning from Paradise the same road we stopped in Elbe but more bad news The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad was not operating till September. PFFFFFF
Olympic National Park. It is situated on the Olympic Peninsula. Olympic National Park is one of the largest national parks in Washington state covering nearly a million acres. It has amazing peaks, lush rain forests, and a stretch of wild beaches. It covers most of the Olympic Peninsula, and roads only circle the wild terrain, never cutting through the park’s mountainous heart. This park has it all, beautiful coastline, lush rain forests, and soaring mountains. The villages of Ruby and Rialto Beach are on rugged wild coast on the West Side of the Park.
From here only a short drive to Hoh Rain Forest. Here you find huge trees and lots of rainforest. Living in the Rainforest area of Australia we really looked forward to a rainforest in a temperate climate. And we found it along the Hoh river.
The Hoh Rain Forest earns its name from the ever-flowing Hoh River that winds its way from Mount Olympus towards the Pacific Coast. This area has over 3500 mm of rain per year. The undergrowth is dense, and the canopy is thick, providing shade. Resulting in a lush, green canopy and trees covered in mosses and ferns that cover the surfaces resulting in one of the finest remaining examples of temperate rainforest in the United States.
It is always exciting to see animals in their natural habitat and despite seeing very little wildlife we did see a Roosevelt Elk next to our Motorhome. At night next to a campfire we were constantly out on the lookout for the mountain lion (Cougar) and Black Bears but (Lucky) we never seen any.
The friendly ranger recommended we do the loop in the park and must admit it was amazing and we felt so miniscule in comparison to the Sitka Spruce, Red Cedar, Big Leaf Maple, and Douglas Fir that thrive here in the rainforest.
Higher still into the Olympics, we planned to travel to Hurricane Ridge a high alpine recreation area around 30KM from the small harbor town of Port Angeles. But not only was the weather lousy the road was closed. In May the visitor centre burned down and currently due to lack of facilities they only allow 345 vehicles on the Mountain. More bad luck, Lake Angeles trials were closed until Further Notice due to Cougar Attack Alert 3, Severity closure, Lake Angeles Area Trails Closed until Further Notice due to Cougar Attack “an 8-year-old child was attacked by a cougar while camping in the National Park.” As the weather stayed poor for the following days we decided to move on.
Port Townsend is a charming seaport city on the northeast edge of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s a spot of cultural and historical value and home to Fort Worden. Port Townsend is steeped in fascinating history, from its early Native American roots and maritime History Fort Worden Historical State Park is a National Historic Landmark that once served as a base of the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps.
From here we took the Ferry to Coupeville on the San Juan Islands. Out of the 174 islands only the 4 largest are easily accessible by ferry. The Deception Pass Bridge is an iconic landmark of the region. The historic bridge spans Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in Puget Sound
We bypassed Seattle as we already visited the town enroute to Europe a month or so ago. At the time we visited the crowded waterfront and fish throwers at Pike Place Markets. Our planned visit to the jet assembly plant tour at the Boeing Factory, located north of Seattle in Everett. was closed hence we continued to Cascade Mountains National Park
TILL NEXT TIME when we visit The Northern Cascades, Leavenworth and via Eastern Washington to Glacier National Park in Montana
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