Forks Me!

Trip Start Jun 12, 2012
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Trip End Oct 18, 2012


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Where I stayed
Wilaby Campground

Flag of United States  , Washington
Thursday, July 12, 2012

Howdy folks,

The awesome foursome woke up at 7am on our last day in Canada so that we could get our suitcases packed. We were ready and gone by 8am and drove down to the harbour docks where the MV Coho was tied up. The boys got out and said a brief farewell before we drove through the custom gates. We had to wait in line because we hadn't made a reservation for the 10:30am ferry passage. Eventually a customs officer came and we left the car to join a queue for US Customs. We joined about halfway in line, but forgot to fill in the green forms before joining so we ended up being the last ones through. After being fingerprinted and photographed like criminals, we were allowed to board.

The cargo bay was completely full of cars as we walked up to the seating area. Steffie and I found some nice comfortable seats at the front and sat down. Finally we were underway and left Victoria with beautiful blue skies and warm sunshine. The trip only took 90 minutes, but halfway through we encountered some dense sea fog and winds. The bow was roped off and a seaman posted on lookout while the ship made repeated fog horn blasts to warn off any potential disaster. We only realised that we had arrived once we saw the Port Angeles dock come alongside the ship.

It was time to return to our vehicle and we joined the queue off of the boat. At the US Customs gate, we were ordered to park nearby so that officials could inspect our vehicle contents just like they had done at Osoyoos. We waited and waited and nobody came. Eventually when we saw that they were on a cigarette break, I got out of the car to ask them if they had forgotten which they had. Once we were inspected, we were given the all clear and resumed our journey.

It was lunchtime and we headed for the nearest fast food joint which happened to be a Wendy’s burger bar (not ice cream). Once full, we filled a grocery cart and also the car with petrol. It was interesting to see all the street signs in miles per hour and the gas station in gallons. I didn’t really know how much $3.41 per gallon was but eventually figured out that it was less than $1 per litre. Not bad I thought and they even sold liquor in the supermarket. The dairy and alcohol prices were much cheaper and I finally bought a box of Chicken In A Biscuit.

Our next stop was the Olympic National Park information centre. We bought our US parks pass and got some general information before driving the 17 mile road upwards through a few small tunnels to the Hurricane Ridge Center (US Spelling). The views were quite amazing from just the car park and after a quick walk around the visitor centre; we drove to the end of the road where the Hurricane Hill trailhead started. The trail was quite easy at first walking along a ridgeline with fantastic views on either side. There were even a couple of black tailed Columbian deer walking around. As we started up the incline, we spotted a rare Olympic marmot below the trail and once we had reached the subalpine meadow at the top, we were rewarded with a truly awesome view. As Steffie pointed out, "Here we can see two countries, two cities, the ocean on one side and the mountains on the other side." I guess there aren’t many places where you can do that!

We returned to the car after 1.5 hours to drive back down into Port Angeles. We were planning on staying further along the highway, but the day was drawing to a close so we decided to camp at Heart O’ The Hills campground near the park gate instead. Once we got our site set up, I went to light the camp stove and found that it wasn’t working. After numerous attempts, we were left without success so we had to eat a cold tin of beans instead. Not the greatest, but filling nonetheless. To get over my frustrations and stress of border crossing, adjusting to imperial measurement bullcrap and a broken stove, I went to see a free lecture given by the NPS on cultural attitudes towards national parks. It was a bit propagandistic and the girl giving the speech sounded like she was a bit brainwashed, but I learned a few titbits of information anyways.

Steffie and I both had an early night because of our exhaustions and woke up at 7am the next day. The stove wasn’t working still so we headed down to a hardware store in Port Angeles so that they could take a look at it. I handed it over to a guy and he twiddled around with it for 20 minutes and proclaimed, “It’s fixed!” Great I thought and he didn’t even charge us for it. We had a big day of driving so we started on our way driving west on Highway 101. Our first stop was at Lake Crescent which is a decent sized, crystal clear lake where we had been planning on camping the night before. We stopped at the ranger station and decided to go hike to the Marymere Falls. The trail was quite well maintained and we were even stopped by a park ranger who gave us additional information. The 1 mile hike didn’t take long and there were plenty of people who crossed the log bridge to the falls loop.

On the way back, we detoured along the lake front to the Lake Crescent Lodge. There were a couple of people swimming in the lake or on boats and it was good weather for it. Back at the car, we continued along our way. We had planned to stop at the Sol Duc Hot Springs, but given the amount of hot springs we have been to already and the warmer weather, it wasn’t really that attractive. There was only one town that we passed through on the west coast and it was called Forks. It wasn’t such a big town except for one thing. The book Twilight was based here and so there is a huge part of the town dedicated to all things Twilight. It is really funny because the town itself isn’t that interesting; you have to wonder how anyone wrote a book about it at all.

Just south of Forks via a one way road is the Hoh River Rainforest. The road travels in along the Hoh River and takes you to a reasonably busy car park. The big thing here is rain. They get some 3m of rain each year which falls mostly on the west coast then they get a rain shadow on the east coast. That creates these lush rainforest with hanging moss in the Hall of Mosses hike that we did. We also noticed the nurse logs. With such shallow roots because of good rain, the trees fall down quite easily and become nurseries for new trees and plants. When these logs eventually decay there is a hole left at the base of the tree! Interesting to see and understand.

We had one more stop before camp and that was our last stop at the Pacific Ocean. We stopped at Ruby Beach where there are a number of sea stacks along the beach and just offshore. The car park was also full as we ventured down onto the pebble beach with giant driftwood washed ashore. Someone had even written down in the sand, “Hannah I bet you wish you were here!” It was relaxing to hear the waves crashing against the beach.

Our stop for the night was Lake Quinault which is part of a native Indian Reservation. Along the south side of the lake are a couple of average priced campgrounds without showers and we put up the tent along the lake. With the stove still not working and no way to cook dinner, we kicked our imagination into gear and made some pretty interesting appetiser s with crackers, hot sauce, honey ham, cheese, pickles and prunes. We even polished off a bottle of wine which made us feel better!

Hopefully we can get some lucky breaks in the future!
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