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North to Seattle and the Olympic National Park

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Aug 3rd, 2011, 02:35 PM
  #1
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North to Seattle and the Olympic National Park

We head to the Seattle area every summer for a GTG with my family. This year's trip was made special because it was Mom's 80th and M and I had planned a little getaway for ourselves in the middle of the trip.

My mother's 80th birthday party at Il Terrazzo Carmine was a lot of fun. They made it special for her with flowers on the table and her own little birthday cake. The place is sort of an institution and I was curious about how good the food was going to be. Often places like that are over rated, but this one was very good and deserves its reputation. The food was delicious and the service friendly. They handled our party of 18 with ease. There was no confusion or chaos. We had a good time and my mother was thrilled. She said it was the nicest dinner out she's ever had.

M and I had an excellent trip out to the Olympic National Park. We stayed at Lake Crescent Lodge for three nights and loved it. What a gorgeous spot. I love the mountain/lake vacations where you can stare off into space and watch the water and the sky. Plop me in an Adinondack chair at the end of the Lodge's dock and I can remain happy for hours.

We drove up to Hurricane Ridge where the views of the still snowcapped Olympic Mountains were breathtaking. There was a ton of snow still all over so we didn't get in the hiking that we wanted up there. The lupine and other wildflowers were just starting to bloom in the non snowy patches. We had lunch on the deck at the Lodge up there. The views of Vancouver Island and the Strait were partially obstructed by clouds. After about an hour it began to rain.

We drove out to Rialto Beach on the coast. It is the classic Northwest windswept beach with sea stacks, huge driftwood trees, tide pools, the whole enchilada. It was sunny and clear that day and Martin actually did his lizard in the sun thing. Air temps were around 63 or so, but it felt like 75 from the radiant sun. The ocean beaches like Rialto and Second Beach around Mora and La Push were my favorite spots we visited.

We had a Twilight lunch at Three Rivers Resort that claims it is on the border line where the vampires aren't allowed. While we were there a Twilight tour from Forks unloaded its passengers. It was hysterical. The cafe had life size cutouts of all the characters that the tour riders had their pictures taken with...right alongside huge stuffed elk heads hanging from the walls! A strange juxtaposition to be sure!

There are several companies that will take you on a Twilight tour of the area and people actually do it, even though none of the movies were even filmed there! Good for Forks that they have the balls to capitalize on it. It is a pretty depressed place and it seems to be helping the economy there. We had lunch at this greasy spoon there one day. BLT with tater tots for me. Kielbasa sandwich for M. We knew we wanted to eat there, as we drove by the place on the way to the rainforest that morning. The parking lot was packed and it seemed like the whole town was eating there. Good choice. Great food and friendly server who chatted us up. "We are the best place to get breakfast in town, Of course there are only two places! Ha Ha Ha!"

The Hoh Rain Forest was an interesting place. The moss on the trees looked a little dried out as it was so sunny and warm. They say the place is actually better to visit during a light rain. The trees there are amazing. Being from California, one gets used to and is proud of our big trees, but some of these spruce trees were really TALL and so stately! We took the two short loop trails around the area and enjoyed the solitude. One trail goes down to the Hoh River. Like many other natural wonders, that river has some powerful mojo happening.

We did the short hikes up to Marymere Falls and Sol Duc Falls. They were both more active than usual and very pretty. Sol Duc especially.

The Olympic National Park is a far flung place so we did do a lot of driving since we were using one place as a base. I am glad we stayed at Lake Crescent. It is old fashioned and has a lot of atmosphere. There is of course a huge stuffed elk head above the massive stone fireplace in the main room. We saw the other Lodges and were glad we did not stay at any of them. Kalaloch on the coast being the possible exception. Our room was a Storm King motel unit that was a bit long in the tooth, but it was fine. Expensive for what you got, but the view from the deck made up for the $165 a night rate and being able to sit and relax by the lake is really priceless. Not a lot of tourists like other parks too. It was very low-key and quiet. NICE!

The food situation at the Lodge was ok. The restaurant was disorganized and chaotic, but the food was pretty good. We ended up eating most of our meals in the glassed in Veranda and ordered from the bar and/or restaurant menu.. It was great. We'd take our cribbage board, get a table with a view of the lake, and order apps or other dishes, play cribbage, and stay until we got sleepy. Much more fun than eating in the restaurant.

All in all, a relaxing little getaway. We lucked with regard to weather. Mostly sunny, with a little drizzle and fog here and there, but nothing that kept us from doing what we wanted.

M and I both agreed that this is a great recipe for future trips up north. We always stay with the folks for a few days then return home. From now on, we will plan a few days away in the middle of the trip, then return for a day or two and then head home. There is so much to see in this area. Next year we might do Vancouver Island.

Happy to answer any questions
iamq is offline  
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 04:42 PM
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Sounds like a wonderful trip. Hope we get to that part of the world before too long.

Thanks for the report.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 05:06 PM
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Thanks emalloy.

What we really liked about it was the diversity of the park. There are so many "parts" that are different from the other. One day we were up in the mountains in the snow. The next day we were roaming the beaches of a wild coastline.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 05:42 PM
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Your remark about the food at Lake Crescent is typical of venues managed by Aramark...and there is no alternative. That's the downside of national park lodging.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 06:49 PM
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Used to take my kids there when they were little (I live in Seattle) and they still talk about it as one of the highlights of their childhood. But we don't tell many people as we don't was to over crowd our wonderful state.
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Aug 3rd, 2011, 07:17 PM
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Bobmrg,
You're right, food at the lodges is usually the weak link. We knew what to expect, so we were not surprised. Actually, as I said the food wasn't bad and once we figured out the bar had better food service (and views) than the restaurant, we were good.
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Aug 4th, 2011, 08:40 AM
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wonderful report! I really appreciate the insider tip on eating at Lake Crescent. It has been on the target list for years. Our last trip to that region we stayed at Kalaloch and man, did I love those fresh blackberry pancakes. Thank you so much and welcome home!!
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Aug 4th, 2011, 01:48 PM
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Hi cm,

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