You know you’ve arrived in Washington when you look out your airplane window and see this:
However, even though we arrived two weeks ago, that was just about the only view I had of Rainier until last Thursday. That’s because we spent our first week in Washington in a cabin near Kalaloch (pronounced “CLAY-lock”), at the mouth of the Queets River, on the Washington coast. There was a whole other mountain range (and usually plenty of fog) between us and Rainier. But I was surprised to actually get a decent photo of Rainier from the plane because they usually don’t turn out very good. We flew in just before sunset, so the light was quite dramatic. You can even see what remains of Mount Saint Helens in the background (it’s now barely half the height of Rainier, though, and considerably farther away, from this angle).
During our beach week, we were told that there was a heat wave going on, but we barely noticed. The warmest it got was about 75 degrees. That was warm enough for some tourists to test out the 38-degree ocean water, but not us. We’re used to 75-degree ocean and 95-degree weather at the beach in North Carolina.
Apparently once you got inland, the temperatures were hotter. It even surpassed 90 degrees in Seattle. But most days at Kalaloch were in the 50s and 60s.
This summer, with an 18-year-old son getting ready for college and a 17-year-old daughter off in France, Greta and I are trying something different — vacationing by ourselves. We got a cozy little cabin on the bluff above the water, and were on our own for a week, except for two days when my dad, stepmother, and stepsister stopped by for a visit.
The cabin we rented was on a steep bluff. You had to hike down a rough trail, then clamber over logs to get to the beach:
Once you were on the beach, however, it was isolated and pristine. We could walk a half-mile south to the Queets river, or miles and miles to the north. The farthest we got was the Kalaloch Lodge, which was part of Olympic National Park and served a mean bowl of clam chowder. While there were a few “crowded” spots near campgrounds and lodges, in general, the beach looked like this:
(Click on the picture for a bigger version). So basically it was an experience in isolation. The closest house to ours was a half-mile away, and not visible through the forest.
We took a couple excursions, most notably to the Hoh rain forest, filled with giant mossy trees:
Greta didn’t think I should try to climb up this one, which had fallen across the river:
Another amazing thing about the beach we were staying at was the abundance of eagles. We saw at least one eagle a day. One morning after a run on the beach, an eagle had landed on a piece of driftwood about 30 feet from where our trail met the beach. My dad had gotten back from a walk and was standing about 100 feet away. We approached to within about 20 feet before he flew away — the closest I’ve ever been to an eagle in the wild.
I didn’t get a picture of that one, but here’s one perched a bit farther away:
(Click for a close-up). While it was foggy for much of the time, we were treated to a couple very nice sunsets. It was lovely to sit on top of our bluff and watch the sun descend into the sea. On one occasion, due to principles of optics beyond my ken, the sun appeared to set three separate times. Here’s the best sunset photo I got: