2017 Summer Recap: Part 2 – July
Where we stayed: Dungeness Recreation Area
Washington has a reputation for having pervasively dreary weather, but Sequim goes a long way towards undermining this notion. Situated in the Olympic Rain Shadow, Sequim bucks the rainy trend and has a significantly drier and sunnier climate the rest of the surrounding area. For us, this meant that we got to enjoy sunny weather while hiking along the ~100 foot tall bluffs behind our campsite at Dungeness Recreation Area. I would definitely recommend visiting this small county campground if only for the opportunity to see the amazing, technicolor sunsets over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Exploring the coastal rain forest environment as well as the narrow spit of beach that leads you to the New Dungeness Lighthouse was equally rewarding and relaxing.
Olympic National PArk, WA
Where we Stayed: Kalaloch Beach Campground
While we would have loved to venture deep into the lush forests of Olympic National Park, the complete lack of cell phone coverage and steep mountain grades kept us from going to far into the park. Instead, we chose to stick to the coastline and made our way down to Kalaloch Beach, right outside of Forks, WA. Not being avid readers of YA fiction, we had no idea that Forks’ claim to recent fame is as the setting of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series…. which explained the vampire-themed signs and attractions we saw in the town.
Kalaloch Beach campground is pretty small, and it was hard to find a space big enough to park our bus, but we managed it and were rewarded with incredible access to the Pacific coast. With miles and miles of shoreline right at our feet, we spent most of our free time walking the beach, watching whales do mysterious whale-things in the surf (seriously, we’re still not sure what was going on out there…), enjoying the adorable way that sea otters float with all fours out of the water, and seeing a GOD DAMNED BALD EAGLE! We tried to play it all casual upon seeing the bald eagle, but it was gigantic (even from ~75 feet off the ground it looked to be about half the size of a person) and we geeked out way more than was probably necessary. Too bad someone didn’t have a proper camera with her…
We also met a really nice woman who happened to be the founder of Lucky Rabbit Snacks, a delicious Portland-based food company, who generously gave us bags of granola and a jar of homemade kimchi to take with us. It was one of those unique moments where you’re floored by how randomly generous perfect strangers can be be!
Where we Stayed: Fay Bainbridge Park
Finding places to stay near major cities is always a bit challenging for us with our bus. Because our only mode of secondary transport is our bicycles, we always have to make sure that wherever we stay is in reasonable biking distance to whatever it is we want to see. To visit Seattle, the closest we could get to the city itself was a small campground on the northern tip of Bainbridge Island. From there, it was about a six mile bike ride to the Ferry Terminal at the southern end of the island. Looking at this on a map, a 12 mile round-trip ride didn’t seem too daunting, however we made the classic rookie cycling mistake of failing to check the topography of the area. Turns out that Bainbridge Island is covered in steep hills…yelp! We also made the fairly questionable choice of biking through the city, instead of taking public transportation – turning our first day in Seattle into an almost marathon-length 22+ mile bike ride. The upside of all of this physical exertion is that it gave us all the excuse we needed to explore various restaurants across the city!
While I’d like to say that we timed our visit to Seattle to coincide with the Fremont Solstice Parade, but it was a complete accident that we just happened to be heading into the city on the same day as this fun event. In fact, it was the other cyclists on the Bainbridge Island Ferry that tipped us off about the parade – and we’re very glad that we followed their advice. Though we lived in Austin, TX – a city known for its motto of “keep it weird” – the Naked Cyclist Parade , a the hallmark of the Solstice Festival, proved that Seattle was more than capable of out-weirding our former hometown. Hundreds of cyclists strip down to varying degrees of nudity and cover themselves in body paint and other outlandish costumes before cruising through the streets of Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. The entire parade is surrounded by live music, public art, and craft vendors. It’s also supported by thousands of cheering and spectators, ourselves included!
While in Seattle, we also made time to meet up with a friend from Austin – the very same one who rented us a spot to park our bus during the conversion process. Since leaving Austin, she’d relocated to Seattle and it was nice to hear her take on the city over drinks. One of my relatives also happened to be visiting the city at the same time as us for a conference, which proved to be an unexpected but fun coincidence!