Sunday, June 16, 2019

Olympic Day Two: Hall of Mosses

The Hoh (pronounced "ho" as in "ho, ho, ho") is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. Protected from commercial exploitation, the Sitka spruce and western hemlock in the forest often surpass 300 feet in size. It's a mind-boggling height. Some of them are 23 feet thick!!! Again, photos cannot capture this magnitude. Just know that I found myself often saying aloud the word "wow." I often stopped to lean my head back and stare in wonder. It was awe-inspiring.

For this post, I'm limiting the photos to one short nature trail near the Hoh Rainforest Visitor Center called Hall of Mosses. I have so many good pictures that I'm having trouble cutting the numbers down!

fellow tourist for scale

Throughout the Hall of Mosses trail were nature-inspired poems displayed on these signs. I loved it.

Maple leaves filtering the sunlight

One of my favorite learnings from the trip was about nursery logs. When a seed falls to the forest floor, it can be really difficult for it to take root through the debris and undergrowth. But when it falls on a decomposing log, it has easy access to all the nutrients it needs. So the forest is home to many rows of full-grown trees all lined up where a dead log used to be. These trees often have gaps under their roots where the log used to be, but as it decomposed it left behind empty space— so the trees look like they're on tip-toes all in a row! 

Another example of trees grown from a nursery log.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Day One on the Olympic Peninsula

I landed in Seattle around 3:30 p.m. on the Tuesday after Memorial Day, rented my car (a blue Subaru Crosstrek!), and then battled the 4 p.m. traffic (??) to get out of Seattle—kicking myself the entire time for not driving straight to Olympic from Portland. 

I wasted a solid 30 minutes searching for an unsweet iced tea, failing to find it at a Subway or a KFC before finally finding it at Wendy's. By the time I got to the Wendy's, I was feeling so defeated I had to buy a 50-cent chocolate Frosty to comfort myself. 

A couple hours later, I was finally among the tall evergreens of the Olympic Peninsula. When I was about half an hour from my intended campsite for the night, I made a short detour to see the WORLD'S LARGEST SITKA SPRUCE!!!

impossible to convey its size with a photo.

Then I camped by the ocean, at a campsite called South Beach. I hadn't filled up on water, so upon arrival I walked over to the camp hosts (a retired couple living in their RV for the summer) to ask where I could find water. 

"The nearest water source is a few miles up the road," they told me. "But here, have some of our water."

I protested, saying I could easily drive to get myself water, but they told me they had a jug for bikers that they refilled every morning anyway.

So they filled my Camelbak and Nalgene, enthusiastically showed me some of their art (displayed in their RV windows), and bade me a good night. 

Note the giant slug on my rain fly (in the middle)
 The next morning, I drove to a bigger (prettier) beach (called Ruby Beach) a little ways up the coast.

The river washes fallen trees down to the beach, where they pile up until a rainstorm carries them to the ocean— which slams them, scattered, back up onto the beach. Numerous signs warned of the dangers of being trapped or crushed under these giant, heavy logs!

amazing root system!

rock island

Found this funny face 
slimy/pretty kelp!

After exploring the beach, I drove to the Hoh Rainforest. Some of my favorite photos from the trip are coming in the next post!

Friday, June 14, 2019


Before this trip, I'd never been to Portland. It's a city with a big reputation, but I'd also heard from my friend Kemper (who is similar to me in a lot of ways) that she didn't like it. I'm not a huge coffee person, and I'm a big sun person, and I'm not a super hipster person— so I went with fairly low expectations. 

But the weather was great in the <24 hours I was there, and I ate some incredible food, and I really enjoyed the hours I spent walking through Portland's pretty neighborhoods. Expectations exceeded!

I stayed in a neighborhood called Sunnyside, between Belmont St. and Hawthorne Blvd. After strolling down both those streets, I walked about a mile north to a vegan Indian restaurant called The Sudra. I sat at a wooden picnic table on their front patio, listening to a violinist street performer and thoroughly enjoying my local brew and delectable thali

Then I walked two miles south to Salt and Straw, a famous ice cream place (recommended by Lane) with a line out the door. I read the neighborhood paper while waiting, and then ate my wonderfully delicious olive oil and strawberry ice creams on my mile-long walk back to the Airbnb.

All the homes and gardens I walked past on these walks were beautiful.

The next morning, I got up early for a Robertson Alumni Council call, which I took from an Australia-based cafe called Proud Mary. My meal there was incredible: an espresso flight (!!) and a savory french toast dish with poached eggs and spicy tomato sauce. I'm a sucker for dishes with flower petals on top...

I spent the rest of the morning working on ENCIP, trying to make sure everything would be ready for the interns' arrival. Around noon I ordered a takeout lunch from Pok Pok, a fairly famous restaurant serving food from northern Thailand. I then drove to the airport and dropped off my rental car.

My next move was pretty dumb in retrospect. I'd thoughtlessly booked a flight from Portland to Seattle in order to get to Olympic National Park. That was dumb because it would have been faster (though not necessarily cheaper) for me to drive.

It would've taken me four hours to drive from Portland to where I camped my first night in Olympic. It took me about seven hours total to fly to Seattle and then drive from Seattle to my campsite. I was sad because I'd wanted to see the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, but it was closed by the time I drove through. All in all, I wasted about three hours by flying to Washington instead of driving — not the worst outcome for a dumb trip-planning mistake!

In the next few posts, I'll share some of the best pictures from my four wondrous days on the Olympic Peninsula!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Oregon Part III: The Hike

Below are a few photos from my hike with Lane through old-growth forest near the Oregon coast.

Banana slug!!!

banana slug!!!