We departed from Birch Bay, WA (about 9 miles from the Canadian border) to drive to one of my favorite little towns, Coupeville, on Whidbey Island. There, we caught a ferry to Port Townsend which is located on the north shore of the Olympic Peninsula. The ferry ride is a short one, covering the 17 or so miles in less than 30 minutes.
|View of Port Townsend as the ferry approaches the dock|
After that brief stop, we headed west to Port Angeles, another old seaport, to spend the night (http://www.portangeles.org/pages/ActivitiesAttractions/link ). This coastal city with nearly 20,000 residents lies on the north end of the Olympic Peninsula in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains. From Port Angeles’ ferry landing, the city of Victoria (Canada) is only about 25 miles across the Strait (https://www.cohoferry.com/ ) The city has mellow, artistic undertones amid the bulk and debris of an aging seaport.
|Outdoor mural showing the futurist ferry, the Kalakala, that linked|
Port Angeles with Vancouver CA for many years
|Sign at La Push WA|
In and near La Push, we made our way to three sandy beaches (cleverly named First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach) separated by bluffs and rock formations. All three were under attack by enormous Pacific waves. To get to two of the beaches, we had to walk steep narrow trails, but the efforts were rewarded with the feel of white sand under our feet, the sound of the raucous ocean, and the sight of the sun turning the water a deep blue with white fringes.
|Resort cabins at La Push between First Beach and Second Beach|
La Push is surrounded by the Olympic National Park, which includes coastal long the northern part of the Olympic Peninsula. As with all Indian Reservations on the Peninsula, the Quileate reservation is not part of the park.
|Ocean Waves at La Push's Third Beach|
After returning to Hwy 101, we veered close to the Ocean for several pleasant miles, then abruptly turned to the East to go around the huge Quinault Reservation. When we were almost around it, we pulled off Hwy 101 to take the Moclips Highway to get us back to the Ocean. This highway ran through heavily forested land to the small ocean-front community of Moclips. There we met up with Hwy 109 and headed south. Moclips and most coastal land south of it are not in the Olympic National Park, and the difference is immediately visible: without the park’s building restrictions, numerous houses and other structures have been built on the bluffs along the Ocean. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moclips,_Washington
|The beach at the southern end of Long Beach|
We spent too little time on this peninsula and I have added another visit there to my list of things to do. See https://funbeach.com/ for news of the attractions of the Long Beach peninsula.
|Whale surfacing (left side of the picture) with whalers in pursuit|
We stopped to investigate. We quickly learned that the attraction was whales. From that vantage point, we could see a couple of whales periodically coming to the surface. Not far from them, two whale watching boats were filled with observers. We enjoyed the spectacle; that was the first time I had seen whales in the Pacific.
|Ocean meets beach at Devil's Churn|
After Devils Churn we made the long drive to California, stopping intermittently when a view absolutely demanded attention. During the drive, as the road veered inland a bit, we traveled through land famous for its enormous sand dunes. (See information on the Sand Dunes National Park here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/siuslaw/recreation/recarea/?recid=42465 . Sadly, we had no time to explore the dunes, but noted their existence as candidates for future travel adventures.
|Foggy day on the north coast of California|
We spent the morning appreciating redwood trees whose height and age and beauty are worthy of a long string of admiring adjectives. We left Hwy 101 to drive on the Newton Drury Scenic Parkway through the Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. Midway through the Parkway, we stopped to walk a trail among the giant trees.
|Northern California's Pacific Coast on a foggy day|
After getting back on Hwy 101, we exited it again a few miles to the south to get to the Lady Bird Johnson Redwood Grove near Orick. This grove of ancient redwoods is protected from development, and an interpretative trail has been developed among them. As we walked the trail, we were in constant awe of our surroundings
|Denis on the Redwood Trail|
As we sated our interest in redwoods, we worked up a big appetite and stopped in Trinidad, a nifty ocean-front city whose name I had never heard before. With the lingering fog, we had some fetching views of the ocean from the top of the bluff on which the city sits. After a few minutes in the city, I had the thought: “Wow, I would like to live here.” Then I saw a modest house for a sale a few steps from where we parked. The half-million dollar price tag reminded me of why I don’t live in such a place.
|View from Trinidad, CA|
Continuing down Hwy 101, we saw enough of Humboldt County to regret that we did not have enough time to check out its many attractions. When we entered Mendocino County, Hwy 101 had gone several miles inland and we were ready to get back to the Ocean. To do so, we left Hwy 101 to travel on California’s famous Hwy 1 at its northern entrance. The first segment of his highway, we quickly found out, is a scary, twisting-turning two-lane road through the foothills of the Pacific Coast Mountain Range. The road has innumerable hair pin turns near jutting bluffs and very few straight stretches. It was an exhausting drive that, fortunately, paid off by taking us to the most memorable views of the Pacific to be found anywhere.