Ruby Beach… An Olympic Paradise

Jessica’s Roadtrip… Day 3 – Saturday June 9th

 Woke up to a beautiful sunrise & a full breakfast at the 100-year-old lodge on Lake Crescent ! 45F crisp & cool for June for sure… The Hurricane Ridge portion of Olympic  (click the link webcam) had 5 inches of fresh snow – an area about 25 miles from where we were. The weather in Olympic National Park was definitely less predictable than we had thought. I was intrigued to see if the rental Camry we had could make it up the snow packed roads to the ridge…but Jessica had other ideas. So we left our lakeside retreat and resumed our Hwy 101 trek around the northern tip of the peninsula.

Of “Twilight” Fame

 It wasn’t long until we returned to the now familiar clouds & fog  as we cruised into the blue-collar lumber town of Forks WA. ( of the wildly popular Twilight book & movie fame) Jessica was thrilled to see it all for “real” and we stopped for pictures, and as we drove deeper into the HoH rainforest… it well… “rained”!

Now we were about as far west as you can get in the lower 48, and soon encountered the Olympic National park beaches…on a whim we pulled off to discover a hidden drive barely visible from the highway!

After a short hike thru dense forest & massive tree sized rhododendrons crowding the small trail… (blooming for spring with multiple pinks, reds & purples)  We stepped out onto a driftwood and stone covered beach… “Ruby” Beach! Fantastic numbers of smooth gray rocks & small separated tree tipped islands rose out of the fog & mist of the early morning. We were greeted by a wall of sound as we rounded the trail’s edge and emerged from the forest to be greeted by the roiling water & waves & wind all conspiring to create a wonderful North Pacific masterpiece! WOW 🙂

The massive beach spread out as far as the eye could see & we walked for half mile to inspect the rare sites that can only be discovered during a low tide. Small salt water pools of crab & starfish & anemone were guarded by SUV sized rocks &  stone reefs scattered among the dark grey sand & millions of perfectly smooth stones of every size… Each rock was similar, but not identical and all were nearly flat & oval & smooth as glass.

Ruby Beach Stones

The beach was fronted by perfectly straight rows of 100 foot tall pines stubbornly guarding the dense foliage which had carpeted the cliff faces on both sides of our hidden beach. It felt & smelt & sounded like we were walking into a post card of “The” quintessential Pacific Northwest beach scene… It was huge highlight for us both & Jessica took pictures as fast as she could get the lighting & angles “just” right!

The air was cold in the morning dull light and the sea spray and strong ocean breeze kept the air temperatures in the mid to lower 40’s F as we explored this wild and wet world. The driftwood and stones had replaced the traditional sands and seashells, but in its place was something so rugged and untamed, that we didn’t want to leave. Jessica’s only experience with beaches was limited to the serene waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic surges of the sandy Outerbanks in North Carolina. This was very different, this was well off the tourist pathways and world of condo’s and go-cart tracks… this was the way nature was intended to express herself and we were awed by her power and her serenity.

An iconic beach for an iconic road trip… I was so grateful for the time to share with my oldest daughter and for the chance to see and hear and experience such amazing sights with her. Something I will cherish forever… I was thanking my Father in Heaven for this blessing, and my earthly father in Spring Hill TN for his wisdom to share this roadtripping passion with me when I was Jessica’s age.

 After the awe-inspiring beauty of the beach we claimed back into our wheels and continued on our quest down the epic path of  HWY 101 south into Oregon.

Oregon Beach – Roadside Vista

 The rolling mountains became hills covered by dense forest which slowly gave way to a coastal ridge with soaring valley vistas of rolling meadows and ocean front covered with mist & low hanging clouds of perfect white. The crowds thinned to nothing as we went further south & we eagerly pressed on into Northern Oregon using Hwy 101.

We crossed dozens of beautiful art-deco bridges & countless inlets, rivers & small harbors with regularity. The sun continued to stay elusive until late afternoon & as we drove by the beaches of Canon City & Ecola State park we had enjoyed little in the way of sunshine! In Oregon…we began to enjoy beautiful blue vista’s of sky and sea over miles of beach and surf and sand. GORGEOUS!

The increasing frequency of the roadside overlooks gave us dozens of chances to stretch our legs & photograph the cliffs & shoreline from above & than below as we continued our adventure southward. Clam chowder & grilled cheese, refueled us as we wound our way into the touristy little town of Lincoln City in time for a closing stroll on the beach there… Kites & sand castles dotted the round & sky as the calm seascape sunset shifted from blues to pinks & then into oranges & purples as the sky’s dimmed & the ocean kept its relentless background chorus alive.

Dinner was at a little place Jessica picked… Vivian’s restaurant. As one of the few tourists in town ( summer season in Oregon starts in late June) we enjoyed their large steaks & homemade Mac & cheese by ourselves as the owners themselves served us fresh bread & salad & chowder!

Daddy Daughter Sunset in Oregon

 The scarce crowds allowed us the luxury of a beach front stay at a local Inn for less than $80.00! ( dozens of motels and hotels were here at this price and time of year) We drifted off to sleep full & contended after a long day of exploring the amazing glory of Gods artistic masterpiece that is the Pacific Northwest!

Day 4 and California… tomorrow.

Peace out RTP !

Jessica’s Favorite… exploring the Olympic Penisula !

Road Trip Blog:  Jessica’s Graduation trip to the North Pacific Coast in June 2012;

Day 2 continued

“We hunkered down for some serious rain showers as we drove west out of Seattle & found it was indeed an accurate stereotype to expect showers and clouds if you visit the North Pacific coastline… as the iconic fog settled in, we slowly worked our way up the east edge of the Olympic Peninsula. We drove over huge bridges and back roads as we passed islands of green forests & soaring mountains on one side & the dark blue water of the pacific on the other!

Crescent Lake Lodge – View at Sunset

We arrived at a secluded lakeside lodge ( in Olympic National Park) on a drizzly afternoon stop. We had picked a great place to take a break from the road & Jessica immediately fell in love with solitude and beauty of the turn of the century building…nestled in a rainforest overlooking a glacial lake. It’s two-sided covered porch was mirrored on three sides by the Olympic mountains & layers of slowly floating wispy clouds. It was like we had stepped out of our rental car into some magical time warp, emerging on the other side of the road to find a simpler and calmer life that could only be found a 100 years ago.

We reserved one of the last available spaces at the lodge with a second floor room & balcony overlooking the ancient pines & birch which silently bordered our lakeside meadow view. With no television, phone or wi-fi services…this was truly “un-plugging” from our fast paced world.

We took a 90 minute soggy hike from the lodge up to Marymere falls across and into a “moss-covered landscape” that reminded us of a classic movie set from the planet Pandora! We wore our rain coats and snapped pictures as we crossed a couple of rushing streams & walked under the protection of the massive 150 year old trees that lined the trails edge. As we walked and talked, we both started to “decompress” as we absorbed more and more of the beauty & calm this rainforest inspired.

Olympic Rainforest

It was wonderful & it was wild at the same time! Jessica was excitedly snapping pictures of the hundreds of shades of purple, yellow and white wildflowers and the multitude of moss-covered trees, as we wound our way up the fern filled valleys to the almost hidden waterfall ! Arcing over a rock  forested edge, the clear water plunged 90 ft and yet managed to feel gentle as it fell softly to the valley below…its entire length framed by massive old growth trees & lush moss. Deeply recessed in the side of a mountain the waterfall and green on green background made it feel like we had stumbled into some North Pacific… Shangra La!

Dinner was shared lakeside in the glass & wood-paneled lodge dining hall… followed by a gentle dusk stroll along the silent shoreline of Lake Crescent. We paused to admire the sunset’s purple and gold glow as the mountains shadow slowly consumed the dim light. The air was cooling fast and we could see our breath as we sat on the sodden old wooden pier that stuck out into the crystal clear & green waters. I could tell that Jessica was soaking up the beauty like a human sponge… recording the colors and smells and sounds safely forever in her mind.

Not to be cliche’ but we were enjoying what was truly one of those rare life experiences where the imagination, the hope of what Olympic would be like was exceeded only by the actual reality of what it was. God had reserved for us a perfect moment to enjoy… arranging for the right combination of light and air,weather and water to blend into a brilliant tapestry of life that met and exceeded our highest hopes. Aaahhh it was heavenly to be here, to share the beauty of this wilderness sunset with my daughter and know she was more excited than I to see what our Road Trip would reveal next…. If I was a cat…I would have purred 🙂 ”

Sunset on Crescent Lake

 Day 3 and our visit to Forks WA (of Twilight Fame) and of starting to look for the perfect North Pacific Beach, which we found! …But that’s for Tomorrow.