My sister Stephanie lives far away in Washington state and since she has moved away she's flown home to visit twice but I had not been to see her. Terry and I talked about taking the whole family out there during the summer of 2015 if we could rent our house for the Sturgis Rally to make money for the trip. Our house did rent but only for a few days and we decided not to go. Directly after that was her visit here and we decided that I deserved a trip to Washington to visit my sister...all alone!
We saved up money from September through May and I boarded my plane the very next day that school youth group activities ended, Thursday, May 19.
I had been longing to get away on my own but when the time came and I could no longer see my family behind security, I got all teary in the terminal. That surprised me. I'm not the most emotional woman out there. That's my plane behind the kids. I could see them but they couldn't see me. Again, I was sad...and nervous about strange new airports, but excited for adventure.
I had no problems during my trip and made it to Washington right on time. Stephanie had no problems finding me but we did get lost on the interstate trying to find the correct exit for The Cheesecake Factory. We did find it eventually, but only after traveling north to a random park that Steph had heard of and then walking around downtown where the Pike Place Fish Market was closed for the day, the original Starbucks was located, and a famous gross gum wall. This was Stephanie's photo from Gas Works Park with Lake Union behind us.
Stephanie and Steve live halfway between Seattle and Portland in a town called Chehalis. The following day we took Interstate 5 north to Highway 101 and into the Olympic National Forest. Our first stop (after Starbucks) was in the Quinault [temperate] Rain Forest. We did a short hike called the Quinault Loop where we saw lots of moss and ferns and enormous trees. Steph made me climb this old stump of a tree that a nurse tree had grown over so she could take my picture.
And I took her's from the top!
After wandering around trying to get a shot of the creek we stopped to take panoramic photos of this massive tree.
And Steph's photo of me.
Another silly selfie of Steph's. I can't take a decent selfie so she did most of them the first day.
Steph took my photo through a hollow log...
...and I took hers...
...then a friendly woman took our photo together.
We got back in the Forerunner for a short drive to Lake Quinault Lodge. Everyone knows Washington gets a lot of rain, but I guess I didn't know that part of it was a rain forest and that everything grows like crazy there, as if the whole place was made of Miracle-Gro. Rhododendron bushes get huge there. Here is a moderately sized one. At first I was so awed by the beauty and size of them.
Here's the lodge.
More Rhodies and even some hydrangeas...and the lake of course.
We got back on the 101 and drove north until we reached the coast. We stopped first at South Beach for a short time, had lunch, and explored a bit. I was so excited to see the ocean that Stephanie had to keep telling me there were better beaches coming up.
Steph caught me looking so happy it appeared that I had to pee.
We walked down the beach a short distance to this hanging tree she'd seen before.
Next up the road was Ruby Beach. It was my favorite stop on the whole trip. I could have spent all day there. Perhaps it was partly the weather. It was beautifully sunny and clear on the coast. Two days later we wished we had saved this part of the trip for the end since the weather was good there my entire trip, whereas in the south it clouded up big time and prevented us from seeing other things we had wanted to.
I loved all this driftwood. Many big trees fall into the ocean, are stripped clean by the waves, and then deposited back on the beach. The water here was from a creek coming out of the forest.
Me in front of a fun sea stack.
Steph's pic of a happy me.
After Ruby Beach the 101 turned east to Forks, the town from the Twilight series, which I am ashamed to admit I loved when I first read them in 2008.
The visitor's center had two Bella trucks. I'm way over Twilight and now think it's lame. It was fun to see everything and remember our mutual obsession from eight years ago though.
We drove on to the coast and set up camp in La Push before going back to the beach for a hike.
Meanwhile Terry had taken Noah and Evie mountain biking and they were rained and hailed on! Muddy kids and bikes.
At Rialto Beach we proceeded to trudge north up the beach to Hole in the Wall. The sand was more of a chunky gravel and we sunk into it with every step and many rocks found their way into our sandals and under our feet. I gave up trying to kick them out after a very short time and just dealt with it but my feet were quite sore after our two miles were done.
Steph's shot of me.
Getting there. It was beyond those sea stack rocks.
The Hole in the Wall from the other side where we explored many tide pools.
Barnacles, clams, and anemones. I saw some crabs and fish too.
Steph took my picture inside the Hole. It was big! In a couple hundred years it'll just be another sea stack I suppose.
Around 8pm we started hiking back to Rialto Beach with the idea that we would watch the sunset.
Steph took my picture in front of those sea stacks.
The light was so pretty.
Selfie by Steph. We made it back but decided we were too cold to wait until nearly 9pm for the sunset. It stays light there so much longer than here in South Dakota. I liked that.
Steph had a challenging time starting a fire but we managed it in the end by tearing up paper plates for kindling. I don't like hot dogs very much but that night I was ravenous and cooked over the fire they were delicious. I slept good that night.
I took many more photos and wish I could post all of them. I've already posted probably too many to facebook if you want to see more.