Embarrassingly so, it’s been a long time since I posted to this. After May 27, my last post, things got quite busy for us. We bought a house, sold a condo, and are still settling into a new town. Still unpacking boxes. Still bringing more boxes over from my parents’ house as they try to offload all of my childhood things, and justly so.
So be on the lookout for more updates from my past year. We traveled some more in 2015 and I will be updating on our adventures to another national park and more bed and breakfasts.
Did I also mention that I packed my list of things that I was planning on writing about? That’s in a box somewhere around here too… just have to find it.
In our whirlwind trip around Ireland in September 2014, we made a one-night stop in Cork City and stayed at the Avondale Bed and Breakfast. While driving in Europe can be difficult with the tiny streets, driving on the wrong side of the road adds another complicated element. We had a hard time finding the B&B once we entered Cork City, but with a quick phone call to Delores, the owner, she was able to navigate us easily to where she was located.
The B&B was just off Western Road (Lancaster Quay), which runs through town, and across the street from the River Lee. The University College Cork was also down the street. We pulled into a tight little driveway, more like a parking pad, and arrived at a quaint row house; easy to drive by if you weren’t paying attention to signs.
Delores welcomed us into her home and showed us to our rooms. We were staying in rooms 4 and 5. Back downstairs she showed us how to work the front door lock, where breakfast would be served and also took our breakfast orders, touting her famous porridge. She suggested a place for us to have dinner in town and gave us a map with directions on how to get there.
We walked into town and made our way to Clancy’s for dinner. I liked walking through Cork. They had well-paved bike lanes and everything seemed on a much quainter and cleaner level than Dublin. I wish we could have spent more time there to be able to walk the town more and explore.
During our stay, the college kids were back for their first week of class, and like American students, were quite loud at night. Unfortunately having the B&B down the street from the college, and our room facing the front of the house, it was a bit of a loud night. We also had five spiders hanging out on our walls. However, the room for the most part was clean and functional.
In the morning, three of us had Delores’ famous porridge in the breakfast area that looks out to her back garden. She says she steeps the oats in milk and water before “minding” it on the stove. I also had a plate of bacon and eggs. I wouldn’t say it was a knockout breakfast to write home about; it was just ok. I still enjoyed the Baileys and porridge in Galway.
Delores talked to us about Irish culture and Irish colleges vs American colleges. And I really enjoy these types of conversations when traveling because I feel like you can experience the culture more up close and personal. I find B&Bs are the best way sometimes to do be able to have that chance to talk to a local.
After breakfast Blake and I went out into her garden to look at her fishpond. Once we were packed, Delores gave us hugs and directions to get to Cobh and we were off.
In 1975, at the start of my parents’ year-long trip around the world, they hiked through Haleakala National Park. Forty years later they brought their kids back with their spouses to enjoy the same experience.
We started planning about six months ago making sure everyone would be ok with the idea. This included making sure my husband would be ok with the heights, my sister-in-law would be ok with the altitude, and my brother’s knee would hold out. My parents trained and the rest of us, in all honestly, kind of winged it. Although I did try doing everything at an incline at the gym, when I would go, to get my legs somewhat ready.
We left Lahaina at 6 a.m. March 30 to make the long two-hour drive up to the top. We opted not to drive up for sunrise because of the threat of how thick the fog could be on the roads. And once we were on the road headed to the park, I wouldn’t have wanted to be on it in the dark in a swath of fog. There are no guardrails and a lot of switchbacks. We drove through the clouds, and when we were above the cloud line it was amazing to see them from above. One cloud was billowing like an atomic explosion. We even passed a lavender farm on the way too.
We dropped one car off at the Halemau’u Trailhead parking lot because that is where we would be ending our hike. We all piled into the other car and took that to the summit. Once at the summit, we were able to go into the Visitor’s Center to look around. It is a nice lookout point to see into the crater. It is also so windy up there it took my favorite hat right off my head and I thought I almost lost it to the depths of the crater. In addition to the Visitor’s Center, there are also bathrooms to use before starting the trail. The rangers in the center also recommended three liters of water per person while hiking.
We started on the trail at about 8:30 a.m. for our 11.2 mile trek. The temperature was certainly colder than it is at the beach, so if hiking make sure to have layers. I was in a long sleeve shirt, fleece jacket and my rain/wind jacket over that with a hat and gloves.
The crater makes you feel like you have landed on Mars or the moon. There is almost no visible wildlife or plants and it is very quiet. The silty sand slopes down into the crater so that you can see for miles across it. It gave me a feeling of wanting to take a sled straight down the slope to the bottom, although that would be a dangerous ride, not to mention probably illegal.
For most of the morning we hiked downhill into the crater, occasionally slipping on the sand and giving our shins a test of strength and durability. We walked past silversword plants that looked like someone had come around and spray painted each one with bright silver paint. We even saw one that was in full bloom, which is pretty special as they only bloom once before then dying. They are an endangered plant species and only found in the Haleakala Crater.
We stopped near the bottom to enjoy some snacks and give our legs and feet a break. We had hiked for about four miles by then. We enjoyed sitting around and looking at where we had hiked from and seeing the red of the soil contrast with the blue of the sky. A few birds came by that we called Nenes because we hadn’t seen one yet, but they were really chukars. A little masked bandit looking for food.
After our stop, we had three and half miles to go before getting to the Holua cabin where we would stop for lunch. This was the first part of the hike where we started to go uphill and I could really feel the altitude. This is also where I started to realize that some cardio training to strengthen my lungs would have been a good idea. So, I took my time and hung back and hiked with my dad. My heart was pounding, my stomach was gurgling and my hips were starting to hurt.
About a mile out from the cabin, the landscape starts to change from the sandy soil to more plant life, low shrubs and ferns. The lava rocks become harder to hike over. It was a nice relief to be able to stop for lunch. At the cabin, which you have to book about a year in advance if you want to stay there, there is also an outhouse to use. The first one all hike. I recommend making sure that you go before your hike and to also know that there aren’t many places in the crater to go that are private if need be.
As lunch was ending and we were packing up, the clouds started to roll in and the fog was hovering. We started out on our hike and could see in the distance the switchback we needed to tackle to get out of the crater. We were officially out of the sandy area and now it felt more like hiking through Jurassic Park. My sister-in-law provided the theme song for us as we hiked. It felt like a raptor might run by at any moment.
We finally reached the gate to start the switchback climb. This climb is not for the faint of heart or for people who are scared of heights, like Blake. I am ok hiking at heights, they are nerve-racking of course, but they don’t give me much vertigo. For Blake, his hands were shaking, he was sweating and we had to continue without stopping. He did a great job and I am very proud of him. When we did stop briefly, because it is important to drink water, I had to turn him to face the mountain wall so he couldn’t see what was below him.
Never has cloud rain ever been so welcome during a hike. It was refreshing in the heat. I would also recommend good hiking pants that aren’t jeans, as I felt the water beaded off my Columbia pants quite well and then dried quickly afterwards. At one point the trail goes on a ledge where there is nothing on either side of you. Luckily, because we were hiking through clouds, I wasn’t quite sure what was below us.
Eventually the switchbacks stopped, but we were still hiking uphill to the parking lot. It’s even more deceiving when you can see the parking lot in the distance, yet it still feels like you are hiking a long time to get there and not getting any closer. We crossed over into the parking lot at 3:30 in the afternoon. Exactly seven hours after we had left the summit.
What a sense of accomplishment! All six of us were quite tired, muscles burning but thrilled that we had hiked through the whole crater and that everyone had made it. We were even happier that we were able to share the experience with my mom and dad. We celebrated the next day with a lazy pool day.
Ireland had been on my and Blake’s list of places to see in our lifetime. We were lucky enough that 2014 was the year we finally got to see it. And for a special reason too. Thirty-nine years prior, my parents had spent about four months living in Glengarriff, Ireland on the southwest coast, and we were traveling as a family foursome back to the village so we could meet the grown kids of the family they had rented their house from years prior.
However, Blake and I started our journey alone in Galway after a bus trip in from the Dublin Airport; jet lag allowing me to sleep for most of the trip. And while Ireland is incredibly green, even stepping outside of the Dublin Airport I exclaimed, “It even smells green!” The majority of the middle of the country reminded me very much of the Midwest of the United States, quite uncanny to Iowa. And God knows I’ve driven through Iowa my fair share of times getting to Colorado.
So we arrived via bus in the middle of Galway and commenced to try to find a local bus that would take us to Salt Hill, a place that could be described as a small suburb just outside of city center Galway. We found the local bus, hopped on without exact change (don’t do this!), hopped off because we didn’t have exact change, hopped back on when the driver told us to just get back on the bus and made us change. See, the Irish are friendly.
I had my Google map printout with directions on how to get to Atlantic Heights. This doesn’t help much when the bus doesn’t announce where it is and the nice old man next to you only speaks Gaelic. But he tried to help me, he really did. So we got off the bus at what we thought was close to where we needed to be and started to hike with our suitcases. Turns out, this isn’t fun when it’s hot out for Ireland, you’re jetlagged and you really have no idea where you are going. A nice lady at a pharmacy up the street, and nice people in a pizzeria helped point us in the right direction.
We finally arrived at Atlantic Heights, sweaty but smiley that we were finally there. Catherine brought us tea and water while they “hoovered” our room for us since we were there a little early.
We stayed in Room E, a standard king ensuite room. Rooms are tight in Europe, but I found it very quaint and comfortable. It also had a really pretty view of Galway Bay.
After our showers to freshen up, we took a walk into Salthill. It is a delightful walk along the coastline and the beaches. On the way back to the B&B we were able to meet Madeline, the owner of the inn. She helped us book our tour to the Cliffs of Moher for the next day. In fact, the tour bus even pulls into the parking lot to load up the guests and then drives around to other local inns picking up guests for the tour. It was only about 50 Euros for the two of us for an all-day bus tour to the Cliffs of Moher. A great plan if you don’t want to drive on the other side of the road and you’re still suffering from jet lag.
For our second night we actually switched rooms. We had called the inn when booking because we wanted to stay here so bad we were wondering if we could book two separate rooms since they were fully booked on two night stays in their other rooms. Madeline was happy to accommodate us. In fact, the morning of the switch we just left our packed bags in our room and staff moved it to the second room during the day.
Our second night we stayed in Room D, a standard double ensuite room. The bathroom was actually slightly more spacious in this room than the other, and the window overlooked the back garden.
But, let’s discuss breakfast. They have a really pretty sunroom that looks at the garden set up with tables for breakfast. The first morning I had scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. Blake had scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, which is actually ham. Along with your breakfast entrees come a fruit bowl, a breadbasket, juice, and coffee and tea. They actually hand you a menu in the morning to choose from the many options available.
Our second morning Blake had scrambled eggs and sausage again, and I had, at the recommendation of a Canadian the morning before, porridge (oatmeal) with a shot of Bailey’s on the side. And Irish breakfast indeed! Not that you’d want a shot of Bailey’s every morning for breakfast on a normal morning, but when on vacation… It was quite good.
After our second breakfast, we packed our bags and got ready to check-out. It was about 186 Euro for our stay for two nights with breakfast. Madeline was a pleasure to talk to and even helped point out local areas of interest in Ireland that we might drive past during our stay. We actually stopped at a few of them, the Titanic museum in Cobh being one of them.
She also let us know that her and her husband Robbie plan on retiring and selling the B&B in about a year. I’d hate to see this inn be sold, but I can understand wanting to retire to their farm. She was even sweet enough to drive us into town and drop us off at the train station to catch our train. She did a little driving tour of Galway showing us the sites before arriving at the train station. Madeline hugged us good-bye and I was quite sad to see her go! She tops out at one of the sweetest B&B owners we’ve ever met.
I hope some day that we will return to Ireland. I would love to explore Galway a lot more than we were able to!
I used to picture Alcatraz Island sitting off the shore of San Francisco in the Pacific Ocean, far away; however, as I found out this past July, this is not the case. Alcatraz Island actually sits in the middle of San Francisco Bay and is surrounded on all sides by views of land and bridges.
Alcatraz has a rich history and is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1986. I was excited for this part of our trip, as we were taking the night tour. The night tours sell out in advance. Because of this, we purchased our tickets the day they appeared online, which was exactly three months in advance of going. I would highly suggest doing this if you know ahead of time when you’ll be in the city. Night tours are offered every day of the week except Tuesday and Wednesday.
The tour takes off from Pier 33 and Alcatraz Cruises is very strict about leaving on time. We made the boat by three minutes because of waiting for a friend driving up from Palo Alto in rush-hour traffic.
On the boat tour to the island the views of San Francisco at sunset are very pretty. The boat takes you around the island and the guides narrate what you are seeing. I found it quite difficult to hear what they were saying over the loudspeaker, mainly because people were talking and it was very windy on deck. Make sure to dress warm for the night tour even in July! I had a fleece coat on with a raincoat on over it.
The boat pulls into dock and there are guides waiting on land to take groups up to the prison. They narrate along the way as they take you to the top. It was dusk and that certainly added a bit to the creepiness of it all, especially walking past the morgue. Once at the prison we entered the area where the prisoners would have received their uniforms and/or taken showers. At this point, visitors receive their headsets for a self-guided tour of Alcatraz.
I’m always weary of headsets and self-guided tours, but I have to say this one was excellent. They have narrations by both past prisoners and prison guards as they lead you through the building. The directions of where to turn and stop are also spot-on. They also add in the sounds of what it would be like to have been imprisoned there, and it really adds a great third-dimension to it all. You can hear the shouting during the prison break or the clanging and yelling in the cafeteria during meal times. The tour even goes outside to the grounds.
I found Alcatraz to be much smaller than I had pictured for a prison. The cells were stacked three stories tall and on loud nights in San Francisco the prisoners could hear the people on shore. I also thought it was interesting that even some families of the guards lived on the island. It would have been nice to have been able to walk the island a bit more outside, but if I ever find myself back in San Francisco I will definitely book a daytime tour.
The cool thing about the night tour though is that they open the hospital wing on the top floor so you can walk through it. I didn’t find the prison area as creepy as I thought, but the hospital wing was certainly where the creepy factor kicks in They put camping lanterns in the hospital rooms that gave off an eerie blue glow as we gazed at 1950s-ish equipment for surgery, X-rays and “water therapy.” We also saw the room where they kept a notorious prisoner, the Birdman, in solitary confinement.
During the evening tour they also have a few presentations that you can sit in on where they talk more in-depth about the island. We went to Myths and Misconceptions about Alcatraz and didn’t find it very good. However, the Sound of the Slammer was excellent. The guide talked about the prison cells and then did a demonstration on how all the doors worked. It was very enlightening and very loud. View the video I took below:
Back outside, they loaded us on to the ferry. By then, it was very dark and the prison looked quite scary from the outside. And while we were loading on to a ferry, a school group was heading in to spend the night in the prison cells. No thanks.
It was a quick trip back to the mainland dock and the tour was over. As I mentioned earlier, I would definitely do a daytime tour on my next visit so I could spend more time walking the grounds and seeing the island as a whole. However, I would recommend the nighttime tour to anyone going to San Francisco for their first visit. Book in advance though!
I was excited to see Muir Woods this past July and experience the magic of the Redwoods again. When we had visited the Redwood National Park in 2011 it was one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had, and I will never forget getting out of the car to go on our first hike and the silence that surrounded me.
Muir Woods was entirely the opposite experience in every way. First, the parking lots are incredibly small and so parking turns into the side of the road for another mile or so and people need to hike back to the Visitor’s Center. When we left after our visit, there was no more parking along the side of the road. At the entrance, it was $7 a person to get through the gates. The Redwood NP is free to get into.
I’d like to think that it was so crowded and busy because we were there on a Friday in July. And so if that is the case, I would suggest finding a day when there is no one there. What really took the magic away from me were two things. The first was a man whistling and yelling at a deer so he could take a picture of it. This is not a zoo. Even if it was a zoo, you should never yell at a wild animal. The second thing was the sign that read, “enter quietly” into Cathedral Grove and people were ignoring the sign. To me, the enchantment of the Redwoods is the silence. So, for there to be no silence was disheartening.
Final thoughts? Do I sound like a Redwood snob? Probably. I think it’s always fascinating to see Redwoods. If you’ve never seen one, and you don’t think you’ll ever get up to Northern California, and you’re in the San Francisco area, by all means, go experience them. If you’ve been to the Redwood National Park and thoroughly enjoyed it, I’d say you can skip this one.
Muir Woods is a 560-acre park and includes six miles of trails. Although when I was there I was only aware of the main, canyon floor trails that are paved and were about a loop of a mile and a half. The unpaved trails out of the canyon connect to Mt. Tamalpais State Park.
If we had time, I would have loved to have also seen Point Reyes National Sea Shore not that far down the road.
This is my fifth year doing Parks & Pancakes and over the last five years I’ve been fortunate to have seen a lot around the world. I don’t always update as much I should be and I’m normally behind on posting on our trips, but perhaps I can take a turn in 2015 and really get this going. I have a few more posts to catch up on places I saw in California this past summer, and the places we stayed in in Ireland in September. And then maybe I can really start posting about national park news and bed and breakfasts. Future vacation coming up will be Maui in the spring and I can knock another national park off the list when we hike the Haleakala Crater!
This past July we stayed at the Black Rock Inn in St. Helena, California in the Napa Valley Region. Unlike many of the places we choose to travel to, Napa Valley was swimming in bed and breakfasts. It was difficult to not only decide on just one, but also what region of the Napa Valley we wanted to stay in. Plus, cost played a factor, as places to stay there are incredibly expensive.
We chose the Black Rock Inn for the clean, modern look of their rooms and for the great reviews on Trip Advisor boasting of a wonderful host that will pack you a lunch for during the day and wine tastings at night from his private collection.
Black Rock Inn is situated on the Silverado Trail road, which is great for access to a variety of wineries. In fact, Duckhorn Vineyards is right across the street. If you are venturing to the inn, be wary that the inn sits on a sharp curve in the road and the speed limit is high. It wasn’t so bad on the weekends, but come Monday morning when the trucks are roaring down the road, it was a bit harrowing trying to get out of the driveway quickly. Also keep in mind that the roads are quite dark at night.
We arrived at the inn on Saturday afternoon after a nice lunch in St. Helena at the Long Meadow Ranch Farmstead. Unfortunately, our odd stay starts here. Blake and I have stayed at quite a few bed and breakfasts by this point, so we’ve come to expect a certain level of hospitality that they all offer. A host normally greets you, gives you a tour of the house and grounds so you feel comfortable in their home and not like a stranger, and then shows you to the room explaining things along the way. Jeff greeted us, and immediately showed us to our room, where he handed us a sheet of paper with specific things we might need to know and left us. He’s not an incredibly engaging person, and I could never get the vibe if that was just him, or the San Francisco/Napa Valley region in general.
A little while later he did help us find a restaurant we could go to in town for dinner. Cook was a very good restaurant with nice-sized portions that weren’t too big, but I’d say the service was lacking some. The friendly busser was more helpful than our server.
In the morning, Jeff does breakfast family style. Everyone had their own bowl of yogurt with fruit for breakfast and then he brought out bowls of scrambled eggs, potatoes and a platter of scones. While this is nice, we had the same breakfast three days in a row with only slight variation. In fact one morning he served us slightly brown guacamole that he had made the night before for a party with his friends. I realize we were the only ones at breakfast that morning, but it would be nice to have fresh food. The key to a great b&b is the variety in breakfasts they serve if guests are staying multiple nights. We had scrambled eggs and potatoes every morning, with only the sweet being switched out.
On our second night at the inn we traveled to Napa around dinnertime to walk around. Jeff had mentioned before we left that he would be having friends over for dinner. We had gone to many wineries during the day and weren’t really feeling it for dinner. Not to mention, Napa is a very interesting town. Along the river walk is very pretty with some nice looking restaurants, but the other parts of the town seem quite run down and a bit shady. It wasn’t what I was expecting to see at all. So we settled on frozen yogurt for dinner, because that sounded good. And ice cream for dinner when you’re on vacation is a perfectly acceptable treat.
When we arrived back to the inn, not a single light was on in the hallway for us to be able to find our way up to the room. We stood in the entryway for quite a bit of time trying to find a light switch. We also heard people in the kitchen, who once they heard us come in immediately said they had to go. I assume we crashed the party. Jeff invited us into his kitchen, and immediately laid into us for driving all the way to Napa and only getting frozen yogurt. I wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was, it’s our vacation. He was also three sheets to the wind, and in my opinion, acting completely inappropriate in front of his guests who had paid a pretty penny to spend the night there. He offered us some flank steak he had cooked for his friends and the guacamole that he then reserved us the next morning.
Aside from that, our room was quite nice and spacious there. We stayed in Suite 4, which sits in the back of the house. We had a nice little deck to sit out on with a glass of wine and a bathroom with both a stand-up shower and a jetted tub. The views are of the wooded hillside.
Pros of this trip? We had a lovely room. We met Jeff’s girlfriend Jennifer who is the tasting room manager at Muscardini in Sonoma and who we visited for a tasting. We ended up buying a few bottles of wine including our almond sparkling wine we opened to celebrate our one-year wedding anniversary. Jeff did help us book a tour at Schramsburg and gave us a glass or two of wine during our stay.
Cons? There was no offer to make lunches for the day. There were no wine and cheese tastings at night like people said. I did not find the inn on a whole a very welcoming place.
I think Black Rock Inn has a lot of potential to be a great locale. I don’t think it’s fully there yet.
The third section of the national park we visited in August 2012 was the mountains at Hurricane Ridge. We first stopped at the visitor center to learn about the area before traveling 17 miles up the road. It was a nerve-racking road with twists and turns and made me very anxious, maybe because I wasn’t driving and had more time to look at the drop out the window.
Once there, we stopped in the visitor center at the top before venturing out on to the trails. The views of the distant mountains are unbelievable from the top. The valley stretches out and then pitches forward and down. It was a bit Sound of Music-esque. You wish you could climb over the fence and just twirl around in circles.
We started out on a trail behind the visitor’s center and found snow on the ground, in August! The trails still had wildflowers left from earlier in the summer. We also found two, baby black-tailed deer grazing in a field along with the snow patrol cottage for the winter, which looked so forlorn, beaten down and lonely.
Due to Blake’s fear of heights, he sat out while I continued to hike along a small ridge called High Ridge Trail to get to Sunrise Point outlook area. Another couple and I stood in a cloud for a while unable to see anything in front of us, until a tiny mountain peak peeked its head out.
Coming down the trail Blake and I ran into a female deer walking straight up the trail. We and two other ladies moved aside as she continued her way up the path. It was wacky. We were so close we could have reached out and touched her.
Back in the parking lot another deer was just walking along. After lunch, we drove up Hurricane Hill Road to get to Hurricane Hill trail. The wild flowers were still blooming there as well. I made it further up the trail, as Blake hung back again, and really, really wanted to continue to see where it led because I just know the views were even more stunning on the other side. But alas, we had to turn back to get back to the bed and breakfast for wine and appetizer hour.
On the way back down the road there is a pull off and you can see the Dungeness Spit stretching out into the Strait along with Canada and the San Juan Islands. I would highly recommend pulling over, as it’s very cool to see the spit from so high up. Really gives you a perspective on long it really is.
I wish we could have spent more time here really taking our time to hike the trails. As I do plan to make the trip back to go to Colette’s B&B, I know I will find myself back at Hurricane Ridge.
The Olympic National Park has two types of forests amongst its many types of ecosystems. The first is the rainforest and the second is the lowland forest. We visited the Hoh Rainforest first in August 2012.
From Highway 101 we traveled up Upper Hoh Road for 19 miles to get to the visitor’s center. The road running along the Hoh River was beautiful and you could see the mountains in the distance. Once we arrived at the visitor center it was a necessity to get my passport stamped to prove my visit. We then started out on the Spruce Nature Trail, a 1.2-mile hike that lead through the moss laden trees and eventually brought us down to the Hoh River. The water was blue but still murky we were told due to the rocks breaking up underneath from the force of the river and the mud was very grey. We also saw a river otter swimming upstream!
Further along on the trail we saw a black-tailed deer eating in the forest. We then took the Hall of Mosses Trail, or as Blake called it the Hall of Moses. The trail is a short .8 miles and leads through mossy trees and fallen nurse logs, which are named so because they provide nutrients to the other trees. We also found extremely large trees lined up in a “colonnade” and they stand on huge roots called stilts because that is where their nurse log used to be.
The moss drapes from the trees in large masses and it really illustrates how the park does get over 12 feet of rain a year. The National Geographic will tell you that sometimes even the air looks green.
We discovered the lowland forest at the Sol Duc Falls. It was a .8-mile hike on the Sol Duc Falls Trail to get to the waterfalls. The trail was one of my favorites of the trip with the creeks and streams running through the trees. In the distance you can hear the thunder of the falls. There is also an old shelter cabin before reaching the falls that reminded me of my summer at Philmont in New Mexico.
When we got to the falls I was surprised to see that you stand above the falls as oppose to looking up at them from below. They roar over the rocks in three jet streams into a deep crevice. We spent quite a bit of time here wandering the trail and walking out onto the rocks in the creek being careful not to slip so we wouldn’t get swept away in the current.
On our way back down, we stopped at the Sol Duc Hot Springs where they were celebrating their 100th anniversary. Maybe we caught it on a busy day, but the three hot spring pools and the one swimming pool were packed with people. The water seemed dirty and the smell of sulfur was quite strong. The hot water felt really nice and relaxing, but I couldn’t get over the smell and so after 20 minutes we got out. We had paid $12.25 each to get in and get our bracelet. For a 20 minute stay, I’d say that’s pretty expensive, but I’m happy to say that I at least tried my first hot spring.
After the hot springs we ventured past Lake Crescent to get to Port Angeles. Stunning even on a cloudy day! The lake felt very European to me with the mountains surrounding it and then plummeting right in. Maybe next time I’ll stop for a little bit and take it all in.