After driving more than two thirds of the way across the United States, we finally reached the Pacific coast of Washington.
We visited this lighthouse located on the north shore of the mouth of the Columbia River on a point of land called Cape Disappointment. The name comes from an 18th century British fur trader who was sailing southward along the coast. Due to a storm, he turned around at this cape, and thus missed discovering the mouth of the Columbia River.
This spot is one of the foggiest places in the United States, but fortunately we had a beautiful day when we were there.
We spent the night in the small town of Long Beach, Washington. It is a seaside resort, and a bit tacky. However, the beach itself, separated from the town by a wide area of coastal grasses, is long, beautiful stretch of undeveloped coastline. That summer, the Northwest had unusually warm weather, so we were able to splash around in the normally cold waters.
The next day we headed northward through Washington state. Olympic National Park is divided into several sections. One area is along the coast. We stopped to visit Ruby Beach, which is noted for its sea stacks, outcroppings of rock just offshore.
Farther north, another section of the park, the Hoh Rainforest, is an example of a temperate (as opposed to a tropical) rainforest. This area receives more rainfall than anyplace in the continental United States. Fortunately, it wasn't raining when we were there, and we even had some sunshine.
Notice how this tree is covered with moss in this very wet climate.
We spent the night at the town of Forks, Washington. Under heavily overcast skies, it seemed a rather dreary, nondescript place. However in recent years it has had a boom in tourism because the "Twilight" series of books and films (none of which I have ever read or seen) are set here. The movies were not actually filmed there.
The next day, we had planned to visit the major portion of Olympic National Park which is centered around snow-covered Mount Olympus. But that day it was raining heavily, so we simply drove on to our next destination. We never even caught a glimpse of the mountain.
We spent the night in Washington's state capital, Olympia, which is located at the southern end of Puget Sound. The rain had stopped by that time, and the sun even came out for a while. We were able to explore the town a bit, and visited the capitol building. We were impressed by what a pleasant, attractive town it is.
From there, we continued on to Mount Rainier National Park. The morning began sunny, and we could see the volcanic peak in the distance. Mount Rainier is over 14,000 feet high and is the tallest mountain in the Cascade Range. By the time that we had reached the park, the clouds had rolled in, and Mount Rainier was hidden from view.
Finally, the clouds parted, and we were able to glimpse the peak.
From here we headed east, beginning the long journey back home.
To be continued...