Washington State

19th - 25th July 2011

10 years to the day after we'd set sail from Penarth in Wales, on our big adventure, here we were crossing the Columbia River by road to reach Washington State in Harvey-the-RV.

Despite rumours that trout fishing in Washington State would be poor, we'd wanted to visit the Olympic National Park. Not every trip can be about fishing, can it? En route we managed to track down a National Fish Hatchery and stopped to check it out. The friendly staff gave us some fishing pointers and proudly showed off their stocks of Salmon and Trout. They had taken precautions to ensure the nearby Bald Eagle couldn't steal their precious fish!

We headed up to the Hoh River in the National Park to camp. This was off the beaten track, 20 miles or so up a dead end road, so at least they had plenty of space available.

Crossing the Columbia into Washington State

Checking out phone coverage in the Olympic Peninsula! Turned out to be "BYO".

Phil decided to take his chances with the terrible fishing in Washington State, donned his old waders and headed into the chilly river. Despite springing a leak in one wader and resorting to fishing from a massive fallen tree trunk, balanced precariously over the river, he managed to catch himself two cutthroat trout, one of which was a whoppa.

My sock is wet, hmmm.....

Seemed like a good idea until my line got snagged!

Next morning we set off early to take a hike through the lush temperate rainforest near the campground. Of course now we were located in the wettest place in the Continental United States, our raincoats were required! It was chilly, so high up, even the trees had woolley sweaters on!

The Olympic Peninsula also seemed to be home to the giant banana slug, which were pretty intimidating for a slug!

Maneating slug?

Hairy trees.

Fans of the Twilight Series of Books couldn't be this close to Forks, without paying a visit to look for vampires, werewolves or at least landmarks from the books. The films weren't actually filmed in the town, but the Visitor Centre had drawn up a tour map of places which featured in the books. So, we checked out Bella's truck and Bella's supermarket, where we picked up our Forks souvenirs, before heading down to La Push.

La Push was a quaint seaside town in the Quilleute Indian Reservation. Of course we had to pass the vampire-werewolf treaty line to get to the gorgeous beaches. Here we enjoyed a glorious beach walk, on sand strewn with multi-coloured pretty pebbles, taking in the rugged scenery, even if there were no rugged werewolves with their shirts off!

Bella must be visiting the tourist information today!

Beautiful La Push - Baby!

Get out the garlic!

We thought we'd better head out of town into a secluded forest campground to be safe from all these scary supernatural beings. On arrival at the Klahanie Campground, however, it seemed the perfect setting for a horror movie. The place was deserted except for ourselves and our neighbours, a redneck family with an extensive gun collection. Still, we took our chances and hiked along the river to check out the "terrible" trout fishing in Washington State again. The area lived up to its weather reputation, heavy rain fell through the night and into the next day but we managed to get Harvey out of the mud and back to the road!

The next day was one of much driving and stress. We headed away from the Olympic Peninsula, through the city of Tacoma and then towards Seattle. Here the traffic on the Interstate continually ground to a halt, the driver would get frustrated, the navigator would attempt to find a detour around the road blocks. We'd get lost, we'd get back on the right track, we'd get back on the interstate again and then it would begin all over again. We definitely took the scenic route through the suburbs of the city, passing through an area of mansions, probably the residences of executives of Microsoft and Boeing we surmised.

Disappearing into the deserted forest.......

Exhausted, we checked into a pricey but pleasant commercial RV park for the night. To get our $44 worth, we immediately got back to work on our laundry and internet chores and taking much needed showers. At the end of the day we collapsed in a heap, without even checking out the complementary cable TV!

We'd considered taking a side trip to Alaska, either by ferry or cruise ship and this was the place to sort it out if we were going. It seemed we were not fated to visit Alaska this year as we found all cruises fully booked for several weeks ahead. Checking out the ferry prices we decided the Alaska trip would be put on hold. Having had enough of city driving, we were keen to head back into the wilderness, so next morning headed towards the North Cascades National Park, north of the city.

After a drive through stunning gorges lined with waterfalls, we camped at the Colonial Creek Campground, right on Diablo Lake. Of course we immediately blew up the canoe and prepared for a fishing trip. We waded through ankle deep thick mud, almost losing our shoes in the process, to bring the canoe to the water's edge. We were muddy, the canoe was muddy but finally we were afloat and drifting fast in a howling wind from which we'd been sheltered in our campsite. The canoe trip was abandoned and we headed back to camp to take a walk instead. Back at camp later, we were glad we'd arrived early. Demand for campsites exceeded supply. Around 8 pm we got a knock at the door. A couple just in from near Seattle had joined the scramble for campsites and on spotting our unused tent spot in the trees, wondered if they could use it overnight. No problem to us, all self-contained in Harvey and we got to make new friends Jeff and Karen. Next evening we shared their campfire, saving us the effort of making our own!

Phil tries a spot of landscaping in the Cascades

Enjoying Diablo Lake

Next day dawned bright and calm. We tracked down a less muddy spot and launched our canoe, enjoying an afternoon of fishing and drifting lazily on the lake, admiring the scenery. At one point we were passed by a kayaking ferret, or maybe we'd nodded off and it was all a dream!

By this point we'd definitely decided not to head into Canada, to British Columbia, partly because the fishing regulations seemed so complex and unfair to visitors. Then we changed our minds and set off towards the border. We stopped on the way to hike to Rainy Lake, another beautiful glacial lake.

We headed out of the park towards the tourist trap of Winthrop. This was a small town entirely faced in western style buildings, we could just imagine the stagecoach pulling into town. However on this sunny Sunday afternoon, the town was choked with vehicles and motorbikes. It seemed like a popular Sunday afternoon pastime in Washington State was driving the Cascades loop, stopping for lunch at Winthrop. We headed out of town a little and found the State Park campground almost full and expensive, so using our usual planning method, picked a lake at random off the map, spotting it had a forest campground.

Chillin' on Diable Lake

Rainy Lake

Buck Lake

Buck Lake was perfect, serene, tranquil and we'd been recommended a campsite with (supposedly) less mosquitoes. Only two other sites were occupied. We almost immediately decided we'd spend two nights here.

The canoe was inflated again and we paddled the tiny lake, enjoying great sport from the small trout it contained. We were having a great time, tied up to a tree stump, Paddler happily dozing, Fisherman happily fishing, until the question was raised, "Where is the other fishing rod?". Uh,uh, that strange noise that had disturbed the paddler from her nap might have been the fisherman, spinning around in the back of the canoe to cast, accidentally knocking his best fishing rod overboard. Hmm. Disaster............

After much peering into the murky depths, which fortunately weren't too deep, we finally spotted the very tip of the expensive fly-fishing rod pointing vertically upwards out of the slime. Now we had a serious fishing job on. It took a lot of patience, much swearing and a few tears but finally the errant rod was hooked by its buddy and retrieved. Our most valuable catch ever!

Our plan to relax here at the lake went pear-shaped next morning when we were woken by loud thunder. Taking into consideration the perilous, steep, gravelled road we'd driven up to reach the lake, it was decided to head off the mountain right away before the rain fell, rather than taking any risks. The deflated canoe, chairs and firewood were hurled in the back of RV and we headed cautiously down the slippery mountain as the rain began to fall, still in pyjamas! It seemed we were on our way to Canada earlier than expected and in disarray!

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