It’s been quite a while since my last post. We’ve had such horrible weather for the longest time, making it very difficult to get out and visit some of my favorite outdoor travel spots. Even when the rain does subside, the skies remain grey for the most part, occluding the tall summits that many living around here long to see after many days or even weeks of grey skies. You know it’s a nice day when one can see the titan Mount Rainier in her magnificent snow white gown in the middle of winter. People will comment and casually ask each other if they “saw the mountain today.” I, myself, always look for its appearance anytime I take a drive down the street. I never ever take this awesome creation of majesty for granted!
I can say the same for the scenic view in the opposite direction from Mount Rainier—the alluring Olympic Mountain Range. Feast your eyes on this long, sky-reaching range on the Olympic Peninsula on a crystal clear, winter day and be blown away by its beauty! The snow white peaks glisten in the early morning eastern rays of the sun. That would be the time to get your best photo of them. Unfortunately, we haven’t had those types of mornings yet, but they will be forthcoming.
As I looked back on some of my other posts concerning visits to the Olympic Peninsula, I failed to mention one of my stops along the peninsula’s northern coastline—the city of Port Angeles, which is right on the main highway on the peninsula (Hwy 101). I’ve driven this route so many times over the years back and forth to Olympic National Park and never took the time to stop to explore the city, mainly because I was pressed for time to get to where I was going for the day and getting back home at a decent hour. This last time I was in the area, I decided to make time. I’m glad I did. After sparking up conversations with the locals, I got to visit some sites I previously knew nothing about. I’ll tell you about a few of them today.
A pretty cool place to visit is Ediz Hook, a 3 mile long sand spit that is accessible by car for the majority of the length of the spit. To get to it, instead of turning left on Hwy 101 at the ferry terminal intersection, as most travelers do, just keeping driving straight for a few miles. You’ll drive along the waterfront industrial area and eventually reach the big paper mill. Once past the mill, you’ll be quickly on the land spit. There are many areas to stop to observe marine wildlife or to have a picnic. Tables are provided for visitors. You’ll also get some good views back towards the port and the mountain ranges, as well as views of Vancouver Island, Canada. Because you are a bit out into the water, there is some good wind blowing. I was told that during the winter the views back toward land provide some picturesque views of the snow covered ranges. Near the end of the spit is a Coast Guard Air Station and visitors are not allowed in or past that area.
If you don’t want to drive out onto the sand spit, stop by the city’s popular waterfront pier, or “the landing,” as it’s commonly referred to. This area is located right where the ferries take off for Victoria, Canada. Turn right on N. Lincoln Street as you approach the Hwy 101 intersection at the ferry terminal. There is a small parking area at the end of the short street with beach access and sidewalks and a long, wooden pier to stroll upon to catch views of the Juan de Fuca Strait, including Ediz Hook. During the summer months, open-air markets take place here along with music concert series. There is also the Feiro Marine Life Center to explore and learn about some of the native sea-life species. Want to stay an extra day or two? A large Red Lion Inn shares the beach adjacent to the landing and is very convenient if you plan to catch an early ferry to Victoria for a day trip. Going back to the main street again, walk uphill a street or two away from the water and peruse the quaint, local shops. No large crowds here…just a nice and easy, laid-back, small town atmosphere. For more information on things to do and see in Port Angeles and surrounding area, visit the city’s official website: http://www.portangeles.org
A set of impressive, painted murals on the sides of pier buildings represent a throw-back to earlier days of the port area.