Monday, August 31, 2009

West End Highlights

Makah Days Festival
Hoh Rain Forest
Sorry it is so SUNNY!!
Everything is covered with epiphytes.
The Hoh River with the Olympic Mountains.
Some colorful fun-gis we saw along the trail.
Scenes from Forks
The tidal pool and along the beach.
This fog bank burned off to reveal the blue sky below.

Mount Olympus on the drive from the beach.

We have moved to the west side of Olympic National Park and are staying at the Hard Rain Cafe, Mercantile and RV Park just outside the entrance of the park. As if to live up to its name it began to rain shortly after we arrived but it rained so little that there is still a burn ban in the back country of the rain forest. The campground is near the town of Forks that is "famous" for being the home of the Twilight series of vampire and werewolf books. We can't honestly say we had ever heard of them before we came here and we have not seen any of those bloodsuckers though Nanc has been attacked by a couple mosquitoes.

Our first day here we drove back to Neah Bay in the Makah Nation to attend the Makah Days Festival. The day started over 80 years ago when an American flag was raised over the reservation to show their loyalty to the government. We learned about the tradition and festival from Edward, the tribal elder, we met when we visited the museum. Over 5000 native people from as far away as Alaska were there to participate in the event. In many ways it was a typical festival with artisans selling everything from handmade crafts and jewelry to others selling authentic Chinese imported Indian knockoffs. One of the highlights was the food that also ranged from your usual festival fried fare to a meal of salmon they were cooking in the old style on an open fire. We had the salmon dinner that included potatoes, corn, beans, bread and cantaloupe. It was wonderful!! For entertainment, native dances were performed by Makah children and a group from Alaska. An unusual event was a group of Japanese citizens who had traveled here to perform as a way of thanking the Makah ancestors for saving the lives of three sailors who were from their village 175 years ago. The sailors then made it across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, BC where they learned English and upon their return to Japan wrote the first Japanese translation of the Bible. It was interesting hearing the story of how these two distant peoples were linked. Another big event was the canoe races that were a way to celebrate the Makah whale hunting tradition. They are the only tribe still allowed by treaty to hunt gray whales. The races started with singles, then doubles, then mixed doubles and ended with a very long race in eleven man boats. In every race at least one canoe overturned dumping the paddlers into the chilly ocean water. Each tribe was represented by a team and you could tell there were intense inter tribal rivalries. All in all it was a great day and we would highly recommend it if you are in the area near the end of August. Be warned, if you want the salmon dinner get in line early as they sold out.

On Sunday we visited the third distinct environment in Olympic National Park, the Hoh Rain Forest. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your expectations, it was a beautiful bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky. We had mixed feelings about that since it was lacking the total effect of the rain forest. That said it was better getting dusty rather than muddy on the hike we took. We started through the Hall of Mosses where the 12 to 14 feet of rain they get here each year has resulted in huge conifers and big leaf maples that are draped in an otherworldly covering of epiphytes. The trees are some of the tallest in the world and it is hard to capture the ghoulish look of this place. We then hiked along part of the Hoh River, a fifty mile long glacial fed stream that is the color of milk from the glacial silt. While August is the driest month here and the river was not at its maximum flow, its power is still evident by the number of large trees and the wide gravel beds it has left behind as it recedes after the winter rains and the spring melt.

On our last day here we drove to Forks to tour the Timber Museum and, as with the best laid plans, we discovered it was closed on Monday. We did cruise through the visitors center and took a pic of a truck that has something to do with Twilight, but we don't know what. There is also more evidence of this throughout the town. I guess we are just not into vampires. We then decided we would visit another Olympic National Parks coastal area and drove to Rialto Beach where we enjoyed a 3.5 mile hike along the Pacific. The tide was going out and we were able to explore the tidal pool and collect a couple interesting small objects along the shore. This ends our stay on the peninsula and we have had a great time checking out the many different areas. The weather for the most part has been great and even when it was overcast in the AM it often burned off creating bright sunny afternoons. The temperatures have been perfect and we have not used either the AC or the furnace. Our next stop is back in Olympia to spend another week with Dave and Kazuko before heading south.

1 comment:

MarkandRenita said...

Great pics and a great blog entry! Man we have to spend a summer in Washington!