Friday, August 31, 2012

The Olympic Peninsula

For the most part, when I think of the Olympic Peninsula, or the Pacific Northwest for that matter, I think of cool mountain air, the vast Pacific Ocean, mild temperatures, and family.  A large majority of my extended family lives in a small town nestled in the foothills of Olympic National Park, just a short walk from the breezy Straits of Juan De Fuca.  For several years now, my family and I would make an annual pilgrimage away from the scorching heat of North Texas and stay awhile with grandparents in Sequim, Washington. 
Sequim is a small town, just off Highway 101, about 20 miles east of Port Angeles.  The majority of people who go there are just passing through, with the exception of relatives and tourists making their way through the region.  This year though, was a very different one.  This year, I brought my wife, Caitlin, for the first time.  She had never been to the Pacific Northwest before and had no idea what to expect. 
When we would visit as I kid all the family would get together, go hiking in Olympic National Park, take the boat out on the straits, walk the beach on the Dungeness Spit or just walk around town and enjoy the weather.  I knew this trip would be full of fun stuff for us. I wanted to show Caitlin part of what I did as a kid and just why I love coming to the area. 
From the moment we got off the plane in Seattle, I knew Caitlin was in for a shock.  When we left Dallas it was already in the mid 90’s…at 7a.m.  Seattle was barely breaking the low 70’s, and it felt refreshing.  Cold to Caitlin….  On our first day we took a road trip, visiting the family’s old stomping grounds with my grand dad as our tour guide.  We stopped in several small towns, pointing out some family history for Caitlin, including a stop in Forks, where my grandmother had lived for a time.  As a teenager, Caitlin was a big Twilight fan and was excited to see Forks, where the books took place. 
A few days later we made our way in to Olympic National Park where we took a day hike up Hurricane Ridge.  Not exactly a hard hike, but fun, and extremely scenic.  In total, there was roughly 1,000 feet or so worth of elevation gain, while looking out over valleys filled with green pine trees, mountain meadows and snow capped peaks.  From the top of the ridge we looked down at the town of Port Angeles, the Straits, and Vancouver Island.  I had almost forgotten how breathtaking the view was from the ridge, and I could tell by the look on her face that Caitlin loved it as much as I did. 
Close to the park were a few other hot spots that we decided to check out such as Crescent lake, Merrymere and Madison Falls, and the Elwa River.  The Olympic Peninsula is without a doubt and outdoor enthusiasts’ treasure trove, and several days of our trip were willed with short day hikes around the park area.  Caitlin especially enjoyed hiking out to the falls. 
While we may not have climbed any snow capped peaks or traversed any glaciers, the trip served as a great inspiration for Caitlin and I to tackle several outdoor adventures as a couple.  She even expressed an interest in trying to climb Mt. Rainier! 
With our upcoming move to Cheyenne, Wyoming, the thing I took away most from this trip Washington was the fact that I have a lot of work to do….mainly buying gear for Caitlin! 

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