Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 7: The Strait of Juan de Fuca

Posted July 13, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
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Airstreaming to Alaska

Chapter 7 of the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series.

“Wisdom accepts that all things have two sides.”

Captain Kirk or Jean Luke Picard? Vienna Sausages or Spam? Alligator or Bear attack? Lively debate eases the frustration of road closures, detours and delays due to flooding and wildfires as we journey to Alaska.

It’s a silly mental exercise, but the conversation shortens the drive and relaxes Pico. Disney World or a hot air balloon ride? The Loneliest Highway or Route 66? The Odd Couple or The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

Respect your opponent – no falsities or absurdities – hold your position even if assigned by coin toss. Next topic is winner’s choice. Our minds work in opposition, so the game is about discovery not entrenching differences. There are no wrong answers, but some are better than others.

The Strait of Juan de Fuca

The Strait of Juan de Fuca was fake news, its existence shrouded in mystery for 200 years. Of course, it was there the whole time but when Captain James Cook arrived between the 47º N and 48º N parallels and failed to see it he basically said: “I’m here. It’s not. Therefore it doesn’t exist.” Captain Bligh had a similar response. Then, on a rare sunny day, Captain Vancouver arrived, the fog lifted and voila, the name Juan de Fuca would forever be an excuse for 5th graders to snicker in history class.

Juan de Fuca, or Ioannis Phokas (1536-1602) the intrepid Greek explorer and navigator was perhaps the first European the indigenous people of the area had ever encountered. That miraculous fog shrouding the Strait gave the locals two-hundred additional years of normalcy before westward expansion could show up and tell them what they were missing.

The cloud-veiled waterway, created by a tectonic plate, runs between fair and scenic Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, (North Shore) and the stunning, mountainous Olympic Peninsula, located in the northwestern part of Washington State (South Shore)

The tribal people who live along these shorelines do not think of The Strait as a line of division. It’s more like the aisle of a grocery store …

… or a dinner table spread for family who live on both sides.

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Each with unique eco-systems and all the fish in the Salish Sea between them, the two sides of the Strait of Juan de Fuca complete each other like best friends. I think of The Olympic National Forest as the Rhoda Morgenstern side: a gloomy badass, earthy and beautiful …

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and British Columbia – the most woman-friendly city in North America – is the Mary Richards side – a sunny overachiever, buoyant and equally beautiful.

Victoria, British Columbia

Olympia

Shortly after crossing the Oregon border, we pulled off in Olympia. The Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park was our home-sweet-home and central base of operations for a brief two-day tour.

Of course it rained the entire time but, by then, we’d grown gills.

Yeah, baby! It’s the water!

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With help from Washington’s senior friendly tax policies, Olympia is a popular retirement haven for active seniors. After a quick look-see we understand the attraction.

The Port Plaza,

the Farmer’s Market, where I was reminded of all the things this nomadic life cannot support like playing in a girl band …

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making ceramics (or even owning them) …

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having my own apple tree …

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and a vegetable garden.

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After viewing the public art

visiting the warm, dog-friendly breweries …

and tucking into some excellent meals in eateries that suit our price range …

we realized that Olympia deserved more research. Hopefully, the charming Airstream park will welcome us again someday.

As we pulled out of Olympia, the skies cleared and the cloud-blanketed Olympic Mountain Range offered a peek-a-boo view from the bridge.

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Within a couple of hours we were in beautiful

Port Angeles

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Port Angeles is built on top of Tse-whit-zen, the village of the The Strong People.

The village is incredibly scenic.

When we could pull our eyes away from the mountains and the Strait, we were bedazzled with the impressive public art collection.

Salt Creek

About thirty minutes up the mountain, we found our campsite at Salt Creek in Clallam County on The Olympic Peninsula, now on record as our Most Beautiful Site Ever.

We had two views. One from the trees on the cliff where we were parked …

and another from the shoreline below.

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Tidepooling is the primary fascination at Salt Creek Recreation Area.

Every square inch of this county park is pristine.

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The hike to Salt Creek was a daily activity.

The park once served as a fort in World War 2. If you like the sound of your own voice, the bunker is the place to belt out that song in your heart. It’s like your own personal Carnegie Hall in the Wilderness.

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The Striped Peak Trail is exquisite and worth every mosquito bite.

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Camping in the Salt Creek Recreation Area is in two sections. Spaces with partial hook-ups are in a tightly packed clearing. We preferred the dry-camping area with large secluded spaces beneath the tree canopy.

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Under the trees with overcast skies, our solar was useless, but generators were allowed. Hot, coin-op showers are provided. It’s a twenty-minute drive to town, so we made the most of our meals at home with fresh local ingredients.

Market days always included a visit to Barhop Brewing for a dog-friendly happy hour, a functional cell signal, and house-sponsored WiFi.

The Olympic Discovery Bike Trail

The Olympic Discovery Bike Trail from Port Angeles to Sequim was a highlight.

Lake Crescent Lodge

Luckily, Lake Crescent Lodge opened on the last full day of our stay. The kitchen served a satisfying hot breakfast.

The hearty meal fortified our hike to Marymere Falls.

Then, back home for one last sunset at Salt Creek.

The next morning we would be on our way across the Strait.

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Of course, we pulled out in the rain …

as we bid farewell to our mountain home in the Olympic National Forest …

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and also to the hospitable seaside village of Port Angeles …

where we boarded the ferry …

to visit our neighbors on the north side of the table in Victoria, British Columbia.

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A farewell drive through gorgeous Port Angeles

Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series



If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.


42 thoughts on “Airstreaming to Alaska – Chapter 7: The Strait of Juan de Fuca

    1. Ben!!! 💕 Thanks for popping in! Let’s make plans to meet up again, okay?

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Hey Tom! Wonderful to hear from you. Great question. Yes! We are consulting Milepost – especially now that we’re finally in Alaska. In a few days Jim will be posting about our trip-planning strategy.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  1. I love all your explanations and photos. We were at Port Angeles several years ago-could stay there forever!

    1. Leigh! Thank you for sharing your experience in Port Angeles. If we could explain in blog language how wonderful it is there, everyone would go and no one would ever leave. And this is a great time of year to go.

      The great thing about being travelers is that we all have these lost loves we can share and understand the pain of separation.

      You and I will always have Port Angeles.

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. ❗️Debbie ❗️💕

      OMG. I wish I could explain what we’ve been through. Well, I will have to soon. It’s been quite a trip with plenty of the adventure we hoped for and some that we did not. We’ve driven through fire, saved a young man and have suffered a national internet snafu in Canada. But we are the stronger for it. We miss you and thank you for thinking about us. Can’t wait to have some biscuits and gravy with you two next Spring.

      Onward!

      xoxo

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Cheryl!

      Yes, we were watching for whales from the shoreline and on the ferry across but didn’t spot them. It may have been a bit early.

      Thanks so much for being with us!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  2. You were in my neck of the woods. I base out of Washington Land Yacht Harbor Airstream Park as I travel in WA during spring and summer. I’m at the Canadian border now Birch Bay State Park. WA is an amazing place!

    1. Hey Robyne!

      We had so little time to really explore the Washington Land Yacht Harbor, but were surprised by the size of the park. Wow. Any Airstreamer who wants to explore Washington should definitely check it out. It’s beautifully situated in a very desirable area. Very nice people in charge too.

      Thanks for sharing your experience!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  3. Carmen, Jim, and Pico. I LOVE your trips. I look forward to every update and live vicariously through you three. We did our first caravan to Georgia this winter and will be following you next month on the Cascadia Caravan. Travel safely. LOVE your photos.

    1. Jann,

      Thank you for sharing this exciting time with us!

      Yukon blew us away, so we’re excited to find out how Alaska can top that! We just arrived. Woo-hoo!!!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  4. We lived in Gig Harbor for several years and explored the area you are in! Makes me homesick!
    Enjoy!

    1. Beverly!

      Ah, sorry to make you homesick but thank you for popping in to share your experience of of The Olympic Peninsula. Actually I share a bit of that homesick feeling with you. I lived in the Bremerton area when I was in my pre-teens. My grandmother was living in Seattle and working at Boeing so mom moved us there for the year (1969-70) while Dad was serving in Vietnam. It was a good place to go through that difficult time. My Aunt Carroll took my sister and I on wilderness hikes that went on for days. We camped on the beach and in the forests overlooking the ocean. I believe we went camping in the Salt Creek area that summer because the place set my synapses afire. It’s fascinating how a place becomes part of what you are and the longing seems mutual. While there I said “thank you” to quite often to no one and nothing in particular and I felt such a sense of gratitude and peace.

      Thanks so much for being with us, Beverly!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

      1. Interesting! My husband was born in Bremerton! Moved to Petersburg Alaska as a teen! We love the Pacific Northwest!
        I enjoy your “travels” Happy Trails!

  5. We’re currently spending the summer in La Conner but ferried our Airstream to the Olympic Peninsula over the 4rh of July for a week of adventure on that side of Washington. We stayed just S of Sequim for a few days to ride the Olympic Discovery Trail and we also ate at Barhop, but the one in Sequim. It is incredible there!

    1. Jen!

      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience of The Olympic Peninsula – always great to hear from you!
      It’s really tough to say what is my favorite region in the US, but whenever I’m in The Great Northwest, I don’t think about anywhere else.

      I’m so happy to hear that you had a great time there, too. It is “INCREDIBLE” and there’s so much to see.
      Here’s to your next adventure

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  6. We feel so lucky to have landed outside of Port Angeles a little over a year ago. Lucky that the seller of our house didn’t want to take bids and we were the first to tour it. When you swing back around, there are many more things to experience. (We also have plenty of flat space with electric and water if you find all campsites booked.) Want to mention that Tim McNulty writes in “Olympic National Park: A Natural History”, 4th edition that the Strait was formed by the Cordilleran ice sheet.

    1. Anne! So great to hear from you!

      I’m a bit jealous of your good fortune to be a Port Angeles resident. I walked around the neighborhood at the top of the stairs with Pico – just to check out the homes and imagine what it would be like to live there. So, so beautiful …

      Yes, we would love to explore more on our next time through. We saw many neighborhoods along the bike trail that also looked like pleasant places to make a home.

      I love Tim McNulty! Fascinating info about the geologic formation of the Strait. I will definitely order that book.

      Thank you for sharing!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  7. I sound like a broken record, but I don’t even care. Your storytelling and photos are just spectacular. You make me want to go everywhere you go.

    Speaking of going everywhere you go, I LOVE the photos of Pico. Talk about living the life!! That dog has got it all figured out.

    The wedding pic is stunning as are all the photos from Salt Creek. The scenery is gorgeous and I can only imagine how much better it’s going to be as you travel around Alaska.

    Stay well, friends!

    1. Laura,

      Broken record? No! All I hear is beautiful music 😊

      Pico is sleeping on my lap now as I write. His little 8 pound self just made it to his 14th birthday. Like us – he hates the drives but loves being in a new place with so much to discover and to mark. Like Thor, he’s peed everywhere, Man. He’s peed everywhere.

      Chapter3Travels has been on our minds. We are so excited about your ex-pat adventure and wish you God Speed to you on your next chapter!

      https://www.chapter3travels.com/a-million-moving-parts/

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  8. I must check out Salt Creek Recreation Area. It’s so beautiful! If you’re ever in Kingston, checkout Downpour Brewery. It’s owned by a dear friend’s- Susan Hanby Kelly daughter Kristen Williams and son-in- law.

    1. Kathy 💕

      Take your hiking boots. You will love Salt Creek and the trail system there is vast! We barely touched upon all of the hikes.

      Thanks for the tip about Downpour (great name!) Brewing: https://www.downpourbrewing.com

      We missed many good breweries in The Great Northwest but with fuel prices so high we had to skip some. Hopefully, next time we will stop there.

      Always wonderful to hear from you, Kathy!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

      1. I always look forward to discover new places through your descriptions and photos. Onward and upward to and through Alaska. I hope things open up soon! Always safe travels my vagabond Friends!

  9. Love the Straits of Juan de Fuca. I’ve been in and out of there in the Navy many times. It can be beautiful and it can be dangerous. The Olympics Peninsula could take months to explore. Hope you are going to Vancouver Island. I proposed to my bride in Victoria in a Horse Drawn Carriage in Beacon Hill Park. High Tea at the Empress is a must.

    1. Hey Jody 💕 Oh yes, we missed much more than we wanted to, but as you say, you could spend months on the Olympic Peninsula. It would be heaven to do exactly that someday. We were talking about that very idea. Spending a year in there – Stay in Olympia, Sequim and Port Townsend for the coldest months and see the rest under fair conditions. I think that plan is in our future.

      We spent two weeks in Victoria. Loved it!!! Next blog post …

      xoxo and Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  10. This is probably another favorite place! Not sure what I enjoyed more—the narrative or the pictures. So beautiful and great descriptions of this area of the northwest. Can’t wait to enter Alaska!

    1. Barbara!!! So great to hear from you and thrilled that you enjoyed the post. We’re just now breaking into the Alaska part of the adventure but Yukon was amazing!

      We are so blessed to have you on board!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Love you too, Judy & Mike 💕 And MISS you!!! Thanks for keeping an eye on us!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

    1. Cynthia💕 How wonderful to hear from you. We’ve missed seeing what you’re up to on FB. We’ve had NO connectivity for weeks in Yukon. There was a huge cell signal outage there from a major provider. We even needed cash for everything. But it’s great to know that you are on board.

      xoxo,

      Carmen@LIB

  11. Before our RVing days we would fly into a city, rent a car and just drive with no set destinations in mind. One year we flew into Seattle, went to Tacoma, thru Port Angeles and came upon Crescent Lake! How beautiful it was! Ended up spending the night at the lodge there and it was just wonderful. Took the same hike you did. What a beautiful part of the country. So enjoy your blog posts and pics! And Pico in the bike basket is too adorable.

    1. Brenda!

      That’s the way we’ve always traveled. We try not to over-research an area so we can surprised at what we discover and not disappointed if something isn’t there anymore (like the chocolate factory in Blois, France). Fortunately, tourist info is more accurate these days but we still prefer the joy of stumbling upon treasure like Ocracoke Island.

      Thanks for sharing your experience of Port Angeles! It’s such a lovely town in a gorgeous region which we’d like to see more of.

      Great to have you with us!

      Safe & Happy Travels!

      Carmen@LIB

  12. Is that a whale spout in the fourth photo from the bottom up (view across the Strait)? Your post started with something recognizable – Tumwater Falls! I just posted a few photos of that attraction on my Roaming About Facebook page, since we visited Olympia (quickly) a couple of weeks ago.

    Still so cold when you were there, but your photos are stunning and the Olympic Peninsula is an otherworldly place.

    1. Liesbet,

      Otherworldly … yes. It also gave me a sense of what unspoiled land is supposed to look like. I’m so glad we have shared Tumwater. It felt the set of a Star Trek ground crew scene. “DON’T beam me up! I’m staying!”

      So great to hear from you Liesbet. I hope you’re having a good summer. It’s a cold summer up here in Anchorage. No heat dome here. Hopefully it warm up tomorrow.

      Safe & Happy Travels! xoxo

      Carmen@LIB

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