Posted July 13, 2022 – Narrated by Carmen
“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.
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 …
and British Columbia – the most woman-friendly city in North America – is the Mary Richards side – a sunny overachiever, buoyant and equally beautiful.
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!
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 …
making ceramics (or even owning them) …
having my own apple tree …
and a vegetable garden.
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.
Within a couple of hours we were in beautiful
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.
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.
Tidepooling is the primary fascination at Salt Creek Recreation Area.
Every square inch of this county park is pristine.
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.
The Striped Peak Trail is exquisite and worth every mosquito bite.
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.
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.
Of course, we pulled out in the rain …
as we bid farewell to our mountain home in the Olympic National Forest …
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.
Chapters in the “Airstreaming to Alaska” series
- Chapter 1 – San Diego to Malibu
- Chapter 2 – Malibu to Morro Bay
- Chapter 3 – Morro Bay to Santa Cruz
- Chapter 4 – Santa Cruz to San Francisco
- Chapter 5 – San Francisco to Eureka
- Chapter 6 – The Oregon Coast
- Chapter 7 – The Strait of Juan de Fuca
- Chapter 8 – Victoria, British Columbia
- Chapter 9 – Victoria to Mackenzie
- Chapter 10 – The Alaska Highway
- Chapter 11 – Yukon
- Chapter 12 – Top of the World Highway to Chicken, Alaska
- Chapter 13 – Tok to Valdez
- Chapter 14 – Glacier View to Anchorage
- Chapter 15 – The Kenai Peninsula – coming soon!
- Chapter 16 – Whittier – Talkeetna – Denali – coming soon!
- Chapter 17 – Fairbanks – North Pole – Chena Hot Springs – coming soon!
- Chapter 18 – Tok – Beaver Creek – Destruction Bay – Haines – coming soon!
- Chapter 19 – Haines Junction – Teslin – Jade City – Bell II – Telkwa – Prince George – 100 Mile House – Kamloops – Cawston – coming soon!
- Chapter 20 – Lesson Learned – coming soon!
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.