Aramark... Indian for "mediocre"!

So Depressed OMG, Washingtonians are THE WORST drivers ever! They consistently drive a few miles BELOW the speed limit, brake at everything and anything, and are oblivious to their surroundings. The only time they seem to perk up is when someone is trying to pass them: then, they punch it to prevent the pass! We have decided that it is because they are all depressed about the constant grey weather.

Phew! Now that we got that off of our chests…

Driftwood Go Alaska Air! Even after a mechanical problem detour we still get to Seattle ahead of schedule. As usual we have no maps with us, but manage to braille our way of town. We only had one U-turn when we took the wrong 101-North! (Yup… there are two of them) After four hours of driving thru oddly name towns - Queets, Humptulip, etc. - and behind the slowest scarediest OMG-a curve-in-the-road!-must-brake road boulders we arrive at Kalaloch Lodge, fabulously located on the ocean in Olympic National Park. It faces a long and wide beach with a massive amounts of driftwood, which incidentally we take great advantage of for our huge last night fire in our suite's fireplace: can you say super in-room bonfire?!

Unfortunately the lodge is run by Aramark, so the food quality and service are kind'a lacking. Food is mediocre, they can't get their wine list correct or stocked, and of course the-ever present "We have a lot of good seats open but we are going to try to seat you in the crappiest table we have… unless you complain!" issue. Of course we complain… EVERYTIME… to the SAME gal! Geez! Get the hint: we are not gonna sit in the back room while there are open tables with views available. And our favorite: an empty patio except for one table, and they make us wait 30 minutes before we sit down. Whatever. Having said all that, they do make up for it in location. Our very large but oddly laid out room is also facing the ocean, including the bathroom. Assana has a lot of fun photographing the beach while sitting on top of the toilet! The lodge's proximity to he ocean makes it easy to pop to the beach and back. We particularly enjoy our after-dinner walks. One night we even resurrect a fire another couple abandoned!

Hoh Olympic National Park is an interesting park: there's a main chunk which covers most of the peninsula, and then there is this little sliver that covers the entire coastline. You drive thru patches of clear-cut forest to go between them. Quite sad. Also, every ranger we encounter is humorless! The first one takes our map, circled and check marked a bunch of stuff, and dryly hands it back to us without really telling us what she circled. The second one does not understand Dan's tone of "Are there any good hikes around?" and lectures us about how great the hikes are! Ok. Whatever.

And then there is the naming! Hoh Valley. Really? And for beaches, we have First, Second, Third, Fourth and then Rialto; a few miles down the road we have Beach #1, #2, #3, #4, and Ruby Beach. Whoever named them clearly had no imagination and only knew to count to four.

Mossy Naming not withstanding, the hikes thru the rainforest are amazing. On Hall of Mosses trail, everything is truly covered with moss. And the beaches… ahhh. Ruby beach is the super famous one with the amazing rock outcroppings. But we like Second Beach even better. When we get there the sky is grey - big surprise - and the back-lit rocks turn into black & white silhouettes. At one point the fog lifts just long enough to give us a teeny bit of blue sky and a ton of great photos.

No Tide My Ass And then there is Beach #4 which has all the tide pools. The first unfriendly ranger - the one who just circled our map - tells us we are visiting the park at the wrong time of the month: no moon, no [low] tide, no tide pools. Well, no tide my ass. Not only there is low tide, it is at a perfect time of the day no less! And the tide pools are quite amazing. We spend a good amount of time gawking at the starfish and sea anemones.

Tacoma Narrows We take the north route back to the airport: 101 North, around Port Angeles and a ferry right back to the mainland. Our drive takes us thru more clear-cut forests but for the most part it is beautiful. Lake Crescent, on the north of the peninsula, is spectacular. However, clearly when we made the decision we had forgotten about Washingtonian driving habits. There are so many slow pokes on the road that we were at the danger of missing the ferry! Which means missing our flight home. So scrap the ferry - ferries are for fairies anyways - and we take the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the replacement for the one we all studied in high school physics!

All in all, another great trip! Olympic National Park, check! 21 down, 37 to go!

Dan teaching the sandpipers a lesson

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