Continuing on from Portland, where I last left you, Steve and I ventured into Washington. Our first stop was an adorable town called Hoquiam where we camped so that we could visit Olympic National Park. As I mentioned in our last blog, the trees in this part of the country are just absolutely huge - - not just in height but in girth! There are trees here that are 40-50 feet in circumference. Unbelievable. We were told by the locals that the trees get to these massive sizes because of the constant, year-round rainfall. That is also why the roses are so beautiful in this part of the country as well.
While visiting Olympic National Park, we saw two very special trees: the largest and oldest cedar tree and the largest Sitka Spruce in North America. Wow were they impressive. We visited Ruby Beach in yet another attempt for me to find a tidal pool. I was unsuccessful, but Steve and I had fun wandering around all of the driftwood laying on the beach. The Pacific Coast, especially in the northwest, is so beautiful. We wanted to take in as much of it as we could on Ruby Beach because that would be the last of it we would see, probably for the rest of our lives.
After Olympic National Park we visited the home of an old logging executive named Polson. The house was absolutely beautiful and held some really interesting artifacts about the logging industry. Trees are not just beautiful to look at in this part of the country. They are the life blood for all the small communities in the Pacific Northwest. A good portion of the logging enterprise that existed in the early to mid-20th century is now gone. There are still a few companies (such as Weyerhauser) who continue to do business in the Pacific Northwest, but the economic boom of the timber industry has long since left the region. These small towns (like Hoquiam) have felt the impact but because they are so small, the people band together to keep their communities surviving, if not thriving.
From Hoquiam, we took the first steps on our long journey east and headed to the Seattle area. What a great time we had here!!! We visited downtown Seattle and did two of my favorite things - - rode the train into town from our campground in Puyallup, and visited the Dale Chihully Glass Museum. I was in heaven. As you may or may not know, I absolutely love glass art and Dale Chihully is the master of it. His pieces are breathtaking, not just because of their size (which is difficult to do with glass) but because of the brilliant colors he uses in his displays. Steve took some awesome pictures but you truly have to be there to appreciate the genius of his art. We, of course, went to the top of the Space Needle to take in the views and then ventured down to the waterfront - - mostly in search of the Elliot Bay Towers where Frasier Crane lives but, alas, they were not to be found (no surprise there)!
No visit to this area would be complete without a stop at Mt. Rainier National Park. Let me tell you folks, this is no average mountain. It looms over the cities of Tacoma and Seattle like you cannot believe. The thing is just huge. It's about 60 minutes from Puyallup or 90 minutes from Seattle but you would think it was just a couple of blocks away! Anyway, the park is breathtaking and we enjoyed some great hiking and awesome views. Once again, Photographer Steve did a great job trying to capture the grandeur that is Mt. Rainier but like Dale Chihully's art, you have to see it to believe it.
We did a couple of little side trips to the Puget Sound area and enjoyed the waterfront. We visited the Washington State History Museum which had a display on loan from the NFL Hall of Fame. There were several items on display from former Browns players. Steve was of course thrilled about this. A stop at Snoqualmie Falls was interesting. And finally, we visited the LeMay Family Collection of cars in Tacoma. That was unbelievable. The collection, itself, is some 3,000 vehicles strong and took us hours to go through about 25% of it. What makes this collection interesting is that most of the cars are nothing special. They are cars ones your parents may have owned. Well worth a visit if you are ever in the area.
After a week in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we headed east to Spokane for a few days. The terrain on this journey changes dramatically from giant trees and lush green, to flat and brown farmland. I was surprised by that. I don't know what I was expecting but it wasn't that. Anyway, while in Spokane we visited the Grand Coulee Dam which was an impressive structure. We also ventured just across the Idaho border into Couer D'Alene and had a very relaxing boat ride on the lake. Unbeknownst to us, a celebrity wedding was taking place there the very next day (Julianne Hough). Lastly, we took in the downtown area of Spokane which, unfortunately, was undergoing major reconstruction. There are beautiful falls in the middle of the city that were mostly blocked and the island in the middle of the river that holds Riverfront Park was closed. The skyride was dismantled and, well, let's just say it was like a ghost town. We did cruise through Gonzaga University, though. Nice little campus.
Well, that's it from Washington. Our next blog will give you our adventures through Glacier National Park, Great Falls, Fort Peck and Bismarck, North Dakota!
Until then, take care and may God bless you all.
Lauen And Steve