After checking out Fort Flagler, we headed on to Port Angeles and checked in to the motel. I will have another post about the motel later, but suffice to say the Port Angeles Rivera Inn is not a place to stay if you’re in the area.
On the way into town, we had already gone to the Olympic National Park visitor’s center, got a map and a small book and went back into town. After unpacking the van and getting our bearings, Laura and I tried to figure out what to do. Our plans were established, and we found a restaurant for dinner that was a block away. Mexican food is always easy to deal with.
Normally the kids go to bed around 7:30, but this was vacation. Plus, we didn’t want to sit in the room all night while the kids didn’t sleep out of sheer excitement, so the plan was to eat dinner then head back into Olympic National Park and visit Hurricane Ridge. This was an area my wife had visited when she first moved to Seattle, but had not been back to since. It is a beautiful location, and it was one of the main reasons she wanted to visit the Olympic Peninsula on this vacation. I had no issue with going to this area, and the timing was good, as our initial thought was to visit it in the morning before driving around to another section of the park, but the evening was working out to be an opportune time to make this particular side-trip.
The sun was not quite setting as we finally arrived. The visitor center for the park is a couple of miles up the mountain from Port Angeles, and then it’s another 17 or 18 up a twisty mountain road. Everybody’s belly was full of (tasty enough) Mexican food, so being stuck in the van for a little while longer was tolerable. The view was spectacular, with several peaks visible and a wild expanse from one end to the other.
What made this interesting for Laura was the fact that it was so different from when she first visited 20 years ago. A new parking lot and some paved paths, as well as a resurfaced road made the whole area a bit more accessible, and not quite as intimidating as she had remembered. Also adding to the pleasantness of the area were the deer that were unafraid of their human visitors.
Ciárán, being the rambunctious 3 year old that he is actively tried to chase after the deer. This was something we had to put a stop to. Reigning him in wasn’t easy, but we did it. Thankfully August and Déla knew enough to give each animal their space, as it would more likely result in continued active visitation. They were, of course, correct.
Since it was getting to be sundown, the deer were not only active and visible, but plentiful. A number of doe were out, but a few buck as well. We had a great time walking around, taking in the view and almost, but not quite, interacting with the animals.
This is the one area Laura had been talking about wanting to go back to for years and years. She loved this area when she first visited, as it reminded her of where she grew up (Los Almos, New Mexico). Amazingly, she has not been back to Hurricane Ridge since that initial visit 20 years ago, and despite having the inclination and the means, we never went there on our own before kids entered our lives.
If we didn’t have so many small children with us, we would have gone on one of the numerous hikes that are in the area. It would appear, though, that we will be back, and it won’t take us another 20 years. The Olympic Peninsula is a beautiful place and it holds a lot of promise for “weekend getaways” for those of us that live in the city. As the kids get older, we’ll be able to do more, so we are content with what we are able to do and see as it is.
After a while, it was time to head back down the mountain and into town in order to get the kids to bed. We had another big day planned for tomorrow, and while we didn’t necessarily need to get an early start, we did want to get the kids in bed for a full night’s sleep – or at least as much of one as we could manage.