Ninety-five percent of the Olympic National Park is a designated wilderness area having very little development and few roads or structures. It remains wild and rugged. The Olympic Peninsula Loop is a scenic highway that encircles the Olympic National Park. Over 300 miles long, it primarily follows U.S. Highway 101 connected by U.S. Highway 12 and Washington Highway 8 along the south side. Nearly all of the national park’s developed areas are within a short distance from this highway.
We just spent three nights at a campground in Forks while exploring the Hoh Rainforest and Pacific Coast. Honestly, we knew very little about the Olympic Peninsula before we arrived. We weren’t sure how long we wanted to stay in the area. But now, after just scratching the surface, we want to see more.
Rarely do we make campground reservations more than a couple of weeks in advance. We like keeping our options open. It gives us a sense of freedom. It gives us flexibility. If we learn about something that sounds interesting, then we will alter our route to include it. If we like a place, then we will stay longer. Somehow we will figure out how to do it. That is exactly what we are doing now — staying longer on the Olympic Peninsula. We’ve figured it out. At least for a few more days.
We drove clockwise around the loop toward our next camping location at Rain Shadow Lavender Farm. The Sequim-Dungeness Valley is known for its beautiful and fragrant lavender farms. During the summer season, a multitude of farms are open to the public and offer a variety of lavender products including soaps, oils, perfumes, dried flowers, honey, flavored baked goods, candies, ice cream, and much more. Many offer u-pick where fresh bundles of lavender can be cut. Rain Shadow Lavender is a Harvest Host that offers all of the above, as well as overnight parking for RVs.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly host and given directions to our spot for the night — far enough away from the farm store to not be in the way, but close enough to savor the lovely blossoms. After getting settled, we went for a walk through the lavender fields. Our senses were enlivened as we were surrounded by a sea of purple. An aromatic aroma floated on a gentle breeze and the low hum of bees collecting nectar touched the ear.
People were there just to take pictures. It was such a pretty place. We saw a mother and young daughter wearing matching white sun dresses and large brim hats posing among the lavender. Grammi carried a basket and scissors and went to work clipping a bunch of fresh lavender. I joined the photographers looking for the perfect angle to take a picture.
Less than three miles away from the lavender farm was something else on our must see list, so before the day ended we unhitched the truck and drove to Dungeness Spit. Jutting out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, at 4½ miles long, is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. A lighthouse stands at the end of the spit.
We arrived at the National Wildlife Refuge paved parking area. At the trailhead is a kiosk with information and a “you are here” map. This is also where a dropbox and envelopes are provided for the $3.00 entrance fee. From this point are two trails leading to the spit — the People’s Trail and the Horse Trail. The People’s Trail is a 0.5 mile paved walkway. The meandering Horse Trail is not paved and is nearly twice as long. Being the type of people that enjoys taking a road less traveled, we hiked the horse trail. Both trails go through a forest before merging once again near a scenic overlook. Standing at the overlook, we had a great view of the spit. The final leg of the trail goes down a steep incline to the beach.
We walked the beach with the calm waters of Dungeness Bay on our right and the crashing waves of the Strait of Juan de Fuca on our left. The sound of pebbles washing in the surf was strange and reminded me of the sound from a Chilean rainstick — but much louder. Across the strait we saw Canada. To the east we saw snow capped Mt. Baker. Sea birds flew above. In the surf, a seal popped its head up and gave us a good look before disappearing once again beneath the frothy waters.
Looking down the spit, I strained my eyes to see the lighthouse. Grammi so loves a long walk on the beach, but we were not going to make it all the way to the lighthouse on this day. Still, we walked far enough to get away from the people hanging near the trail. Driftwood was scattered all around. I usually think of driftwood as small limbs, but much of this driftwood is fallen trees that have floated ashore.
I will end this post here with Grammi and I sitting together at the edge of our country on a tree, a driftwood tree, gazing into the water, listening to the waves, occupied by our own thoughts. It’s another pretty place. Ah! There are so many pretty places in this country. It continues to amaze me. We have more to share about our time here and indeed we will, but for now we are going to take time to enjoy the moment.
So until then — happy days and safe travels.