Beauty in Unlikely Places, Pondering, Rambling, Vacation

PNW Part 12 (Sol Duc Falls)

This is the final post in my Summer Vacation 2013 Chronicle, so forgive me if I get a little verklempt.  Maybe it’s because I’m listening to some tragically beautiful tunes (think Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, The National), or maybe I’m just sad at having to say “goodbye” (in a way) to one of the most hauntingly beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

I wouldn’t use the word “magnificent” to describe Sol Duc Falls.  I’ve not been to Niagara or Angel or Iguazu Falls, but I know they are so large that you can’t get near them without being overwhelmed by their power and majesty.  You could feel the falls here, but you could also walk over the top of them without being literally blown away.  They were peaceful, beautiful, and accessible.  You could hear the roar, feel the spray; it felt very personal.

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At the top of the falls, my kids played on the rocks that I took the picture above from.

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Also? I’ve always wanted to use my fish-eye lens to take a picture like this:_NLG0880Yes, I lay down in the middle of the trail to get this photo and yes, people looked at me like I was cray-cray.  But did I care? Nope.  It was worth it to be able to cross that off my photo bucket list.

Of course there was more beauty to find along the trail on the way to and from the falls.  Here’s my favorite, but you can find more by clicking on the gallery below.

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Beauty in Unlikely Places, Travel, Vacation

PNW Part 11 (Hoh Rain Forest)

The only other rain forest climate I had been in before this trip was in Hawaii, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Pacific Northwest.  Did I see green everywhere?  Yes.  Was there a blue sky?  Yes.  Was there oppressive humidity?  Nope.   In other words, it was delightful.

Green literally dripped from every surface.

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What wasn’t dripping green was sprouting it.

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I was hard-pressed to find a color other than green or brown. I found a berry here and there and a couple of flowers.  Finding a flower felt like finding a unicorn. (SQUEEEEE!!!)

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But I did find fungi.

hohfungiEven though we came across other visitors every now and again, I truly felt like we were lost in our own little world.  It felt peaceful and magical and I am so thankful my family let me wander aimlessly with my camera.

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For more photos from the trip, click on the gallery below.

Travel, Uncategorized

PNW Part 10 (Ruby Beach)

Of all the beaches we visited, this was the most populated.  To me, it held my interest more on land than in the sea.  Of course it was beautiful, as all the beaches along the coast are, but the sea stacks didn’t grab my attention here.  The things along the immediate coastline did.

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Of course I got the obligatory shot…as did (two) other photogs…

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…but there was just so much more to look at on this beach!!

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My kids even had a Kumbaya moment:

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(Actually, I think he was handing her something, but a Mom can dream, right?!)

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Gnarly, Dude

They found another fort to play in:

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We came upon a smoldering campfire:

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I found a(nother) heart-shaped rock.  [On a side note, I re-found that rock at the bottom of my camera bag last week.]

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All in all, Ruby Beach was well worth going to. I really wish we had stayed longer and walked out farther, but my kids were giving me small heart attacks just by climbing all over the driftwood. I didn’t want to add drowning to the list of possible injuries.  Sigh…

Read about our entire trip to the Pacific Northwest here:

PNW Part 1 (Seattle)

PNW Part 2 (Out and About in Seattle)

PNW Part 3 (Pike’s Market)

PNW Part 4 (Seattle Underground)

PNW Part 5 (Whidbey Island)

PNW Part 6 (Lake Quinault)

PNW Part 7 (Kalaloch Area Beaches)

PNW Part 8 (First Beach)

PNW Part 9 (Second Beach)

Travel, Uncategorized

PNW Part 9 (Second Beach)

In case you’re not familiar with the beaches along the PNW coast, here is a a bit of explanation:  To access the beach, you must park in a lot (or along the side of the road) up top, then walk the deceptively short-looking distance down to the beach.  The hike to Second Beach took what felt like a looooong tiiiiiime and due to many twists and turns and elevation changes, it made for quite a little workout.  This turned out to be a good thing because there was plenty to see along the way…_NLG0980

It felt like we were visiting another world and it was impossible to ignore the fact that we were in a rainforest climate.

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Every surface of every thing was teeming with life, but there was also decay – beautiful, twisted decay – everywhere as well.  The circle of life was in full swing.

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The beach itself was a stark contrast to the lush green cocoon of the world along the trail and beautiful in a completely different way.

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I was new to the term “sea stacks” but that is what these big rocks sticking out of the ocean are called.  They are actually part of the land that used to jut out into the ocean, but over time, erosion has separated them from the mainland.

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To me, they were simply breathtaking._NLG1015

To get a grasp of the scale of the beach and the rocks, play “Find My Children” in the next picture:

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We hadn’t brought flashlights (very stupid of us!), and the trip back up to our car was dark even in broad daylight because of the lush forest, so we had to leave before we were ready to.  But….I did get to see something* I thought was a mythical creature imagined by Santa Cruzians of questionable sobriety.

Banana Slug (a.k.a. UCSC mascot)
Pacific Banana Slug

Thus ended another wonderful day in the gorgeous Pacific Northwest.

* It has been brought to my attention that the California banana slug that is beloved of UCSC is bright yellow with no spots, while the banana slug I found is of the Pacific variety

If you liked this, you’ll LOVE the previous posts in the series!  Look here:

Read previous posts here:

PNW Part 1 (Seattle)

PNW Part 2 (Out and About in Seattle)

PNW Part 3 (Pike’s Market)

PNW Part 4 (Seattle Underground)

PNW Part 5 (Whidbey Island)

PNW Part 6 (Lake Quinault)

PNW Part 7 (Kalaloch Area Beaches)

PNW Part 8 (First Beach)

Travel, Uncategorized, Vacation

PNW Part 8 (First Beach)

I have to admit, at first, I was a bit underwhelmed at seeing First Beach.  I wasn’t expecting to see Bella and Jacob or anything, but still… :p…

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I guess I was expecting the rocks to be closer to the shore.  At the other beaches, I could see and hear the surf hitting the rocks which made the experience more interactive (read: louder) than this.  I soon found that the longer I stood looking out into the ocean, my original twinge of disappointment turned to serenity.  In addition to that, this beach was less crowded than the others, so I’m sure all of these factors led to my being pleasantly surprised by First Beach.

My kids found this makeshift driftwood “fort” and had a blast playing in it.

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I found a heart-shaped rock which gave me a bit of a thrill. (I’m easily entertained like that)

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I was (and still am) fascinated that trees are able to grow on those rocks sticking out of the ocean.

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We ate dinner at the only restaurant in First Beach that Yelp recommended.  (From the looks of it, it also looked to be the only restaurant in town.)  We had a front row seat to the “show” – a family of otters were having dinner right outside the window where we sat.  ***These pictures were shot from inside the restaurant through the glass window, so please excuse the quality. There was no way to have this vantage point from outside – I tried!***

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As the meal progressed, they had to fight off the birds that tried to abscond with their fish:

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Note the stink-eye of the otter on the right and the charging of the one on the left.

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After that, we saw the first and only bald eagle we were to see on this trip (again, I had to shoot through glass. Ugh!).  You can see him there, front and center, perched on the roots of the overturned tree.  We watched him fly to his perch, then sit for a good while surveying his territory, fly around some more, then back to the perch again.

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I had hoped to see one closer up, but that was the longest lens I had with me, so this is all I got.

*Side note: If you’ve been reading my blog for some time, you’d know that I have a tele-zoom 70-300mm lens, but it is HEAVY and I’m trying to sell it, so I had left it at home for this trip.  Boo!!!

More PNW beaches posts to follow…

Read previous posts here:

PNW Part 1 (Seattle)

PNW Part 2 (Out and About in Seattle)

PNW Part 3 (Pike’s Market)

PNW Part 4 (Seattle Underground)

PNW Part 5 (Whidbey Island)

PNW Part 6 (Lake Quinault)

PNW Part 7 (Kalaloch Area Beaches)

Beauty in Unlikely Places, Travel, Uncategorized

PNW Part 7 (Kalaloch Area Beaches)

Kalaloch Lodge was my first choice of places to stay on our trip, but (sadly) had no vacancies the week we were there.

The beach nearest Kalaloch Lodge was wild and beautiful.  It was the only beach we didn’t hike down to.  I can’t imagine it being more stunning than the view looking down from above.

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After we left the lodge, we continued north on 101 and the weather got drearier and drearier.  We found this to be the case most of the time on the coast in that area.  The next beach we visited was called Beach 4, sometimes called Kalaloch Beach 4.  Apparently, people come from all over the area to dip for surf smelts.  Surf smelts are fish that are bigger than anchovies but smaller than sardines, and we saw the fisherman competing with otters and birds for who gets to eat smelt for dinner.  (When I found out what the people were doing and what the fish were called, it made me wonder if the inventor of the Smurfs cartoon was from the Pacific Northwest.)  🙂

_NLG0517The sky was not pretty, but the beach was a visual feast!

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Textures, textures, and more textures!!

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Isn’t nature just The Coolest?!

_NLG0546 _NLG0556More beaches on the next post!

***Take a look at previous posts in this series***

Part 6 here

Part 5 here

Part 4 here

Part3 here

Part 2 here

Part 1 here