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.

_NLG0860 _NLG0875

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


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.


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.


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



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


My kids even had a Kumbaya moment:


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

Gnarly, Dude

They found another fort to play in:


We came upon a smoldering campfire:



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.]


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.



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.



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.


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.


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:


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…


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.


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


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



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!***


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


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


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.


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)

Travel, Uncategorized

PNW Part 6 (Lake Quinault)

This part of the Olympic National Park was so…quaint.  Everything about it reminded me of “the olden days”.  It isn’t a stretch of the imagination to think of President Roosevelt (FDR) visiting the Lake Quinault Lodge and being so taken with the area that nine months later he signed a bill creating the Olympic National Park.  The exterior and interior of the lodge look the same today as they did when it was build 100 years ago.  Quaint, I say! 🙂

(google it if you want to – I didn’t get any pictures of the lodge itself due to a mixture of family drama and the fact that we visited it in the morning on the only rainy day we had all week)

The lodge was full, so we stayed a little farther down the road.  The lake itself was also “quaint”, and the afternoon we arrived, the weather was perfect.


The kids played near a little stream, which was just the thing they needed after being in the car for several hours.




The next morning, before we left the area, we saw the world’s largest spruce tree.

There's my little family down at the bottom
My peeps at the bottom of the tree

Please excuse the horrible focusing in that picture ^^  I must have been overcome with awe at seeing **THE WORLD’S LARGEST SPRUCE TREE **


I was intrigued by all the (hundreds of years of) limbs that had either fallen or had been cut off.  It didn’t make for a very pretty tree, but it was interesting to look at.


Of the three nights we spent on the Olympic Peninsula, we only spent one night here.  There wasn’t a whole lot to do here other than relax; we walked everywhere we needed to go – beach, dinner, spruce tree.  It was a great way to wind down from the busy-ness of the previous 4 days in the city.

***Take a look at other posts in the series***

Part 5 here

Part 4 here

Part3 here

Part 2 here

Part 1 here