Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

I went out to Olympic National Forest for a weekend of camping and hiking with my friends from Seattle. I drove out there on a Friday morning, and they came out in the evening after work to join me. I had been planning to do some research and see if I could find what look like good spots for dispersed camping. My friends have a small car so I wanted to find a good spot up a forest service road their car could handle. Come Friday morning, I had failed to do any research. So I left town worrying that I wouldn’t find a good place.

I called a few different National Forest places hoping to connect with a person who could give me good advice, but didn’t have much luck. I’ve found that the National Forest folks I speak with either know EVERYTHING I’m looking for, or not much at all. There hasn’t been much middle ground. This time, I spoke to three different people and got three strikes in a row. So I picked a road that is paved well into the Forest and tried my luck. I ventured off on a Forest Service road. It was in good condition, but there were no good camping spots. There were only a few areas where you could pull off just barely to the side of the road. I encountered a couple sitting and relaxing next to their Vanagon parked in this manor and asked their advice. They informed me that I wouldn’t find what I was looking for on this road. I didn’t want to spend all day driving around FS roads, so I went back down to a pay campsite and got a spot.

Leftovers from dinner with a friend in Seattle:

Olympic National Forest

Big trees near our campsite:

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Hiking

We went for a hike on Lena Lake Trail. The trail goes up to Lower Lena Lake, and then Continues into the National Park to Upper Lena Lake. We just went to the Lower Lake. There were a lot of really cool campsites at the lake. There are also more at upper Lena. This would be a good place to hike up to and camp.

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Lake Day

We also went to another lake. The name escapes me. This one was just a few minute’s hike form the F.S. road. It’s a wonderful place to spend a day.

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

Olympic National Forest

After my friends headed back, I explored a bit more. I went up another FS road and found more of the same – no good campsites. There were some good sites on the roads that did not go uphill. I stayed in those one more night and then drove back to Seattle.

Olympic National Forest

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Back in August I spent two weeks in Seattle. It seems July and August are the perfect time to go there. 

A week with an old friend

An old friend of mine from college live in a suburb south of Seattle with his wife, toddler, and purse dog. I spent a week hanging out with them / at their house. It was great seeing my old friend, getting updates, new stories, old stories I hadn’t heard, etc.

We spent a day doing tourist stuff. This was at the locks – there was some live music and sort of a car show

Two Weeks in Seattle

Gasworks Park:

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Near the Space Needle:

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

We stumbled upon this outdoor movie set up and ready to go. We had to wait a bit for it to get dark and start

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

A week in the city

Then I spent a week on my own hanging out in various Seattle neighborhoods. I really like Seattle. It has some normal nice aspects cities can like being in good shape, relatively clean, feeling safe, having young people, etc. But one thing I really liked is that it doesn’t feel spread out. There is a lot of water that prevents this – the sound on the west side and lake Washington on the east. So all of Seattle that is ‘in the city of Seattle’ is between those bodies of water. Once I was in that area, there was very little reason to leave it. When I drove from one side of the city to the other, it took 15 minutes or less. Contrast this with a city like Denver that has no geographic boundaries. It has developed into a sprawl now covering hundreds of square miles. When I’m in Denver I end up with reasons to go from one side of the metro area to the other, and end up driving a lot.

After spending 10 days or so bumming around Seattle, I felt like I could spend an entire summer in the city without even leaving. The weather was nearly perfect while I was there. From what I hear, that perfection doesn’t last long.

Real estate prices are crazy there. I spent some time in a two million dollar house in Capital hill that was definitely nice, but that would cost $250k in the midwest. I also saw a basement studio apartment that was really small and not that nice, for which rent is about $1,000 per month. wow. So, I don’t think I’ll ever live in Seattle unless my net worth grows much quicker than I expect, or if I find some kind of alternative living arrangement. 

Given that I haven’t been there any time other than summer, I’m not even sure how much I’d want to actually live there. Anyways, Seattle is awesome during the summer. 

Volunteer Park

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Parked by lake Washington

Two Weeks in Seattle

I spent three afternoons on Madison Beach.

Two Weeks in Seattle

Met a nice girl up here at Kerry Park

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

Two Weeks in Seattle

I had a wonderful time over these two weeks in Seattle :-D. Up next, camping and hiking in Olympic National Forest, and then on to Portland. 

Camping near Lake Wenatchee

Camping near lake Wenatchee

I finally slowed down a bit for 4 days of camping near lake Wenatchee. I found a wonderful free campsite right next to a river.

Driving from Spokane to Leavenworth (WA)

I’d decided to drive a lot and pass quickly through a lot of area in order to get to Seattle without stopping in a different place each night. Here’s the route I took. The drive from Lakeview to Coulee City was the best part by far.

Route through eastern washington

Driving in eastern washington

Dry Falls

DRY FALLS

DRY FALLS

Camping near Lake Wenatchee

I drove into Leavenworth and stopped at the Ranger/Visitors station to ask about camping spots. Leavenworth is a very touristy town with an old German theme. In some parts of the town, every single building was build in the same style and follows a consistent design theme – even down to the exact same typeface being used on all the signs. It’s kind of cheesy, but it looks nice. I admire their ability to stick to that decision and get all occupants to follow the design theme.

The lady at the visitors center had told me about a few free improved campsites a bit past lake Wenatchee, so I decided to check them out before going further into the National Forest. I found a spot in one of those sites right next to a river, so I parked there. The campsite, and the entire area has a lot of trees, but the spot I parked in has a clearing above, and with the river being west of the van, I’d get full sun for about 6 hours a day.

I stayed in this spot from Thursday to Sunday. I went bike riding most days, and hiking one. It felt great staying in the same place for a few days. The weather was nearly perfect. I spent a few afternoons sitting in the van reading a book with the doors open and a nice breeze flowing through.

Camping spot:

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

Tea, reading, and note-taking.

 CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

Had a pretty good view of the stars. I saw a few small meteors but didn’t connect that it being August, they were probably early parts of the Perseid shower.

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

This kind of shooting is about the only time I wish I had a newer camera – one that could shoot at higher ISO with less noise. My camera has a tough time capturing the stars well without the exposure being so long that the stars move too much.

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

Pen cleaning and re-inking

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

I went for a few bike rides but didn’t take any pictures of that. I do have some video from it, but I’m WAY behind in dealing with my video clips. The dirt roads out in this area are great for riding.

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

The vegetation near the banks of this river was very thick. I was wishing I had some shoes that I could use to walk the river in. (I ended up buying some sandals that will work for this once I got to Seattle)

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

I spent a couple afternoons like this

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

On Sunday, my last day there, I went for a hike up the trailhead that starts right by the campsite.

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

It went up to this lake. Can’t remember the name.

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

CAMPING near lake Wenatchee

Next up: Seattle. I’ll be there for two weeks to visit an old friend and his wife and bum around the city.