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Seattle/Olympic/Rainier Trip Report

Day 2 of 9

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Saturday, September 11th
Cape Alava, Olympic National Park

We stopped by McDonald's for breakfast. Unfortunately, this fast food wasn't very fast. They were in the process of remodeling the store, with ripped up floors and tables lying about, and trainees behind the counter. It took almost a half hour between the time we walked in and the time we got our food.

After breakfast we stopped by REI. I bought two large PowerMax stove fuel canisters, and one small Camping Gaz canister for use with my lantern. I picked up an Olympic National Park map. I also bought a see-through mesh bag to carry my film in. Hopefully I wouldn't forget it that way.

At the store I asked how long it would take to drive to Ozette, the starting point for our day's hike. I got two different answers -- 3 1/2 hours according to one woman who admitted she'd just moved to the area, and 2 hours from the cashier. As we drove our Monte Carlo rental car along the Washington freeways, it grew increasingly clear that the longer of those estimates would be correct. We took highway 16 to 3 to 104 to 101 to 112. Traffic generally wasn't too bad, but Washington drivers are amazingly slow. Much of 104, 101, and 112 are just one lane in each direction. We'd get stuck behind a slow car which refused to use the turnouts. And because the roads were windy it was difficult to pass. At one point Jean noted that the leaves were falling faster than the cars were driving in front of us.

In the end, it took us 4 hours to make the drive. We stopped by the ranger station to check on the Hoh Rain Forest car camping sites. We intended to stay there this night. The ranger made a call and told us there were plenty of sites. Encouraged, we finally started our hike to Cape Alava a little after 3:30pm.

After the hike, we drove toward the Hoh Rain Forest, the starting point for our 3-day backpacking trip, and where we planned to stay for the night. Along the way, though, we decided it would be too late. Pitching a tent in the dark (it'd be after 9pm by the time we got there) isn't all it's cracked up to be. So, instead, we decided we would try to find a motel in Forks, Washington, which was on the way and the closest city to the Hoh Rain Forest.

Along the way we stopped at a gas station (we were running a bit low) just before it closed. We took 112 to 113 to 101 to Forks. We drove through the entire city in a minute or so, looking for a motel. Unfortunately all we saw was a row of "No Vacancy" signs. We went back to the first motel, the Olympic Suites Inn, which hadn't had a vacancy/no vacancy sign.

Lucky for us, they had one room left -- for just $59 a night. And it wasn't so much a room as a 2-bedroom apartment, complete with kitchen and washer and dryer hookups (not that we had a washer and dryer with us). It wasn't the newest or cleanest place in the world, but it was decent and would serve as our home for the night and our staging area for our backpacking trip. We would end up spending the better part of an hour or so packing for our 3 days in the rainforest

Considering there was only one restaurant still open, we decided to take advantage of the kitchen and all the food we had with us. If you've never had Stove Top stuffing mixed with salsa, try it. Yum. Even tastes good cold the next day.

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