It’s been a good, if chilly, four days at Allen’s Bar Campground. It was definitely worth the $20 to have a safe home base for four days while I figured things out and made some big decisions about my summer travel. Being this scenic was a nice bonus. Naturally, just as I was about to leave, I had the first clear, sunny sky I’d seen during my entire stay.
Removing the cover from the driver’s door window revealed a perfect spider web on the outside. It was beautiful. I felt bad that the moment I started driving the wind would destroy it.
As I started driving back to US 101, there was a deer standing in the road, so naturally, I stopped. A second soon joined it. Unlike most deer I’ve seen in traffic, these two didn’t move. I had plenty of time to grab my phone and take a few pictures while we watched each other. Eventually, I had to ever so slowly idle the van toward them if I was going to leave. They got the message, and slowly wandered off into the woods. It was clear that no one was in a hurry, and no one was threatening anyone.
My route today was simple, US 101 all the way to my overnight stop at Walmart in Port Angeles. It was an easy drive and pretty much as before — narrow, twisty, high speed limits, nowhere to pull over, and almost no useful signs. I did make a side trip when I saw a sign for Sol Duc Hot Springs, which Glen of Tenere Across the USA had suggested I check out. I had so little warning that I almost overshot the turn, but I managed to get slowed down enough just before turning. There were no signs indicating there was an Olympia National Park gate just down the road. Fortunately, I was home free with my America the Beautiful annual pass. It’s just as well I didn’t have to pay to get in because the hot springs were a total bust. It was more a resort than a place to go soak. It looked like there was a strict schedule of who was allowed to soak when. I’m only guessing because once again there were absolutely no signs or instructions about where to go or what to do. I was willing to drop a few bucks for a nice warm soak, but I couldn’t even figure out how. I gave up and left.
The ride got better as the speed limit dropped and the road wound around the south side of Lake Crescent. I actually got to enjoy the scenery. Even better, there were places to pull over, and I was driving slowly enough to actually be able to stop in time. This was well worth the stop.
The rest of the trip was uneventful. After four days of boondocking, I took the opportunity to resupply at Walmart. There were about 10 rigs in the side lot by the garden center, which iOverlander correctly reported as the quietest part of the lot. Best of all, I had an excellent WiFi signal from Walmart, so I relaxed and watched videos all night.
I woke up this morning and spent a few hours getting some work done. While I was working, three Walmart employees came out to the lot where we were all parked and made the rounds to politely inform us they have a 24-hour limit on parking. The only times I’ve stayed in a store parking lot longer than that have been when waiting out hurricanes and tornadoes, so this was no problem for me at all. They were cool, I was cool, and everything was cool. Then my work meeting that I was sticking around to do on the good WiFi got canceled, so I got back on the road earlier than expected.
As usual, I was trying to find interesting places to pull over and check out, as well as have lunch in this case. I missed a few great spots because there weren’t any signs and I didn’t see them until I was already passing them, as usual for this part of Washington. At one point I saw a tiny brown sign indicating a boat ramp off to the right in half a mile. A boat ramp, by definition, is wide enough to drive in and out of with a trailer. As I came around a curve I could actually see the boat ramp across the lake from the direction I was approaching. This told me not only where to turn, but that this was actually a real thing, not somewhere I’m going to get stuck and not be able to turn around.
I parked and made myself a salad for lunch. I also let Lister roam around a bit, because although the part of the Walmart parking lot I’d been in was very quiet, it’s not nature, either. Lister seemed to enjoy sampling the local grass and exploring the vegetation, pretending he was invisible.
US 101 slowed down again as it wiggled alongside the water on the east side of the Olympic Peninsula. There still wasn’t anywhere to pull over and take pictures, though, so I continued on all the way to the end of US 101, where it empties back into I-5 in Olympia. It was a short drive from there to a nearby Cabela’s for the night.
I don’t regret seeing the Olympic Peninsula, but I’m not itching to come back. Navigating is quite frustrating for me unless I already have a plan etched in stone when I come here. But that lap is complete. Already I’m back in warmer temperatures as I head inland. Tomorrow I just have a short hop to Tacoma, and then… well, I need to sit down and figure that part out. Since pulling the plug on Canada, though, certain friends and events have suddenly popped up pretty much along the route I’m thinking of traveling over the next two months. As much as I don’t like believing in fate, I can’t deny that this is rather uncanny, in a good way.
Between seeing them at Walmart last night and Cabela’s tonight, kayaks have been catching my eye lately. It seems like a fun way to go exploring places by means other than by motorcycle, and a small one could hang on the side wall inside my trailer. For a few hundred bucks, I could take up an interesting new hobby.
I know almost nothing about kayaking, so I have a lot to learn. I do know I’d need not only a kayak but also a life vest (I sink in water) and all the other equipment that goes with it, as well as the modifications to the inside of my trailer. I’m not going to rush right out and get one. But I think it’s worth renting one at some point to give kayaking a try, and see if it’s something I might want to add to my adventures.