That’s right folks, one (long) weekend, and all three Washington State National Parks checked off. This was supposed to be a 5 1/2 day trip, but thanks to a last minute flight schedule change I lost a whole day. Sure, I was bummed. I would most certainly have to rush through some stuff and flip all my travel plans around. C’est la vie!
This trip was the maiden voyage for my new Away bag. I had been eyeing them for awhile. I was definitely influenced by my favorite you tubers. Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase. There is tons of room, it glides nicely and even has a portable power bank, just don’t forget to pull it out before you check your bag!
My trip begins with fabulous journey– Boston to Seattle via JetBlue Mint Class. If you get a chance, its totally worth it. I think this may be the only way I’ll get to fly “First Class” for awhile, but if you’re like me, just keep searching the deals are out there and this is the most affordable I’ve found! The Mint Class seating features drinks, full meal, lay flat seats, amenity kits, and priority boarding. I cannot sleep on airplanes, so these lay flat seats are game changers!
Upon arrival, I headed over to Enterprise for my car. If you don’t know, there is such huge issues with rental cars lately. The staff were scrambling to find cars for every customer. I hoped they would let me snag that fancy Range Rover sitting over in the corner, but no, he managed to scrounge up a Dodge Journey. I do not recommend, but at least I had a car.
I typically don’t like to drive at night when I am travelling solo, but I had a hotel reservation and some time to make up! This type of travel isn’t for everyone. I don’t mind, because when its just me, I can stop and go as I please, and if I’m a tired grouch bucket, no one but me has to deal with it.
The first part of my route took me to North Cascades National Park. As I will soon find out, even in May the weather has not quite turned to summer yet. I drove the Cascade Loop around the park. The Covid restrictions were loosening up a little, so I was able to visit the Visitor Center, but it wasn’t completely open, which is a bummer, because I really enjoy learning from the Rangers, watching the park movies, and browsing the displays. Welp, at least I got to use the bathroom and collect my park stamp. The drive was gorgeous and there was still quite a bit of snow. Luckily all the roads were open.
After driving through North Cascades, I settled in for the night in the cute Bavarian town of Leavenworth, Washington. It is adorable. I grabbed some local cuisine for dinner, walked around the shops and grabbed some local chocolate for dessert. I’d like to come back around Christmastime. I hear its even more adorable. Or hey, maybe even make it to Oktoberfest–who’s coming with me???
Next stop, Mt. Rainier National Park. Now, this is where I probably should’ve done some more research. It turns out, that there were only two ways to get into the park this time of year, and neither road went through the park due to closures. Alrighty then, since I’ve been driving so much, time to get out and move my legs on nice little hike.
I chose the Grove of the Patriarchs Trail and took my new GoPro on its maiden voyage. This is a very easy hike a little over a mile long. The trail crosses the river via a suspension bridge. Now, I may or may not have PTSD from the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, BC, but this one was a piece of cake compared to that one. As you may have read in previous stories, I’m not the most stable on my feet, however, I played it cool so I didn’t face plant in front of the young kids who were obviously professional bridge crossers.
Two parks down, one to go. Oh Olympic National Park. You are massive and beautiful. I knew before I started this trip, that I must visit the Hoh Rainforest. This is located on the west side of the park, so quite a bit of driving to get there. Luckily the views helped pass the time.
The Hoh Rainforest was the busiest of all my trip so far. I was really looking forward to doing the Hall of Mosses Trail, but wouldn’t ya know…it was closed due to trail maintenance. Womp womp. It’s ok though, instead, I took its neighbor trail, the Spruce Nature Trail. I spent about an hour walking the trails. Despite the volume of people, the trails were so quiet. I enjoyed reading the posted informative signs along the trail. There’s something really special about the rainforest!
Next stop, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. Here’s a pro tip: don’t always trust your GPS. A nice coastal drive, fabulous weather, blue sky, through the city of Forks, WA “In a half mile, turn right” Hmm, no signs that say “turn here for Hurricane Ridge” I consider myself pretty adventurous, so I trusted Mr. Waze.
Goodness, this was not a maintained road. It was steep, bumpy and through someone’s back yard possibly? Waze wasn’t recalculating, so it was leading me somewhere. After some white knuckle driving, I ended up IN the park. I snuck in, bypassed the gates. Now, before you get all huffy on me, I purchase an Annual Pass every year, so I guess I technically wasn’t sneaking in. There was no way that road is a very common way in though!
The drive up to Hurricane Ridge was so pretty. I caught up with some wildlife and enjoyed the fabulous views from the top. I met a couple from Chicago that said they were in the same spot 2 days ago and couldn’t see two feet in front of them due to a snow storm! Today was my lucky day, clear blue skies and mild temps.
My final stop for the trip was Bremerton, WA. Now, I didn’t know this at the time, but my hotel was right at the ferry terminal. I had planned to drive back to Seattle, but something told me to face my fears, and take the car ferry. Now, if you know me personally, you may know that I can travel the world by myself with no fear, but silly little things like car ferries and drive-thru bank tellers scare me. I know, I’m pathetic, leave me alone. One fear, conquered.