2022-04-10 The Road To Mount Olympus

Bald Eagle - Haliaeetus leucocephalu
When I began my watch for birds in the morning at Sekiu Bay (Washington), things were fairly quiet until a trio of Bald Eagles showed up and disturbed the peace. Then the fun began.
Sanderling - Calidris alba
Shore birds have been scarce on this trip along the Oregon and Washington coasts. This lonely Sanderling at Sekiu Bay (Washington), was a nice surprise as I was winding up my visit here.
Evening Sky at Crystal Lake - Scenery
I found a place to park the RV next to Crystal Lake (Washington) and enjoyed the sunset.

On April 9th, my Saturday drive began at my US-101 roadside camp by the Palix River in Washington, 12 miles south of South Bend. By day’s end, I found myself all the way to the north at Bogachiel State Park, a little over 140 miles north on the Olympic Peninsula, and five and a half miles short of the town of Forks.

A few miles north of the small community of Arctic, I stopped at a cafe called Clark’s that opened at 10am. My arrival at 9:20am meant I had to wait awhile before they opened, but it was worth it. During those forty minutes, I saw sun, rain, and snow flurries. In between the stormy sessions, I scouted the nearby grounds and found juncos and a Pacific Wren.

After breakfast, at 83 miles to the north, I made a rather extensive detour on South Shore Road when I reached the Quinault Rain Forest. The beginning and end of the road was nicely paved, but 90% of the remaining route was ridden with pot-holes and sections of single lane roadway with pull-outs for passing traffic. At six and a half miles from the start of the road, I found Merriman Creek Falls, where I stopped to capture a few images, and while doing so, I heard the songs of Varied Thrushes. These birds had a love affair with the canopies of the highest moss-covered trees in the dense forests that surrounded the falls. My every effort failed to capture any worthwhile images, so I continued down this dicey road. By the time I looped back to US-101, I’d traveled 27 miles on this detour.

While I journeyed on in the direction of the Hoh Forest on the Olympic Peninsula, I couldn’t find a roadside campsite I felt good about. When I reached Bogachiel State Park, I felt it was the right place to be for the night. For the cost of $35, I settled into a campsite at the State Park, with hookups (water and power). I found lots of Robins mingling with a few of the elusive Varied Thrushes. Also present was a Pacific Wren. I detected chickadees, which were most likely Chestnut-Backed. I wandered the camp with my camera, but the drizzle of rain dampened my efforts. The slow and steady rainfall persisted all night and into the morning.

I woke early Sunday and caught up with some of my blogging, then fell back to bed and listened to the steady drip of rain on the roof. I finally left camp 10ish and set out on the day’s drive. My plan was to head north to the shores of Sekiu Bay, where online I learned of a cafe serving breakfast. I stopped briefly in the town of Forks, when I saw a restaurant doing business, but there was a long wait to get seated, so I carried on with my original plan.

The road to the coast got a little crazy when the rain turned to snow. It wasn’t sticking to the road, so I braved it and reached my destination in Sekiu, and had a meal. The “Cafe By The Bay” was the ideal location, with locals and no tourists (except me). I didn’t know if there would be photo-ops, but there seem to be quite a few birds on the bay.

After breakfast, I parked the RV in position to watch the bay near the fishermen’s docks. At first, the waterfowl and gulls I saw were stand-offish, but I remained inside the van with my camera covered from the rain, yet in a position to capture any subject venturing into view. Things took a turn for the better when Bald Eagles (two adults and an immature) swooped into the scene in front of me and began interacting with each other and the gulls scavenging the remains that the fishermen tossed them when they cleaned their catches. Sometimes they were so close I had too much lens to capture them entirely. These eagles and gulls seemed to understand how to benefit from the leavings of the fishermen.

The weather-liers were predicting a rain-snow mix for the next four days, and I got the idea that this wasn’t the best time to visit this area. I spent a short while longer exploring the bay-shore, to see what I could see, then I pointed my nose toward Lakewood, south of Tacoma, and my friend Teresa.

Forty-six miles toward Port Angeles, I found a wide pull out parking area next to Crystal Lake where I thought I was going to sleep for the night, but a National Park Ranger stopped by to let me and the rest of the similarly parked vehicles know we were inside the Olympic National Park and weren’t allowed to sleep there. I asked him how far I needed to go before I was out of the park and gave me some good instructions to find a great parking spot a few miles away.

I woke up Monday morning under a blanket of snow and had to sweep the windshield free of the white stuff. Shirley’s Cafe in Port Angeles served me a pretty good breakfast, after which I drove a little over two hours to visit my dear old friend south of Tacoma. I expect to spend a few days there and then see which way the wind blows me.

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