Moving to Hawaii • Olympic National Park & Forest • September 13 & 14, 2017
Once we arrived in Seattle, it was time to get down to business and take care of one of the big moving items: shipping our car. The military will ship one car for free, and we had been advised to take advantage of this rather than selling our Jeep and buying something “new” on the island. We knew that we had to have the car completely emptied and cleaned by our appointment the next morning, but aside from that we had little knowledge of what was actually going to happen. I’ll save all the details of this part for a post dedicated to the details of our PCS, but just know…this was THE WORST and if we could change anything about the way we did this move, we would probably just sell the car and start fresh here. (We’re still dealing with car complications. Blah!)
Anyway, in short: we found a Red Roof Inn to stay in near the airport, which was great for 2 reasons: first, it offered a complimentary shuttle to the airport/rental car center where we were able to pick up a car for the next week, and second, since we had lived in a Red Roof Inn in Connecticut all summer, we had some free nights we needed to use. We emptied the car, and Curtis spent a solid couple hours cleaning it. The next morning, we took the shuttle to the rental car center, and received excellent customer service from Enterprise — we had reserved the smallest (cheapest) compact car, and they upgraded us to a small SUV! It was a good thing because we weren’t sure all of our luggage would fit in the compact car! For the remainder of our trip, we got to drive a 2017 Chevy Equinox, and I may have gotten a little too attached to it. 😉
And then, our appointment to drop off the car…oh, it was so painful. It ended up being 6 hours, 2 of which were spent picking Charlotte’s hair out of the seats. We were expecting it to be MUCH shorter, they hadn’t told us anything in advance, and the system seemed so inefficient…so this day was just all around rough. Once we were finally finished, we had to drive through late afternoon Seattle/Tacoma traffic, with construction zones galore.
Once we finally made it past Olympia and began our journey on US 101, the traffic and our moods vastly improved. We found a place to camp and had the entire site to ourselves (which may have had something to do with the fact that it might have been closed for the season….) and enjoyed Chinese take out in the woods.
The next morning, we continued our drive along US 101. We started off our day with a 2 mile hike to Murhut Falls. It was a tall 2-tier waterfall that seemed very full for it being September — I can’t imagine what it would be like in the spring! Next, we drove up Walker Mountain, and had great views of both Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
We continued to make our way up to Olympic National Park, once again feeling sad that we wouldn’t be living here. There is so much for lovers of the outdoors to do — between the peaks, waterfalls, forests, rivers, and more, I feel like we could live here for a long time and not run out of places to hike. We made it to Port Angeles, and while Curtis got gas and picked up a few items, I made a phone call to one of my contacts in Hawaii to inquire about our housing situation. The woman is a retired Navy spouse that had spent time in both Washington and Hawaii, and talking with her was very encouraging. They love Hawaii so much that they have retired there and have no intentions of ever leaving. She told me all about different parts of the island, advised me of where to live, and told me about how wonderful her little town is. She also informed me that yes, while Washington is absolutely beautiful, we were really driving through during its best season. We weren’t surrounded by summer tourists and it was still warm and sunny — come November, seeing the sun would become a more rare occurrence with not only the rain that the Pacific Northwest gets, but also with the shorter days. “Just wait till you get here,” she told me over and over, “you’re going to love it!”
I relayed all she said to Curtis, and was now convinced that we were going to be fine. Feeling much better, we decided to do the touristy thing and drive up Hurricane Ridge. Obviously we had Charlotte with us and couldn’t do any hikes in the national park, but the expansive views into the heart of the Olympics were totally worth it. When we arrived at the parking lot at the top, we got out of the car and Charlotte immediately did a little happy dance, bouncing around the parking lot. I’m convinced that she was just as excited as we were to see such an incredible view — until she noticed all the grasshoppers and started hunting them. Curtis and I took turns doing a short hike to get better views to the North and East, then sat down and had a picnic. I had seen so many pictures of Hurricane Ridge, but certainly wasn’t prepared for how wide the view would actually be — and for all those peaks and ridges that seemed to keep on going as far as we could see.
Once we drove back down, we were ready to push on and finally make it to the coast! While driving on 101, we decided we needed to find a spot with wifi so that we could check for letterboxes and campsites. While driving through the small town of Forks, we saw a visitor’s center on the South end offering free wifi and pulled in. Curtis went to the visitor’s center while I waited outside with Charlotte. While I was walking Charlotte around, I noticed there was a constant stream of people pulling over, jumping out and taking pictures with the “Welcome to Forks” sign. I knew full well what was going on, and anyone who’s read the Twilight series would know that the series takes place in Forks. I thought it was funny, but apparently Curtis had a strange time in the visitor’s center. It turned out to be more like a shrine, with cardboard cutouts and Twilight themed merchandise. A worker there was saying to a group of people, “Does everyone have their tickets?” and was mentioning random Twilight Trivia. “We recently celebrated Bella’s Birthday!” Needless to say, he got out of there real fast. We felt bad for the museum next door that is focused on the logging industry here which existed long before Twilight. We still were able to find a letterbox here, and yes, I got my picture taken next to the sign. We drove away listening to the Twilight radio station, giggling every time the male radio DJ said the word “Twilight”.
We had considered camping at the beach campground, but it seemed to be completely booked — so even if there was an open spot, why would we stay here just to pay more and be surrounded by RVs? Instead, we enjoyed sunset at Ruby Beach before heading back to the national forest to camp. Ruby was the perfect beach to introduce Charlotte to the Pacific Ocean, with all the driftwood for her to climb over. We still prefer rocky coasts over sandy beaches, but this one was still very enjoyable for an evening stroll. Once we were finished, we went and found ourselves a secluded campsite for the night away from the beach and all the RVs. 🙂