Our crazy family vacation day three, part one- Washington at last!

So we’d driven for around 16 hours already and finally made the Washington border.  We drove north to Olympia, then turned west for the Olympic peninsula.

In Washington’s defense the area just across the border from Oregon isn’t considered the best part of the state.  But after having been in wonderful Oregon, we were like- yup, back to normal.  At least we didn’t feel so bad about California anymore.

We wandered around Olympia for a while looking for lunch.  Portlandia’s theme song would have worked just as well for Olympia, because the dream of the 90’s is alive there too.  I haven’t see so many punk show flyers in one place maybe ever.  My son became very excited about a Japanese restaurant that wasn’t great, but not too expensive, so we ate there.

One of the best innovations on this trip was one my wife came up with- keeping track of how much money we spent.  Nothing helps you watch your spending as, err, watching your spending.  I never realized how much money just goes out the window when you’re like “sure, I’ll buy that” or “yeah, let’s go eat there.”  A common theme of our trips so far has been me going to the ATM somewhere around the middle of the trip and throwing a fit when I see how much our account has drained.  This time, thanks to my awesome wife, there was no meltdown over money.

So we turned west on the 101 towards the Olympic Peninsula.  The road here is bounded by trees.  Big, tall trees on both sides.  I was in awe at first, then I started to feel like a I was stuck in some endless topiary maze.  They were beautiful and terrible at the same time.

We passed through Aberdeen, hometown of the late Kurt Cobain.  “Come as you are” on the town welcome sign was a sweet thing to do.  But the town was, not surprisingly, kind of a bummer.

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This is Aberdeen’s downtown on a sunny Saturday afternoon.  Now it could just be that we drove down the wrong street and that there are throngs of people having a great time in some other part of town, but this place was dead.

But we didn’t come to Washington to visit Aberdeen, so we kept driving.

We arrived at Lake Quinalt.  I heard it pronounced at least a half dozen times, and I still can’t remember, is it Quinn-Oh or Quinn-ALT, or something else, I don’t know.  It was beautiful, and our campsite was just a few minutes walk from this

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There was a great nature hike we took, with little signboards explaining the rainforest ecology there.  My son loved it and took lots of pictures (my wife took all the pictures that I’ve posted on this trip so far).  The forest was just so alive- plants growing on everything.  Slugs and millipedes slithering over everything.  This place was magical.  To be continued…



  1. I had exactly the opposite reaction on a cross-country road trip. I had spent two weeks in Oregon, and about as much time in Washington. Oregon, in my humble opinion, amounted to a great big steaming pile of meh. Washington blew me away. So much so that I moved to Seattle at the end of that year, and nine years later I still love it here.

    I don’t think the valley I-5 runs through is the best part of the state by any means, and the peninsula is pretty hit and miss. Specifically I’d agree with you about the trees, “beautiful and terrible at the same time.” Our west-side forests can be so dense the light of day never reaches the ground.

    On the other hand if you go into the mountains – if you’re a lover of the alpine – you’ll find heaven on earth. There are more glaciers in my state than any of the other lower 48. The North Cascades are some of the wildest and most rugged country in America outside Alaska’s wildest parts, and offer some of the best alpine climbing on the continent. And if that’s not your thing, it’s still stunningly beautiful.

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