Rain and wind, yet the sun shines through… The fickle weather of the Olympic Peninsula

Sunday, September 22

1-DSC00276Rain, rain, go away!  I sit inside the Best Little Trailer with the crew as I listen to the rain on the roof.  We’re camped at gorgeous Crescent Lake.  I’m waiting for a break in the weather so we can leave the BLT in the campground and go out to Neah Bay and the Makah Indian Reservation.

I want to hike the trail to see Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island.

I want to go to the long house museum and dine on fresh seafood at The Warm House Restaurant.  I want to camp next to Shi Shi beach, I want to . . .

Hey, look at the dadburn weather report, woman.  Not only are you not going to get what you want, you’d better run for your life!

Well, maybe that’s being overly dramatic . . .

The fact is we’re parked amid scores of humongous trees and a windstorm/rainstorm is on its way.  After much consideration I realize we have to get out of this Fairholm Campground before nightfall!

We’re already hitched up, so it’s not long before we’re on the road.

Rain varies from torrents to drizzle to torrents. Visibility is low. I grip the steering wheel and lean forward trying to see what’s up ahead.  Of course, everyone takes the poor driving conditions as an indication to drive very fast . . . logging trucks, big RVs, what have you . . . fast, fast, fast.

I head west.

I hope we can spend the night at one of those RV parks that are not much more than a field with NO TREES.  After about ten miles or so, a wind gust shoves the  PTV and the BLT sideways.  Not far, but far enough to make my heart skip a beat.  Son of a b*#&ch!  I’m driving us into the storm!

Okay.  Do I want us blown off the road or head-on into a high-speed logging truck?  Or would I rather take a chance a tree will fall on us?

I go back to Dead Fall Campground.  In heavy rain I back us into a site and run around in the rain to level the BLT.  I pray no wind gusts knock down any of the trees leaning ominously around the campsite.  It rains on and off all night long . . . and this is the kicker:  No wind!  Absolutely no wind.  So where’s the big, gusty, scary wind?  Huh, you lousy weather forecasters?  Huh?  Huh?

Monday, September 23

1-DSC00282Although my faith in weather forecasters is gone with the wind, I read several reports online. Rain, thunder, lightening, earthquakes, massive glacial movement, tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, wayward comets, crashing asteroids and all sorts of calamities are predicted for Neah Bay and Cape Flattery, because I want to go there.  Well, maybe not all those things, but enough to nix my plans.

I can’t sit around and wait.  This rain might not stop for weeks.  Darn!  What a disappointment! 

Once again, the crew and I pull out of Fairholm Campground.

1-DSC00294At least it’s not raining this morning.  We follow Highway 101 west through the valley of the Sol Duc River.  We cross several bridges due to the meandering river.  The clouds part and the sun shines through!  I put Cape Flattery out of my mind.  I don’t want to know if it’s a beautiful, sunny, clear day there.

With each passing mile, my disappointment turns to anticipation.

I turn onto Route 110 to go to Mora Campground.

Although it’s another rainforest campground, I find a site with an opening in the treetops.  Ooh, this is pretty!   Sun for the solar panel!  I check the air card… four bars and I haven’t put up the antenna yet!  I back the BLT into position (Yay!  No leveling needed!) and unhitch.  This is a very nice campground and, gee, we’re the only ones in this loop.  Now doesn’t that break my heart . . .

Off we go to Rialto Beach!

It’s only two miles from the campground.  What a beach!

1-DSC00302I do believe it’s the most exciting beach I’ve ever seen.

1-DSC00310Whether it’s the “storm” that passed through or what, how the waves do pound and thunder onto the beach!

1-DSC00309I find a perfect “sitting log” from which to watch and listen to the waves.

1-DSC00301Bridget and Spike lie down on the smooth pebbles by my feet.  Sea foam collects along the enormous logs.

1-DSC00318The tide is moving in quickly.  A guy with a camera ventures close . . . gee, ya’ better watch out, buddy . . . . He jumps back and sprints, almost caught by a “sneaker wave.”

1-DSC00308-001“You know, guys?  I think I’ll pack us a big picnic lunch and we’ll come back to the beach tomorrow.  I’ll take lots of photos and we’ll explore.  It’ll be fun!”

That is, if it doesn’t rain!

rvsue

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61 Responses to Rain and wind, yet the sun shines through… The fickle weather of the Olympic Peninsula

  1. DeAnne in TN says:

    Wow! I cannot wait to get there!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, DeAnne,

      I have a feeling this camp is going to turn out to be one of my top five camps! I really like this place.

  2. Pam says:

    Wind concerns aside, I’ve always loved waking to the sound of rain on the trailer roof. Takes me back to my childhood on the road.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Pam,

      Rain on the roof is soothing, whether the gentle pitter-patter of a drizzle or the drumming of heavy rain. I’ve been hearing it all lately. 🙂

    • Gayle says:

      Childhood on the road — bingo! Have you ever told us about your “RV-less Sue with no canine crew days? Love to hear about east coast road trips!

      • rvsueandcrew says:

        Hi, Gayle,

        No, I haven’t written about the past. I didn’t go on “east coast road trips.” Mostly I worked to survive.

        I haven’t had a lot of happiness until now, but now “my cup runneth over.” I’d rather stay in the present. It’s such a wonderful place!

        • PNW alison says:

          I’m so happy for you!
          You haven’t shared too much about your time teaching, but I’m pretty sure you worked really really hard, and were an excellent teacher. Teaching is its own reward, but …. so is having the kind of retirement you’re having.

  3. Tawny says:

    I love the beach! All the pictures are beautiful.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Tawny,

      Great to see you here! Here I am complaining about a little rain when I could be getting a dose of “professional learning.” Ooh, that was mean. Hope you and family are healthy and happy!

  4. Caroline near Seattle says:

    I’m SOOOO glad you were able to make it to a WA ocean beach! I was worried that you would miss it because of the nasty weather. A pretty exciting beach indeed! The rocks, enormous logs and heavy surf make it such a unique experience. Your photos have really captured the power of it.
    Watch for bald eagles in the trees along the shore. And seals in the surf. Salmon are still running so the eagles and sealife should be pretty active. Enjoy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Caroline,

      Thanks for the compliment on my photos and thanks for the assignment for tomorrow… bald eagles, seals, salmon, sealife. I’ll do my best! I’m glad we made it here, too. Last summer I didn’t see as much of the Pacific as I wanted. I wanted a beach just like this one.

  5. Chuck Hajek says:

    Oregon, Washington and Northern California have the most beautiful beaches.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Chuck,

      When I drove the PTV around the bend and the ocean came into view… oh, wow! I’m hoping for some good light tomorrow for photos.

  6. mockturtle says:

    It doesn’t really matter if it rains at the beach. It’s still beautiful!

  7. PNW alison says:

    Wow, what fantastic shots of that surf! I love Mora too. Now you’re really in the rain forest, west of the Olympics. Sounds like you’ve done the right thing: surrender and enjoy!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Alison,

      Thanks, but I think I can take better photos in different lighting. I’ll try tomorrow.

      Yeah, I’m glad we came here today. I’ll put Neah Bay and Cape Flattery on my list for a return trip. It will give an exciting destination, something special to look forward to.

  8. Teri in SoCal says:

    Your photos really make my day. They’re lovely.

  9. Rita from Phoenix says:

    Oh, my favorite part of ONP…the Hoh rain forest is awsome. My friends Roger and Arlene, members of the Quillayute Tribe, showed us all around the area including Neah Bay. Can’t wait to see through your eyes. I chuckled at ‘Hard Rain Cafe’ in the area…don’t know if it’s still there. The beaches (from your beautiful photos) are as I remembered with logs and rocks standing in sea. Miles and miles of beach!! Love the Washington/Oregon coast. I attended boarding school in Salem, OR. Have fun! I wonder what Spike and Briget think of the crashing waves and sea gulls. Our dogs frightened us by chasing the gulls into dense fog but they came back.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Rita,

      Your Quillayute friends gave you a tour… That must’ve been delightful.

      Spike and Bridget didn’t react much to the waves. They couldn’t see them because we stayed behind the logs (It was almost high tide.) I didn’t keep them out on the beach long. Spike started to shiver, so I put them both back inside the warm PTV. (Glad I had that resistor replaced for the blower motor. I’ve turned on the heater these damp, chilly days.)

      Then I went back to watch and listen to the waves!

      BTW, there’s a notice on the bulletin board that pets have to be on leash at all times. Probably wasn’t the rule when you were here.

      • Rita from Phoenix says:

        I don’t remember that rule…it’s been so long but we did let our dogs run free on beach…no one was around except us and the gulls.

        • Rita from Phoenix says:

          We might have been on the Quillayute rez land/beaches…they have beautiful beaches and trails.

  10. Cari in Texas says:

    Wow, I’m so glad the storm didn’t take its toll on either you or your vehicles! I’m sure hearing the ‘rain on the roof’ can be nice, the worrying if the trees will fall, not so much.

    The beach photos are awesome! The waves look almost like snow, and the black-and-white tones add to the feeling of cold. I hope the weather holds out so you can return and take more gorgeous pictures!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Cari,

      Thank you.

      I don’t know the cause of the water being so thick with foam. It looked like melted marshmallow or very thick suds from shampoo. I’m going to try to show it with a photo tomorrow.

  11. Phyllis says:

    RVSue:
    I don’t care where you go you can make a picture look like you are on a deserted island. Six bucks a night for almost ocean front, wow. I gasped when I saw the beach photos.

    Sure hope you stick around the Pacific for a while. Personally I think you need a rod and a hook to catch your own dinner, pictures please.

    Phyllis in Oklahoma

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Phyllis,

      I’ve been thinking the same thing… “Six bucks for all this?” I haven’t checked to see what the limit is on days one can stay here. I would stay here the full two weeks if it weren’t for winter coming along.

  12. kgdan says:

    Now you know why they call it the Rain Forest! 🙂 Takes a lot of rain to make all that green. When I lived in Forks we could always tell who the tourists were; they were the ones with raincoats and umbrellas! The rest of us didn’t pay any attention to the rain as there was 140″ of it average/year. Guess you know why after college I moved to Yakima area! LOL!

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, kgdan,

      That’s similar to the residents in Florida. The tourists flock to the beach in swimsuits in the winter. We residents would be wearing long sleeves. Then we’d go swimming in the summer.

      As beautiful as it is here, I don’t think I could take living for a length of time with so much rain, fog, and dark days.

  13. Sally says:

    Your pictures are starting to get right up there with the Bayfield Bunch photos. My first goto blogs! Do you edit photos at all or are they SOOC? (straight out of camera)

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Sally, you’re sweet to say that, but I have a long way to go to come close to Al’s photos.

      I was editing more with my other camera. These recent photos taken with my new Sony were not edited. That shows what a great camera it is. A few were cropped to improve the composition.

      Thank you for putting my blog in the same category as the Bayfield Bunch!

  14. Glad you and the crew survived the rain:)

    What a magnificent beach! Your photos are so amazing. I can’t wait to see more. I love all the drift wood.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, John and Pam,

      The logs and driftwood alone would make a thousand interesting photos. I look for contrasts when taking photos. The movement of the waves against the solid wood draws my eye. Gosh, this is a beautiful place!

      Thanks for the compliment.

  15. m.l. says:

    thanks for the beautiful shots!

  16. John fossildreamer says:

    Sue, I so love the ocean, out in a boat fishing is the best, and just
    sitting and watching the waves like you are doing is great,
    in those times I can cure all the problems of the world..
    Your Pictures are beautiful to me, Safe Travels…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hello, John,

      Thank you. Something about the ocean… the sight, the sound, the smell… captivating! I love the desert, the rocky canyons, the forests, the mountains, the river valleys, the lakeshore . . . I love it all, but there’s something about the ocean.

      I’m glad my photos bring back your ocean memories.

  17. kgdan says:

    Please don’t let the rain hurry you through this ambience. Rarely is there a storm so strong that trees fall—those trees are pretty firmly rooted! Many people visit the area especially when there ARE storms; especially at the beach as that is when the beachcombing is at its finest.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      You make a good point, kgdan. I’d love to stay.

      Not being a Westerner, I don’t have the “instincts” for gauging weather between here and Arizona. I don’t want to drive through snow, sleet, ice, etc. trying to get over a mountain. It’s a long way from here to Ajo… hmm… sounds like a song lyric. 🙂

      I think it’s around 1,700 miles.

  18. Susan in Dallas says:

    I could stare at those pictures of the ocean/coast for hours. They just capture my senses into thinking I can feel, hear, see and smell it all. New desktop for sure!

  19. AZ Jim says:

    I’ve been ridin’ along but thought I better check in or you’ll think I’m mad at you or worse yet had caved into the grim reaper. None of that, just didn’t have anything to add. I see Rita has already let you know our Arizona cool down has begun. It will be nice now and you can quit gallivanting around and come back down for the winter.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Well, I’m glad you stopped by, Jim! I hope everything is okay at your house.

      You gave me a chuckle with your last line. I need a little more rain before I’m ready for the desert again. 🙂

  20. kgdan says:

    Was wondering where you spend the winter. We are leaving here (Yakima valley) mid Oct.- Nov. 1. Have done that past two years and have done well with passes and weather. Have to keep an eye on the reports tho’. This time we are going for 6 months in the Casita—as it will be the first year I am completely retired. Can’t wait for the adventures to begin! You have been keeping us anxious to go!

  21. PNW alison says:

    are you getting your wireless in forks?

  22. Joy A. says:

    Hey Sue,
    You are in a great spot. Mora was recommended to me by the late Pete Dumbleton, a FiberglassRver. I thought it was a wonderful campground and then that beach is one of the greatest.
    Is Spike having withdrawals since he not apt to want to lounge in that surf.

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Joy,

      I think the abundance of rainfall has curbed Spike’s yearning for soaks. That and the chill in the air.

      I agree, the beach here is “one of the greatest.”

  23. kgdan says:

    You’ve probably posted this information elsewhere but please tell me what resources you use to find free camping areas; particularly in AZ and southern CA. Thanks!

    • Alan Rabe says:

      Sue will tell you about National Forests and BLM lands and their policies. In addition here is a site I found that contains a lot of info on campgrounds like dispersed camping locations, It also has info on some parks with cheaper camping. It covers the entire world.
      http://freecampsites.net/

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Resources… for AZ and southern CA… I mostly find boondocks by reading blogs and talking with other boondockers. Sometimes I google an area like “boondocking around ABCtown” or “dispersed camping near XYZtown.” My Benchmark atlases are a huge help as they show me where the public lands are. I rely on them a lot.

  24. Sue says:

    That beach is a beauty.

  25. Rob and I went up to Neah Bay once and the road was so curvy and twisty I got car sick. I never get car sick and I never want to go there again. It’s beautiful up there in the rain forest but the weather this time of year is pretty unpredictable anywhere in Western Washington.
    Just sayin’
    Juley

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Hi, Juley,

      I’m guessing you weren’t driving. Curvy roads are usually harder on the passenger. But, gee, that must be an awfully curvy road to make you sick.

  26. Lois says:

    I love Mora! And Rialto Beach! And Cape Flattery! And Neah Bay! And… and… and… all the places you mention 🙂

    Dinah Dog and I camped all over the Olympic Peninsula for a month last April – rain, rain, and more rain. But we’re PNWers so it wasn’t anything new to us. Our time at Rialto was much tamer than your pics show – must be the storms piled up off the coast making the surf so foamy. Your pics are wonderful!

    Makes me wish I was there with you…

    • rvsueandcrew says:

      Thanks, Lois. Yeah, they look like storm waves. Fun to watch. Sounds like you had a great trip exploring the peninsula last April.

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