Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Ocean City State Park

Finally having completed my probationary training period at work and able to schedule some time off, our 2015 RV season officially began with a winter trip to the ocean. "Winter" and "ocean" don't normally go together, but here in the PNW, it's a not-so-uncommon occurrence. We fully expected less than stellar weather and were prepared to spend much of our time snuggled up in the RV just relaxing, reading, and watching old movies. As usual, we underestimated both the weather and ourselves.


Since we weren't setting up anything outdoors this trip, we headed out to stretch our legs and see the beach right away.

Follow the sand and the sound of crashing waves...

Zuzu sees the ocean for the first time and contemplates its vastness.

Heading back to check out the non-beach part of the park.

It's good to have directions.

There was a viewing platform.

This was the view. I'm not sure what they were going for here.

The trail wound through the trees with the occasional botanical identification sign and bench along the way, then ended at a seasonally flooded area. Since it was getting rainy again and nearing dinner time, we headed back to the RV for the night.

The next day was still overcast, but dry, so we headed out again. 

I was desperately hoping to see some sea lions and brown pelicans, but we saw neither the whole trip. I couldn't have violated the rules of not teasing or feeding them if I'd wanted to, which I didn't, but still.

There were lots a sandpipers. Singly, they're not very impressive, but they would fly in large flock formations, making swirling clouds of themselves that were cool to watch. 

We walked the 1.5 miles south into the town of Ocean Shores, and along the way, we ran into not one, but two state parks that aren't on any official list of state parks I've ever seen. 

Considering they're little more than a parking lot, restrooms, and a few picnic tables, it's not hard to see why they're not advertised anywhere. Doesn't this look inviting?

I'm still counting them as part of our Great State Park Scheme, though!

There were a few sunbreaks along the way.

A tsunami warning tower. The sign had instructions for where to go in the event of a tsunami. What it really should have said was, "In the event of an approaching tsunami, if you're reading this sign, you're screwed."

Wait a minute! What's this? An otter, that's what! I'm pretty sure it's a river, and not a sea otter, but what a treat to see.

The next morning was nothing but sun, so we headed out for a nice beach run. 

The tide was out, creating a few sandbars where these pretties were having a rest.

Taking a sun bath.

Someone is old and tired, and it's not the one in blue.

We followed our own tracks back. Beach running is deceptive since there are few markers to gauge your distance, and it feels like it takes a long time to get anywhere because of the sameness. 

 It was so pretty out, though, and it made me leap for joy!

After lunch, we walked north for a long time until we found a beach access road and this sign. What the what? Our rig is parked at Ocean City State Park, how can this be Ocean City State Park? It was like a wrinkle in time. We followed this road inland, found a market, bought a very expensive bag of potato chips, walked back to the beach, and shared them while sitting on a big drift log in the sunshine and thinking about time wrinkles.

There was a nice view of the Olympics.

Later that evening we headed down to the beach to get some obligatory we're-at-the-Pacific-Ocean sunset photos.

 "Sunset schmunset," said the cold, tired pup.

No matter where we set up, just as soon as we set up, a car would pull into the frame. We tried to move a few times, but to no avail. It seems that sunset, apart from the obvious reason, is also when the razor-clammers clamor for clams.

I think I'll call this, "Sunset at Ocean City."Or maybe "Trite."

The parting shot.

The next morning, we drove down to Damon Point. It is a long spit jutting into the harbor that used to be a state park. It is famous for being a nesting spot for snowy owls, but apparently not this year.

It was a chilly walk despite the sun.

So long, Ocean Shores. Thanks for ruining our relaxation with your stupid sunshine!

Just kidding.

Sort of.


Saturday, February 7, 2015

The State Park That Isn't

 Last month during a very sunny and very cold spell, we took a little local drive to see if we could find Hanging Gardens State Park. It is a place that I had seen blocked out on a map years and years ago as a future state park location, and periodically I would check maps (then online with the advent of technology) to see if it ever became one. It never did, but of course, the geographical place exists, and we set out to find it.

I had to search online to find an obscure post by another hiker which led us to this roadside gate. We drove past it the first time, understandably.

There is a trail, though, so off we went. Don't let the sun fool you; it was c-c-cold.

Does your dog bite? And have you seen any gardens hanging out around here?

The Green River looking very much like a green river. What's that over there on the rock face?

 Why, it's some hanging gardens! I'm sure that in balmier weather, the vegetation that clings to the rock wall is much prettier, but you can still see why this place was once designated as special.

What do you suppose made those tunnels in the rock? And how long ago do you suppose they were made? Can we get an archaeologist in here?

This wasn't a long or rigorous hike -- it wasn't even really a hike -- but a 2-mile stomp in the woods on a sunny winter day to stretch the legs and brighten the doldrums ain't a bad way to spend an afternoon.