Hot Potting in the Rainforest

Dear Pacific Northwest Rainforest: Why do you have to be so wet and cold? I understand the wet part, and I hear the cold part is actually “mild” during the winter.  But man oh man have we been cold and wet.  It’s worth repeating.

Don’t get me wrong.  The forest has been lush and otherworldly, and I’m glad we visited.  Maybe this is my last post from inside a refrigerated, moss-growing Petri dish, though.

Hot Springs

We’re in Olympic National Park, this time a bit north, at Sol Duc Hot Springs.  

I don’t have any photos from when Tracy and I steeped ourselves in the host springs because—of course—it was raining.  Gotta say I prefer the natural type to this tourist destination, where the springs have been turned into paved pools, and you pay $20 a pop to sit for an hour next to strangers, watching them get in and out of the steaming pools in their bathing suits.  

This area of the park is run by a concessionaire, which means they call it a resort and charge you for everything (no money goes to the national park).  There are cabins by the hot springs main building (but no wifi or laundry), and there’s a national park campground nearby.  

When booking this a while back, Tracy picked the “RV Resort” part of the resort, which turns out to be a small parking lot with RV spots shoved into it it, designed by someone who’s parked a only car, I think.  

But we have electric hookups, which means even with the constant grey skies we can run the heat pump to try to dry out the interior of the trailer.  Condensation is so strong that I’ve been wiping the walls and windows with a cloth each day.

Sol Duc Falls

If you hike away from the resort, there’s lots of Olympic Park goodness all around.  The trail to Sol Duc Falls is on the same Hoh River trail that we hiked a few days before from the Hoh campground (I believe), but I swear there’s ever more moss here than there. 

The falls start as the meandering Sol Duc River, and, as soon as they hit the sudden change in elevation (I don’t know what caused that drop), they roar down into a narrow, deep canyon.  Doesn’t matter how many times I listen to and feel and hear a waterfall, it’s magical. 

Airstream Club Sighting!

Here’s the unexpected part of camping in this expensive parking lot: we pulled in at the same time as a three-trailer contingent of the Northern California Airstream Club.  As we were all standing around trying to back our trailers into the wee spaces, they invited us over for their daily happy hour under a pop-up.  Why, thank you! Yes, please!

So, three couples were extra inquisitive about us living fulltime, and extra informative about their trailers and the perks of their club, and all in all we filled up our depleted socal tanks just smiling and sharing stories with them for two nights. 

Carol and Lloyd showed us their 1998 Safari model that Lloyd had stripped and rebuilt in a safari-theme.  Carmen and Jose gave reviews of the hot tub over the weekend that make us glad we went on a weekday, and Joanne and Cliff hiked with Tracy up to Mink Lake, where Tracy stood in snow!  Photos coming when I can get them off his phone and when Cliff emails me his.  

What a friendly, welcoming, charming group of people.  I have a feeling we’ll hear more from them as they continue their recruitment drive for us to join their club.  

Wet Wet Wet

We haven’t let the rain stop us from hiking, but what’s about to drive me crazy is all the wet stuff in the trailer.  We can’t even leave our hiking boots outside because of the constant rain, so I’m strategically moving wet things from near one heat vent to another.

I rotate our two beach towels as double-duty floor mats by the front door, and I’ve been hanging the dripping clothes in the shower (what normally goes in the shower has been moved to under the kitchen table.  Sorry Banjo.)

What It Takes to Be a Bark Ranger

Banjo has been a real trouper throughout this leg of the journey.  Dogs aren’t allowed on trails in national parks, but usually we let her spend as much time as possible hanging around outside the trailer in the sunshine.  But—of course—it’s raining here, so she’s been inside all day and night except for her usual walks.  

She did make friends with a park ranger at the welcome center where we stopped to have lunch in the trailer on our way in, and she was made an official Olympic National Park Bark Ranger.  Lemme see if I can remember the acronym:

  • Bag your pet’s my waste
  • Always leash your pet me
  • Respect wildlife
  • Know where you I can go

The on-duty ranger she met customized the little contract just for Banjo.

So, good girl, Bark Ranger, for following all the rules by basically staying in the trailer for the past few weeks.  The Airstream club did invite her over for happy hour, but there’s so much craziness in the parking lot that she stayed inside then as well.  Like us with the wet and cold, she’s not complaining so much that she regrets being here.  Still, we’re all excited to continue into the peninsula!

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