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Rain Forest, Forks, Beach…all in a Day! – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 2

They’re just cliff diving, Bella. Recreation. La Push doesn’t have a mall, you know.  ~Jacob Black, New Moon, Chapter 7, p.171

Me, 'Edward', & Nicole in front of the Forks Sign... too funny!

Once I got past our dive motel, and the possibility of making the news as missing tourists, Nicole and I woke up early and refreshed ready to start the day.  When I mean early, around 5:00 or 6:00 am, which is around 8:00 or 9:00 am east coast time.  I must adapt well to traveling because I really don’t have an issue with jet lag.  In fact, I’ve only ever had it once in my life and that was because I was running on empty before I left to visit Nicole in Tucson years ago.  My sister adjusts pretty well too, although I think she wanted to sleep in more than what my patience was able to tolerate, but she was accommodating, most of the time.  On vacation, I am the word ‘GO’ from start to finish.  Typically, I’m an early riser anyway, let alone add in the excitement and anticipation of the days events, brings my hyperactive nature to a whole new level.

We started out the day in our usual fashion with breakfast.  Gotta fuel up for the long day!  Now I will admit since all the restaurants in Forks were dives, which I don’t have a problem with, but they are expensive dives.  Maybe coming from the east coast this concept is different and I needed to accept the ways of the area.  That’s another topic, but I will admit, EVERYONE was super cordial and nice.  Our waitress gave us the suggestion to head out to see the Rain Forest first thing in the morning.  Thanks for the suggestion!

The trees were growing from a dead tree... they looked like they could walk away

Anyway, we did see a little of Forks from the previous night and we decided to do a little more exploring.  First we wanted to make our way to the Chamber of Commerce, which was still closed so we continued on our course of action toward the Hoh Rain Forest, suggestion courtesy of our waitress.  It was only about 12 miles away and the scenery was amazing!  The green and luscious vegetation juxtaposed again the light blue sky, not to mention we had another beautiful sunny day.  It was perfect, a little cold, but really a great day to hike through the Hoh.

Aunt-Heather-Piper-hugging-a-tree-at-Hoh National Rainforest
Me hugging a huge tree at Hoh National Rainforest

Nicole and I couldn’t help ourselves from stopping the car every so often, pulling off along side the road to get a closer look at the activity beyond our immediate reach.  We did this off and on as we made our way back to the Hoh Information Center.  The natural landscape was quite breathtaking and we wanted to suck up as much as we could. To really get the majesty of one of God’s masterpieces, you really have to see it first hand.  I will admit, along the way, we kept making references to Twilight such as ‘We better watch out for Victoria’ and ‘Look I thought I saw a Cullen’, of course only humoring ourselves.  But I will admit I did feel like I was in the movies/books from our surroundings.  Since I rented the car I had to drive us around, which was not on my sister’s favorites of the trip, but I couldn’t help commenting, “I drive like a Cullen.”  Nicole was only slightly amused.

We took a couple of different trails, the Hall of Mosses Trail – 3/4 mile long and the Spruce Trail – 1 1/4 mile long.  When we were reviewing the trails I spotted the Hoh River Trail – 17.3 miles long, I didn’t even get a chance to say anything and Nicole read my mind and stopped me by saying, “No!”.  That was great!  I was cracking up!  I said, “We don’t have to do the entire thing, we can do halfway and come back.” followed by a solid “No!” from Nicole.  It was about an eight on the tension scale.

Hall of Mosses. The trees covered in moss looked like tarantula legs..creepy

The trails were easy and really neat to explore, I highly recommend it to anyone in the area to stop in and see this forest.  As we walked along, especially the Hall of Mosses, I couldn’t help but get creeped out by the moss covered trees.  They looked like giant tarantula legs.  It was a weird feeling, like I was in a B rated movie of giant spiders.  I told Nicole, who incidentally is terrified of spiders much like my issue with mice.  She was not happy with me sharing my overly active imagination and observation.

Surprisingly, the rain forest was really dry.  We managed to hit a time without much precipitation.  It worked to our benefit the entire trip so we didn’t have to slosh along in the mud and rain, considering it was cold.  It was so dry, when I pulled some moss off of the trees, it was like dust.  Normally, certain places were flooded but not on this trip, so my exploration reach extended a little bit further.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any wildlife, but I did find some deer and elk tracks.  Once we made our way back toward the car, we did spot some ducks wadding around in the water, but nothing too exciting like a Sasquatch.  During the entire walk, we kept joking around that if Kyle was with us, he’d be on the lookout for Sasquatch.  We even started to joke around saying we were going to tell him we saw one. Mind Over Mythical

Me & Nicole in the Hoh National Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula

After I gathered a few neat river rocks that seem to contain minerals for Kyle, we made our way out of the rain forest and headed back to home base, Forks.  This time we were able to stop in to the Chamber of Commerce and start working our way down our Twilight bucket list.  You know the standard, Bella truck, the Forks City sign and so forth.  I do have to share this story with everyone.  As Nicole and I started walking toward the Forks City sign, a car zipped past us and came to an abrupt stop in front of the sign.  Then, this girl jumped out wearing a New Moon T-shirt, even from a distance I knew it was a Twilight shirt.  As I got closer, I saw she was smiling from ear to ear.  Being very friendly, she turned to me and said, “Do you want your picture taken with Edward?”.  I was taken back a bit and said, “What?”, just then she popped the trunk on her car and pulled out a full length cardboard cut out of Edward Cullen!  I really didn’t know how to respond.   Just then, my sister caught up to us and Nicole’s face lit up with pure excitement.  Really?  Ok, this I will admit was the silliest thing that happened to us.  I could also see that I was clearly the minority here and I wasn’t going to spoil the mood for anyone.  So when in Rome, I went with the flow and got my picture with “Edward Cullen”.  Then we did the standard dance with the cameras and traded places with the gracious young lady who lent us her cardboard cut out.  Well, needless to say my sister and this chick bonded instantly.  I will admit, it’s pretty neat to be apart of something so big, pretty much right from the beginning.  I think of it like Star Wars and how that craze has continued to hold fans and reinvent themselves over the years, even gaining younger fans, ie Kyle.

Second Beach, La Push on the Olympic Peninsula

After our brief photo session, Nicole and I went to the only grocery store within a 50 mile radius to pick up grub for lunch.  They had a great selection of wraps, sandwiches and fried food ready to be bagged up.  We decided to pack our lunch and head out to La Push Beach for a picnic, about 12 miles in the other direction.

La Push Beach is on a Native American Reservation and there are three different beaches, First, Second and naturally Third Beach.  First beach is the only one, which can be reached by motor vehicle.  The other two beaches require a little more of leg work to reach the sandy coast way.  Nicole selected Second Beach, about 8/10 of a mile hike and an elevation of 350 feet, compared to First Beach, being a 1.40 mile hike with a 280 foot elevation.

Second Beach - La Push on the Olympic Peninsula

As we approached the Reservation, they had a sign showing the Treaty Line…No Vampires Beyond This Point.  That was kind of funny, this area really embraced the Twilight phenomenon head on, without missing any details.  Of course we stopped, took advantage of the pretty day and the photo opportunity.

It was really interesting, driving back on the road toward the beaches, you really had no idea there was an ocean within the vicinity, not even when we were hiking.  The forest is so thick and dense, I couldn’t hear any ocean waves, sea gulls, or even see the ocean sky while hiking, that is until I reached the grade to start my decent down to the beach.  At that point, I could see where the trees stopped going on forever and I heard the waves crashing.  Now I started to get excited.  As I totted our picnic lunch down the quasi steps built to assist adventurous hungry travelers such as myself, I must admit I was pretty intimidated climbing down the side of basically a cliff.  At this point I realized, I was so thankful we were there during the dry season.  If not, this would have been one huge mud luge.  There were a few muddy areas, but not what I imaged it usually looked like.  Ok at this point sadly I will admit, Nicole was not moving fast enough for me, so I dusted her on the trail and continued moving at an even more rapid pace, just from pure excitement.  I figured I’d scope the area and find a nice spot for lunch.  Well, let’s just say this decision wasn’t favored by Nicole.

La Push - First Beach on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington

Then as I emerged from the thick vegetation, I was immediately on LOGS!  Yes there was a beautiful sandy beach stretching out to the salt water, but all along the beach were huge logs of drift wood.  Later, I found out that since Seattle was the lumber capital,  it takes years for these logs to surface and they are thrown up on the shore during major storms and tsunamis.  Now, that was cool and very unexpected!  They were not little twigs either, they were enormous trees!  I loved them!  I couldn’t help but pull a Kyle and try and figure out how to export the logs off of the very secluded beach to make driftwood furniture.

La Push, First Beach on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington

It was really quite lovely sitting on a huge piece of driftwood along a beach surrounded by cliffs on either side and a rain forest directly behind.  During lunch, this chipmunk kept trying to creep up on Nicole.  It was hilarious.  Nicole kept yelling at it to stay away and then it would run and hide, then sneak up closer to her on the log.  It would wait for her to turn around and then creep again.  I was dying and laughing so hard, but I managed to record a little bit of the bantering back and forth on video.

We stayed on Second Beach for a while, just hanging out.  Having no cell phone reception and surrounded by nature is the way to go.  I walked up and down the beach, jumping off and on logs along the way.  As I explored I noted the different people who had the same idea and others who decided to participate in the majesty of the place by pitching a tent and camping.  Now that is something I want to come back and do!

Me walking on First Beach - La Push, Washington

Then, the decision was mutually made to leave our paradise.  Even though it was kind of chilly, it was sunny.  Nicole and I both got a little sunburn on the face, the only exposed skin.  Go figure?  Actually we both knew better, but we weren’t thinking.  As we started our ascend back up the cliff of zig zagged quasi steps, Nicole’s phone rang.  What?  I had no cell service for most of the day and in the thick of a rain forest between cliffs and Nicole gets service.  It was Kyle!  Needless to say, we kept passing the phone back and forth, probably confusing the kid.  It was great to hear from him and hear how things were going on the east coast.  As he went on about wanting something else, some sort of toy, I got on the phone and reverted back to responsible mode.  Even being 2,500 miles away, I still asked, “Did you practice your instruments?”,  “Did you take the dogs out for a walk?”,  “Are you helping Gigi?” and the standard “Do you have any homework?”  O my poor little man!  He is a great kid who’s stuck with me.

Quileute School House at La Push - First Beach

Once we got back to the car, we were both tired, but wanted to adventure down to First Beach just to check it out, in case the weather was not up to par for our tour the next day.  This beach was different, yet the same and equally as beautiful and peaceful.  We saw the Quileute school house, a few more tourists and some natives.  Actually, as I was walking up toward the school house to get a closer look, a car sped past me in the same direction, then it backed up and turned around.  Major déjà vu!  As I walked toward my sister, who was talking to the passengers in the car, I figured it out.  Low and behold it was our friends from the Chamber of Commerce.  Yep, the same girl driving around with her life size, cardboard cut out of Edward Cullen.  That was too funny!  She was checking out La Push Beach too.  I guess we are all cut from the same cloth if you’re hanging out in the remote area, unless you live there.

Coming from Port Angeles into Forks

Our ride back to our temporary home of Forks, was just as glorious as when we started our day.  We stopped along the way to continue the photo opportunities, shorting our bucket list as the day passed.  We ate at a Mexican place, which was another dive, but the food was AWESOME!  As we sat and recapped our day and our surroundings, I noticed Forks didn’t have an Italian restaurant, no movie theater, no retail chain stores.  The closest was about 57 miles away in Port Angeles.  We did manage to find one ATM, a bowling alley which was open till 10 ish (yes that’s what the sign said), one Subway (only fast food place attached to a garage), one gym, one grocery store, one cafe, one diner, two banks, two gas stations, and two churches.  There were a few other retail stores, mostly Twilight and some food, but not many.

I didn’t grow up in a city, but wow was this place a really truly small town!  In a way I kept picturing this to be like the movie Footloose.  In a way it was pretty neat being so secluded and not having the influence by a barrage of advertisements and modern day technology always buzzing, or pinging, or singing to get your attention and distract you.  Nope it was…quite.

To Be Continued…

Pre-flight – Twilight Pilgrimage Prequal
Forks or Bust! – Twilight Pilgrimage Part 1

Published inBooks, Movies, ShowsCommon SenseEducation & LearningFamilyHiking & OutdoorsMilestoneObservation & ImaginationReminiscingTravels

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