Some of my earliest memories are set on the starkly beautiful beaches and forests of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. As a child of the fifties, in a struggling Catholic family of five, our summer vacations consisted of heading out in cars overloaded with camping gear and kids, often with other large families, a caravan of station wagons and Chevys. We would all spill out on the Peninsula’s forest campgrounds and beaches – Kalaloch, Neah Bay, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Staircase, or Lake Crescent. We would camp for a few days or a week, free to run wild.
These memories are filled with fresh cool air, cold wet sand underfoot, the biting-cold waves of the Pacific Ocean, and deep forest evergreen green.
Most of the Olympic Peninsula is National Forest land, and to this day it retains its wild beauty, its mysterious moss covered trails, its fresh freezing cold rivers and lakes, and its aura of Native American history. It carries the spirit of those who first inhabited and lived on the bounty of this land, the people of the red cedar, the salmon, the orca, and the rivers.
If you ask anyone born and raised in Washington about this area, you are bound to find people sighing as they also recall wonderful childhood adventures on forest trails, or swimming in the freezing waters of Washington’s coast. As children, we only knew that this was the great outdoors, a paradise of green and water, logs to climb on, places to run freely, shells to discover, and the perfect smell of a campfire.
In this book, I would like to offer the first-time visitor ideas for exploring this truly mysterious and beautiful landscape – easy to navigate, sure-to-please ideas for a perfect Spring, Summer or late Fall trip, be it a weekend away from your office in Seattle, or a week of camping and hiking along the coast or in the forest.
I know there are many guide books already written about the Olympic Peninsula, and I hope you will check into them for your trip. There is also plenty of great information on the Internet. All good!
This book, then, is a supplement, a shortcut, and a promise to you. Each of the ideas and places discussed in these pages I have visited as a child, AND recently (2016). I don’t include every possible place to stay or day trip to take, but I do give you enough ideas for a pleasure-filled vacation, from a weekend get-away with your lover to two-weeks with the kids.
This book is not only for tourists to Washington, but also for those who were born and raised here, like myself, and would like to rediscover their childhood playgrounds. It is also for those born and raised here who have yet to discover the Olympic Peninsula, for those younger families in the Pacific Northwest, who are still making memories with their children and loved ones. This is truly a wonderland for children and will instill in them an appreciation for their native place in the world.
Because I was born and raised in Washington, and on the Olympic Peninsula, I have a deep love and respect for this land and its people. I hope that comes through and adds to your trip and your reading enjoyment. I have included information about the Native Americans of this area, about places to go and places to stay, about the the wild life and the trees. My aim, however, is not to overwhelm readers with information, but to give you an easy plan to follow for your journey here, an introduction (or re-introduction) to the sights, sounds, and freshness of the Pacific Northwest.
So whichever group you might fall into, visitor or native born, I hope this book gets you out of your chair and into your car.
Power to the Journey