FORREST GUMP POINT

GPS: 37.1013933, -109.9905065

DATE: APRIL 28, 2019

Sometimes you think you know where you’re going and what you’re going to do when you get there. That was me. After all my research, I thought I knew for sure that Forrest Gump point was going to be the perfect place to take that iconic picture. Turns out we were close, but a little off.

Now don’t get me wrong. You can get some pretty awesome pictures from that viewpoint, but if you look at the picture below I’ll share a secret with you: The better viewpoint, at least in my humble opinion, is just down the road.

There were no other cars there, no other tourist and plenty of road to get just the right pictures we wanted.

Taking these pictures was the closest I ever got to playing frogger in real life. Kind of fun and kind of scary at the same time. It is super important to pay attention to the road. It’s easy to get distracted trying to get that perfect shot. Remember the cars have the open road and don’t want to stop because they are avoiding a pedestrian. We were lucky because we had one subject, one person on the camera, and one person yelling “CAR!” It was a system where we rotated and it kept us all safe.

Below I’ll share some of our awesome shots from that second viewpoint. You can see Monument Valley is closer in the background.

And for those of you who scrolled this far, I’ll show you some behind the scenes and bloopers 🙂

“I’m pretty tired… think I’ll go home now.”

– Forrest Gump

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GAS WORKS PARK

GPS: 47.646050, -122.334911

DATE: MARCH 10 2019

What an interesting park! Seeing the grass, children, and dogs juxtaposed to old machinery is just an odd sight. But there’s beauty in the oddness. And it’s a small win for human kind to have turned such a pollutant producing company into a lovely park for its residents to enjoy. The park also has restrooms and a parking lot.

Lake Union’s water however is still very much a worry for me. You could see right to the bottom when you’re standing near the edge of the park. Eww. And no one is allowed in it. They don’t want the sediment to be disturbed. If you’re interested in reading on the history of the park check HERE.

If you’d like to see what else we did in the Seattle check out my other posts HERE. I have some pictures I’m going to leave here of our time in the park. Enjoy!

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“I hate the way you talk to me, and the way you cut your hair. I hate the way youdrive my car, I hate it when you stare. I hate your big, dumb combat boots and the way you read my mind. I hate you so much it makes me sick — It even makes me rhyme”

– 10 Things I Hate About You

SEATTLE DAY 2

This post is four of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]

For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂

This day we woke up the latest we’d gotten up the whole weekend. We got ready and checked ourselves out of the Airbnb. We were staying in the Queen Anne area and I woke up wanting some Seattle coffee. So we drove…

Our first stop was Storyville Coffee in Queen Anne. It was a 7 minute drive in the rental. Queen Anne has a ton of steep hills and I was not physically ready to walk that. I was real happy to have that rental. We drove it the whole weekend, and being summer, it was really easy to park. We found parking across the street right away.

If you read my post regarding what we did in Seattle Day 1, then you know how lucky I think her birthday is. The barista informed us about the free mugs they were giving away and we scored two!

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After coffee we walked over to a game store Blue Highway Games. Some patrons were sitting at tables playing games. There were signs of the many events the store held. There were soooooo many games. they even had

We then drove to the Gas works park 8 minutes away. The sun was out and even though there was some wind, it was enjoyable. We had on long sleeves but some people had on shorts and no shirt!

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We went back to Kerry Park because the night before my sister didn’t see Mount Rainier. She had no clue it sat just to the right of the city in the horizon. (I’ll be back to see it up close one day!) Again, parking was super easy.

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From Kerry Park we drove 15 minutes to the Washington University area. We wanted to visit the Henry Art Gallery. I had done some research and knew it was free on Sundays. Check that link out to see what exhibitions are available when you visit. It’s hard to post these pictures and not post all of them, closeups and all. So I invite you to visit their website. I could not do the art justice describing it myself.

This hall below had art that invited the viewer to get close and personal.

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A quick walk up the stairs and we entered the Suzzallo and Allen libraries. All the Harry Potter feels!!! Also, for the fellow coffee drinkers, there’s a Starbucks on the first floor.

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Once we had our fill of large university life, we headed over to the Olympic Sculpture Park. There’s several levels to it with a decent collection of outdoor sculptures. There’s also plenty of places to sit, relax and reflect. We were tripping over the Wake sculpture by Richard Serra. There’s a great picture of it HERE. With this piece it really is a matter of perspective. We were not expecting these massive S-shaped ship-like shapes. We saw what that picture shows, not THIS. I swear they’re the same sculptures. Mind. Blown.

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I can’t say I’m a fan of taking elevators to top floors of famous buildings. So I tend to avoid them. However, I don’t mind getting close to marvel at them for a moment. The space needle’s lobby has a rather large souvenir store that wraps around the base. And tickets are purchased outside at kiosks to go up or buy them HERE ahead of time. Whether you ride the elevator or not, the surrounding areas are nice for leisurely walks. There was even live music to accompany our stroll.

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To finish our super busy and wonderful trip to the Pacific North West we had planned a sunset watch. As I mentioned in my other posts, we had a sunset watch almost every night. This night we got a great parking space and spotted a few seals. The time-lapse is amazing, I’ll post it to my instagram. You can just make out the tide coming in and my sister and I are spotted throughout as we attempted to skip rocks.

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We didn’t stay until it was super dark as we had a flight home to catch. Thank goodness we left when we did. The line at security was unbelievably long. Luckily we had stopped at a Jack in the Box on the way. We ate dinner while we waited in line, like a true new yorker going home.

Until next time Seattle!

HOH RAINFOREST

GPS: 47.860714, -123.934639

DATE: MARCH 8, 2019

HI THERE!

While doing my research for visiting Olympic National Park I found some pretty interesting things about the park. It has mountains full of snow and everything winter while simultaneously being home to a temperate rainforest. It sounded interesting and I began looking through pictures and could not believe the amount of moss present. So without hesitation I added it to the list of must see places while in Washington.

For context think about this: In New York we get about 42 inches of rainfall annually. In the HOH rainforest however, they get 140-170 inches of rainfall annually. And 30 inches of that is from the fog alone! The visitor center has plenty of information for those seeking to be informed hikers. They have free pamphlets with drawings to help you identify plant life and animal prints.

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GETTING THERE

From the town of Forks, WA, the drive is 45 minutes. From Port Angeles it’s closer to 2 hours. And what a drive it is! You can watch the trees changing in height, color and type as you approach the park. You’ll arrive to the booth to pay admission. We paid $30 on a credit card. The fee grants you access for the week.

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HOH RAINFOREST

I just love seeing these brown signs! I get so excited when I cross the threshold of a national park. As though I have made it to a secret land where only beauty, fresh air and freedom exist! This is one of two we saw on our way in.

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Right outside the visitor center there is a bulletin board with information about the surrounding area. There are maps and daily weather updates which are super helpful if you’re doing the long hike. The hall of mosses is .8 miles, the Spruce Trail is 1.2, and the HOH river trail is 35 miles to Blue Glacier (not this time ONP!) and back.

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I spotted this wild Diana perched on a trail sign (Haha!) The trails are all very different lengths and the mini trail which isn’t shown here is wheelchair accessible.

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Right after crossing a cute little bridge over a stream that’s a small vein of the HOH river you climb a short way up. Passing this gorgeous tree just commanding your attention. It’s impressive when you look to its last branches. IT. IS. TALL.

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Soon you arrive to a sign pointing you in the direction of the Hall of Mosses loop. It was fun reading that we were entering an older part of the forest. Primeval spirit? Yes, absolutely…

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The higher we climbed the more snow was present. Or ice I should say as it was a little slippery. This beautiful tree looked like it was taking a nap. Or taking a bow. I don’t know. I just know this tree was way more graceful than anyone I’ve ever seen.

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Look at this amazing moss!!!

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So green!!!

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I couldn’t help myself so I hugged this gentle giant. I owe so many good shots to my sister Diana. She grabbed some great pictures. But we also shared some good laughs with the phones put away in our pockets or backpacks.

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Amidst our walk we spotted this hoof print. We weren’t sure how fresh it was but how cool!? Was he coming or going?

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My sister saw this tree and claimed it as her own. She said there was enough room in there to call it a condo. A one bedroom condo she said by New York City’s standards lol.

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This fungus was interesting. When seen higher up in the trees it looks like there are sea turtles sticking out from the tree showing their under bellies.

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I asked my sister to sit on the other side of this log. We sat for a couple of minutes in silence and closed our eyes. We concentrated on the sounds of the rainforest, birds, stream and trees. There weren’t many other people at the park so we were able to take it in unbothered.

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Before leaving the HOH rainforest (when I least expected it and wasn’t looking at her) Diana was taking a rest. She said that it helped her hips and back after laying there for a little bit. I believe the poor thing. We were using every ounce of daylight to sightsee everything we could.

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The hall of mosses was gorgeous. We were so happy to have seen this part of the Olympic National Park. Considering the time of year it was, it wasn’t nearly as cold as we anticipated. Chilly yes, but not cold…

If you’d like to see more about this trip, click the links below:

“Do not call the forest that shelters you a jungle”

-Unknown

OLYMPIC PENINSULA – DAY 2

This post is TWO of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]

For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂

So what’s jet lag? Super determined to get through the crazy itinerary I worked so vigorously to build, I didn’t let that thought creep in to my mind. But in retrospect it would have helped explain the tired faces getting ready at 5:30am.

We snagged the free coffee and waffles at the Super 8 and took it to go. My sister ate first, and then helped me eat as I drove. Multi-tasking at its finest.

We drove for 70 miles, equaling 1.5 hours to Rialto Beach. I have an entire post of that beautiful experience HERE. Below a pic for reference of that gorgeous beach.

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When we left the beach we headed over the Quillayute River for second breakfast at the River’s Edge Restaurant. They had a breakfast special of 1 pancake, 2 eggs, and 3 bacon strips or sausage links. We both got the same deal and I decided to have coffee #2. River’s Edge had a nice view and we were so lucky to have sat near the window. We were treated to spotting two bald eagles and a pod of seals.

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After enjoying a delicious breakfast and some wonderful views at First Beach (a walk up the road from the restaurant), we were on the road again. This time towards Forks, WA.

Insert screaming Twilight Fangirl here…

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I COULD NOT be so close to Forks and NOT go. It would be a complete betrayal to who I was circa 2008. Not to mention I never fangirled anything so hard in my life since the Spice Girls. Still can’t believe I won’t be able to go to their reunion tour in England this year 😦

Anyways, Forks… It still has more Twilight references the closer you get to town. And once you’re in town you’ll see movie posters in windows alerting to twilight things sold inside. I can only imagine what it must have been like back when Twilight reached its zenith. However, it is March and for all I know it still gets busy here. Maybe not Twilight busy, but most certainly people heading into the Olympic Peninsula to be outdoors busy.

As we headed back to the car my sister spotted the Rainforest Art Center. It was a neat display of props and costumes from the movie. Things you can see in Edward’s room in Twilight and costumes from the saga. They even have the board versions of Jacob’s wolf that acted as a stand in.

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Having shopped and had my fill of Forks I happily got back in the car and headed towards our next destination: HOH rainforest.

The rainforest, part of Olympic National Park, still had snow on the ground. The trail was so green and mesmerizing. The carpet of moss on the entirety of the trails was otherworldly. I have another post, mostly pictures of the rainforest. If you’d like to see it click HERE.

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Now it was time to drive back to Port Angeles. The drive was just under two hours. We remembered the receptionist shared details of a good sunset spot. So once in Port Angeles, we went to Ediz Hook. We were in for a nice sunset. My sister couldn’t believe that was Canada on the other side of the water.

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We stopped at Anime Kat to peruse for a while until dinner time. My sister was in the mood for noodles. We drove around for a bit looking around and ended up eating Pad Thai at Jasmine Bistro. The spring rolls and pad Thai were delicious!

After a full day of activities and a full belly it was time to turn in. I have two other posts about our two days in seattle. If you’re interested in them check them out!

Thanks for reading 🙂

MARYMERE FALLS

HEY READER! Looking for the sentimental exciting (maybe boring?) stuff from our trip to the PNW?! Check out THIS post for all the feels regarding this trip.

For those of you strictly interested in Marymere Falls, here you go:

GPS: 48.056716, -123.787458

DATE: MARCH 7 2019

TIME: 1.5 HOURS

LENGTH: 1.8 MILES

GETTING THERE

We drove to the storm king ranger station. As usual I assume I don’t get service in the woods. So just in case I had my trusty google maps download the area onto my offline maps. It was only a 30 minute drive from the Super 8 (20 miles west on the 101). Very convenient!

We parked right in front of the ranger station. You can see it off to the right of this picture. You can see a tiny sliver of Lake Crescent in the background. And to the left of this picture there are some bathrooms. Parks with facilities are always a win in my book.

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MARYMERE FALLS

We walked right passed the sign and past the closed ranger station to begin our hike. There are signs for the hike and if you miss those, the ground is very worn from where everyone else walked. It’s hard to miss. Don’t forget to look up at these amazing trees while exploring this hike. They’re huge!

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After walking for some minutes you’ll come across this tunnel. It’s meant to keep hikers looking for Storm King and Marymere falls off the road. It isn’t very long or creepy in the daylight hours. Walking through there at night however is a different story.

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I wasn’t exaggerating about these trees. Can you see my sister?

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The “snow” was actually just straight up ice. It was slippery and definitely will add to your overall hike time. Walking on the edges of the dirty snow was our plan but the truth is we should just invest in some traction attachments. I’ve ended up on icy trails on more than one occasion now, including winter hikes in NY.

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And then there was the sign. Originally I had planned to conquer the Storm King Trail. It’s approximately a 2000ft. elevation gain hike and has views worth the sweat. My sister and I, having done Breakneck Ridge back home several times, would have attempted this without hesitation (my favorite hiking blog has a great post on Breakneck HERE). However, the ice added a new element we were not prepared for. I like to push my body’s limits, but I don’t like to risk injury. So we snapped a picture and kept walking toward the falls. Something tells me I’ll be back one day when the snow and ice have melted…

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After a while you’ll come across this cute sign letting you know you are on your way to see something awesome!

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You come across this first bridge. This one is made of metal and wide enough to fit 2-3 people across. We made sure to have great foot placement as it was very slippery.

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From the area of the first bridge you can see the second bridge you’ll be crossing shortly.

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The second bridge is wooden and very narrow. One person at a time narrow. Again, watching our footing we trekked across and no one slipped. Thank God!

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After crossing the wooden bridge you start ascending towards the falls loop. I have to stress how tense our legs were here. We knew we were going to have a hard time coming down because it was so slippery going up. My sister is actually placing her feet in grooves in the ice to make her way up.

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After finding the first flat-ish portion she’s turning around to check on me. We had a brief discussion about whether it was worth ascending the ice to see the falls. We luckily decided on continuing. We made that decision because there are banisters the entire way up and we could use them to stay upright.

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You’ll come across this sign pointing to the left for the one way loop. You’re almost there!!!

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As you walk on the loop, the bend doesn’t let you see the falls. But you can definitely hear them.

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There are two portions to the Marymere falls. But the top one… WOW!

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I stole this one from my sister’s SnapChat 🙂

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And this one from my GoPro is actually where someone dimmed the light. It happened so quickly it was alarming. It went from perfect daylight to darkness in a matter of minutes. It doesn’t help that the sun probably went lower than the mountains around us and the trees make a very dark canopy.

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Needless to say, I have zero pictures of our descent on the ice. I needed both hands to hold on to the wooden guard rails at the speed we were going. But I found an instagram post that can give you an idea of what it was like HERE. It’s a 30 second video. We didn’t “snowboard it” like he did, but it was intense! I mean just look at how dark the trail got. And we were the ONLY TWO people on that trail.

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Haha!!! This picture makes me laugh because its lack of focus shows how fast we were walking at this point. No time for pictures. We had headlamps with us just in case, but I’m no fan of the dark. We were moving out there lol.

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By the time we reached our car at 6:45pm this is what that same sign from earlier in the afternoon looked like from the car.

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Ice and darkness were interesting to experience in what felt like the middle of no where. No other hikers around and the whole place was ours. I don’t regret skipping the Storm King trail seeing how hard the Marymere falls loop was coming down. And that was with guard rails. I can’t even imagine what it would have been like having darkness descend on us while climbing down Storm King. Can you say scary?

Don’t get me wrong, this hike was so much fun! And on our first day in the Pacific North West it definitely set the tone for the adventures to come that weekend. I have a post of all the fun things we did in the PNW HERE. Check it out 🙂

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”

-Sir Edmund Hillary

OLYMPIC PENINSULA – DAY 1

This post is one of four. It’s about my sister and I setting out to see the Pacific North West. Well, as much as we could in the time we had. She had school and I had work come Monday morning BUT THE LONG WEEKEND WAS OURS TO CONQUER!!! [insert fun, evil, maybe not so evil but slightly delusional from lack of sleep laugh here]

For those of you who came here in search of information for your own trip, or simply don’t care for the somewhat mundane fluffy stuff. I’m providing you with an out. Below you will find links to all the posts directly relating to the things Diana and I did in and around the city of Seattle. If upon reading this they’re not all updated, I promise I’m working diligently to get it all on here ASAP. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask 🙂

Now, where were we? Ah, yes! How were two girls who had never been to the state of Washington going to pull off covering 20 hours worth of distance and still make it back to the airport in time? (Say that out loud with one breath!)

I planned vigorously!

We also knew it was important to sleep on the flight because we were going into road trip mode the minute we landed. So we took a selfie and assumed the position. I had window and was propped up by all the sweaters/scarves. And Diana was middle and leaned on my shoulder/back. And before we knew it we were at SEA-TAC.

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We rented a car from E-Z and I couldn’t have been happier. FYI, you have to take a shuttle from the terminals to get to the rental counters. There are signs everywhere for the bus stop to get there.

Once at the rental are, all the other companies had long lines. However, we walked right up to the counter. After signing the contracts we took the elevator down to be greeted by two lovely women. They gave us keys and had us on our way.

Side Note: I used to work in rental many years ago. When you get a vehicle that has damage but you don’t want to risk being delayed an hour, take ALL THE PICTURES. Our car had a broken license plate and marks all over the rear side. This is more of a precautionary thing I do to avoid issues upon return.

We were so excited to be on the road! First stop: Jack in the Box. My sister and I had never had it before. Wouldn’t you know it, the cook is out and they can’t prepare anything but fries and nuggets. So, reluctantly that’s what we ate. Whatever, excitement kept us going because we couldn’t believe it. We were in SEATTLE!!!

It was also sunny and the warmth of the sun felt amazing!

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That is until we got further west as we headed to Port Angeles.

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During our first hours in Washington we experienced sunshine, rain, sunshine again, and then sleet. I would say that was a pretty appropriate welcoming.

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We were staying at the Super 8 in Port Washington. Few things to note regarding our stay. They were very cost-effective, free breakfast started at 6am, and the receptionist that checked us in was extremely knowledgable about Olympic National Park and the surrounding areas. She gave us a bunch of maps and answered some important questions I had. The rooms may not be the newest, but we got a great deal and we really just needed a place to shower and sleep.

Like I said, we had a lot of ground to cover and very limited time. We dumped our luggage in the hotel room, changed into hiking gear, and headed over to the Safeway supermarket to grab essentials for our two days in the peninsula.

Our first stop was Lake Crescent. There is a great pull off viewpoint you can’t miss due to its massive sign. But in case you do, here are the coordinates: 48.073554, -123.773199 It’s right before sledge hammer point and 28 minutes from the Super 8. There are a few pull off points to enjoy some decent views.

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From this point it’s another 3 minutes to the Storm King Ranger station where the trails for the Lake Crescent pier, Marymere Falls, and Storm King begin. We parked in front of the sign ready to brave the cold. The station itself was closed, but the bathrooms to the left of this sign were open.

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We hiked in mud, snow and ice to Marymere Falls. I have a post about it HERELet’s just say it was interesting to see how fast it got dark out.

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Afterwards we headed to Sergio’s Hacienda where we devoured a veggie burrito and chicken en crema dishes.

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“It is easier to change a man’s religion than to change his diet.”

Margaret Mead

GRADUATION PROMISE

When my now 19-year-old sister Diana was younger, I made a promise to her. She was so saddened by my departure to College, where I dormed for four years. She would sleep in my room and wait for my return during winter and summer breaks.

So I made a promise to her that when she graduated high school that we would travel somewhere just her and I. There was no specific destination in mind or itinerary to keep. Just a promise to go, see and conquer a small corner of the world.

I’m the oldest of 5 siblings and have shared many trips with my brother, Alberto. He is the second oldest of us five. We grew up together in the same household and so we’ve been to Orlando, Lake George, El Salvador, Montreal, etc. together.

Soon after I made the same promise to Andres and Daniella, currently ages 14 and 6. So I’ll be prepping for those graduation gifts for years to come.

Please don’t mistake this action for being overly generous… I selfishly want them to see more of the world so I can share that with them, hence the Pacific North West trip I’ve always wanted to do. If I do nothing else in this world but inspire my family and friends to travel and learn as much as they can about the world, I would die a happy woman.

“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”

– Gustav Flaubert