North to the Olympic Peninsula

Port Angeles, WA

After a windy couple of days along the Columbia River Gorge, we headed west on I-84 and turned north on I-5 near Portland.  An uneventful drive of 200 miles put us 10 miles northwest of Olympia, WA in a small RV park attached to the Little Creek Casino.

The park has about 45 paved sites of varying lengths.  Our site was just long enough for our motorhome with no space left for the Jeep (we parked it in the nearby casino parking lot).  The short length of the site didn’t bother us much, but we did have a problem with the site being very unlevel.  We had to put two pieces of wood under each front tire to keep them on the ground.  The sites here are of various length with many as short as 30 feet and some over 60 feet (see the photo below).

The weather was a bit dismal during our stay, but we did have a chance to drive into Olympia to visit the state capitol building.  It may be a bit difficult to keep a building like this clean in the wet climate of the area, but the dark areas sure give the capitol a distinct Gothic look.

The capitol building was constructed in the 1920s and a picture hanging in one of the hallways shows how it looked when it opened in the early 1930s.


Free tours of the building are offered on the hour during normal business hours.  One was just beginning as we entered the building so we quickly caught up with it.  The bicameral legislature was not in session that day so we were able to visit both chambers.

House of Representatives Chamber

A 10,000 lb chandelier hangs in the rotunda suspended 50 feet above the floor by a 101 feet  chain.  It is 25 feet tall and could fit a full-size Volkswagen Beetle if put in sideways.

Across from the capitol building sits another imposing building, the Washington State Supreme Court building.

The capitol complex sits on a hill that overlooks Capitol Lake and West Bay to the north.

After three nights in Little Creek we continued our journey north on Rte. 101.  The two lane highway ran for a number of miles right along the Hood Canal.  Interestingly, Hood Canal isn’t a canal, it is a natural waterway.  Hood Canal was named by the British Navy Captain George Vancouver in 1792 in honor of Admiral Lord Samuel Hood.  Vancouver used the name “Hood’s Channel” in his journal but wrote “Hood’s Canal” on his charts.  The U.S. Board on Geographic Names (there actually is such an organization) decided on “Hood Canal” as its official name in 1932.

The road wound its way along the shoreline before heading inland to go around Mt. Walker.  It crossed a couple of old bridges that were a bit narrow for those traveling in a large vehicle.  Fortunately, there was little traffic during our trip.

After about a hundred miles we came to the largest city on the Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles.

As we drove through town  we could just see a bit of the Olympic Mountains peaking out of the clouds to the south.  Hopefully we’ll experience a clear day during our month-long stay and get a good view of the snow covered peaks.

We drove about ten miles west of Port Angeles and settled in to our home for the next two weeks at Elwha Dam RV Park.  We could only get a spot here for two weeks, so for the second half of our stay in Port Angeles we’ll move across town to the KOA.

Elwha Dam RV Park

Our neighbors

We haven’t seen friends Laurel and Eric (Raven and Chickadee) in a long time so we were pleased to find that they would be staying nearby as they make their way to a summer stay on nearby Lopez Island.  They are staying at a nice little county park, Salt Creek, about ten miles from us right along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  The day they arrived we drove out at low tide to visit with them and explore some nearby tide pools.

Eric and Laurel

The sea bed in the tide pool area was literally covered with mussel shells.

Tucked among the shells were large numbers of anemones waiting for the sea water to return.

Once the water returns these little creatures open up into a wide variety of colorful forms.

Serious discussion about sea life

Eric and Laurel will be around for the next six days so we have some hikes planned with them before they head for the island.  More on that later . . .

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28 Responses to North to the Olympic Peninsula

  1. Ingrid says:

    The sea creatures look fascinating. Enjoy your time with Laurel and Eric as well as that cool overcast weather.

  2. Laurel says:

    Sooo fun to be almost neighbors with you two! It’s been a great reunion. :-)) Loved exploring the tidepools with you and our rainforest hike in the rain yesterday. Looking forward to more adventures together! You got some great tidepool photos. Wow, that was a windy afternoon out there!

  3. Jodee Gravel says:

    Once again I couldn’t get us into Little Creek for our dates – but good to know about the unlevel sites! Absolutely love that drive along Hood Canal. Those mussels are crazy!! How fun to meet up with Laurel and Eric. Looks like a great time at the tide pools :-)))

  4. Jim and Barb says:

    One of our favorite areas up there, we actually thought about buying property but it is too far from everything else that we love to do.

  5. Debbie L says:

    Wow, you’ve covered a lot! We’ve decided we have to do what we can to visit state Capitols! It’s hard to find time to do and see all we can as we meander around! Your posts are so interesting. I’m so behind on ours….

  6. Love the tide pools and here’s hoping for some sunshine for you guys!

  7. Susan Bank says:

    Thanks for the history lessons John! We drove along the Hood Canal and both commented that it didn’t really look like a Canal (think Erie Canal) more like a natural body of water, now we know why! Great that you got to spend time with Laurel and Eric, looks like you had a great time. I love tide pools, but those rocks get slippery, watch out!

  8. Gay says:

    Oh how I love the tide pools! Beautiful pictures.

  9. I like the looks of the Elwha RV park! Cheers to summer in a place with cool temps! I can’t wait to get to the coast…it’s almost 100 in Roseburg!

    • placestheygo says:

      Elwha RV Park is interesting. Most of the sites aren’t as nice as the row we are in in the back. The other sites are closer and arranged all over. These are the “premium” sites! Worth the extra $$! Super quiet! The sun finally came out Wednesday and the temps are wonderful. Hope it holds!

  10. Sherry says:

    We’ve found that both times we’ve stayed in an Indian Casino the sites were very unlevel. The capitol complex sure does have a sweet view. It’s a wonder they get anything done. If they do that is. What a riot that a natural river or stream was named “canal”. Great picture of Eric and Laurel. How fun to visit with them and see the tide pool beauty. 6 days together sounds grand. Glad to hear the discussions were serious. I wouldn’t want to think you were doing nothing but having fun!

  11. I drove to the Salt Lake Recreation Area in the hopes of seeing some fascinating sea creatures like what you have seen but it was high tide. I drove back very unhappy. I think our site was to your left at the RV Park.
    Hoping for great weather as you explore the Olympic Peninsula

    • placestheygo says:

      Too bad the tide was in when you got to Salt Creek. The tide pools were fun. Yes, you were in 43, I believe, and we are in 49. Really nice area of the park and so quiet.

  12. Upriverdavid says:

    I’m hitting the road to Seattle tomorrow….But you should visit Sol Duc Hot Springs while in the area if you haven’t before..They have RV sites or the Forest service has spots w/o hu’s…
    I’ve met folks from all over the world at Sol Duc..Quite interesting visiting with them…
    Have Fun!

    • placestheygo says:

      Thanks, David! We ‘ll be staying here at Elwha RV Park for two weeks. But we did get to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort because the TH for the Sol Duc Falls and Lover’s Lane hike is there.

  13. geogypsy2u says:

    How delightful to stay in the PA area for a month. So much to see and do.

  14. pmbweaver says:

    Two very nice campgrounds.
    We missed Port Angeles. As we were on our way, that is when Carrie called and asked if we could meet her at Yellowstone. Family always comes first for us, so off we went. WOW….I love seeing all that water life. The tide pool is awesome. I love the anemones when they open up.
    Enjoy your time with your friends.

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