Author: Ashleigh (Page 2 of 77)
After leaving the Lake Crescent Area, we headed to the coast, specifically Rialto Beach. There are many beaches in Olympic National Park so it was hard to choose one to visit. Ruby Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the Olympic Peninsula was closed when we visited due to road construction, so we chose to visit Rialto Beach and do the Hole-in-the-Wall Hike.
When deciding what days to do what in Olympic National Park, we looked at the tide chart. The hike to Hole-in-the-Wall can only be accessed during low tide so we had to plan our visit accordingly. There is a forest service trail that would allow you to see the Hole-in-the-Wall formation during high tide, but you wouldn’t be able to get as close or see the life in the tide pools.
When we got to the beach, it was drizzling a little and it was overcast with a little fog. There were strange rock formations jutting out from the water. It was unlike anything I had ever seen anywhere else. We drove through the town of Forks, Washington to get to the beach and I totally understood why Stephanie Meyer set the Twilight books in this area. It looks like a place where strange sparkly vampires would live!
The trail is a 3.3-mile long out-and-back trail and most of the hike is just an easy walk on the beach, but there are some tricky sections. The scariest part for me (and most of the other women hikers we saw) was the part where you had to cross Ellen’s Creek small stream that dumps into the ocean. The only way to cross it was by walking over a log. One woman told me, I’m sure as an attempt to reassure me, “I’ve been standing here over an hour and I haven’t seen anyone fall in yet.” Luckily, I didn’t ruin her streak, but I did take the chicken’s way out on the way back and scoot across on my butt. Apparently, when the creek is less full, people wade through it instead of the scrambling we had to do.
From there it wasn’t much further to the rock and the feature known as Hole-in-the-Wall. It is known as Hole-in-the-Wall because over time, the tide eroded the center of the rock and created a hole big enough to walk through. The walk on the rocks was slippery and I was very worried I was going to fall, but seeing all the life in the tide pools was absolutely worth it! We had never explored tide pools before so it was really cool to see! I had no idea starfish came in so many colors! It was crazy because you could be looking at a part of the rock for a while and just keep seeing more.
If you are looking for a beach to visit in Olympic National Park, I highly recommend Rialto Beach and the hike to Hole-in-the-Wall. If you are planning to do this hike, waterproof hiking boots with good traction are a must. Walking on the beach, our feet got a little wet, but scrambling over wet rocks would’ve been near impossible without our hiking boots.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week when I share about our time exploring Hurricane Ridge! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
The Lake Crescent Section of Olympic National Park is only 18 miles from Port Crescent so it was closest part of the park to where we were staying. So, of course it was our first stop on our exploration of the park. One of the things on my must-do list for Olympic was the rent a kayak and paddle Lake Crescent. Unfortunately, the weather never cooperated. Each time we stopped by the lake, it was windy and the waves resembled those we saw at the ocean (below). As I always say, I guess I have a reason to return to Olympic National Park, right?
Lake Crescent is home to the beautiful Lake Crescent Lodge. The Lodge was built in 1915 in an arts and crafts, bungalow design. There is a restaurant in the lodge and I wished we had made reservations. It looked like a beautiful place to have a meal! Although built around the same time period, it is vastly different from Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Inn. Built from local timber, the Lake Crescent Lodge feels much homier and welcoming. Original guests at the lodge arrived by ferry from across the lake as the Olympic Highway that goes right by the lodge didn’t open until 1922.
From Crescent Lake, we hiked the half-mile Moments in Time Trail. The trail is a very easy hike through a Washington forest. The lichen hanging off the trees gave the area a real rainforest feel.
I really enjoyed our time in the Lake Crescent Area. I just wish the weather had cooperated and we could’ve gotten out on the water. If I return to Olympic, I would like to stay at the Lake Crescent Lodge! After our time exploring the Lake Crescent Area we got back in the car and headed for the coast and Rialto Beach. Be sure to check back next week to read all about it!
Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
Disembarkation from Serenade of the Seas was the complete opposite of embarkation. We were off the ship in ten minutes! To be on the safe side, we booked our Quick Shuttle for 10:00 which would have left us standing in the port for two hours. Luckily, they were able to squeeze us onto the 8:00 shuttle. Where our Greyhound experience was less than comfortable, Quick Shuttle was wonderful! The seats were more comfortable and there were fewer stops. If you ever need to get from Vancouver to Seattle (or Vice Versa) I highly recommend Quick Shuttle! They were more expensive than Greyhound, but it is absolutely worth it!
We had Quick Shuttle drop us off at the Bellingham Airport which made the fare cheaper and the ride faster than going all the way to Seattle. This may sound strange, but we discovered it was significantly cheaper for a one-way rental from Bellingham to Seattle than the round-trip from Seattle. It’s things like this that a lot of people wouldn’t think of that allow us to save money when we travel. The rental car was cheaper, our bus rate was less, and it was quicker to not have to stop at all the stops along the way.
For the Washington part of the trip, we stayed at an AirBNB in Port Angeles. Port Angeles is a good base camp for exploring Olympic National Park because the park is spread out throughout the Olympic Peninsula and Port Angeles is centrally located. There are not many places to choose from lodging-wise in Port Angeles, so we ended up this studio apartment in the middle of a ranch home. It was fine but was not ideal for my husband to be working on eastern time. There were some mornings he had his 5 am (8 am eastern) meetings in his car so as to not bother the neighbors.
Olympic National Park is divided into three diverse ecosystems: beach, mountains, and temperate rainforests. Since we had a short time to explore the park (only four afternoons/evenings) we got to explore Rialto Beach, Lake Crescent, Hurricane Ridge, and Hoh Rainforest. There is much more to see in the park, but I feel like we got to see the highlights.
One thing that we learned on this trip is that Washington weather is hard to predict and the weather can vary around the park. For example, it was sunny and warm at our AirBNB but when we got to Hurricane Ridge we hit a wall of fog. When we got home some friends who used to live in the Pacific Northwest told us that you have to go after the 4th of July if you want to actually get to see the area and not just fog. Like I say with most places we visit, I guess we will have to go back another time, later in the year!
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week as I share about our experience at Lake Crescent! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.
Our Alaska cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Serenade of the Seas was unlike anything else I have ever done before. The scenery was unmatched and the service was spectacular. This trip was full of once-in-a-lifetime experiences!
Our trip started off on a rough note because embarkation in Vancouver was a nightmare. I should start off by saying there were three ships in port that day and the other two ships were much larger than the Serenade so there were a lot of people leaving Vancouver that day. It took us a full two hours from curb to ship. It took one whole hour just to get to the porters to drop our bags off because there was only one large elevator that went to that level. We saw a lot of people just carry their bags on, but they still had to drag them around the port for an hour. I heard people around me mumbling “never again” to sailing out of Vancouver. One thing that makes it more complicated than most other embarkation ports is that you are in a foreign country sailing into the United States, so you have to go through customs. We met people at dinner one night who have Global Entry and they said that helped shorten the wait some. If you are planning on sailing out of Vancouver, pick the earliest check-in time you can and get there early.
While we had beautiful weather on our port days, every sea day was cold and rainy. We had hoped to play Pickleball as we did on our Caribbean Cruise, but because of the weather, it was never open. We tried to enjoy our balcony, if you wanted to be out there for an extended period of time, you needed to seriously bundle up. On our way back from Alaska, we had the roughest seas I have ever encountered on a cruise. Seriously, they had barf bags placed around the ship for those prone to seasickness. I have to say, I had never seen that before.
The Serenade of the Seas is the smallest ship I’ve ever sailed on. Having sailed on the Explorer of the Seas almost exactly three months prior, I was doing a lot of comparing in my head while onboard. Small ships like the Serenade have their pros and cons, the pros being that they can get into ports where the larger ships don’t fit. The Serenade is actually the ship Royal is using for their World Cruise in 2023. The biggest con, of course, is that there is less to do on board. I don’t know if it was because we were usually the smallest ship in port, but we always ended up at the dock farthest away from town (left).
Since our cruise on the Explorer was when Royal Caribbean was getting back into sailing at almost full capacity, a lot of my complaints from our spring cruise had been resolved. Crew members were no longer serving everything in the buffet and service in the dining room was much smoother. With my time dining, they didn’t try to seat you in the same table every day like they did on the Explorer so we didn’t have to wait as long to eat.
From the sail-away show, I knew the entertainment on this ship was not going to be for me. John, the cruise director came on stage singing Sweet Caroline and had everyone play Simon Says. I felt like I was in the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel when she goes to her camp in the Catskills (for those of you who aren’t familiar with this show, it takes place in the 1950s. That’s really all you need to know for this reference). Shortly after that, the assistant cruise director came out to sell you Bingo cards. I felt like the youngest person on board by at least 40 years. Royal Caribbean is known for being a family cruise line so I was not expecting this at all.
In my review of the Explorer of the Seas, I was blown away by how many activities were going on around the ship when we were in port each day. That was not the case on the Serenade. We had three sea days on this cruise and I felt like there was nothing to do. Because of the weather, everyone was indoors. There was trivia twice a day that was standing-room only. There was a small movie theater where you wouldn’t get a seat if you didn’t show up half an hour early. There was an enrichment lecture by Canadian Mountie that we went to because…what else was there to do? We did enjoy the production shows and the comedian made us laugh. We kept running into him in port, which was funny.
While this review may seem like it’s full of complaints, I really did enjoy this cruise. I think if I were to sail to Alaska again, I would choose a ship that was purpose-built for Alaska, like the Norwegian Bliss. It has many more indoor areas to get out of the cold, rainy Alaska weather at sea. After this cruise, we are taking a break from Royal Caribbean. We have another cruise booked, this time on Celebrity, which will be interesting.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to check back next week as we begin our journey from Vancouver to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula! To read more about this trip check out my Planes, Buses, and Boats Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, visit my Trips Page. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page and follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my updated Gear Page.