We arrived in Port Angeles later in the afternoon, after a pretty smooth ferry ride across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and made our way to the motel we had booked there, a Days Inn. Unfortunately, we ended up quite disappointed with our first stay in the U.S., as our motel was really dirty on the outside, with several black garbage bags and pizza boxes piled up in a corner of the ground floor, and a somewhat dirty room. The desk clerk I dealt with was absent-minded and surly, and the final straw came when we discovered a trail of blood leading from the edge of the pool to under the fence (?) first thing when the pool opened the next morning; it seems no one had checked to make sure the pool and deck were clean before allowing families to use it. I was so angry about our experience there, that I decided we weren’t going to pay the ridiculous US$160 for our single-night stay. So when we checked out, I listed all the issues we had had with the motel and demanded a discount, which the clerk begrudgingly gave us. That was the second Days Inn we’d stayed in (the other was in Saulte Ste. Marie), and so far the first and last truly awful motel/hotel.
We were glad to leave the unsavoury town of Port Angeles, and headed to the small town of Forks, close to Olympic National Park. We stayed there for one night and visited the park the next day, a day after the official 100th birthday of the National Parks Service on August 25. At the park we went to the Hoh Rainforest, where we hiked to the the Sol Duc waterfall and through the ornate Hall of Mosses. It was all so wondrous and calming.
After Forks we landed in Hoquiam, a rather depressing little town near semi-famous Ocean Shores, at an Econo Lodge run by a Canadian. He wasn’t particularly good at customer service, but he talked with me for a while, when he discovered I was also Canadian, about the differences between the U.S. and Canada. He didn’t have a lot of positive things to say about Americans – though admitted that the U.S. was a good place to make money – and said that Canada was definitely the better place to live. I was just relieved to know that the lone-standing building across the street, in front of the Swanson’s parking lot, was actually just a pot shop and not a gun store. Yeah, it felt like THAT kind of town.
We spent a grey day at Ocean Shores, and rented a four-person surrey to ride on the beach. It was a bit rickety and felt unbalanced, and made everyone but Eric nervous – me especially after the long and intimidating legal agreement I had signed to protect the rental shop – and so we returned it early. Eric was annoyed with us after that, and I don’t blame him.
We also explored a big kite-and-toy shop that had a large selection of elastic-shooting, wooden guns. We picked up a couple of “magnums” along with a target and some extra ammo.
Later, we toured the privately-run Coastal Interpretive Center, which was small but packed with animal and plant specimens and historical pieces of interest. There was also an area dedicated to debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami that had washed up onto the beaches of Ocean Shores. The elderly couple who ran it were welcoming and extremely knowledgable, making it well worth the visit.
Leaving Hoquiam, we drove through Aberdeen, an industrial town (and birthplace of Kirk Cobain), and off towards much-anticipated Oregon…