Friday, October 29, 2010!

When I traveled to San Francisco for my marathon two weeks ago, things were not all work and no play.  I purposely timed my arrival three days before the race so Roger and I could do some sight-seeing.  It's been years since I've visited this great city, and I was looking forward to exploring SF again.

It doesn't get any more San Francisco than this!

Our first full day in the city, Roger and I toured Alcatraz Island.  I'd visited this place once before with my brother Dale, but it was on a rainy day.  We mainly stayed inside, and had no views.  But not this day!  The weather gods blessed us with clear, sunny skies.  The blue sky and sparkling water of the bay was a delight.

"The Rock" as viewed from our tourboat

We boarded a tour boat that shuttled visitors over to "the Rock."   I had some great views of Alcatraz Island and the San Francisco skyline as we motored towards our destination.

Dive-bombing seagull going after the tourists

As our boat traveled across the bay, a couple of seagulls, hopeful for handouts, dive-bombed the passengers.  Some of the people held out various food samples, trying to tempt the gulls.  That is, until the tour boat operator told them to stop!

The fog started to roll in while we were on the island

We docked on the island, and as we deboarded, a parks official told us "welcome to prison."  Our group was directed up a road that climbed a steep hill to the top of the island.  Along the way, we passed some decrepit old buildings, all in various stages of disrepair.  The island gets a lot of harsh weather that causes rapid aging of everything exposed to the elements.

A typical prison cell at Alcatraz

Our admission included an audio tour of the prison.  The tour was great!  Lots of good information.  I learned that Alcatraz has been closed since 1963 (the year I was born).  It wasn't made a national park until 1972.  The prison was open for 29 years, and in these 29 years only 14 escape attempts were made.  All the escapees either died or were captured, except for three men who escaped in 1962 who were never seen again.  The assumption is that they drowned in the bay, but no one knows for sure....

Not a very cheery place

We toured the main floor of the prison, and looked into the rows of cells.  Very sparse accommodations.  Only a bed, sink and toilet, and small table and seat that folded down from the wall.  The cells have cold cement walls and floors.  There was three levels of cells stacked on one another.  Alcatraz had a capacity of 336 prisoners, however there were rarely more than 260 at any one time.

Roger's been put in prison

Of course, a couple of the cells were open so you could go inside and experience what it must've been like to be a prisoner.  Made for some good photo ops too!

The island did have nice views of the bay

Our tour led us outside to the parade grounds in front of the cellhouse.    There is an old lighthouse that is in rapid decline and another building that looks ready to slide down the cliff.  The views across the bay are stunning.  You can see the skyline of San Francisco.  I'm told you can also see the Golden Gate Bridge.  However, the fog was beginning to roll in from the west, so we weren't able to see the bridge that day.

"Let me out!"

The audio tour led everyone back into the prison building.  We had more fun taking photos in the cells.

Old building ready to tumble over the bluff

After Roger and I finished our tour, we walked around the island.  The plant and bird life on Alcatraz is abundant and unusual.  The families of the prison guards lived on the island, and the wives cultivated large gardens with unique plants.  Alcatraz has established a conservancy to rebuild and maintain these historic gardens.  The island is also a sanctuary for seabirds.  Such birds as cormorants, snowy egrets and night herons nest in the steep cliffs of the "Rock."  Visitors can view these birds up close.

Fisherman's Wharf sign and vintage trolley

The rest of the day Roger and I spent walking around Fisherman's Wharf.   We did all the usual things - ate seafood, got ice cream, and watched the sea lions.  We ended up at Ghirardelli Square.  You can't visit Ghirardelli Square without buying some chocolate, so we did our part!  (and then some..)


One of the things I've always wanted to do on past visits to San Francisco was ride a cable car.  But for one reason or another, it never happened.  The following day, I was determined to get my cable car ride.  We located the south terminus for two of the routes near Union Square.  There was a large crowd of people waiting in a super-long line.  But we bought our tickets anyway.

Cable car turnaround at the end of the line

While waiting for our turn to ride, Roger and I watched the cable cars come to the end of the line, turn around, and climb back up the hill.  The cars are all spun manually on a large wooden turntable in the middle of the street.  Once facing in the right direction, the car takes on its passengers, and heads up the steep street.  We tried to figure out how these cable cars are powered. 

I'm riding in a cable car!  Yahoo!

Finally it was our turn to ride.  We jumped into a seat on the outside of the car.  A large group sat around us.  They were very animated, and a lot of fun.  One lady started singing the "Rice-a-Roni" jingle.  When our cable car descended a particularly steep hill they all screamed and cheered.

View out the window of a cable car

The ride was really, really fun!  Some of the hills in San Francisco are super-steep.  When the cable cars head down those hills, you'd better hang on to your hat!  Our operator rang the bell in a very rhythmic beat.  The conductor was very friendly and joked with the passengers. 

Passing cable cars

Roger and I asked the conductor how the cable cars work.  We learned they are powered very similar to a ski lift.  There is a moving cable running underneath the roadway.  When the cars need to move, they clamp onto this cable, and the cable pulls them down the road.  When the cars need to stop, they detach from the cable.  The driver of a cable car is known as the gripman. This is a highly skilled job, requiring the gripman to smoothly operate the grip lever to grip and release the cable.

The cable cars were first introduced to San Francisco in 1873, after an engineer witnessed a horse-drawn wagon slide backwards down a steep hill, injuring the horses.  Today, three lines have survived, and operate mostly as a tourist attraction.  San Francisco has the world's last manually operated cable car system still in use.  It is the only transportation system listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

A super-steep cable car hill

The streets of San Francisco are some of the steepest I've ever seen.  However, the street grade always flattens out at each intersection.  (Being the transportation engineering geek that I am, I notice these things!)  The cable cars always stopped in the middle of the intersections, blocking traffic while passengers got on and off.  It didn't seem to be a good practice.  However, the conductor explained that the flat intersections were the safest place for them to stop.  Stopping on a steep hill makes it difficult to keep the cars from slipping.

Lombard Street draws a crowd of tourists

Our cable car ride took us by Lombard Street, which is well-known as San Francisco's "crookedest" street.  The cable car terminus was only a few blocks away, so when our ride ended, Roger and I headed over to check out it out.

Check your brakes!

A big group of people congregated at the bottom of the street.  They were standing all over, even in the middle of roadway, shooting photos.  A steady stream of cars crept through the switchbacks.  You could smell brakes heating up.

Wonderful view from the top of Lombard St.

Lombard Street's switchbacks were constructed in 1922.  The design was thought to be necessary to reduce the street's natural 27% grade, which was too steep for most vehicles to climb.  The street is one-way, downhill (eastbound) only.

There was a steady stream of cars navigating the switchbacks

Roger and I climbed the stairway on the side of the street.  It was a good hike up to the top.  The views were wonderful - you could see the Coit Tower, a portion of the city skyline, and San Francisco Bay.

The sidewalks are sets of stairs

Lombard Street was lined with beautiful homes.  Those homes had some very nice views of the city.  The planters in between switchbacks were nicely landscaped with colorful flowers.  It was a lovely place.


Our hotel was located in San Francisco's Chinatown.  This area of the city is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.  After taking nine trips to China, Roger was interested in seeing how San Francisco's Chinatown compared to the real thing. 

One of the many shops in Chinatown

Due to our proximity, we made several visits to Chinatown.  It was really fun to walk down the streets and scope out the shops.  There were tons of gift shops, camera shops, tea shops, and restaurants.  One street, Stockton Street, was made up strictly of produce markets, selling fruits, veggies and meat.

Fancy street light luminaries

The streets were festively decorated with colorful banners and bright red Chinese lanterns strung between buildings.  The street lights had very elaborate luminaries, with pagoda house rooflines and dragon decor.

Roger in Ross Alley, looking for the fortune cookie factory

We were told to visit the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, located in Ross Alley.  It took us awhile to find this little alley, tucked away in the middle of Chinatown.  There were tons of businesses all packed into this small space.

The owner of the fortune cookie factory mugs for the camera

The fortune cookie factory was tiny.  There was barely room for five people.  The factory's owner, a demanding old man, hustled people in and out as quickly as he could.  You basically saw three women stuffing fortunes into cookies and bending them into their classic shape.  If you wanted a photograph, you had to pay 50 cents per shot.  I threw a buck in the kiddy, and as I was composing my shot of one of the women, the owner stuck his head in the photo.

The factory gave out free samples of untwisted cookies.  You could also buy bags of fortune cookies.  The cookies came in plain and chocolate flavors. They also had bags of cookies with "adult" fortunes.  Of course, we were curious and bought the bag with "adult" fortunes!  However, the fortunes were really lame, and not funny (or racy) at all.

YMCA.....Chinese style

Roger was impressed with Chinatown.  He said it was very similar to the markets he'd visited in Shanghai.  Some of the stores displayed tea and other foods the same way it is done in China.  It really did feel like you were in another country.  All of the signs were in Chinese characters, and all of the Asian people spoke Chinese.  Roger got to practice his Mandarin language skills, and said it was really helpful.

Colorful red lanterns hung over many of the streets

It was fun to visit a big city.  San Francisco makes Portland look like a sleepy little backwater town.   Although we didn't get to do everything I wanted, we hit the most popular places.  And I finally got a cable car ride, which was the highlight of my trip.  It was a great vacation, and I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the city by the bay.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Marathon Woman

The day I'd been waiting for finally arrived.  Last Sunday I ran my very first marathon.  The journey began in late April when I received an email confirming my success in the Nike Women's Marathon random drawing.  Now, seven months and many miles later, I was in San Francisco ready to fulfill my goal.

Checking out the Expo in Union Square

First stop was the "Expotique" in Union Square to pick up my packet and race number.  Judging from the number of packet pick up lines dedicated to each event, there were way more people entered in the half marathon than the full.  Someone told me out of 20,000 total participants, only about 4,300 were running the full marathon.  I was surprised there were so few people attempting the full. 

It was a thrill to get my race number!

I was excited to receive my race number.  My first marathon bib!   It finally seemed real now.

The wall of names on Niketown

The Niketown in downtown San Francisco had a large poster on the outside wall of their store displaying the name of every person registered for the race. 

People looking for their name

There was a constant stream of women at the wall searching for their names.

Found my name!

Roger and I searched, and finally found my name near the bottom (the w's are always near the end of the list).  I was happy my name was down low, easily accessible for viewing.

There I am!

I thought this was a cool thing for the race organizers to do. 

This race is known for giving it's participants great swag.  Instead of a finsher's medal, each person receives a Tiffany necklace.  The necklaces are placed in little blue boxes, and these boxes are handed out by hunky firemen in tuxes at the finish line.

The starting line on race day

My right knee had been bothering me for a couple of weeks, and I took the last three days before my race completely off of running, hoping it would calm down.  I iced my knee every night, and took a daily dose of ibuprofen, but was nervous how my body would hold up on race day.  The night before the marathon, I slept poorly, tossing, turning, and fretting about everything.  Did I train enough?  Would my knee be okay?  What would happen after mile 21?  After two weeks of tapering, my body felt like a wire pulled tight that needed release.

Finally my alarm beeped.  Showtime!  After methodically prepping myself, Roger and I headed for Union Square - the starting line!

Approaching the starting line

The streets were closed for many blocks around Union Square.  The area was swarming with runners and spectators.  I found the corral for my designated pace group.  Roger attempted to snap a couple of photos, but it was still dark.  Before the start of the race, the runners received words of encouragement from Joan Benoit Samuelson. I was thrilled to hear Joan speak.  She was one of my running heroes when I was in high school. 

The weather was chilly, and I'd come prepared wearing gloves and a long sleeve t-shirt over my race shirt.  I was sure glad to have them while I waited for the marathon to begin.

The gun went off, but it took awhile for my group to move.  While waiting to reach the starting line, I chatted with a nice woman from Kentucky.  Eighteen minutes later, we finally shuffled under the large yellow banner and crossed the timing mats.  I hit my Garmin's "start" button, and the journey began.

Running past Pier 39

After three days of inactivity, it felt good to run!  The race started out in the streets of downtown San Francisco.  I ran through the financial district, turned onto the Embarcadero, and headed towards Fisherman's Wharf.  I was surprised by the number of people who were already walking in the first mile.  It didn't appear that some people were truthful about their pace, as there were lots of folks running/walking much slower than me.  The sheer volume of slower participants meant I was doing a lot of dodging and weaving through the crowd. 

After mile two, I shed my long sleeve shirt and gloves, and left them on the sidewalk.  I had purposely bought an inexpensive t-shirt and gloves with the intention of ditching them on the course when I warmed up.  The race organizers planned to pick up all the discarded clothing and donate it to charity.  I made my donation that day.

Heading past Fisherman's Wharf

Happily, my knee was feeling fine.  I was enjoying myself, running past Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf, taking in the sights.  We climbed a small hill, and headed towards the Presidio.  I heard one young lady trying to motivate her friend by telling her "think of the firemen!"  There were also a couple of girls wearing t-shirts that read "we run for little blue boxes."  A couple of times, I pulled over to the side of the street to snap a quick photo.  I caught a brief glimpse of Roger at the mile 4 cheer zone, and slowed down so he could take a photo.

Golden Gate Bridge

Approaching the Presidio I was treated to a wonderful view of the Golden Gate Bridge.  What a thrill!  The nerdy engineer in me loves bridges, and the Golden Gate is spectacular.  I stopped to take pictures.

I'm near the Golden Gate bridge!

I was attempting to take a self portrait of myself with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.  Some nice lady saw me fumbling with my camera and offered to snap a couple of photos.  Thank you kind person!

The beneficiary of the Nike Women's Marathon is the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  The Team in Training is a big supporter of this cause.  I saw tons of purple shirts amongst the racers.  Many of the shirts had heartwarming messages, or names of people the runners were supporting.  Very inspirational!  The Team in Training had spectators spread out over the entire course.  They mostly cheered for the Team in Training runners, but I got enjoyment and motivation from them too (even if they weren't cheering for me). 

My first view of the ocean

Approaching the Presidio, the course hit its first major hill.  A large number of people stopped and walked.  It was frustrating as none of the walkers moved to the side, so the runners could pass.  It became a game of "weave through the herd."  I didn't have much time to dwell on the hill, I was too busy dodging walkers.  The good news is it made the hill climb pass quickly!

After the big hill, I followed the runners through the streets and the beautiful homes of the Presidio.  Lots of spectators lined the course, cheering the runners.  An aid station at mile 8 was handing out yummy orange slices.  But you had to watch where you stepped - the street was slippery with the discarded orange rinds.

After four miles of ups and downs, I came around a bend and there was the ocean!  What a wonderful view!  The runners started down a long descent towards Golden Gate Park.  About this time, I started to feel wind and a couple of raindrops.

After mile 12, it was just us marathoners

Mile 11, sponsored by Safeway, was called the "Express Lane."  There were lots of inspirational banners, tons of people cheering, Luna bar samples, and a video camera and big screen set up.  The camera was capturing the runners as they came by, and displaying it live on the screen.  The banners had some great messages.  My favorite:  "Jack and Jill ran up the hill.  Jill won."

At mile 12, the half marathon herd split from the full marathoners.  The course became quieter and - yay - there was actually space between runners!  No passing problems anymore!  I chugged up the gradual incline that was the road through Golden Gate Park.  The park was green and peaceful, but I was concentrating on keeping up my pace so didn't sightsee as much as before.  About this time, the rain began in earnest and I wanted to keep moving in order to stay warm.

Approaching the finish line

I reached the 13 mile mark, and thought to myself "you are only halfway done.  You still have the distance you just ran to cover."  What a sobering thought.  However, I didn't dwell on this, and instead told myself to just keep going.  Soon after, I reached the east end of Golden Gate Park and the turnaround point.  Now it was downhill for awhile.  A welcome change!

At mile 15, Roger surprised me when he showed up on the course.  He was standing on the sideline, taking photos.  It was nice to see him and his presence made me smile.

By mile 16 (or 17?  I forget!) the course turned onto the Great Highway.  This road parallels the beaches of the Pacific Ocean.  The wind was blowing and rain coming down.  I was getting cold and really wished I'd hung onto my long sleeve shirt and gloves.

What a welcome sight!

After a boring two miles on the Great Highway, I was happy to turn off for a loop around Lake Merced.  The course climbed a highway ramp and at the bottom was a drumline playing their hearts out.  Hearing the drumbeat really helped keep me going.

About this time, the course narrowed and I hit a ton of walkers.  I couldn't figure out why all these walkers were ahead of me, when I'd ran the entire route.  (I found out later that the walkers got an early start).  The walkers were spread out across the entire path width leaving no room to pass.  I really had to be aggressive, calling out loudly for them to make way, and pushing through.  My pet peeve is people clogging up walking areas to the point that no one else can get by.  I wasn't very patient.

Checking my Garmin at mile 20, I was surprised to see I was running a 9:30 pace.  I didn't expect to still have such energy!  I decided to ride the train as long as I could, knowing I'd probably tire out and slow down soon.

The little blue box! Woo-hoo!

Mile 21 came and went.  I told myself I was now entering the "unknown zone."  I'd never run this far before, and didn't know how my body would react.  I kept expecting to hit the wall, and decided to run as fast as I could to bank some time before that happened.

Mile 22 was the "Chocolate Mile."  I was greeted by volunteers handing out samples of Ghirardelli chocolate.  I'd been looking forward to the Chocolate Mile from the beginning of the race.  But by the time I reached it, I was in no mood to eat anything, especially chocolate.  So I placed the squares in my fanny pack for later, and continued on.

Around mile 23, things started to hurt.  My left achilles was complaining.  I began to feel a couple of blisters on my left foot.  My quads and glutes started to ache.  I ran by an aid station manned by a bunch of very enthusiastic high school kids.  The guys were high-fiving the runners as they came by.  The kid's energy was a great pick-me-up and enabled me to ignore my hurting body and run on.

The theme of this year's race was "I run to be ___."  You were supposed to fill in the blank with your reason to run (something like strong, healthy, empowered, etc).  The race organizers posted signs with different "I run to be" slogans throughout the race course.  A couple of these signs were posted near mile 23.  Seeing these, I thought to myself  "I run to be DONE!"

Finisher's swag

I looked at my watch, and was surprised to see that if I could maintain my pace, I might be able to finish in 4:30.  Wow!  A faster time than I expected.  The course rounded the final turn around Lake Merced.  I could hear the drumline again.  That meant the Great Highway, and mile 24 weren't far away.  I powered up an inclined highway on-ramp and coasted down the other side to my final leg - the Great Highway.

Back to the boredom of the Great Highway......  I trudged along, concentrating on keeping my pace and resisting the urge to look at my Garmin.  The rain was coming down, and I was wet and cold.  Everything from my waist down hurt.  I wanted to be done so badly.  Mile marker 25 came up.  Just a little over a mile left!  It was the longest mile of the entire race.  I thought the finish line would never come.  And then, up ahead, I saw the pink archway.  It hit me.  I was going to finish a marathon!  That was all the inspiration I needed.  I put the hammer down, and headed towards that archway.  I raised my arms in triumph as I crossed the finish line.

My Tiffany finisher's necklace

I clicked off my watch, and gasped at my time.  It read 4:31:52.  Way better than I expected!

The tuxedo-clad firemen were stationed right next to the finish line holding platters of little blue boxes.  As I grabbed my box, I told them "boy am I glad to see you guys!"  The race organizers gave each runner a reusable bag.  It was great, because right away I was handed tons of stuff to eat and drink.  I placed all this and my finisher t-shirt in the bag, and went to try and find Roger.  I was really cold, and wanted my jacket. 

One of the things I looked forward to was getting one of those mylar space blankets that you see draped around finishers at every marathon.  After running for two hours in the rain, I really needed one.  However, when I asked where to get a blanket, I was told they had run out.  That really made me mad, especially since I'd seen many spectators along the Great Highway wearing those blankets.

After 10 minutes and two phone calls, Roger and I reunited and I was able to don my fleece jacket.  We walked around the finisher area.  Nike had a huge tent full of clothing for sale emblazoned with the word "finisher."  They sucked me in, and I ended up buying a long sleeve tech tee.  Safeway had a food booth, and I asked for some hot soup, only to be told it was $2.  What??  Since when do they SELL food at the finish line of races?  But I was wet and cold, so I paid the price and got my soup.

Modeling the necklace I worked so hard for!

The race organizers provided shuttle buses to transport racers and spectators from the finish line back to Union Square.  Roger and I had purchased bus tickets for the return trip (yes, even the racers had to buy tickets!)  The rain was really coming down, so we decided to head back to our hotel.  The line to board the buses was huge!  It must've stretched at least a half mile.  So we shuffled along in the pouring rain, waiting for our turn to board a bus.  I was super-cold and my teeth were chattering.  This was no fun at all!  Finally, our turn came and we climbed into the welcoming warmth of a waiting bus.  When the bus let us off near Union Square, my legs had stiffened up so much, I had to limp and shuffle the 8 blocks back to our hotel.  Time for a hot shower and a nap!

Woo-hoo, I finished a marathon!  This distance has forever intrigued me, from the days I ran track in high school, to the time I helped at the finish line of the Portland Marathon.  I always wondered if I had it in me to run one.  I now know I do.

This race had a lot of great things - the course was beautiful.  The aid station support and spectators were wonderful.  The swag was great.  However, I was disappointed by the number of walkers that were clueless about race etiquette.  Whoever was in charge of the finish line really dropped the ball - it's inexcusable not to provide blankets for finishers, especially on a cold, rainy day.  I was also disappointed by the amount of commercialism at the finish line.

However, it was a memorable first marathon.  I was very happy to see all my months of hard work finally come to fruition.  There is nothing like the satisfaction of a goal achieved.  I'd like to thank my sister, for providing me the inspiration to start running again (and for telling me about this race), my friend Cami, who accompanied me on most of my long runs and track workouts (even though she wasn't running a marathon), and most of all Roger, who put up with my crazy training schedule and supported me on race day.

And yes, there will be more marathons in my future...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge is a mountain viewpoint in Olympic National Park.  It is located at the end of a long, steep, windy road that begins in Port Angeles, WA.  The road climbs from sea level to 5,250 feet in 17 miles.

After hiking most of the day at Sol Duc, Roger and I headed towards Hurricane Ridge.  We were hoping the morning's clear, sunny weather would hold long enough for us to see some mountains once we arrived.

This was all we could see at Hurricane Ridge

A ranger recommended we first stop at the Olympic National Park visitor center in Port Angeles to get a weather report before we made the drive up Hurricane Ridge.  The ranger at the visitor center was friendly, but not a lot of help.  He looked at the webcam, and said it was partly cloudy, but the views were "dramatic."  So, on  his advice, Roger and I drove up the long, steep winding road to the top of Hurricane Ridge.  Boy what a road!  It is not for the easily car sick.  Lots of tight curves and steep grades makes for slow travel.

This is what we were supposed to see

We finally arrived at the visitor center, only to find clouds and fog.  No mountain views whatsoever!  What a disappointment! Roger and I hung out on the observation deck anyway, hoping things would clear up.  After awhile I went into the gift shop, and chatted with the man behind the counter.  He said there had not been a sunny day at Hurricane Ridge for two weeks.  After hearing this, I didn't feel as bad.

This lady was too busy taking photos to notice what was behind her

There was a German lady tourist with a long lens camera clicking away at something in the clouds. I'm not sure what she was taking so many photos of.  A herd of deer came walking by the visitor center.  The deer were apparently used to humans, because they lingered around the walkway munching away on the vegetation.  They walked right behind the German lady and she was so busy taking photos, she didn't even notice them.

A deer begs for food

The deer wandered around in front of the visitor center.  They were followed by a small group of us tourists, clicking away on our cameras.  There were three does and two fawns.  It was very fun to watch the deer, and I did manage to get a couple of good photographs.  If we couldn't see the mountains, at least we got to see some wildlife.

No views here today

Since Roger and I had driven all the way up here, we figured we'd spend some time and hike around the trails.  We hiked up to the top of a nearby ridge.  A sign explained you could see the ocean from here.  Not today!

Roger gets up close and personal with the deer

As we were walking down the trail back to our car, we encountered the deer herd again.  The deer were hanging alongside the trail munching away.  I got a few more photos, and then the deer slowly wandered across the path, right next to Roger.

After driving back down that harrowing road, Roger and I pitched out tent at a campground near Port Angeles.  It was a nice enough place, but after staying the previous two nights at such outstanding campgrounds, it paled in comparison.

The next morning we got to see the view we'd missed

We awoke up the next morning to find cold but clear skies.  Roger and I decided to make one more trip up the road to Hurricane Ridge.  This time we were rewarded with the mountain views we'd missed the day before.

Mount Olympus and the rest of the mountains

Oh what a glorious view it was!  There were large, snow-capped mountains to the southwest, and smaller tree-covered peaks to the southeast.  Mt. Olympus, the largest of the mountains, showed its broad glacial summit.

View to the north - the Strait of  Juan De Fuca and Vancouver Island

We  hiked back up the same ridge as yesterday.  This time there was a view at the viewpoint.  We could see north to Port Angles, and the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  Beyond, we could barely make out Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria.

Kinda looks like Switzerland, doesn't it?

We hiked the ridge opposite the visitor center, and got a great vantage of the mountain panorama.  The  sights were even better than views from the patio at the visitor center.

The windy road up to this place

Up on top of the ridge you could see all kinds of things.  To the north, I could see the Pacific Ocean.  To the south and west, a broad wall of mountains.  To the east, I could see the winding ribbon of the roadway we'd driven up to get here.  Being in the road building business, I appreciated the work it must've taken to build such a highway.

Looking down the ridge toward the mountains

Roger and I lingered up on the ridge for awhile, soaking in the scenery.  We were so happy we'd decided to come back up Hurricane Ridge that day.  It was nice to be able to see views this place is famous for.

Grouse near the visitor center

I went back to the visitor center for one last round of photos.  As I was shooting away, I kept hearing a cooing noise.  I didn't think anything of it, but when I finally put down my camera and looked, there were three grouse on the ground below me.  I was as bad as the German lady the day before!  I was able to get a couple of shots of the birds before they hid in the underbrush.

So that's the story of our whirlwind tour of Olympic National Park.  After wanting to visit this park for at least three years, I'm happy I finally got to see it.  But we only scratched the surface, and I'm hopeful to plan a trip next summer and get to the places we missed.  And of course, I'd like to revisit a couple of my favorite spots too. 

What a wonderful, special place!