September 5-11, 2013 – Copalis Beach, WA

It must be moving day again as it is raining – seems like the last few weeks it has rained every time we move.  We left Port Angeles and headed west on Highway 101 and then turned south and followed the west side of Olympic National Park.  The highway then turns west to the coast where we stopped at Ruby Beach.  We donned our rain gear and walked down to yet another beautiful Washington beach.

People had stacked little rock cairns on a sand dune in front of these great rock stacks.

We could barely see Destruction Island Lighthouse through the fog.

After spending a little time on Ruby Beach we headed back down Highway 101 to Copalis Beach where we are staying at the Copalis Beach Sunrise Resort.  This is a very nice resort next to the beach.

We only have to walk to the end of the resort then about a block through some dunes to the beach.  This is a great beach and is almost deserted this time of year.   The dogs love to walk on the beach and sniff all the crab and clam shells lying around. 

There is nothing but flat sandy beach as far as you can see in both directions.  We spoke with a couple in a SUV and they said they got on the beach in Ocean Shores about 10 miles south of here.  We took the dogs for a long walk north along the beach and came to where the Copalis River runs into the ocean.  This fisherman was dwarfed by the huge waves.

Friday was again rainy and foggy so we drove to Ocean Shores about 10 miles south of Copalis Beach.  We looked around the small town and stopped at a couple of kite shops.  There was an arts and crafts fair going on at the Convention Center in town so we stopped and looked at all the booths but didn’t find anything we couldn’t live without.  A girl at the Visitor Center told us there was great kayaking in Ocean Shores as they have 23 miles of interconnecting fresh water lakes and canals.

Saturday was a nicer day – it was still cloudy and overcast but was not raining so we decided to take the kayaks to Ocean Shores and paddle on their waterways.  We put the kayaks in Duck Lake at Chinook Park. 

We paddled along Duck Lake for a while and then into one of the canals which all have houses on both sides.   In one canal that had more vegetation we found a large number of raccoons along the shore.  This one was watching us from under a dock.

We could tell that the raccoons in this area were used to people as these two let us paddle fairly close.

We paddled for a couple of hours and then had a picnic lunch back at Chinook Park.

When we got back to Copalis Beach there was enough of a breeze that Rex decided to go kite flying on the beach.  Notice how few clouds there are – one of the few times we have seen the sun since we got here!

We drove back to Ocean Shores Saturday evening and had dinner at the Galway Bay Restaurant and Pub.  This is a great Irish pub with lots of Irish dishes on the menu – Rex had bangers and mash and Nancy had a vegetable pasty.  The food was great and while we were eating a guy (can’t remember his name) sang and played the guitar, piano and harmonica.  He played a variety of music from Irish ballads to old time rock and roll.  We had a great evening.

Sunday morning we decided to take a drive to Lake Quinault which is north of us and inland about 30 miles.  Just north of Copalis Beach Rex saw some flags flying along the beach so we went to investigate.  We came to Pacific Beach State Park where almost every RV or camper had flags, whirligigs and kites flying.  We really liked these Pterodactyls.

 Out on the beach a few people were flying kites and this huge circular kite was staked in the sand. 


Back in the campground we found this trailer with an ocean of fish, seaweed and shells in their campsite.  It looks like there was a kite festival of some kind over the weekend.   While we were there a lot of people were packing up and pulling out – it would have been great to be here on Saturday when all the displays were still up!


From Pacific Beach we headed inland to Lake Quinault.  This beautiful lake is surrounded by old growth trees of the Quinault Rain Forest which averages 12 feet of rain a year.  The glacier carved lake is 8.5 miles long and over 1,000 feet deep.  The south shore is in the Olympic National Forest and a leg of Olympic National Park comes down along the north shore.  It was only partly cloudy here and we were happy to see the sun and some blue sky.

We hiked the Rain Forest Nature Trail, a short trail that went by Willaby Creek Falls.

A short distance down the South Shore Road we hiked the Gatton Creek Trail that followed Gatton Creek about .6 miles to Gatton Creek Falls – a small but very pretty set of falls.

A little farther down the road we stopped and hiked a short trail to “the world’s largest spruce tree”, according to a sign by the tree.  A guide booklet we have said the Quinault Rain Forest is home to six conifer trees recognized by the National Forestry Association as the largest living specimens of their species.  This 1000 year old Sitka Spruce is 58’11” in circumference, 17.68’ in diameter and 191’ tall – that is one huge tree!

 A short distance past the end of the lake, our next stop was Merriman Falls – this beautiful 40 ft high waterfall was right next to the road.

Down the road was Bunch Creek Falls, again right beside the road.  This waterfall cascades nearly 60 feet through a series of rock drops.

After Bunch Falls we crossed the Quinault River and drove down the North Shore Road which is inside Olympic National Park.   We hiked the Big Cedar Trail, a longer trail up the mountainside to see the Quinault Big Cedar.  We are not sure if this is one of the trees considered the largest of its species but if definitely is a giant.

We really enjoyed our drive and hikes in the Quinault Rain Forest.  When we got back to the coast it was still foggy and rainy.

Monday was foggy, misty, breezy and cooler so we decided to stay inside.  It was a great day for reading and doing some planning for our next stop down the coast.   Rex flew one of his kites in the late afternoon and we took the dogs for a long walk along the beach.  We found a rotting whale carcass about a mile south of the rv park.  It was great to be able to see how big these magnificent animals really are even though it was a little smelly.   Cody thought it would be a great place to roll but, fortunately we stopped him before he got too close.

Tuesday morning the fog burned off and by late morning the sun was shining so Rex decided it would be a good day to give the dogs baths and haircuts.   Just after he got both dogs washed the wind came up and it got chilly so he had to get out the hairdryer to get them dried fast.    He spent most of the afternoon giving them much needed haircuts – they sure do look and smell better!

Wednesday morning it was foggy and misty so we decided to drive to Westport which is on the other side of Grays Harbor.   As we went around Grays Harbor the fog cleared off and the sun was shining but when we got to Westport it was foggy again.  We stopped at Gray’s Harbor Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in the Pacific Northwest.  This 107 ft tall lighthouse was built and put into service in 1898.  Originally it was built just 400 feet from the water, but after a jetty was built over 100 years ago the ocean currents changed causing massive amounts of sediment to build up the beach.  The lighthouse is now over 3000 feet away from the water.   We took a tour with a very knowledable lady from the Westport-South Beach Historical Society.  She told us all about the lighthouse and we climbed the 135 steps to the top where we could view the original 3rd order Fresnel lens.  The lighthouse is still an active aid to navigation and uses a modern optic maintained by the USCG Aid to Navigation Team from Astoria, Oregon.  Unfortunately, it was too foggy to get any good views of the ocean or anything else from us here.

We then went to the Westport Maritime Museum which is housed in an historic Coast Guard life saving station.  This is a diversified museum with exhibits about the Coast Guard, ocean currents, ship wrecks, rescue operations, marine mammals, the whaling industry, cranberry harvesting, the local community and logging.   One building was dedicated to showcasing the 1st order Fresnel lens that was originally in the Destruction Island Lighthouse.  This lens was installed in the lighthouse in 1891 and operated until 1995 when it was replaced by an automatic device.  This lens was actually operating and the light and shadows were beautiful.

After touring the museum we drove to one of the jetties and climbed the rocks where we could see some surfers riding the waves – these were small waves so it wasn’t very exciting to watch.  We had a great lunch at the Westport Winery a few miles outside of town and also bought a few bottles of wine.  This is a great winery with a restaurant, bakery, beautiful sculpture garden, and plant nursery.  Notice no fog – it cleared off as soon as we got away from the coast but was foggy again when we got back to the rv park.

We enjoyed our time visiting the north and south beach areas.  We love being close to the ocean, walking on the beach and watching the waves but we are getting a little tired of the foggy wet weather.


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