It was as if we were stuck behind the slowest customer at the grocery store. You know the one. This person not only has 15 coupons, but one has expired and they are trying to convince cashier to accept it anyway. Oh, and they are paying by check — and, their pen just ran out of ink! And, on top of all of this, they keep chit-chatting with the cashier.
But, we weren’t at the grocery store. We were at the Hurricane Ridge entrance to the Olympic National Park — to go to Hurricane Ridge. There were only two cars in front of us when we rolled up to the entrance. I was driving for once with Bryce in the passenger seat this time. (He had just run a trail marathon earlier that morning!)
The driver that was currently at the window talking to the park ranger was taking a very long time. The ranger was providing them with maps. She was doing her job. And then when we thought all was done, we see the driver finally hand her a credit card. But then even after the transaction looked complete, there was still a lot of back and forth talking.
Not only were there two cars behind us at this point, but about four motorcycles had also pulled up, forming quite the line!
After what felt like 30 minutes, the front car was finally done and they drove on. Luckily the car in front of us was quick because they just flashed some sort of permit or card through their window and were on their merry way.
I was also quick! We have the America the Beautiful Pass — yes, this is really what it is called! — which makes things so convenient and is cost-effective if you plan to go to at least two national parks in one year. It’s an annual pass that is good at all national parks and federal forest land.
The drive from the park entrance to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is about 20 minutes and the views on the way up are stunning. We saw a few cyclists coming down the mountain to at which each time I would say, “That person is crazy!” It’s a pretty winding road and cyclists have the share the lane with cars so it’s not something that I would ever want to do. But, I’m sure it’s quite the ride for folks who are into that sort of thing.
When we arrived at the top, the earlier wait was well worth it.
I have been to Hurricane Ridge before, but it was as a kid with my family so I don’t even remember it. (If you can’t remember, does it even count?) This was Bryce’s very first time.
We were very lucky that it was a fairly clear day. All the mountains and ridges were beautiful. The sun was shining through the clouds and the sky was blue.
We also saw a deer with her two babies that were fun to watch. At first they were situated near some trees and bushes next to the parking lot. A dog in a nearby parked car kept barking at the deer family. The mom just kept starring at the dog but didn’t do anything. The calves were munching on grass.
Then they decided they were done being next to the annoying dog so they walked on —right past us and in front of the visitor center. They paid no attention to the other people snapping their photos. This is their home, after all.
It was shortly after 4 pm when we arrived at the visitor center. This was actually a spontaneous visit. Like I mentioned, the main event of the weekend was Bryce’s trail marathon. I would have rather taken a nap after running 26.2 miles but I guess he didn’t get enough exercise done that day!
We walked a short loop on a paved trail near the visitor center where you get views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca and Victoria (and other parts of Canada).
Since it was towards the end of the day, it wasn’t too crowded, which was nice. I feel like the Olympic National Park is my “backyard” national park so I always forget that people travel from all over the country — and abroad — visit.
Is that how people who live in Arizona feel about the Grand Canyon?
Anyway … no hoards of crowds, beautiful views and wildlife sightings … what more could I have asked for?
I can’t think of anything.