Monday, August 31, 2015

Delighting In The Kalaloch Lodge in Washington's Olympic National Park

Note: this is the second in a series of blogs I am doing about our recent family vacation to Washington State. Last week's blog was about an afternoon in Seattle.

Sunset Reflecting In The Windows Of The Kalaloch Lodge

 No Wi-Fi! No TV! No radio, no phones, no stress, no distractions, just miles of beaches, tide pools to explore, beautiful sunsets to enjoy, a creek to swim in, family games to play, good food to eat, and so much more. Our family had a fantastic time at the Kalaloch Lodge in Washington's Olympic National Park. I highly recommend it for individuals, couples and families.

. .  Courtesy Of Google Maps

The Kalaloch Creek And Beach At Sunset
We stayed four nights in a cabin on a bluff overlooking the ocean. Though the cabin had an exterior of weathered wood, inside you could see it was actually a log cabin, and was surprisingly charming. Our cabin had a main room connecting through an open doorway to a small bedroom. The small bedroom had a queen-sized bed and a bathroom; the main room had a queen sized futon (pull out bed), a queen bed, a kitchenette, and a wood burning stove. The cabin was decorated with beautiful photos of the local beaches. And even though we were in the second row of cabins facing the ocean, we still had an ocean view.

A Picnic Table For Every Cabin - What A Good Idea!
Photo Courtesy Of The Kalaloch Lodge Website
Photo Courtesy Of The Kalaloch Lodge Website
The main lodge of Kalaloch overlooks the Kalaloch creek. It is a gentle creek that meanders down to the ocean. Kids love swimming in it because it is shallow and fun to explore.

Compared To The Ocean, This Water Is Warm!
Kids Playing In The Creek
The beach had easy access - a stairway located a hundred yards or so from our cabin.

The Stairway Is Located Next To The Gazebo.
The Beach Stretches For Miles, Great For Walking, Running, And Exploring.
There Is Plenty Of Driftwood - Great For Making Forts
 There is also a nature trail that begins at the Kalaloch campground. It is a one mile, easy loop trail through beautiful trees and ferns. We had a lot of fun exploring it our first day there.

The Trail Is Flat But Not Wheelchair Accessible

Interesting Fungus. Can Anyone Tell Me What Kind It Is?

One night we each took turns writing down some of our favorite memories from Kalaloch Lodge. For my husband, it was running on the different beaches; for me, it was lying in bed, feeling the breeze and hearing the ocean through my open window; for my son it was the "absolutely amazing" restaurant with the view from our table of the setting sun; and for my daughter it was "the big comfy beds," playing tetherball, and swimming in the creek.

Tile Mosaics Inside The Kalaloch Creekside Restaurant
 If you go: Accommodations aren't cheap but I believe you get good value, especially for the cabins, where you can save money by taking advantage of the kitchenette.

There is only ONE restaurant at the lodge, the others are 30 miles away. Besides the expensive (and delicious) items, like salmon, the menu offers reasonably priced burgers, large salads, soups etc. Everything is very good, the staff is friendly and efficient, and the views are wonderful.

Although the beaches are great for families, do not swim in the ocean. It is very cold and the tides are treacherous. During high tides and storms, they say to watch out for the huge beach logs that can be tossed up on the sand. In fact they have signs and T-shirts that say, "Beach Logs Kill," and they mean it. We were there in August and had no problems with the logs.

You also need to be aware of the tides - don't walk far out when the tide is low if he high tide is starting to come in. The tides come in fast and you don't want to be caught. The staff is very good about giving every guest a tide chart when they first check-in that also gives you the time of sunrise and sunset (good to know for photography).

Take advantage of the ranger station located within walking distance to the lodge (ask the staff for directions). I went over there a couple of times to ask questions about wildlife and find out which beaches were good for tide-pooling. They were very helpful.

Maps and Directions

For more information, check out the Kalaloch website and stay tuned for my upcoming blogs about some of the nearby beaches.

Monday, August 24, 2015

An Afternoon In Seattle

A View Of The Seattle Skyline From The Ferry

Luckily I named this blog Budget Day Trips in the Bay Area and Beyond, because the next few posts will be about my family's vacation in Washington state. This first one will be about the afternoon we spent in Seattle.

You can't see too much of Seattle in one afternoon, But we made the most of it and enjoyed ourselves in a relaxed manner. We were staying at my parents house on the Olympic Peninsula, so to get to Seattle, we drove to Bainbridge Island and left the car at the ferry terminal parking lot, then walked on to the ferry.  I love the ferry rides. They only take about 30 minutes, long enough to get a cup of clam chowder and a sweet, relax and read, or enjoy the view.

Walk-Ons From Bainbridge Island To Seattle Are Free; However, There Is A Fee For The Return Trip.
Two Kids Who Were Excited About The Seattle Ferris Wheel
Although Seattle has an extensive transportation system, we chose to explore places within walking distance.  Our first stop was Pioneer Square; they have an underground tour that I was interested in doing. But when we got there, we had to maneuver through many drug addled people hanging out in the square and then we found out that the tour was expensive and probably pretty cheesy- the tour guides tell jokes the entire time. So we decided to SKIP IT and I suggest you do too.

So we walked to the Pike Place Market, definitely a tourist spot but a favorite place for us. It can be pretty crowded in the summer but Pike's Place has a lot of character and much to look at. Every time my husband and I visit, we eat lunch at the Copacabana Café. They have great ceviche, beers, and a balcony view overlooking the market place street. Although they are popular, we've never had to wait to be seated.

The Copacabana Café 1520 Pike Place, Seattle WA; 206-622-6359
Don't Forget Your Sunglasses! When The Sun Comes Out, It's Bright!
The Public Market has a very cool tourist trap - the Pike Place Fish Company. The deal is, if someone buys a fish, the fishmonger tosses it to the guy working behind the counter, who cleans it, wraps it and tosses it back. Or something like that. They work in reasons to toss the fish back-and-forth because that is what everyone is waiting for. The fish is very good, but beware, prices are high.

There's A Lot More Stores Heading Inside The Market, Most Of Them Not Worth Visiting
Who Knew Tossing A Fish Could Be So Amusing?
After Pike Place we googled Nordstrom's because, I said, if we can find where Nordstrom's is, we can find the more upscale streets. We did. But better than that, we discovered a really cool urban park called Westlake Park. It's in the downtown shopping district near the Westlake Mall.

I just discovered that Westlake Park used to be a gathering place for drug dealers, but in April 2015, the Seattle police and FBI "cleared the 9 1/2-block area around Westlake Park of nearly 100 drug dealers and repeat criminals, arresting them or connecting them to diversion programs." If I had known this used to be a drug dealing park, I never would have gone there! But we didn't see anything, In fact, we thought the park was great! So, I think it's okay for families to visit.

I Love The Little Library And Tables! Too Bad No One's Using Them.

While My Husband And Son Played Foosball, My Daughter And I Went To The Shoe Store Across The Street
There Were Several Chess Games Going On
 I don't have a photo, but I have to give a shout out to Metsker Maps. This is a great store that sells world maps, globes, travel guides, hiking maps, and coolest of all - replicas of ancient maps. I bought a 1562 map of the Americas. BTW their products seemed reasonably priced.

Our last stop was Starbucks - we had to! Starbucks originated in Seattle. Iced frappuccinos gave us fuel for the ferry ride back to Bainbridge Island. It had been a great afternoon.

Leaving Seattle

If you go -  There's so much to do and see in Seattle. For more ideas, check out these websites:
Visit Seattle
Seattle With Kids - A Guide
Seattle City Pass