Starting a vacation without plans means being agile throughout your trip. In professional circles, I call this my vacation backlog. The backlog contains all of the things I could potentially ever do with some consideration of constraining factors like time and cost, but I know there is no way I can do everything in the backlog given the time that I have.
I then build a short list of things I want to do. Even then, I know I won’t get everything on the shortlist. This is still ok. As I vacation and learn about new experiences, they go on to the backlog and I reprioritize my shortlist. The most important items remain onto the shortlist. I regularly review the shortlist and determine what I want to do during the day. That becomes my activity for the moment.
The entire backlog
The short list
The experiences for today
*Wood Piles by Lluisa Iborra from Noun Project (CC BY 3.0)
Let’s view the same analogy as a woodpile outside the home; the backlog is all the wood for the winter. The shortlist is the set of logs I’m carrying into the house. The thing I’m doing is the log I put onto the fire. Make sense?
Everything to the backlog!
While contemplating a very wet Port Angeles, I had two options: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park or returning to Lake Crescent. A reasonably extensive fire damaged Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park. The only bathroom facilities at the top of the ridge are portable restrooms. The park closely monitors the number of people going into the park with strict limits due to the bathroom capacity. The park’s Twitter feed shows that the portable bathrooms close at about 11 AM. The plan was to see Hurricane Ridge, jet to Crescent Lake, and make my way down to Olympia for the evening.
As I was packing up, I saw this tweet come through and was instantly defeated. Didn’t see that one coming – especially midweek on a Wednesday. I grabbed my bags and started packing the truck for a soggy departure at least to the park’s visitor’s center.
The hotel cat (who has a hotel cat?) seemed to enjoy the wet weather while asking for cuddles from every traveler who passed by. This kitty was genuinely adorable, and even my bummed self couldn’t resist the warm smile and loud purrs from this beautiful kitty. So, Olympic National Park returned to the backlog for another trip here as my time on the Olympic Peninsula was quickly ending. I had seen Hurricane Ridge on a motorcycle trip many years ago, so I didn’t necessarily feel the need to stay here an extra day – it was time to keep moving as there were different parts of the Olympic Peninsula to see further south.
A few days ago, I was looking at options at Crescent Lake and instantly fell in love with Devil’s Punchbowl. It’s a bit of a walk, but after seeing the pictures online, I wanted to make room for this stunning part of the lake. The water is truly beautiful in this tight cove on the lake’s northeast side.
The path to Devil’s Punchbowl begins at the Spruce Railroad Trail. The trail starts off paved and goes through the deep forest and through an awesome tunnel!
It’s been years since I’ve read the book “The Bridge to Terabithia.” It’s been so long that I don’t even remember the plot. Staring at this bridge, my mind darted back to this middle school novel. I wanted to believe that Terabithia was a beautiful place (I forgot about Leslie’s untimely departure going to the place that she loved).
I thus named this bridge the bridge to Terabithia. While the clouds robbed me of beautiful color in the water, I knew strong sun would bring out the greens and the blues deep within the cove. Several boats and swimmers were in the water. I left my gear back at the truck as it was a relatively crisp day for mid summer. Also I was recovering from a round of Swimmer’s Itch a few days before.
When I went swimming in Crescent Lake earlier in the week, it was near the shore, in shallow water, with thick grasses. I also left a wet bathing suit on for a couple of hours. These conditions are prime territory for Swimmer’s Itch. The Park Service released a bulletin of the issue, but I didn’t see any signs at the other beach. The Swimmer’s Itch took a 7-10 days to fully heal, but wasn’t much more than a minor annoyance with a perscription cream to clear it up.
Warning: Swimmer’s Itch is a skin rash caused by an allergic reaction to certain parasites released from infected snails into fresh and saltwater.
Tip: Swim in deep water without plant life, dry off quickly, and change out of your swimsuit after getting out. Don’t leave any potential for parasites to dry on your skin.
As I left, I noticed two young guys climbing to the top of the rocks surrounding Devil’s Punchbowl. The cliff was at least 30 feet, if not 40 feet off the water. My heart was beating a little faster as they attempted the jump. I know I mentioned “adventure to live” on the other side of the lake, but my limits on this one were kicking in hard. The people next to me agreed, LOL. With a jump and a scream, they plummeted into the water, creating a beautiful set of bubbles going deep into the cove – a testament to the water clarity in the area.
I chose to go back to the lodge for lunch as I wanted to spend more time at the lake. When I got to the lodge, I noticed the bear from Whistler decided to walk south for the winter and take up residence in the park! One of the parts I enjoy about this trip is just being present at the moment. While the weather wasn’t perfect, the circumstances remained beautiful, and I just wanted to be here to savor what was around me.
Later in the day, a friend recommended I head down US 101 towards Olympia on the west side of the Olympic Peninsula rather than crossing Puget Sound via the ferry. It was a longer trip but a part of the Peninsula I had not seen before. The drive did not disappoint. US 101 wound through deep, lush forests, wide-open coastlines, and everything in between.
After a few days of traveling by myself, I always appreciate seeing a friendly face, and that’s what tomorrow was – exploring Olympia with good people.