Outdoors

Olympic Journey

A good place to land

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The drive from Bellingham to the Olympic Peninsula is long. It’s-four-and-a half hours—without traffic—to Kalaloch. Cruising down I-5, the miles are a blur. Then comes Olympia, the gateway to Olympic National Park.

Westbound we head, through Cobain’s Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and Humptulips. Lake Quinault would make for a fine stop on a less precipitous day, but we are ocean-bound. We pass through Queets—last chance for cash and gas.

At Kalaloch Lodge we arrive in a downpour, windshield wipers on high. No worries. The rains on this coastline—approximately 12 feet every year—are as welcome as the sunset, as constant and comforting as the surf. We check in and are greeted by a pleasant woman who answers our questions before sending us to our bluff-top ocean-view getaway.

We fish out keys and open the door to our calm, cozy cabin, complete with full kitchen and living room. A note from the staff awaits: “Please accept this wine and cheese plate as our gift to you.” We do.

Originally built in 1925, Becker’s Cabin Camp began as a collection of nine cabins, before an expansion in 1931 following the completion of Highway 101. Today, Kalaloch Lodge welcomes travelers in the main lodge, 44 cabins and 10 rooms in the Seacrest House.

Indecision plagues me. Do I dive into the wine and cheese? Run around on the beach? Finish unloading the car? Why not all three? We’ve been sitting for hours, so hunkering down for the night is out of the question. We came here to experience the roar of the Pacific. Out we go.

Down a stairway to the beach, our boots haven’t even met the sand yet and we are already soaked. We run, hopping driftwood, out to the shoreline to stick our hands in the freezing surf. As winds howl and waves crash, we feel alive. I’ve forgotten the drive, the worries, the weather.

Kalaloch’s beach is nearly empty. As we sprint across the sand, chilled to the core, a couple makes their way toward us, dogs in tow. I wave and smile. They return the gesture. Words, inaudible above the storm, have no meaning out here anyway. Torrents of wind-propelled rain sting my face. Hunkering down for the night doesn’t sound so bad after all.

Once inside, it’s clothes off and heater on. Shirts, socks and shoes are saturated. A hot shower and dry clothing have never felt better. We’d been outside for no longer than 10 minutes, and it was enough. Bring on the wine and cheese.

Once the flames to the wood-burning fire are roaring, we prepare a simple dinner of pasta, bread and salad. Intoxicated by the meal and the warmth of the fire, we sink into lounge chairs and pick up books. The hours slip away.

Never once during our stay do we wish for TV, phone or internet. When our power goes out sometime during the night, the fireplace and Pendleton blanket keep us warm. I awaken before dawn and look out to see coastal waves clashing. Magnificent. Then back to sleep as the storm rages on.

Without the rain, we wouldn’t know the lush Hoh Rainforest, the greens and blues of Olympic National Park and Washington state. It brings life to our rivers and streams, our forests and meadows. What better shelter from these rains than a beach house on the bluff? I can think of none. It’s no wonder the Quinault Indians named Kalaloch K’Ele ok: “a good place to land.”

For more information about Kalaloch Lodge, go to http://www.thekalalochlodge.com

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