Sunday, June 17, 2007

Back on the coast

We are at the South Beach campground in the Olympic National Park, along US101 (map).

Yesterday we had a lovely drive from Port Townsend to Sol Duc Hot Springs, also in the Olympic National Park. The drive along the north coast and then along Crescent Lake was breathtaking. We spent last night at the "RV park" at the hot springs (map), really just a gravel lot with a handful of power posts, operated by Aramark, the resort concessionaire. Just another hundred yards up the road was a Park Service campground, which we had been advised not to attempt. When we walked through it later, though, we discovered half a dozen sites that would easily have accommodated Odyssey, although they were already taken as it was Saturday night. No matter -- the RV lot was only an extra $11 ($23 plus tax, vs. $14 for the Park Service), which included water and 30 amps of electricity, and it was nearly as idyllic. Plus, it was much closer to the hot springs.

The springs are accessed by a series of concrete pools, also operated by Aramark's Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Daily use is $11, but they have a reduced rate of $8 for the last two hours, from 7-9pm. So we had an early dinner around 6ish, and then walked over to the springs for an hour's soak. The water comes out of the ground at something above 105°, and it's nearly that hot in the smallest and hottest of the three adult pools. A somewhat larger pool is filled by means of a fountain in the center, which serves to cool the water down to around 101°. The largest pool is chlorinated (the other two are untreated mineral water from the spring) and mixed with cold fresh water, presumably from the Sol Duc river, to achieve a temperature under 80°.

We spent our time in the two hot pools, although I did take a "refreshing" plunge into the large pool -- not for the faint of heart when the outside temperature is in the 50s. A pleasant side-effect of availing ourselves of the evening rate is that the hordes of day visitors had mostly departed by the time we went in -- during the day, the large pool was inundated with children.

Today we continued along US101, stopping for lunch in the town of Forks. We stopped here at South Beach because it is really our last opportunity to spend the night in the National Park, and also our last opportunity to see the Pacific until after our conference in Portland. Also, it looked promising for getting on-line, in contrast to our digs last night, under the trees and in a deep valley.

Tomorrow we will continue south on 101 only as far as Hoquiam/Aberdeen (thus closing the loop from our visit to Ocean Shores), then head back inland to Centralia and down the I-5 corridor towards Portland.

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