Rough Weather on the West Coast of Washington
There were several days during our stay in Forks when we were stuck in the trailer due to stormy weather. The beginning of October brought the first of the season’s fierce storms. There were gale force wind warnings, and since these were the first storms of the season, there were warnings of probable tree falls and electrical outages.
Let me tell you, weathering one of these storms in a travel trailer is scary! Just the sound of heavy rain loudly hitting the roof is unsettling, but then the 45-60 mile-per-hour wind gusts hit us from the side, rocking the trailer. I was googling “wind gusts in RV with slide” to find out whether we should bring our slide in. Some people had survived 60 mile-per-hour wind gusts in their RVs with the slides out, and since it was too late to tow the trailer out of there, we stuck it out through the night but didn’t get much sleep.
Because the rain was blowing sideways, we developed a few leaks. First, the range hood vent flap, even when clipped down, allows water to leak in when rain is coming straight at it. Water was streaming down the wall behind the stove and pooling on the counter. Michael got crafty and created a longer flap out of duct tape and taped it over the vent. That way we could cook while the flap continued to block the rain. Unfortunately we discovered that a couple of our windows were not sealed adequately and allowed the rain to get in as well. We added those to our growing list of warranty repairs.
We may not have been in a tent, but we weren’t in a house with a foundation connected to the ground either. Our first big storms in Foxy were pretty awful. We learned another one of the downfalls of the RV lifestyle.
Neah Bay and Cape Flattery
After a terrifying night of wind rocking the trailer, rain leaking in, and an electrical outage, we woke up to a calm morning, and the electricity came back on. We drove up to Neah Bay on the Makah Indian Reservation to see Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point of the continental United States. We were also hoping to see some interesting birds that may have taken refuge there during last night’s storm, a phenomenon called fallout. It was an hour and half trek up to Neah Bay, and there was too much to see in just one day. If I had to do it all over again, I would stay somewhere close to Neah Bay for a few days.
On our way to Neah Bay, we drove along the coast of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and stopped off at viewpoints, including one on Clallam Bay. There was a raft of birds floating just off the coast at Clallam Bay. Michael pulled off the road to let me scan the waters with my binoculars. It was gulls, gulls, gulls. I started to say that we could move on when I spotted a duck-shaped bird and decided I should take a closer look. “Harlequin duck! I’m not kidding!!” This was our very first sighting of this species. We hung out for a while and ended up watching and photographing a whole group of male and female Harlequin ducks.
When we arrived in Neah Bay we picked up a permit from the Makah Museum to recreate on the reservation. We then headed out to the furthest point, Cape Flattery. The cape is a three-quarter-mile hike from the parking lot through the forest and on boardwalk. There are several observation decks on this rocky point from which to view sea stacks just off the coast and Tatoosh Island with its lighthouse in the distance. From the first deck we saw a bald eagle and lots of cormorants on one of the sea stacks. At the next deck there was a cave in the rocky coastline where some of the cormorants were taking refuge from the wind. This part of the coastline is, once again, absolutely stunning! The views of the rocky cliffs and sea stacks with the aquamarine water churning below, forming foam and white caps, were simply breathtaking. From the last observation deck we watched cormorants, gulls, scoters, and a group of sea lions lying on a distant rock and playing in the water. Down below us was a large group of black oystercatchers on another rock outcrop from the peninsula.
On the way back to Neah Bay we saw a group of river otters in the Wa’atch River. They even got out of the water and onto the riverbank to feed on fish they had caught. What a treat!
We returned to Forks to feed my SIBO again! We had burgers and fries at Blakeslee Bar and Grill. Their fries were more like super thick homemade potato chips – amazing! I had the caprese burger with pecan pesto, mayo, sun-dried tomato balsamic reduction, and tomato and mozzarella – delish! Minus the bun and the fries, it was decently healthy! For many of you, this may sound like a perfectly normal meal while traveling, but for me, it’s something I could only get away with eating while on a course of antibiotics.
The Olympic Peninsula was impressive, and there were still so many parts of it remaining to explore. However, we decided it was time to push on since the stormy weather was only going to worsen as fall and winter progressed. It was time to fly south with the birds. Someday we will return in the spring in the hopes of spotting auklets and puffins at Cape Flattery and joining the Shorebird Festival at Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge, when thousands of shorebirds stop to rest and feed at the refuge on their migration route. There is always something more to see and do on the Olympic Peninsula.
Note: Check out our Instagram page for even more photos of Olympic National Park! (https://www.instagram.com/brakefornature/)