Monday, October 29, 2012

It's nice to be a regular (Part II)

Being in the Navy and moving to a new duty station every couple of years makes it difficult to achieve "regular" status.  By the time you've been going to the same business often enough that the staff remembers you, it's time to move again.

Now, I'm not talking about Yelp's definition of "regular" where you go to the same restaurant twice in a week and ipso-facto-POOF!  Suddenly Yelp gives you a congratulatory message that you're now a REGULAR at that business.  No, there's no set formula for how many visits or how far spaced apart they have to be to achieve said status. 

It's all about recognition. 

Sort of like the old Cheers theme song, "Sometime you wanna go where everybody knows your name."  The employees don't necessarily need to know your name, but if they clearly recognize you and ask if you want "the usual," THAT's when you know you've arrived.  Yelp should make it so that "regular" status is only conferred by an employee of the business who enters some secret password into your smartphone to show that the employees of the establishment recognize you as a regular.

It happened a few weeks ago at the place we most frequently go to lunch after church.  Our waitress recognized us and asked if the boys wanted "the usual" to drink.  It just makes you feel... home... like a sense of belonging.

I can also confidently say I'm a regular at the Khaki Lounge on the submarine base.  The bartender, Margaret, recognizes me and asks how my boys are.  We have done a lot of wardroom lunches and "leaders lunches" for all our officers and chiefs there.  Then I took my boys in there for lunch one day while my wife was attending some sort of Family Readiness Group (FRG).  I don't imagine a lot of people take their kids to the Khaki Lounge, so it's easy to understand why that stuck in her memory.

Last weekend I was overjoyed and devastated all at once.

At first, I was overjoyed to have achieved "regular" status at the base barber shop.  Deja vu.  Last time I wrote about this, it had taken under a year, but I was in the shipyard and went to the same barber every week.  I didn't write about it on shore duty, but I know it happened a lot quicker on shore duty in the DC area going to the same places for lunch and the same barber shop every week.  Being on sea duty now, I go away for months at a time and the barbers forget all about you.  So here it is, a year and a half into my tour of duty in the Pacific Northwest, and I finally became a regular at the base barber shop.  My favorite barber recognized me and asked if I wanted it same as usual.  Yes, please!  :-)

Then I sat down in the chair and as she started combing my hair before she started cutting, she said sternly, "Somebody else cut your hair."  Ding ding ding!  :-)  That's another clear sign of being a regular - when they can tell someone else has messed with your hair or cut it differently, and another case of deja vu.  I confessed that I had to get my haircut, but she (the barber) was out of town. 

This is where my excitement of being a regular ended.

After my comment about her being out of town, she sighed and confessed.  Yep, she had to go househunting.  Her husband got out of the Navy and they're moving to Texas, so she was down in Texas shopping for a new house.  She just submitted her 2 weeks notice.

Darnit!

Back to ground zero.  It's just not fair!

Oh well, maybe at our next duty station...

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Kitsap Favorites

Now that I've been living in Bremerton for a year and a half, I figure I've been here long enough that I should have a Kitsap Favorites list to keep track of the places we've gone.  Like my other favorites lists, I will come back and update this post as we find new places and events to enjoy, and I'll place a link to this post in the margin on my blog for easy reference.

Places to Go / Daytrips:

- Seattle Aquarium.  We've been to many aquariums around the country.  Although the Seattle Aquarium is somewhat small compared to others, it is a pretty nice aquarium with good exhibits.  We particularly enjoyed seeing the baby sea otter.

- EMP Museum.  I HIGHLY recommend the EMP Museum.  This place is awesome.  If we were staying in the area, I would buy the annual pass so we could go back again.

- Pike's Place Market in Seattle.  Oh my!  What a cacaphony of sights, sounds, and smells!  Just looking at pictures, you might be inclined to think to yourself, "Self, so what?  It's just a market."
  
- Seattle Seahawks.  One of my Sailors did a reenlistment here, and it was pretty awesome.  They allowed ten of us down on the sidelines to watch the Seahawks warmup.  I got hit in the shoulder by a practice field goal kick.  Head Coach Pete Carroll walked over and shook our hands and took pictures with us.  We got to watch the team run onto the field and stood on the field saluting during the national anthem.  Then we went up to our seats to watch the game.  Warning:  The Seahawks stadium is known as the LOUDEST in the nation.  It was deafening.  I saw kids there wearing headphones.

- Northwest Trek Wildlife Park.  We enjoyed this place.  You ride a tram / open-aired bus around the park and get to see tons of caribou, elk, mountain goats, deer, and other animals in their natural habiat.
- Olympic Game Farm.  I haven't actually been here yet, but my family has been a couple of times with visitors while I was out at sea.  I've seen the pictures, and it looks pretty cool.  You drive through in your own car, and you'll have all sorts of animals sticking their heads in your windows to eat bread out of your hand.

- Port Townshend.  Fort Worden State Park and the town of Port Townshend are where the movie Officer and a Gentleman was filmed.  Fort Worden was one of three forts guarding the entrance to Puget Sound and the approaches to Seattle, and the old concrete gun emplacements on top of artillery hill command a very nice view.  We also walked out to the Point Wilson Lighthouse and got to climb up and see the beautiful Fresnel lens.  The view from the top of the lighthouse is also pretty spectacular.

Weekend Getaways:
- Great Wolf Lodge, Grand Mound, WA - it's a hotel with a big INDOOR waterslide park.
- Evergreen Air & Space Museum and Waterpark in McMinnville, Oregon
- Astoria, Oregon - Goonies never say die!

Outdoor Activities:

Hiking and Snowshoeing:
- Green Mountain - Gold Creek Trail - close by, not too difficult, might be okay for kids depending on how used to hiking your kids are.
- Guillemot Cove Nature Preserve - close by, short easy walk with kids.
- Mount Rainier National Park - Snowshoeing at Paradise - I want to go back sometime and do the Park Ranger guided snowshoe trek.  It is open for kids 8 yrs old and up.
- Olympic National Park - Dosewallips River
- Olympic National Park - Hurricane Ridge in snow - in winter months they have sledding here for kids under 8.
- FAV! Olympic National Park - Hurricane Hill in summer
- Olympic National Park - Mount Zion - steep and strenuous hike, not recommended for kids.
- Olympic National Park - Marymere Falls and Spruce Railroad Trail - short hike to beautiful waterfall, easy for kids.
- Olympic National Park - Obstruction Point to Deer Park - long hike for adults only.
- Olympic National Park - Staircase Rapids - short and easy hike, easy for kids.
- FAV! Snoqualmie - Snowshoeing and Tubing

Kayaking:
- See also Kitsap Kayaking Resources
- Port Gamble kayaking (Hood Canal)
- Belfair State Park kayaking (Hood Canal)

Places on my "to do" list but I haven't made it there yet:
- Hiking Cape Flattery
- Kayaking Nisqually Flats
- Weekend trip to Victoria or Vancouver, BC
- Weekend trip to Pacific Beach - Navy MWR has a beach hotel and cottages there

Restaurants:  I've been exploring and trying many different restaurants around the Kitsap peninsula, but here are a few that I have been back to more than once:

- Barbie's Cafe in Seabeck.  I found this place totally by accident when coming back from hiking Green Mountain, and it quickly became my favorite on the peninsula.  Nice little cafe on the Hood Canal with excellent food, and if you're lucky you'll get to watch the bald eagles soaring around the dock outside while you eat.

- Oak Table in Kingston.  THE BEST BREAKFAST on the peninsula.  They also have a second location in Sequim, and somebody who shall remain nameless accidentally entered THAT location into our car's GPS and started driving toward Sequim one Sunday morning.  Thankfully somebody else in the car had a clue and said, "Why are you driving past the exit?"  Granted, Kingston is about a 30 minute drive out from Silverdale, but it's totally worth it.

- Port Gamble General Store in... well... Port Gamble.  Also has excellent breakfast.  To wit - lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh blackberry compote. 

- Mike's Four Star Barbecue in Port Gamble.  Although I'm not a fan of their cole slaw, everything else here is delicious.  If you've got a large party to feed, Mike's does a great job with catering - just pick up some large trays of ribs and beef brisket and you're all set!

- Fondi's Pizzeria in Gig Harbor.  My kids beg us to go here all the time.  They love the pepperoni rolls that are on the appetizer menu.  I am also a big fan of their pizza and wish they were closer to our house.  Our favorite pizza place in Silverdale closed down and we haven't found a suitable replacement, so we've been making our pizza at home.

- Yacht Club Broiler.  Right on the waterfront in Silverdale, WA, the food is delicious, the service is good, and the prices are reasonable.  Twice now, I have hosted large group parties for 20 or so people there, and Yacht Club Broiler did a great job and for a very reasonable price.  (Thumbs down - they serve Pepsi, but so does just about every other establishment in Kitsap County.)

- Burrata Bistro in Poulsbo.  Think butternut squash ravioli.  My kids don't like this place (food too fancy), so we don't go often, but I LOVE their culinary masterpieces.

- That's Some Italian Restaurant in Poulsbo.  This is a family favorite for us.  The name is kinda cheesy and the prices are a little steep, but the food is really good.  I think my kids just like to eat here for the garlic bread and meatballs.

- Juanito's Taco Shop in Chico.  Little shack on the side of the road with great Mexican food.

- Tacqueria El Huarche in Silverdale.  There are MANY Mexican restaurants around here, but for those of you from San Diego, this is where you can get a California Burrito (carne asada burrito with french fries just like Santana's on Rosecrans in San Diego).

Ivar's Seafood in Seattle.  This is worth the ferry ride over to Seattle.  Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry over, get off the ferry and turn left.  Ivar's is one of the first restaurants on your left hand side.  Top notch food and service.

SUSHI.  While I've been happy with the plethora of Mexican restaurants to choose from, I've been disappointed by the selection of sushi.  Probably just because I was spoiled coming here from Pearl Harbor where I had dozens of awesome sushi places to choose from and ate sushi multiple times per week.  There are two places here in Silverdale - Origami Sushi and Hakata.  Neither are great.  Hakata violates their agreement with the credit card company and won't let you use a credit card unless you spend $25 or more.  Their sushi isn't bad, but the quantity I received was small in comparison to the price I paid.  Origami likes to put gobs of mayonnaise on their rolls.  Yech.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Olympic National Park - Dosewallips River

This was supposed to be hike #3 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.  Unbeknownst to me, at some point between when the book was published in 2008 and now, the road was washed out about 5 miles short of the entrance to the National Park.

At the point where the road is washed out, we found about a dozen cars parked (see the victory pose photo below), so we figured people were just beginning their hikes from that point onward.  We encountered a few hikers coming out and asked what it was like.  They told us after the initial switchback trail up over the hill above the washout that it was pretty flat and easy.

This is what the switchback part of the trail looked like.

The trail over the hill was well-defined hard pack dirt and easy to follow.  When we got over the hill, the trail dropped us back down onto Dosewallips Road on the other side of the washout.

Blunoz Self Portrait by the Dosewallips River

video
From the point we rejoined the Dosewallips Road to the Elkhorn campsite, we enjoyed the deafening roar of the river at our side.  Still photos don't capture the essence of walking along the roaring river, so I had to post a short video clip instead.  The section of road from the washout to the Elkhorn campground was a nice flat road and would have been nice for a bike ride.  We saw a family riding their bicycles near the campground.  You'd just have to push your bikes up over that first hill.

The Elkhorn campground was a nice place and clearly still gets used.  There was no privy or any sort of facilities available though.  We spent some time by the river skipping rocks and marveling at how crystal clear the water was.  Considering how little rain we've had in the last couple of months, it was odd to see so much water in the river, but it was frigidly cold glacier runoff. 

From this sign by the Elkhorn campground onward, the road starts a steady uphill climb and diverges away from the river.  If you look at the altitude profile in my Garmin track below, you'll see that the trail was fairly flat - about 100 feet of elevation gain over the first 1.4 miles, then it gained a little over 300 feet in the next 0.6 miles as we climbed up the road away from the Eklhorn campground.  There really wasn't much to see here.  When we got 2 miles away from where we parked the car, we decided to head back down again.

There were lots of these little white and black butterflies flittering about all around us along the trail. 

We also spotted a couple of different catepillars, lots of pearly everlasting and some other common flowers along the way.

Long shadows at the end of the day.

On the hill over the washout.

Victory Pose

This was a first.  When we arrived back at the car, the boys declared "victory pose!" and ordered me to take a photo of them.  Goofballs.



Hike Stats:  When I'm searching for places to hike with my kids, I appreciate having some basic facts and figures about the hike for me to judge if it's doable with my kids.  With that in mind, I hope other parents considering this hike find the following information useful.
  • Date: 6 October 2012
  • Time of Departure:  Left the house about 10 a.m.  Stopped at the Quilcene Ranger Station to stamp my book, then had lunch at Logger's Landing (great food and excellent service).  By the time we got up to the end of the Dosewallips Road and started our hike, it was 1:41 p.m.
  • Time of Return:    Around 4:30 p.m back at the car.  Held up by the Hood Canal Bridge opening on our way back.  Stopped and picked up Mike's Four Star Barbecue in Port Gamble on our way home.  Got home around 6:30 p.m.
  • Elapsed:  2 hours 52 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  1 hours 48 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  1 hour 4 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 5.0 miles
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  1.8 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  725 feet
  • Max Elevation:  1,004 feet
  • Weather:   Clear and sunny.
  • Winds:  None.
  • Air Temp: 61F climbing to 66F by the car thermometer.  It felt a little chilly at spots along the river.
  • Trail:  Well-defined hard-pack dirt or gravel trail.  
  • Crowds?  Not crowded, but not alone.  There were about a dozen cars parked at the washout.  We passed about a dozen people along the way going in both directions.
  • Hazards?  Some short but steep dropoffs into roaring rapids below.
  • Geocaches?   Didn't bother looking - assumed there were none because it's a National Park.
  • Kit: Long sleeve T-shirt, shorts, new Merrell Moab Gortex hiking boots, ballcap, walking stick.
  • Route:  Intended to follow the route of #3 in my ONP day hikes book, but never made it to the Dosewallips Park Ranger station due to the road washout.  Note to self:  Check road conditions on national park website.  Instead just hiked along the road.  If I didn't have my kids with me, I would have kept going all the way up to the Park Ranger Station. 
  • Facilities:  None.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Weekend Getaway - Astoria, Oregon

For Labor Day weekend, we looked a little bit farther out of our normal range of outside activities to find a place to spend the weekend.  My wife and I both loved the movie Goonies when we were kids, and we decided to go down and check out Astoria, Oregon.



Before we went there, I kept calling it "Uh-story-uh."  After spending the weekend there, I have learned everyone down there calls it "Ass-story-uh."  It's a pretty little seaside town right at the mouth of the Columbia River.  It's only about 3 1/2 hours drive from Bremerton, so it makes for a nice not-too-far weekend getaway.

View from Holiday Inn Express


We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express right under the Astoria bridge.  It was a pretty nice place - and the prices reflected it, but we got some sort of weekend getaway discount deal.  They serve a pretty decent continental breakfast in the lobby, too.


It turns out there are several movies that have been filmed in Astoria, not just Goonies.  Some of the others we recognized were Kindergarten Cop and Short Circuit.  If you stop at the Chamber of Commerce, for $1 you can have a paper map and an audio CD that takes you through a tour of the town and past all the movie locations.  We went by the Goonies' house, the winding road where Mikey's older brother chased them on the little girl's bike, the window where Chunk smashes his milkshake while watching the police chase, the museum where Mikey's father worked and was taking down the flag at the beginning of the movie, and the jail.

They have turned the jailhouse into a film museum and will let kids film their own movie inside.  Out in front of the jail they have the black Jeep Cherokee the Fratelli family used in the movie, complete with bullet holes in the back, and the cast of the movie all autographed the dashboard with a black permanent marker.

Driving that winding road that Mikey's brother rode the little girl's bike on takes you up to the top of the hill overlooking Astoria and the Astoria Column.  The view here is truly spectacular and made it worth the drive down from Bremerton.  Heck, even if you didn't want to pay for a hotel to stay overnight, you could make this a day trip - drive down, go to the top of the tower, see the Goonies locations, and drive back in one day.  This picture is looking south from the top of the Column toward the Lewis & Clark River.  The picture at the top of this post is the view toward the Columbia River and the bridge from the top of the column.

They sell balsa wood gliders in the gift shop at the bottom of the column.  They will hand you a Sharpie marker to write your name on the glider before you throw it off the top of the column.  Granted, first you have to climb the 100+ spiral staircase steps to the top, but it was totally worth it. 

The boys conducting pre-flight checks on their gliders.  We had a blast watching our gliders soaring off into the distance.

We had lunch at this boat-turned-fish'n'chips-grill called the Bowpicker.  DANG it was good stuff.  They make fish'n'chips using fresh tuna, and it was absolutely extraordinary!  Small boats aside, there were a plethora of awesome local restaurants in Astoria serving excellent dishes using fresh local produce.  There are a couple of breweries, too, but I wasn't overly thrilled with their beer.  We went to two breweries and they both served the typical Pacific Northwest style of IPA with heavy hops.  I'm much more a fan of New England style lagers.  Oh, but the Crater Lake root beer they had on tap at the Wet Dog Cafe was delicious!

There's a maritime museum on the waterfront in Astoria - the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  I've been to a lot of small-town museums before, and 99% of them have been boring and lame - some collection of random odds and ends and local history with the name "museum" slapped on the building to try and create a tourist attraction.  Not so in this case.

This museum was actually very well done with high quality exhibits about the Graveyard of the Pacific, the local US Coast Guard rescue boats, the Columbia River pilots, the salmon fishing industry, and a wing of Navy stuff from the battleship USS OREGON and the two WWII cruisers to carry the name USS ASTORIA.  The boys loved playing in the tug boat pilot house.

We also visited Fort Clatsop National Historic Park.  After Lewis & Clark reached the Pacific coast, this is where they spent the winter before heading back east.  This is a replica of the fort that was built using the drawings from Lewis & Clark's journals.

We got there just in time for a hike led by a Park Ranger, and I continue to enjoy every chance I can get to learn from them.  Park Rangers always lead awesome tours and have so much fascinating history to teach and explain.

The boys with Sacagawea.  
One of the stories I learned from the Park Ranger was how Lewis & Clark referred to her simply as "the squaw" until one day a canoe full of their precious journals and scientific instruments capsized, and she dove in and saved the stuff.  It wasn't until she saved their gear that they bothered to learn her name and refer to her by her name in their journals.

There's a nice trolley that goes back and forth along the waterfront in Astoria, too.  It only costs a dollar to ride, and we totally got our money's worth.  I would go back and ride the trolley again more for the things I learned from the conductors than for the transportation they provided.

The conductors were full of historic trivia and stories about the area.  Other people on the trolley commented on how each of the conductors had different stories to tell and they learned something new and different each time they rode.

Overall it was a wonderful trip.  If you're looking for a weekend getaway from Bremerton, or even just a day-trip, I highly recommend checking out the view from the Astoria Column, taking a ride on the trolley, visiting the maritime museum, and doing the Chamber of Commerce's driving tour of the movie sights.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Olympic National Park - Crescent Lake

For my birthday, I asked my family to go with me for a short hike and a bike ride up at Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park about a half hour drive west of Port Angeles.  The two destinations I had in mind were #14  and #15 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.

On our way up there, we stopped at Fat Smitty's for lunch.  One of my shipmates told me they had the best burgers on the peninsula.  If you're headed from Kitsap over toward anywhere on the Olympic Peninsula, you can't miss it.

Right on Highway 101 there's this little shack of a restaurant with a huge chainsaw-art carving of a ginormous double-decker hamburger with all sorts of fixings on it.  I thought this squat-totem-pole of burger-worship was just an exaggeration to gather people's attention...

Nope.

Their signature item, the Fat Smitty burger really is that big.  The waiter recommended it if we hadn't been there before, but didn't offer any explanation of how big it was.  The menu also offered no description to warn us of the ginormous greasy monstrosity we would be receiving off the grill.

When the waiter set them down in front of us, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets, and it took a few moments to get over the shock.  The waiter said the record is 45 seconds to eat an entire Fat Smitty burger.  He recommended putting all your weight into squashing it down with your palm on top of the burger, then picking it up and not putting it down again until you were all done.  I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there was no way I could finish it. 

After lunch, we followed Highway 101 along the southern edge of the lake to Lake Crescent Lodge.  Just before the lodge is a boat ramp and a parking area for the Marymere Falls trailhead.  This was a short hike (1.5 miles round trip) and pretty easy for families with children.  Because of that, there were quite a few people there, but it wasn't crowded.

Boys being goofy on the trail.


The trail is hard-pack dirt.  It's flat most of the way and has about 80 feet of elevation gain up wood steps the waterfall viewpoint.  There are two small bridges to cross.  That plus the steps lead me to think this would not be good with a stroller, but we did see several babies in baby-backpacks.  Also, there are sturdy handrails going up the steps and at the viewpoint, so you don't have to worry too much about small children falling over the edge.


Bridge

Steps

My eldest son at Marymere Falls

Blunoz Family Photo at Marymere Falls

After leaving Marymere Falls, we drove around to the north side of the lake to take our bikes on the Spruce Railroad Trail.  This was not the type of trail I was expecting.  We've been on several trails on the east coast that were converted from old railroads, such as the Washington & Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail near our house in Virginia, the Great Allegheny Trail in Pennsylvania and Maryland, the Chesapeake and Ohio (C&O) Canal towpath in Maryland, and the bike path in Wolfeboro, NH.

The Spruce Railroad Trail was built to bring sitka spruce trees to build biplanes in World War I and has since been converted to a trail... of sorts.  Not the smooth, easy for a family ride trail I was expecting though.

It was bumpy and rocky and had several dips that made it passable by mountain bike, but not for a gentle family ride.  We only went about 2.5 miles then decided to turn around and go back.

My youngest son doing the Karate Kid pose at
one of several dips that we walked our bikes across.

After returning home and looking for more information online, I found this good blog post that included pictures and mentioned how they walked their bicycles for a good portion of the trail.  Then I also found a news article that they are GOING to expand this trail into something more like the other railroad bike trails we've been on.
"The 3.5-mile trail will be upgraded to an 8-foot-wide asphalt trail with 3 feet of adjacent gravel shoulders so it’s accessible to all types of bicycles, as well as pedestrians, equestrians and people in wheelchairs.
In addition, both of the historic railroad tunnels will be reopened as part of the trail and a new segment will be built near Lyre River to bypass and mitigate the existing steep grades in that area."  (Quoted from the article linked above)

It would have been a nice easy, nearly flat trail for a hike.  I would like to go back sometime and do it on foot.

On our way back, we stopped for an awesome dinner at the Bushwhacker restaurant in Port Angeles.  This was our second time eating dinner here.  The first time, we stopped here after our hike up Hurricane Hill, and our eldest son has been asking us to go back to Port Angeles so we could eat dinner at the Bushwhacker ever since.  We weren't disappointed.  Both times we have received exceptionally good service and fantastically delicious food.  Plus, they serve a locally bottled root beer that's top notch.

Although the bike path was a little bit of a disappointment, overall it was a great day.  I'm thankful to my family for entertaining my desires for how to spend my last day as a 39 year old.  :-)


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Olympic National Park - Elk Mountain

This is hike #9 in the Falcon Guide titled Best Easy Day Hikes - Olympic National Park.  It's also the second most difficult hike listed in the book, the most difficult being Mount Zion that I did a few weeks ago.

One of my O-gang shipmates expressed an interest in doing a "longer" hike this weekend.  We put the invitation out to the rest of the wardroom and ended up with a group of four of us plus one spouse heading out to Olympic National Park.  We offered up a small sum of cash to get someone to drop us off at one end and pick us up at the other, and it worked out really well.

First we drove up to the Hurricane Ridge visitor's center.  I stamped my National Park passport there.  I've also been using the National Park stamp on the pages of the day hike guide book to show when I've done each hike.  We used the facilities there and then headed out on the 7.5 mile dirt and gravel bumpy Obstruction Point Road.

Obstruction Point Road

I was surprised how many cars and people there were at the Obstruction Point trailhead.  There were probably a dozen cars in the parking lot and several people loading up their backpacks.  Apparently we weren't the only ones who thought this was a rare opportunity to get out on this trail that isn't accessible for a large part of the year.

Time Stamp at the Obstruction Point Trailhead

Beginning of the trail.  There is a fork in the trail here.  The trail going down to the right is the Badger Valley Trail.  The trail heading up the slope to the right above the trees is the Obstruction Point trail.

This is the view looking down into Badger Valley from near the trailhead.  You can see the Badger Valley trail leading down below the trees on the left.  The Badger Valley trail eventually goes back up to rejoin the Obstruction Point trail at the 2 mile mark.

Looking back the way we came.  The Obstruction Point trail head is just above the center of this photo, and you can see the trail going off to the right edge of the photo, looping up to the top of the ridgeline.

On top of the ridgeline with the snow-capped Olympic Mountains to the southeast in the background.

There were a lot of these all over the top of the ridgeline.  I kept thinking I might hear a Who.  I'm still trying to identify them in my flower books.  In addition to these, we also saw a lot of pearly everlasting, gray thistles, purple lupines, and yellow daisies. 

Panorama shot from somewhere around Elk Mountain.  In the distance on the left side we could see a couple of lakes and waterfalls crashing down below the lakes.  In this picture, one of the waterfalls looks like a small white line.  I was glad I brought my binoculars, because the waterfalls were pretty cool.

Looking northwest from the top of the ridgeline, we could see the Hurricane Ridge Road sloping up to the left.  We could also see across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Victoria, BC, and beyond.  Again, I was glad I brought my binoculars to see the details in the far distance.  My little point-and-click camera doesn't do the view justice.

We stopped at Roaring Winds Pass to eat lunch.  It was 3.2 miles into the hike and at a dip in the elevation profile.  We had just come down from Elk Mountain and from Roaring Winds Pass would begin climbing again up to Maiden Peak.

Here is an annotated altitude profile of the hike taken from my GPS.

From the southern side of Maiden Peak, there's a pretty good view of The Needles.

The trail wraps counter-clockwise around Maiden Peak, and coming around the east side of the peak looking north a beautiful view of Port Angeles to Sequim opens up.  From here, the trail goes down into the trees and follows the ridgeline off to the right (northeast).

Although there were many small mountain wildflowers above the treeline, descending below the treeline brought a whole new slew of flowers.

Scouler's Bellflower

Scarlet Paintbrush

Columbine

Mushrooms (I don't have any clue on identifying these yet).

Time stamp at the end.  We made it.  The last half-mile or so was pretty brutal uphill climbing to the Deer Park Ranger Station.  I was exhausted.  Apparently so were the rest of my group, because there was audible snoring and heads slumped over in the back seat within about 5 minutes of starting our drive back down the hill to Port Angeles.
In the car on our way down the Deer Park Road (which is another bumpy, winding, dirt and gravel road similar to the Obstruction Point Road), this was the view out the window looking back the way we came.  The last couple of miles of the hike were in the trees along that ridgeline from the left side of the picture going back up to the peaks in the middle of the picture.

My previous Garmin Forerunner 405 had died (battery wouldn't charge) and I had to send it back to Garmin to get it refurbished.  That's why my last several hikes didn't have this Garmin Connect map below.  This was my first hike out with the newly refurbished Forerunner.  The Garmin Connect page allows you to download the trek in XML and view it in Google Earth.  It's pretty cool to follow the path we took in a birds-eye view angled down to see the elevation dropping off on either side of the ridge.

Hike Stats:  When I'm searching for places to hike with my kids, I appreciate having some basic facts and figures about the hike for me to judge if it's doable with my kids.  With that in mind, I hope other parents considering this hike find the following information useful.  Note I did NOT take my kids on THIS hike, and I would not recommend it for small children.  There were spots on some pretty steep slopes, and it was a pretty long hike.
  • Date: 15 September 2012
  • Time of Departure: Met up with our group in the Kitsap Mall parking lot and headed out shortly after 8 a.m.  Arrived at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center to use the restrooms and check out the view at 10 a.m. on the nose.  Departed the Obstruction Point trail head about 10:43 a.m. 
  • Time of Return: 2:59 p.m. back in car at Deer Park trailhead.  Made a stop at the 101 Diner for milkshakes and arrived home about 5:15 p.m.  
  • Elapsed:  4 hours 13 minutes
  • Moving Time (GPS):  3 hours 5 minutes 
  • Stopped Time (GPS):  1 hour 8 minutes 
  • Mileage (GPS): 7.6 miles
  • Avg Speed (GPS):  1.8 mph
  • Elevation Gain:  1,266 feet gained / 2,149 feet lost
  • Max Elevation:  6,657 feet
  • Weather:   Clear and sunny.
  • Winds:  2-5 mph SW.
  • Air Temp: 57F at the Obstruction Point trailhead climbing to 60F at the Deer Park Ranger Station.  I was comfortable in a long-sleeve t-shirt and shorts except I got a little chilly during some windy parts on top of the ridge.
  • Trail:  Well-defined hard-pack dirt or gravel trail.  Some along the side of pretty steep and slippery slopes.  No trail markers, and there were a few spots where there were forks in the trail, but they were labeled with signs.  
  • Crowds?  Not crowded, but not alone.  There were about a dozen cars parked at the Obstruction Point trail head.  We passed well over a dozen people along the way going in both directions.
  • Hazards?  Some steep dropoffs.  No sources of water.  I've heard to beware the mountain goats that can be aggressive in ONP, but we didn't see or hear of any.
  • Geocaches?   Didn't bother looking - assumed there were none because it's a National Park.
  • Kit: Long sleeve T-shirt, shorts, new Merrell Moab Gortex hiking boots, flop hat, walking stick.
  • Route:  Followed the path of hike #9 in the Best Easy Day Hikes: Olympic National Park book.  Started at the Obstruction Point trailhead and ended at the Deer Park trailhead.  Had a shipmate drop us off at one end, drive around and pick us up at the other end. 
  • Facilities:  There was a privy at the Obstruction Point trailhead and a privy at the Deer Park trailhead, but nothing in between.  There are no sources of water along this trail.