Phil Lee

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Seattle (Part 2)

Friday 03/10/17

Just imagine this scene for a minute: Evergreen trees as far as the eye could possibly see. Low-hanging clouds shrouding the snow-capped mountains in the distance. The sound of rushing waters running through the forest. And to top it all off, the sun peaking right behind the peaks to your left, shining light into a valley.

Welcome to the Olympic National Forest

So our plans changed a bit on Thursday night. The original plan was to wake up in the morning, take a ferry out to Olympic National Park, and spend the entire day exploring the park. However, a few road closures and lack of snow chains pretty much threw that plan out the window. Instead, we decided to pack the car and head out to the south side of the park, also known as Olympic National Forest. I'll just preface the rest of this entry by saying, this was probably my favorite day of the trip.

Our day started with Broadcast Coffee Roasters which was just around the corner from our AirBnB. Unfortunately, I can't handle too much caffeine in the morning so I settled with an orange juice and doughnut while the others got coffee. From there, we started our 2 hour drive towards the forest and our first stop was Lake Cushman. Coffee wasn't much of a breakfast though so we stopped by the best place we could think of: McDonald's. Remember my last entry about fitness goals? Yeah, I went to Safeway to get a sandwich instead. It felt good until my friends got fries... And I ate them.

From McDonald's, we left straight for the lake. Washington's weather is a bit interesting because it went from rain to sunshine at least 5 times during the drive. There's so much life in the Pacific Northwest that you'd be hard pressed to find any part without an Evergreen popping out. Aside from the LA river (or lack thereof), there isn't much water and foliage in the bustling city of angels. Because of this, the second we saw a random lake on the drive, we decided to stop and marvel at the view. To be honest, there was nothing crazy about this lake, but it was just so beautiful to look at. Come to think of it, that seemed to be the main theme of our drive towards our actual destinations. Everything that you'd think was a normal view just seemed to be a little extraordinary. Oh, and it was definitely a bit chilly out on the shore.

Fast forward a half hour later, we finally found ourselves driving on the perimeter of Lake Cushman. You could just barely see glimpses of the shimmering water through the woods as we weaved through the forest. At one point, I actually asked Nina to stop the car so I could run through the forest and snap a picture. I felt like Tarzan running through the woods, hopping over rocks, and jumping off logs. Was it worth it? Yes, yes it was.

The actual lake entry was closed due to a private event so we ended up parking at a viewpoint and admiring the view from a distance. Jeemyn flew his drone around, and maybe I'll be able to borrow some footage from him to share with you guys later! Being at the top wasn't good enough though so it wasn't long before we hopped back into the car to find an access point.

If you haven't noticed by now, my friends and I tend to get a bit lost on every adventure. Even with directions from locals, the five of us were eventually lost in a neighborhood, still trying to find a way to see the lake. We ended up pulling into a small lot along the lakeside but all the private property signs deterred us from staying longer than 5 minutes. You'll just have to take my word for it that the lake was beautiful. Not only was the water an inspiring turquoise color, it was also surrounded by towering, snow-capped mountains. 10/10, I would build a house and live here if I could.

After finding our way back to the main road, we explored the surrounding area and started our drive to the high steel bridge. The bridge was only about 40 minutes away from the lake, but we weren't expecting to drive on rocky, pothole-filled roads. I must say I'm a bit of an incredible driver though, so the road was no problem. Just kidding, I'm not that great! The Nissan Rogue we rented for the trip was a champ and drove smoothly through the forest. Before long, we finally saw the bridge up in front and pulled our car over to the side to walk on it. I never thought that I had a fear of heights until I stepped foot on the bridge.

The bridge spans 685 feet over the Skokomish River and rises about 375 feet from the ground. A waist-high railing lines one side of the bridge, and the other side has a railing that comes up only to your knees. For the longest time, I couldn't look over the edge of the bridge because my knees were already shaking from being on it. While the guys were holding onto the railings for dear life, Nina and Christine were having a blast sitting on the edge. How did they do it? I have no clue, but the boys eventually gathered enough courage to do the same. I'll throw some photos below to show the rest of our time at the high steel bridge!

 

After the bridge, we actually drove further up the road to see if there was anything ahead and we weren't disappointed. After a few minutes of driving through the forest, we came to a clearing that gave us great views of the mountains and forests. There was no one else around so we parked our car in the middle of the road and decided to hang out there for a while. We climbed on top of our car, took photos, listened to Bruno Mars, and enjoyed life. I'm not sure why this moment meant so much to me, but it did, and I loved every single second of it. We drove the car out a bit further to another forest service road before turning around and heading home for dinner.

The day ended with Taiwanese food recommended to us by a few friends. All five of us ordered the same meal: pork buns and pork over rice. Having some good old comfort food was probably the best way to end the night even though Jeemyn and Roy said that the pork buns in New York tasted better. Instead of hanging out for much longer, we decided to retire early because of the long drive to Oregon the day after.

That's it for Friday! It ended up being my favorite day from the trip because of all the random exploring we ended up doing. I can't wait to share with you guys how crazy of a day Saturday was! Stay stoked and have a great day!

Phil Lee