Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Olympic National Park

We planned the Olympic National Park during the memorial day weekend.

A few things to consider before you go

  • Its always cold/ raining in Olympic National Park - so always carry jackets and raincoats.
  • Food options are very less, but still you will be able to find a few places in the towns, but something to consider.
  • 3 days is a good amount of time to see the national park leisurely and do a few hikes

Day 1: Travel to Seattle 

We embarked on our journey on a Thursday, arriving in Seattle around 5 PM. From there, we continued with a scenic 2-hour drive to Sequim. Our plan was to spend the night there, soaking in the local ambiance.
Upon arrival, we checked into the Holiday Inn, where we were greeted by exceptionally friendly staff. Despite being on the move, I managed to squeeze in some work from both the airport and our hotel.
A unique highlight of the day was our lunch experience at the San Jose airport, where we were pleasantly surprised by a vending machine that served hot food. It was an unexpected and delightful twist to our travel day!

Day 2 : Hurricane Ridge, Meremere falls and Sun Doc falls 

Today, post a basic breakfast in the hotel,  started off to Olympic National Park. We went to the visitor center, and enquired the key spots and the weather conditions. They did warn us that the weather is going to be cloudy, and hurricane ridge view might not be the best.

And just like the ranger predicted, we could only see clouds and fog from hurrican ridge, and the beautiful mountain vie

We walked up a bit, played with snow and then started from there. On a bright sunny day, hurricane ridge should look beautiful. 

From here, we were driving down to crescent lake. On our way, we stopped at Granny’s cafe. A very cute cafe on the way, and had some hearty lunch of soup, salad and sandwiches. They also had two emo’s which the kids enjoyed observing. 

After this good break, we went down to crescent lake and decided to do the Meremere falls hike. This was a really nice hike. It took us 1.5 hrs with the kids, but an easy hike. We saw the beautiful waterfalls and took pics and walked back to spend some time at the lake. The kids were a bit tired. 

Later we drove to Sol duc falls. Here also the hike was short but since the kids wanted to sit out, me and Sree took turns to do the hike and see the falls. The falls was beautiful. Very different, and we got a top view. I am sure if you go down a bit you can get a better view but the trail down was not very clear or marked. 

After this, we drove an hour to forks were our next accommodation was. Before that, we went to a Mexican restaurant and had some good food there. Came to the hotel, checked in, and called it a night.

Day 3 : Hoh Rain Forest, Ruby Beach and Rialto beach 

After a good night sleep, we woke up, and took it slow. We had breakfast from the next door In-Place  and after checking the traffic to Hoh forest, decided we will do the two beaches first before Hoh. Hopefully hoh will be less crowded towards evening. 

So we did the Realto beach first. It was chilly, and we stayed in the beach for a bit, while kids looked for shells. Other than it’s a bit chilly, the beach was nice and beautiful. But I did feel I have seen more beautiful beaches in Oregon.

After this we went to Ruby beach which is as 45 mins away. This was a beautiful beach! I loved the sea stacks and there was also a tide pool on the beach. 

Me and Pappu tried to arrange logs to cross the tide pool without wetting the shoes, but finally we just removed shoes and crossed the tide pool to explore the other side. This side was really beautiful and we could be closer to the sea stacks. After spending some time here, we crossed the tide pool, dried our legs and went back to the car.

Here, we had a hummus sandwich each and started to Hoh forest. We saw the long wait, but was prepared to wait from our end. We waited 1.5 hrs - in which we saw folks walking out of boredom, or turning back. 

Finally after 1.5 hrs, we moved and got a parking spot at Hoh. We walked to the moss trail first. This was magical. Never seen vegetation like this and every spot was a photo point. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful. Would highly recommend this to everyone. The moss all over and the cool ambience gave it a dreamy feel. 

We finished the moss trail and then did the Spruce river trail. On this trail, we saw an Elk :) he wqs enjoying his time on the trail and we waited for him to pass. Then we went t to the hoh river, and completed the trail. Again so many beautiful sights around. 

So we entered hoh at 4:45 and it took us a good 2 hrs to complete both the trails leisurely. Then we got back to the car, and drove down to a Chinese place for dinner. We were famished so had the food and it felt so satisfying. 

Post this, we came back to the inn, and I spent some time doing the laundry, and did some quick dance practice and called it a night :)

Day 4: Drive down to Kahaloch beach, Quinolt Rain Forest 

Today, we had a slow morning. We had our breakfast and checked out around 10:00 am. Then we drove down to Kahaloch beach area. It was raining hard, so we did not go to the beach. We got some snacks from the general store and started to Quinolt area. A small town, with not much of food options, we got into the general store. The general store lady told us about the world’s biggest spruce tree. Sree went and checked this out. We then went into Quinolt lodge, and since the lunch would take time, got some cookies for kids and went to the starting point for the Quinolt Rain Forest loop. This was a beautiful hike, and the best part was the hike along the stream. Post this, we started off to Seattle, with a quick stop at a target. After Target, we reached our hotel. 

In the evening, we met Harish and family in the Tanishq Indian Cusine restaurant. It’s been 10 yrs since we met Harish. And also Neha. We got to meet Rishi, Harish’s son too! 

Day 5: leaving Seattle

Today morning, we got up and got ready and checked out of the hotel. We then went to my friend Sandeep’s home. We had a good time chatting and having the lovely breakfast my friend’s wife Ammu had prepared. Always good to catch up with old time pals. 

Post this, we drove down to the airport, completed check in, and boarded the plane. 

Our wonderful vacation has come to an end. I think the Hoh Rainforest is going to be etched in our memory for a long time!

Tuesday, April 30, 2024

A short trip - Legoland, Universal & Fresno

We made a short trip of 4 days to Carlsbad and LA to visit Legoland and Universal Studios. with the primary aim of visiting Legoland and Universal Studios. We had been planning to take the kids to Legoland for quite some time, and it seemed like the perfect moment before Pappu, outgrew his love for Legos. Moreover, both children were now tall enough to enjoy most of the rides at Universal Studios.

Day 1: The Journey Begins

After a quick breakfast stop and a visit to the Punjabi Dhaba to pick up lunch, we arrived in Carlsbad by late afternoon. We checked into our hotel and immediately indulged in the delicious food we had brought. After a brief rest, Sree and I hit the hotel gym to unwind. The day ended with a peaceful night's sleep.

Day 2: Exploring Legoland

Next day, we had breakfast at the hotel, and then started to Legoland. It was a rainy day, and I was not keeping that well. We parked and did some indoor lego activities first followed by exploring all the structures made of Lego.We marveled at the intricate city landscapes constructed entirely from Lego and took a few thrilling rides. By mid-afternoon, we were on our way to Los Angeles.We checked into hotel, and then drove down to meet Malathy aunty and Manoj uncle. We had some yummy Dosas's there. It was great to meet Malathy aunty and catch up.

Day 3: Universal Studios Adventure

The next day, after breakfast, we headed to Universal Studios. This turned out to be a truly fun-filled day. We watched the spectacular waterworks show, took the studio tour, and enjoyed numerous rides. The Harry Potter world was a particular highlight, where the kids got their own wands and played a game that involved casting spells at various spots.
We also experienced the Simpsons, Transformers, and Jurassic Park rides. After a day of excitement, we dined at a Thai restaurant and met up with Shanu before driving to Valencia.

Day 4: Wrapping Up the Trip

On our final day, we checked out of our hotel and drove from Valencia to Fresno. Our friends Mukesh and Nupur treated us to a scrumptious meal. After a brief rest and some wonderful conversations, we embarked on the final leg of our journey back to the Bay area, bringing our memorable trip to a close.