Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Washington, Oregon - Day 11: Cape Flattery

Our goal today was to visit Cape Flattery, the western most point of the 48 contiguous states.  We got an early start out of Sequim and headed to Port Angeles where we would catch highway 112, the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway.  Although there was some sun when we left Sequim, the clouds increased as we headed west.

The scenic byway was very scenic indeed.  We traveled through heavy forest leaving signs of civilization behind.  As we progressed west it became more and more remote and isolated, a light rain also started to fall.  After miles of nothing we passed through the fishing villages of Clallam Bay and Seiku.  As a note, I caught my one and only salmon while vacationing in the town of Seiku many, many years ago with my parents.  It is a very isolated area, a long way from any services.  As we neared Cape Flattery we passed into the Makah Inidan Reservation and stopped in the town of Neah Bay, which is very close to Cape Flattery.  

We stopped at the Makah Tribal Museum which was very interesting.  We learned that back in the 1960's heavy wave action unearthed some artifacts of an old village.  Archeologists were called in and found a 500 year old village called Ozette which had been completely covered by a mudslide that preserved much of the village.  The museum came about as a means of displaying the artifacts and presenting a look into the Makah culture and history.  We really enjoyed our visit and spent quite a bit of time going through the exhibits, a very nice museum.  We asked a lady working at the museum about getting some smoked salmon in the area.  She recommend the Take Home Fish Company which was just down the street (Neah Bay is very small) so off we went.  When we arrived at the store, which was basically a shed beside the owners home, he was just finishing smoking a batch of salmon and gave us a sample.  It was probably the best salmon we've ever had.  He said he goes right to the boats when the fishermen return and picks out the best salmon for smoking and we believe him, it was that good. He said he uses alder wood for smoking. We bought a pound to take home with us and also some salmon jerky.  We were told at the museum the locals call the smoked salmon jerky "candy".

Our next stop was Pat's Cafe which had been recommended by the smoked salmon maker.  We both had an Indian Taco which was made with fry bread instead of a tortilla. For dessert we got a piece of fry bread with cinnamon; a very delicious lunch.  Pat was very friendly and talked to us about living in the small reservation community and filled us in on some of the history.  Everyone we met in town was friendly and anxious to talk about their area and heritage.

After lunch it was off to Cape Flattery which was about 10 miles beyond Neah Bay.  The drive was mostly through a thick rain forest and very beautiful.  We finally reached the Cape Flattery trailhead and despite the rain we decided to take the hike out to the point.  We stayed relatively dry as the heavy cover of trees kept the rain off us. Since the cape was on the Makah reservation, the tribe had constructed the trail put to the point and much of it was a sort of boardwalk built over the soggy ground. It was about a 3/4 mile walk down to the viewing point so not too bad.

At least we weren't bothered by crowds.
Despite the rain, it was a good hike and very interesting, now we can say we have been to the westernmost point of the contiguous US.  It was getting late so we had to get on the road as we had reservations at the Lake Quinault Lodge near Olympic National Park.  As we drove back toward US-101, it really began to rain hard so driving became a little difficult, but it soon let up. Because it was election day we were able to listen to the election results on our Sirius radio and it made the time go by quickly.  It was well after dark when we finally made it to the Lodge, but it was well worth the long day to make the hike to Cape Flattery.  We had a pretty good salmon dinner (not nearly as good as the salmon at Neah Bay) at the lodge restaurant and called it a night.  It had been a long day.

When we arrived at the Lodge there was a roaring fire going in the large lobby fireplace which made us feel warm and welcome after our long, dark drive. The Lodge is beautiful and in a gorgeous location on the lake, so since have been on the road for 11 days, staying at a different spot each night, we decided this would be a good place to stay for a few days before we started our trip home. We changed our reservations from one night to three.  Tomorrow we will do some exploring in the rain forest along Lake Quinault and the Quinault River.

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