I stopped by the Ginkgo Petrified Forest on the way back to Seattle from Moses Lake. The Columbia River, if you have never seen it, is an astounding site as you round the highway curve and it suddenly sprawns across the horizon- and as you eye follows the road, you realize how tiny those cars going across the bridge look!
Then, I stopped at the park, took the educational hikING trail that highlights various species of trees petrified and preserved below the trail level. They are protected under metal grills, which still allow for viewing and pictures.
The building houses an interesting collection of rocks- petrified, sedimentary, igneous, even meteorite chunks. Interesting are the "picture" rocks that have naturally formed images that the human eye and mind reinterprets into recognizable pictures.
The Ranger on duty was originally from Grays Harbor, where one of my favorite state parks is- Grayland Beach- but also as low employment, so it was a nice discussion of how becoming a ranger had allowed her to move out and see a lot more of the state. I had a great visit.
The cliffs on the other side of the river make a great observation point, and are covered with signs advising to watch out for rattlesnakes- but I never saw one.
My family stayed at Grayland beach, our first camping trip after moving from Minnesota to Washington. So glad we didn't go to Ocean Shores, you can see all the tourists across the water from the observation tower in Grays Harbor.
Saw my first banana slug, a huge yellow one that crawled out from the water spigot post at the campsite!
We went back several times, including for one winter storm in January that cleared out all the campers but us, until we realized the yurt had no power (hence no heat) and found that there was no power all the way to Aberdeen! The pounding of the surf all night sounded like a freight train on the other side of the dune, we didn't get a very restful night but that's not because of the park- it's always exciting. We spent hours chasing waves, collecting sand dollar shells, and even found the remains of a large ray washed up on the beach.
We have talked to campground hosts who RV full time, seeing the whole country- but who say Grayland is their favorite!
Interesting to go down to the cannery road, and see the shoreline disappearing year upon year…people's houses lost to the waves.
I did one of my open water scuba certification dives at the bas of the cliff that the lighthouse is on. I have been to Split Rock so many times, and I thought I had seen it all…
The shallows are filled with 30' boulders, tumbled all over each other, creating tunnels and passes. But a little farther out, the pebbled bottom is strewn with chunks of the same yellow brick the lighthouse and keeler's cabin are made of. And, of course, all of the change that visitors throw off the cliff!
Being a first dive, not too deep or long, but spectacular!
I spent a day trip with friends at Jay Cook. The water levels were low, so we clambered around on the sculpted granite rocks that line the river and falls, dipping on and out of pools and up slick rock faces.
There's always a lot of people, but if you get far enough from parking it drops off dramatically.
My wife and I arranged to get married on the stone beach at Tettagouche in 2001. We arrived Friday night after the Ranger Station was closed, so we deposited our payment in the box.
The next morning, we went to the station to upgrade our weekend pass to a year state parks pass. On telling the rangers we planned on getting married in the park, he replied "oh, you will need a special permit for that". I said "it's just me, her, and a court clerk coming up from Two Harbors…and we need two witnesses…"
"Oh, that's different. It's supposed to rain all weekend- but we'll stay after to be witnesses, and if it's raining we'll start a fire and you can get married in the lodge!"
Sure enough, it rained. Sick of sitting in our tent, we made the most of it-put on rain ponchos, hit the trails, and enjoyed the bridges and waterfalls. And that evening, the Rangers fired up a huge fire in the lodge stone fireplace, took pictures, and signed as witnesses for our wedding. One of them had been married in the park as well, at the river outlet to the lake.
According to Japanese tradition, if it rains on your wedding you will have a happy marriage. We've had a lot of adventures together!