We did the Olympic Peninsula in 5 days and four nights, and we still missed a lot.
I spent so many hours searching for what to do, so I thought I'd put our itinerary out there as well.
Day 1 - We drove our car to the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry and drove to a VRBO in Port Angeles. A better description would be a little bit beyond Lake Crescent. If you head that way, make sure you stop and get groceries, wine or whatever because once you get going, there are fewer places to stop. We stopped at Walmart off 101 for a little bit of everything, though later down the road we saw a Safeway. We are the type of people who like to cook breakfast and dinner, though we don't have any hard or fast rules. It just usually happens that way.
Our VRBO was perfect for us -- a tiny loft above a garage by a river. There are more cabins on the property that are bigger, but the loft was available, and it was fine for us. Our loft is the far right part of the building.
NOTE: This place had everything we needed -- great little kitchen and seating areas. If you stay in our unit, you will want to download Netflix videos or something if you like watching TV. They had satellite but I was hoping to connect my phone to the TV -- as you can see below, the TV is older and had no HDMI cable. It was not an issue for us, just thought we'd pass it along.
Day 2 - We hit the road and backtracked slightly to go to Lake Crescent. This is a really great stop because you can visit the Lake Crescent Lodge (we would have stayed there, too, but there were no vacancies.)
We went canoeing (kayaks are also available), and we took a short hike on the Marymere Falls Trail, which is also on site. So it's all one-stop shop beauty with amenities (like a nice bathroom in the lodge!)
After that, it was time to go home and feed our girls.
WHAT WE MISSED: Going to the Sol Duc Hot Springs. It was on our list, but we didn't feel like we had time to do it.
Day 3: We got up, checked out of our VRBO and headed to Neah Bay. We really wanted to see Cape Flattery and get as far west as we could. Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point of the contiguous U.S. and apparently Captain James Cook named it such in 1778. And just to balance it out, we stopped at the Makah Museum to pay homage to that culture. Also, let's be frank here... it was nice to use a clean bathroom facility. DO NOT USE the bathroom at the trail head at Cape Flattery. I read about this and was prepared to stop beforehand. Jim did not read the warnings and came back to the car disgusted. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
Also, this is a great trail for dogs. My dog Minnie has bad wheels and can't walk very well due to a former CCL tear and TPLO surgery. She did it! She was a little sore the next day, but really it was a doable walk.
STILL DAY 3: From there, we drove to La Push to check into the Quileute Oceanside Resort, thanks to a recommendation by my friend and co-worker Michael! He and his wife got married there a few years ago, and I can see why.
A great perk - some units are dog friendly. We opted for the two-bedroom standard cabin because it was all the dog-friendly units left. They are right on the beach! One downside -- it seems like people have to sometimes check out of their unit and check-in to another. It happened to Michael, it happened to us, and I heard it happen to some guests checking in behind me. It seems like this could be avoided somehow, but apparently this is fairly common. It's still worth it.
There aren't a lot of food options, so again, it's best to either stop and buy groceries in Forks (HOME TO TWILIGHT OMGGGGGG) or support a local restaurant. By the time we got to La Push and checked in, we were ready to chill on the beach and eat dinner. You can build a fire -- we were too lazy -- but it was a nice idea.
Also, take note -- there are no TVs in the standard units. We were so glad to have our MIFI and laptop at the end of the day. I mean, it's another first-world problem, so we would've been fine without it.
WHAT WE MISSED: Second, Third or Rialto Beaches. We really wanted to see some of the tide pools, but we were bushwhacked. We enjoyed the pictures on the internet, though. :)
DAY 4: We decided to wake up slowly that morning, but we did not want to waste the day. We ended up driving to the Hoh Rainforest, which was a little more than an hour away. As you can imagine, the rainforest is beautiful, mystical and rare. It is the one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. Also note, dogs are not allowed.
On the way back we ended up grabbing a pizza at the Home Slice Take N Bake eatery -- we didn't have time to stop and sit because we were already an hour late getting to Minnie and Piper. We originally wanted to go to Sully's Drive-In but it was closed! We wanted to eat at the BBG Blakeslee Bar & Grill, but we were running out of time. Pizza was good!
WHAT WE MISSED: Any Twilight opportunity in Forks (I mean, not really... but also sorta.) Also, I wanted to go salmon river fishing. If you'd like to go, we were going to use Randy Lato from Always Fishing -- 360 374 2052.
DAY 5: We spent day 5 traveling back home. We didn't continue south and close out the loop because that would've tacked on several more hours. I kind of wanted to stop in Sequim to see if I could see some lavender farms, but ultimately, we were ready to go home. What a wonderful trip! We thought we left the peninsula with a deeper appreciation for nature in Washington.
It was also awesome to take our girls with us. They traveled so well, and we just loved having them near us. We had to spend a little more money on accommodations since we brought our dogs, but it was worth it to us. We saved a lot of money by doing cheap or free things and eating in. And that wasn't even intentional.
This was our last big adventure for 2017, and it was truly a great trip. Highly recommend! That's also why I added things that we couldn't get to just in case you are looking for more things to do around the peninsula.
We have had some rough days in our house recently. Piper, our youngest and most playful rottweiler, became super lethargic. She refused food and seemed uncomfortable laying down. She eventually stopped going to the bathroom after having bouts of runny stool with mucous and blood. (Sorry for the graphic description, but it could help someone later.)
We took her to the vet and had several scans and tests. Eventually an oncologist said it looked like Piper had lymphoma. She was 90-percent confident.
I remember exactly where I was when my husband texted me. I was covering Hurricane Harvey in a Houston suburb. The rain was coming down sideways. I was standing at a makeshift evacuation shelter at an area high school when people started frantically arriving with their most prized possessions in trash bags. I talked to some teens who had been bussed in from an hour away and separated from their parents. I saw little kids with no shoes or rain jackets as they had been rushed out of their homes in a mandatory evacuation.
In that moment, I knew I couldn't focus on Piper, but I couldn't stop the tears from rolling down my face. I was a complete wreck. My friend and producer Alex looked at me and said, "Even if you weren't here, it wouldn't change the outcome." I knew she was right. Still, I was devastated.
Piper's white blood cells were up, her calcium was elevated. She had high levels of histamine. A mass was growing in an intestine. Nodules were showing up on her liver. All of the signs pointed to cancer.
Thank God my husband did not give up. He kept talking to the oncologist in Edmonds, who also happens to be a Missouri veterinarian school graduate. Interestingly enough, Minnie went to MU to get her TPLO surgery when she tore her CCL many years ago. We love Mizzou for that.
Anyway, the vet said something didn't look right with her labs. They could not find cancer to give her a diagnosis. She started to consider blastomycosis.
What is blasto? Well, I started looking into it but soon stopped when it seemed like it could be just as deadly as cancer. Short answer is it's an uncommon fungal infection that impacts the lungs and happens more frequently to dogs in states like Wisconsin.
Could our dog show signs of blasto even though we left Wisconsin more than a year ago? The vet said yes.
So we began more testing.
In the meantime, we started hand feeding anything and everything to Piper. She wouldn't eat her dog food, but she seemed to always like shredded pork and scrambled eggs. She also would take a handful of shrimp and cod. She was not impressed with sardines or chicken. We got to the point where if Piper would eat, we would feed her until she refused food. She got down to 82 pounds and seemed to be losing weight no matter how much we fed her.
In the meantime, the vet gave Piper antibiotics and Benadryl.
Piper's case was starting to pique the interest of our oncologist and her friends and colleagues across the country. Jim took Piper in for more blood work which got sent to Michigan. The vet even called Jim when she was on a trip in New York. Everyone seemed to be very curious as to what was plaguing Piper.
17 agonizing days later, we got another call from our vet. Jim answered the phone, and I could hear that the conversation sounded a little more upbeat. I could hear them rule out lymphoma and blasto. Jim appeared to be getting some orders from the vet, and it sounded like he was getting an order to pick up steroids at the pharmacy.
Turns out, Piper has a condition that is rare to dogs but more prevalent in rottweilers. It's called hypereosinophilic syndrome, which at the heart of all things, turns out to be some sort of severe reaction to an unidentified antigen.
In very simple terms, Piper likely ate something she was allergic to and her body went on the attack, which caused a lot more chaos. It can cause organ damage and if you read the reports, it frequently has a fatal outcome. However, our vet seems to think steroids will help Piper fight that mass in her tummy and get her appetite back up to normal. And she seemed excited to tell us this news as it might be our best scenario.
How rare is it? There are vets across the country who want to track Piper's health because this condition is so rare. Our vet told Jim that one of her colleagues wants permission to look at her labs because he hasn't seen anything like this in 20 years.
The good news for us is that we don't have a lymphoma diagnosis looming over our heads. The bad news is that we still don't know exactly what this new diagnosis means. But we are almost elated.
I wanted to post this because as I looked around the internet these last few days, I couldn't find a lot of helpful information. It was kind of like drinking from a fire hose. I thought if I posted this information, it might help other rottie owners rule out certain health scares.
I know everyone thinks their pets are special, but our Piper is really something else. One vet wrote, "Piper is the sweetest rottie we've ever met." Our oncologist said she didn't believe it until she actually met Piper. We all have expiration dates, but it gives me a lot of relief right now knowing we can help Piper live a quality life. She sure has us wrapped around her fingers. And don't worry about Minnie -- she is doing just fine! She gets a lot of Piper's food so she's enjoying life right now, too.