By Paul Bucci & Fiona Anderson
For anyone planning an escape to the Pacific Northwest from Victoria, or a trip from the Olympic Peninsula to Vancouver Island, Port Angeles’s M.V. Coho can’t be beat.
The passage is a mere 90 minutes on a quaint vintage vessel, whose bow has been cutting through the Strait of Juan de Fuca for more than 60 years.
With COVID-19 declining, and our desire to travel reaching peak levels, we decided to head to the Olympic Peninsula for a few days at the start of a multi-week, multi-state visit to the United States.
We are vaxxed to the max — both of us have triple vaccines — and we’re in good health. After much discussion and some serious soul-searching, we decided to hit the road.
The first major hurdle was U.S. Customs. We made sure to have our vaccine cards downloaded to our phones, and we presented our Nexus cards to a border guard who had made his way to our car in the Coho’s Victoria parking lot.
He asked us about our ultimate US destination, and when we planned to return, and after inspecting our COVID documents and Nexus cards, we were cleared for departure.
For those who live in Victoria, the Coho is like an old friend, cruising in and out of the Inner Harbour, with little fuss and no drama, as regular as clockwork.
On this day, the harbour was uncharacteristically foggy, and we could hear the Coho from far away, sounding its horn every few minutes as it inched its way into port.
After a while, a harbour patrol vessel came into view with its blue warning lights barely visible in the thick grey fog. Soon, the Coho arrived, we were loaded on, and we crossed the strait without incident.
At Port Angeles, we were put through customs again, and were free within minutes to start our exploration of the Olympic Peninsula.
We decided to start exploring the coast from the Olympic Railway Inn, a delightful little place in Sequim where guests can stay in refurbished rail cars. Ours was decked out in a western theme, complete with gun-shot windows and cowboy paraphernalia, including Bonanza DVDs and swinging saloon doors.
The rail car was warm — great for a March visit — and the clawfoot tub was fantastic for soaking sore muscles after a long run.
The Olympic Railway Inn is very close to the Olympic Discovery Trail, a cycle path that extends about 135 miles from Port Townsend to La Push, WA. We’ve cycled on this trail before, and although it’s a bit rough in places, it’s a great way to see the coast.
The Sequim area has good dining, lavender farms, tons of natural beauty and the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, to name just a few attractions.
The area was also a favourite of John Wayne’s, and a nearby marina bears his name.
Dungeness Spit is known for being one of the longest natural spits in the world.
The Olympic Peninsula is dotted with quaint little towns, including Port Townsend and Port Angeles. Both have their own food scenes and attractions.
Some other area attractions include:
- Hurricane Ridge: Visible from Victoria, this often-snow peaked ridge is a good hiking area and a popular cycling destination for those who like to cycle uphill for an extended distance. That’s not me.
- Olympic Game Farm, a drive-through wildlife exhibit.
- Fort Worden State Park, where military fans can view old equipment.
- Sol Duc Hot Springs and Waterfalls
- Sutherland Lake, a cottage-rental and kayaking spot.
- Quileute Reservation, where the popular Twilight series was set. The area also has beaches, named first, second and third beach.
- Hoh Rain Forest Hall of Moss Trail.
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