For our final day of the trip, we spent both the morning and afternoon at beautiful Blake Island Marine Park. Hikers set to the forest with cameras, eager to capture the stunning birds and mushrooms of this dense woodland island. Some of us were treated with a true “National Geographic moment” when out onto the dock a whole family of river otters played and squabbled at our feet. Somehow, we avoided the predicted rain and ended up with a stunning day of mixed clouds and sunshine. From our little island oasis we could see the Seattle coastline with the Space Needle shining bright against a dark sky. Tomorrow we head for home, but tonight we will spend one last dinner enjoying the company of our new friends.
National Geographic Venture
Today we woke up aboard the National Geographic Venture to forecasts of stormy weather and the chance of rain. That did not stop our brave explorers from bundling up and boarding Zodiacs to head over to shore. We met our Zodiacs on dock with palpable excitement while staff members Sue and Shayne danced on the dock. Boarding coaches, we traveled up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park and while driving we had a taste of the scenic views to come. Once we made it to the top, gasps were audible as everyone could see the sweeping 360-degree views of the Olympic Mountain Range. We met our guides and were able to explore the peaks of this incredible area for over two hours. The range that we could see upon arrival was almost invisible upon our return due to the massive shifts in cloud coverage that gives this area its name. Winds whirled around us with such force that you could try to lean into the wind and be held afloat. The timing could not have been better as we could see rain on the horizon. On warm coaches, we set off down the mountain, driving through fall foliage to Lake Crescent. When we arrived, our amazing bar team, Ayla and Hunter, had set up lunch on the shores of the lake. Fall colors dotted the evergreen forest and only accentuated the beauty of this lake created by ancient ice sheets melting. With energy and renewed spirits of adventure, we entered an old-growth forest in Olympic National Park. Words cannot describe the feeling of standing in this place. The magic of the forest was clear from the moment you stepped into the tree line. Massive hemlock and cedars towered over open mouths as we moved along in sheer awe of the wisdom of this forest. Mushrooms abounded and ferns coated the floor. We hiked through hemlocks, cedars, firs, and maple that towered overhead. The river ran beside us and golden leaves could be seen floating down to be whisked away to areas unknown. The childlike wonder was audible as people questioned if fairies and gnomes were found in this area. This was only amplified by reaching Merymere falls. This cascading waterfall ties together all that we’ve seen and is a symbol of the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Once back aboard the ship, we were greeted with a beautiful spread of appetizers and cocktails before our nightly recap began. Tonight we learned about the amazing relationship we have with sustainable farms in the area and our head chef spoke to us about how every ingredient for dinner was collected by our local farmers. Our speaker Jim Thomas then graced us with a beautiful folktale of how Raven returned light to the earth. With recap concluded we headed to the dining room to dine on a delicious farm-to-table feast before returning to the lounge to hear our Certified Photo Instructor/Naturalist Shayne Sanders give presentation about the birds of the Salish Sea. That concluded our day of hearts filled with the exhilaration of discovery until we greet the day tomorrow for our final day of the voyage.