Leaving from Tacoma, our motorcycle takes us across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge northward to Bremerton along Washington State Route (SR) 16. We ride the V-Strom 650 through Bremerton to check out the Puget Sound and harbored Navy aircraft carriers. The large ships dwarf nearby buildings as they wait for orders.
From Bremerton, we head south of Hwy 106 along the southern finger of the Hood Canal. This scenic route winds through communities of vacation homes along their protected seaway. The area hangs in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains. Ominous clouds may look dubious in the near distance. Places like Sunset Beach, Shady Beach and the small town of Union, Washington are mostly sunny places to enjoy summer day. We find a small wooden waterwheel near Union. The Dalby Waterwheel is the most photographed spot in Mason County. At least according to the proprietor of the wine tasting room just up the street. The Dalby Waterwheel was originally built in 1922 and sat about 200 feet up the Dalby River. It was moved to its current location in 2006.
Firmly planted on the V-Strom, Monica and I travel a short distance further on Hwy 106 until it intersects with famous US Highway 101. Just a few miles after turning north we pass through the town of Hoodsport. This cozy, yet busy little sea town is home to Hoodsport Winery. This is a good place to pick up a bottle of local wine to enjoy at the end of the day. The line of wine tasters stretched into the small parking lot right off the road. We decide to leave the line in the mirrors and keep on keepin’ on.
Our original plan was to leave Hoodsport and head up Hwy 119 toward the Staircase area of the Olympic National Park. A split-second decision shifts our focus to Hamma Hamma — about 15 miles north on Hwy 101. Just past the town of Eldon, National Park (NP) 25 starts as a twisty paved road that climbs quickly away from the Hood Canal coastline. Shortly after the Hamm Hamma campground, the road comes to a “T” intersection. We turn south (left) and follow the dirt road along the Hamma Hamma River. Yes, I just like to say that name, Hamma Hamma.
The dirt road puts a smile across my face from left to right ear lobe. It rapidly climbs high up the mountain. Sharp tree-filled cliffs remind me to pick solid lines with delayed turns to maximize vision of on-coming vehicles. Of which, we never find. We do eventually find what we’re looking for, waterfalls. The Hamma Hamma Falls are somewhat hidden. The photogenic falls crash 75 feet in a gorge below a cement bridge. NP 25 continues on, but our goal is to reach Sequim early enough to pitch our new tent for the first time in the daylight.
Hwy 101 fits neatly between the green hillside and the greenish blue of the Hood Canal. The sediment of the many snow and glacier fed rivers drain into the canal and give it an interesting hue.
Hwy 101 leaves the salty water just north of Brinnon. The scenery changes to grazing farmland with hills to the west. The sun hangs low over the mountain and my mind is increasingly concerned about setting up camp.
Before long we enter Sequim. We ride west through town in search of Kitchen Dick Road. Though a horrible name for a road, it leads to a very unique place. A more than five-mile sand bar stretches out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca called the Dungeness Spit. This growing geomorphic formation is the largest spit in the United States.
Our goal was to set up camp at the Dungeness Recreation area campground. This being a busy holiday weekend means that the popular campground is full for the night. Plan B was to head to a nearby primitive campground with hope that the family and minivan crowd would rather the conveniences of nicer facilities.
The dual personality of the Suzuki V-Strom gets put to use. Heading south from the Dungeness Spit, we cross over Hwy 101 onto Deer Park Road. The paved road undulates up and down the gentle roll of the foothills overlooking farmland. The paved road gives way to the dirt of Fire Road (FR) 2870. This is the second dirt road of the day. It gives me a smile in my growing worry about finding a place to pitch a tent. We turn onto FR 2880 and head toward the Dungeness Forks campground.
My plan to avoid the minivan crowd works. It also works for everyone in Jeeps, Land Cruisers and Westfalia vans as well. The camp sites are all occupied. Lucky for us, a kind couple looked up from their camp fire and saw us scouting unofficial spots that would make due for the night. They see the compactness of our motorcycle and suggest that we take a corner of their site.
We pitch our tent in minutes and turn our attention to cooking hot dogs over the already burning fire. All is good. I wish I could remember the kind people’s names. They saved us from a headache. Don’t wait as long as we did to occupy the no reservation camp sites of the Olympic National Park.
After dinner we cozy up in our sleeping bags and get some much needed sleep. Tomorrow we’ll see the small towns along the Strait of Juan de Fuca and more of the Olympic National Park.
As peninsulas go, there are three options for day trips (west side, north side and east side.). This trip is being split up into separate articles by day. This allows you to pick and choose which parts best fit with your schedule and what you’d like to see. Time didn’t allow us to make the western Pacific Ocean portion of the Olympic Peninsula. Stay tuned for the next article on the northern section of our trip.