Have you ever had one of those Southwest Airlines commercial moments that make you ask yourself, "Need to get away?" Life comes at us faster and less apologetically every day with the constant demands of work and family. It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming 2007, yet in just a matter of days we'll be halfway through the year. Yes, that means we're almost done with May. Had to think about it, didn't you? When our lives are so hectic we can't remember what month it is much less which day of the week, it's time to stop and give yourself a break.
When you crawl into bed at night, don't you ever wonder at the calming sound of silence? Don't you enjoy the feel of your body and mind slowly turning itself off for the night? It's a wonderful feeling because you're taking a break from the stress of work, the annoyance of cell phones, the nagging of email and the mind-numbing of television. Silence. Peace. It's what your mind and soul craves but you've been too busy to listen.
Somewhere there's got to be a place of tranquility and peace your soul's been craving. Guess what? There is, and you don't need to hop on a plane to get there.
My husband, Gareth, and I were kindly invited to enjoy lunch at the Lake Quinault Lodge, located in the heart of the Olympic National Rainforest. It was a good 45 minute drive away from where we were staying at Ocean Shores, but it was an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of what makes Washington the Evergreen State.
When you hear rainforest, don't you think of the tropical jungles of South America? Or maybe that restaurant at Westfield Mall? Needless to say, your first thought isn't Washington. I was quite surprised to learn that Washington is the home of the nations three rainforests, and the Lake Quinault Lodge allows you the opportunity to sleep and play within one.
Entering the rainforest was like stepping back in time. Gone were the noises we associate with today's life: The rush of traffic, the blaring of the radio or television, the ringing of phones and the harried voices of the other stressed people with whom we surround ourselves. Here there was a different noise, so different, I couldn't call it noise. The soft rustle of the breeze through the dense trees was too calming to be noisy. Birds were chirping, leaves were fluttering, the lake was lapping at the shore like slow, even breathing. Here was peace. Here was tranquility. The hushed crunch of gravel under our feet was almost too loud in this place void of noise but full of sounds: the sighs and whispers of Mother Earth, the enchanting beckoning of nature.
With a rolling green lawn and a spectacular view, the Lodge invites visitors to sit, relax and absorb the splendor and glory of nature. Almost immediately upon arrival, Gareth made a friend.
Our lunch was hosted by the lodge's new events coordinator, Roger, a former forest ranger, who told us the "lodge cat" was new and free to any new home that wanted him. Gareth doesn't need much encouragement when it comes to adopting cats, but he realized the logistics of taking it back to the hotel would be tricky. Besides, this cat had it made. A beautiful view, an adirondack chair to lounge on. It would've been cruel to take him away from the lodge. Speaking from a cat's perspective, of course.
We met Roger in the Roosevelt Dining Room where we enjoyed a tasty lunch served by friendly staff. A soft-spoken man with a brilliant smile, Ranger Roger educated us on the history of the landmark hotel and the surrounding national park and took us on a quick tour of the surrounding area. He was extremely knowledgeable of the forest, his pride in and deep love for the area evident as he spoke.
On October 1, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Lake Quinault Lodge during a fact-finding trip. He called Lake Quinault "heaven on earth." During his visit, the topic of establishing a park came and nine months later, Roosevelt signed a bill creating Olympic National Park, which to this day remains a treasure countless visitors have enjoyed.
Covering an area of over 633,600 acres, Olympic National Forest is simply a place of breathtaking beauty, with so many shades of green, even the air seems verdant. The forest is a a temperate rainforest, so while it can get up to 25 feet of rain each year, it's accessible year round for such activities as camping, picnicking and hiking. While staying at the lodge, visitors can also arrange to go swimming, fishing, auto touring, canoeing, kayaking and interpretive tours to personally watch wilderness and wildlife abound.
The Quinault Lodge offers adventurous vacation packages for hikers, photo enthusiasts and fishermen. There's even a golf course nearby. Roger enjoyed telling us how the Roosevelt Elk like to traipse through the golf course, indelibly altering the landscape, so that golfers believing a straight putt can win their game stand astounded as they watch their golfball roll and bounce like a ping pong ball across the green.
But if you would like to just rest and rejuvenate, the Lodge is definitely the place to do that as well. While this landmark hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it does offer high-speed wireless internet connection in its lobby. But like its website www.visitlakequinault.com says, the Lodge is the perfect place to leave the cares of the work-a-day world behind. Curl up with a good book either by the grand fireplace in the lobby or on a lawn chair by the lake, picnic at the gazebo or have a romantic sunset dinner with a gorgeous view from the dining room.
However, it would behoove you to let the fresh air invigorate you and enjoy the impressive wonder of the forest and take in such sights as the largest Sitka spruce tree in the world. Also in the Quinalt Valley are the World's Largest Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir & Mountain Hemlock, the United States' largest Yellow Cedar & Western Hemlock.
For photo enthusiasts, the best time to catch the enchanting loveliness of the forest is early to late spring when the moss is moist and full, the forest floor is dense with new life.
The visit to Lake Quinault Lodge was definitely a highlight of our Ocean Shores getaway. A return trip is definitely on the calendar to take better advantage of the diversity of activities, sights and points of interests. Or just to get away.
For more information about Lake Quinault Lodge contact them by email, phone, fax or visit http://www.visitlakequinault.com/
Lake Quinault Lodge
345 South Shore Road
Quinault, WA 98575
Toll Free: 800.562.6672
For more information about the Olympic National Forest, visit http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/olympic/index.shtml or http://www.nps.gov/olym/