Washington State: Snow Day in Olympic

Olympic National Park, Christmas Day 1997

Olympic National Park, Christmas Day 1997

There’s traveler’s wisdom in a simple concept: Don’t overplan.

We took our first longer-than-a-weekend, not-to-see-family, multi-destination trip together in December 1997. (And to think, we’d been together three years by then.) We put aside nine days to visit Seattle and Victoria, B.C., and the trip was cold, fun, rainy and exciting.

But when I look back, just about my favorite part was an unexpected side trip to Washington’s Olympic National Park.

That Christmas morning, we awoke in our Seattle University District B&B — the Chambered Nautilus — and felt itchy for adventure. With much of the city closed for the holiday, we got directions from the innkeepers and headed for the mountains.

Hooray for us, Olympic is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Sure, snow was rumored to be “spectacularly high” in the park and our rental car was a little Japanese affair, but you’ve heard the story before: You can’t stop two crazy kids in love.

Our gorgeous 2½ hour drive to the park included a ferry across Puget Sound and not a lot of companion traffic. I have a vague memory of Journey on the radio and some singing at the tops of our lungs…but I could be wrong.

We were relieved to find that the latest snow had stopped the night before, the road up to the visitor’s center was decently plowed, and there were only a few other people. We’d never seen anything like the view from the top of the hill (see above). Snow was a little over twelve feet high, swallowing the bottoms of huge trees. It was an almost perfect hushing quiet and the sun was crystal bright. We tramped around like little kids, lifting our feet high in the air and crunching them down on the powdery crust.

These photos make me laugh. I mean, at this point in our lives, when faced with this much glaring winter, we’d surely have on coats and sunglasses, maybe even boots. This moment was almost the end of the line for my ’80s Papagallo sweater and Adam’s early ’90s glasses, and it was a haircut turning point for us both. But the really tickling part is how excited we are to be together in a new place, far from our regularly-scheduled lives, just the two of us.

This was the trip where we became co-travelers.




  1. Hi,

    The photographs of the snow covered park are very beautiful I especially liked the photograph where you are standing in the snow with all the attitude that you could probably muster. It is a really sweet picture.

    How i wish i could have such fun and frolic in the snow!!!

  2. Absolutely beautiful view. Great pictures of the glacier, I drove by after staying in Port Angeles one night two weeks ago, but could not get any views of the Olympic mountains during my vacation drive down west south west around the Olympic Peninsula.

    Best Regards,


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