We have traveled 6500 miles so far this summer. One of the things we have noticed while on the road is that there seem to be many more motor homes on the road this year than in years past. I can recall the days when we considered purchasing a motor home and then first hit the road. We would drive down any road and see lots of RV's of all kinds. Then the industry fell on hard times. Fuel prices went up and motor homes pretty quickly disappeared from the roads and highways. We traveled through New England in 2005 and saw many RV's sitting by the roadside with for sale signs everywhere we went. We saw very few motor homes on the road. That has been the case ever since. I'm sure other FMCA members have noticed the same thing.
Based on our informal observations, this year is different. Everywhere we have traveled we have seen other motor homes on the road. Noticeably more people are out and traveling this summer. We attended a Lone Star Chapter rally in late May and the turnout was considerably larger than in the past. I wonder if this will be reflected in the turnout for the FMCA gathering in Indianapolis this month.
We're moving on to a new park tomorrow. We've been in Sequim, WA for two weeks. We'll move to Elwa Dam just west of Port Angeles. A week, maybe more there will give us a chance to explore other areas of Olympic National Park. Most of the park is wilderness so there are only a few roads that provide access to the park. Our days of backpacking are past so we don't get far into the interior. Still each road is an adventure. We drove to the Deer Park Campground and Blue Mountain viewpoint on Saturday. Deer Park Road is 18 miles long from Hwy 101 to the peak of Blue Mountain with the last 8 miles being a narrow gravel road. It is winding, steep and quite scenic. Louise was quite tense as many of the views were out her window on the way up the mountain. She was frequently looking down a very steep slope extending hundreds of feet down the mountainside. I was busy looking for oncoming traffic because the narrow road required negotiating with other drivers to find a place to pass. Fortunately, all drivers were taking their driving very seriously and they were watching for us as much as we were watching for them.
Once we got to the top, the view was well worth the drive. We had the mountaintop experience without making the climb ourselves. We did walk a short trail up to the peak. To the south we could see the interior mountains of the park. Even now in August, these peaks up to 7980 foot high are holding significant amounts of snow. To the east we were looking down the steep slopes of Blue Mountain to the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. Off to the north was the town of Sequim where we are staying. Beyond that we could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and across the strait we could see the southern shore of Vancouver Island. On the horizon to the northeast the snow capped volcano, Mount Baker, stood out above the surrounding terrain. All around us the view was spectacular. The trail guide highlighted the role of rain or in this case lack of it in shaping the flora and fauna in this area. Blue Mountain and Sequim are in the rain shadow of the higher mountains to the west. Those mountains take all the moisture from the Pacific air as it is lifted over them. As the air descends the eastern side of the mountains it is too dry to drop much precipitation, this forms a rain shadow.
One of the other delights we've found here on the Olympic Peninsula is the Olympic Discovery Trail. This bicycle and walking trail extends 130 miles from Port Townsend in the east to La Push on the Pacific Coast. Much of the trail in the area where we are is paved. In other areas the trail is unpaved and in many places to the west it still uses the shoulder of roads. We've ridden two sections of the trail here at Sequim. To the east the trail crosses two wooden railroad trestles. One is 410 feet long and stands 86 feet above the stream below. The section passes through Sequim Bay State Park and goes on the Blyn, a community of Pacific Coastal Indians. We ate a snack at the Hwy 101 rest stop next to the trail then went on to the native art shop to browse the work of some local artists. Our return trip was easier than we expected and we enjoyed a happy hour beverage sitting in the shade when we got back to the motor home.
Just as we are seeing more RV's on the road, we are seeing parks closer to full capacity. There have been a few no vacancy signs at parks so we are making reservations as we move. This is something we have seldom done in the past. If this is a sign of the times it is a good sign.