A State Capitol Visit and Reconnecting With Friends – Olympia, WA

We were hoping to see some sunshine when we got back to the good ol’ USA on Sept 15th (my, that was a long time ago!), but it seemed like we had brought the same foggy dreary days that we experienced in Victoria, BC back with us.  I know, I know, there’s a lot of that in the Pacific Northwest 😉

Having emptied our refrigerator of all fruits and vegetables for the border crossing, our first order of business was grocery shopping and then we hibernated in Sequim as a storm passed through.  We were quickly overwhelmed by cabin fever and headed out for a 6-mile hike at Slab Camp Trail #838.  It was lined with a variety of mushrooms that seemed to love the wet weather:

From Sequim our southward migration continued to Olympia, the capital of Washington.  As you may guess we took time for a guided tour of the state capitol building.  We learned that it’s unique in that it was intentionally formed as multiple buildings on a “capitol campus”; it faces Capitol Lake, Puget Sound, and the distant Olympic Mountains.  It was intended to be seen from afar as a single large structure supporting the dome of the Legislative Building at its center:

The Legislative Building and Justice Building as seen from Capitol Lake

The state is named after the first president of the United States, and no doubt he would be pleased that the state seal featuring him is found not only on the rotunda floor but throughout the building as decorations on railings, doorknobs, furniture, and curtains.  It lacked the historical artifacts and striking works of art we’ve seen in other capitol buildings, and our tour guide advised that a simplistic, sparse atmosphere is exactly what was intended.

The rotunda holds four statuesque fire pots in its corners that replicate ancient Roman signal lights, with the state seal and a bust of George Washington overlooking it

All the original lighting designs inside and out were created by Tiffany, including an ornate 5-ton bronze centerpiece chandelier made by artists in New York and shipped via railroad.

Looking up

After the tour we followed paths around Capitol Lake while viewing the colorful urban setting of downtown Olympia and its wooded hillsides surrounding the capitol building.  We ended our walk at Percival Landing.

View of Capitol Lake as seen from the hilltop campus
Can you spot the tourist?

That evening we were invited to dinner at Ed and Sharon’s beautiful home.  We first met them by chance at Tybee Island, GA last fall and at that time they invited us to visit them should we happen to be in Olympia.  Here we were a year later, happy to see them and enjoy a wonderful meal…

…and the view from their home!

The Capitol Building at the south end of Budd Inlet
I was flabbergasted upon seeing Mt Rainier from their backyard!

We had a delightful happy hour and dinner while getting to know them better.  This is what makes the RV lifestyle so awesome, meeting people on the road and forging friendships along the way.  We had a wonderful time, thank you Ed and Sharon!

Sharon, Steve and Ed

We also connected with my old friends Erwin and Estrella.  Erwin is a friend from college, and Estrella and I were co-workers at a bank in the Philippines.  What’s really heartwarming is that Erwin asked me in advance what Filipino food did I crave that he could cook and bring with them on their visit.  I haven’t seen this guy since my college days, and now he’s bringing us food – not one, but two potfuls of deliciousness!  He’s a great cook, and our tummies were very happy that night.

It was so good to see them again and spend several hours reminiscing about good old days back in the Philippines. “Daghang Salamat, magkita na pud ta puhon.”

All that good food prompted us to search for a trail to burn off some calories.  Tumwater Falls Park was a few miles from our site at American Heritage Campround.  We followed a scenic loop trail along the Deschutes River and three cascading waterfalls, with interpretive signs featuring images that illustrate the history of the area.  The Olympia Brewing Company was built at the lower falls in 1906, and they claimed to brew the best beer on the west coast.  The waterfall we saw during our hike was displayed on their cans for decades:

Tumwater Falls
Olympia Beer – there’s the waterfall!

The final stretching of our legs on this stop was at Millersylvania State Park, nestled in broad stands of old-growth cedar and fir trees.  The Miller family gave the 842-acre property to the state in 1921,  stipulating that it must forever be used as a park.

Buildings such as this one were constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, almost entirely by hand
Old-growth fir trees were plentiful
Millersylvania means “wooded glade”

And with that we continued on to Oregon!




  1. This post is a keeper! Beautiful area; I was there a couple yrs ago and was charmed by Mt. Rainier’s presence everywhere I went. Must go back and visit those places I missed . . . your post is my inspiration 🙂

  2. Fun times under the gray roof that is the PNW. I hope you picked and ate that Chanterelle mushroom. Oh I miss them. They’re delicious.

  3. Ha, I knew TBG would say something about that chanterelle! We used to go pickin’ every fall, though I don’t care for the fungus at all. Fun to hunt, though!

    Sorry WA didn’t shine much for you, but at least The Mountain peeked out! It wasn’t a very nice September there this year, which was not normal. It was always my favorite month there. So nice you got to meet up with your old pals over delicious eats!

  4. We haven’t spent any time in Olympia, but you make it look appealing. I always enjoy visiting the state capitol buildings and seeing what makes each one different. All of them seem to have enormous gaudy chandeliers the size of Volkswagons, LOL. But they’re pretty!
    I had to enlarge the photo of the mural to find you…that is such a fun, creative photo!

  5. I’m sorry we missed stopping in Olympia. What a fantastic view for the government campus. Boy, your friends have an amazing view!! Wow! Mt Rainier every day!! Love those rainforest trails with the ferns, mushrooms, and moss. This is an area we will most likely return to see places we missed.

  6. I loved the picture of Steve walking down the leaf strewn, fern lined path….so peaceful. And the one of him next to the “giant”…..they both share the same long legs! What a beautiful view from your friends yard….I agree, new (and old) friends are such a lovely part of this lifestyle. Thanks for getting back to blogging, we like to see what you’re seeing!

  7. I like that capitol! It’s pretty – and interesting how they built it. I guess the downside of any trip to Washington state is all that rain.The upside is all that green! And the hikes. And the views. And the beer… I guess it really does work hard to compensate for its downsides. And you are absolutely right about making friends on the road. It’s rare now that we travel anywhere without knowing someone, and it’s been one of the best parts of this project.

  8. That is such a beautiful area! We have friends in Sequim and seriously considered buying land there. Love hiking those forest there, did you pick any mushrooms?

  9. What a beautiful part of our country and one day I would love to return there for another visit. You always take the best pictures of Capital buildings ML…they are so hard to capture in photos! We are always impressed with the trails you find along your travels!

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