Photography purists will insist that you can't get decent shots in mid-afternoon because of the bad light. While that may be true for some subjects, I still believe that if you do a little exploring, you can find some that work out great. When I was in Mount Rainier National Park this past May, I was up well before the crack of dawn to get some sunrise shots. I hiked the rest of the morning and headed back to Paradise for some lunch. The early afternoon light wasn't great but I went out to explore anyway. Driving east from Paradise, I passed this little sign that said Sunbeam Creek. Just past the sign, I spotted this waterfall out of the corner of my eye. I knew immediately that I was going to shoot a long exposure to get the water cascading over the rocks. I also figured that the end product would probably be a black and white, as the colors were washed out because of the light. I also composed the shot to eliminate the drab sky.
So, take your camera out with you when the light isn't great. Maybe exploring will not pay off but when you see something that may work, give it a try.