November 23, 2004

Crystal River, FL

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:50 pm by diandy2004

The weather has been perfect. Sunny and warm. It would be a delight to sit outside and enjoy the temperatures, but the gnats have been fierce. Driving us insane with their bites and buzzing.

Yesterday we visited Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. They have a variety of Florida’s wildlife – manatees, alligators, panther, black bear, foxes, bald eagles, cranes, hawks, and lots of other birds. Some of them have been injured and cannot be returned to the wild. We almost didn’t make it into the park, however, since the boats were full and the lines were long and slow. The disorganization of it all was almost too unbearable to wait through.

Afterwards we played some tennis at the RV Park. It’s an Encore Superpark and they have all the amenities – heated pool, spa, pool table, shuffleboard, tennis, lake, docks on the canal, a variety of classes, etc. Sadly, Andy beat me at pool and tennis. I have to quit teaching him so well. Then we relaxed in the spa and pool (heated to 84 degrees).

Today was a dual-sport day. Drove to Dunnellon to kayak in Rainbow River and bike on the Withlacoochee State Trail (Rail to Trail). Rainbow River was beautiful. We put in at KP Hole County Park and paddled against the current to the headsprings. The water is crystal clear, and a year-round 72 degrees. Kayaking this river is like snorkeling without getting wet. We could see fish and turtles swimming below us. We had hoped to see anhingas and alligators pass by underneath but we weren’t that lucky.

Kayaking Rainbow River

Kayaking Rainbow River

Rainbow Springs State Park is the headwaters of Rainbow River, so we got out of our kayaks and walked the trails here. They have several waterfalls (all man-made) but still a very pretty place. Unfortunately several paths were closed due to downed trees from the hurricanes. Rainbow Springs is the fourth largest spring in Florida. No disposable items are allowed on Rainbow River (Gatorade bottles, snack bags, etc) which could be one reason we didn’t see any trash – even on the bottom!

Rainbow Springs State Park

The Withlacoochee State Trail is a 46-mile paved path running from Dunnellon to US 304. We almost always enjoy biking these Rail-to-Trails because they are more peaceful than biking on unfamiliar roads. The one problem that we have encountered several times, however, is finding the trailheads. Today was one of those days. Oh, well. Once we found it, it was a nice 12ft wide path with trees buffering any paralleling roads. Rolling hills kept it interesting. Andy had some trouble with the local wildlife though – almost running over a snake and a gopher tortoise (which would’ve been messy for him and the tortoise).

Afterwards we slowed down to enjoy another gorgeous sunset…

Sunset on the Gulf

Sunset on the Marsh

Ok for now, we’re heading back to the pool and jacuzzi!  Clicking on any picture will take you to the Web Albums where more pictures have been posted…

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November 18, 2004

Old Town, FL – Kayaking Old Florida

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:49 pm by diandy2004

From Tallahassee we headed south and stayed along the Gulf Coast. We refer to it as “old Florida” because it’s what Florida used to be like before all of the condos and concrete.

In Old Town we stayed at a lovely RV Park called Suwannee River Hideaway. The park office was an “old” 1920’s General Store.  The owners had built – by hand, mind you –  a 1500′ boardwalk through the swamp to the Suwannee River.  Shortly after arriving, we set out to find the boardwalk and the river.  We sat on the floating dock enjoying the view and then were joined by another couple – Jerry and Dee, and their dog Jaxson.  The hours slipped by before we knew it.  Jerry and Dee have been full-timing for the last three years and it seemed once we started talking we couldn’t stop. After three days together, we feel like we’ve known them forever. We’re hoping to cross paths with Jerry and Dee again someday on our travels.

The 1500' Boardwalk

The Floating Dock

It was too long of a portage to carry our kayaks to the river from the campground, so we drove to the town of Suwannee looking for kayak launches. There were supposed to be two along the 9-mile Dixie Mainline Road – one on Sanders Creek and one on Shired Creek. The spots were too crowded with saw palmettos and other pointy plants and too thick with muck to be inviting. Not to mention that a “blow-back” tide was in effect, in which the wind was pushing the tide out even though it was a rising tide. The thought of the water getting any lower was disconcerting. Luckily we ran into a FL Fish and Wildlife Ranger who gave us several other boat ramp options to choose from. We had a wonderful paddle down a narrow waterway from Munden Camp to the Suwannee River and then down some other channels leading into a wildlife refuge. (Note: we finally got to paddle the Suwannee 10 months after our first attempt in Jan).  We saw turtles, alligators, and lots of birds. I rescued a dragonfly who had lost a wing and was floating in the river – he stayed with me the rest of the trip.

Paddling from Munden Camp

My Hitchhiking Buddy

There are several canoe-kayak trails near the Gulf that we saw in a brochure.  We’ll have to investigate these on another trip.

We should mention too that the drive along Dixie Mainline was a treat – taking you through wetlands, marsh, swamp, and dry hammocks – and was worth the trip even if we couldn’t kayak. Many of the homes in Suwannee were on stilts, some around 20′ high.  We did a couple of short walks during the drive, too – to Fishbone Cemetary, Fishbone Observation Point, a boardwalk at Salt Creek – so there were places to get out and stretch and explore.

Dixie Mainline

View from Dixie Mainline

Another day we rode our road-bikes along the Nature Coast Trail (a Rail to Trail). The trail is a total of 32 miles long and is shaped in a “y” going to different towns. We started in Old Town near the Hardees and rode to Trenton and then down to Fanning Springs. Eventhough we rode 28 miles, it was a lazy ride with a lunch stop in Trenton (at the Cypress Swamp Cafe at the Trenton trailhead which was built in an old 1925 Coca-Cola building and offered salads, sandwiches and deserts) and then a stop at Fanning Springs just to enjoy the green waters of the spring. They experienced some damages from the hurricanes here, but fortunately for us the waters returned to their natural green color last week.  If you’re lucky you’ll see some manatees here.  The springs are a constant 72 degrees.

Trenton Train Depot

Fanning Springs

Added Note: Suwannee River Hideaway throws a big halloween Party every year – and they even put together a “haunted house”.  If we’re ever back in that neck of the woods in late October, I want to remember to check it out.

November 14, 2004

Tallahassee, FL

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 8:48 pm by diandy2004

Well, we’re back in Florida. We crossed over the border yesterday. After setting up camp, we toured the old Capitol building yesterday and was quite surprised. After visiting Oklahoma’s and Texas’ Capitols we were expecting marble and grandeur. Our state capitol (the old one) more closely resembled a plantation home with red and white striped awnings over each window and a grand staircase in the lobby. No marble, no ornate woodwork. But pretty in its simplicity. Even the stained glass in the dome was simple. The new Capitol built in 1977 is a 22-story skyscraper without a dome at all. What’s a capitol building without a dome? We weren’t able to tour the new capitol building since it was closed on the weekends. But from what we saw, if I was Jeb I’d much prefer to work in the old capitol.

Old Florida Capitol from 1902

Old Florida Capitol from 1902

Inside the Capitol

Inside the Capitol

New Florida Capitol from 1977

New Florida Capitol from 1977

After touring the capitol we walked around downtown Tallahassee for a bit.  We had hoped to hit some more museums and the like, but it was after 5pm so everything was closing up.  We’ll have to revisit the city another visit.

Today we took a nice long bike ride on the Tallahassee-St Marks Historic Rail Trail. Sixteen miles each way with a lunch stop in St Marks. I was happy to see that the Riverside Cafe actually offered vegetarian items in this tiny (2-cafe)  fishing village near the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately it was quite chilly (high 50’s) and windy (15mph + and in our faces…both ways) making it feel even colder. So much for being in sunny Florida. But it was a nice ride on a paved bikeway with trees most of the way. At one point I was chased by a small pug shorter than my knee. Actually, I think it was more of a ‘race’ than a ‘chase’. He didn’t seem as much interested in biting me as he was in just beating me. I clocked the little guy at 20.8 mph – unbelievable for tiny little legs like his. It’s been a long time since we’ve ridden 32 miles. We’re sure we’re going to feel the pain tomorrow. Got to keep practicing though so we can keep up with Melissa when we get home to Boca!

November 4, 2004

Canyon, TX – Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 8:39 pm by diandy2004

We drove 290 miles to Canyon, TX with the wind at our back and ‘downhill’ most of the way. With these conditions we got the best gas mileage yet – 11.11 mpg. Our destination was Palo Duro State Park, just south of Amarillo. One thing we’re learning about Texas – it keeps secrets about it’s beautiful areas and Palo Duro is one of them.

This is the second largest canyon in the country at 120 miles long and 800 feet deep. The State Park offers 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails down in the canyon. The drive down to the campground is a two-mile long road with a 10% grade and switchbacks. The canyon walls consist of reds, purples, yellows, and whites. The canyon floor is a multitude of greens. There were hoodoos, caprocks and “spanish skirts” at every turn. An absolute feast for the eyes.

Overlooking Palo Duro Canyon

Spanish Skirts

My Favorite Caprock

Our initial plan was one day in the park, but after hiking and biking on Saturday, we knew it just wasn’t enough! The problem was the weather. Weather reports were calling for a “dusting of snow” on Monday and high winds around 35mph. So we couldn’t just stay one more day, it would have to be two – one for fun (Sun) and one to “hunker down” and wait out the bad weather (Mon). So Sunday was spent biking around the park. These were some of the best biking trails we’ve been on – well-maintained, challenging, but doable for someone of Diane’s skill-level. Some trails were also for biking only which is a rare find.

Colors of Palo Duro

But here’s what really happened with the weather and why we’ll never trust weathermen again: Sunday was overcast, not sunny as forecasted; Monday was cold with high winds but it did not snow; Tuesday it snowed…and snowed…and snowed; Wednesday, the road out of the canyon was coated in snow and slush (remember 10% grade) and the highway out of the park was reported as impassable. The snow in the canyon melted quickly on Wednesday morning since it averages 10 degrees warmer at the bottom, but we hiked up the road to the rim and found 6″ still sitting on top. Weather reports stated a nearby town got 13″ of snow, so I guess we were lucky? The State Park was officially closed for the two days – with 4 campers and 2 camphosts stuck on the bottom. We weren’t able to drive out til Thursday. Jim and Chris – you guys don’t know cold til you follow our Tour de America. We got excited when temps went above freezing!

But what a place. And what an opportunity to see it draped in snow. The contrast of colors: the deep reds and purples covered in white. The contradiction of a desert’s prickly pear cacti and agaves buried in snow. Coyotes howling and yipping in the distance. We couldn’t resist hiking in it on Tuesday. Once, in the middle of the snow storm with winds howling at 40 mph and snow blowing sideways. And then later when it slowed down just prior to sunset. Now we understand why the Red River (which carved this canyon) is called the Red River. Normally it was brown, but with the new precipitation it was red from the fresh erosion process. And now there was lots of little streams or trickles where there were none yesterday…all deep red…against the white snow.

Let it Snow!

Snowball Fight!

Red Dirt and White Snow

Hiking in Subfreezing Temps

Hiking in the Snow

Since we were trapped on Wednesday, we went hiking again to see the changes. Again, most of the snow melted quickly so the trail was thick with mud in spots. The sandstone cliffs were visibly and noisily calving away from the weight of the snow and water. The park road has six river crossings, but now was closed at river crossing number four because the red, muddy water is flowing over the road.

Sloshing thru the Mud

What a visit. What a park.

Palo Duro is one of the places on our list to visit again. Try to get there yourself, but don’t tell the Texans we told you…

…it’s a secret!



There are more pictures on the Web Albums. Just click on any of these pictures and you’ll see them bigger and you can see more of this park.

October 15, 2004

Redwoods National Park, CA

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 7:18 pm by diandy2004

It was only 26 miles from Brookings to reach our next destination.  The BIG trees started on Route 197.  I was driving the RV and thought on some turns, where the trees were almost on the road, that I might lose a side mirror.  Our initial plan was to stay in a private RV park with hook-ups, but after driving through we decided to check out Jedediah State Park instead.  We lost our hook-ups, but got the big trees we were looking for.  We found the perfect campsite – nestled between 6 tall trees.

The Perfect Campsite

The Redwoods are actually protected by a combination of State Parks and National Park. Its a long skinny grouping of parks that encompasses the remaining 4% of old-growth redwood forest (of the original 2 million acres as of 1850) and runs along the coast. We stayed in Jedediah State Park which is in the most northern section. One day we traveled throughout the park driving the scenic Coastal Drive and Newton Drury Road, stopped to watch the elk cooling off in a pond near Davison Road, and hiked a trail through Lady Bird Grove.  We attempted a hike to Big Tree Wayside, but a “widowmaker” blocked our path.  A widowmaker is a fallen branch.  Considering the size of these branches, and the distance they fall, I wouldn’t question that they are lethal.

Redwood Bark can be 12" Thick

Ele vs. Redwoods

It’s rutting season for the elk so we had hoped to hear the males “bugling” and to see some territorial displays but it must’ve been too hot for them to fight over their women.

Elk Cooling Off in Pond

After putting 130 miles on the car that day-trip we realized that Jedediah offered some of the most beautiful old-growth anyhow, so the rest of the days were spent hiking and biking in the State Park. The redwoods are incredible – the can grow to 367′ tall and have bark 12″ thick. Andy measured one with a 67′ circumference. Our necks ached after days of looking straight up. But it was The Quiet in the forest that was so powerful. At times when you stopped hiking and just stood still the only sounds you could hear would be the ringing in your ears or an occasional “tweep” from a small bird. And if you met other hikers, there was a tendency to whisper your greetings. It was unnatural to hear voices or sounds of man when standing amongst trees ranging 200 – 1500 years old.

Andy Inside "Goose Pen"

A “goose pen” is a hallowed out tree (either from fire or disease). Farmers used to pen in their livestock in these trees. The fascinating thing, though, is that these trees are still alive.

We took a bike ride on Howland Hills Road.  It’s a packed gravel surface.  We rode about 12 miles on the road, and an extra 2 miles on Bald Hills Trail.  This was the perfect way to tour Howland Hills Road.  We think we would’ve missed too much if we drove it.

A Triple-Trunked Tree

Diane Inside a Downed Tree

Unfortunately we didn’t get much sleep our first two nights in Redwoods. The first night our LP alarm kept going off – we never figured out why but the only way we got it to stop was to shut off the propane at the valve. Knock on wood, it hasn’t happened again since. The second night we thought we had gotten used to the sounds of thumb-sized redwood cones falling on the roof of our RV (imagine rocks pounding on a fiberglass/plastic roof), but when branches started to fall we started to have visions of what damages could occur. Apparently the wind picked up during the night and knocked some dead branches loose. No damages occurred, but it was a fitful sleep.  So much for our “perfect campsite”.

Thankfully, these were the largest

Tiny Redwood Cones

We drove to Crescent City to run errands and tour Battery Point Lighthouse. Tours are available only at low tide because you have to walk across rocks to reach the island. This was the first lighthouse we’ve seen furnished. The couple touring it are living in it for 2 months as volunteer lightkeepers. That’s cool.

Battery Point Lighthouse

Another day we took a hike along Boy Scout Trail to Fern Falls.  The falls were small, but the hike was gorgeous.  Big trees, with the sunbeams breaking through, tons of mushrooms of all varieties, and the sounds of birds all added to the beauty of the trail.

Hiking Boy Scout Trail

What a beautiful place – Redwoods.

September 27, 2004

Portland, OR – The City, Mt Hood, and Marine Drive

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:38 pm by diandy2004

We’ve been having a wonderful time in Portland. Visiting with friends and seeing the sights. There’s a lot to see and do in this area. More than we can handle in a few days. On Friday the girls got a day out together. Jen, Rene, and Diane went into the city and walked around the Vietnam Memorial, arboretum, Rose Garden, and Japanese Garden. The Japanese Garden was a very peaceful and serene place to be. A perfect place to meditate.

The Japanese Gardens

The Japanese Gardens

That evening we met up with all the boys at Edgefields – a poor house turned into a microbrewery and winery. It was a campus of buildings with several bars and restaurants. Guitarists played in the wine cellar and workers were mashing grapes in a courtyard. There were indoor bars and outdoor bars. Our first beers were purchased in the old morgue. A very funky place indeed. The McMeneminns brothers converted the poor house and the old Kennedy school (another location in Portland) into these very hip and successful microbreweries.

Saturday we spent near Mt Hood. Unfortunately Rene’s husband, Todd, wasn’t able to join us but this gave Aquiles and Andy a day to play “dada” to little Michael. We hiked about 7-8 miles round-trip to Ramona Falls. Aquiles carried Michael in the “kids backpack” on the way out (Michael slept most of the way), then Andy carried Michael on the way back (Michael was wide awake, swaying, and smacking Andy upside the head). The hike was through forest, with periodic views of Mt Hood, and the falls were a wonderful destination.

Hiking to Ramona Falls

Hiking to Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls

Ramona Falls

After the hike we were all starving as we headed to Timberline Lodge for a late lunch at 5:00pm. The clouds came in while we ate dinner so when we went back outside we found that we were on top of the world. Thick blankets of clouds laid on the hills below us with the sun setting into the clouds to the west, the almost-full moon high above us to the east, and Mt Adams the only other landmark in sight. A magical moment.

Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge

Mt Hood from Timberline Lodge

Cloud Shrouded World

Cloud Shrouded World

Chairlifts Rise Above Clouds

Chairlifts Rise Above Clouds

Moonrise over Clouds

Moonrise over Clouds

Sunday we went for a bike ride along Marine Drive. It’s great to be with friends relaxing and chatting. I loved the boathouses. You can see in the picture below that they have regular garage doors, but they pull their boats in not cars. We biked back to Rene and Todd’s house and relaxed in the backyard having a barbecue.

Biking Marine Drive

Biking Marine Drive

Boathouses

Boathouses with Boatgarages

Surprisingly enough we are experiencing some sunny days here in Portland. It’s usually cloudy in the morning but burns off around lunch time. The sun has been tremendously hot, but the breezes keep you cool. We were supposed to leave today for the Portland Coast, but we started to experience some funny noises with our converter fan so we have an appointment at Camping World for tomorrow. We don’t want to end up in a remote area with no power. Just playing it safe.

September 23, 2004

Camping Along the Columbia River Gorge

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 3:37 pm by diandy2004

On Saturday we headed to the Columbia River Gorge and spent the next five days slowly heading west along it towards Portland.

Our first stop was in Maryhill, WA. We stayed at the state park (Maryhill State Park) right next door to Peach Beach RV Park (Jim and Chris’ old stomping grounds – watch out guys we are hot on your trail!). From this base camp we visited Stonehenge and the Maryhill Museum, and we relaxed on the riverbank and watched the huge barges going by. Even though we’re in a desert, this is a big area for wineries and fruit orchards which create interesting patterns of green on the brown slopes.

At Stonehenge

At Stonehenge

We also took a nice bike ride along Deschutes River at the State Recreation Area on the Oregon side.  The mostly flat, gravel trail was an old railroad bed that ran along the river in a desert canyon.  The hills were mostly gold grass and volcanic rocks.  Some of the rocks had interesting sunburst patterns.  While we took our lunch break at an abandoned rail car, we examined all the miscellaneous iron parts and wondered what Dan Klennert would’ve seen in them.  We weren’t as creative as he is!

Biking Deschutes River

Biking Deschutes River

Biking Deschutes River

Biking Deschutes River

Sometimes changing locations requires some time to adjust.  It was a dramatic change to be back in an area with small bushes, brown grass and tiny flowers after coming out of such big, bold parks such as Grand Teton and Rainier.

Heading west to our next stop near Hood River we started to notice a change in the scenery. More trees! Our new base camp was the Bridge RV Park in White Salmon, WA. The biggest drawback in the Gorge is the fact that there are highways and rail lines on both sides of the river. So you can’t avoid the noise. Unfortunately this pretty little RV Park was so close to the tracks that the train almost blew us out of bed at night. Losing one night of sleep was the most we could sacrifice to be in this nice area of the Gorge. We did pay extra for a late check-out, though, in order to see more before heading further west.

Our first afternoon we took a scenic drive up to Rowena Crest and did a short hike out onto the Tom McCall’s Nature Preserve. The 25-35 mph winds made it a little hairy to be close to the cliffs, but the views up and down the gorge were pretty.  I was also surprised to find, what I would call, two oasis on the plateau – with lakes, trees, and birds – plopped in the middle of a desert.

The Columbia River Gorge

The Columbia River Gorge

In order to keep the Old Columbia River Highway at a 5% grade, they built in lots of curves. It was a lovely drive.

Old Columbia River Road

Old Columbia River Hwy

We checked out downtown Hood River visiting shops and taking a detour to Big Horse Microbrewery with a nice view of the river and windsurfers and kite surfers.

The next day we took a bike ride along the Historic Columbia River Highway Trail. We biked the portion closed to vehicles between Hood River and Mosier. The old highway is halfway up the cliffs with great views, it is paved and hilly, it is shaded with trees, and this portion has the Twin Tunnels – all of which make this a great ride.  The biggest challenge on this ride?  The changing temperatures.  Riding from the sun into the shade felt like a 20-degree temperature difference.

Biking the Historic Columbia River Trail

Biking the Historic Columbia River Trail

After leaving Hood River we headed to our next base camp, Ainsworth State Park in Oregon. We finally get to put an Oregon sticker on our map! From here we visited the Bonneville Dam’s fish ladders. In order for salmon, sturgeon, and other spawning fish to navigate the dammed Columbia River, they’ve built fish ladders to help the fish get up and over the dams. Interesting. But I think salmon are ugly fish, and sturgeons are even uglier! Salt-water fish are so much more appealing to look at – makes me miss scuba diving.

Viewing Port at Fish Ladders

Viewing Window at Fish Ladders

The Fish Ladders

The Fish Ladders

The next day Jennifer came to visit us and spend the day touring waterfalls. The old Columbia River Highway between exits 35 and 22 is lined with waterfalls. We’ve never seen so many in one small area. We started at Horsetails Falls with a short hike to the top…then we continued to Oneonta Falls…then a couple said that Triple Falls was just up ahead on this other trail…needless to say two hours later we finally found the right trail to get back to the highway for another short walk to the correct parking area where our car was parked.

Here’s the problem though…it was the first time ever we did not have water, or snacks, or anything with us besides one camera. For those of you who know Andy and/or Jen you can imagine how quickly the whining started when the lunch hour came and went. Hell, even I was hungry, thirsty, and grumpy. Ha!

Jen and Diane

Jen and Diane

Oneonta Falls

Oneonta Falls

After chowing down lunch at Multnomah Falls Lodge, we hiked that area. We hiked to the top (we have a picture for you Gail) and further up to several other falls. It’s a beautiful area which must be even more beautiful in winter when the falls become iced over.

Multonomha Falls

Multnomah Falls

View from top of Multnomah

View from top of Multnomah

After Jen left for home, Andy and I decided to finish touring all the falls along Route 30. But since our hikes with Jen totaled around 8 miles, the rest of the afternoon were short hikes.  We also stopped at Vista House on the drive home.  This was an old way station built in 1917 – resplendent with stained glass windows and tile roof.

Vista House

Vista House

We made it into Portland this morning and we’re looking forward to seeing Jen, Rene, Jen B and all significant others at dinner tonight.

September 18, 2004

Yakima, WA – Biking and Kayaking

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:25 pm by diandy2004

We experienced a little culture shock coming back into civilization after spending the last few weeks in Olympic and Rainier. Cars, city noises, tighter camp spaces. But, we have WIFI, a heated swimming pool to do laps in, cable TV to watch Hurricane Ivan, and the other conveniences of city life.  We also had SUN –  glorious, glorious SUNSHINE!

After doing our laps and soaking in the jacuzzi we got on our bikes and rode the Yakima Greenway. The Greenway is a nice paved path that follows the Yakima River and connects 3 different parks in the city. It felt great to get in some exercise (other than walking/hiking).  We biked from the RV park to the southern end & Popoff Nature Trail.

We had expected a little more from the city of Yakima itself. For some reason we expected “Durango” or “Coeur d’Alene” type of a feel in the city. Probably because wineries and microbreweries usually create an eclectic, touristy feel. But the feel of the city we have (after a whopping 12 hours) is that it is purely agriculture, lower-income. Maybe we’re missing something, but we did drive around last night seeking a good place to eat out and saw quite a bit of the city.

Today we were going to try to get in a paddle – if we can find some more information on paddling the Yakima River near Roza Dam quickly. As of right now, we still plan on leaving tomorrow and heading towards the Columbia River Gorge.

|||Two Days Later|||

Well, we didn’t leave Yakima yesterday as expected. Apparently Willie Nelson was having a concert down on the Columbia River Gorge in the area we were heading and all the campgrounds were booked.

Oh well, at least we were able to go kayaking on the Yakima River because of the delay. We drove into the Yakima Canyon area to check out the river. We had learned that there were lots of places to put in and take out. Most people do it as a one-way float trip and set up a shuttle system. Instead of us setting up a bike-shuttle, though, we decided to do it as an out-and-back trip figuring it would be more convenient. (Partly because the apple-crate semi-tractor trailers use this road.  We weren’t comfortable sharing the road on our bikes.)  The river looked doable. Since there was less current closer to the dam we put in at Roza Recreational Site and paddled towards the dam. It started out easy enough, but quickly became a workout. The current got stronger the further north we paddled. We did have a couple of eddies that we were able to duck into in order to take a breather and enjoy our surroundings.  Did we mention that eastern Washington is a desert? Well it is and it’s been a shock to be back in brown-grass and sage bushes after coming out of the rainforests of the NW. So we’d sit in the eddies and look out at the brown slopes of the canyon. We saw several deer, birds, and baby fish.

Of course our competitive sides kicked in when we hit this one riffle (small rapids). Both of us tried feverishly to paddle up and over it, but to no avail. We’d get about three-quarters of the way through and then get stopped as if we hit a brick wall. We both finally quit and portaged over it. After that, though, the river just became harder and harder to paddle and make any headway. Diane was the first to cry “uncle”. It’s just no fun when there is no visible progress. But it was a good thing we turned around when we did. Big, black rain clouds came in from every direction and the rain started minutes after we loaded the kayaks on our car.

September 6, 2004

Olympic National Park – Lake Crescent

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:33 pm by diandy2004

We found out recently that our house in Boca is fine. Special thanks to Gail and Merle for securing the place and reporting to us as soon as they could. We’d also like to thank all of those (Mom and Ace, Melissa, Rick H) who helped keep us informed regarding the storm conditions until we could hear from Gail and Merle.

Over Labor Day weekend, we camped at Lake Crescent which is on the north side of the Olympic peninsula.  The Fairholm Campground and nearby trails are in a temperate rainforest.  Large firs, cedars, and hemlocks towered above us.

Hiking in the Forest

Hiking in the Forest

I found that many mushrooms can be as colorful and ornate as wildflowers.

Orange Shelf Funghi

Orange Shelf Funghi

Petite Mushrooms

Petite Mushrooms

And the forest creatures, here, were unique to us – like this large Banana Slug.

Banana Slug

Banana Slug

From there we spent one day in the Sol Duc area walking through rain forests, looking at waterfalls, and soaking in the hot springs.  The waterfalls were only a 1.8 mile roundtrip hike, but we wandered about and enjoyed the earthy smells and hushed surroundings.  The hot springs was a man-made pool of hot mineral water.  The hot pools ranged from 100 – 104 degrees, whereas the large lap swimming pool was kept at a freezing (for us!) 75 degrees.  While in the Sol Duc area we explored an old cabin, Ancient Groves Trail, and the Salmon Cascades.

Sol-Duc Falls

Sol-Duc Falls

After Sol Duc, we went to the Storm King Information Center and then walked to Marymere Falls.  This required several creek crossings with bridges tht were made from trees laid across the creek.  The falls themselves reminded me of Ribbon Falls in the Grand Canyon.  Along the trail we saw several large Douglas Firs, with the biggest aged at 700 yrs old.

Another day we took a great bike ride on the Spruce Railroad Trail along the north shore of Lake Crescent. The official trail is only 4 miles long (one-way), but we rode from our campsite so that tacked on another 5 miles to reach the trailhead.  Normally railroad trails are level and as wide as a railroad track, so we were surprised to find this trail more technical. Most of the trail was a naturally mulched trail high above the lake with some areas that washed out creating narrow crossings. Several rock slides created some challenging hills to bike over. And a couple inclines were steep with rock steps that were best to walk over. The trail wasn’t what we expected…it was better.

Biking Lake Crescent Trail

Biking Spruce Railroad Trail on Lake Crescent

Biking Lake Crescent Trail

Biking Spruce Railroad Trail

On our third day, Andy went kayaking on Lake Crescent as Diane did some yoga on shore. Amazingly, the weather on shore was about 30 degrees warmer than at our site which was under a thick canopy of trees.

Fairholm campground is probably one of the prettiest campgrounds we have been in. It’s like living in a rainforest.

Our Site in Fairholm Campground

Our Site in Fairholm Campground

Just Hanging Around

Just Hanging Around

Added note: there was a thirteen mile loop trail we considered doing (but too late of a start).  It is USFS near the Klahowya Campground.   Also, we checked into kayaking on the Sol Duc River in that area as well, but the water level was too low at that time.  Perhaps next visit?

August 14, 2004

Seattle and Sequim

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 3:27 pm by diandy2004

Driving through eastern Washington I was surprised to learn it was desert-like.  I guess I just never thought of it being on the ‘other side’ of the mountain range and that it wouldn’t be wet like we’re expecting Seattle to be.  We had one overnight stop along the way to Seattle.

Seattle
Our first impressions of the northwest coast were some of the simple things: large starfish, cold waters, and city streets like San Francisco. Seattle is a pretty city, but I had to quit my job as navigator – there were just too many one-way streets, and no left turns allowed, that had us constantly going the wrong way. It’s more fun to walk the city than try and drive it.

Seattle Space Needle

Seattle Space Needle

Flowers at Pike's Place

Flowers at Pike's Place

Shopping Pike's Place

Shopping Pike's Place

We rode 21 miles on our road bikes on the Burke-Gilman Trail.  Outside of the fact that there were a lot of driveway crossings and the path was cracked and raised from tree roots, it was a pretty ride.  Our views were of the houses that are on the edge of Lake Washington and the boats and docks in the lake.  There were trees and berry bushes lining the path.  The berries were ripe and people were out picking them, but we didn’t know what kind.

Burke Gilman Trail

Burke Gilman Trail

Biking around Lake Washington

Biking around Lake Washington

On the only rainy day we had in Seattle, we visited the Boeing factory. The largest building in the world by volume. I wasn’t sure if seeing the factory where airplanes were made was a wise thing to do days before taking a flight…but it was fascinating, and I didn’t see anything too scary. Regarding its size, it is almost too big to fathom. But they gave us a comparison to consider: you can put Disneyland inside the space, and still have 12 acres extra.  The doors are as large as a football field.

The Boeing Factory

The Boeing Factory

Sequim (“skwim”)
The ferry to Sequim was great (the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry). They are efficient, fast, and its a beautiful ride across the waterways. It was cheaper for us to take both vehicles on separately, versus towing, so Andy drove the RV and I took the Element. Andy had to park within inches of the wall on one side, and other vehicles inches away on the other side.

We took our RV to Eric’s RV performance shop in Sequim.  After attending Life On Wheels, we decided to upgrade to the Bilstein shocks and to a larger sway bar.  While we waited for him to do the work on the RV, we walked along the Dungeness Spit – a 5.5 mile long sandbar.  It was a great place to see birds, seals, and otters.  And the sound of the water was different – it popped and fizzed as it rolled over the rocky beach.  I also enjoyed the sounds of the small rocks as they clinked when they rolled with the gentle waves.  Much different than the sounds on our sandy beaches.

Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit

We haven’t seen much of Olympic National Park yet. Plan to do it upon our return, but we did spend a day at the Hurricane Ridge section of the park. Beautiful views of the mountains…we could see Blue Glacier on top of Mt Olympus and Carrie Glacier on Mt Carrie. Went for a hike, but some “killer bees” took the enjoyment away and we turned around sooner than we would’ve liked.

Hurricane Ridge - Mt Olympus

Hurricane Ridge - Mt Olympus

We’ve read about some great scuba diving sites in the vicinity – with seals, otters, large octopus, shipwrecks, etc – but with water temperatures averaging a “warm” 45-55 degrees, we think we’ll have to pass (we don’t think a dry suit would be enough for Andy).

Here are two other pictures I took in the area that I wanted to share:

LadyBug

LadyBug

Solar Circle

Solar Circle

Can’t wait to see many of you soon during our travels back East.

Philadelphia
Well we made it safely from WA to PA. It only took several car rides, one ferry, two planes, and a train but 24 hours later, we finally made it! Two days later, and our bodies are still trying to recover. We have more sympathy now for our west-coast friends & family who travel east frequently. The fun part of the trip was seeing meteors Wednesday night from the plane.

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