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.

Advertisements

October 28, 2004

Albuquerque, NM

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:52 pm by diandy2004

Well, Andy has been asking for “the desert” again (meaning warmth and sunshine) and we’re definitely here. Red rock, buttes, canyons, and cactus. We’ve had sunshine, but not necessarily warm weather (nights are going to the 30’s still).

Jim and Chris arrived shortly after we did.  We had them over to our RV for dinner – they are our first dinner guests!  It was great to see them and incredible that this is the third time since buying our RV that we’ve crossed paths with them. We just spent the night catching up and comparing our trips and the such.  It’s nice to meet up with friends on the road.  We were glad that they were able to detour slightly on their trip from Santa Fe to Roswell to spend one night with us here in Albuquerque.

Our First Dinner Guests

We had more good news! We talked with a Ford dealer who could finally get the recall repairs done. Ahh, nothing too imperative – just that the RV can catch on fire even when it’s not being operated.  We’ve been trying since Washington to have this done, but none of the dealers had the right parts til now.  So we decided stay another day or more so we could take the rig in for the new parts for the anti-lock braking system.

On October 27th we drove our RV to Bob Turner Country Ford and had to wait a whopping 12 minutes for them to make the recall repairs to our ABS. We spent more time trying to find a dealer who had the time or parts than it took these guys to fix the darn thing. But thanks to their speedy work we arrived at our next RV Park in Tijeras (east side of Albuquerque) by ten o’clock a.m.. We were lucky to be in such a dark area to enjoy the lunar eclipse.

Lunar Eclipse

We spent the next day playing around in the Sandia Mountains. We hiked the Embudo Trail in the morning and the Pino Trail in the afternoon. We were “taste-testing” the different areas of the Cibola Nat’l Forest. Both trails were nice with a combination of desert plants, oak trees, pinon pines, and rocky cliffs or large jumbled boulders. Both trails also went up…as in uphill, increase in elevation, up around 7,000 ft elevation. The elevation was bothering us here – rapid heart rate, tiredness, etc. Even though we’ve been at high elevations, we’ve also been along the coast for so long now I think our bodies re-adapted. We would’ve loved to have taken the Tramway to the top of the mountain and hiked down, but the Tram was closed for repairs the week we were there (of course).

Snake Sunning Himself

Overlooking Albuquerque

Hiking Embudo Trail

On the Pino Trail

** There are more pictures on our Web Albums – just click on any of these pictures and scroll to see others.

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.

October 5, 2004

Oregon Coast – Pacific City & Lincoln City

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:08 pm by diandy2004

On the way to Pacific City (our next destination), we stopped at Tillamook Cheese Factory for a tour.  And some yummy purchases, of course.  Then we continued south only to stop again – at the Tillamook Air Museum.   The museum is housed in the largest wooden freespan building in the country.  Most of the planes are still “fly-able”.

Tillamook Air Museum

Tillamook Air Museum

We were lucky enough that after reading about the Tuskagee Airmen at the museum, we got to watch a movie about them later that night on the History Channel. That was great since we had just gotten to see their planes up close.

It was sunny along our inland drive, but as soon as we turned to head back to the coast we drove back into the fog. Pacific City was a neat little town. Our first “adventure” was to stop at the Pelican Brew Pub. Great view of a haystack…errr, well if it wasn’t for the fog.

Pelican Brew Pub

Here are some more pictures of the town:

Pacific City

Tsunami Signs

Ok, so this one wasn’t just in Pacific City – we are getting used to seeing these “tsunami warning” signs all along the coast.

One day we took a drive up the Three Capes Scenic Loop to the northern end at Cape Mears. We took a tour of the Cape Mears Lighthouse:

Cape Mears Lighthouse

We then drove back south stopping at different scenic points and the different capes. We did one 5 mile round-trip hike at Cape Lookout. The fog was so thick we weren’t sure if it would be worth it, but it was. Although we enjoy watching the fog move as if it has a life of it’s own and constantly change the look of the landscape, we’ll be honest – we’re starting to miss the sun.

A Foggy Hike

We did get our sand-sleds back out at Pacific City. There is a large, vertical sand dune at Cape Kiwanda that was perfect. The sand was a little soft, but the slope helped accommodate for that. Diane went faster than she preferred, and Andy couldn’t go fast enough! When Diane tried to slow herself down she’d put her feet down and sand flew into her face and mouth. We’re hoping our grey tanks can handle all the grit that was flushed into it after our showers last night.

We stopped in Lincoln City since it was foggy (so foggy we had trouble reading road signs) and we thought we could hit the Factory Shops there. Also, the town puts out “Float Fairies”, hand-made glass balls, on the beach as a seek-and-find game. If you find one, it’s yours. Sounded like fun since there aren’t many shells to look for on these beaches. Unfortunately they don’t put them out on the beaches til October 16th – we’re a little too early. At the Factory Shops, we stopped in at a camera shop. My Olympus has been driving me nuts because the media card has repeatedly become damaged somehow and I couldn’t re-format the card. It happened again, so I was debating between a new card or a new digital camera. I’m not one to make impulse decisions, but I was limited on time. We went to the library so I could research price comparisons so at least I knew the price was reasonable. We went with a Nikon Coolpix 4800. Maybe you’ll see a difference in my photos? Nah, the learning curve is starting over again.

We stayed at Devil’s Lake State Park, so before we pulled out the next day I walked around the campground and took some pictures to practice:

Our Palm-sized Pumpkin for Halloween

A Yurt in the Campground

I think I'm going to like the Macro settings...

A view of the coast

October 2, 2004

Oregon Coast – Canon Beach & Nehalam

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:46 pm by diandy2004

We did end up spending one more night in Portland due to our converter dying. It wasn’t the fan, but the converter itself and it was a good thing we took the time to make the appointment since it was dead. Kaput. No wonder our batteries weren’t recharging to full capacity.

We left Portland’s Camping World around 2pm and headed for our first stop on the Oregon coast – Canon Beach.  We got there in time to still walk a mile to the beach from our RV park and check out the Haystack – this one is the 3rd largest moonolith in the world.  It was low tide so we were able to walk around the rocks.  We saw tons of starfish, mussels, barnacles, gooseneck barnacles (which I think look like turtle toes), and lots of little fish.  Puffins visit the area, but in July and August (so I still haven’t seen any!).

Canon Beach Haystack

Reflection of Haystack

Our second day we went to Ecola State Park.  During our walk we got to see some elk and a bird that looked like a puffin – the orange-billed surf scoter.  I wouldn’t have been able to identify them without someone lending me their spotting scope.  But, hey, I *almost* saw a puffin.  We walked around town and ate lunch out before heading back into Ecola to another area of the park – Indian Beach area.  Andy got to explore this park more than I did.  I had some phone calls to catch up on, but you couldn’t beat the view I had from ‘my office’.  I did do some more critter-searching during the low tide.  I’m just amazed at how the starfish are just layered upon each other.

Starfish Eating Mussel

Starfish Eating Mussel

Sea Urchin

Sea Urchin

Large Rock Outcroppings

Our next stop was only 15 miles to the south – Nehalam.  We stayed at Nehalam Bay State Park.  Our first excursion after making camp was to drive to Oswald West State Park for a little hiking.  We walked a short way to the Short Sands Beach (named because the beach is non-existent at high tide).  Although this beach felt private because it was in a cove surrounded by cliffs, there were a lot of surfers to watch.  From there we walked to Cape Falcon about another 1 3/4 miles.  What views!  The rugged coast with the powerful waves down below us was such a sight.

Andy on the edge of bluff

View from Oswald

We considered paddling Nehalam Bay, but it was bigger and more exposed (to winds) than we had expected.  The park ranger recommended paddling Nehalam River instead and using the tides to go both ways, but there’s whitewater in one area and our kayaks aren’t made for whitewater.  One local kayak rental place in Wheeler gave us some information, too.  We do tend to find that, besides the rangers, the local bike/kayak shops are an excellent resource for us.  We try to buy something from their shop to show our appreciation.  We ended up putting in at a boat dock in downtown Nehalam and paddled with the tide.  Unfortunately, our planning wasn’t perfect.  Although we scheduled our paddle based on tides, we had the wind in our face on the way back.  But we got to see seals, an otter, and cows….now, that explained the occasional smell we encountered.

Paddling with Cows

The beach near our campground was so pretty with the dunes and sea oats. And the sunsets were outstanding.

Beach at Nehalam Bay

Sunset at Nehalam Bay

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 15, 2004

Mt Rainier National Park

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:35 pm by diandy2004

We could see her from Seattle. We could see her from Victoria. We could see her from most of the Olympic peninsula. But she hid herself under blankets of clouds when we got up alongside her and reached Mt. Rainier National Park. She’d periodically play peek-a-boo and show a little of herself through holes in the clouds, but mostly the mountain stayed hidden. For three solid days we saw mostly clouds, and the forecast wasn’t going to get any better. So much for the mountain views and hiking to Camp Muir, the 10,000 foot high base camp for climbers continuing to the summit. We decided that it just wasn’t our time to experience Mt. Rainier.

Our timing was great regarding the crowds (the park empties out after Labor Day), but poor regarding the weather gods. We did have some nice hikes through the inland rainforest, and this time it was raining. We also got to see great waterfalls – some were gentle trickles over moss-covered rocks, some were long narrow falls falling hundreds of feet, some were powerful falls cascading over rocks. We took a short hike to the foot bridge at Cougar Rock.  We had heard that the creek was flooded, and we just wanted to check it out.  The water was flowing over the bridge.  The poor rangers were desperately trying to rebuild a bridge nearby so that hikers wouldn’t get trapped on the other side.  We also enjoyed the effects the clouds themselves created – swirling up from the valleys below, racing across the sky in the game of peek-a-boo with the mountain (now you see her, now you don’t), and clouds laying on the road in front of you, creating a very mystical place.

peek-a-boo!

peek-a-boo!

Narada Falls

Narada Falls

Christine Falls

Christine Falls

This was one destination where we were very happy to have waterproof pants – and not just our waterproof coats.  Any hikes had us in our full gear for protection from the elements.

One morning we toured Spirits of Iron. Dan Klennert, the artist, displays his sculptures around his property for people to come and enjoy. He asks for donations to help continue his dream, but he will sell his pieces if the price is right. This was worth the detour to drive back into Elbe. We spent about 45 minutes wandering around and speaking with Dan. He even took us into his workshop to show us the current projects he was working on. For someone self-trained in art and welding, his pieces were very detailed and well put-together. The textures he created intrigued me the most. We had fun just trying to identify the ‘parts’ he used to create his pieces. We found: large wrenches, saw blades, horseshoes, wire brush bristles, shovels, and even fishing line to name just a few. But he also creates pieces from driftwood, too. As he says, he doesn’t shape his pieces, he creates them from the shapes he finds. Most of his supplies are found in ravines in eastern Washington, so he is also helping to clean up America as well. If you find yourself in Elbe, do stop and spend time with his work. Slowing down and viewing from your car is not enough to appreciate his creations.

DanKlennert

Dan Klennert

Iron Horse by Dan Klennert

Iron Horse by Dan Klennert

Sea Horse by Dan Klennert

Sea Horse by Dan Klennert

We stayed on both sides of Mt. Rainier. Near Nisqually we stayed at a great little campground (Mounthaven Cabins and RV Resort) which was just a half-mile from the park entrance. The owners were so friendly and eager to please and the setting was wooded and homey.

Mounthaven Resort

Mounthaven Resort

On the east side we spent one night in the Ohanapecosh Campground within the park. Our site was right on the river and beautiful as well. We could imagine ourselves enjoying a campfire and the view…but we chose to stay warm and dry inside instead. We’d highly recommend both of these campgrounds.  The east side is supposed to be in the rain shadow of Mt Rainier, but we found it almost as rainy as the west side.

We did a six-mile hike on the Silver Falls Trail and through the Grove of Patriarchs.  More big trees and forest mushrooms, and I was able to check off more birds on my birding list.  That always makes me happy.  Most times I see a new bird but can’t absolutely identify it!

Grove of the Patriarchs

Grove of the Patriarchs

The cloud-shrouded park was beautiful in its own way, but we started to crave some sunshine since we couldn’t do the bigger hikes (like Skyline Trail or Camp Muir). We’ll just have to come back to tackle Rainier another time. So, off we go to Yakima and Washington’s sunny wine country…

September 10, 2004

Olympic National Park – Kalaloch

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 3:34 pm by diandy2004

We spent two nights on the pacific coast at the Kalaloch (“clay-lock”) Campground. The campground sits on a bluff just above the beach.  Wonderful.  Our site was just across the driveway from the oceanside sites. We could hear the ocean, but only see it through the windows of the RV in front of us.

Kalaloch Campground

Kalaloch Campground

The sunsets were beautiful and we walked the beaches to enjoy the colors. The beaches here were wide and sandy, unlike the others we’ve seen so far.  We enjoyed climbing on the driftwood, exploring the creeks that flow across the beach to their final destination, and looking for crabs and seashells.  There was one tree we came across that was trying to survive suspended over a great big hole that was formed from erosion in the bluff.

Andy Stands Under a Suspended Tree

Andy Stands Under a Suspended Tree

Strolling the Beaches at Sunset

Strolling the Beaches at Sunset

We hiked several trails in the Hoh Rain Forest. We first did the Spruce Trail and the Hall of Mosses.  The moss, ferns, lichens, and funghi were so beautiful carpeting the trees, rocks and the ground.  Everything stays wet here, I presume, considering how the moss and ferns grew on absolutely everything….

Moss and Fern Roof Outhouse

Moss and Fern Roof Outhouse

Then we hiked only a short distance on the Hoh River Trail.  This trail is actually 18.1 miles long.  We’ll have to tackle the entire distance another trip.  Several trees were estimated at 200 feet long and others with diameters over 6 feet.  One downed tree was so long we couldn’t see the tip when standing at the roots.

It was interesting to learn that young trees have such a hard time taking root on the crowded forest floor that they tend to grow on top of downed trees. This also creates interesting root designs when the new tree grows large and the old tree disintegrates over time. You’ll find that many of the trees are in lines because of this.  It stays so wet in the forest (do note it was sunny the day we visited the rainforest) that dew stays on the mushrooms throughout the day.

Trees Grow on a Nurse Log

Trees Grow on a Nurse Log

Big Trees grow on a Nurse Log

Big Trees grow on a Nurse Log

Diane in Hoh Rain Forest

Diane in Hoh Rain Forest

Andy Inside a Tree

Andy Inside a Tree


Everything seems so much bigger here….including the leaves:
A Big Maple Leaf

A Big Maple Leaf


On our drive back to camp we stopped at Ruby Beach to try and find garnet-colored stones. We were forewarned that there aren’t many left. What we found instead were sea stacks, caves, and other beautiful things.

September 8, 2004

Olympic National Park – Clallam Bay

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 5:41 pm by diandy2004

Our next campground wasn’t quite as nice (Coho RV Resort & Marina).  It was a grass and gravel parking lot with spaces so small you couldn’t open your slide-outs and awnings at the same time.  But the view of the Strait of San Juan de Fuca was stunning. We ended up moving our RV to another location of the RV Resort in order to have some elbow space. We waited to after check-out and got a space in the front row.  This meant no sewer hook-ups, but it was worth it to not have neighbors on both sides.

From this new base camp we drove to Cape Flattery to see puffins. We’ve been trying to see puffins for years (in Alaska and in Maine), but the puffins weren’t there when we were. Foiled again! Cape Flattery is the most north-western point in the contiguous states. Beautiful views from a bluff overlooking sea caves, sea stacks, and arches. But no puffins…

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

Cape Flattery

On the drive home we decided to stop at one of the beaches and accidentally came across a sign for Shi Shi Beach.  Hhmmm.  It’s 3:30 pm, it’s a 1.5 mile hike each way….decided to do it so we could see this world-famous beach even though we wouldn’t have too much time to hang out.  From the beach we saw sea stacks, 2 arches, birds, and a handful of surfers and campers.  We looked for agates on the beach and also the glass floats from Japanese fishermen nets, but no luck.

The next day we went to Lake Ozette to do a 9.1 mile loop hike. The hike starts in a forest and goes out to the beach.  It’s a 3.1 mile boardwalk hike to Cape Alava.  Then you hike 3 miles on the rocky beach to another trailhead (Sandpoint) that takes you back to your starting point. A great day. The sections in the forest were easy boardwalk trails. The section along the beach was a little more challenging terrain: soft sand or rocks, slippery moss rocks in the intertidal zone, and stinky kelp and seaweed washed up on shore. We thought the beach hike felt more like 6 miles than just the three.  But we saw gulls, pelicans, harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers, sea lions, black-tailed deer and more. Unfortunately no whales (had hoped to see from our lunch spot on top of a sea stack), black bears (thought we’d see them in the berry patches) or Roosevelt elk (hoped to see in the meadows) were seen on the trip though. And, no puffins…

Exploring Tide Pools

Exploring Tide Pools

Indian Carvings

Indian Carvings

Low Tide - Pacific Style

Low Tide - Pacific Style

Now we’re on our way to Kalaloch. Stopped in Forks for lunch and found the library to update the blog and check/send emails. Keep an eye on Ivan for us!

Next page