October 20, 2004

Ashland, OR

Posted in Uncategorized tagged at 6:51 pm by diandy2004

We came to Ashland specifically to see my girlfriends since we figured we weren’t going to get down to San Francisco. They meet in Ashland every year for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Some come from Portland, some from San Fran. Surprisingly the drive is about half way for both groups. It was a wonderful weekend. We walked around the shops and saw some plays, went for a run and a bike ride, and played some games. Chicken-foot (a dominoes game) was the one game everyone could play. Considering there were 13 of us (including 2 babies) it was amazing the kitchen table could accommodate everyone.

Downtown Ashland

Downtown Ashland

Lithia Park

Lithia Park

Some of the Gang

Some of the Gang

October 18th:

We’re kinda sad right now since everyone has left and we’re still here in Ashland. We were planning on leaving this morning, but a snow storm in Lassen Volcanic NP (our next stop) is supposed to bring 16″ of snow and tomorrow winds are expected to be around 40 mph, with gusts of 70 at higher elevations. We decided to wait and let the storm pass before heading southeast over the mountain range. So, we will have to wait and see when we will leave Ashland and exactly where we are headed next…

October 19th:

Aaacck! We’re stuck on the wrong side of the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges! Our plan to go southeast via CA89 to Lassen Volcanic NP has been foiled – road closures due to snow (2-4 feet of it). Plan B: head east via OR66 then 140 is no longer possible – chains are required to get through the passes. Plan C (created out of desperation since it doesn’t look like the weather is going to change for 10 days): head north then east – not an option because of 15″ of snow at Crater Lake, chains are required. Plan D: stay here in Ashland while it rains and hovers at 40 degrees – doesn’t sound like fun now that the gang is gone. Plan E: I-5 south. It’s our only option. We’re heading to Sacramento and will keep our eyes on this winter storm to see if I-80 reopens (chains required to get over the passes) or continue south to I-40. We didn’t want to retrace our steps, but we’re not always in control of our destination are we? We’ll just roll with the changes…as long as we don’t “roll” into a snowdrift somewhere! Guess we just didn’t start heading home soon enough. But the visit with friends was worth it.

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October 11, 2004

Oregon Coast – Brookings

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:50 pm by diandy2004

We drove for distance again.  Another 100 mile day to reach Brookings. On our drive we stopped in Bandon, OR for lunch, some Christmas shopping and we toured the Coquille River Lighthouse.

Coquille River Lighthouse

In Brookings we stayed at Harris Beach State Park, a great little park up on the bluffs overlooking the ocean. We hiked down the steep path during the day checking out the rocks at low tide and later at high tide to see how the landscape changes.

Harris Beach State Park

Goat Island, off the coast, is a bird refuge and supposedly for tufted puffins as well. But with the setting sun in our eyes, we couldn’t see any detail.

Goat Island

We also liked Arch Rock and watching the sun play through the opening.

Arch Rock

Andy Enjoys the Beach

That night we went out to the bluffs and watched stars. Weather was comfortable to walk around at night and without a moon the stars were extra bright in the sky.

October 10, 2004

Oregon Coast – Coos Bay

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:49 pm by diandy2004

We finally made some distance today – 100 miles to Coos Bay. Along the way we had plans to stop at several viewpoints and the carnivorous plant bog, but the fog was so thick we were happy just to be able to see the cars in front of us. We stopped at one overlook that did allow us to look down and watch “spouting horns”.  This action was due to holes in the rocks that would spout sea water when waves would come rushing ashore. You could really sense the power of the ocean standing here and seeing it funnel down narrow rock channels.

Spouting Horn

The first day in Coos Bay was foggy and cloudy. The second day was worse. It poured rain most of the day. Yesterday afternoon we needed a little break from the RV so we walked some shops and saw a matinee…Shark Tales.  Two of the shops were interesting – the Myrtlewood Factory and another shop that sold Kelp lamps – very interesting.

Our plans were to leave this morning but when we woke up and saw sunshine and blue skies, we thought we’d stay and check out the beaches here. The waves were some of the largest we’ve seen. We drove several miles along the coast stopping at different areas to watch the waves. Here’s what we saw…

Andy dodges a big one

Big Waves

Sea Palms Grow on Rocks

A Wave Explosion

The Observation Deck Takes a Hit

One of the viewpoints near Cape Arago was overlooking Simpson Reef. The rocks were covered with a plethora of marine mammals – harbor seals, california sea lions, stellar sea lions, and elephant seals. At first glance we thought the brown was the sand on the beach. A second look through binoculars showed us seals and seal lions galore.

Seals and Sea Lions

We took a break from wave watching and walked through Shore Acres Botanical Gardens. A beautiful little garden managed by Oregon State Parks system.

Shore Acres Botanical Gardens

Flower Macros

Dew Covered Rose

We also detoured to see John Topits Lake.  Sometimes we do things because we need to meet basic needs – for example, cell phone service.  We both had some calls to make to plan the next part of our trip and we could get cell service at this pretty park.

We’re heading south tomorrow. Should be at Redwoods NP Monday and on to Ashland, OR by Friday to meet up with Rene, Stacy, Tatiana, and the gang.

October 7, 2004

Oregon Coast – Newport

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:48 pm by diandy2004

Our trip along the coast have encompassed a lot of short stays and short drives.  We’re not making much distance, but we feel that there is so much to see and do.  Our shortest driving day has been 9 miles – so you can see why we’re not making much time moving south again.  We’re starting to feel some pressure – and at the same time some confusion.  Staying one or two nights at different places over and over creates instability and everything starts to blend.

We spent two nights at South Beach State Park in Newport. After our *long* drive (30 miles today), we walked to South Jetty to look at the seals, surf scoters, ducks, and boats.

A Fisherman Returns Home

We then drove to the Yaquina Head Lighthouse. The BLM manages the lighthouse and it was surprising to find that they converted an old quarry into a handicapped-accessible low-tidal zone. It wasn’t low tide when we visited, but we did see some lounging seals.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

We Made It!

Lighthouse from the Beach

The next day we went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The aquarium had Leafy Seadragons and a Weedy Seadragon – the most beautiful and intricate sea horses I’ve ever seen, especially the Leafy. The tanks filled with pacific fish, sea plumes, sea stars, etc all made us miss scuba diving very much. An outdoor aviary for seabirds finally allowed me to see, and up close, the elusive Tufted Puffins.

Leafy Seadragon

Finally! A Tufted Puffin

Andy Inside Passages of the Deep

An Interesting Pose

20-Legged Sunflower Star

Sea Lions

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.