Barely scratching the surface – Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA

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Having lost a day to explore Lassen Volcanic National Park due to Betsy’s coolant issue, we compressed our schedule a bit and accessed the park from its northwest Manzanita Lake gate entrance.  It was 26 miles south of our campsite at Rancheria RV Park in Hat Creek. Continue reading

A near disaster for Betsy, a waterfall and lava tube – Hat Creek, CA

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We were excited to move on to our next stop at Hat Creek, CA as a home base to visit Lassen Volcanic National Park.  This was our second attempt, since heavy snow had turned us away the first time in 2016.  As we were humming south on I-5, we forgot that we were crossing into California and had to go through an agricultural checkpoint.  But our lemons and other fruits passed muster and we were waved through – for sure it was nothing like the stress of crossing a U.S. border! Continue reading

Southern passage through Oregon on I-5

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Our next stop heading south was Wilsonville, Oregon, the halfway point between Portland and Salem.  Steve was due for his quarterly doctor visit in Tucson, AZ and months ago he had chosen Portland as his getaway airport.  It was an uneventful rainy day while he was away, but a very happy day upon his return when he told me his oncologist won’t need to see him again for a whole year! 🙂 Continue reading

A state capitol visit and reconnecting with friends – Olympia, WA

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

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

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

The Legislative Building and Justice Building as seen from Capitol Lake

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

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

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

Looking up

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

View of Capitol Lake as seen from the hilltop campus

Can you spot the tourist?

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

…and the view from their home!

The Capitol Building at the south end of Budd Inlet

I was flabbergasted upon seeing Mt Rainier from their backyard!

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

Sharon, Steve and Ed

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

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

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

Tumwater Falls

Olympia Beer – there’s the waterfall!

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

Buildings such as this one were constructed in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, almost entirely by hand

Old-growth fir trees were plentiful

Millersylvania means “wooded glade”

And with that we continued on to Oregon!

 

Next up:  Yet another state capitol visit and new friends



 

Wrapping up our summer getaway on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

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Okay, I promise this is my final post about our summer visit on Vancouver Island!

We arrived unscathed at Parksville on the east coast, our next stop after retracing our path across the island on highway 4.  We made it over the 18% grade again, with less stress this time since we knew what to expect.  The usually long wait at the construction area was only 15 minutes – no sweat.

C’mon Betsy, just one more time!

Continue reading

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – Ucluelet, BC

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After gallivanting around Ucluelet we focused our activities on Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, the only national park on Vancouver Island.  A parade of rental RV’s driving around its 120,000+ acres every day proved how popular it is.  The  park resides within the traditional territory of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations.

The park’s management has been working collaboratively with First Nations, who have inhabited the coast for thousands of years.  They partnered to continue the age-old practice of welcoming and sharing Nuu-chah-nulth history, traditions, and culture with folks visiting the island. Continue reading

Wandering the rugged West Coast of Canada – Ucluelet, BC

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In real-time, we’re now back in the good ‘ol U.S. of A, and I’m working hard to get caught up!

Some folks we met while traveling on Vancouver Island raised their eyebrows when we told them we were heading to Ucluelet.  They were excited for us, but then they would point at Betsy and say, “you’re going in that?”

Opinions varied on the wisdom of taking a large RV towing a car on the steep, narrow and winding highway 4, which was also undergoing major construction.  But others had done it, and our adventurous traveling friends Eric and Laurel gave us a vote of confidence as they had made the trip.  Steve figured if we crashed and burned at least he’d have someone to blame…

After asking around and doing some more research we were up for the challenge and on our way.  We made it just fine, and the drive was definitely worth it! Continue reading

Hitting Trails In and Around Qualicum Beach, BC

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After watching Orcas play in the water and hitching a ride on a floatplane mail run, we shifted gears back to our usual activities.  Our stop at Qualicum Beach was the midpoint of our island adventures, and a good place to do unavoidable mundane household chores and stock up the fridge.  Steve also had to do a little more maintenance on our aging Betsy:

He had to re-epoxy a panel under the windshield after our recent drives rattled it loose, obviously a high-tech procedure

What we liked about this area was that everything we needed was only minutes away, with little traffic and the locals living on “island time”. Continue reading