Storms, Volcanoes and Hanging With Friends – Silver Lake, WA

Comments 16 Standard
Mount Adams

Hoquiam River

Just as we began our southward migration through Washington, the weather turned really bad.  The rainy days continued as we drove down the coast to our planned overnight stop at Hoquiam River, just off the coast in the southwestern corner of the state.  One night turned into six as major storms hit, and we pulled in the slides and dropped the satellite dish to wait it out.  We canceled our stop at Astoria because winds were even worse there, and we were bummed that we missed our favorite fish and chips in the whole world at Bowpicker. We’d been waiting for weeks to have them again – darn!

Hoquiam River

“Baldy” keeps an eye on Hoquiam River during the storm

To keep us entertained and busy, we made a bunch of lumpia for future happy hours.  So when any of you meet up with us down the road be sure to ask about the stash in our freezer!

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No campfire in this pit today!

During every break in the weather we drove 20 miles to the beach to hear the pounding waves, breath the ocean air – and buy some more seafood!  When we learned that the Quinalt Casino offered an all-you-can-eat Dungeness crab dinner buffet, we just had to partake in that as well.  It was one of the best casino buffets we’ve had.

Ocean Shores

These hard-core clammers weren’t bothered by the weather or the huge waves

Ocean Shores

That’s an angry sea!

Ocean shores

My only hike for the week

Since we can’t seem to get enough of this crustacean, we bought even more for our own crab feast at home.  I have to admit we did overindulge, but we were trapped in Dungeness crab heaven and I totally blame the storm for it!

We were fortunate that the towns of Hoquiam and Ocean Shores were spared from the brunt of the storm, and the only inconvenience we felt was being cramped with our slides in for several days.

Hoquiam River

We heaved a sigh of relief when the rains stopped

Windy Ridge, Mount St Helens

We resumed our travels and made one last stop in Washington, at Silver Lake.  We got along so well with Bob and Dee Dee at Puerto Peñasco, Mexico last February that we went out of our way to stop by their beautiful property for a visit.  We gladly accepted their invitation to snuggle Betsy into the full hookup site right on their property for a couple of nights.

Where else would we celebrate our first meal together then at an excellent Mexican restaurant, the perfect place to reminisce about good times in Mexico.

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Betsy

Betsy’s looking good parked in front of their beautiful shop – and the price was right!

Bob and Dee Dee live near Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, which we visited in 2012.  But this time they graciously drove us around to the northeast side of the volcano, often referred to as the Windy Ridge side.  It lived up to its name on this cold and blustery day.

Windy Ridge Loop

We watched a helicopter haul cut boughs for Christmas decorations and drop them near a waiting truck

The drive to Windy Ridge is a winding trek through the blast zone, and is the best location from which to view the devastation of the eruption that occurred on May 18, 1980.  We saw clear evidence of the blast’s full impact.  And despite the biting wind we climbed hundreds of steps up the hill to one of the best vantage points around.

Windy Ridge Trail

We read that there were 361 steps to the top

Views from the summit of Windy Ridge trail:

Looking down

Looking directly into Mount St. Helen’s crater just five miles away

Pumice Plain

A pumice plain created by ash and pumice that flowed from the crater

Spirit Lake

Spirit Lake’s immense floating forest left from the 1980 eruption

Mount St Helen

Blasted trees have remained untouched since the eruption

Mount Saint Helen

Thanks Deedee for capturing our wind blown ‘do’s

It might have been a gray day, but we were fortunate to get such clear views of the volcano and surrounding mountains:

Mount Adams

Mount Adams stands 32 miles to the east

Mount Hood

Mount Hood is the tallest mountain in Oregon, and we could see it from 62 miles away

Mount St Helens

The foursome with Mount St. Helens in the background

We had a wonderful time and really enjoyed Bob and Deedee’s hospitality.  Thanks guys, see you at Puerto Peñasco next February – the first Margarita is on us!

 

Next up:  Beautiful Bend, OR



 

Crabs, Coasts and Mountains – Port Angeles, WA

Comments 13 Standard
Hurricane Ridge
The Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival

New friends Mark and Laura from Victoria Island, BC

By October we would typically be halfway through our southerly migration, but this year we made a westerly detour to the Pacific Northwest, with the Olympic Peninsula as our destination.  As we all know, that area is famous for its fairly mild but often rainy weather, and we had plenty of rain during our stay!  We were constantly looking up at the sky and checking daily forecasts so we could plan our activities accordingly.

Geographically speaking, the Olympic Peninsula is bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean, on the east by the Hood Canal and on the north by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. And of course it’s anchored by the majestic Olympic Mountains.  Our home base was at Port Angeles, a coastal logging town at the doorway to Olympic National Park.

During our first few days here, our activities were limited by fog, rain and the constant lowering of the clouds that made the days grey and dreary.  Although a bit bummed by the weather, we had to figure out things to do with our time at this place surrounded by beautiful coastlines, mountains and glaciers.

One activity that brought our spirits right back up was the Dungeness Crab and Seafood Festival held in Port Angeles.  When we learned about this huge party during our planning a few weeks ago, we made sure we wouldn’t miss it.  The city celebrates its maritime heritage and bountiful seafood offerings by featuring Dungeness crab, one of our all-time favorites. It’s obviously loved by many others around here too, as ferries packed with folks from Victoria, BC steamed into the harbor to join in the festivities.

Dungeness Crab Festival

Sweet tasting and simply delicious Dungeness crab – yay!

While crab was king here, we also enjoyed fresh oysters, scallops and crab cakes.  The festive mood inside the tent with a Canadian couple we met while in line was more than enough to keep us happy as we enjoyed the bounty of seafood.

We had missed those crabs so much that we went to a local fresh seafood market the next day and got more to enjoy at home.  Yum!

Around Port Angeles

Port Angeles, WA

Port Angeles is nestled between the Olympic Range and the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Port Angeles

This city is the largest on the Olympic Peninsula, and has been an active deepwater seaport since the mid 1850’s

We made a few purchases of yummy locally-grown produce at the farmers market:

Ediz Hook

A long narrow spit of sand called Ediz Hook extends into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, helping to protect the Port Angeles harbor from ocean swells.  On most days we could barely see the spit across from the marina, but on the clearest day we drove onto it and enjoyed great views all around.:

Mount Baker

Mount Baker, San Juan and Lopez islands seemed to float on the strait of San Juan de Fuca

Glacier Peak

Glacier Peak stood out in the Washington Cascades

Olympic Mountain Range

The Olympic Mountain Range forms a dramatic backdrop for Port Angeles

Port Angeles

Living on the edge

Around our campground, Elwha Dam RV Park

Our campsite (Steve’s review here) was was less than a mile from where Elwha Dam stood for 100 years.  We learned that the removal of the old structure was the largest dam removal and restoration project in U.S. history.  Following the restoration, the river now flows freely from its headwaters in the Olympic Mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  And for the first time in a century the salmon and other migratory fish have been able to return to their spawning habitat.

The trail leading to the old dam was laden with moss-draped trees and giant ferns:

Cape Flattery

One day we drove scenic Hwy 112 all the way to its end at the most Northwestern point in the continental United States, Cape Flattery.  We followed the short trail that took us to a dramatic overlook where we could see the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Pacific Ocean at the same time.  The trail passed through misty forests and some interesting huge trees.  We were surprised that this relatively remote cape was so popular, as we passed a lot of folks during our exploration.

Candelabra tree

A candelabra tree

Me in a tree.  That’s as high as I climb!

Cape Flattery

Sea stacks at Cape Flattery

Tattoos Island

Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island

Cape Flattery

Makah sandstone formation riddled with sea caves

Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Olympic National ParkThe main feature on the peninsula is the multiple rugged, saw-toothed peaks of the Olympic Range.  No roads traverse the park’s interior, which is protected by Olympic NP.  Because of its diversity comprised of snow-capped mountains, wild ocean beaches and lush rain forest, the park is uniquely labelled “three-parks in-one”.  Bad weather during our visit forced us to wait four days before we could drive up to Hurricane Ridge to hike just one trail.

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Another chilly hike, that’s frost on the ground!

 

 

 

Hurricane Ridge

Winds gusting over 75 miles per hour frequently buffet the ridge, giving it the “Hurricane” moniker

Hurricane Trail

There was a 700′ elevation change on this short but steep trail

Ediz Hook

That strip of narrow land across the water is Ediz Hook, with Port Angeles in the foreground

Hurricane Ridge

Watching the fog and clouds form

Hurricane Ridge

Weather changes happen fast here!

Olympic Wilderness

Olympic wilderness

Olympic Mountain Range

Mount Olympus is the tallest peak here at 7,979′, and we were lucky to get this clear view

Hurricane Ridge

“The hills are alive….”

We missed a visit to the rain forest and didn’t do any tide pooling, but considering the weather we got a pretty good feel for this beautiful place during our short stay.

 

Next up:  Hunkering down for a big Pacific Northwest storm



 

Incredible Fall Colors in Paradise – Mount Rainier National Park, WA

Comments 24 Standard
Skyline Trail
Brown Jay

First capture of a brown jay!

We used our last hiking opportunity before the weather changed to follow the Skyline Trail Loop in Paradise.  As the tallest peak in the Cascade Range, Mount Rainier magnifies area rainfall by stimulating the flow of moist air coming in from the Pacific Ocean.  As such it also creates its own weather, which is why it’s obscured by clouds on most days.

We were unsure if we’d see the mountain this day, as fog hovered around us until we climbed through it at Paradise.

Nisqually River

We never saw the mountain up there behind Nisqually River

The moment we stepped out of the car we were awestruck by what lay before us.  We echoed John Muir’s impressions of 1889 as inscribed on the steps, and agreed with James Longmire’s daughter-in-law when she exclaimed, “Oh, what a paradise!”

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This was our third hike here (click here for the previous ones), and definitely the highlight of our stay.  For folks coming here for just a day trip, Paradise is the best bet for digging into the mountain’s offerings of a landscape that will take your breath away.

There’s an intricate maze of trails with options for gentle or strenuous hikes, and the junctions are well signed.  We followed the Skyline Trail counter-clockwise via Panorama Point and extended our trek to High Skyline Trail, completing a 5.5-mile loop with a 1,700′ elevation gain.

Paradise Hiking Trails

Maze of trails within Paradise

The trailhead to the Skyline Loop is up those concrete steps, initially steep and then easing into a more gradual climb.  During summer the asphalted trail on this section is lavishly bordered with wildflowers, but today in early October the display before us was the brilliance of fall colors.

Blazing red

Blazing red

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Climbing higher, we got a closer view of Mount Rainier and Nisqually Glacier:

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Up, up, up!

Mount Rainier

Nisqually Glacier is one of the 25 glaciers of Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

The mountain is an active volcano overlaid by snowfields and glaciers

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Here you see a bit of the blue tint that indicates super-compressed ice

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Several glacial waterfalls added a pleasant soundtrack to our trek

Besides great views of Mount Rainier and Nisqually Glacier from here, looking below displayed a maze of trails in the area:

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There was a blanket of fog hovering over the valley:

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Skyline Trail

Several marmots and squirrels scurried about along the trail, making final winter preparations.  They were adorable!

It was mostly clear at Panorama Point, and there were views of rugged mountain peaks poking through like islands in the sea of fog.

Panorama Point

At 6,800′ Panorama Point

Tatoosh Range

Tatoosh Range with Mount Adams peeking through in the distance

Mount Adams

Zooming into Mount Adams back there

The High Skyline Trail continued to climb above Panorama Point to its maximum elevation of 7,051′.  Then it dropped down into the moonscape rubble of an ancient moraine interspersed with patches of snow.

Highling Trail

Hikers below us where we were at Panorama Point

Skyline Trail

Moonscape

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Yeah, it gets a bit windy up here!

As we descended, the landscape of rock and snow gave way to a tranquil carpet of fall colors.  The steep meadows flanking the mountain burned with hues of gold, magenta and yellow, the wonderful palette of Paradise’s fall colors.  I kept stopping to soak it in as I snapped away.  Steve took the most pictures he has since Bryce Canyon!

I will let the autumn colors speak to you, as descriptions nor my photos can do justice:

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Mount Rainier in autumn

By early afternoon clouds had begun to envelop the mountain

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Steve was in a daze as we walked through this area

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In retrospect, hiking this trail clockwise was best, for at the beginning we got a clear and close-up view of Mount Rainier and the glaciers, saving the astounding meadows for last.  We’ve never seen nature’s color like this!

Skyline Trail

Oh yeah, this is paradise!

 

 

Next Up:  Peninsula and Coast



 

Exploring Mt. Rainier National Park – Washington

Comments 18 Standard
Mount Rainier

Autumn is a wonderful time of the year to visit Mount Rainier, perhaps only second to spring time when the wildflowers are blooming.  At the time of our visit in early October, the meadows of Mazama Ridge had turned from colorful wildflowers to colorful autumn foliage of mountain huckleberry, vine maple and mountain ash.  But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

 Mount Rainier

A rare clear view of Mount Rainier with clouds just starting to form

This 14, 410′ volcanic peak was called Tacoma or Tahoma by generations of Northwest Native Americans.  Then in 1792 it was renamed Mount Rainier after Admiral Peter Rainier by English explorer George Vancouver.  Vancouver sighted the enormous mountain while exploring Puget Sound.

Mount Rainier is the natural wonder showcased in 365-square-mile Mount Rainier National Park, established in 1899 as the nation’s 4th national park.  It’s the highest mountain in Washington and in the Cascade Range, and the most topographically prominent mountain in the contiguous United States.  On clear days it can be seen from 100 miles away, and on our way there we caught our first glimpse from many miles away on I-82.

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier viewed from westbound I-82

Mount Adams

An added bonus was a glimpse of Mount Adams, overlooking Yakima Valley at 12,307′

Tree stump mountain

Doesn’t this look like a monolithic tree stump? as seen along White Pass

Our home base was Mounthaven RV Park (Steve’s review here), only 3 miles from the Nisqually Entrance on the southwest corner of the NP.  Had it been summer we would have loved our site here, as Betsy was shielded by tall trees.  But rain and fog enveloped the area during our stay, and being in the dark and cold all the time gave us a case of cabin fever.

Mounthaven RV Park

Betsy snuggled in between tall old trees, making our site dark (and muddy) most of the time

Checking out the forecast for our one-week stay, we saw three days of mostly sunny weather and planned our hikes around them.  To experience the maximum in scenic splendors we chose three trails: Rampart Ridge Loop, Lakes Loop and Skyline Trail via Panorama Point. They were all over five miles long and averaged 1,500′ of elevation gain.  Of course, we started early in the morning and had to survive temps in the mid 30’s – brrrr!  The lengths we’ll go to just to avoid crowds!

Mount Rainier National Park

Nisqually Entrance

Christine Falls

A 40 ft waterfall along the park’s road – Christine Falls framed by the bridge

Rampart Ridge Loop

This steep loop took us deep into the forest, with lush vegetation and giant old growth trees along the ridge known as “The Ramparts.”  It’s a remnant of an ancient lava flow which originated at the summit of Mount Rainier and retained it’s 1,000’+ height when glaciers around it melted.

Our trek was cold and damp due to the thick tree canopy that blocked out the sun most of the time.  We took time to notice the various mosses and lichens clinging to the trees, and lots of fungi on the ground.

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Rampart Ridge Trail

Looking Up- its green

Rampart Ridge Trail

Looking down more green

Wooden Arch - Rampart Ridge Trail

A fascinating wooden arch tree that seems to be growing back into the ground

The Ramparts

The Ramparts is the remnant of an ancient lava flow which originated at the mountain’s summit

rampart ridge trail

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A variety of fungi were everywhere along the mossy carpeted forest floor:

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This would be a great summer hike, as it’s covered by tall trees and is a good way to get some elevation gain.  Beautiful forest views and a fantastic vista of Mount Rainier, all in just over five miles!

Mount Rainier

The only view of Mount Rainier from this trail

Lakes Trail Loop

Just over five miles around, this trail traverses through a myriad of delightful lakes at the base of Mount Rainier.  Fog added a new dimension to the hike, making it mystical, moody and chilly.  We were the only ones up there, and it was peaceful and easy to be one with nature as we trudged along the dreamy landscape.

Reflection Lake

Just imagine Mount Rainer behind that cloak of clouds

Tatoosh Peaks

At Faraway Rock with Tatoosh Peaks in the background and Louise Lake below

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The only wildlife we spotted during these hikes

We were not disappointed, as the trail was a succession of gradual ups and downs passing through lakes, ponds, streams and waterfalls.

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Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

Writing this post, I had planned on putting all of our hikes together but soon realized the Skyline Trail needs its own post.  It was the highlight of our stay, and we hiked it on a mostly clear day which made us discover exactly why this area is called Paradise.  Stay tuned!

Mount Rainier

The mountain remained hidden as we headed for Paradise

 

Next Up:  Incredible Fall Colors in Paradise



 

 

 

A whirlwind week!

Comments 7 Standard

After our week at the Columbia Gorge, it  was time to take care of some “business” stuff.  This allowed us to be in three states and two countries in just a week – South Dakota, Oregon, Washington and back to BC, Canada!

When we embarked on our full-time RV lifestyle, we had the opportunity to choose any state to call “home.”   Of course, we cannot escape the realities of paying taxes and other financial matters.  In our research we found that South Dakota is an RV-friendly state where vehicle registration and taxes are not sky-high like California where we resided previously.  So, after dropping Betsy off at Dave and LJ’s RV Interior Design in Woodland, WA to have the modifications installed that we measured with them in May (new recliners and a mini-office for the blogmaster), we caught a flight out of Portland to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This was for the sole purpose of getting our SD driver’s licenses and finalizing our residency there.  Our CA licenses would have expired in February, but we sure as heck didn’t want to go to SD in the middle of winter.  By 8:00am the next morning we had our new licenses, and after a late breakfast we were able to catch early flights back to Portland and made it before sunset.  Mission accomplished!

Sioux Falls Airport

Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Portland, OR

Portland,OR with Mt Hood as the backdrop

We picked Betsy up the next day, thrilled with our new recliners and beautiful woodwork installed by LJ.  We drove to a nearby RV park (Columbia River Front RV Park) and went to bed early so we could get up at 3:30am for our drive to Seattle.  You see, we were bummed that we had not had a chance to visit Victoria, BC on our trip through Vancouver in June, so Steve threw together a 2-day trip up there via the fast-ferry out of Seattle.  We will talk about our trip there in a future blog, but suffice to say it is a beautiful city and we had a great time there and enjoyed fantastic weather!

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

Dave and LJs in Woodland, WA

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

BEFORE

Dave and LJ's RV Interior Design

AFTER

So that was the Lowe’s jet-set week.  Next we move on to Harrisburg, OR for a repair of the RV’s pneumatic system and then to Grants Pass for a check of the suspension upgrades to make sure everything is OK after our rough drive over the Canadian and Alaskan roads.

Invigorating Outdoor Fun -Columbia River Gorge part 3

Comments 8 Standard

Interspersed with our scenic drives were outdoor activities that we like to do when available in areas we visited. Indeed there are an abundance of recreation opportunities at the gorgeous Gorge that should not be missed. The Gorge is the playground for windsurfers, white-water rafters and hikers from all over the world. It also happens to be one of the nation’s premier road biking destinations. We got it made!  We are so thrilled that we can do our favorite outdoor activities with sunny days and awesome weather to boot.  So what did we do?  We hiked, we biked, we went wine and beer touring. How about that!

Historic Columbia River State Trail

We learned that every trail in the Gorge offers the opportunity to view stunning scenery, so our first bike ride on our wedding anniversary was to take the Historic Columbia River State Trail (West end). This trail is the restored portion of the  historic highway meant for  bikes and pedestrian usage only. We began at Exit 40 and after 2 miles encountered to our surprise, stairs ! (We realized on our ride back that the stairway has a narrow groove specially designed for pushing bikes smoothly up or down the stairs). This trail took us to the Eagle Creek Recreation area and across the Eagle Creek Bridge (the only stone-masonry faced concrete bridge on the Highway), and a tunnel.  As we pedaled along, we observed how the  narrow highway was carved out of sheer cliffs, and the guardrails and beautifully arched rock masonry wall. History played a role on this trail as the Ford Model T in the early 1900’s also rolled through here during that time.

Historic Columbia River State Trail

Guard Rails covered with moss

Historic Columbia River State Trail

Historic Columbia River State Trail

Pose at the tunnel

Historic Columbia River State Trail

Eagle Creek Bridge

We viewed a few late spawning salmon at the creek at Eagle Creek Bridge

The Riverfront Trail at The Dalles (East end) winds along the southern bank of the Columbia River for ten miles between The Discovery Center to the northwest and The Dalles Dam Visitor Center at the eastern terminus.  On this trail, blackberries and ligonberries were abundant.  It was much drier in this region.

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

Riverfront Trail at The Dalles

The hike to the popular Eagle Creek Trail is the quintessential trail in the Columbia River Gorge, where we saw two waterfalls – Metlako Falls and Punch Bowl waterfalls.  As we mentioned in part 1, tall basalt cliffs, ubiquitous talus slopes, and the lush temperate rain forests that so characterize the Pacific Northwest were present here. This was our favorite hiking trail in the Gorge.

 Eagle Creek Trail

 Eagle Creek Trail

 Eagle Creek Trail

 Eagle Creek Trail

Our final hike was at the Klickitat Trail  (WA side), which is an easy trail that follows the nationally designated Wild & Scenic Klickitat River. As expected, the trip was beautiful with stunning river views and carved canyons, birds, wildflowers and blackberries. Fall colors were starting to show on the trees on the hillsides.

 Klickitat Trail

 Klickitat Trail

 Klickitat Trail

I enjoyed the blackberries (Steve wondered if they contained some kind of stimulants).

 Klickitat Trail

A fishing contraption

 Klickitat Trail

 Klickitat Trail

 Klickitat Trail

 Klickitat Trail

gorgeous Gorge

Lunch at the gorgeous Gorge, after a long hike

Beer lovers may know Hood River is home to Full Sail Brewing Company, one of the early microbrewery pioneers.  Since we like beer, we went for a tour and some samples.

Full Sail Brewing Company

Full Sail Brewing Company

Lastly, vineyards are plentiful and with that knowledge we also went wine tasting. We visited several wineries – Cor Cellars and Syncline Winery on the Washington side; Wy East Vineyards and Mt Hood Winery on the Oregon Side. The eastern vineyards we visited are characterized by a continental high desert climate with just 10″ of annual rainfall but plentiful sunshine to ripen the Zins and the Cabs that we tasted.

Cor Cellars

Cor Cellars

Syncline Winery

Syncline Winery

And so at the end of the seventh day we were ready to slow down and relax after all these fun and invigorating activities.

In case you want more of the Pacific Northwest sceneries, two ladies have write up about their adventures, click here to see what they have done.

Gorgeous Gorge – Columbia River Gorge part 2

Comment 1 Standard

Traveling through and around the Gorge is easy, and to really experience the Gorge is to drive  from east to west or vice versa depending on where you originate from.  It should also be driven following State Route 14 on the Washington side and the busier highway 84 on the Oregon side, or much will be missed.  The breathtaking beauty of the Gorge and surrounding areas are full of remarkable views depending on your direction, time of day and weather.  State Route 14 (a.k.a Lewis and Clark highway ) and I-84 are both scenic highways, and driving them completes the Gorge Loop and one must stop along the way to take in the various sights and towns.

We arrived at the Gorge from the east, Washington side on State Route 14, and what we saw from there were sweeping views of the Gorge, gigantic rock formations, quaint towns, vineyards and Mt Hood.

Rock Formation, Columbia Gorge

Rock formations and vineyard

Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge

The Dalles Bridge

The Dalles Bridge connects Murdock, WA to The Dalles OR on the eastern side of the Gorge

The Historical Columbia River Highway (Oregon) is another option to travel back in time circa 1913,  a winding road amidst lush green trees and stonework construction.  On the east end we took the 9 mile scenic route paralleling I-84, climbing to the Rowena Plateau and stopping at the Rowena Crest Overlook which is the eastern companion to the Crown Point Overlook on the west.  The dramatic views of the Rowena Loops and the dry eastern landscape are not to be missed.

Columbia River Gorge

Rowena Crest Overlook

View from the Rowena Crest Overlook

Historic Columbia River Highway

The Historic Columbia River Highway towards the Rowena Crest

Rowena Loops, Columbia River Gorge

Rowena Loops

On the west end of the Historical Columbia River Highway, our drive took us to the many beautiful cascading waterfalls and lush greenery that we described in part 1 of this post.  We began the drive  at Chanticleer Point which has astounding views of the river and the Gorge that can be seen from the tops of cliffs.

Highway Columbia River Highway

Lushier Highway Columbia River Highway on the westside

Chanticleer Point, Columbia River Gorge

View from Chanticleer Point with Vista House on the foreground

Continuing down the Byway, we arrived at the Vista House at Crown Point, one of the most photographed sites along the Historic Columbia River Highway.  In 1913 Samuel Lancaster, the highway’s chief engineer, believed that this outcropping of land located atop a 733-foot sheer cliff overlooking the Columbia River was one of the most spectacular vistas in the world.  We agreed.  It was a view to behold.

Columbia River Gorge

The Gorge looking east

Columbia River Gorge

The Gorge looking west

Vista House, Crown Point

Vista House, Crown Point

Tunnel on Highway 14, Columbia River Gorge

One of the many tunnels on State Route 14, the lowest height was 12’9″

On another day we drove the Mt Hood Scenic Byway (approx. 145 miles) and the entire trip is picturesque with Mt Hood as the focal point.  At 11,245 feet, Mt. Hood is the highest point in Oregon, the fourth highest peak in the Cascade Range and one of the state’s most recognizable landmarks.  Starting from the west we came into  the timberline and this byway lead us through classic Oregon scenery.  At the end of this drive we made several stops in the Hood River Fruit Loop, a scenic driving route that takes you around to several local farms where you can pay a small amount for U-pick fruits and other goodies.

Bridge of the Gods,Cascade Locks

Bridge of the Gods, connects OR and WA at the west end of Cascade Locks

Mt Hood, OR

Background of the fruit loop

Lavender Farm, Columbia River Gorge

Lavender Farm

Hood River Bridge,White Salmon, WA to Hood River, OR

Hood River Bridge, connecting White Salmon, WA to Hood River, OR

We took a quick detour from SR 14 (WA) and drove up Old Highway 8 where we enjoyed more outstanding views of the Gorge and some good wines at the local wineries.  Oh yeah, we bought a few bottles too!

SR 14, Columbia River Gorge

Looking down at SR 14

Garnier Vineyards, Columbia River Gorge

Garnier Vineyards in the morning haze

We were advised that this area is beset by mountain fires this time of the year.

fires at the Columbia River Gorge

This fire covered the gorge with smoke for several days.

So have we covered and seen everything?  Despite a week stay here, there are still nooks and crannies in the gorgeous Gorge to be explored.

Holy Smokes! Central Washington

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After the Customs officer at the US border confiscated some vegetables we had purchased in Kelowna, we went straight to a gas station and filled Betsy up.  The diesel price as we know now was a tad higher as we travelled south but much cheaper than Alaska or Canada.  The change in scenery is quite dramatic, reminding us we are back in the Lower 48 with Washington state as our gateway.

As we drove along the highway we noticed the mountains are dry, with parched forest, dry brush and grass. Interspersed are acres of orchards and vineyards. Remember, red delicous apples from Washington – that’s where they are grown.  Nearing our destination we noticed smoke and fires coming from the mountain tops and noticed that a haze was already covering the valley.

Central Washington

Wildfires

We decided to forego our original destination, Alta Lake State Park, as it was really close to the wildfires and the area was already smoky.  We drove further and found Lakeshore RV park at Lake Chelan and fortunately they had a site available for us.  Lake Chelan is a pristine 50.5 mile glacier-fed lake, is 1.5 miles at its widest and 1486 ft. at its deepest point making it the third deepest in the U.S. behind Crater Lake and Lake Tahoe. The Lake Chelan valley is nestled in the North Cascades National Forest.

Lake Chelan

Smoky, Lake Chelan

Chelan,WA

Quaint downtown of Chelan, blanketed in smoke

The haze was quite visible around the town and lake.  Despite that we followed  their Riverwalk Trail around the lake and downtown area.  We learned that Lake Chelan is a destination resort as it is known for its 300 days of sunhine and lots of things to do all year round.  The sunset by the lake while we were there  was beautifully enhanced by the smoke and dust in the atmosphere.

Sunset at Lake Chelan

Sunset at Lake Chelan. the sun is behind the mountains not clouds.

After three days we decided to move on for the smoke was getting thicker and we could really smell it.  But then after continuing for more than a hundred miles, the smoke still covered the mountains and valleys. We learned that the fire started on Sept 7, caused by lightning and the fire still has not been contained.   The smoke is blanketing much of central Washington as wildfires remain uncontained with the dry conditions and no rain in the forecast.  The highways we were on were supposed to be scenic and  picturesque with the view of the eastern Cascades and the peaks of  Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams, but visibility was low.  We arrived at Yakima with a layer of smoke lying over the city.

Highway 97 S WA

Highway 97S

I90 East, WA

I-90 East

Washington ranks second in the United States in the production of wine, behind  California.  Here in Yakima is where 40% of it is produced.  In addition, the Yakima valley produces an abundance of agricultural products where the famous Washington apples and cherries are grown.  We went wine tasting in one of the wine appelations here, the Rattlesnake Hills Wine Trail, where we  noted acres of orchards and vineyards enterwined in the land. Various fruit stands were also visible on the highways and byways.

Orchards and Vineyards,WA

Orchards and Vineyards

Washington Apples

Delicious Washington Apples

We also visited the neighboring town of Toppenish located within the boundaries of the Yakama nation and is quite rich with Native American history.  We did a short walking tour to view and to admire some of the 73 murals around the city.  This is the town where walls  can really talk for each mural has its own introduction.  Below are few of interesting mural stories.

Indian Stick Game, Toppenish

Indian Stick Game

Ruth Parton , Toppenish

Mural shows Ruth Parton’s fame in rodeo, racing and relays

Toppenish,WA

Rodeo, recalls the early Toppenish round ups where cowboys and ranchers get together.

Toppenish

Yakima also boasts their 10 mile paved pathway called Yakina Greenway, which parallels the Yakima river and in some stretches parallels the highway and overpasses.  We enjoyed this walk/hike while our Honda was in for some maintenance work.  At the end of the walk we burnt 1200 calories, yeah!  And the best part was that the RV park had a nice pool and Therapy Pools (as they called it) where we could dip our tired and sore muscles for a while.

Yakima Greenway Trail

Yakima Greenway Trail

Yakima Greenway Trail

Off we went despite the smoky haze

Yakima Greenway Trail

Heron taking a rest from his flight

Yakima Greenway Trail

Cat’s Tail

Yakima Greenway Trail

Smoky Hills

And here is Steve’s good deed for the day.

Yakima Valley

This poor woman was inexperienced and ran into a utility post with her trailer when she arrived late at night (see the utility post on the lower right).

Damsel in distress

Steve helping the Damsel in distress who is traveling by herself with 3 dogs and ended up with a flat tire.

So we will move on now, hopefully to where the air quality is much better.  Columbia Gorge, here we come!

Yakima Valley

Our (slow) trip around San Juan Island

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Our next stop took us to Anacortes, the gateway to the many  islands  in the Pacific Northwest.  Among the many things to do and islands to visit,  we chose to ride the ferry and and hop to San Juan island.

We decided to check out San Juan Island on Friday the 25th, since it appeared to be the nicest weather day.  We’d been wanting to take a nice bike ride, so my brilliant idea was to give it a shot on our bikes.  “We’re in no hurry, so we’ll make a day of it, bring our lunch along and save money by not taking the car on the ferry”, I said.  Yeah, how tough could it be?

Well, I had my answer a few hours later.  Wow, what a hard ride!  We rode over 28 miles total and faced several brutal hills – not at all what the web sites I had checked out reported.  We were exhausted at the end of the day, but we made it and what a beautiful ride.  We checked out Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, the alpaca farm and the Lime Kiln Point State Park Lighthouse to watch for Orca whales.  It appeared they were taking the day off, since we looked for them for over an hour as we rode down the coast and I saw only one very briefly.  Even the whale watch tour boats couldn’t locate them on that day.  And the best news?  Mona Liza lost two pounds from that one grueling ride!  Funny, she doesn’t seem very excited about doing it again…despite burning 2546 calories.

Nearby our park was a very nice and popular Tommy Thompson trail which we used for our walk. The real beauty of this trail is a mile long  trestle which can be accessed from the park.

Here are some of  our biking pictures and nearby beautiful views.

The evergreen state, lush and wet

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Washington State was not given the monicker “the evergreen state”  for nothing!  And it should also be  called “the wet  state”!  By this time in CA where I came from the hills are already brown. But here, everywhere  you look is very lush and green, and wet.  It has been raining now for several days, and I mean pouring rain.  Of course we were not surprised, I’m  just whining a bit. But that did not stop us from being tourists and visit Seattle, Tacoma and drive to Point Defiance park. We performed the usual tourist duties by posing in front of the Space Needle and the Pacific Science Center.

Its raining !

Steve does not like using an umbrella but  this day is an exception in Seattle.  Walking in the rain with the one you love made our mile+ walk from the Space Needle to our lunch at the Crab Pot restaurant easy and relaxing.

Pacific Science Center

We had a good walk along the waterfront for about an hour from the Space Needle to Pike Place Market, building an appetite for our lunch. We had a scrumptious lunch  of fresh yummy  seafood at The Crab Pot of Seattle.

This is indeed a very fresh and delish feast of seafood !

It was that good!

The trip would not be complete without shopping and buying from the Pike Place Market.  We were in heaven seeing all those smoked salmon, beautiful flowers, fresh fishes and all kind of cheeses and every food that you can think of.

We bought Halibut and smoked salmon, the best ever!

Check out Steve’s smile as he got out of the Public Market

Despite the rain, we drove to Tacoma the next day to check out the Musuem of Glass which to our dismay is closed on Mondays. It was a let down but walking the Chihuly Bridge of Glass was amazing.  The collection of multicolored glass suspended on the ceiling called the Seaform Pavillion was something to behold. Looking up you can see the interplay of light and the illusion that you are under water.

Close up of glass art work

Seaform Pavillion, a ceiling of glass art by artist Paul Chihuly.

More glass art as you look closely at the ceiling.

Walking further at the center were the Crystal Towers which are forty feet tall. Because it was raining and gloomy the glass did not show the personality that we were expecting, nevertheless it was very interesting.

Crystal Towers

Crystal Towers

At the end of the bridge closer to the entrance of the museum was the Venetian Wall, an eighty-foot installation displaying 109 sculptures from the Paul Chihuly series.  This is a wow, amazing art work, the intricacies of the glass and the play of colors were really impressive. I wished I could take home one of those. This wall is a collection of some of the largest blown-glass works executed in the history of the medium.

Venetian Wall

Closeup of some of the glass art

Steve posing near his favorite artwork

more close up

We felt like we were walking in a ghost town, for we were the only ones there!  As we came closer to the entrance more artwork was on display.  I posed in front of the Fluent Steps, where you will see 754 individually hand-sculpted pieces of glass that span the entire length of the 210-foot-long Main Plaza reflecting pool.  The glass display looks ordinary on this rainy and gloomy day, but i think with lights and sun it would have been more beautiful.

Little Red Riding hood amidst the Fluent Steps

Fluent Steps

View of Venetian Wall from below

Tacoma is world  renowned for its glass art which we did not know until we got there.  So if you like glass art this is the place to be.

Our last stop was at Point Defiance Park.  This time it was really pouring so we did not get out of the car. The Barrista at the coffee shop suggested to drive the five mile scenic drive at Port Defiance. We followed the road  through a forest tunnel that goes all the way around the point; you spend most of the circuit underneath a canopy of very mature evergreens, breaking out occasionally into scenic overlooks with views in many different directions out over the sound, islands, and across the water.  We just viewed this from the car as it was pouring.  We noticed there were a few hiking trails which we would have wanted to follow, but it was raining.  Maybe next time.

Map of Point Defiance

Tunnel of Evergreens

Puget Sound