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

Majestic Mount St Helens-Washington

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32 years ago on May 18,1980 the eruptions of  Mount St Helens  changed the whole landscape in the surrounding area in an instant. When we went there to view her beauty, the destruction is still clearly visible, especially the blasted trees that remained untouched.   Mount St Helens looked so majestic, serene, and represents something of true awe and beauty, yet underlying is something potentially catastrophic. I stood  there and observed it with immense respect for nature itself.

Our photo op

Our photo op with Majestic Mt St Helens as background

Entering the blast zone on our way to Johnston Ridge Observatory  replanted trees can be seen along the highway for miles which was part of the regeneration project. The tree groves are marked by the year it was planted and the year it will be harvested.

Regenerated Forest

Sections of the forest where dates of when trees are regenerated and when to be harvested

Mt St Helen

The bridge is a landmark signaling our entry to the blast zone

Johnston Ridge Observatory , considered  the crown jewel of Mt St Helen is located at the end of Highway 504 East and is at the center of the blast zone. This is where you can really be near and be of awe when you see the volcano which is only 5.4 miles away.  You can spend hours at the visitor center reading eyewitness stories, the events that happened weeks leading up to the eruption and scientific and geologic facts. Everything you would want to know about the activity before and after the eruption. It was very informative and well done. It was worth the drive up there.

Mt St Helens

How Mt St Helens face changed

Mount St Helen

The valley created where mud and lava flowed

Mount St Helen

Steve tried hard to spot an Elk but it was too late in the day for us to see them.

Mount Saint Helen

This is a 32 year old blasted tree that is still untouched

Mount St Helen eruption

How trees were blasted

Blasted trees

Trees 32 years after the eruption are left untouched

Story of regenerating the forest

Story of regenerating the forest

Devastation

Devastation remains with growth emerging

Panoramic view of Mt St Helens

Panoramic view of Mt St Helens

Washington here we are…

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From breathing the ocean breeze to the cool mountain fresh air.  We left Astoria and headed to Cougar, Washington which is located 11 miles south-southwest of Mount St. Helens. But before I gush over the fresh mountain air, let me take you first to Cape Disappointment. The cape is just a stones throw from Astoria by crossing over the Columbia river through the Astoria Megler bridge  which spans 4.1 miles and connects Astoria to  Prince Ellice in Washington state.  We hiked to Cape Disappointment which is where Lewis and Clark finally spotted  the Pacific Ocean.  This  1.2 mile trail  took us to upper headland that featured  a lighthouse, an artillery bunker, a museum and Dead Man’s Cove, a picturesque chasm in the cape’s cliffs.The views at the top are wonderful. You can see for miles….including the South and North Jetties as well as all the maritime traffic entering and leaving the Columbia River. This is also the best place to view the “bar” of the Columbia River.

After the hike we headed to Long Beach (not California) Washington where a Boardwalk stretches for almost half a mile. We followed this on the south end and came across a real preserved  Gray Whale skeleton. The beach is quite expansive and you can see it all the way to the horizon.

We left Astoria and drove  to the town of Cougar which is the gateway to Mt. St. Helens on the south side. We checked out Ape Cave, and no, no apes do not live there. Instead it is a lava tube located in Gifford Pinchot National Forest just to the south of Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Its passageway is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States, at 13,042 feet (3,975 m). I chickened out on hiking inside the tube as it is dark and cold but most of all I was scared and we did not have a flashlight. Instead, we hiked on the upper ape cave trail   on the surface, a 1.3 mile walk through the old forest that  links the two lava tubes and leads from the trailhead to these underworld entrances. This trail leads through wonderful old forests, walking on snow, a view of Mt. St. Helens and lava rocks.

On our way out of the park and a quick right turn took us to another trailhead the Trail of Two Forest. This  is just short hike though a “lava cast” park. The 1/4 mile  plank trail winds through a 2000 year old lava flow. As the lava entered the forest, fir trees were surrounded and the lava cooled. The “cast” is what is left. This trail is quite interesting as you try to imagine what happens when hot lava cascade down the mountain and hit all the trees in the surroundings. As we saw there were a lot of devastation but is now slowly growing back creating a new forest.

To top it off, we were breathing fresh mountain air during the whole adventure.