Saturday, September 16, 2017

Southeast Washington

After the last post we went back to the Tacoma area for another month of family time. After granddaughter birthday parties completed it was time to start meandering back toward Arizona. Our first stop was in the Washington tri-cities for some RV repairs and to see some sites.

We visited Sacajawea State Park at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. This park has a small, but very good, interpretive center with information on the history of the area with the most famous historical event being the Lewis & Clark Expedition camping on the site.

We next went to the small Manhattan Project National Historical Park visitor center and learned that you can only go to the park sites via tours and they were booked for days. We missed out on that. If you want to do one of the free tours, call well ahead of time to reserve. We next learned that the Hanford Reach National Monument doesn't have a visitor center or anything so that didn't turn into a real visit either.

We did have a good day trip to the Whitman Mission National Historical Site near Walla Walla. They have a small visitor center with an excellent 20 minute film and a nice walk outside around the mission site and along a short restored section of the Oregon Trail. We also drove into Walla Walla and walked around the old downtown which is clean and vibrant. We then drove around a section of town with nice old homes and stopped at Pioneer Park with has a really nice aviary with a lot of exotic birds. Very nice city.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

North Cascades National Park

We were in the area for a week waiting to see if smoke would clear before going into North Cascades
View from Diablo Lake Overlook
National Park. We finally had some rain and a front push through to clear the air so the next day we headed out early. This park has just one road that cuts across it so there aren't a lot of options and things to figure out unless you want to do a long hike, then you have to figure out which trail. There are basically about a half dozen scenic overlooks along the road to stop at plus the Visitor Center in Newhalem. That's about it as 99.9 percent of the park is wilderness and must be seen on foot.

View from Diablo Lake Overlook
That being said, we took our time and enjoyed each pullout on a nice day. We came in from Burlington on the west side and went a little past Ross Lake to the east edge of the park where the road goes into the National Forest. At that point we turned around and headed back with a second stop at the Diablo Lake Overlook because it was so spectacular.

There is a designated scenic loop that continues through the National Forest and National Recreation Areas but that is a multiple day trip which we chose not to do. We have to save something for next time.

Ross Lake Overlook

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Exploring Northwest Washington

Deception Pass bridge
Our next move was north of Seattle to a base near Burlington, WA. From here we did some exploring of things that interested us. The haziness of pictures is due to smoke from wildfires in Canada that was blowing down to the area.

Deception Pass
This little state park is pretty and has a special feature of a bridge over the channel between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island. It is interesting to see the water rushing through the narrow channel between islands as though it were a river, when in fact, it is just tidal water flowing during the changing of the tide. There is a pretty view in both directions from the bridge. At West Beach we enjoyed a nice beach and great views of the channel, looking across to Lopez Island and out the Strait of Juan De Fuca.
Deception Pass State Park
Bowman Bay

We took the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island and spent the day on the island. We took our car so that we had complete control over our movements but there are buses and moped rental available. We started by going to the American Camp, part of the San Juan Island National Historical Park. This is the site of the American military encampment during the conflict over possession of the islands, aka The Pig War, in the mid-1800s. The conflict turned out to be very tame but there is historical significance of what could have happened. 
Ferry ride to San Juan Island
as the fog clears
We next went to the Lime Kiln State Park where the whale watching is supposed to be good. We were there about an hour, had our picnic lunch, and had good whale watching - no whales, but the watching was fine on a nice day. We moved on to the English Camp, site of the English military encampment during the Pig War conflict. Not much remains to be seen at this location either but there are some nice old photos. Then back to Friday Harbor in time for dinner at Herb's Tavern (recommended) and the ferry ride back. It was a good day.  
Lime Kiln State Park on San
Juan Island

This reserve is a living rural community on Whidbey Island. There is no one place to go, no operating hours and no admission fees. There are historic buildings such as the Jacob Ebey house and historic stores in Coupeville but the reserve integrates historic farms, a seaside town, native and pioneer land use traditions, and ecologically significant areas to preserve an entire historically significant area. 
Jacob Ebey House
We went to the Jacob Ebey house (only open certain days) which is mostly the original home built in 1855, walked to the Bluff Trail for great views, and walked around historic Coupeville to complete a nice day trip.

Here are some more pictures from those day trips. 

Ferry ride to San Juan Island

American Camp - San Juan Island

English Camp - San Juan Island

Friday Harbor - San Juan Island

Jacob Ebey house inside

View from Bluff Trail with fog blowing
off the water - Ebey's Landing NHR

Historic stores downtown
Coupeville, WA

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier
Our next move was to a little town south of Mount Rainier so we could go to Mount Rainier National Park and Mount St Helens. There are very few roads in Mount Rainier NP but the ones they have were planned to give the most spectacular views. The most popular road is the one to Paradise - why wouldn't you want to go there? We entered from the east at the Stevens Canyon entrance on a beautiful morning. We were rewarded with great views and pictures as we stopped at all of the points of interest. We parked at Paradise before the mob showed up and did some hiking up to viewpoints. We were there a few hours and by the time we left it was chaos with tons of cars and people. Once again our strategy of going in early paid off. Mount Rainier has more than 35 square miles of glaciers, the largest collection of glaciers on one peak in the contiguous United States. As with any mountain area, most trails are difficult because it is up and down hill.

Looking south from near Panorama Point

We wanted to go to the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument from here also. It turned out that the road on the west side, where we were, was washed out part way up.  We went as far as we could to see what we could see. The other alternative would have been at least a two hour drive, each way, from our location (Randle) and we opted not to do that. We'll be back again and plan an RV stop for easier access from the west side of the monument. 
Mount St. Helens from Bear Meadow - northeast side

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Washington Coast and more

Ruby Beach - Washington coast
We made a trip into Seattle to visit friends and made a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park near Jackson Square. This little museum tells about the gold rush in a way that is easy to understand and keeps you interested as you walk around. Why is it in Seattle? Because Seattle was the only hub to get supplies and transportation to the Klondike Gold Rush area. You might say the gold rush is what made Seattle a major city. 

Worlds largest Spruce Tree
at Quinault Lake
We spent most of the month of July on the coast of Washington. The first home base was Copalis Beach where we were a 10 minute walk to the shore. The wind never stopped and it was cloudy most of the time. There were a few times when the wind was lighter and we walked or rode our bikes on the beach. We used this location to explore the west side of the Olympic peninsula up to Ruby Beach and Quinault Lake in Olympic National Park. This side of the National Park is a rain forest so the forest is extremely dense and there are huge trees, including some record breakers. We explored the coast from Ocean Shores to Ruby Beach checking out all the little coastal towns and state parks. 
Riding bike on beach at Copalis Beach

Our next move was to Ilwaco, WA at the southwest tip of the state near the Columbia River. We were a couple miles off of the ocean coast and half a mile from the river. We explored up the coast to the famous Long Beach where it was crowded but spent most of our time exploring historical sites along the river. There is a lot of history about Lewis and Clark, early inhabitants and exploration in the area, the history of shipping and fishing in the area, the amazing treacherous mouth of the river and its claiming over a thousand ships over the last two hundred years, and the Forts that protected the mouth of the Columbia through World War II. It was a busy and fun two weeks exploring this area which was a split between Washington and Oregon on both sides of the river. 
Where the Columbia River meets
the Pacific Ocean. This is huge, five
miles across the river so this is a
panoramic pic from the Cape
Disappointment Lighthouse

Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
from the Cape Disappointment
We saw lots of great things so I'll just give some brief highlights of our favorite sites. First, if you look back at the history  of this blog you'll see us going to a lot of Lewis and Clark (Corp of Discovery) sites and recommending the book Undaunted Courage. Coming to this area to see where they finally arrived, explored, and spent the winter was fantastic. There is a great Lewis & Clark National Historical Park with a half dozen locations and an Interpretive Center that are great. The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, OR is fantastic, also with a lot of information on the history of the river. Cape Disappointment State Park is a must see with the aforementioned Interpretive Center but also the light houses, beach, views and explanation of "Columbia River Bar" and jetties. Great stuff. Fort Columbia was interesting too.
Cape Disappointment Lighthouse from
the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center
Fort Clatsop replica
 One last note, we drove down to Cannon Beach, OR to check it out and see the famous Haystack Rock. Nice beach if you can handle the relentless wind.

Hatchet head believed to be
used by Sgt Gass, the expedition
carpenter, on the expedition
A comment on the pictures. The nice weather in the pictures is attributed to two things - they were taken in late July after the weather finally got nicer and we did our exploring with picture taking on nice days. Weather along the coast has a very large percentage of fog and clouds even in the summer.

Lightship Columbia at Columbia River
Maritime Museum

Astoria Column in
Astoria, OR

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Washington State Capitol

Legislative Building
We've been in Washington for a month now and the focus has been on family. We've been helping with grandchildren since the new little guy is causing sleep deprivation in his parents and lack of attention for big sister. We've become very adept at taking orders from a 3 year old on how to play her imagination games.

Capitol Lake from Judicial building

On one day off we visited the Washington State Capitol in Olympia, the first capitol for 2017 after visiting 13 last year on our eastern trip. The Capitol is made up of multiple buildings with the Legislative Building housing the legislative branches and neighboring buildings holding the Judicial branch and library. The Legislative Building has lots of marble with the rotunda having a pretty dome and a huge Tiffany chandelier. The chandelier is so large a Mini Cooper would fit inside it. The House and Senate chambers have some pretty ornamentation without being garish like other Capitols we've seen.
Dome from Rotunda

Reception room

We also took a day trip from our base in Elma to Port Townsend, a town on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. This historic town has a lot of nice buildings from the late 1800s and a nice state park with beaches. We spent a couple hours just walking around checking out the buildings and reading plaques. I didn't take any pictures for some reason, I guess the weather was so dark and gloomy I just wasn't inspired for photography that day.

Old Washington State Capitol

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Portland Oregon area

Columbia River from Women's
Forum Overlook
 As we moved our way north our next stop was a week just east of Portland Oregon on the Historic Columbia River Highway - US 30. We spent a good part of two different days along the Columbia River Gorge. The first one was on the Historic Columbia River Highway which is certainly not a highway by today's standards. It is a narrow two lane road winding along the cliff of the river with the purpose of giving views of the river gorge and numerous water falls. We stopped at vistas and many water falls to fill a wonderful day.
View looking across river from
Women's Forum Overlook

The second day spent along the river was much faster paced. We drove east on I-84 which hugs the river. We enjoyed the scenery at the few view points that are available, the town of Cascade Locks, and the Bradford Island Visitor Center which is at the Bonneville Lock and Dam. This visitor center has exhibits related to the locks and dam as well has some history of the Columbia River. It also has viewing windows into the fish ladder so you can see fish swimming by. The top of the fish ladder funnels down to a scant 18 inches wide and goes by a window so the fish can be counted.

Bonneville Hydroelectric Dam
 Yes, someone sits there and counts fish (24/7) and tracks them by species. We had a very good lunch in Hood River, a really neat little town, at the Full Sail Brewpub that has a great view of the river. We drove a few miles south from Hood River on US 35 to the Panorama Viewpoint to get a spectacular view of Mount Hood. We drove another 10 miles or so east on I-84 until we got a good feel for how the terrain opens up and becomes more arid. At this point we decided to turn around and head back.
Fish going through counting tunnel

Fort Vancouver
Another day was spent driving to Vancouver, Washington, across the river from Portland, to go to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This is a reproduction of the Columbia Department headquarters of the Hudson's Bay Company built around 1825. For two decades the fort was the center of fur trade for the Pacific northwest. After America gained control of the land, the company continued to operate the fort but trade slowly diminished until they moved out in 1860. After abandonment the structures were destroyed by fires and decay in 1866. Paintings, written accounts and archaeological work gave the information necessary to create an accurate recreation of buildings and activities within and around the fort.
End of the Oregon Trail site

We took the long route home from Fort Vancouver to go to the "End of the Oregon Trail" on the south side of Portland. We got there late so we didn't have time to tour the inside exhibits but we walked around the grounds and read the interpretive signs, which ultimately, told us what we wanted to know.

Bridal Veil Falls

Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge along I-84

Mount Hood from Panorama Viewpoint

Fort Vancouver outside

Fort Vancouver

Fort Vancouver
End of the Oregon Trail plaque