On to Nevada ~ Reno, Virginia City & Lake Tahoe

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Coming out of wonderful Lassen Volcanic National Park we drove out St. Rt. 36 over to US 395 to spend two nights at the Susanville (CA) RV Park.  In my notebook I marked this as a nice campground but for the life of me I can’t picture/remember it now, but if you RV’ers are ever in Susanville….. 🙂

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The Hallelujah Junction, California Shoe Tree.  There are shoe trees all over the country, but this was our first encounter.  Not only are there lots and lots of shoes, but the trunk and branches are covered with signatures and names.

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We added ours of course.

After spending a day deciding and plotting our next week and a half’s travels we left Susanville on US 395 S on down to Reno Nevada.  Our son Kevin had recommended we try Stone House Café for brunch.  We had the Apple Cinnamon French Toast and like our kid, we certainly recommend this very busy, very good, small restaurant!   After stuffing ourselves we headed to the Grand Sierra Casino’s RV Park.  We have stayed at several casinos mostly out of necessity. This one however we actually headed for because it has full hook ups (many do not), and is rated higher than the other RV options in town. One of the plusses to casino camping is they all have restaurants offering generally a decent meal. Grand Sierra has several and our second night we opted for Charlie Palmer Steak.  It was excellent, best dinner at a casino by far, although not cheap we enjoyed ourselves and Ed only lost $2 in the slots. 🙂

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You won’t often catch Marti in a casino but here she is.

I had noticed on the map that Virginia City was just a short 34 miles from Reno and even though it’s a tourist town (something we generally avoid) I told Ed, it’s VIRGINIA CITY, a part of “THE WEST”  I’ve heard about my whole life, we’ve got to go!  From US 395 we picked up State 341, the Geiger Grade, which gets very twisty, windy and steep even though most of it is newer than the original road.  The old road was laid out and built by Dr. Davidson Geiger in 1862.

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Himself

A more direct route to haul the silver from the Comstock Lode in Virginia City to the Central Pacific Railroad line in Truckee Meadows sections of it are still visible and if you have 4 wheel drive and guts, still passable.  The current route is a fun drive and the view down into Reno and the valley from the now closed Geiger Lookout Wayside Park is well worth a stop.

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Reno Nevada from the Geiger Lookout Wayside Park

Virginia City is not a place I would make a destination but when in the vicinity it is a big part of the history of the west and I’m glad we went.  Springing forth from the desert as a boom town with the 1859 discovery of the first major silver deposit in the United States, Virginia City mines, in particular the Comstock Lode made a lot of folks rich. By the mid 1870’s there was a population of 25,000 people but that went into decline by 1878 when production began to slow way down.  It is on the side of a mountain, so there is some exercise in walking around. We went up and down the main drag’s wooden sidewalks along with lots of other folks.

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The main drag in Virginia City.  After a few fires, they got smart and started using brick for some of the buildings.

Like many old western towns, Virginia City burned several times and the last “Great Fire” in 1875 left 2,000 people homeless.  We walked up and around B Street and down to E where we got back in the RV to drive out to the Comstock Cemeteries.

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A cool house up on B Street

Not actually a single cemetery the Silver Terrace Cemeteries as they are known is actually a collection of cemeteries all in the same general area.  Grouped by religious, civic or fraternal affiliation and scattered in terraces across the hill side these cemeteries were originally like parks with trees, flowers, shrubs and grasses.  With clover lined graveled pathways each cemetery was surrounded by white picket fences and as was the custom most individual or family graves were marked with a stone boarder or wrought iron fencing.

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A typical plot surrounded by decorative fence. Virginia City is in the distance with their “V” on the mountainside.

There was the Catholic Cemetery set to one side and The Masons, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Virginia City Firemen, and County and City Cemeteries all laid out separately from each other.  Groups we’ve never heard of before, West Coast Pioneers, Improved Order of Redmen and Wilson Brown (the local undertakers) each had their own cemetery.  Over time theft, vandalism and neglect has turned what was once called the most beautiful burial ground in the state into a sad and dusty relic of a time long past.  The good news is the Comstock Cemetery Foundation is working hard to protect and restore this most unique place.

The next morning we had a lovely visit with Ed’s high school friend Andi Cook and her husband Dave before heading out for Lake Tahoe via Rt. 341S over Mt. Rose which at 8,911 ft is the highest year round Sierra Pass.  A pretty drive but photographically the light was very flat and clearly Tahoe is a resort area for what I am guessing would be big bucks.

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Looking down on Lake Tahoe, the largest Alpine lake in North America and the second deepest in the United States after Crater Lake.

We drove out the eastern side of the lake on Rt. 28 to Rt. 50 and down to the southern end and Lake Tahoe Nevada Beach Campground.  We were told at check-in that there had been nightly bear visits so when I went for my afternoon walk around through the meadows and woods I kept my eyes open!  At night, this is a lovely dark campground and our site was off by ourselves. We highly recommend it.  The only negative….no bears for our visit!

Next catch up blog post we’ll take you back to one of our favorite places, Bishop CA. Please stay tuned 🙂




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Shoes on the Shoe Tree.

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Still on the main drag in Virginia City.

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The Mackay Mansion in Virginia City.  Known to be haunted, the house was built by John William Mackay one of the four Bonanza Kings of the Comstock Lode.

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Yard decorations along B Street in Virginia City.

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Some of the different areas of the Silver Terrace Cemeteries.

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Some rare greenery at the Silver Terrace Cemeteries and our star.

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There are many bands of wild horses in this area and it’s against the law to disturb them in any way.  So, they have the run of the place in Virginia City and surrounds.

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Bouldered shoreline on Lake Tahoe and a pair of cute selfie takers from Germany.

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The beach at our campground and the leading edge of clear air approaching.

 

Lassen ~ A Must Visit Place

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Studying the California map to decide which blue highway roads to take towards Reno, Nevada and a visit with Andi Cook, a high school classmate of Ed’s, I saw Lassen Volcanic National Park and suggested we check it out.  Boy Howdy, are we glad we did!

Leaving Redding on pretty St. Rt. 44E we picked up Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (Rt. 89S) about 3 miles inside the park.  Stopping at the Loomis Museum we learned a bit about the park and saw many of the remarkable photographs taken by Benjamin F. Loomis during the 1914 & ’15 eruptions of Lassen Peak.

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B.F. Loomis reported that several of these large rocks were still hot, some boiling water even 40 hours after being explosively ejected from the volcano. They caused a snow avalanche that carried them 5 miles from the peak.

Having just celebrated in August its 100th year as a national park (we were there on October 6th) there are four types of volcanoes found here:  shield, composite, cinder cone and plug dome.

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Chaos Jumbles rock field at the foot of Chaos Crags.  The rock slide dates from a 1670 collapse of one of the Crags when molten rock underneath the crags superheated groundwater producing a steam explosion that triggered the rockfall avalanche. The snow covered peak behind to the right of the Crags is Lassen Peak.  

A rugged landscape at high elevations, snow can cover the ground from September to June/July while deep below ground a vast hydrothermal system pushes and bubbles away causing extremely hot sulfuric water up to the surface and out steam vents and boiling mud pots.

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Marti reads the sign at Sulphur Works on the south side of the drive around Lassen Peak.  In 2012 a visitor was airlifted out after stepping off the path breaking through the one inch crust immersing her foot and ankle in boiling, acidic mud.  STAY ON THE SIDEWALK!

 

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A boiling mud pot at Sulphur Springs.

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Whack-A-Mole Wheels!  Lassen Peak is a beautiful place. It’s not a matter of if it will blow but when.

It is not necessarily a friendly place but my, oh my, is it BEAUTIFUL!!   Our only regret was having discovered it at the last minute we only had a day to briefly touch this wonderland.  We will be back!




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Hat Creek at the trailhead to Paradise Meadows with Lassen Peak behind.

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At around 7000 ft. elevation, Marti found snow from a storm a couple days before we were there.

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And a really old pre-pop top beer can.

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When there’s snow, there’s snowballs.

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The Upper Meadow at the Kings Creek Trailhead.

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Overlooking the Upper Meadow at Kings Creek Trailhead.

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Climbing higher up the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (or Rt. 89).

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Lake Helen from atop a picnic table. (L-R) Pinnacle Peak?, Brokeoff Mountain?, Mt. Diller?  Ski Heil, Eagle and Lassen Peaks.

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Getting higher still, just another pretty view from the road.

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More steam vents at the Sulphur Works.

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Next time we are camping here to explore this most beautiful park.

California, Here We Come

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Leaving the very nice Harris Beach State Park (we’d stay here again in a heartbeat) just north of Brookings, Oregon we only had plans to cover about 28 miles to our next camping spot Village Camper Inn RV Park (fine enough, but not as nice as their webpage looks) in Crescent City, California.  In this last bit of Oregon I once again suggested leaving US 101 for a coastal side road Rt. 872/Oceanview Drive in part so we could stop at McVay Rock State Recreation Site. None of it proved as nice as I’d hoped for.  The road does not offer views of the ocean and while McVay was pebbles rather than sand, it was nothing special. Oh well, it was not our reason for today’s travels.

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Goodbye to Oregon’s coast.

Getting back onto 101S, just before Fort Dick, CA, we took State Route 197/North Bank Road which follows along the Smith River to today’s travel goal, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park.

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Wood Sorrel, ferns and big trees.

Protecting seven percent of all the old growth redwoods in the world these 10,000 acres of temperate rainforest are truly magnificent!  California coast redwoods thrive at elevations below 2,000 feet.  Year-round moderate temperatures and as much as 100 inches of winter rains provide the perfect environment for a magical green wonderland of moss, ferns, rhododendrons, azaleas and trees that can grow to 350 feet or more with a base nearly 20 feet in diameter!  After a nice chat with the park ranger lady, who checked out the size of our rig, we took the beyond narrow, unpaved and potholed Howland Hill Rd.  Officially not recommended for RVs (but Ed is a VERY skilled driver) and absolutely not after a rain storm, this was a wonderful route.

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It seems more narrow than it looks…

Off this road we walked the popular Stout Grove Trail and much further in the less traveled Boy Scout Tree Trail. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park should be on your MVL (Must Visit List)!

The next two days were so rainy we didn’t venture out (thank goodness we’d already done Howland Hill) but come day three we headed on down 101S to pick up an alternate route, the ten mile Newton B. Drury Parkway.  While it looked lovely going through another redwood forest the fog and heavy misty rain kept us mostly inside the RV.

Back out on 101 the weather improved and we stopped several times to look at the Pacific seascape.  Stopping on one narrow shoulder I thought I heard seals, so hopped out to look.  Not too far out in the ocean was an impossibly steep big rock absolutely covered with seals all the way to the top!  We have no idea how they got up there and unfortunately none came or left while we stood watching.  A bicycling couple from Germany stopped and we shared our binoculars with them.  They agreed, it just didn’t seem possible but clearly it was!

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The rock with all the seals.  With all the noise they were making maybe they too were wondering, “How do I get off this damn rock?”

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Here’s a crop to show the seals all the way up at the top.  Try doing that on your stomach with flippers!

We spent the night at Emerald Forest Cabins & RV in Trinidad (OK park in the woods, they were still renovating and improving….) and next morning we drove down 101 to State Rt. 299 East.  This 153 miles of road goes through pretty mountainous country although once again rainy clouds and heavy fog obscured a lot of the first bit until the weather started to lift and the sun came out.  The first 38 miles follows several streams and then at the little town of Willow Creek just a ways into the Shasta Trinity National Forest it runs beside the beautiful Trinity River.  There was a great deal of road construction going on this entire way so a lot of stopping and sitting.

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Heavy clouds obscuring the mountains along 299 East.

Someday however, I’d like to go back (in the SUNSHINE) and spend some time in this area.  We spent the night at the very nice Premier RV Resort in Redding, CA and recommend them as a good campground for all you RV’ers.

I’ll stop here as that pretty much covers our coastal travels, and our next adventure (which deserves lots of space) came as a complete and wonderful surprise when I said….”Hey, let’s go here!”




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There’s a lot of looking up in the Jedediah Smith Redwood State Park.

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Ed! He’s in there! This is the trail in the Stout Grove.

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He’s easier to see in this photo.

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Marti says this is a jigsaw puzzle nightmare.

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If a tree falls in the forest….

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The light in the Stout Grove was really fun that day.  It wasn’t raining either!

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We did not drive into the Stout Grove Trail, but rather parked out on Howland Hill Road.

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Starting out on the Boy Scout Tree Trail.

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Deep into the trail the trees, they are big.

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Fairy Land or Hobbits either one…

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Trolls! Marti discovered this guy lurking in a stump.

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…and the horse he rode in on.

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Back out on 101 we spied a herd of Roosevelt Elk. They are all over out there.

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Driving east now through the Shasta Trinity National Forest near Lewiston, CA.  My GGG Uncle Ethbert Newland (see last post) hauled freight from here to Placerville, CA during the gold rush days in the early 1860s.

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The Trinity River runs down this valley.

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They cut some big trees out here.  These logging trucks are everywhere. The truck in front has the finished product loaded.

 

 

 

 

Oregon and a Family Story!

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As Ed commented in his Thanksgiving post we are settled in back “home” in Maryland for the duration (February/March) but we do want to share with you our travels this past Autumn. So without further ado, back to Oregon we go 🙂

Our destination upon leaving Crater Lake was Medford, Oregon, so we headed down State Rt. 62 where I caught a couple of glimpses of something intriguing enough to say “OK, stop please”.   Walking a short way into the woods we came to a very deep and narrow gorge cut into the pumice.  Generally unnoticed and seldom walked, this chasm called Llaos Hallway is in spots 200’ deep while only as wide as one’s outstretched arms.  Formed by the Whitehorse Creek it is a potentially dangerous hike often in water, with falling sand, pebbles and rock and only a few places where it’s possible to get down in much less out.  That being said, when we have more time and have notified others where we are, I would love to explore this unique geological feature.

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Llaos is the native american’s god of the underworld and lived beneath Mt. Mazama. 

A bit further down 62 the road begins to run beside the beautiful Rogue River in the Rogue River National Forest.  We stopped and walked along the Rogue River Gorge trail and then down the road a bit more stopped at Natural Bridge.  Another magnificent Oregon river the Rogue begs a long and leisurely hike but believing we still had a time consuming day ahead in Medford we didn’t go too far.  Once again, we’ll be back someday.

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Rogue River Gorge in the Rogue River National Forest.

On Ed’s grandmother’s maternal side the family can trace Newland ancestors way back into American history, all the way to the Mayflower.  In our downsizing over three years ago Ed discovered and researched old family letters from and about his 3rd Great Uncle Ethbert F. Newland (don’t you just love that name?) who left home in Webster, NY at the ripe old age of 18 with his older brother Henry for the wild west.  In 1855 he fought and was wounded in the Rogue Indian Wars. Later he worked as a teamster hauling freight to the California gold miners. On becoming quite ill he headed for San Francisco where he died of consumption (TB) at age 29 with $3,000 worth of gold in his possession! ( $55,000 in today’s money). In the early 1900’s in a rather amazing act of greed for the prime real estate of both current, abandoned or filled cemeteries, he was one of thousands disinterred and reburied in mass graves outside of the city!  Before all of this in 1855, shortly before mustering into the militia, Ethbert, courtesy of the Donation Act of Congress, acquired 160 acres of land near Table Rock, Jackson County, Oregon Territory, eight miles outside present day Medford.

Ed had done his research and located the land plot just by Newland Road and via Google Earth discovered it was now the site of a sewage treatment plant!

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Not a particularly auspicious outcome for Ethbert’s land claim.

Oh well, we still wanted to check the land records in Medford the Jackson County seat. Figuring it might be a long day of finding the correct office and searching microfilm and/or old books we had hurried down the road.  Surprise!, not only was our first stop the correct office the records were located right there AND under “N” the first name in the deeds record was Ethbert F. Newland!!  In and out in 15 minutes, land sale record copies in hand, we of course went to the 4 Daughters Irish Pub where Ed had the best Reuben sandwich he’s had in years 🙂

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Sorry about the blurry photo but it was dim and my hands were unsteady.

Next day we headed north on Interstate 5 to State Rt. 99 to 42W and the Pacific.  This was a really pretty drive through steep mountains with next to no valleys, reminding us of West Virginia, until further west where it opens up more.  Almost all logging country, we passed through the town of Dillard which is pretty much Roseburg Lumber where they were cutting and making veneer sheets for making plywood.  This is a huge operation with train-car loads going on forever filled with these sheets.  They’re looking for workers if you want a job in some pretty country!

That night we stayed at Bullards Beach State Park two miles north of Bandon OR and we recommend this nice campground even if the beach is about a mile away.  The attraction for us was the Coquille River Lighthouse. First lit in February 1896 it now has a solar powered light although truth is an automated beacon at the end of the south jetty is what ships “watch” for now.

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The Coquille River Lighthouse.  Coquille is pronounced Ko-kwell, not the French pronunciation of Ko-kwee.

Popping into old Bandon we stopped for coffee and pastries before heading down the Beach Loop Road.  When coming this direction do not take the recommended Pacific Coast Highway 101, take Beach Loop Rd!

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The Witches Hat

We stopped over and over again to marvel at the view. Then the road joins back up with 101 and we scooted on down to where we planned to camp at Cape Blanco State Park. Our first stop at the park was the Historic Hughes House & Ranch.   The Sixes River flows into the Pacific here just north of Cape Blanco and in the early 1860’s Irish settler Patrick Hughes and his wife Jane choose this lush valley for their homestead.  Steadily acquiring land until he held more than 1,800 acres their very prosperous dairy produced butter that was shipped by sea to San Francisco.  In 1898 Patrick had a large and lovely home built on a hillside and we enjoyed seeing it.

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The Hughes House just like the sign says. The semicircular fish-scale and reverse-fish-scale patterns in the siding have a close-up below.

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Marti and I are still “discussing” how these shapes are made…

Next stop was out to the Cape Blanco Lighthouse which was built in 1870.  The oldest continuing working lighthouse in Oregon, the Fresnel lens and sunlight gave Ed a great opportunity.

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The Fresnel lens was made in Paris, France by Henry~Lepaute.

Put this whole day on your MVL (Must Visit List) and if camping be sure to stop here for the night, it’s a lovely campground. Oh, and I will point out this day’s road trip covered a whopping 49 miles, an all day adventure!

Our last day in Oregon (and the last day of September) driving on down 101 we stopped often to watch the gray whales migrating down the coast.  In fact we got pretty adept at spotting their plume of watery mist as they grabbed a breath of air. Even though it was once again rather gray and damp we stopped at Sisters Rock State Recreation Site.  We hiked down the sandy trail to two of three Sisters, large rock monoliths (the third is surrounded by water) and I climbed down into the mouth of a large sea cave.  The noise of the ocean crashing in and out was wonderful!   We also stopped at Arch Rock and did the short but STEEP hike at Indian Sands, don’t bother with this one, before checking into Harris Beach State Park at Brookings.

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On the trail down to the three Sisters.  We got wet in a sudden rainshower on the way back.

Oregon is truly beautiful and diverse and for RV folks it has a lot of really great campgrounds. All in all, except for the fact it might explode someday, Ed has put Oregon in his Top 5 States List, Maine is still the winner. Yup, go ahead and put the whole place on your MVL!




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This the Natural Bridge over the Rogue River.  The river flows in (lower left) a lava tube about 200 ft long and flows out (upper right). It’s the only crossing of the river besides bridges and was used by natives as well as settlers.  Ethbert may have utilized this crossing carrying freight to the miners.

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Here’s a blocked lava tube on the Rogue that the water only swirls into and around.

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Lots of pretty waterfalls and rapids on the Rogue.

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This is the downstream exit of the lava tube that forms the natural bridge.

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Looking for Ethbert’s land claim.

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The jetties where the Coquille River empties into the Pacific at Bandon, Oregon.  Can you spot the lighthouse across the river? 

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The Witches Hat at the Bandon Sea Stacks near Bandon, Oregon from the Beach Loop Road.

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Face Rock from the Beach Loop Road.

 

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Haystack Rock from the Beach Loop Road in Bandon.

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I loved this French Range #2 wood fired kitchen stove in the Hughes House.  Marti still wants her gas cooktops…

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Up on Cape Blanco just by the lighthouse we spied this doe.

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Using Marti for scale to show the size of the Fresnel lens in the Cape Blanco Lighthouse.  In the background you can see the modern day communications gear.

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I loved the spiral stairway up into the lens room of the lighthouse.

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And the Cape Blanco Lighthouse itself.  It was blowing a gale on the point as is the usual weather there.

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The view looking south from the Cape.

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As hard as it was blowing on the Cape, down here in the campground a 1/4 mile away it was fairly calm so we had a fire and enjoyed dinner fireside.

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Marti climbed down into the mouth of the sea cave at Sisters Rock to get a great shot of the waves surging in through the entrance on the other side.  You can see light reflected on the water from that opening.

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I do not climb down slippery rocks.

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Oregon’s coast is just lovely everywhere which means we can’t remember just where this place is or its name.

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Arches Rock on the Pacific Coast Highway 101.

Thanksgiving and Giving Thanks

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This Thanksgiving finds us safely ensconced back home in Maryland with family and friends.  We have been incredibly fortunate to be able to enjoy our itinerant lifestyle exploring our wonderful nation’s beauty.  From coast to coast, across the Midwest, into the northern tier of the Plains states to the rich verdant glory of the Pacific Northwest and back across the high Sierra and the deserts of the Southwest to the Gulf coast of Florida and now lastly up through the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains, we are home.  What an adventure! To be able to take you along with us has been a constant reminder of our good fortune and we are extremely thankful for it.  Most of all, and I have said this many times to people who ask if we enjoy it, the answer is always yes, but we sure do miss our family and friends and being able to cook a real meal. So now here we are squarely in the middle of them for the holidays making “Gramma D Rolls” for Thanksgiving dinner.

Marti and I sincerely hope your holidays are full and joyful and most of all warmed with the love of those who are dearest to you.

While we are here we plan to post some thoughts and remembrances about our travels this year.  We hope you will enjoy these little pieces as much as we will thinking back on our adventure.

Happy Holidays to all of you!

Ed and Marti




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Aspen woods in the Kaibab National Forest near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon.

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The Narrows of the Virgin River in Zion National Park.

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Lake Watson in the Granite Dells, Prescott, Arizona.

Oregon ~ Love A Lotta Lava!

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Needing to stop off in Oregon’s state capital Salem to get our 60,000 mile Sprinter service (the chassis is a Mercedes Sprinter and the coach is Winnebago) afterwards we had a bit of a walk around town and good lunch at the bar in the Table FIVE 08  restaurant.  The next day we left Salem for the cute little town of Sisters via the very pretty State Route 22E to US 20.  This route is almost entirely in both the Willamette and Deschutes National Forests where the huge B&B Complex Fires in August & September of 2003 burned almost 91,000 acres killing over half the trees.

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As far as your eye can see, most of those trees are dead.  Mt. Washington is the pointy peak in the distance.

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Slowly over time the forest regrows.

After spending the night at the Sisters Creekside Campground which is in a lovely woods, on the edge of town and walking distance to restaurants, shops and Sisters Bakery, (YUM!!)  we drove west on the beautiful McKenzie Pass-Santiam Pass National Scenic Byway – St. Rt. 242.  This road separates the Mount Washington and Three Sisters Wilderness areas and at the McKenzie Summit is the Dee Wright Observatory where the view across 65 square miles of lava is spectacular!

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Looking south from the Dee Wright Observatory, at 5187 ft. elevation,  two of the three Sisters still have snowfields.

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The lighter area center/left is a portion of the treacherous McKenzie Salt Springs and Deschutes Wagon Road constructed during the period between 1866 and 1872 and it followed the original Indian trail across the lava fields.

Route 242 ends at St. Rt. 126 where we headed north following the magnificent McKenzie River.  Remarkably clear and an amazing color the McKenzie is one of the prettiest rivers we’ve seen.  There’s a very popular 26 mile hiking/biking trail running along the river and we did a tiny bit of it and would love to do more someday.

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Along the McKenzie River.  Note the turquoise blue (not photoshopped) and the clarity of the water. Marti says she was actually enjoying herself very much despite the frown.

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Waterfalls along the McKenzie River Trail.

 

At Santiam Junction 126 joins with US20 where we headed back to Sisters.  If you’re ever close to this area I suggest you put this drive on your MVL (Must Visit List).

Moving down the road about 30 miles to Crown Villa RV Resort in Bend we settled in at one of the nicest commercial RV parks ever.  Not cheap, but lots of space in a pretty treed location with the nicest laundry I’ve used to date, make note RV friends!   Unfortunately the weather became wet and generally unpleasant so we decided to poke around Bend which is considered by many folks as being in the USA top 10 places to live.  We had a damp picnic lunch in Drake Park which has some lovely old homes surrounding it and then walked around Downtown Bend which has the Red Chair Gallery where we may have bought some things 🙂  In truth we barely touched town, but what we saw was very nice and probably worth a better look someday. This trip however we were more interested in exploring the immense amount of volcanic landscape here.

I was especially looking forward to seeing the Lava River Cave located in the  Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  To our amazement this is a self guided mile long hike (one way) through an UNLIT lava tube!  No hard hats, no checking to see if you’ve got a flashlight (they do rent very good torches) no Forest Service personnel inside, just enjoy yourself!  We keep asking each other where the liability lawyers were locked up because you’d never see this back home 🙂

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Inside the entrance to the Lava Tube Cave looking out.

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It gets beyond real dark in there.  Like any cave it is total blackness.  The ceiling is bend down low in spots.  In other spots it’s very high too.  I made these cave photos black and white due to the poor color rendition in such low light plus they were taken with my phone!

Next on the “lava list” was a walk at Big Obsidian Flow also in the Newberry NVM.  Ed and I have been to lots of lava fields in many states but we have rarely seen any obsidian and to see a really large area covered with this volcanic glass was sooo cool! As much as I wanted to, I followed the rules and did not help myself to a great big chunk of it 🙂

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The shiny black layer is obsidian, volcanic glass formed by the rapid cooling of lava with minimal crystal growth. Chips of it are extremely sharp.  The Indians used it for arrow and spear points and knives and modern surgeons sometimes use a scalpel fashioned from obsidian that is much sharper than the steel scalpels.

With the sun at last fully back (it was almost hot), we drove part of the Cascade Lakes National Scenic Byway.  Along this route is Sparks Lake which Oregon’s Photographer Laureate Ray Atkeson called the prettiest place in the state. With this recommendation we bounced out the dirt NF400 (National Forest Rd) to hike the Ray Atkeson Loop Trail.  It was a lovely 2.5 mile walk with great views and of course lots of lava. The only negative was maybe the worst allergy attack I have ever had!  There’s some kind of evergreen out here that my nose does NOT like.

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Sparks Lake with South Sister reflected on the Ray Atkeson Trail. Note the lava in the foreground.

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The Fall colors were really pretty contrasted with the lava along the trail.

As I have said in other posts I saw a lot of the west back in 1962 and some of those places have always held a special spot in my heart, one of those is Crater Lake.  Back then we had the place pretty much to ourselves. Dad led us on a hike down to the water and I used my hands to drink out of this incredible pristine volcanic caldera.

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Wizard Island in Crater Lake.  The island is itself a cinder cone, a remnant of a later eruption after the caldera collapsed. The lake is at its deepest 1946 ft. and is the deepest lake in the USA. It was entirely filled by rain and snow melt. 

Now, even though there are many, many more people coming here, and even though the loop road was under repair and causing long delays and even though the one path down to the water was closed, it’s still an amazing place.

Pretty much we think you should put this whole post on your MVL!




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Some lavas that are very brittle exfoliate into these chunks due to freezing and thawing of ice in cracks.

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Marti inside the Dee Wright Observatory which was built out of the surrounding lava rocks by the CCC in 1935. Each opening has a plaque beside it saying what mountain is viewed through it.  It was also very cold.

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The lava fields here at Dee Wright Observatory are AA, (Ah Ah) lava. It’s a Hawaiian word.  The pieces are very rough and jagged.

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One of many waterfalls on the McKenzie River Trail.

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The lava tube cave fills with sand and dirt particles washed in by water seeping through the rock.  The floor was covered with drip holes in all kinds of patterns and lines.

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In case you missed it.  The cave is filled with rock and sandy dirt and is currently impassable. 

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Ed’s little buddy says, “Put ’em up!”

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Trees will sprout anywhere there is dirt and moisture. Marti really thought this one was cute.

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The Big Obsidian Flow in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument. Seated at the top near here, we had a long chat with some very nice young people who were back in the parking lot before us.  As I passed them they handed me a half six pack of various Oregon beers.  They said they really enjoyed talking with us and thought I would like these.  They were right!

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A nice mountain view across the meadow and stream on the road to Sparks Lake.

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Marti loves these two stick figures, one walking, one crawling up from Crater Lake. She’s a little nuts, but I will keep her anyway.

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She likes these trees too…

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The orange rock feature on the right is called Pumice Castle above Crater Lake.

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The Rim Road travels away a bit from the crater in some places.   Here it passes Mt. Scott which for obvious reasons we had to have this photo.  Mt. Scott is an extinct volcano that was once larger (before it blew up too) than Mt. Mazama which formed Crater Lake when it collapsed.

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Goodbye! Until the next post!

Oregon ~ A Pretty Place

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Heading toward Portland, Oregon but not wanting to get too near the hustle and bustle (and traffic) we opted to base out of the cute little town of Troutdale and the Sandy Riverfront RV Resort.  For you fellow RV’ers this is a nice place even though it is generally just a lineup of rigs, but lots of flowers, nice people, good laundry and easy short walk into town which is always a big plus in our book!

One of the rewards to our bopping around the country is seeing friends we’ve not seen in years and this time it was our young friend Michelle Hiltner.

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SELFIE!,  You know who, You know who and our sweet friend Michelle.

She suggested meeting at McMenamins’ Edgefield just down the road, where we had a nice lunch and wonderful visit. They make wine and whiskey here on the grounds and being harvest time we stood and watched the initial processing of the grapes, and then of course had a few tastings   🙂

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1. The Pinot grapes are dumped into the crusher and separated from the stems.  2. The skins and juice have dry ice added to help prevent bacterial infection, thus the vapor.  3. The juice is dumped into a vat for fermentation.  Fork lifts are handy.

Troutdale calls itself the Gateway to the Gorge and the old State Route 30 part of the Historic Columbia River Highway was designed by Samuel C. Lancaster to take advantage of the many waterfalls and the natural beauty of the landscape.  Completed in 1922 it was an engineering marvel and we drove the narrow, twisting, woodland part between Troutdale and Dodson (where 30 joins up with I-80).  Not only is it a beautiful drive, we were greatly impressed to learn of the generous benefactors who back in the day, had purchased some of the land containing these lovely waterfalls to hold them as public parks and thereby protected for all of us.

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Bridal Veil Falls, Columbia River Gorge

We finished our tour at the once huge Bonneville Dam (there are larger newer dams upstream on the Columbia) where we greatly enjoyed watching the fat salmon and other fishes going up the fish ladder.

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The fish ladder zig zags to control the speed of the current because the fish are swimming upstream against the flow.  Salmon prefer 5-7 mph. 

I will admit to wishing at least one of them was on my dinner plate.

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There are windows looking into the fish ladder where you can see the fish swimming passed.  In a room the public cannot access, there are observers whose job is to count the fish by species as they pass.  8 hours a day, with a break every hour for 15 minutes.  Applications accepted.

The next morning we headed for Mount Hood out State Route 26 to 173-Timberline Hwy and the historic Timberline Lodge where we had a good lunch with an incredible view!

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To be honest, one floor down from our table at lunch.

Afterwards I pointed to one of many paths and told Ed I just wanted to go up a little ways.  What a beautiful place for a walk and the old lodge is magnificent.

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The Lodge looking back from our walk.  Next time we are here, we are staying in the Lodge.

Switching gears and directions once again we headed back to the Pacific Coastal Highway 101 where we stopped at a local park (so sorry I am not sure where) and watched the grey whales migrating.  LOTS of whales!!  Granted, pretty much all we saw were them spouting (which by the way is how to spot them, watch for the blast of water from the surface of the ocean), and their tails as they would periodically go deep.  We continued to stop and watch for them, and see them, as we progressed down 101 over the course of several days.  Certainly giving them more anthropomorphic traits then I should, I couldn’t help but chuckle wondering if they have any idea that humans get REALLY EXCITED when just barely seeing a tiny bit of them?

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Whale Tail. Isn’t it magnificent!?

Taking the Otter Crest Loop Rd off 101 (it’s one way so coming from the north you just have to watch for it after passing Rocky Creek State Scenic Viewpoint).  This is a lovely less traveled route and at the end is Devils Punch Bowl.

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Devil’s Punchbowl.  Oh well, we were there at low tide.

Landing in Newport for the night we found the bay side much more inviting than the ocean side.

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Yaquina Bay Bridge in Newport, Oregon.  Designed by Conde McCollough as were many of the bridges on 101 in Oregon. They feature Art Deco details and are delightfully charming.

The next day we went on to Florence, which is a neat town.  The fog had either rolled in, or was advancing as a wall depending on where we were.

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Headed towards Florence, Oregon where the sand dunes become a prominent feature of the coast.  The fog bank creeps in from the sea as a wall over the town.

My photographer companion says it’s often more interesting than bright sunshine.  We did have a good dinner at  Bridgewater Fresh Fish House-Zebra Bar where I kid you not, the young waiter said to me “would you like me to refill your free water?”

Next posting is headed back inland and it is going to be HOT….well….it was hot a long time ago!  You’ll understand soon 🙂




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One of several waterfalls along the Rt 30 in the Columbia River Gorge.

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Latourelle Falls in the gorge.  The bright yellow on the right is a lichen.

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Vista House in the Columbia River Gorge. This is still navigable waters from the sea.

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Over there, those are the windows we looked through at lunch in the Timberline Lodge.

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This is the beginning of our walk, at 6500 ft. elevation, after lunch.

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Coming and going.  Can some of our birder friends confirm these are Magpies? They were very busy and squawky…

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Along the Oregon Coast on 101

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These potholes are worn by the sea and tides.  The water flows in and out underneath.

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Here the sea erupts out of one of the same potholes as the tide rises. 

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It was a windy, stormy day.

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Two fishermen looking for salmon running.

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Devil’s Churn along Hwy 101

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Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area on the coast starting at Florence.

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They are big!

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Low tide at the beach…

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Water reflects the sunlight in so many random ways on the coast.

The Last of Washington and the Beginning of Oregon

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Hello from Nevada!  I know, I know last blog post was from Mount St. Helens Washington so what’s with Nevada?  Truth is we are so behind in our posting we have decided to skip quickly (fewer words, more of Ed’s photos) through our travels in Washington, Oregon and California…yeah we’ve physically already covered that much territory!

After Mt. St. Helens we broke our normal pattern and got on Interstate 5 and did a hard drive north to St Rt 20 and the very lovely Anacortes City Washington Park.  Sitting on the west end of Fidalgo Island there are lovely views of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains along the 2 plus mile loop road we enjoyed walking.

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San Juan Islands and a ferry looking from near our campsite on Fidalgo Island and the Anacortes City Washington Park

Driving on down 20 we took the Coupeville Ferry to Port Townsend (yes fellow RV’ers you’ll fit) which is a town we recommend for a short visit. However, plan ahead as the Port Hudson Marina & RV Park, right on the edge of town is small and popular and sooo convenient.

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Our evening sunset lights up the clouds to our east at Port Townsend from our campsite.

Wandering around town we especially recommend Insatiables Books (rare & used where Ed bought a copy of Winnie the Pooh in Latin), Forest Gems Mill & Gallery (wonderful wood works and raw wood), Better Living Through Coffee (dark chocolate mocha!) and dinner at Alchemy Bistro & Wine Bar.  Oh and if you’re into handmade wooden boats, Port Townsend is the place for you!  The wooden kayaks built here by Pygmy Boats are just beautiful!! Although we missed it there’s the famous Wooden Boat Festival every September.

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There is also some really cool architecture in Port Townsend.

Being in the neighborhood so to speak we drove out lovely Rt. 112 to the Makah Indian Reservation and Cape Flattery the most northwestern point in the contiguous US.  Put this place on your MVL (Must Visit List).

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We wandered off the path and the point beyond Marti is Cape Flattery.

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and this is the view west from Cape Flattery at that point behind Marti.

Next up was the west side of Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest. I remember being fascinated by the temperate rainforest when Dad brought us west in 1962 and it hasn’t lost any of its charm.  Truly lovely in its remarkably green mossy mantle, it’s easy to believe that “thing” over yonder was a sasquatch, and boy oh boy are carvings, and drawings and businesses in on the bigfoot craze 🙂

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Sasquatch is everywhere….

We drove the famous coastal highway 101 which by the by is not all coastal, but lovely regardless, eventually ending up at Cape Disappointment State Park for our last night in Washington State.

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North Head Lighthouse from the beach just north of Cape Disappointment 

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Astoria from the Astoria Column.  The bridge from Washington State across the Columbia River is in the distance.

Our first stop in Oregon was Astoria where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.  One of the most dangerous crossings in the world, the bar here where the Columbia flows into the Pacific has sunk many a ship earning it the Graveyard of the Pacific name.  Reading about past and present stories of trying to cross during storms and the bar pilots who bring ships across is well worth your time at the interesting Columbia River Maritime Museum.  Afterward, do stop by Clemente’s Café for a good meal and to watch the boats.

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The remnants of the wreck of the Peter Iredale a victim of the Columbia River bar on October 25th, 1906.

Ed in particular has a fascination with Lewis and Clark having a number of years ago read simultaneously Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage and Lewis & Clark’s Journals, so we had to visit Fort Clatsop National Memorial.  This is the site where the Corps of Discovery encamped in December 1805 until March 1806 when they headed back east.  There is not only an excellent small museum the fort has been replicated on the exact spot (they believe within 2 feet) as it was originally.  We highly recommend a visit here.

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Fort Clatsop from outside the gate.  We asked why in such a rainy climate the roof was pitched inward and the answer was that the US Army protocol was to blame.  The roof is pitched like this so soldiers inside the fort can have a clear shot at invaders coming over the top.

Hope we’re not moving too fast…and do look for another posting soon!




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Marti walking among the coastal cedars at Washington Park on Fidalgo Island.

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The next day we sat along the water and watched the Sun set and the ferry’s go back and forth.  Marti really likes silhouettes. 

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At Cape Flattery just to the left of the point.

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At Cape Flattery we had the great joy of sighting extremely rare Sea Otters.  Four of them!

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Still at Cape Flattery we saw these sea caves that are full of Cormorants squawking up a storm.  There were hundreds of them in this cave and the stench was noticeable. 

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The walkway out to the point was laid out by an artist.  It was simply beautiful and perfectly proportioned following the ups and downs of the landscape.  It was the prettiest woodland walkway we have ever been on in our lives. 

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Marti thinks these are two giant woodland creatures sitting side by side.

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Then there’s the Winged Snuffleupagus.

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We saw all kinds, colors and shapes of Banana Slugs all over the Olympic Peninsula.  

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Along the road to and from Cape Flattery.

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Ed thought this was interesting as it shows how long it takes to grow a forest.  Timber is the biggest industry in this part of the world.

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In the Hoh Rain Forest on the west side of the Olympic National Park, Marti found a lovely walk.

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Hugs?

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Along the Moss Trail in the Hoh Rain Forest.

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Very pretty mushrooms.

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Pick Up Sticks in the rain forest…?

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Temperate rain forest is green.

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On 101 Ruby Beach is littered with driftwood as is the entire coast.

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At low tide the Sea Anemones are exposed at Ruby Beach.

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Sea Stacks on Ruby Beach at low tide.

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Further down the coast towards Cape Disappointment.

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On 101 between MM 162 and 163 there is a sign for Big Cedar Tree, so we went to look. They weren’t kidding.

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A sea stack at North Head.

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The Astoria Column, 164 open grate steps just about did Marti in. It’s not the climbing, it’s the opens stairs.  The artwork on the side portrays the history of Oregon.

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The beach near Ft. Stevens south of the Columbia River bar.

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The Captain’s quarters at Fort Clatsop.

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The courtyard inside the fort.

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In Astoria, there is a trolley line and this sign warns bicyclists who may have been drinking about the tracks.

Mount St. Helens

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Heading towards Mount Saint Helens from Ellensburg we drove south on State Rt. 821 which follows along beside the Yakima River through huge grass covered basalt mountains.  It was a Saturday and even though it was cloudy and just barely warm the river was full of folks individually, or tied together in groups, tube floating down this lovely wide river.  It’s a delightful drive and we highly recommend it over the parallel route of Interstate 82 and the rafting part looks like great fun.

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A small stretch of the Yakima River without tubers.

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As we left the Yakima River Canyon we found this orchard of espaliered apple trees. This is something you usually see in formal gardens. Why they were espaliered we don’t know but they sure were pretty. 

From there we took the beautiful US Hwy 12 to get to St. Rt. 505 then St. Rt. 504 (Spirit Lake Hwy) up to Johnston Ridge Observatory 5 ½ miles from the blast site of Mount St. Helens.  This drive affords spectacular views of the forest destruction, lahar mudflows, ash fields, surrounding landscape and of course, the still active but quiet volcano herself.

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Mount Saint Helens

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This is one of the lahars from the eruption.  A lahar is a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material and water.  The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. In this case the North Fork of the Toutle River valley covering 25 square miles.    A video is here.  

The observatory is named for David A. Johnston the USGS volcanologist who was killed while manning an observation point 6 miles from the volcano near this spot. The display of photographs, and timeline of the eruption on May 18, 1980 is very interesting, and the section with the stories of survivors and what they saw and went through is fascinating and incredibly sobering.

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Johnston Ridge Observatory.  Flying rocks, over three feet in diameter, moving at 300 MPH ripped this tree apart. 

There are ranger’s talks held about every 20 minutes and we decided to listen to one. Like many of you dear readers, back in that spring of 1980 we had followed the news articles detailing the destruction, the many lives lost and the effects of the aftermath, but we had no idea really until we listened to Ranger Todd (who’s been here 30 years) tell about the eruption.  With encyclopedic knowledge (and humor) he explained the astonishing speed and power of the explosion and destruction accompanied by first hand photos and accounts.  Quite literally jaw dropping!!  Ed and I both agree he is one of the most fascinating, informative and delightful people experiences we’ve had on this adventure!  Absolutely put a visit to Mount St. Helens and the Johnston Ridge Observatory on your MVL (Must Visit List)!!




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Our first view of Mt. Rainier from the Yakima River Valley.  Shortly after this it was obscured by clouds never to be seen by us again.

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A typical view along HWY 12.

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Before May 18th, 1980…

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and now.  This is from the Johnston Ridge Observatory.

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The soft ash is easily eroded by snowmelt and rain.  You can see some vegetation is coming back.

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We walked out along a path that ran along a very, very steep and soft hillside.  This tree is one of the remaining examples of how violent the explosion was at this distance from the volcano.

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A pretty detail along the above path where we stopped to chat with an older couple who were sitting to enjoy the view.  They come here often to see the rebirth and remember because they lived through the eruption.  The gentleman told us that on the night of THE day he got up to check on things and  also to drive down to check on their neighbors. Down the road the mud flow was high enough to come to his floorboard so he turned around and went back home.  He said  “I got her up (pointing to the lady) and said wake the boys and get the 3 dump trucks and go! ”  At that point the pickup would not start again so they left it and fled in the dump trunks!!!   

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A view of snow covered Mt. Adams on the left, 25 miles away where a hiking party on the summit witnessed the eruption.  They heard no noise whatsoever because they were in the so called “quiet zone” due to the complex response of the eruption’s sound waves to differences in temperature and air motion of the atmospheric layers.  Others heard the boom as far away as British Columbia, Montana, Idaho and northern California.  Prevailing winds blew the ash cloud towards them and static electricity from the dust particles charged every metal thing they had with them causing it to hum including a 14 year old boys braces.  Then debris began falling on them and barely escaping with their lives they ran down the mountain.

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The volcano is still active with live steam vents in the crater and some recent rumblings.  Winds kick up the ash creating a haze around the crater.

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Harry Truman, who owned and operated the Spirit Lake Lodge refused to leave and is buried under more than 150 feet of debris.  He is one of 57 dead or missing.

Washington State ~ Orchards and Mountains

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After our Spokane goodbyes we headed north for the town of Republic via US Hwy 395 toward Kettle Falls Washington where we’d again pick up US 2.  This is where the Kettle River flows into the mighty Columbia which is the largest river in the Pacific Northwest.  Having lots of time we decided to investigate the Kettle for a while so stayed with 395N which follows the river all the way to Canada.  Not wanting to go that far we crossed the river at Orient onto Orient Cut Off then south on Pierre Lake Rd and back down to Lake Roosevelt created by the Columbia River’s Grand Coulee Dam 144 miles downstream!  It is a pretty drive on mostly good dirt roads.

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Pierre Lake Road down to Lake Roosevelt

Heading west on US 2 over Sherman Pass we got into Republic in time for a late lunch at the Knotty Pine (very good bacon cheeseburger) and a visit at the Stonerose Interpretive Center and Eocene Fossil Site. Turns out right here in town there’s an extensive plant and insect fossil site dating from about 50 million years ago. For a small fee we’re all invited to come look for them, and even keep up to 3 finds!  We didn’t know about this interesting fact and consequently did not allow time to go digging….but I will if we ever get back this way 🙂

The next morning we continued on State 20W through big hills/mountains covered with dry grass towards Tonasket where we started seeing orchards of apples, pears and cherries.  We cut back into the hills to look at the countryside and orchards.

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Fruit orchards use reflective mylar to bounce sunlight back up to the bottom of the fruit to even out ripening.

On Pine Creek Road we drove past a place completely surrounded by high, screened fencing with cameras posted everywhere….HOLY COW IT’S DOPE!!… Yup, this is Washington State and it’s LEGAL cannabis!  Welcome to Empire Experience, marijuana growers! And yes, it certainly is a bit of a shock to folks who grow up in the 60’s, but we couldn’t help laughing!!

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Cannabis, Marijuana, Dope, Pot, Grass, Weed, 420, whatever.  It’s legal!

We spent the next few days at the nice enough Pine Near RV Park (a really easy walk into town) in Winthrop which is a touristy town, but cute enough and GOOD home-made ice cream….have you noticed a theme with me yet 🙂

With Winthrop as home base, we drove out beautiful 20W, put this road on your MVL (Must Visit List), into the Okanogan National Forest.  This route takes you by the Washington Pass Overlook where a short walk goes out to a wonderful view of the mountains, and the road you’ve just ascended.

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Looking down on HWY 20 from the Washington Pass overlook. 

Further west at the edge of Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Ross Lake National Recreation Area, where we turned around for the day, the view over Ross Lake looking into the North Cascade Mountains is just fabulous, and with more glaciers than at Glacier National Park!

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Ross Lake looking north towards the Cascade Mountains

On the return trip we had to stopped for a short hike in the woods at Happy Creek Trail….I mean with a name like that 🙂

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A picture of Marti taking a picture of Happy Creek.

Continuing on our trip west we back tracked a bit and picked up St. Rt. 153S through the Methow Valley along the Methow River down to where it joins the Columbia and we picked up 97S.  Lots more orchards and grapes growing, at least until we got on US 2 west and back into the mountains of the Wenatchee National Forest. From Coles Corner we wandered up 207N to pretty Lake Wenatchee where we drove out lovely NF65 (National Forest road) which while paved allowed for no errors.

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Along NF 65 in a wide spot.

Back tracking again, we camped at Icicle River RV just outside of Leavenworth, which is a tourist town I salute.  Seems back in the early 1960’s this struggling logging town decided to do something to save itself and formed a committee, Project LIFE (Leavenworth Improvement For Everyone).  Looking at their lovely alpine mountain location and taking a cue from a California town which had “gone Danish” they became Bavarian!  New fronts went onto buildings, Bavarian artwork, food, festivals and crafts were produced and promoted and they are now doing just fine thank you!  Pretty clever I think 🙂

The next morning we drove on out US 2W, by the way also put this road on your MVL, to visit Deception Falls and walk the loop trail.  Not only is it really beautiful, but the parts of the trail that had steps were designed by someone who actually placed them at the correct height and stride, very rare!

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Along the loop trail at Deception Falls.

After this we drove almost to the town of Index where we stopped to hike the Bridal Veil Falls trail.  Turns out it was a good bit further and up than we thought so although we never quite made the falls we had a gorgeous walk in the woods!

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We are amazed at the ferns.

We took a couple of days to have a nice visit with Marguerite a newly discovered 3rd cousin of Ed’s, in Ellensburg and then headed out for our next blog posting… Mount St. Helens, Coming Soon!   🙂




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Heading back into the hills where they grow the cannabis.

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A spectacular view of the Cascades with nice green meadows.

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Happy Creek Trail

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Happy Creek

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Washington Pass on our return trip in the afternoon.

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An interesting intrusion of quartz?

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Ferns in the late afternoon light along the Bridal Veil Falls Trail

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A tree on a stump.  The loop trail along Deception Falls

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Can you see the cat peering out from the stump?

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Below Deception Falls on the loop trail

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A log bridge over the creek below Deception Falls

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The water of this creek at Deception Falls is nearly sterile of life due to a lack of nutrients.  The stream flows over granite which is high in silica, a mineral which does not easily dissolve in water and thus does not contain many nutrients.  Combined with low light this inhibits algae growth essential as the basis of life in the water. But it sure is clear.

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The end of the day’s hike on Bridal Veil Falls Trail.