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Salt Point has been providing us with quite a show. On Monday night, the clouds were neat so Dave had the idea to photograph each other looking out on the Juan de Fuca Strait. We were making our neighbors nervous, mincing around on the top of our 10-foot high motorhome but we are pretty comfortable on the roof.

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After dinner, we had a fiery sunset.

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And the next morning, more deer.

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Hurricane Ridge

We woke up to fog on Tuesday. It was breaking up when we left for Hurricane Ridge, another area of Olympic National Park. It’s a 17-mile curvy drive up 5,000 feet from Port Angeles. At one point, Dave had to hit the brakes hard to avoid 2 black-tail deer. Further along the way we entered a heavy fog. Then we broke free of it. Then more heavy fog. Finally, we were above the fog and stunning vistas of the Olympic Mountains appeared with a huge pool of fog below them. There wasn’t much traffic on the road but what there was pulled over with us, photographing like mad.

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The parking lot for the Hurricane Ridge Trail is fairly small but there were few cars there when we started up the 1.6-mile hike with a 700-foot rise. Almost all of the trail is paved, so the ascent is fairly easy. The alpine foliage is changing color to gold, orange and deep crimson – very striking.

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The fog in the Olympic Valley was thinning off and the sun was high enough to make views that way very contrasty. The treat when you reach the crest of the hill is a view of the Port Angeles, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Vancouver Island with Victoria. However, fog was having its way with the view, which was fine with us. Dave noticed that what I thought was a thunderhead was actually Mount Baker. Massive and  impressive!

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We were sad to read that non-native coyotes have decimated the marmot population in the area. The last time we were here, we saw a marmot basking on a rock formation. However, when we stopped for lunch, other wildlife decided to join us. A brazen chipmunk would not leave us alone, making runs at us from all sides. Throwing pebbles at it did not discourage it. Finally, I was trying to scare it away with a hiking pole. It looked ready to grapple with the hiking stick.

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We finished the hike and did a short walk on a flat, paved trail, then headed down. I drove on the way back and slowed way down for a doe and fawn who decided to run down the side of the road in front of the car. They veered off to the side and stopped to catch their breath. I stopped to look more closely at the fawn. Then they began to run again – in front of the car again. Deer are not long on brains.

Salt Point had one more surprise for us. There was still fog when we returned but we both noticed an eerie glow in the shape of a rainbow – a fog rainbow! The sky so often surprises me with what it can produce.

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Ferry to Whidbey Island

Based on the recommendation we had received from a Lazy Daze owner who lived in Port Townsend, I had made reservations for the ferry. We would save driving 150 miles through Tacoma and Seattle (metro areas are never fun in an RV) and the cost of the ferry was about how much the gas would cost for 150 miles. The drive to Port Townsend was easy and we were the first ones lined up to go on the ferry. It turned out to be a short half-hour ride but it was something different.

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Hoh Rain Forest

Thursday was Hoh Day for us. We prepared as usual for our safari and drove away as the morning mists were dissipating. It’s only 15 miles or so up US-101 to the Hoh Road but then its 17 miles east to the trails. This part of Olympic National Park is not developed much. There are only 3 trails that begin here: the Hoh River Trail and two Nature Trails. The Hoh River Trail runs 17 miles – a little too much for us. We hiked 8 miles round trip in 2011; we hiked about 6.5 this trip.

More than anyplace else we’ve been, this forest feels like a green, leafy cathedral. It was quiet. Guidebooks talk about all the birds but we sure don’t hear many of them. I had looked at my blog from 2011 to refresh my memory. Would we see the big orange fungi? Banana slugs? Red leaves on the maples? (No, No and Yes.)

Because the hike was going to be long, I decided not to bring my tripod or my long lens. Not lugging the tripod freed up my hands; a luxury I don’t often have on these hikes. I could wave my arms around! Luckily, I can cheat on the lack of a tripod. I have a tripod mount for Dave’s tripod so I can use his if I have too. You’d think I’d do that all the time, but we can each spend half an hour trying different exposures for a picture and using one tripod would double that time. Instead, when I needed to, I upped the ISO to 800 or1600. Not good for the quality of the digital image, but okay by me.

We immediately got caught up in the maples; the pattern of their leaves is always interesting. Sunlight was filtering in, highlighting here and there. That makes for “hot spots” photographically, but those mostly can be dealt with in Photoshop. It was so beautiful there.

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It was only when the trail went close by the Hoh River that we saw maples with red leaves. The trees farther from the water were all green. There were a few other couples on the trail and we played criss-cross with them, passing and being passed. One girl had bear bells on (to warn bears away) and they were jingling pleasantly. We stopped for lunch at Mineral Creek and continued on until we reached 2.9 miles. We took a short detour over to the Hoh River and were rewarded with the sighting of a young black-tailed buck.

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On the way back, we crossed paths with two young uniformed rangers heading out. They told us they were going to camp out a few nights.Their task? Dig new “privvies” (latrines) for the backcountry campsites. (I didn’t ask what they did about the old latrines.) As we tired and our backs began to hurt, we just trudged along. I have trouble looking around when my back is aching and rarely make pictures. During the last mile, we passed many groups of people heading out on their trek.

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We got back to the car around 2:30 and had our coffee and cookies at a picnic bench in the shade of a large tree. We were surprised to see that even in mid-September, the large parking lot was full.

We departed Kalaloch on Friday morning. As we were sipping our coffee, we suddenly saw a large white creature cross Highway 101 a little up the road. Dave realized it before me: it was an unattended llama crossing the road. It was sauntering down a local road as we went past. Was it feral? Are there wild llamas stampeding in the Olympic forest? Weird!

We arrived at Forks, the largest town on the west coast of the Olympic Peninsula, but that’s not saying much. Their largest market, Forks Outfitters is the type I love: As you pass the infant food, there is a section with picture frames. Lots of little things for the home are interspersed with the food. The clothing part of the store is open next to the grocery area so I could pay for my new purple raincoat along with the vegies and Tillamook ice cream. The one RV park in Forks is all right but didn’t have cable TV and so we’re very out of the loop for news and politics. (Is that bad?)

The next scheduled hike was out of Sol Duc Hot Springs. Twelve miles off the road, the Hot Springs is a nice little development with a large hot and cold pool, informal café, cabins and camping. Being Saturday, we expected a lot of people but we took a trail that is longer than most people use. There were few hikers when we started around 10 a.m.

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We enjoyed our last rain forest hike. There is such luxurious growth everywhere. One area is a forest of ferns.

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At the beginning of the walk, I started developing a camera lens issue. The connection between the camera and the lens only worked intermittently. My long lens worked fine so the problem lies with my 17-85 lens. Darn! It’s not like there is a camera store in every town. I’ll have to see what I can find out on the internet.

We scrambled over some mossy, slippery rocks down by the Canyon Creek and had a peaceful lunch.

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Another mile took us to Sol Duc Falls, a gusher that splits into 3 parts as the river makes a hard left turn. There are various viewpoints but the only good one is from the bridge. Unfortunately, anyone walking on the bridge shakes it. And there were many, many people walking across the bridge. We didn’t stay there too long. It was about 2.5 miles to the end of the trail and soon we were trudging, tired and ready to be back to the car.

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Amazingly, just like Quinault hike, it began to sprinkle right when we returned to the car. We got some coffee at the café, sat for a bit, then started the 40-mile drive back to Forks.

Salt Point

An easy drive took us to Salt Point on the Juan de Fuca Straits. We settled in and took it easy the rest of the day.

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We woke up to sun for the first time in a while on Monday. We were just hanging around when Dave spotted Orca’s frolicking pretty close to shore. We spent about 20 minutes watching and waiting for them to surface. It’s a great benefit being able to camp right next to the Straits.

Fort Stevens State Park

It was a big 100 miles or so to Astoria. The highlight of the day was lunch in the Tillamook Cheese Factory. As in ice cream for lunch. Somehow I managed to convince Dave that it was a good idea. So we each got two huge scoops, one chocolate and one other. Dave got Mint Chocolate chip and Mudslide. I got Butterscotch and Udderly Chocolate. The clear winners were Mudslide and Butterscotch. I hope the next time I consult my previous blogs. If I had, I would have realized that I got Udderly Chocolate in 2011 and it wasn’t as good as Dave’s Mudslide. What are blogs for, if not reference? They also reveal that we are very consistent with our ice cream choices.

We found our way to Fort Stevens State Park out on the peninsula where the Columbia River runs into the Pacific Ocean. It was the most convenient place for a reservation but we were hesitant about the fact it has over 500 campsites. Fort Stevens was built during the Civil War and was operational until 1947. I wasn’t too interested in the military aspects of the place. But it contained the wreck of the Peter Iredale, that shipwrecked in 1906 and I really wanted to photograph that wreck. The campsites are certainly not private but there is a lot of foliage. Rain was being predicted and our site has a full hookup.

As soon as we were set up, we went to see the wreck, only a mile from our campground. It was still a big chunk of real estate, outside the surf at low tide, in it during high tide. On Friday, it was totally surrounded by people. It was not conducive to projecting a tragic, forlorn feeling. We took some perfunctory pictures and went north a few miles up the South Jetty to the Columbia River. Every direction I looked, there were bridges and land in the distance. Some of it was Washington, some of it was Astoria. It was a gray afternoon, no dramatic light. We did the best we could and returned to camp.

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Astoria

Saturday was another gray day with light showers. We went out to the wreck; the tide was splashing on the vessel’s ribs. But we did not expect the 20 mph blasts of wind by the open sea. There was someone windsurfing but I couldn’t photograph him because I’d have to face the lens into the wind. Not a good idea in the sand. We took a few shots and drove across a few bridges to Astoria.

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We found our way to the Astoria Column, a city landmark. However, as we rose up the hill it sits on, we ascended into a heavy fog. That didn’t slow us down. What slowed us down was climbing the 164 (Dave counted them) steps up a spiral staircase. It was very foggy at the top, but it would lighten up a tad now and then.

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The gift shop sold light little balsa-wood airplanes and people were flying them off from the top of the column. When we had returned to earth, I collected a few of the fallen planes, gave them to a family with a child who was going to top and told them I’d try to photograph the planes as they let them go. The first one fell in a death spiral. The next two flew well but I had the automatic focus on and couldn’t focus on the small, rapidly moving plane. It was fun anyway.

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As our luck was running, the fog cleared up a little as soon as we descended from the column. So we got some nice shots of the surrounding area.

The Twilight Eagle Sanctuary was the final spot on my itinerary that day. It’s supposed to be a good spot to see Bald Eagles. There was some confusion between the Garmin and the directions I had noted down from some reference book. There was a lot of traffic moving quickly on a Saturday afternoon and we passed a car that had apparently gone up a steep embankment and flipped. We finally got to a quieter road and found a small, decrepit lookout. Tall pines lined up against meadows, bogs and inlets, a good spot for birds. But no eagles. Photographically, we were batting zero for the day, but as usual, we managed to entertain ourselves. We are easy to amuse.

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Fort Stevens

The sun returned on Sunday and we decided to walk the mile to the Peter Iredale wreck. But we had lolled around too long before the walk. The wispy fog in the trees had dissipated and the wreck was totally surrounded by beachgoers. It was a nice walk nonetheless.

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A few chores took up most of the afternoon, then we returned to the wreck. Too many people. We returned to the South Jetty and walked around the point from the Columbia to the ocean. There were many birds, mostly gulls but some other gull-sized bird with a racous call. There were loads of pelicans, gliding close to the water and then suddenly diving in. There were a few people on the beach, fishing, walking or just watching the water go by. A nice way to spend an afternoon.

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We set the alarm for 6:20 to get up and check out the wreck one more time. But it started raining during the night and when the alarm went off, I looked out the window and went back to sleep. Forget it! Next time! Dave, however, got up and went out. So check out his blog to see another try at the Peter Iredale wreck.

 Kalaloch

Monday was a 150-mile drive into Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.

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The weather was pleasant and the road was curvy and interesting to drive. It’s always a pleasure to coast along the coast through small towns, ranches and farms. And then enter narrow channels where US-101 winds through tall trees. A harbinger of the weather we would have occurred the very moment we entered Olympic National Park: a few splatters of rain.

We were somewhat apprehensive as we had no reservations. Non-prime season is both good and bad – good because we have a chance to get into great places; bad because we might not get in at all. Our intended destination was Kalaloch, a wonderful coastal campground. Our fallback was South Beach, an overflow campground 3 miles south. When we reached South Beach, it was closed for the season. In fact, it closed the day before.

We went in to the nearby ranger station and were heartened to find that Kalaloch was totally on a first-come, first-served basis. We drove up and there were plenty of empty spaces – under dark groves of trees. The primo spaces are right on the coast and most of them were taken. We found one we liked but while we were moving there, a Volkswagon bus snuck in there. Damn! But after thinking about it for 10 minutes, they left. Yay! We were in. After getting set up, Dave explored a dark, muddy 120-foot tunnel leading from our site and discovered a tiny balcony overlooking the beach and ocean. He dragged the chairs out there and, voila! We had a site with a fantastic view. It called for cocktails and we responded.

 

Lake Quinault

We headed off for one of our favorite hikes on Tuesday. Lake Quinault is a large lake 25 miles south of Kalaloch. It has several campsites but none of them can accommodate our 26-foot rig. The weather was variable, with clouds piled up here and there. We got on the 4-mile trail and entered a primeval forest. The sun was filtering through the trees, highlighting different spots. Except for a few birds, the forest was silent.

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We eventually came to a great photographic spot: a bridge looking down on some interesting rock shapes, with Vine Maples dangling over the water. We spent about half an hour trying different exposures and compositions.

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Another nice thing about the hike is the final mile is along Lake Quinault. It began to sprinkle, so we put on our rain jackets, which of course stopped the sprinkling. I soon took off my jacket because it was too hot. The Lake Quinault Lodge is at the end of the trip. The lodge has an enormous expanse of grass from which one can enjoy the view in Adorandack chairs, sipping tea or exotic drinks. The flocks of kayaks and beach chairs in candy colors caught my eye and we dawdled away another 15 minutes. It started to sprinkle again and we headed back to the car, reaching it just before it started to pour. Perfect! We found a good spot that overlooked the lake and had our coffee and cookies while the shower wore itself out. We had several more showers before we got back to camp. Then we took a shower when we returned.

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After dinner, sunset was close so we went out to walk on the beach. Dave has a favorite tree to photograph here. The unfortunate pine selected a section of cliff to take root. But the land collapsed under it and while roots are still connecting it on both sides of the empty space, the roots directly under it are hanging in air. The tree looks like it is scrambling to move over onto solid ground.

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Our final treat of the evening came later. I usually open the door before bed and peer outside to see what the sky looks like. A cloudless sky was fully stocked with stars. There was no competing light from nearby towns and the moon hadn’t risen yet. It was chilly, but we laid on the picnic table and stared up for 15 minutes or so. One oddity: in that amount of time, neither of us saw a shooting star, a satellite or a plane. No moving objects at all.

Ruby Beach

Wednesday was a relax day. We enjoyed a sedentary life until 3 p.m. when we drove up to Ruby Beach. There were quite a few people there, scrambling around the enormous logs that wash up on the beach. It’s a tough place to photograph but we poked around to our satisfaction. The tide was coming in and I always enjoy watching people play chicken with the waves, never knowing when a big one would soak you. This is a stony beach at high tide; no sand. I love the metallic, hissing noise each wave makes as it goes out over the stones.

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It was sunny when we got back so Dave dragged the chairs out to our “balcony” overlooking the beach and we enjoyed smoked Tillamook cheddar with Roger and Noreen’s apples (thanks again!) and a glass of Chardonnay. This is the good life!

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Heceta Beach

We did a pleasant 90-mile drive along windy OR-126 from Eugene to Florence. We booked into Heceta Beach RV Park, a nice place 2 miles off of 101 and close enough to the ocean to hear it at night.

Once installed, we decided to go for a walk on the nearby beach. Whew! The wind was blowing at least 25 mph and it was chilly! As we walked into the headwind, I had to laugh at how many people were on the beach. Quite a few were flying kites and they were snapping loudly in the sirocco. Others sat in their chairs, staring out at the waves in their jackets and hoods. One couple lay (layed?) on the beach like beached whales, facing each other so their faces didn’t get sandblasted. These were serious beach people. I guess we walked about 20 or 30 minutes, then gave up and gratefully returned to our protected motorhome.

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Florence 

I slept poorly that night and woke up the next morning not in a great mood. I couldn’t decide what to do. Go to the sand dunes? Drive up the coast? But an indication of fog sent us off the to the Florence dunes and jetty. We stopped at the first place we could and caught 20 minutes of fog rolling over trees and grasses.

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The fog suddenly dissipated and we moved on to a small pier on the Siuslaw River where people were crabbing. We caught them at a crucial moment – they pulled up their crab cage full of crabs. But they can only keep ones big enough so they threw the crabs onto the dock and were measuring the larger crabs while the small ones scuttled away, diving off the pier back into the water. But….success! in her third day of crabbing, the lady had the first crab big enough to keep. We congratulated her and moved on to the jetty.

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It’s surprising, but there are waves big enough to surf on here and so there are surfers riding waves, alongside the crab and fishing boats.

I had read something about September being the month where a classic car display is held in Old Town Florence. As we went by Old Town, I had spotted some classic cars so after we were done with the dunes, we parked in Old Town and scoped out the 3 or 4 blocks of classic cars. (Don and Dorothy: Remember our outing at the Palouse car show?) The colors, the details, amazing. Plus a lot of interesting dogs and cats. One pet on a leash was a Bengal cat with pale green eyes and the coat of a leopard. Amazing. Two wheezing pugs named Grim and Reaper were being dragged around by their owners. I kept waiting for some dog to lift his leg on one of the spectacular rides but it didn’t happen.

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Heceta Head Lighthouse

I was really tired by the time we returned home. We showered and napped and then drove up the coast a short way. We stopped at the Heceta Lighthouse. The Oregon coast is full of lighthouses in various stages of repair. This one still operated, with the Fresnel lens turning steadily. Unfortunately, due to structural problems, we couldn’t go upstairs to see the light. I learned one interesting fact. When the lighthouse was run by people, they had to “shroud” (cover) the lens during the day. If the sun hit the lens, its magnifying capability could melt the lens innards or reflect outward and start a fire on land.

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Cape Perpetua

We continued up the coast to Cape Perpetua. We drove to the top of the 803-foot cliff and went to the lookout. The view is stupendous.

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Sweet Creek

On Monday, we got up early and drove the 30 miles to the Sweet Creek Trailhead. We were hoping there wouldn’t be many people on the trail and we got our wish. This short, level 1.2-mile hike is in my top five favorite hikes. The creek may run heavy or light but the light through the trees casts a green or golden glow on the water and there are loads of places to go out on the rocks to photograph.

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We spent 4.5 hours out there. Dave had said we’d be back before lunch but I brought our sandwiches anyway and we ate them before we reached Sweet Creek Falls. We saw our first water dipper (of the trip, birds that stand in the water and repeatedly dip their heads.

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Cape Perpetua

After that, we went north a little more to Cape Perpetua. This 600-foot cape, looming over the sea, has a two-mile road to the top where astounding views can be had. Their campground is narrow and stretches out along a creek. Most of the sites are shady but we found one with a little sun, set out our chairs and relaxed for a while.

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It was fun waiting for cars to drive by so far below us. Tuesday probably is a slow night on 101, but I caught a few rows of cars that made nice red (taillights) and white (headlights) streaks.

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Slowly, the stars began to appear until we could see a little of the Milky Way. A ¾ moon was heading west so it wasn’t as dark as we had hoped. There was absolutely no wind and the air still held a note of warmth. The light of the moon was glowing on inlets down the coast. They looked misty. We walked back to the main lookout spot and gazed out at what now looked like a thick line of fog. Suddenly the trees began swishing and a serious, chilly wind began blowing. We could see the fog rapidly advancing north and decided it was time to go home and eat our last brownie. It was a great night!

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Cascade Head

We headed north on Wednesday and had a nice drive up to Lincoln City. For convenience sake we stayed at a KOA, expensive and few amenities but it got the job done. Roger and Noreen Consorti showed up the next morning. I went to the University of San Francisco with them but hadn’t seen them since we graduated. That’s 45 years! We had a lot to catch up on. Cascade Head was nearby, another high area on the coast. It was a steep but beautiful trail. I puffed my way to the top and we had a nice lunch. After returning to our KOA, we chatted into the evening. It was really nice to see them after so long.

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On Tuesday, right after Labor Day Weekend was dead and gone, we headed north into Oregon. Dave had a print in a show in Springfield, east of Eugene, and we rushed up there to nab several waterfall hikes before we entered Springfield society. 220 miles later, after several rain showers, we camped at a place we had been to before: Schwarz Campground, east of Cottage Grove. It’s a quiet, lovely place, enhanced by the fact that it was the last week of the year it was open. Site 30 answered our needs. Now that we had an open site, Dave tried to get the satellite dish to work with the new receiver but it wasn’t happening. It looks like we will have to get a new dish. We just got settled in when a heavy rain shower washed everything clean.

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The next morning was overcast, but clearing. We got a late start, having to wait for the part-time help to show up so we could register for 3 more nights. Worth the wait to get $9 per night. Thank you, America the Beautiful card! In 20 more days, Dave will be old enough to get one. Then either of us can camp at National Parks!

On Wednesday, we took off to see waterfalls. The Willamettes are full of them. We saw a number of them in 2013 and did a reprise. Your drive deep into the mountains and, amazingly, the signage is really good. Most of the hikes are less than a mile, so we can collect several in a day. The first waterfall was Spirit Falls, a pretty one just .3 miles from the parking area. It is still a joy seeing all the ferny, loamy landscape.

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Our second waterfall was Moonfalls. Crummy light and not much water. But we discovered some nice cobwebs with dewdrops on the trail.

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Getting to the Moon Falls Trail involved finding 3 Umpqua Forest roads. The USDA booklet describing the trails and how to find them is good. I figured all we had to do was turn the directions around to get back to our main road. “Turn right” I told Dave because we had turned left originally. Nope. We soon realized we were going in the wrong direction. We finally made it to the Pinard Falls Trailhead. Pleasant trail but we were not able to get close to the falls.

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The next day: more waterfalls. We went along Brice Creek that has many campgrounds and trails running off it. We started with the longest one: Upper Trestle Creek. The 2.6-mile loop described in the booket didn’t look bad and Dave remembered it as a fairly easy walk and a great waterfall when he did it in 2013. Mistake 1: I didn’t read the trail description carefully. Mistake 2: The booklet I brought didn’t properly highlight the loop in the illustration of the trail. It was a gorgeous day and a lovely trail, although totally uphill with a 600’ altitude gain. The payoff came when we reached the Falls. Wow!

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After a long time up there, we began what I thought would be a 1.3-mile descent. The trail was verdant and soft to walk. We reached an intersection with another trail. I sailed along in what I thought was the right direction but Dave had noticed a trail sign that had fallen. We should have looked at it but we didn’t. Further down the trail, I began to have doubts. We turned back for a ways to go back to the sign but then I read the trail description more carefully. It didn’t loop back to our starting point; it went off to a campground up the road. As it turned out, 1.5 miles up the road. So we trudged down the road to our car.

Coffee and cookies revived us enough to do a final short walk along Brice Creek. The light was getting lower and it was a flat, pleasant trail. Enough for one day.

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We took it easy Friday. I went grocery shopping and Dave researched getting a satellite dish that would work with our receiver. It sounds exceedingly expensive. He still may able to patch something together but it’s a complicated business on the road. He wanted to try something from Camping World but their policy is “Open the box, it’s not returnable.” I don’t much care for that company. So we may only have our pre-recorded movies and cable TV at campgrounds. Oh well.

Friday afternoon, we headed 20 miles north to Springfield (just east of Eugene) to the art show where Dave has 2 images. Springfield is a town full of murals, some very amusing.

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Dave didn’t win any prizes but the large show put on by the Emerald Art Center was very varied with a many interesting photographs. From there, we decamped two blocks away to the Plank Town Brewery where I decided to have my second beer of 2016. My Anticipation Autumn Lager was very good. The food was okay but their tomato catsup had no flavor at all and was watery. Not good with fries.

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Some of their window displays are also very amusing. Barbie and the pope….hmmmm!

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We returned our rented drill, hooked up and headed 225 miles north. I drove the first leg. Highway 1 was pretty twisty but there were few vehicles tailing us so I did okay. Forty miles later, I relinquished to Dave and he drove the really windy leg between the coast and Leggett. The constant back and forth is tiresome, riding or driving. After lunch, I took over and did another 70 miles. Dave got us into Del Norte Mill Creek Campground. It seems to be a 2-mile, 650-foot drop from 101 into the depths of the forest. Not much sun down here. And no telephone connection. So we’ll have to go into Crescent City to upload our blog and look at our mail. But we are settled for Labor Day Weekend.

I came up with an unlikely 7.5-mile hike at Prairie Creek State Park. We both wanted to do the Fern Trail here, which is the original “live wall” of ferns. That connects to other trails for a long hike (for us). I figured we should first do the short Fern Canyon hike (1 mile) because we would spend a lot of time there, which we did. I wanted to unload my tripod and long lens before we took the longer hike. However, we ate lunch after a half-mile because we had spent so much time photographing Fern Canyon.

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We decided to cut the hike down to 4.4 miles, doing just the Coastal Trail part of the loop. That was long enough. Although we didn’t have sun, there was a lot of thermal heat coming through the clouds. The terrain was interesting. On one side we had from 15 to 50 yards of heavy forest fronting steep cliffs; on the other side was a huge swath of grassy meadows between me and the sea. It was cool and refreshing when the trail went into the trees; otherwise it was humid. My back was hurting pretty good by the time we reached the turnaround point. We ate a couple of very ripe white peaches and that gave me enough energy to speed my way back to the car. But 3:45 was too late for me to be drinking coffee so I only got to eat my two cookies.

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We started driving the 6.5 miles of dirt road back to Highway 101. There is so much traffic on this dirt road, the foliage turns dusty gray with pale green here and there. We stopped at one point on the road to photograph the non-green greenery. I started hearing something heavy breaking twigs as it moved through the brush nearby and told Dave, “Let’s get out of here. I hear something big out there.” As I said that, I saw a huge buck elk about 20 yards away. Dave saw him, then he just seemed to disappear. Along with the elk we saw on the Coastal Trail, we saw 3 or 4 elk. Always neat.

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Saturday was a down day. We got up late, ate breakfast late, showered late and then headed into Crescent City to find some bandwidth so we could upload our blogs. Safeway worked well and I managed to find a nice-looking chocolate cake there. By the time we were uploaded, it was 2:30 and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. So we went back into Safeway and got really good sandwiches. For me, it was best grilled cheese I had in a long time. We were going to check out the local Labor Day festivities but the wind was blowing around 25 miles-per-hour and it was not fun to be in. So we returned to our campground where the wind doesn’t blow much. That’s because it’s so much lower than Highway 101. I don’t know if we’ve ever been in such a deep campground.

Dave selected the Damnation Creek Trail for our Sunday hike. (Seems fitting) We got up early and the trail starts only 4 miles down 101 so we were on the trail by 8:30. What a trail: it descends 1,000 feet in 2.2 miles to Pacific and so inversely, we get to climb up 1,000 feet to return. It was very shady on the way down, with only a few shafts of sunlight coming through the thick foliage.

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We crossed a shaky-looking bridge and reached the coast a few yards later. All of a sudden it was open, sun-drenched, breezy and we were alone. We had phone reception in this remote location so Dave called Mom to say hello. We puttered around the small beach, ate lunch, investigated an amazing dragonfly and headed back up the trail as people began to arrive. One Japanese couple had a selfie stick.

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The first thing we saw on Labor Day was a hirsute goat making its way under our window, herded by two strapping boys. We deduced that maybe there were some 4H activities going on in town. This was to be my designated laundry day, but we did manage to get a walk in. The Trestle Trail ran a mile above and around the campground. We climbed about 60 feet or so and entered another green, leafy world above the noise of the waking campers and goats.

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Laundry was uneventful except for Laundromat 101 that proved to be a very nice Laundromat with tables, chairs, lots of working machines, and a clean bathroom. Rare, as laundromats go. Dave stayed at home, cleaning our poor, stained carpet. We are parked under a tree that drops purple-colored berries of some type and we can’t help but track them inside. There’s not much house to keep in our motorhome, but it still takes work.

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Our departure became dicey 3 days before we left. When Dave drove the Lazy Daze to Mom’s place in Millbrae for its wash and wax, there was a heavy smell of burning brakes. He decided it had to be looked at and managed to get a trucking outfit in Redwood City to take a look at it on Friday. Luckily, they discovered, got parts for and solved the problem in one day for $760. (Is that lucky? Yes, it is!) While waiting like expectant parents, we had the pleasure of a take-out lunch from Carl’s Jr. (our first and hopefully only fast food of 2016). Around 4 p.m., the work was done, Dave checked the lug nuts on the tire that had been removed and he drove home where we actually got to park right in front of our own house. Our friends, Mary and Rick, hosted us for a wonderful dinner that fueled us up for Saturday, loading day.

Sunday was foggy, like the rest of the July and August in San Francisco. We loaded up the last of the stuff, emptied the refrigerator and freezer and crammed it into the rig’s refrigerator and freezer. By 9:45, we were good to go. The Golden Gate Bridge was our escape route out of San Francisco. It was heavily populated with a lot of bridge walkers, enjoying the sights.

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After we were heading north through Marin County, the fog dissipated and it was a beautiful sunny day. US-101 was a straight, multi-lane shot until we turned off it onto CA-128. That is a lovely, windy road that heads northwest to Mendocino and the coast, nice for a small sports car but not good for a 26-foot RV with a toad. Dave’s back wasn’t feeling good, but he did a good job of negotiating the twists and turns. Being Sunday, all the traffic was heading in the opposite direction, probably going home.

We arrived at Van Damme Beach State Park around 3:30 and settled into our reserved spot, somewhat open but in a narrow, heavily-treed valley. There were no hookups and after some attempts by Dave, no television signal was to be had. On the bright side, the sky was partially blue and it was quite pleasant out. We took a short walk along the Bog Trail in the park and relaxed a little as we were enveloped in greenery. Spring still brings green back to the Bay Area, but the 5-year drought is having an impact on planting, especially grass. The lush, emerald vegetation of the coast is a visual treat to me.

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On Monday, we took our first hike of the trip: The Fern Canyon Trail in Russian Gulch State Park. The State Parks run every couple of miles along this stretch of coast and it seems like every one of them has a Fern Trail. We thought this Fern Trail was another one we really loved (at Prairie Creek State Park, it turned out). But we realized it wasn’t as we began to walk, although Dave recognized it as a trail we had done before. I didn’t, but looked up my notes from an earlier trip and Dave was right. I don’t want to say all Fern Trails look alike, but there are many of them on the coast. We decided not to extend the 4.5-mile hike with an extra 2.25 miles and got back without getting too tired.

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After dinner, we returned to Russian Gulch to catch the sunset. We are seeing much more sun than we expected. Photographically, the light would be better with clouds but it is nice to see sun-dappled foliage.

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The next day we went to one of my favorite places: the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, just south of Fort Bragg. The expansive acreage starts out with more formal gardens, wanders down a shady trail by a little creek, and ends up on bluffs overlooking the Pacific. It was unexpectedly sunny and so the photographic possibilities diminished but not my enjoyment. There are many, many benches all through the gardens so you can sit in sun or shade and enjoy an intimate little glen or a large expanse of the coast. The design of the place gives the perception of wildness but it’s all carefully planted.

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We were told the dahlia dell was great right now, but the begonias were spectacular; I’ve never seen such beautiful begonias.

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When we reached the dahlias, garden volunteers were snipping and laying out blooms for people to take. What a nice idea!

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We came home and cleaned ourselves up, put on our dressy black jeans and headed to Café Beaujolais in Mendocino, our go-to wonderful French restaurant. The cozy little house where we discovered Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay. Dave always gets the sturgeon in truffle sauce and I always get the duck. Throw in a crabcake appetizer and a bottle of very nice Frank Family Chardonnay and we had a great time. I didn’t have much room left for dessert but I got a few bites of Dave’s. We returned to the RV and later, before bed, I stepped outside. Our campsite is surrounded by trees but I had a clear view of a lot of stars with the Milky Way streaming down the middle of the sky. Very nice.

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The next day was going to be a slow one. We had a late bacon-egg-muffin breakfast and got ready to check out Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. The sun was out and all was well….until Dave tried pulling in the large heavy side-view mirror on the LD to get it out of the way. Plunk! All the pieces holding it in place gave out. Luckily, the mirror didn’t break, but Dave now had to figure out if he could reconnect it. Long story short, we weren’t going to get fixed up in Fort Bragg in a reasonable amount of time. Instead, we rented a drill for a day and Dave drilled a hole in the casing, bolting the heavy mirror in place. It got tested the next day, when we drove 225 miles up the coast beyond Eureka. It worked well and we may not have to get a new mirror! It seems like we’re never going to get away on a trip without something happening. I guess that can be expected with an 11-year-old rig.

Despite that rigamarole, we managed to visit Glass Beach, an area famous for a lot of sea glass washing up on the beach. There were more people looking for sea glass than there was sea glass. But it’s a nice area. We drove up to MacKerricher State Park north of there and had lunch at their beach. We took a little walk but it was very warm and Dave still had to deal with fixing the mirror so we didn’t stay long.