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Archive for September, 2011

Tuesday was chore day in the small town of Forks. Forks is famous for being the setting of the Twilight vampire books and movies and is doing what it can to sell souvenirs and conduct Twilight tours. I figured if Dave and I hung around the local high school that Bella went to, we’d be picked up as miscreants.

We drove the short distance to Salt Creek Recreation area, described as a great place to camp by one of the Lazy Dazers. It is indeed, with a great view of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and perhaps Mt. Baker. There’s a little excitement at this campground. A couger has been sighted in the campground four times in the last two weeks. If I see it, I hope it is from inside the RV. Dave hooked up the television, but all we get here is Canadian TV with a few all-French stations. We got our first night of real rain Wednesday night and it was very nice to be snug in our waterproof (thanks to Dave) rig, listening to the pattering on the roof.

Thursday we drove west along the north end of the Olympic Peninsula To Clallum Bay. A local said that it was a good beach for finding beach glass, the bits of glass smoothed by the ocean. We had a good walk and found a lot of neat rocks and beach glass. I’ve started a collection that looks really good in my shoebox. It doesn’t equal Lucille Ball’s collection in “The Big Big Trailer” but it’s more portable and pretty.

We returned to Olympic National Park on Friday and walked the Hurricane Hill Trail, a short but steep trail that led to a point with spectacular views. The glaciers are receding and the clouds covered up Mt. Olympus, but we could clearly see Mt. Carrie and the Carrie Glacier. I was glad we weren’t hiking over there. As we went up the hill, we saw two very large birds that turned out to be Blue Grouse, browsing in the taiga-like meadow. They looked as big as turkeys! No wonder people want to eat them. We kept hearing a high-pitched whistle that we thought was a bird; it turned out to be two marmots, upset by how many people were nearby their spot on the rocks. The Visitor Center at Hurricane Ridge lived up to its name: the wind was roaring at the viewpoint there. But as we went up the hill, we alternated between heavy winds and sunny, humid areas. The clouds kept shifting and the light kept changing. It was a satisfying, easy hike.

We had planned to go into another mountainous section of the park, but the road was closed, so we decided to do the hike to the Sol Duc Waterfall. It was a longer drive west again and then we were back in the rain forest. The trail was very pretty but I wasn’t getting inspired for pictures. Three miles later, we reached what we thought was Sol Duc Falls (per a black-and-white picture in the hiking book). It was nice but not amazing, so we took our requisite pix and continued on the loop trail. Just as we were ready to start booking back, we found the real Sol Duc Falls. Wow!! Three roaring cataracts crashed down into a narrow chasm. There were great views from overlooks and from the bridge that crossed the Sol Duc River. After an hour there, we tired and were ready to trudge the 2.5 miles back to our car. Another great hike. On this trip, we’ve seen more of the coastline and rain forests and less of the mountains that we had hoped. We may have to return some time in the future to visit the areas we missed.

It was going to be a blustery, showery day, so we decided to go to Port Townsend, a harbor town with a lot of restored and not-so-restored Victorian houses. We had a nice lunch at a restaurant in an old brick building. The views of the harbor were interrupted by a sailboat that had dragged anchor and beached itself in behind the restaurant, with its mast leaning precipitously near the restaurant windows. The wait staff and customers kept going outside to check it out; the owners may not have known that their boat was way off course. We walked around town and enjoyed the hustle and bustle of the Port Townsend Film Festival, but the strong winds discouraged us and we returned to Sequim (pronounced “Squim”). Our last day on the Olympic Peninsula was done.

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We are so lucky. The weather report for the Olympic Rain Forest area was…wait for it…rain! We were reconciled to chilly, rainy weather. It never happened. Friday was driving day and it wasn’t that far to our next spot, but saying goodbye to all the Lazy Dazers took quite a while. There were several at the dump station (where you dump your undesired products after you’ve been dry camping), so we were kind of late starting out. Then there’s stopping for gas and groceries because we’ll be dry camping again. Friday afternoon is not a great time to find a good beachside campsite and we didn’t. But it was nice to hear the ocean and there is easy access to the broad Kalaloch (CLAY-lock) Beach.

We scored a better, but not great campsite on Saturday morning. There were a few showers during the night, and we expected more as we drove the 40 miles to the Hoh Rain Forest, but the clouds kept their water to themselves. We were entranced with the Hoh River Trail right away. The trees were skirted and shawled with moss; there was luminescent orange fungi tucked away here and there. The light kept changing and the sun even broke through the clouds for minutes at a time. No rain or even showers. We started looking for banana slugs and found a couple as well as the invasive black slugs. A volunteer ranger told us that the black slugs are a quarter-of-an-inch faster than the banana slugs (over what distance, I don’t know) and that it adds up to an advantage over time. We hiked next to the Hoh River for a while. The quietness of the trails in this area is marvelous. It is rare to hear even an airplane once you’re hiking. We went 4 of the 17 miles until we reached the Cougar Cedar Grove (nice, but not spectacular), turned around and trudged back.

Sunday, we lurked around the campground as people pulled out, and scored the best beachside campsite we have ever found. Once installed, we reluctantly left it to return south on US-101 to Lake Quinault, another accessible temperate rain forest. The sky was again cloudy without rain. It had showered several times during the night, so the greenery was wet and sparkly. Perfect. This hike was only 3.5 miles and went through mossy trees once again. We ate lunch at the Cedar Bog, watching people push their strollers and walk their dogs on the easy trail. It was fun photographing, but not great, until we reached a bridge over Willaby Creek. We were looking down at maples in front of the dark waters of the creek. After coming off that part of the trail, we finished the hike along the shore of Lake Quinault, passing private homes and the Lake Quinault Lodge. I wouldn’t mind staying at that place for a couple of days. I’m a sucker for any room that has an outside deck or porch with a chair on it.

We returned once again to our perfect campsite and enjoyed the view with a fire, potato chips and Cuba Libres. Oh man, this is living. I’ve been surprised at how warm it is here. Usually I’m freezing, but I’ve been hiking in short-sleeved shirts. The cloud cover and humidity keep it warmer, I guess. This morning, Dave got up early to photograph, so I popped up and we went for a walk down the beach. It was so great that we’ve decided to stay another night here. This campsite is too good to give up.

The next morning was misty and we walked down Kalaloch Beach, enjoying the mystery that fog imparts to the landscape.

Later in the afternoon, we visited the Kalaloch Lodge, a cute seaside place with cabins that have nice ocean views and Adirondack chairs to view them from. I had pulled a great picture of a rocky beach that supposedly was next to the Lodge. No such luck. We found it ten miles north, Ruby Beach. Ruby Beach was named for the sand composed of crushed garnets. After some careful perusing, I did find a few spots with reddish sands. As we were leaving the beach, we spotted a downed tree trunk covered with balanced rocks. It always amazes me that someone will take the time to select and balance hundreds of rocks. It looked great, an on-the-spot art piece.

 

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What a change! After a final butter-melting day in the Portland area, we headed for the coast. The clouds were predominating the sky and it was much cooler. We tooled along OR-26 until we didn’t and began crawling along for a couple of miles. We finally saw the cause: an old beater station wagon that almost made it to a place where it would be out of the traffic, but not quite. We reached Tillamook fairly early in the afternoon and took off to see Cape Meares. It has the stubbiest lighthouse on the Oregon coast; it’s very cute. It could be short because it’s on a high cliff. It was decommissioned in the 60’s and was going to be bulldozed into the sea, but was left to molder instead. Finally, a few townspeople started working to refurbish it. Then, in 2010, a couple of local boys shot out the windows and the old Fresnel lens, doing $500,000 in damage. They turned themselves in, got sentenced to some time and are working on paying $100,000 in restitution.

Back on the coast road after the lighthouse, we got to go about 4 miles further before reaching Oceanside and the end of the road. A landslide took out the road and so to see the southern part, you drive back the way you came and head south on US-101. As with Devil’s Slide and Big Sur, the Pacific Ocean can take out roads pretty easily. One interesting thing we’ve noticed in some seaside towns is the tsunami evacuation signs that point people to roads that go up into the mountains. I guess there are sirens that tell you to rise up as fast as you can. We finished off the afternoon at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We breezed through the self-guided tour, watching workers cut enormous blocks of cheese into smaller portions and control the machines that wrap and box all the yellow gold. Our real destination was the ice cream vendor. We painstakingly perused the many flavors. I settled for Caramel Butter Pecan (where was the caramel?) and Udderly Chocolate (not utterly chocolate, but very good). Dave got Tillamook Mudslide (the best!) and Cinnamon something-or-other that was also very good.

On Tuesday, we headed north to Nehalem Bay State Park to hook up with the Lazy Daze Northwest Caravan Club. It is so strange to wander around the large campground and see batches of Lazy Dazes throughout. What a fun bunch of people. The Wagonmaster is Pete Reed, a born leader and competent, creative auctioneer. As “newbies” we were asked to introduce ourselves and were warmly taken in. They had arranged to use the State Park meeting room for meals, and our first dinner had 60 of us crammed together. Everyone was asked to bring “heavy finger food” and this group can cook! It was all great. Most of the members live in Oregon and Washington and were full of helpful advice for where we should go and what we should see.

After a huge breakfast, Cannon Beach was on our agenda for Wednesday. It’s a cute little tourist town right on a beautiful beach with some giant sea stacks off shore. The skies were cloudy and the light was great. There were many clumps of seaweed on the shore and what was interesting was that every clump had feathers entwined in them. I don’t know at what point the feathers get glued in, but a lot of birds must lose their feathers over and on the ocean. We also visited Ecola State Park. A 1.5-mile drive down to the viewpoints felt like a descent into Jurassic Park: it was dark and dank and foliage threatened to take over the road. At one viewpoint, we listened to a lady insisting that there was a whale out by the rocks, even though it wasn’t spouting or moving. At another viewpoint, we talked for a while with a former surfer, who was thinking about making surfboard coffee tables (smaller than full-size).

We returned back for a fantastic BBQ chicken dinner, provided by Larry and Donna Kriegshauser, supplemented by salads and desserts from the rest of us. After dinner both nights, Pete conducted an auction of stuff that people had donated. He had some trouble with his ears, hearing bids higher than what was bid. The proceeds go into the club’s kitty. The items ranged from a beautiful handmade quilt to “fine Idaho potatoes”. They even auctioned off the leftover BBQ chicken. We scored a bag of potatoes, two handmade Lazy Daze coasters and some bamboo place mats. I waited too long to bid on a Sumo wrestler jigsaw puzzle.

Thursday, after a blessedly small breakfast of oatmeal at home, a hamburger and hot dog lunch was provided by local residents Michelle and Tony Vinciguerra. We waddled away from that so that I could get back to the rig and prepare something for the final pot luck dinner. And that will end the food-centric portion of this trip for a while, I think.

 

 

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We’ve had a bit of shock for the last couple of days. We took off from Florence yesterday to go 175 miles to Portland. We sailed along without difficulties north on US-101 until we hit Lincoln City. My God, what a slowdown! We crawled along at about 5 miles per hour, purely because of the amount of traffic. We finally tuned east on OR-18 and sped up, only to slow down about 5 miles later. All in all, we lost about 75 minutes to heavy traffic. We got into our pretty RV park, east of Portland, only to find that the WiFi was lousy, we couldn’t get satellite reception and it was hot, with the western sun still blazing away on the Lazy Daze.

Tuesday was better. We changed to a better site in the RV park and headed into Portland proper. The first order of the day was to drop off Dave’s print to NewSpace, a Portland gallery that has included one of his works in its next show. Washington Park is one of Portland’s many parks, and we checked out the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden. It was warm, but very peaceful. At one point we were looking at a waterfall in the Japanese Garden, watching couple after couple maneuvering in front of the picturesque waterfall. They noticed us watching and began to apologize for taking so long. The apparent tour director said “So sorry, bridal flight.” I guess it was a tour of newlyweds who all needed a romantic shot. The raked meditation garden was amazing; I don’t know how they do it.

After that, we were hungry, so we went up to trendy 23rd Avenue and had a great lunch at the Rams Head. Dave is having fun trying out the local brews. After lunch, back to culture; we checked out a collection of specially printed artist’s books by Inge Bruggeman. Then, it was hot, we were tired, so we did a little grocery shopping and headed home, to munch potato chips and drink Cuba Libres in the shade of our Lazy Daze. The week should be interesting as the weather is expected to get into the high 90’s all week. This is not what we expected from Portland.

The next day we turned east to go down the Columbia Gorge Highway, replete with many waterfalls, hikes and state parks. It’s a windy road, with some pretzel turns here and there. The first stop is Crown Point Vista House, with a good view of the Columbia River. They had pictures of what the Gorge looked like with the autumn foliage going. Dave said the brilliant colors were oversaturated dry grasses and dead trees. We got a good tip from the information desk: get Udderly Chocolate ice cream at the Tillamook Cheese Factory. (That will be next week.)

The drive was perfect for the hot weather: drive in the air-conditioned car, find a waterfall, do a short hike to good viewpoint, photograph, return to air-conditioned car. Latourell Falls caught our attention for a while. Multnomah Falls was the highlight – 611-foot falls, supposedly the third highest in the U.S.  I’m pretty sure Yosemite Falls is highest, but I’m not sure of the second highest. We got in line to get an unimpeded view of the falls.

After Multnomah, we got on the Interstate and sped further east to the town of Mount Hood. The smoke wasn’t too bad there, but a big fire in the Mount Hood area was putting a lot of particulate matter in the air. We went to a couple of wineries and decided that Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir still aren’t our favorite grapes, but we found a couple of bottles we liked. Then we sped back home to our sweltering Lazy Daze.

Thursday was a city day again. We skipped breakfast at home to visit Voodoo Doughnuts (yes, kids, that is the proper way to spell donuts). Their menu of doughnuts lists about 30 or 40, and they utilize foodstuffs such as Coco Puffs, bacon, Fruit Loops, Oreos, marshmallows and peanut butter. Oh, and a selection of vegan doughnuts, of course. Dave had the Bacon Maple Bar, with maple frosting and bacon on top.  My Memphis Mafia was a little more complicated, basically an apple fritter with bananas, glaze, chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips. Oh my, they were good! Luckily, there wasn’t a line, which there often is. They sell buckets of day old pastry, and one lady did stride off to work (presumably) with her bucket.

We walked around downtown as the day grew hotter and retreated to the air-conditioned Portland Art Museum. Their temporary exhibit was wonderful old fancy cars. Men in shorts, khakis and suits swarmed around the autos, rhapsodizing about transportation. Once past that, the museum has nice variety of painting, old and new, and a good collection of native American arts and crafts. We had an alfresco lunch and judged the fashion consciousness of Portlanders – long, summery dresses and white khakis: good; mid-calf pants (aka pedal-pushers) and droopy shorts: bad.

Finally, we headed south of Portland to the Swan Island Dahlia Farm. August and September are the months for dahlias and they were at their peak, mindblowingly extravagant. It was very hot, but wonderful.

Friday was a quiet day. The highlight was going to dinner at the Riverview Restaurant, which true to its name, has a large deck right by the Sandy River. The evening air smelled of forest, the company was good, our dinners were great – a wonderful evening. There even was a piano player, playing somewhat hokey music, but it suited the ambiance. At one point, I noticed him leaving but the piano kept playing. It sounded like his style, so I wonder if he recorded his own music to play while he took a break.

We started our last outing in the city of Portland at Voodoo Doughnuts. I got Diablos Rex, a very chocolate doughnut; Dave got (pardon the language) an Old Dirty Bastard, with Oreo cookie bits and other unnatural things on top. This time there was a fairly long line, but everyone was amiable. The Portland Saturday market was right next to Voodoo, and so was a pretty good Prince imitator. After a few shots, we went looking for cherries, corn and other flora. Alas, the only fruit and vegetables were in smoothies or battered and fried.  So we moved on to other cultural activities. Powell Books, as advertised, must be the largest bookstore in the U.S. It’s divided into many rooms. The science fiction was in the Gold Room, and it was the largest collection of SciFi I’ve ever seen outside of a bookstore solely devoted to SciFi. I was impressed, but we bought a few books and moved on; it was getter hotter and hotter, in the mid-90’s. We checked out several art galleries in the northwest section of the city and I had the best fish sandwich in years at Fullers Coffee Shop, an old fashioned place with stools surrounding a W-shaped counter. We went home after that, closed all the windows and hatches, and reveled in air–conditioning the rest of the afternoon.

Today is 9/11 and it’s a shock to think that we were in New York ten years ago. It was a warm, beautiful fall day in mid-town Manhattan, and we saw the first tower collapse on television as we were eating breakfast in the hotel. What a terrible, helpless feeling. I finally managed to get through to the San Francisco Customhouse and found out that all of the Customs people in 6 World Trade Center, in the shadow of the towers, had gotten out safely. We spent a surreal day, watching disaster after disaster on television, realizing we weren’t going to fly out soon, extending our stay at the hotel, trying to give blood at a hospital that no survivors were coming to and finally, wandering around Central Park, watching fighter jets fly overhead.

Tomorrow we head to the northern Oregon Coast. I’m looking forward to cooler weather and lots of RV-cooked food at the 3-day Lazy Daze get-together in Nehalem Bay.

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We had an easy drive to Florence, OR on the coast and found the Heceta Beach RV Park where we can hear the sound of the ocean, two blocks away. We took a walk along the beach, looking for whole sand dollars, but only finding half dollars. It’s a beautiful beach, with pale, fine sand.

Wednesday, we headed south to see the Oregon Dunes that run for 40 miles. It was an unexpectedly warm, sunny day. Before our hike we stopped at the Elk Viewing Area east of Reedsport. No elk, even though we were told there were always elk there. We continued down to John Dellenback Dunes Trail and headed out. The trail starts in a wooded area, goes through a campground and then heads into the dunes. The dunes aren’t too high at this point, but we slogged up and down, heading for the ocean, 2.5 miles away. What was different about this dunes area is that there were stands of full size evergreens here and there, in the middle of the sand. We finally reached a strip of greenery between us and the ocean and started through it. We could hear the ocean, but couldn’t see it, traipsing on and on through the mini-forest. The foliage was so thick, it occasionally formed tunnels over the trail. Finally, we reached a gorgeous, pastel beach with only 2 other people, disappearing into the mist as they headed away. Beautiful. After trudging back to the car, we headed back to the Elk Viewing Area, but were out of luck. No elk for us.

I’m still trying to find out the name of the blue butterflies we saw at Crater Lake. The internet is full of pictures and descriptions of blue butterflies, but none of them seem to quite match up. Either the butterfly shown is an endangered species or its range is in the Artctic and Great Britain. We have a bird book and a wildflower guide, but its really difficult to identify things positively, even when we have a photograph. It’s interesting to try, though.

The next day, recuperating completely from our long hike, we drove north up the coast on US-101. Before we left, Dave saw a man in a nearby campsite talking to a duck. I went over to meet the duck. The owners said they noticed their Khaki Campbell duck was not moving much and decided to bring her on their trip to see if they could nurse her back to health. They then realized she had hurt her foot. She wasn’t as pretty or friendly as other ducks we have known (we remember you, Butters) but she was guarded by a German Shepherd who kept an eye on me. The owner said he had Muscovy Ducks with more personality, but she was still a nice duck who liked to cuddle.

After filling up the Rav4 with our necessities (and possibilities) we headed to Sea Lion Caves, a gigantic cavern carved out of the bottom of a cliff, where the waves pound in. The elevator down to the cavern indicates the descent not by floors but by feet, until you’re 200 feet down. There’s a big rock formation in the middle where the sea lions haul out. There were only a few sea lions there, but it was amazing to watch them swim into the cavern, check out the rock to see who was there (am I anthropomorphizing?) and then time the waves to throw themselves up on the rock. It wouldn’t be pretty if they timed it wrong.

After that, we went further north to Cape Perpetua, 800 feet above the Pacific. There’s several trails and we took the short ones to the beach. The water pounds the shore heavily and the Spouting Horn periodically blows like a geyser as the surf churns into a small cavern and is expelled out a small hole. The tidepools weren’t too impressive; we weren’t near a low tide, but it was nice to traipse along the coast on easy trails.

We returned to Cape Perpetua on Friday morning and did a little leg stretcher hike to a giant Spruce tree. It was very big, but hard to photograph, so we just played little photographic games, introducing motion into the frame. Back at the visitor center, we asked where a good seafood restaurant could be found and were sent to Luna Sea in Yachats. Oh man, it was great! A small place, it had about 6 tables and was playing “Deadliest Catch” on a big flat-screen TV. I had oysters and fries and Dave had a fish combo with fries. The oysters, battered and fried, were mouthwatering. The fries were hot and crispy. Fish heaven!

After lunch, we continued north on US-101 through crowded Newport and went to Yaquina Head, an outstanding (literally) bit of land that has a still-functioning lighthouse. The wind was blowing about 40 mph, so we decided to tour the lighthouse to get inside. But someone said you could see 3 or 4 gray whales from the viewing area, so we headed into the wind. We were blown away (literally and figuratively). The whales were about 300 or 400 yards away. They didn’t breech, but you could easily see their spouts and bits of barnacled backs. So cool!! After they headed away from shore, we toured the lighthouse. The forest service has rangers enacting the lighthouse crew and they are very informative. Lighthouse life was remote, even though the lighthouse was only 4 miles from the town of Newport. The families raised and hunted most of their provisions and entertained themselves. The “keepers” lost their jobs in the 1930’s when electricity replaced them. Blasted by the wind, we decided not to hike around the area and headed south towards home.

Dave remembered that the Cape Perpetua forest ranger had mentioned the road up to Cape Perpetua Overlook. We drove up there and were totally stunned. I have never in my life seen so much ocean from a viewpoint. It looked like you could see the curvature of the earth. That was a magnificent ending to our trip that day.

Saturday morning, we rose up, heated up some leftover coffee and headed to the dunes area just south of Florence. The morning mists were still hanging over the water. People were out and about, crabbing, surfing, jogging, walking the dog. It felt good out there.

Sunday was our last full day on the Central Oregon coast. We went inland a little to hike the Sweet Creek Trail, known for having lots of small waterfalls. It was beautiful, perhaps one of the best trails we’ve been on. The creek was gorgeous and accessible. Several of the waterfall names were provided to us by a 74-year old photographic enthusiast who was hiking along with his son, grandson and great grandson. Quite a dynasty. After the first hike, we found the trail to Beaver Creek Falls that was another pretty water spot.

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