Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On to Sequim

After Yakima, we spent a couple of days in Issaquah. There was a motorcycle rally on of some sort, with the really tough bikers to the high school boys with their putt-putts. We didn't get too near since there were police everywhere around them and also we didn't think the tougher types would want their pictures taken.

We shopped a bit at their little village which consists of older homes that were moved to a location all together. It seemed like a good idea but I think the slow economy is taking its toll on the little merchants.

We sure see a lot of boarded up businesses everywhere. The recession is still on in Washington. Since we basically missed it in Saskatchewan, it is hard to imagine that unemployment is still such a problem here.

Anyway, we ended our stay in Issaquah with electrical problems with the towed vehicle so we had to wait for an RV guy who can do electrical work to show up. We finally got on the road at about 4 pm. Good thing we did not have too far to go. We caught the 6:15 ferry from Edmonds to Kingston. This cuts off the drive south to Tacoma and back up to the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula. We got to Sequim (pronounced Skwim) about 8:30. The RV park had been called to say we would be late so there was no problem.

We love this little park. We have a nice view of the mountains out our windows and grass between each site. The doggy walk even has a hydrant so the pups are happy too. There is an empty field directly behind us so (so far) nothing to obstruct the view.

In our first week, we have done some driving around the area, spent at day in Port Townsend, views sand scuptures in Port Angeles and went whale watching. Port Townsend is a picturesque spot with lots of Victorian architecture. It was settled in 1851 as a seaport. It is only one of three Victorian seaports left in the country and is a National Historic Landmark District.

Port Angeles is only a short drive from Sequim and 90 minutes by ferry from Victoria BC. We went there on Sunday morning to look at the sand sculpture competition. I doubt that they are the best in the world, but they are still very amazing. We were glad to be there early since the crowds began to arrive about noon and taking pictures would have become very difficult. It was hard enough with only the light crowd!

We left from Port Townsend to go whale watching on Sunday afternoon. We saw a lot of the San Juan Islands on the whale watching trip. I marvelled at the ocean and how changing the water is - smooth as glass in one place and then rough spots or ripples for no apparent cause. The guide said that some of the rough spots were from the tide coming in, especially when the water from a wider part of the ocean had to squeeze into narroe passages between the islands. I can see some people's fascination with the ocean.

We tried to catch up to some whales spotted in the morning who were moving north. The guide thought we might see the stragglers. As it was, the Orcas that we saw were likely the resident ones and not the transients that were seen in the morning. No matter. It is amazing to see them in their natural habitat.

Dalton took these pictures with his telephoto lens. In the one, note the TWO fins showing. We think it has a mother with the calf by her side. You have to be quick and looking in the right direction to see the whales. They were on both sides of our boat (they cut the engines and we just float so as not to disturb the whales). There were also a couple near the coastline that seemed to be playing. We were a way out so you needed the telephoto so get a good view.

Dalton also got a good shot of the very large pleasure boat that ran at full speed through the whales (and might have been chasing some), totally against the law that says no chasing or disturbing them. He emailed it to the captain who will be taking it to the authorities. This threatens not only the whales but the livelihood of the boat owners who make their living taking people out to view whales. The responsible ones are very protective of the whales.

We went such a long way out to see the whales that we were late getting back. Our poor dogs both had their legs crossed when we got back to Sequim (a little over half an hour from Port Townsend).

Last year we drove all along the north coast to the Makah Nation Reservation to see the cultural centre. This is a lovely area unspoiled by shopping malls - so far.

This unspoiled area is being hit by the onslaught of teeneage girls wanting to see the locations of the Twilight series. Apparently both Forks and LaPush have seen many visitors coming to see the locations of the book series and the movie. Of course, the local Chamber of Commerce has produced a map to help them find the places in the movie, such as the local high school in the Forks. I don't follow this, but anyone with teenagers in their lives will know about the phenomenon of vampire movies and series.

We have two more weeks in which to kayak, see the national park and the rain forest. Oh! and of course being at Sequim that has a Lavendar Festival, we have to go to a lavendar farm. Lots ot do around here!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Along the Columbia River

On the last post, we were camped at Castle Rock and were planning a day trip along the Columbia River to the ocean. That is exactly what we did. We spent the entire day driving along the Columbia until we reached the ocean. There was beautiful scenery, rather rain forestish in some places. We saw a turnoff to a covered bridge so we just HAD to see that.

When we reached the ocean, we walked up to a light house. It was quite hot so we only hiked as far as the lighthouse. We could see down to the beach which was not far below. You can see from the pictures how beautiful the area is.

The next day we left Castle Rock and drove east along the Columbia to a small place called White Salmon. It was about 100 F there and so we were melting.

From there we did a day trip to have a better look at Mount Hood and then also got a look at Mount Adams. The mountains here are so different from the Rockies with a peak here and then another one there. Of course these are volcanic mountains like Mount St Helens so the ones that haven't blown are peaked at the top and the ones that have blown have flatter tops.

Mount Hood Mount Adams from the fruit stand parking lot.

On the way back to White Salmon we dropped in at 2 large fruit stands, one that sold cherries, apples, apricots and lots of jams and another with berries (huge raspberries and blackberries) as well as pies and preserves. The berries were huge and delicious.

We also did a winery crawl and went to a number to the east of White Salmon on the north side of the Columbia. They are small cottage wineries. One was run by a fellow who looked like a hippie from the 60s and appeared to be living on the floor of the sales room because it was cool in there. (remember that outside it was 100+) At least he had a computer!

We decided to drive to the Tri-Cities (Kennewick, Richland and Pasco) on the north side of the Columbia because the tol bridge that we crossed to get to White Salmon was SO narrow that Dalton though our mirrors would hit those of the semi coming in the opposite direction.

The countryside was very dry and one section had many windmills on the tops of the hills. It was visual pollution but I guess they are testing out the use of wind technology here.

Besure to enlarge this so you can see the windmills.

It was about 100 when we got to Richland. I contacted a friend of my brother Gordon. She is a scientist in the area. There is a nuclear industry here from back in WWII but she works in another type of lab. We were surprised at the extent of the nucear plans here (Hanford) since we only seem to hear about Los Alamos from WWII. The little museum here has a nice exhibit on it and tells about the thousands of people they fed and housed here, especially during the war. The requirements just to feed them were staggering.

On a little side trip, I dragged Dalton to a couple of quilt shops. The fabric is about half the price of that in Canada. We also made a trip to the grocery store.

Shortly after we got back to the RV, Gord's friend Helen arrived. She is a lovely lady and we felt as if we had known her for ages. Fortunately she has 4 dogs so when Casey decided that he liked her enough to sit in her lap, she didn't mind. We hope that we will see her again.

We spent quite a bit of Tuesday getting the RV washed and waxed. Alfa feels better now. We did get out to a couple of wineries, including one run by eccentric fellow who does European style wine. It wa wonderful wine, but your hygiene standards had to take a hit to eat the cheese and meat he had to go with it. I added to my lifetime's pound of dirt!

Today we drove to Yakima where it is a little cooler. It is still wine country but we are running out of storage space. Even the oven is full!!

We have a couple of day trips planned around the area so stay tuned.

PS Please excuse the small number of pictures. Each one takes several minutes to upload.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mount St Helens

We started out at the RV seminar in Kelowna. That lasted for 3 days. There were classes on technical and fun topics. We learned a lot and met a lot of wonderful people. I particularly enjoyed the classes on genealogy and blogging. We had entertainment that was high quality and the instruction was from very experienced people.

From there we went to Hope and then into the US, stopping at Bellingham. Camping World, a large RV store, is near there so we just had to make a trip. We also took a drive along the ocean on a road called the Chuckanut. From there we have come south to Castle Rock which is near the Washington/Oregon border.

Today we were at Mount St Helens. We went part way up yesterday but turned back because low clouds were obscuring the view. Today was gloriously clear and we had wonderful views.

As you may remember, Mount St Helens erupted in 1980, making this the 30th anniversary of the event. We first visited in the early 80s and the sight of a forest that had been knocked down and incinerated was quite something. Now in many places nature - or Weyerhauser - have replaced a lot of the greenery. (Weyerhauser lost something like $68 million of potential timber.) At the top, some of the destroyed areas are still evident. The roads now go up to points that give you a better view of the crater than was the case years ago. You can even see that steam continues to come from one area. Dalton caught this with his telephoto lens. (I want one!) Two domes have developed since the eruption and the word's youngest glacier is on Mount St Helens slopes.

The animals also have come back to the mountain. We saw elk WAY down in the valley (at least a mile) using Dalton's telephoto lens and the help of a park volunteer. Apparently a lot of the little animals survived because they were hibernating when the blast occurred. Since it was May 18, that surprised me. Can you imagine their surprise when they came to the surface? ("Mabel, they rearranged the world while we were asleep!") The larger animals are just coming back as vegetation grows to feed them.

It is amazing to think that the top and side of a mountain were blown out by this eruption. The earth definitely continues to change.

Our RV park is situated between the Interstate 5 and a railway track. We don't hear the traffic noise but the trains are frequent and they always blow their whistle in case we missed the ungodly noise of their passing. Putting RV parks near a train track is quite common for some reason.

We have one more day here. We are going to take a day trip out to the ocean along the Columbia River. We'll let you know how that goes.

I am still figuring out how to include pictures so please excuse the positioning. I will get this figured out!