Our plan has been to spend about 6 weeks exploring the Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington. Two weeks were spent at the Elwha Dam RV Park located near Port Angeles.
Lavender, flowers and gardens certainly do excellent in the climate of the banana belt (a region that has warmer and drier weather conditions, especially in the winter)! The town of Sequim has a popular lavender festival every year. Lavender farms open for tours, entertainment, u-pick lavender and gift items.
The Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge is a 6.8 mile long sand spit jutting out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The lighthouse is located at the end of the spit and hiking to it should be planned before the tide comes in making it more difficult on the cobble stones.
At Ediz Hook we encountered a playful river otter mama and her pups! Salt creek marsh was recommended when the tide is out for a great place to look for creatures in the tidal pools.
Tidal Pools at Salt Creek
One full day was spent at the Hoh Rainforest and along the Pacific coastline. Then another day hiking to Sol Duc Falls and exploring Lake Crescent.
Sol Duc Falls
A wonderful day was spent taking the ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, British Columbia CAN. We booked a combination ticket with the ferry that shuttled us to the Butchart Gardens. The gardens were absolutely stunning. Afterwards we took a tour of Victoria on the Hop On Hop Off bus and had a fabulous Halibut dinner at Nautical Nellies.
This city is absolutely beautiful and we recommend a visit!
A great find, Taidnapam Park located in Glenoma, WA and owned by the Tacoma Power is nestled in tall pines on Riffe Lake. The location of the park puts you in between Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument and Mt. Rainier National Park with about an hour drive to either place.
The first evening it rained and the next day it was partly sunny. Mt. Rainier National Park was our first choice to try and see the mountain on a fairly sunny day. Entering the park at the Nisqually Entrance, we were soon pleasantly surprised to get a few photo opportunities of this majestic mountain.
The Longmire Museum is a nice stop with the history of the mountain along with the National Park Inn. The Trail of Shadows directly across the street is an easy loop trail that circles mineral springs, historic remnants, a beaver pond and the awe of walking through the giant Douglas-fir and western red cedar trees.
National Park Inn
He didn’t quite finish the job!
Trail of Shadows
This park is probably one of our Top 5 in beauty. We also appreciated how well maintained everything was, from the roads, signage, accessibility, ease of entering the park, to the awesome trails. The Paradise Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center is our favorite visitor center. The design and information were beyond any other. The views from the windows have got to be breathtaking when the mountain is not covered by clouds! Right out the back door are many hiking opportunities to gorgeous waterfalls and fabulous vistas, and the beautiful Paradise Inn.
The next day we ventured a little further westward into the park along Stevens Canyon Road with a stop at Reflection Lake. Unfortunately, no reflection, but we could see the majestic mountains reflection in our minds and it would be spectacular! Box canyon is 180 feet drop from the bridge overlook to the raging river below. The path of a glacier that has receded and revealed polished slabs of rock and narrow steep box canyon of the Cowlitz River.
The two days we were in the park there were clouds covering different parts of the mountain, but it is spectacular! These John Muir’s words on the steps to the hiking trails at the visitor center sums it up!
Our neighbors in the campsite next to us gave us some insight on traveling to Mt. St. Helens. They had taken the Windy Ridge Road to access Mt. St. Helens and described this narrow road as having many areas of no guardrails, steep drop-offs causing the passenger to cover their eyes, but breathtaking views nonetheless! Route 504 was our non-adventurous choice, first stopping at the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake. The Visitor Center was very informative in the events leading up to the catastrophic volcanic eruption that occurred on May 18, 1980. Two months of volcanic activity and an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale, the north face collapsed and in a few moments rock and ice slammed into Spirit Lake, crossed a ridge 1,300 feet high and roared 14 miles down the Toutle River. Changing the surrounding landscape and mountain forever.
Mt. St. Helen Before Eruption
Mt. St. Helen After Eruption
Spirit Lake took the brunt of the eruption
Castle Lake is a barrier lake formed by the eruption
Fifty-seven people lost their lives, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways, 185 miles of highway, hundreds of homes and businesses were destroyed. The volcano ejected a plume of rock and ash 10 miles into the air. The eruption spewed 540 million tons of ash into the air, darkening the sky and causing street lights to come on some 300 miles away. The Johnston Ridge Observatory is located near the site of volcanologist David A. Johnston’s camp, who lost his life on the morning of the major eruption. Inside there are exhibits explaining the events of those who lost their lives as well as survivor stories and eyewitness accounts.
View from Johnston Ridge Observatory
Accounts of those that perished and survivors
The earth has a way of healing itself, we were memorized by the growth of the Nobel Fir trees planted in 1983 and this little beauty on a lovely wildflower.
Hummingbird at Johnston Ridge Observatory
Both of us remember the coverage of this event on television and newspaper. It is humbling to see it in person.
Corbett, Oregon is a small town located along Historic Route 30 on Crown Point, along the Columbia River Gorge. We decided to make this a week destination because there is so much to see and do in this lovely area. Not too far is Multnomah Falls which consists of the upper falls that plunges 542 feet, and the lower falls 69 feet making it the highest waterfall in the state of Oregon. The bridge is named for Simon Benson, a Portland businessman who owned the falls in the early 1900’s. Benson gave Multnomah Falls to the City of Portland, which later transferred ownership to the US Forest Service. According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was the site in which a tribal princess threw herself onto the rocks below to save her tribe from a terrible illness. The falls was featured in one of our favorite movies “The Shack.”
There were a lot of 4th of July activities to attend, we headed to the Timber Festival near Estacada for an afternoon of log sawing, log rolling, ax throwing and horse pulling competitions.
It is very apparent that lavender and various flowers seem to love the soil and climate in Oregon. Hope Lavender Farms was open for pick your own lavender, lavender products and a sip of lavender infused lemonade.
Fireworks in our backyard rounded off the evening.
Friday was a drive to the coastline of Oregon. The town of Astoria is located right on the Columbia River and is a main corridor to the Pacific Ocean. It is rich in history as part of the Lewis and Clark Trail. The Columbia River Maritime Museum, Flavel House Museum, Astoria-Megler Bridge are just a few sights to see in this tiny town.
Columbia River Maritime Museum
Along the Pacific coast there were many opportunities to pull off and enjoy the spectacular views of the ocean. Another great town was Seaside, it reminded us of the beaches on the East coast with boardwalk activities. The towns main street was filled with shops, games, bumper cars, shark riding and of course delicious food. Seaside is the end of the Lewis and Clark Trail.
Beach at Seaside OR
Lighthouse in the distance
About an hour further south is the town of Tillamook, home of the Tillamook Creamery! It is a farmer-owned co-op since 1909. Their goal is to bring together farmers and food lovers through better made dairy. “Dairy Done Right”, our kind of place! If you come to Oregon be sure to check this little gem out! There is a very informative self-guided tour of their factory making cheese, yogurt, and ice cream. The exhibits for children are so much fun! And of course, sampling of cheese and ice cream is a must! Check out their website for more information Tillamook Creamery website
We loved this visit!
Our last day we spent checking out many of the waterfalls and vistas located along the Historic Columbia River Highway. Samuel Lancaster was Assistant Highway Engineer for Multnomah County in 1913 and supervised the Columbia River Highway project. His proposal to construct a building on the summit of Crown Point was another example of his desire to have travelers experience the wonders of the Gorge. The Vista House was designed as a rest stop observatory for travelers on the Columbia River Highway.
View of the Columbia River
Vista House in the distance
In the 1900’s advocates for a scenic highway recognized that the beauty of the gorge should be preserved for future generations. Upon completion of the Historic Columbia River Highway in 1915, many generous landowners donated property to create scenic retreats along the route. The route is dotted with several waterfalls, state parks and beautiful vistas.
Oregon is a beautiful state. Cherries, hazelnuts, lavender farms, great produce markets, lush green forests, beautiful vistas, rocky coastline and friendly people. Just a few of our favorite things.
A great volcanic eruption over 7,000 years ago left a deep basin known as Crater Lake. Rain and snow continue to fill the basin and on sunny days it can be a memorizing deep blue, shades of aqua and turquoise. It is the deepest lake in the United States. It is almost 2,000 feet at its deepest point. In Crater Lake is a cinder cone known as Wizard Island. At the top of Wizard Island is a crater 90’ deep and 470’ across. The Rim drive is 33 miles around Crater Lake with many pull offs for dramatic views.
Lunch was at a quaint cabin called Beckie’s Restaurant, known for their delicious pie.(Yoders in Sarasota is still the best!) The little town of Prospect was just across the road from where we stayed at Crater Lake RV Park and two wonderful hikes to Mill Creek Falls and Barr Creek Falls. Another score on birds the Red-breasted Sapsucker!
Mill Creek Falls
Barr Creek Falls
The Rogue River Gorge and Natural Bridge had quite interesting volcanic features.
The Natural Bridge is where the Rogue River disappears into a lava tube, taking 35 seconds to travel 200 feet to the tubes outlet. The Rogue River flows through the lava tube behind the wall of rock, becoming a “hidden river.”
The Rogue River emerges from a lava tube outlet after a short underground trip on its way to the Pacific Ocean. At peak flow approximately 335,000 gallons of water rush from this outlet each minute at a speed of 6 feet per second.
The Cave is a part of a well-defined lava tube. The water flowing into it appears to circulate and then returns to the main channel indicating the lava tube has collapsed some distance beyond the opening.
This area is a great place to visit, so much to see and do!
Our home base for the Redwoods National Park was at Mad River Rapids RV Park, Arcata, CA. The Redwoods National Park and State Parks cover a vast area of the Northern Cost of California. First stop, the Thomas Kuchel Visitor Center to gain knowledge of the area. A walk behind the Visitor Center gave us our first, up close look at the Pacific Ocean.
The ranger did a fantastic job at detailing the highlights for the day. Beginning at the Newton B. Drury Scenic Drive we were delighted to see the herd of ladies described by the ranger. The Roosevelt Elk are the largest in body size subspecies of elk, but not in antler size. Only one male was still hanging with the ladies!
Our first hike was Corkscrew Tree Trail to the Big Tree. As we started down the trail we quickly realized why a portion of “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” was filmed not far away at Prairie Creek Redwoods state park on the fern canyon hike. The lush flora, moss covered trees, humongous ferns and stately Redwoods were incredible. We even scored another bird, the Wilson Warbler, on this hike!
Next a drive up the high rock bluff to Klamath River Overlook. The scenery was beautiful even with the typical fog that rolls in along the coast. The colors of the wildflowers are gorgeous this time of year!
We ventured down to Klamath Beach which was suggested for harbor seals. The beach is very different than Florida Beaches. Rock formations along the shoreline and in the ocean, driftwood galore, cool mist coming off the ocean and our first spot of California Harbor Seals! We find great enjoyment watching the antics of wildlife. The seals were so much fun to watch as their little heads with big whiskers bob in the water and frolic in the current and belly crawl on land! And another bird score, Black Oystercatcher! We absolutely loved the Redwoods and this area!
A great little no-frills park in the Napa Valley is Skyline Wilderness Park. Lots of hiking trails and in close proximity to tons of wineries and San Francisco. The park gave us a great suggestion to drive less than a half hour to the Vallejo Ferry. Sit back, relax and enjoy the one-hour ferry ride down the San Pablo Bay across San Francisco Bay to the Port of San Francisco.
The ferry Marketplace was bustling with people enjoying the good food, fresh produce, fresh baked bread and other novelties.
A one-day pass using the Muni App on our smart phones was $12.00 for unlimited bus, trolley, and cable car, which was a great buy. We took the trolley to Pier 39 where there were shops and food galore. Pier Market Seafood Restaurant was our lunch stop with a favorite of this town, Clam Chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. There are so many fun modes of transportation to get around this city, The Hippie Love Vans and Go-Carts!
A short walk to Fisherman’s Wharf with great views of Alcatraz Island and the Golden Gate Bridge.
The cable car was a great way to see Lombard Street, famous for its steep, one block area with eight hairpin turns. The cable car stopped at the top of Lombard Street and we walked down the steps through all the beautiful flowers and homes that line the street while cars made their descent down the winding hairpin turns.
We absolutely loved this city! One thing for sure, come with an appetite. The food is fabulous!
As we made our way from Sequoia Campground & Lodge to Yosemite Lakes RV Resort we experienced another road, Route 49 with endless switchbacks, downhill grades and no guardrails with lovely canyon views. Upon check-in at Yosemite Lakes they referred to it as “The Road from Hell!” We Floridians are not accustomed to these roads!
The campground was three miles from the entrance to Yosemite National Park and another hour drive into the Yosemite Valley. We anticipated heavy traffic to the park on Saturday and decided to take the Yart Shuttle Bus from the campground. No sooner had we left the campground and traffic was backed up two miles from the entrance and the hour ride to the valley floor took 2 ½ hours, but the views along the way were spectacular. A stop at the Visitor Center for maps and suggestions from the ranger on highlights of the park and information on the two shuttle loops to navigate this immense park. First stop, Yosemite Falls the tallest waterfalls in the United States, and 5th tallest in the world! Yosemite Creek flows over this waterfall. It is entirely fed by melting snow. It drains an area of nearly 50 square miles. At its peak volume in late spring, 2,400 gallons per second flow over the lip of the Upper Falls. When the snow melts by summer, the falls can go down to a trickle and run dry. This past winter they had record snowfall and the falls were beautiful! There was still a spot of snow pack on Half Dome. We had a nice walk through the meadow to the Chapel, which had a beautiful wedding taking place, and more views of Yosemite Falls.
Because the park was so crowded, we decided to return early Monday. Again, we took the bus because parking was at a premium. Hopped on the El Capitan shuttle and were amazed at this sheer granite cliff. It was exciting to see climbers, that looked as small as ants, making their way up El Capitan! From El Capitan we hiked to Bridal Veil Falls a six-mile round trip hike in celebration of our sixth anniversary. So much to see, so little time and energy!
Pulled out Tuesday morning and made it down Route 120, five miles of curves, but much better road and delighted to be on the inside lane! Going through the town of Escalon CA heading to Lake Tahoe for one night, a driver in the passing lane was beeping their horn several times as they went past us. From past experiences that usually means something is wrong. Sure enough from the drivers side mirror the rear trailer tire was smoking! A quick pull over and fire extinguisher in hand revealed a failed wheel bearing. All the wheel bearings had been replaced at MorRyde last year! Several phone calls later, a three hour wait for the tow truck and then an overnight stay in a hotel. Thanking God for the good in it all, three helpful ranchers stopped to check on us and offer their help, the bearing didn’t fail on our descent down the mountain, no fire, and no damage to the spindle, RV, or anyone else. Les Schwab Tire Center in Escalon did a great job with the repair. Our plans have changed from visiting Lake Tahoe to heading directly to the Napa Valley. As they say in the RV world, plans are like JELLO.