The Home Stretch

Aug. 26 – I’m writing this after getting home and it feels weird.  But I do want to come Full Circle with this adventure.

Aug. 9 – Newfane, VT.  I stayed a couple of nights at Townsend State Park and spent the whole day of the 9th with my old friend Linda who used to live in NC.  She lives in an apartment attached to one of the beautiful old homes with no room for guests, tho I did find out after seeing it that I could have parked camper in the large driveway.  The State Park was great tho, another old CCC built state park, and I took Linda out to see it and my camper.  She was curious, as so many people are, about the ALiner.  They’re just not that many of them out there and so uniquely shaped – a curiosity, I’ve given many tours of it.  More pressure to keep it neat and clean.  🙂  It was a wonderful visit, catching up and discovering the adorable little typical VT village where she has lived for the last 10 yrs or so.  Much remembering and telling of new life stories, as always happens with old friends.

Aug 10 – From VT, I drove down the Hwy to Huntington, MA where we set up camp for several days on the beautiful land of friends Judith and Carol, surrounded by fully flowering perennial gardens!  They have several acres out in the country, it was perfect,  plus I got lots of those hard to do while camping things done: laundry, internet, shower. Then went into East Hampton to visit another friend, Jean.  More great time catching up and reminiscing with old friends.

I have several friends in Western MA and when I contacted them about visiting in Aug, some were planning to go to an OLOC/mini Michfest campout.  OLOC – Old Lesbians Organizing for Change! – one of my favorite acronyms.  mini Michfest celebrating the Michigan Women’s Music Festival, which happened that week for many many years.  I wanted to go?!   It was great fun, such a change from being primarily in the company of strangers or new-found friends with nothing in common but traveling and adventuring, to being surrounded by women who were friends and others with so much present and past life experience in common. And in a great place in the east with abundant familiar green and a lake for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, etc.  Sharing meals, nightly fire circles, singing women’s music and music from the 60s, listening to daily Carolyn Gage sermons!  And a delicious last night dinner out.  A very delightful easing back into my life off the road.

I didn’t remember to take many pictures so I’m stealing some from Emily Greene.

Aug. 17 – From Western MA, a long drive to Maine, first to meet up with landmate Doreen who had been traveling in her camper up from Full Circle Farm, and Amy, another FCF sister who lives in ME til she builds and moves to the farm.  After we settled in for another night camped on the land of a couple of women who have a beautiful farm, we went to a local brewery/fire-roasted pizza joint and a visit to LL Bean outlet where I blew some $$ and got those new waterproof hiking boots I’d said I wanted.  50% off!!!  Keen!

Aug. 18 – Next day the 3 of us were off to Acadia NP.  This adventure started with me deciding to join another Women Aliner Campers campout at Acadia, then asking Doreen and Amy if they’d like to join me.  It was really good, we enjoyed spending some time with the WACS, and the 3 of us had a great time with each other and especially hiking some not so challenging trails as well as some challenging ones with beautiful views for reward. They are much younger than I and they very graciously helped me on the challenging one over some rough spots, taking Xena’s leash when I needed both hands to climb rocks, lending me a hand up, and in general slowing their pace.  I’m sure they would have finished these hikes much quicker without the old lady slowing them down.  At one point I was ready to kill Doreen for “accidentally” leading us into the “Cadillac Cliffs” (there was a choice!) on the trail to the Gorham Mtn summit, but in the end I felt grateful for the challenge and that this old body had done it!!  All the times I hike alone, I would have never attempted it.  Pats on the back!!  But I won’t be doing it again!  BTW – those new hiking shoes were great.  3 days hiking, clung to those rocks like suction cups, 1 blister.

Views from the top.

I didn’t take too many pictures hiking, I was too busy clambering over boulders, but thankfully Doreen did, so I’m stealing some from her here.

After I left, Doreen and Amy “accidentally” took another hike, one they had deemed too difficult the day before.  You know – ropes and ladders type!  That last picture is on that hike.  The Bee Hive.  Nope, not me!

There is so much diverse beauty at Acadia – the mountains, the ocean, the harbors, rocky beaches, the quaint towns.  A drive around the scenic loop and up to Cadillac Mountain, more views from that top.

 

Aug 21 – Xena and I left Acadia and drove south, the final leg home.  Staying away from the cities as usual, drove through ME, NH, MA, Conn, to Newburgh, NY for a Walmart stay.  Met a wounded vet and his wife from Roxboro, NC, on their way to a family funeral.  Small world.

Aug. 22 – another long driving day on I-81 through Penn, Maryland, WV and to Shenandoah NP in VA.  Camped at one of the campgrounds on the Skyline Drive, how delightful that was for my last night on the road.  My eyes rested on the beautiful Smokey Mountains again at last.  Not as dramatic as those western mountains, but just a magnificent and beautiful in their own way.  Heard cicadas for the first time this summer.  Very warm and welcoming signs of home.  A soft landing.  It’s good to be back in familiar territory.

But I still didn’t want to stop, want to keep rolling.

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Drove out to one of the overlooks to catch the sun set on our last day on this magical journey.

Aug 23 –  Set out early and took a long slow drive on the Skyline Drive through Shenandoah, stopping at many overlooks, stopping to walk a mile or so of the AT whenever it crossed, something I’ve done for years when I’m in the mountains.  Once we were back on the highway, horse headed for the barn!  Arrived home at 6pm.  Circle complete.

Thanks for rolling with us on our journeys.  I appreciate all who read this, I especially like comments, whether here or on personal emails or texts, and “likes”.  Helps when we start missing our homefolk, even tho I may not see them for weeks, and then not be able to respond.    I also like to hear about your life and travels.

And yes, we will keep rolling.  You’ll have to stay tuned for the next adventure.

“I’m quite ready for another adventure!”  Bilbo Baggins

Til then, Happy Camping,

Lynn and Xena

 

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Roaring East

July 29, 2018 we left Mt. Rainier with sadness and much appreciation and awe for a fabulous, life-expanding adventure in the mountains of the Northwest and set the Highlander’s nose to take us east.  We traveled a northern route and will end up in Maine before turning south for home in NC.  I know, long way home, right!  This came about because many months ago I decided to join some Women Aliners for a campout at Acadia in mid Aug and you know those reservations – in some places, like Acadia in Aug, you gotta make them practically a year in advance, so I needed to decide long time ago.  I was also loosely following someone else’s itinerary as a guide for the west journey since I knew next to nothing about the area.  In retrospect, I would have stayed west in Aug. and spent more time in just about every place I went (not the Badlands!!!), although I must say it seemed the wildfires were following me.  I saw yesterday where the west side of Glacier was burning, the side where I camped, and the Road to the Sun was closed.  Makes those fires even sadder after you’ve been there.  :(.  So anyway, that’s why we’re heading to Maine.  And since I was going to be in the NE I planned to visit some friends in VT and Western MA.  In order to coordinate with their plans, I needed to be in VT by Aug 8th, and since pulling a camper and needing to find places to camp takes a lot longer than driving/motel model . . . well, you get the picture.  And I had to take care of some service on the tow vehicle and the camper, things impossible to do while in National Parks and Forests.  Luckily nothing desperate while I was there.

So, with a last look back with sadness, off we went, Highlander, Aliner, Xena and me, rolling back to the east coast.

I did try to include some interesting sights and took the more northern route that would avoid the big cities and get off interstates a good part of the time.  First night ended up at Coeur d’Alene, ID, which I’d honestly never heard of.  Needed a city where there would be a Toyota dealer for oil change since I wanted them to check everything really well and I trust the dealers more than an unknown mechanic.  And since I’d driven 8,000 miles since the last oil change, towing, and over lots of mountains and rough rutted dirt roads.  So next day that’s where we went.  Yep, needed brakes too!  It took most of the day, luckily they even took me without an appointment.  I had hoped I could arrange the camper fix so I could drop it off and bring the car in without it but that didn’t work and there was no place in the Toyota lot, so had to drop it in a nearby Walmart parking lot and leave it.  They were very nice to let Xena stay in the waiting room with me, in spite of her state of shedding.  I brush her every day so the car and camper aren’t full of fur, leaving a small dog sized furball at every campsite.  All the sales people and other customers loved her and she was well behaved.

Some pics of the drive, gradual leveling of the mountains then flat plains, big sky, wide open exposed forever views.  Unfortunately, I was never able to find a parking spot in the very crowded busy lake area of Coeur d’Alene so didn’t get any pictures.

I was determined to get farther down the road that afternoon, so we drove to Butte, MT, back into some hills and mountains, but still barren, big sky country.   So close to many National Forest, and passing by  because of the need for speed.  Drove pretty late so we did a Walmart camp that night.  If you’re an RVer you probably know that most Walmarts allow travelers to overnight in the parking lot and lest you think it would be lonely and scary, here’s a photo of the parking lot that night.  And a pretty view of the city lights, residential area on the opposite hillside.

Folks usually use this option when they’re trying to make time, drive late and just park it, sleep, and leave early the next morning.  RVers are very friendly, put out their chairs to relax and watch the view of the city lights, walk around, chat, walk the dogs.  Just like a campground.  Not bad really, convenient, feels safe, in all I think I did 4 Walmart nights.  You can drive by just about any Walmart around dusk or after and most likely will see RVs and vans and even 16 wheelers along the outer edges of the parking lot, there for the night.

Aug. 1 – Next day, camper fix.  While in Mt. Rainier a few days before the camper wasn’t working off the battery.  The only thing I needed it for was to ignite the propane to run the fridge since I didn’t have elec. hookups.  Only a few months old, tested fully charged,  checked all the battery connections, fuses, breakers, even crawled this old body under the camper to see if any loose or broken wires were visible.  Even had another Aliner owner who was camped nearby check it out, and he couldn’t find anything either.   I was able to leave it plugged into the car while I was at camp and it ran off the car battery just fine, then I would run around and do my exploring and charge the car’s battery back up.  It was cool enough to just leave fridge off overnight since I didn’t want to run the car battery down.  When I took it in, it was indeed a simple fuse, an in-line fuse at the battery, which actually had tested fine even with a different kind of tester that the other Aliner had.  Pooh!!  Half the day wasted on a tiny little fuse!!!  I now have 2 extras and it’ll be the first thing I check if it happens again.

Onward!  Long driving afternoon through the rest of Montana but stopped at a few interesting places.  Especially Pompey’s Pillar National Historic Monument.  Again, never heard of it but signs were right along Interstate 90 and I needed a break.  Well worth it, spent a couple hours there and got a good hike along the Yellowstone River and the rock that included about 12 stories worth of steps to the top!!!  Great views all around.  This is all Lewis and Clark territory and this “pillar” was a natural landmark and observation point for more than 11,000 years by humans.  It’s at a natural crossing on the Yellowstone River and hundreds of historical markings, petroglyphs and inscriptions have transformed this geologic formation into a living journal of the American West.  The inscriptions include the signature of William Clark (Lewis and Clark) and date they were there.  This inscription is the only visible evidence of the expedition that remains along the Corps of Discovery’s trail.  The visitor’s center is full of interesting historical displays and information.

Back on the road, passed really close to where I’d stopped at Big Horn Canyon and Little Big Horn Battlefield 2 months ago.  About this time I got off I-90 and onto I-94 and followed the Yellowstone River.  Stopped at Makoshika State Park at Glendive near the eastern state line thinking I’d camp there.  But I drove through to check it out, it’s all in the Badlands area, all exposed, no trees/shade, really hot 90s full sunny days.  It was mid afternoon and I saw no reason to stop anywhere much before dark just so I could bake when I could keep driving in the AC, so went on across the state line into North Dakota.  Stopped for another look at Theodore Roosevelt National Park for a little farewell.  That was my first National Park stop after getting out into this section of the country so full of amazing National Parks.  Full Circle.  It was as beautiful as the first time.  Even tho this is officially Badlands too, these are more colorful, prettier, and have some trees, especially in the campground.  Remembered it was a long drive through the park to get to the campground and knew I wouldn’t get a spot with no reservation anyway, so kept going.  Made it to Dickinson just about dusk where it was another Walmart night.

Aug. 2 – Rolling on across North Dakota.  After TRNP, not much to talk about, ya know what I mean!!  I did see amber waves of grain and the World’s Largest Holstein!

Made it all the way across to Minnesota and had another Walmart night in Dilworth.  That was probably the worst of my travel days.  But the next morning I got off I-94 and onto Hwy 10, then some smaller roads to Scenic Hwy 2 and landed at Chippewa National Forest where lots of lakes are, at Cass Lake campground.  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  I stayed 2 nights, so great to be in a National Forest, in a campground again, with a shower.  In the middle of Indian Reservation, surrounded by lakes. Went to a fish supper benefit for the youth, fish from the lake.  Yummy.   Set up the whole camp – rug, screen tent, cooktop outside, settled right in.  Next day actually cooked for the first time in what felt like a really long time.  Ahh, better.

I loved my stay here, beautiful and relaxing after the mad dash across the plains and badlands.  I wanted to stay, but that calendar keeps moving.  Rolled out on the 5th, stayed on US 2, a scenic highway.  Got a little bit of Lake Superior, into and through Wisconsin and into Michigan.  Landed another fabulous spot for the night at Hiawatha National Forest on Little Bay de Noc, a peninsula on Lake Michigan.  Wonderful walks around the bay with great sunset.  Wow!!  Neither of these stops were planned, just watched the maps for National Forests.  I love our National Forests!!  Would hate to lose them, but I’m afraid we need to work hard to keep them public lands.

Again, I wanted to stay but I just couldn’t, didn’t even unhook the camper.  You can see in the photos that weather was rolling in too, and that’s pretty much been the story ever since.  Next day was driving around Lake Michigan, crossing the Mackinac Bridge (or as I like to spell it MAC n NAK for my friends and faithful blog followers, MAC and NAK!).  Then it was around Lake Huron to Port Huron.  Just fabulous views of the lakes all along, as seen through the rain.  We did a Walmart at Port Huron just a couple of miles from the border crossing into Ontario, Canada.  Another crowded Walmart as many people do this to get across early.

Across the border and then we’re going around Lake Ontario!  All the Lakes!!  I went all the way to the bridge crossing at the St. Lawrence River and 1000 Islands.  Even tho a little longer than crossing at Buffalo, I’m really glad I did.  Once again, I have never heard of the 1000 Islands, except the salad dressing.  🙂  Camped at Keewaydin State Park.  There’s an old castle on one of the Islands, unfinished by the builder because his wife, who he was building it for, died and he abandoned it.  It’s been taken over and kept up as a state park.  There are a lot of “little castles” copies everywhere.  The whole island area is a big resort/tourist area, motorboats, jet skis, loud and rowdy tour boats, but not as crowded and noisy as other parks with water attractions I’ve been in and the campground was nice.  Obviously didn’t have much time to explore, did love the marina.  Until traveling earlier this year, I didn’t realize there were marinas at state parks where a boater can “camp”, hooked up or boondocking, just like the land campers.  Cool.

Aug 8 – Got a little walk with Xena and a shower before leaving pretty early to head for VT.  Went down I-81 and back onto I-90, the Hwy I started on in Washington.  I mentioned earlier there have been storms, well ran into a whopper of a storm on this day.  Visibility of Zero!  And it lasted a long time.  Probably added an hour or more to my drive time.  Up I-87, then across to Bennington!  Whew!  Made it.  Mission Accomplished!  Got a campsite at Townsend State Park, right next to Green Mountains, and real close to my friend Linda who lives in the tiny VT village (60 taxpayers) of Newfane.

The rest of this trip is about visiting friends.  When I have a chance to post next I’ll share some of it.  But I will be in campgrounds and don’t know what kind of connectivity I’ll have so may be after I get home.

Keep on rolling, safe travels on your end of summer vacations.

Lynn and Xena

 

 

 

The Crowning Glory

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What more is there to say.  Mt. Rainier!!  Elevation 14,410′.  I started seeing her miles and miles away, just a glimpse here and there from afar, then closer, larger.  Every time I’d gasp!  What an amazing sight!!  I could see her from every turn in the road, a different view, just eye popping beautiful and awe inspiring.  Here’s a topo model from one of the visitors centers, just to put her in perspective.

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Entered at the Nisqually entrance on the southwest side.   It’s the “historic district”, where first James Longmire, a settler and explorer, discovered hot springs and built the first hotel and spa in 1885 before it was a NP.  That same year Fay Fuller became the first woman to climb Mr. Ranier.  There is a “Trail of Shadows”, an interpretive trail around the area where the original hot springs/hotel/spa was.  The historic district also consists of the 1st buildings as a National Park, which it became in 1899, and includes an old Inn, store, museum, Ranger station and an old gas station.  Early visitors came by horse and buggy, cars were allowed in 1915, which began the major growth of the park.  Lots of other history throughout the park including early ranger cabins, primarily used for rangers to watch for fires and poachers.

 

Camped a few days at Cougar Rock on the southwest side, on the Nisqually River.  Nabbed the last site again, thanks to a cancellation. Pretty awesome to have a great view of the mountain form the campsite.  Drove up to Paradise, climbing higher and higher, every turn another eye-popping view.  And what a view from the top at 5400′, looked like you could reach out and touch it.  I know I can’t just post a million pictures of different views tho I could look at them forever.  Many other things to see also – glacier rivers and waterfalls of course. Other mountains, not as glamorous but beautiful in their own right.  Another great visitors’ center.  Many trails lead from here of varying length and difficulty, but they’re all steep.   You can climb to the summit, over glacier ice, snow and loose rocks.  It’s an overnight hike.  Has anyone done it?  Pretty impressive.  Wildflowers were abloom in all the meadows to add to the beauty.

 

 

Continued to drive the route to the east from there, many great water falls and rivers.  Reflection Lakes with Mr. Rainier behind, but no reflection, guess it’s the wrong time of day.  Then drove on one ledge of Stevens Canyon, crossed over and  ledge on the other side.  Very narrow, winding, climbing, on a ledge with no railings!!!  Exciting to say the least.  Amazing views all the way.

The next day I moved up to the White River Campground near the NE entrance and Sunrise, another center of activity, visitor center, Lodge, and amazing views.  It’s even higher – 6400′, the campground is 4232′ and there’s a trail up to Sunrise.  A measly 3 mile hike, straight up!!!  The drive is 10 miles, still quite steep with switchbacks to get that elevation gain.    The view from here is even more amazing, it looks even more like you could reach out and touch it.  And of course you can hike up to the summit from here too, along with many other hikes.  There’s a trail called Wonderland that goes all around the base of the mountain.  A total of 93 miles!!!  Met some women on their 10th day, 2 more to go.  And met some doing the summit too.  Oh to be young again!!!

 

If you can zoom in and read the last one, When Fire and Ice Collided, it’s very interesting about how those rocks formed so weirdly.  The rocks right there look just like the picture.

I know, another one of those signs to read!  About how the Sunrise Road was planned and built.  Another amazing engineering feat.

I mentioned earlier the Old Ranger cabins.  Here’s some pictures of one that was in the campground area and information about them.  It was open for viewing the inside with it’s furnishings of the day but too dark to photograph.

Went to a couple very good ranger programs at the fire circle.  One was a ranger who sang and played guitar, making up new words to well known songs to fit the Rainier experience.  Another was a young John Muir impersonator, reading from his books, with an excellent accent.  Sun setting on Mr. Rainier, view from the campground.

This is the end of my western National Parks journey – what a grand finale’!!

Officially rolling east now,

Lynn and Xena

 

Olympic National Park and Forest

7/17/18 – Still moving westward, left Newhalem early to get close to the ferry at Coupeville for the night. Made it to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island in what I guess is part of Puget Sound. All kinds of sounds, bays, straits, harbors, islands, peninsulas, not sure what’s what. But what an interesting watery area. I keep getting into campgrounds by the skin of my teeth, once again, the last available sight!! On our first walk around I spotted 2 old ’80s Toyota Dolphins, which is the little Class C camper I had before the ALiner. Right next to each other, I though surely they were together, a rally maybe, but they weren’t. There’s such a cult following for these old things that it’s not unusual for strangers to stop and check them out, so they weren’t taken aback by my approach. They’d already had 2 offers to buy it at that cg, I used to get folks asking about mine and making offers all the time too.
Anyway, right above their campsite, way above in one of the 200′ tall old growth trees, was an eagle nest with what appeared to be young in it. We could see 1 bird flapping wings in the nest and another out on a nearby limb occasionally flapping, so thought they might be ready to fledge. Mesmerized, but finally I went back to my own campsite and realized I could actually see the nest better from there. I was farther away but higher up so could see the top of the nest, whereas they could only see the bottom. So I settled my chair in that one little spot, got my binocs and went in for some serious watching. It was pretty late already, not getting dark til almost 11, so didn’t see much but next morning as I resumed my position with coffee and the lighting was different, I could see a lot more. I finally saw an adult fly in with goodies and lots of excitement in the nest and the one out on the limb (seemed not to have moved all night) was also an adult with a very clear white head. So that must be daddy and the feeding one must me mamma and the littles are NOT ready to fledge!! It was sad that I wouldn’t be able to witness such an event, but very good because I was planning to leave early to get to the ferry and I might not have ever left for waiting for them to fledge!! So I was able to leave. Whew!!

Right in the middle of the photo, mamma on nest feeding, papa above right watching over
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So, we’re on another ferry adventure. This one is huge, three stories high, don’t know what’s underneath, much larger than the one we took to Southport, huge semis and giant buses on it. Anyway, short ride across the sound to Port Townsend.

My aim was to visit friends, Sue and Michelle, in Hadrock. When I started out I had no idea where that was, as I got into WA and checked in with them for location, it turned out it’s right there! Real close to where the ferry dropped us off. So I got a campsite at Old Fort Townsend State Park real near, settled the camper and headed over to their house. Had a wonderful visit sitting on the patio of their lovely house facing the water (everything is right on the water here). It was wonderful visiting old friends since I mostly meet new friends.  Very nice feeling of comfort.  They, and some other friends visiting, took me to a fantastic place called FinnRiver Farm and Cidery. If you’re ever anywhere near, do go. It’s a farm and they make hard cider with ingredients, mostly fruits and herbs, from the farm and other local farms. And they have other local venders there for eats like fire roasted pizza and the night we were there, locally sustainably harvested salmon in a sandwich filled with farm fresh veggies on very good local bread. It was soooo good. You can check them out on the web. Agri-tourism at it’s best.


From Port Townsend I went on to Olympic National Park. Went thru Port Angeles, down to Sol Duc, one of the major campgrounds which was full, the visitors center, and drove along Crescent Lake, a really huge beautiful lake, must have been 50 miles along the crescent. Lots of road construction, looong lines, 30 min wait. But a beautiful sight and able to get out of the car to take pictures. Got in the middle of a group of VW buses, they said 80 or so, on a long ride together. Fun to get out and talk to them. Old hippies in old hippy cars. Fun.  Madison Falls was really neat.


Found a site at Klahowya (another one of those beautiful words) campground in the National Forest, just outside the park. And another fabulous campground. The ones in the park were all full and I’m so glad, they are large and popular and crowded. This had fewer very spacious sites, and in the middle of wonderful old growth forest, ferns, rainforest, but dry. I went to the Hoh Rainforest later and it literally had nothing on this campground. It’s all first come, no reservations, and it did fill up later.


Olympic is very different from North Cascades, still high mountains, not as high and you don’t see them very much due to all the very tall trees. The westernmost part of the North Cascades were full of the old growth forest, and more moisture loving plants, ferns and mosses, Olympic now I guess officially rainforest. I mean TALL old growth trees, and BIG!!! It’s on a peninsula and on the coast so obviously moist and full of the ferns, the mosses, everywhere, including my campsite.

One day I drove out to Cape Flattery. It was a long drive with not much in between. Drive is pretty much along the water and on Indian Reservation, a small Indian fishing resort type place at Sekiu. But at the end is a fabulous sight, well worth the drive and the hike at the end to see it. The NorthWesternmost point in the continental US. I’ve made it!!! All the way across the US!!! Coast to Coast. I’ve never been to the west coast before. I pinched myself several times, still unbelievable. And what a beautiful place to celebrate that milestone.

You can see the fog in the first picture and the land mass in the second is Canada

I also went out to some of the beaches, not nearly as beautiful, but very interesting. Very different from what I’m used to. Lots of fog rolling in early, clearing later in the day, but I never saw it. Lots of rocks and old dead trees that have been brought to the ocean from the mountains, via the avalanches, heavy snow melt, rivers, then pounded onto the beaches by the waves. The only place to even wade at most of them is in the tide pools.  It’s also really cold!! 40s/50s in the morning, just a few miles inland and 10 degrees warmer, a few more another 10 degrees. It’s getting hot here but not on the beaches. No swimming, or even sitting out on the beach. I know beaches farther south on the west coast are not like this, more hospitable, but these are beautiful in their own way.

The big stone outcrops are apparently what’s left of old islands that have been worn away.  Pretty eerie with the fog, eh?  The last one there is Rialto Beach, farther south and more hospitable for beaching, but still no swimmers.

I went to the Hoh Rainforest and went on some of the shorter trails since my knee has been hurting from all the steep hiking chasing waterfalls.  It’s not much different from my campground. But a lot of interesting information on interpretive trails. I was particularly intrigued with how the old dead trees provide growing medium for new ones, either on the stump or along a trunk on the ground. Makes for interesting root growth after the old trees finally decompose. And of course the size of the trees still amazes me, In addition to all the ferns and mosses.

 

Look closely at that one on the right.  There’s a person in it!

We camped at Lake Quinault our last day in Olympic NP. What a beautiful place, would have stayed longer but it was full, no campsites available. Most of the sites were walk in, for tent campers, so wouldn’t have worked for us anyway. But we got there early enough to enjoy most of the day and then didn’t leave too early the next morning. It was foggy early so nice watching the fog gradually lift for another clear day. Very beautiful blue glacier/snow melt lake, great views of mountains all around. And warm enough to swim in!!! Yay, first swim of the trip, and in a blue glacier lake.  Nice It was chilly getting in and cold at the bottom, but the sun was shining and warming up the upper levels and was perfect.   Have been at campgrounds without showers for quite awhile now, so haven’t had a real shower. So that made it utilitarian too. 🙂  And a very nice hiking trail along several beaches and into the forest along a creek. That last picture?  That’s one of the campgrounds on the coast I thought I wanted to camp at, called South Beach.  Nope, not my style, thank you.


So the next day we said good-bye to Olympic National Park and Forest as we continued to drive the scenic drive around the southwestern and south sides. As I turned to head east, realized with sadness I was starting my return. But one more big NW stop to make before it’s official. On the way I stopped at the first private campground I’ve used. It was surprisingly very nice. It was an old one, very nice wooded, spacious sites. Plus for a real change I had elec. hookup!  And a real shower and shampoo (too bad it was right after the swim). And laundry!! Wow!! I’m civilized!!

A couple last shots before I go.  This beauty visited my wonderful campsite at Klahowya.  She stayed quite a while one morning and got quite close.  Good timing, I gave her the 2 mice I’d just trapped from my car.  :(.  The deer here don’t seem to run out in front of you or away from you.  I guess they’re so used to people they just stand there and stare.  It’s a local black tail. they sometimes mate with white tails and end up with zebra tails.  🙂

Rolling east,
Lynn and Xena

Okanogan and Cascades

July 9 – Okanogan, I love saying it, at least after I learned how to pronounce it – emphasis on the nog. Beautiful Indian word and beautiful area in both Canada and US. Last night in Canada was at Okanogan Lake Provincial Park, first night in US in Okanogan National Forest, in Okanogan Co., WA. I’d never heard of it, stopped because its on the North Cascades Scenic Highway and I passed through a charming little town called Winthrop and decided this is where I wanted to stop. Checked in with the Forest Service to find campgrounds and went to one called Falls Creek just north of Winthrop. Tiny no frills campground on the Chewuch River, 5 campsites, I got a spot right on the River. I can’t imagine a spot so perfect. After 2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies trying to see ALL the things with cold and rain and snow, and 2 long driving days, and having to OPEN (it’s a pop-up folks) my camper at the border!!! I needed a rest day and what better place. There’s lots to see here too, but sitting by the river for a while was first, and often, and Xena sure loved it. Was rewarded with lots of visitors – a mamma common Merganzer with 2 littles (Zoom in and you can see she has long frizzy looking reddish plumes on her head). I’ve seen hooded Merganzers, even in my own pond, but not familiar with the common. Also another unidentifiable duck mom with littles. Spotted a number of yellow headed black birds too, another one I’ve never seen. Didn’t get a photo but look it up, very cute. I had the best access to the river so also has human visitors. There is a primitive camp area down the river a bit and there was a group of teens on a canoe week camp. The river got rocky just passed my beach so they beached at my spot. I’m sitting there and all of a sudden 8 canoes and 1 kayak landed! I loved it. Also next door was a dad and son (daughter was at the canoe camp), I invited them to get in the river at my spot. And then the grand finale – my last day there, just look at the photo!! I squealed with excitement!! All my travels out west and I think the only resident wildlife I hadn’t seen was a moose. WOW!!


The campground’s called Falls Creek because it’s very near a waterfalls so a convenient good first day hike. Next morning, I went into Winthrop early to beat the tourist rush and sit in the very wonderful coffee shop wifi to catch up with emails, bills, blog etc. Early it was all locals, very interesting folks, artists, nature lovers and political activists. Table next to mine was a group organizing some action I could overhear. Refreshingly inclusive. The town was restored years ago to an old west theme since it’s on the North Cascades Scenic Highway, to catch the tourist, but has flourished to more than that. I guess like a lot of our NC mountain towns and a lot of other places. Pictures don’t show it well but I’ll post a couple. I didn’t know ahead of time but this is where friends MAC and NAK came last year when they were in WA. They actually stayed in a little cabin here in Winthrop and explored the area. Small world, and lots of tips on what to see.


I stayed at Falls Creek for 4 days, and I wasn’t even planning 1 day!! One day I drove up the Falls Creek Rd to explore. It climbed and climbed, switch backs and cliff hanger road at times. Wonderful views of the mountains across and looking straight down my stomach flipped a few times. Views of the Falls from above from a few vantage points, but pretty far away and lots of trees so not such good pics. Pretty dramatic tho. Ventured up another gravel road that had 5 of these small campgrounds on it with interesting names I wanted to check out. Names like Buck Lake, Ruffed Grouse and Honeymoon. Just wonderful little rustic campgrounds in beautiful settings. Off of that road was another – 8 Mile Ridge that was really a cliff hanger, got really rough and rocky, actually ended (for me at least) where there had been a rock slide! That’s the most remote, steep, rock-rubble, scary, jeep-driving place I’ve been. Nope, don’t have a jeep.


We finally left that ideal spot and headed west into the North Cascades National Park. Went to some of the most exciting hikes and views, actually just east of the NP. Must see stops if you’re there – Washington Pass, Liberty Bell Mtn. & Early Winters Spires. Rainy Fall & Lake, Lake Annie, Blue Lake.


Blue Lake wasn’t as blue as Rainy (my fav), but the hike was the best. Go early, I tried twice when the parking lot was crammed full and lots of cars parked out on the highway. Came back early the next morning. Lots of huge rock/boulders and creeks to cross, great views.


and wildflowers, including the western pink heather


More fantastic views of majestic mountains of course


Next we moved farther west into the NP itself, very winding road with more mtn views. And then great overlook view of Ross Lake, Crater Peak, Glaciers and Diablo Lake, both these lakes created by dams on the Skagit River and fed by lots of creeks. Went into Colonial Creek area for some really nice hikes along the creeks. These lakes are huge, but just as blue as the smaller more remote lakes.


We camped at Newhalem, on the Skagit. By this point in Cascades, the trees are massive,  200′ high, 5’+ diameter, and very dense. I’ve never seen so much old growth forest. Lots of very old but still not decomposed Douglas Firs and Western Redcedars, dead on the ground for 100 yrs!! Getting very moist too, with huge chest high ferns, mosses covering everything, dead and alive. Newhalem has some great little hikes along the river in several places with great interpretive trails about the trees.


And the river runs through it all, to Xena’s delight.


All kinds of tree beauty that tell so many stories.  A giant redcedar that fell across the trail, what’s left of a so-called children’s cave. The 3 giant redcedars grew together and when alive formed a cave that children played in. In ’67, they lit a candle in the hollow center which set the trees on fire. The hollow center formed a chimney so the fire raced upward, the trees too tall for fire hoses, were felled to extinguish the fire. The charred stumps still there. Another charred Douglas Fir “snag” from 1922 forest fire! A fun “see-thru” Redcedar. Most mature Western Redcedars are rotten in the middle. A fungus causes the rot in the heartwood but a toxic substance in the sapwood resists it and keeps the outer tree alive since it feeds through the sapwood. We all know if you girdle a tree, it will die, but I didn’t really know it could live without the heart. 😦


On Tues, the 17th, we left the North Cascades and continued our journey west to catch the ferry and cross into Olympic National Park. Which is where we are now. Almost caught you up with us.  Next time.

Still loving the world of travel, in the dense, magical, old growth forests of WA,
Lynn and Xena

Canadian Rockies final

7/19/18 – Well, I had this all written, waiting til I had good wifi to add pics to it and somehow lost the draft!!!  Drat!!  So a quick one.

In the last post I wrote that it had been cold and rainy the whole time I was in Canada, even snowed a couple of days.  I wanted to post some pics of the last few days, with and without snow.

The last day we were in Banff NP, I finally made it to Bow Summit/Peyto Lake and Glacier.  Was a real destination and when I’d tried before it was raining and no visibility.  So, July 4th, day after the snows, we went.

First a few scenes of the drive there, with the clouds above and below, and a little clearing:

Snow was on the ground, not just at elevation.  If you can zoom in and read the 2 signs, very interesting and appropriate for the day.  And the lake and glacier.

Somebody had some fun with the snow.  And a few more sunny scenes.

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Next day we drove off to Yoho, HooDoo campground, just a few miles down the road.  Sweet little village of Field nestled in the mountains.  Another magpie sighting. The last picture is of the spiral tunnel, where the train track was built tunneling through the mountains, spiraling back on itself.  My timing was perfect, I caught a train going through.  If you zoom and look carefully you can see it in 4 different places.  The bottom one is going away, and the 2nd from bottom is coming back.  Looks like it’s going where it came from but it continues to loop til it’s going in the same direction.  It was a huge train, over 100 cars.

More beautiful mountains, rivers, lakes, waterfalls.  Takakkaw Falls, Lace Falls.  And BLUE skies!!

Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake

More wildflowers.

The last day, the last hike, Wapta Falls, from 3 levels and a rainbow.  And of course more wildflowers.

Early on the 8th we left for a long but casual driving day, through Canada Glacier NP, and Mt. Revelstoke.  Landed at Okanogan Lake Provincial Park for the night, still in Canada, not far from the border.

July 9, we left early, before anyone else was out, and around 9am, crossed the border back into the US, in the Okanogan National Forest in Washington State.  Now maybe I’ll know the speed limit and the price of gas.

Rolling back into the US,

Lynn and Xena

Canadian Rockies

7/7/18 – Banff/Jasper/Kootenay/Yoho National Parks, all connected together in what has to be one of the most awesome places in the world!  Have been here for 2 weeks, planning to leave tomorrow morning, but only going SW a little ways to Canada’s Glacier NP (not the same as Waterton which is connected to US Glacier NP – the International Peace Park) and Mount Revelstoke.  As I’ve said before, it has been raining and cold the whole time, even below freezing and snowed a couple of days.  Day before yesterday it actually cleared, sunny and warm enough for shorts and T-shirt!  What a glorious day that was!  Yesterday was partly sunny and then the dense clouds and heavy rains returned, all night last night and this morning, so I’m back in sweats and raingear.  Got pretty depressing there for a few days, but just one good sunny day helped so much.  Since it’s raining, thought I’d come back to the visitor center here at Yoho, catch email, and maybe even catch up to real time here.

In spite of the rain and cold I continued to venture out tho hikes were frequently shorter than I’d have liked, and some didn’t get done at all when rain was too heavy.  Luckily dogs are allowed on trails here, ah – wet dog in car and camper in addition to wet shoes!!!  I have plenty of raingear, poncho that covers backpack and all, but not waterproof shoes and rainpants would be nice too.  Use to have, where are they now?!  On the list of purchases.  Anyway, this post will mostly be photos again, lots of them, visibility is pretty sketchy in many, some sights were totally invisible, and I didn’t get everywhere I wanted to go.

First I was at Lake Louise in Banff NP for a few days, then went up to Jasper, Whistler’s CG.  Both had elec and showers, which I hadn’t had for a long time, much appreciated, especially the showers. 🙂  They were both reservations, the last I made, so after that I went to a couple of the “first come” CGs on the Icefields Parkway for a few days each.  That way I was able to do different portions of the Parkway each day.  No problem getting a site and I liked the CGs.  Very happy to be out from under the pressure of reservations and feel more confident that it’s possible.

Xena says “Hi” to Canada.  Here come those mountains!

 

Mountains!  Rivers rushing with the snow melt from the mountains!  Glaciers!!  Amazingly blue/green lakes!!

The last pic in previous group was Victoria Glacier reflected in Lake Louise.  The first one here is a photo of a picture of the mountains from Lake Louise, labeled.  So much of the magnificence is visible from the Icefields Parkway.  Julia, my neighbor from Brazil who loved Xena.

Rivers rushing to eat away at rocks and form waterfalls.  Views from higher elevations.

Another crystal blue lake, Lake Moriane and some of it’s “10 Peaks”.  More magnificent mountains and glaciers.  Mountain goats, a bear crossing the road and a mama elk in the campground.

One of my fav things – the waterfalls.  Oh, the waterfalls!!  So many, just pounding down from the snow melt and glaciers above, forming beautiful blue glacier fed lakes and rushing rivers everywhere.

I’ve posted some pics and videos on FB, the vids of waterfalls are particularly wonderful, really catch them better than photos. My wordpress account doesn’t allow vids.  If you have a chance watch them.

Athabasca Glacier at Icefields Center (also vid on FB where the wind nearly blew me away!) and some info.  Lunch at picnic area on Athabasca River and guess who came to lunch!?

There is sooooo much more!!!  But I have to stop.  It’s now the 10th and we just rolled back into the US.  Now sitting in a coffee shop in a sweet little old west town in Washington, Winthrop.  It’s near the campground in Okanogan National Forest and I’m trying to catch up with internet stuff before the tourists rush the town.  I came back to this and will catch you up on the rest later.

Sad to leave the Canadian Rockies, such a spectacular place, but glad to be where I know what the speed limit it and how much money I’m spending.  🙂

Still Rolling in the Northwest.

Lynn and Xena

ps – I’d love to hear from you, please write, email, text, call.  Been missing my peeps and news from home, especially while I didn’t have service in Canada.  Now that I’m back, texting is probably best, even tho I still won’t always have service, only occasional wifi but will check email as long as I have data.  Hope you’re all doing well and staying cool, well those of you in NC or otherwise in the south.  slh