A Travellerspoint blog

Seattle - Day 8 Saturday July 30

We plan, God laughs....


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I took this photo as we enjoyed a cocktail on the deck last evening, and did not download the photo until today.

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Although we did not get into the Hoh Rainforest area yesterday, Lake Quinault is also located in the rainforest, so we enjoyed some time walking in the rain forest today. So, you might ask, what exactly constitutes a rain forest? And if you are not asking, skip this paragraph. As moisture-filled clouds push inland from the Pacific, they release more than 12 feet of rain on the western slopes of the Olympic Mountains. By the time the clouds cross the mountain range, they are moisture depleted, and the east side of the range sits in the "rain shadow." Olympics NP has temperate rain forests that share these qualities: they receive over 100 inches of rain and fog drip per year, have abundant mosses and fungi, have large amounts of fallen and "standing dead" trees, and consist primarily of needle-leaf trees.

We walked the Rain Forest Nature Trail Loop early this morning, and were the only people there. Our time there reminded me of the Japanese concept of "forest bathing"; it really is calming to be in nature. Many of the trees in this area are believed to be over 400 years old. It is amazing that faced with high winds, hurricanes, tsunamis, and other assaults over the centuries, so many continue to stand tall and straight. Those that have fallen reveal just how enormous they were.

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The sounds of Willaby Creek provided the music for the morning stroll.

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Here are some additional photos.

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As we leave our last national park, this placard in the rain forest seems to be a fitting farewell and a reminder to us all.

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Traffic was heavy as we headed to Seattle, and it was a very congested Saturday afternoon. Where did our forest bathing zen go?

Pike's Market was in full swing....

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...and the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market still toss the fish around (I could not get a photo of the fish in the air)

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We stopped for lunch at Le Pichet Cafe a few blocks from the market, where we had time and WiFi to check our email. Charlie passed his COVID test. I did not. It is difficult for me to imagine that what is not even a "bad cold" is going to end this vacation for both of us. I am going to re-test on a home test tomorrow morning, but I am resigned to the fact that what will be will be.

And so, we end with a most unexpected plot twist to our blog. Keep a good thought for us as we figure out our next steps.

Thanks for traveling along with us. At least we are never boring.

Photos are tagged Alaska, Olympic_NP and Seattle

Posted by Cybercsp 16:33 Archived in USA Tagged alaska seattle olympic_np Comments (0)

Olympic National Park - Day 7 Friday July 29

Things did not go as smoothly today.


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Let's begin with a few additional photos of Lake Crescent, taken after we enjoyed breakfast on the front porch of the lodge.

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After check-out, we headed to Sol Duc Hot Springs. En route, we stopped at Salmon Cascades. Each year, Coho salmon take this arduous 70 mile swim to spawn. We did not see the salmon jumping the stream today, but it must be quite a feat!

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We hiked through the peaceful woods...

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... passing a "teaser" fall...

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...before reaching the Sol Duc Falls.

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As it got closer to noon, there was a noticeable increase in the number of people in the park, and cars were circling for spaces around the trailheads. Once back on the road, traffic was very slow due to road repairs and volume.

We had hoped to move on to view the Elwha River, where there is a salmon hatchery, but the sole entry road was closed for construction.

When we got to the town of Forks, we just knew where we had to stop for lunch (and, Sully, our burgers were good)!

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Here we have today's wildlife sighting. Apparently, there are cattle ranches on the peninsula.

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We had hoped to go to the Hoh Rainforest, but traffic came to a grinding halt about five miles from the visitor center. We realized that it would take hours to reach the parking lot, so Charlie made a very impressive U-turn, and we headed back to the main road. We later heard that there was an hour wait for admission to the parking lot.

Then, onto our next disappointment...the road to Ruby Beach was closed. We were able to stop and see the Pacific Ocean. Note all the driftwood.
You can tell from the sky that we experienced that changeable weather of the PNW. A dense fog rolled in over the area, and the temperature dropped 15 degrees (quite welcome, actually).

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For our young readers, these are telephone booths, and a testament to how difficult it has been to make phone calls or access WiFi for the past few days.

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We arrived at our last lodging before heading back to Seattle, the Lake Quinault Lodge. Quinault translates to "the lake between two rivers." Carved by glaciers, it is really a beautiful place.

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Here is our room.

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Your questions as to why Bigfoot is in the lobby will have to wait to be answered until we have more than 30 minutes of Internet per day.

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Note to self: Bring a hairdryer to National Park Lodges...and lots of patience!

Photos are tagged Alaska and Olympic_NP

Posted by Cybercsp 15:13 Archived in USA Tagged alaska olympic_np Comments (1)

Olympic National Park - Day 6 Thursday July 28

Goodbye, Oregon...back to Washington State...


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We started our day with a long 4.5 hour ride in the car, heading from Portland, Oregon to Olympic National Park. The park encompasses nearly a million acres, so we will barely scratch the surface of what there is to see and do.

The "must do" event of the day is the mandated COVID testing for our upcoming Alaska cruise. We have had an appointment with Quest Lab for weeks, arrived on time, and waited...and waited...because of computer glitches. Thankfully, we finally got the deed accomplished, so now we just hope for good results (and I am anxious because I have started with a cough).

We entered Olympic National Park by 3 PM and headed right up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. At 5,242 feet elevation, the 17-mile winding road from Port Angeles (where we had out tests) was an ear-popping thrill ride. There were a few mountain tunnels to add to the charm.

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The outdoor platform behind the visitor center affords the most majestic panorama of the Olympic mountains that you can imagine.

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These two prominent glaciers are the Carrie Glacier...

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...and the Blue Glacier. Both have receded significantly over the years.

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We walked along the Hurricane Ridge Scenic Trail, which smelled like Christmas and looked like Maria Von Trapp might be twirling around any bend.

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Today's wildlife sighting included deer...

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...but fortunately not this bear. A park ranger was posted not far from the sign keeping the bear in sight as it has been making appearances all day.

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The most beautiful wildflowers were along the roadside by the cliff death drops, so there is no photo evidence of those. These do not compare, but will have to compensate.

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We are staying within the park at the Lake Crescent Lodge. There is no AC or WiFi in the room, which caused some crankiness. (But postscript: I got the best night's sleep of the trip..we were in the bed by 9 PM and there is not a sound out here. Slept until 7:30 AM. (I think the mobility challenges are catching up with me.)

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Here is the hotel's historic main building and the lobby.

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Finally, here is the featured performer of this stop...beautiful Crescent Lake.

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Photos are tagged Alaska and Olympic_NP

Posted by Cybercsp 15:15 Archived in USA Tagged alaska olympic_np Comments (0)

Portland - Day 5 Wednesday July 27

There is no such thing as too many waterfalls


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We missed the Mountain Goat Bakery this morning (sigh), although it is convenient to have an included breakfast at the hotel.

The Columbia River serves as the border between Washington State and Oregon. The Columbia River Gorge, which is the canyon of the Columbia River, stretches for over 80 miles and is up to 4000 feet deep. The scenery is stunning.

Today's blog will be short on narrative...we will let the pictures do the talking for today's experiences. Our first stop was the Vista House at Crown Point. Sadly, the Vista House Museum, which commemorates the Oregon pioneers, was not open today, but we were able to enjoy the views at Crown Point.

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Our next stop was Bridal Veil Falls.

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Next up was Latourelle Falls...

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Then, onto Horsetail Falls...

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Here is Shepperd's Glen.

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The Oneonta Glen used to have a road that passed through this tunnel, and here is a view of the Oneonta Gorge.

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When we reached Multnomah Falls, I made it to the lower level...

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but Charlie was able to continue to the upper level (Where's Waldo? Green shirt, beige hat).

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We went to the Bonneville Dam...

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...and viewed the fish ladders.

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These Pacific Lamprey look like eels, but are actually creepy-looking ancient fish. This photo was taken through underground observation portals of the fish ladders.

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Our final stop was the Stonehenge Memorial, which pays tribute to the WWI veterans from this area.

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It's supposed to resemble this...

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...but after driving nearly an hour (one way) it felt like this...

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(If you know, you know...Grand Canyon people).

Here are some lovely views from our ride back to the hotel. If you are counting mountains, here are some views of Mount Hood from the moving car.

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Our final photo is The Bridge of the Gods, which frankly seems to me to be a rather lofty name. Apparently, the bridge became quite popular after the release of the book "Wild"( which I have not read).

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Back in Portland, we enjoyed dinner at a Brew Pub because the Pacific Northwest is all about the beer. We think the pattern of life out here is hot coffee in the morning, cold coffee in the afternoon, and beer at night. I had Pinot Gris wine out of a can...a first for me. Not too shabby.

Photos are tagged Alaska, Columbia_Gorge and Portland_OR

Posted by Cybercsp 14:45 Archived in USA Tagged alaska portland_or columbia_gorge Comments (0)

Mt St Helens - Day 4 Tuesday July 26

Today, the big story is the journey, not the destination.


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The answer to yesterday's bonus question was "The Mountain Goat Bakery." This morning we had blackberry scones (the berries were picked from the bush behind the shop) and they were delicious! We will miss this place.

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It was quite a ride from Packwood to the Windy Ridge viewpoint at Mount St Helens this morning. We set out before 8 AM, driving along a "normal" state road, but the journey quickly devolved onto various "forest roads." On the way in, Charlie used Google Maps, which seemed to stay current, even though GPS appeared to be limited. We thought that it must be an error when the GPS said that it would take 134 minutes to travel 19 miles. It wasn't.

We did manage to achieve our goal, without blowing a tire or (to the best of our knowledge) ruining the undercarriage of the rental car. Because these backroads are basically wide enough for one car to travel, we were grateful that we only met one vehicle coming in the opposite direction, but less grateful that it was a huge horse carrier. Charlie had to drive in reverse for a good bit to find a place where he could squeeze off the road without creating a Thelma & Louise moment. It would have helped had we been able to see the megtruck coming from a distance...but that doesn't work with hairpin curves. Have I convinced you that you'd like to take today's trip yet?

Maybe these photos that I took along the journey will provide some balance to the narrative.

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Let's set the stage for what you are about to see.

The eruption of Mount St Helens was foreshadowed by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes that began on March 27, 1980. Explosive episodes and lava flows escalated until a major eruption took place on Sunday, May 18, 1980, at 8:32 AM. The eruption has been declared the most disastrous volcanic eruption in U.S. history. Eleven seconds later, an earthquake caused the entire weakened north face of the mountain to slide away, leading to the largest landslide in recorded history. This allowed the partly molten rock, rich in high-pressure gas and steam, to suddenly explode northward toward Spirit Lake, where a hot mix of lava and pulverized older rock, overtook the landslide. An eruption column rose 80,000 feet (15 miles) into the atmosphere and deposited ash in eleven U.S. states and six Canadian provinces. At the same time, snow, ice, and several entire glaciers on the volcano melted, causing a series of large volcanic mudslides that reached as far as the Columbia River, some 50 miles to the southwest. Less severe outbursts continued into the next day, followed by other large, but not as destructive, eruptions later that year. The final toll included 57 people dead, thousands of animals killed, and hundreds of square miles reduced to wasteland; the event caused over $1 billion (estimated at $3.6 billion today) in damage and Mount St. Helens was left with a crater on its north side. After the explosion, the volcano and surrounding area were designated as the Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument.

As we entered the monument, our first stop was Miner’s Car. These poor folks did not make it out alive.

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We then walked the path to Meta Lake. We were the only people there, but there were lots of flies. Later on, one of the rangers mentioned that he eats lunch by that lake everyday, and has seen fresh cougar tracks over the past two days. I am frankly relieved that we are not adding the cougar to the wildlife viewing report. Here is the lake.

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We pulled over at every scenic overlook point and, as you can see, did not have have to fight for parking.

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Here is our first peek at Mt St Helens.

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Spirit Lake, which was the site of a very popular summer resort at the base of the mountain, was completely devastated after the eruption. It was filled with debris that killed every living organism; the debris raised the lake level by 200 feet and the surface area was doubled. Today, it is a triumph of recovery; but take a close look, the gray area around the lake is not beach, but a floating log mat of huge trees that were swept into the lake during the eruption and remain floating there 40 years later.

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Once we arrived at Windy Ridge, which mercifully was windy because the temperature had climbed into the 90s, we climbed the 368 step "sand ladder" (that would be 368 steps UP and 368 DOWN) to get to the observation deck. Here is a photo of the ascent, which fails to do it justice.

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Just in case you are not impressed about the height that we scaled, can you spot the little car in the lot below?

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Photo proof that we made it!

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I hope that you can see the steam that is still vented from the volcano.

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A few close-ups of the mountain. She is covered in ice, but the ice is covered in ash, so she looks rather dirty.

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And here is Mount Rainier, peeping out in the distance across the lake.

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So what is left 40 years later? A plain of pumice and ash and denuded hills, still somewhat barren, but now greening with vegetation.

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Life is resilient!

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Just FYI: The other entrance to the monument is at Johnston Observatory (named for the ranger who was on duty during the blast, and used his last moments to inform the nearby cities that they were in danger). We did not go there because the drive between the two observation points takes 4.5 hours! (Ironically, the hike across is six miles, but no thank you.)

When we left Mt St Helens for Portland, Oregon we had no GPS connection, so we had to resort to the old school method of reading a fold-out paper map (thank you, Jan, for saving the day). Once we determined which side of the mountain we were on (in case you wonder, it was East), we backtracked on Forest Road 25 to Forest Road 99. We suspect that this probably would have been a better route from Packwood, avoiding the hellish Forest Road 26. There is a moral to this story there, but then our day would have lost some entertainment value!

Our home for the next two nights is a Hampton Inn in Portland (no photos, they all look alike). On Jan's advice, we had dinner at McMenamin's Edgewater, which is an old hotel and restaurant complex with a lot of charm.

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We enjoyed dinner at the Black Rabbit Restaurant (halibut and rib eye)...

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...followed by a drink from the "distillery" in the garden.

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Perfect end to a great day!

Another early night!

Photos are tagged Alaska, Mt_St_Helens and Portland_OR

Posted by Cybercsp 14:05 Archived in USA Tagged alaska mt_st_helens portland_or Comments (1)

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