In October we were staying in Ferndale, WA at the Cedars RV Resort, and we decided to take a short vacation from our RV and visit Orcas Island, considered to be the most beautiful of the San Juan Islands. We drove to Anacortes, WA, and caught the early ferry to Orcas Island. We watched the sunrise on beautiful Mt Baker from the ferry, spectacular morning glow. We arrived at Orcas Village, still early to be able to enjoy breakfast at one of the many restaurants We ate at the Orcas Hotel, that first opened its doors in 1904 and to this day retains all the charm of its Victorian heritage. Then we drove one mile north to our B&B just up the hill from the village, we booked into the Kangaroo House Bed & Breakfast, the longest running B&B in the San Juan Islands. Each guest room is named after the wild birds that flock to the backyard wildlife sanctuary, we were in the Goldfinch Room, a beautiful king bed with a sleigh headboard greeted us as we entered the room. Continue reading
While we were staying in Aldergrove, we took a few trips to Mt Baker area in Washington as it is close and has fabulous hiking trails. One of our most favorite hikes is the Yellow Aster Butte Trail within Mt Baker Wilderness. We went in October and the alpine flowers covered the foreground in reds, yellows, oranges and purples which you can see from the photos is the best time for the brilliant palette of fall colors. We also enjoyed spectacular views of Mt Baker, Mt Shuksan, and the Border Peaks, Mt Larrabee and the western portion of the High Divide. We started the hike at the Tomyhoi Lake Trailhead and switchbacked up through an avalanche path, gaining elevation until the trail breaks out to a flat bench in a meadow. After a steep half mile trail we finally reached the windy summit of Yellow Aster Butte with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. It was a perfect day with a few clouds hanging above the peaks in the distance. Another time we would love to backpack here as there are phenomenal tent sites located in the meadow with tarns for camping next to and time for a day hike up Tomyhoi Peak. It’s a 7.5 mile R/T hike, with a 2,550 ft elevation gain. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
Tuesday, Sept 4th, we arrived in Vienna early, at the Hotel Stephanie, located in the Old Town. We all gathered in the meeting room and the manager welcomed us to Vienna and discussed all that we could see and do here. After checking into our most spacious room we went out to explore Vienna. We walked to one of the main squares called Stephansplatz, where the famous St Stephen’s Cathedral is located, originally constructed in 1147. We went inside the church and gazed at the distant High Altar, that took over seven years to build from 1641 to 1647, in the baroque style, representing the stoning of the church’s patron St Stephen. We wandered around marveling at the impressive nave with the organ and huge pulpit and the many side chapel. Continue reading
We started our day with a boating adventure on the most popular river route in Europe. We cruised through the famous Schlonger Schlinge in Austria, where the Danube snakes through steep, forested mountains in a series of sharp and scenic bends. The weather did not cooperate however, and it was cold and wet on the top deck of the boat, where we spent most of our time watching the scenery, cruise boats and towns pass us by. It was fun going through the locks as it was the first locks I have been through on a boat. Watching as the water lowered, then the gates opened and we passed through to the other side. We began biking at Schlogen along the Danube, and headed toward Aschach through a beautiful forest. Loved seeing the wild swans following us on the Danube as we pedaled along the bike path.
We stopped for lunch at the bakery, Cafe Konditorei Weltzer Aschach, just as the rain began to fall. Aschach is an old town in the state of Upper Austria, first mentioned in history in the year 777. We had a delicious Austrian sandwich and the famous Austrian Linzer cookies (Linzerkekse) for dessert. The rain stopped after lunch so we continued riding along the bike path, and crossed over the Danube on a dam.We rode to Ottensheim where we were transfered by private coach to our hotel at Weissenkirchen, in Austria’s Wachau Valley wine region. This charming village is dominated by St Michael’s Church, which dates to 987. The small white steeple on the church is the name given to the town, meaning White Church. Our hotel, the Raffelsberger Hof is one of the many Renaissance buildings with a romantic inner courtyard. We checked into the hotel and then headed out to explore the town and have dinner with some of our group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
This morning we traveled by train from Cesky Krumlov through the Sumava National Park, the largest national park in Czech Republic to Horni Plana. When we arrived. the bikes were ready for us to start our ride through a beautiful forest, far from traffic and villages, except for the occasional logging truck that takes up the entire path. We entered Stozec where the van was waiting with snacks, water and a shot of Eggnog liqueur. At Nove Udoli we rode our bikes into Germany. This unique border crossing was closed in 1945 and reopened some time ago for pedestrians and bicycles only. At the border we saw a replica of the Iron Curtain that was built after WW II to keep the people living in the Soviet Union, under communist region, from escaping to the west.
Once we crossed into Germany the landscape changed drastically to beautiful manicured fields compared to the poor farming villages of the Czech Republic. Bavaria is among Europe’s most beautiful and serene cycling areas. We rode along a gravel bike path for 7 km, then came to a Biergarten where we stopped for lunch prepared by the owner-family. We continued on the gravel bike path after we left the Biergarten for 18 km to Waldkirchen, where we were shuttled to the historic Baroque city of Passau, situated at the confluence of three rivers: the Danube, the Inn and the Ilz. We stayed at the Alstadt Hotel overlooking the romantic Danube River, where we had dinner with the VBT group. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
Today we met all the people on the VBT bike trip, 20 total, when we met at 8:30 in the hotel lounge with the VBT representative, Barbara. We hopped on a bus and were transferred to Cesky Krumlov in the south of Czech Republic, about a 3 hour drive, our driver made it in 2 1/2 hours including a pit stop. We were met by our VBT leaders Petr and Hana who took us to the Hotel Bellevue where we checked into our rooms. We had some time on our own to enjoy lunch by the river at Papa’s restaurant and explored the town. Cesky Krumlov is a unique UNESCO World Heritage town in Bohemia, built at the curve of the River Vltava and dripping with medieval authenticity. Then we met at 3:00 with Petr for a safety and bike fitting session followed by a warm-up ride through the town and into the countryside for 9 miles. We love our e-bikes and had fun riding the short 9 miles before heading back to the hotel for a welcome cocktail reception and dinner. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading
We began our VBT biking trip to Czech Republic, Germany and Austria on August 25th, leaving Vancouver at 1:30pm and arriving in Prague, Czech Republic at 11:00am on the 26th. We were met by the VBT representative, Barbara, and waited for Karen and Bruce to arrive shortly after so we could take the shuttle to our hotel together. We are staying at the Mamaison Hotel Riverside, next to the Vltava River, the longest river in the Czech Republic. We could not check into our rooms until 2pm, time to explore Prague. We stopped for lunch on the River near the Charles Bridge (Karlov Most) and watched the river boats cruising down the Vltava and through the locks. Then we walked across the famous Charles Bridge, the oldest bridge still standing over the Vltava River. Charles IV had it built in 1357, and it took almost a half a century to finish it, completed in 1402. There are 30 baroque statues mounted to the balustrades of the Charles Bridge forming two rows on either side of the bridge. One of these statues, the Statue of St John Nepomuk,(depicting St John being thrown off the bridge) is said to bring you good luck, and if you rub the bronze plaque on the statue, you will one day return to Prague. We walked to the Old Town Square, from the bridge, and marveled at the architecture around the square, especially the Gothic-style Church of Tyn and the Old Town Hall.
We arrived at Eagle Wind RV Park on July 1st, Canada Day. We plan on staying for 3 months to visit our family and friends. Our first outing was to Salt Spring Island to visit my sister Susan and Denis. While we were there we did a bike ride to Sydney and Victoria on Vancouver Island. We started by taking the ferry from Ganges over to Swartz Bay where the Lochside Trail begins and we rode into Victoria, a 33 km bike ride. We stopped for lunch in Victoria at Spinnakers Brewpub and then rode past the iconic Empress Hotel and on to view the Parliament Buildings. On our way back to the ferry we stopped in the town of Sydney and had a beer looking out at the beautiful harbor. We made it back in time to catch the ferry back to Ganges on Salt Spring Island. A great day of biking. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
Today we drove out to the wild and rugged Olympic Coast and Shi Shi Beach to hike the 8 miles round trip to the Point of Arches. We had to stop at the Museum in Neah Bay to purchase the Makah Recreation Pass a permit for the trail. We arrived at the Trailhead and started our hike along the recently-rehabilitated trail for a mile winding through brushy clearcut and groves of Sitka spruce. We crossed over several bridges and boardwalks, but then the trail got messier and almost always muddy and wet. But shortly we were rewarded with the site of Shi Shi Beach.
We walked along the beach for 1.3 miles to the Point of Arches, a mile-long parade of rocky sea stacks. We wandered around the tide pools, observing the daily goings on of the resident coastal critters and relished being in one of the most scenic locations in the Northwest. We passed several campsites along the beach in the sheltered forest upslope, where we would love to come back and spend more time here to watch the sunset over the sea stack-strewn Pacific. On the way back we stopped at the small, much-too-isolated fishing village of Sekiu, WA, where we were welcomed by a carved wooden statue of the fish…….. running towards the town of Sekiu while wearing a pink bra and skirt with tennis shoes, named Rosie. We ate fish and chips at By the Bay Cafe, where we found the shorts-and-sneaker-clad running fish boy, Gil, who is probably looking for his running fish girlfriend, Rosie. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading
We are staying at the Riverview RV Park in Forks, WA while visiting the Olympic National Park for a week, June 22 to 29. Our first outing was to see the Hoh Rainforest, about an hour drive south from our RV park. Once we arrived at the Hoh Rainforest the line of cars to enter the Park was about a 30 minute wait to get to the Visitor Center. From here we took the Hall of Mosses Trail, 0.8 miles, a short loop trail with 100 ft elevation gain. As we walked along the trail we got a feel for the local ecosystem and saw maples draped with large growths of spikemoss. The dominant species in the rainforest that we saw are the Sitka spruce and western hemlock, some grow to tremendous size, reaching 312 feet in height and 23 feet in diameter. We walked down to the Hoh River which runs through the rainforest, the valley was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. The size of the trees and the lichen growing from their branches was quite impressive and worth the short walking trail. Did you know that the yearly total of rain fall in the Hoh Rainforest is 140 to 170 inches? Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading