Orcas Island Washington

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

Mt Baker Wilderness and Snoqualmie NF

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

Point of Arches and Cape Flattery, Washington

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

Olympic NP, Washington

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

Olympic NP Beaches, Washington

The Olympic Peninsula National Park beaches are worth the visit, so don’t miss them. We went to Rialto Beach, and we had to go at low tide to be able to walk out to the Hole-in-the-Wall. Rialto Beach is unique for its tide pools, huge driftwood logs, and amazing scenery. We walked the 1.5 miles along the sandy beach stopping to view the tide pools, rocky beaches, sea stacks, and driftwood. Since the tide was low we could walk through the Hole-in-the-Wall to get the right perspective to view the sea stack through the “hole”. The tide pools were full of sea critters on this side of the arch. On our way back we were able to catch the sunset from Rialto Beach, couldn’t get much better! Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Mt St Helens, Cape Disappointment and Mt Hood

We left Vancouver on October 1st, and headed south to Mount St Helen’s National Volcanic Monument for a few days. We stayed at Silver Cove RV Resort, Silverlake, Washington and drove up to visit Mount St Helen’s. Prior to to the 1980 eruption, Mount St Helen’s was the fifth-highest peak in Washington, at 9,677 ft, now the summit is 8,363 ft. The first recorded sighting of Mount St Helen’s was in 1792 by George Vancouver, and he named it for British diplomat, the 1st Baron St Helen. Mount St Helen’s notorious eruption in 1980 was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the US. Killing 57 people, and 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railway, and 185 miles of highway were destroyed. We visited the beautiful Visitor Center and then went on the Harry’s Ridge Hike, 8.5 miles R/T. This trail is the best for getting a sense of the total devastation from the 1980 eruption, and we were blown away by the destruction, as the crater looked so close to us. Then the trail turned to head up to Harry’s Ridge, where we had a view of the crater and Spirit Lake, with logs from the eruption still floating on the lake. It was such a clear sunny day that we could see Mt Adams and Mt Hood in the distance from the top of the Ridge. We returned to the Visitor Center and waited until the full moon appeared in the horizon, great ending to a perfect day. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Seattle, Washington

Chihuly’s largest suspended sculpture

We were fortunate to be invited to our friends Jim Karlovec and Dana Longo’s wedding, August 26th, in Cleveland, Ohio. We stayed with friends Karen Moyer and Bruce Kahn in their wonderful condo in Broadview Heights. Luckily we flew out of Seattle, so we spent the day visiting the Pacific Science Center to see the Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit, also the Terracotta Warriors. The Chihuly exhibit opened May, 2012 and includes three components: the Garden, the Glasshouse, and the interior exhibits. We were in awe of the beautiful glass art especially the installation inside of the Glasshouse, the expansive 100-foot long sculpture, it is one of Chihuly’s largest suspended sculptures. If you haven’t visited a Dale Chihuly blown glass exhibit, I highly recommend it. Dale Patrick Chihuly was born in Tacoma, September 20, 1941, and has had exhibits all over the world. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Mt Baker and North Cascades NP

Patty posing for Mt Shuksan

We are so close to Mt Baker that we can see it from Greater Vancouver on a clear day. We decided to finally drive there and do some hiking for the day. It was a beautiful sunny day, we left early and drove 30 miles east of Bellingham on the Mt Baker Hwy, Hwy 542, and followed the signs past the ski area and Picture Lake, Mt Baker at 10,781 ft, is the third-highest mountain in Washington State and the fifth-highest in the Cascade Range. We hiked the Artist Ridge Trail, 2 miles RT, to an overlook with spectacular mountain panoramas. We could see Mt Shuksan, 9,131 ft, an “Alp of the Northwest”  in the distance and meandering up the staircased trail we had beautiful mirrored reflections of Mt Shuksan in snow-melt ponds. Mt Baker peeked through the trees along the trail. We met a local couple, Dean and Dudley Evenson, he was playing the flute, while she was taking video of him (www.soundings.com) making CDs for relaxation music and videos. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Mt Rainier NP

Our first time to Mt Rainier National Park, we are staying at the SunTides RV Park in Yakima for a week, July 8-15, in order to spend quality time in the Park. Mt Rainier (14,410 ft) stands as an icon in the Washington landscape, viewed from miles away. Our first day we drove to Paradise, the most popular area in the Park, to the Paradise Jackson Visitor Center, completed in 1966, it was so cold when we arrived at an elevation of 5,400 ft, and the mountain was in the clouds. We went to the Guide House where we obtained our permits for our 2-night backpacking trip. This is also where you get permits for climbing Mt Rainier, and there were some people getting theirs. From here you hike up to Camp Muir (10,188 ft) and the next day leaving very early you can summit Mt Rainier. That will be another trip for us! We had lunch in the historic Paradise Inn, opened in July 1917, and in 1920 a 104-room wing was added called the annex, to accommodate the increased demand for lodging. Over the years Paradise Inn remains in its grand old state, barely changed from the 1920’s. After spending most of the day at Paradise we drove to White River Campground where we spent the night before starting our backpacking trip. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Olympic Peninsula and Seattle Washington

Today we were sad to say farewell to Bend/Sisters area, but we had to keep heading north to Gig Harbor, WA and its Gig Harbor RV Resort. We crossed over the famous Tacoma Narrows Bridge, which was first built in 1940, but collapsed just months after it was completed, and Gig Harbor was isolated from Tacoma and Seattle by Puget Sound until 1950 when the second bridge was built. In 2007 a $1.2 billion project added a second span to the bridge. Gig Harbor was incorporated in July, 1946, and is the Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula. After we settled into the RV Resort, we went into the quaint town of Gig Harbor located on the shores of Puget Sound. We enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Tides Tavern on the water with amazing views of Mt Rainier. Continue reading