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

Oregon Coast

We finally left San Diego on June 15th heading north to the Oregon Coast where we had booked into the Sea Perch RV Resort for two nights, located near Yachats, We explored the beaches near the Park, first drove to get a beautiful view of Heceta Beach at the viewpoint looking across to the Heceta Lighthouse. After enjoying a fabulous late lunch at the Yachats Brewing + Farmstore we drove to Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and took the short hike to see the Devil’s Churn, Thor’s Well and Spouting Horn. We were there near high tide around 5:00 and we watched the turbulent ocean waves crashing through small cracks in the rocky shore, spraying straight up into the air. The next day we drove north toward Newport and stopped at the Seal Rock State Recreation Site. We hiked down through the Seal Rock State Wayside, and saw views of large off-shore rock formations that provide habitat for seals. sea lions, and other marine life. The beach has interesting tide pools as well as excellent ocean views and a sandy beach which we walked the entire length, enjoying the ocean breeze and the beautiful views. As we drove back to Yachats we pulled off the road to see these huge amazing wood carvings. It is the Brian McEneny Woodcarving Gallery and has one of the largest displays of refined chainsaw sculpture and tables on the Oregon Coast. Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Island of Kauai, Birthday Celebration and Family Vacation

On our way to Kauai, to celebrate my 70th birthday with the whole family, Kevin, Ericka, Harper, Austin and Eric, who flew in from Columbus. We boarded the plane on Saturday, May 26th at the San Diego Airport, and had a good 6 hour flight direct to Lihue, Kauai. We arrived around lunch time, so we stopped at Duke’s Kauai to eat, and begin our Hawaiian experience in style. We enjoyed this stunning beach setting with views out to the crystal blue waters of Nawiliwili Bay and the Hoary Head Mountains beyond. The kids loved playing on the beach and stretching our legs after the long plane ride. Then off to Costco to stock up on food for the week before heading out to Princeville to David’s house, our home for the week. This house is right out of an Architectural Digest magazine, the pictures hardly capture the elegance and simplicity of this home. The views of Hanalei Bay are outstanding, especially when the rainbow lights up across the sky in the morning. We spent the first day in the pool and hot tub, couldn’t get much better. Continue reading

Flagstaff, Arizona

Arrived in Flagstaff, AZ and staying at the J and H RV Park just north of Flagstaff for a few days. Spent a fabulous day driving to the Grand Canyon East Entrance from Cameron along the Desert View Scenic Drive. The views along the way were beautiful and we stopped at several lookouts before arriving at the historic Watchtower. The Indian Watchtower at Desert View, is a 70-foot high stone building, and the four-story structure was completed in 1932. The tower was designed to resemble an Ancient  Pueblo Peoples watchtower. The main space is the Kiva Room in the base structure, and features a fireplace with a large picture window directly above where the chimney would ordinarily go. The tower is decorated by bold murals by Fred Kabotie. The small windows in the tower’s shaft let beams of light into the space as we climbed up the small staircase. The upper floors serve as an observation deck from which we can view the eastern portions of the Grand Canyon. The views were spectacular from this vantage point. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Chaco Canyon National Monument, Arizona

From Albuquerque we drove to Chaco Culture National Historical Park, created in 1907 as Chaco Canyon National Monument, in 1980 became the Culture Center, and in 1987, a World Heritage Site. The Chaco people made this high desert valley the center of their world 1,100 to 1,200 years ago. They began to build here on a grand scale in the mid-800s, and ruins of the great houses of Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Penasco Blanco are still  intact today. We started are tour at the Visitor Center then drove the loop road exploring the magnificent houses of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We were fortunate to get on a guided tour of the Pueblo del Arroyo, Spanish for “village by the wash”. We crawled through tunnels and into small dark rooms where they stored the food. After the tour we did the Pueblo Alto Loop Trail hike, 5.4 miles R/T, where we had spectacular overlook views of Pueblo Bonito and Chetro Keti. We explored the sites of Pueblo Alto and New Alto and passed by the Chacoan stairways, the Chacoan “road” system. The roads linked the great houses in the core of Chaco Canyon to far-off communities. Whenever the Chacoan road builders encountered a cliff, stairways  or ramps were constructed to continue to straight road alignments. The panoramic views of the San Juan Basin was breathtaking. Chaco Canyon is well worth the visit as it is one of the most amazing places in the country and one day is not enough time to explore the entire Canyon and Culture. We hope to return and camp for a few nights Click on thumbnail to view images Continue reading

Ruidoso, New Mexico

We arrived in Ruidoso, NM on April 25 staying at the Ruidoso Motorcoach Ranch, the only Class A luxury RV resort in New Mexico.There is a lot to see and do here, besides the Ruidoso Downs Race Track, which has been the regions premier attraction since the 1940s. Labor Day attendance to the All American Futurity was nearly 25,000 fans. We weren’t here for the races though, but we did go to the Inn of the Mountain Gods Resort & Casino located in the mountains just above Ruidoso, beside the pristine Lake Mescalero. A wonderful place to come and relax and enjoy a cocktail on the expansive deck looking out on Sierra Blanca Mountain range. We visited the Hubbard Museum of the American West, a Smithsonian Affiliate. The Museum’s 10,000 piece collection includes: wagons, carriages, saddles, firearms, and many Native American artifacts. The life-size horse sculptures outside the Museum is called “Free Spirits at Noisy Water” by Dave Mc Gary, and is a very impressive work of art. The small mountain village of Ruidoso, at 6,920 feet, also has a ski resort called Ski Apache, where we drove to see the vistas and check out the lodge. This was a great stop and we would definitely find our way back here again. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Carlsbad New Mexico

We left Texas today and drove into New Mexico to Carlsbad and stayed at the KOA Campground just north of Carlsbad. Our first time visiting the Carlsbad Cavern National Park and we were very impressed. We were lucky because the elevator wasn’t working so there were not as many tourists going down into the cavern. It is an incomparable realm of gigantic subterranean chambers, fantastic cave formations, and extraordinary features. We did the Natural Entrance Route, a 1.25-mile, self-guided tour that follows the traditional explorer’s route. We entered the cavern through the large historic natural entrance and descended 750 feet into the Earth, following steep and narrow trails through a tall spacious trunk passage called the Main Corridor. As we descended this route we saw the Bat Cave, Devil’s Spring, Green Lake Overlook and the Boneyard, a complex maze of dissolved, Swiss cheese-like limestone rock. We continued on the Big Room Route and passed many large features like the Bottomless Pit, Giant Dome, and Painted Grotto. The 8.2 acre Big Room is a must-see. Then it was time to ascend back up through the Main Corridor and up the switchbacks to the large natural entrance. What an impressive work of nature’s underground beauty, that began around 15-20 million years ago. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading

Big Bend NP, Texas

On April 9th, we left Alpine and drove south toward Big Bend National Park. We stayed for a week at the 5 star, Maverick Ranch RV Park in Lajitas, Texas, tucked between Big Bend National Park and Big Bend State Park. Lajitas is a remote vacation  destination, with an onsite spa, zip line course and an 18-hole championship golf course, equestrian trail rides, plus restaurants. In 1977 the town was purchased by the Houston entrepreneur, Walter Mischer, who restored and developed the community to a western-themed  resort that it is today, and the mayor of this West Texas town is Clay Henry III, a beer-drinking goat. After we settled into our site we went to visit Big Bend National Park. Continue reading

Alpine, Marfa and Fort Davis, Texas

We arrived in Alpine, Texas, on April 6th, staying at the Lost Alaskan RV Park for 3 nights. We explored the town of Alpine, at 4,600 feet and perfectly situated between the Davis, Glass and Del Norte Mountains, its history goes back to the late 1800s. It was a town of tents for cattlemen, the town’s name was changed to Alpine from Murphyville on Feb. 3, 1888. It’s a quaint small town, with its tree-lined streets and university, Sul Ross State University established in 1920. While exploring the town we stopped in at The Holland Hotel for a beer, built during a mining boom and today, it helps to anchor a traditional downtown of early 20th century buildings. Alpine boasts a growing collection of colorful murals celebrating regional themes, decorating the walls of downtown businesses. We walked along historic Murphy Street, which has gone through a revitalization, visiting the shops along the way. The opening of Big Bend National Park in the 1940s further helped the town to grow, it is considered the gateway to Big Bend. Click on thumbnail to view image Continue reading