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Old 12-26-2011, 03:47 AM   #1
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 135
Default while you were working (or whatever) part 5

December 13th to 25th, 2011 5171 to 6610 trip miles

remember: <wow> = fill in your own superlative, we’ve run out : )

After Mt. Rainier, we took some back/secondary roads north, avoiding the Interstate Highways, as well as Seattle and Tacoma. We had silly thoughts of heading to some scenic areas in the North Cascades National Park, but discarded them when we saw the elevation there; put that together with the weather forecasts of rain along the coastal areas gave us the real possibility of a snowstorm up there. We also had silly ideas of hitting Vancouver and Vancouver Island British Columbia since we were so close, but we have already headed much further north than we ever expected, and didn’t want to push our luck. We shelved those ideas for later, most likely, another trip.

Serendipity: somewhere in the southern part of Washington state, Marti had stopped to take a picture, and she talked to a couple of electric utility workers about our trip. They mentioned that we should definitely see the San Juan islands north of Seattle in the Puget Sound. We had never even heard of them, nor paid any attention to Puget Sound, but we did some research and decided to follow their advice; turns out, it was very good. We started out by taking a ferry from Mukilteo on “the mainland” to Clinton on the long Whidbey Island, which is south of the San Juan ones. We drove/zigzagged up the island, and over a beautiful steel bridge that was built in 1934, connecting this island to Skagit Island across Deception Pass. We noticed in this narrow pass that the water (which is part of the Puget Sound) was a lovely, deep (but not real dark) shade of green (maybe “Moss Green”), somewhat like the Gulf of Mexico. We saw this several more times in our travels around the Sound in shallow areas, but haven’t found the explanation. Need to get to a bookstore and get some books like “Complete Idiot's Guide to the Oceans”, “Complete Idiots Guide To Geography”, “Geology for Dummies”, and “Geography for Dummies”, etc., and learn about the Earth!

Made it up to Anacortes where we found a nice little city park with camping in a heavily wooded area near the next ferry we had to take, and we had the campground to ourselves. The only “fly in the ointment” on these two islands is that there is a Naval Air Station on Whidbey, and they were practicing bombing runs and/or landing approaches all day and into the evening, but fortunately not all night. A much longer and more expen$ive ferry ride took us to Friday Harbor on San Juan island in the morning. <Wow>. There are a lot of islands (of all sizes) out here, and they all seem pretty. We toured San Juan most of the day, and got to see “how the rich folks live”. From the west side of the island you can see the Olympic Peninsula and its mountains, and if it is clear enough, look south all the way to Mt. Rainier.

We ferried to Orcas Island, and found a little (commercial) campground for the night; this one had deer, goats, bunnies, and wild birds in it. We drove around Orcas Island a lot the next day and even though it was a drizzly day, Marti fell in love with it. It is “horseshoe” shaped, and not as built up and commercialized as San Juan. It has a 2400’ mountain (Mt. Constitution) that we could get up around 2000’ feet on before the road was closed (they get snow up there, but they rarely get much lower down). If we had gotten to the top and if it had been clear (it wasn’t), we could have had a great view of Mt. Rainier. We stayed at a tiny but beautiful campground in Moran State Park. It was part way up Mt. Constitution, on Mountain Lake, heavily wooded, and we had it all to ourselves. The next day we visited a waterfall in the park, and headed for town. On a whim, we stopped by a real estate office to inquire about home prices, and had immediate “sticker shock”: well out of our price range. We took the ferry back to Anacortes (Skagit Island) and headed south to Oak Harbor (Whidbey Island), getting us an even better view of the Deception Pass bridge than we had on the way up. We took care of shopping, and other mundane things, and stayed the night in a city park camping area.

We then drove to Coupeville (Whidbey Island) and then ferried to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula. We lucked out, and were right up front in the ferry, so we had a great view just sitting in the van. The five ferries we took cost us around $125 total, twice what a car would cost because of our extra height, but probably a lot less that what a really big RV motorhome or trailer would cost. This last ferry saved us a couple hundred miles of driving and avoided Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, the rural country being far more to our tastes. We drove counterclockwise around the peninsula, aiming for Cape Flattery, the most northern and most western point along the Pacific (excluding Alaska and Hawaii). We made it to within a short distance of the Pacific, but the road was closed, and not by snow this time, and we were on an Indian reservation and didn’t want a hassle. So we headed back out and southward, and found a tiny campground at Lake Ozette in the Olympic National Park. Again we had this all to ourselves except for a few deer. In the morning, we hiked 3 miles through the rain forest to the Pacific. Not a real easy hike, but made much easier by somebody’s (many bodies) hard work making most of the trail gravel or crude boardwalk, but with lots of steps. The ocean was at low tide, so it wasn’t real pretty, and it was strewn with rocks, not a beach at all. We started to walk the three miles down the coast to another three mile trail to get us back (big triangle), hoping to see some seals or otters that other folks we passed alerted us to, but we turned around after a half mile or so as there were just too many really big trees/driftwood to detour around or over. After that we headed south again, staying the night at another small campground at Bogachiel State Park, apparently alone again except for wildlife, although we did see a few other RV’s the next morning at other campgrounds in the park.

We crossed the Columbia River again back to Oregon, and followed the coast. Many, many great ocean and gorge views (and “haystack rocks” in the ocean), and lots of lighthouses. Then stopped at the Tillamook Air Museum. It has a nice collection of about 40 military planes, mostly World War II, but a few jets from later, even a MIG. An amazing thing was the hanger that the museum is in. It (plus one more at this site and 15 others around our coasts) were all built of timber from this part of the country at the beginning of WWII because steel was in short supply and needed for ships and armaments. This doesn’t sound like much until you realize that each hanger could house nine 285 foot long blimps (the blimps were used for coastal submarine patrols). Enormous doesn’t begin to describe it: almost 7 acres of floor space, and the arched roof is almost 12 acres of surface area. The roof (that’s all there is is roof; no walls except on the ends) is supported by very intricate curved wood trusses that look like a combination of Lincoln Logs and Erector Sets, all on lots of steroids. I don’t recall how many trees it took to build the whole thing, but it must have been a very large forest. The other hanger burned to the ground in 1992 after someone stored 135,000 hay bales in it (DUH!).

We stayed at the Sea and Surf Campground in Depoe Bay which was very nice; we had a site perched on a 50 foot cliff overlooking the ocean. We could just sit in the van and watch it, and we did until it got too dark to see, and again in the morning as high tide came in. Again headed southward and saw more sights. We stayed a night at the Umpqua state campground. Not on the ocean this time, but a nice wooded lake.

After a bit more coast and lighthouse viewing, we headed inland. We hadn’t been able to connect schedule-wise with Mary Ellen and Jim (newly moved from Ellicottville NY to Medford OR) when we were in the Crater Lake area, and they were kind enough to invite us to their new home for Christmas, so we didn’t have to spend it in a Walmart parking lot. : ) On the way we stopped at a nice animal rehabilitation center (Wildlife Images Rehabilitation & Education Center) near Grants Pass. They return as many of the injured/orphaned/abandoned animals as they can to the wild, but some they have to keep for life. They had Bald Eagles, a Golden Eagle, a Peregrine Falcon, Owls, many Ducks and Geese, a Cougar, a Bobcat, a Lynx, five Black Bear, two Grizzly bears, a Raccoon, four Wolves, etc.

We want to wish everyone a (belated) Merry Christmas and a Healthy/Happy New Year. We feel extremely blessed to have the good health and means to do this traveling. And we wish that all of you can follow your dreams too.

Dick, Marti, & Glen (who looks really cute with a Santa hat) RT09/10C190P “no more deadlines” Allegany NY
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