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Showing posts from June, 2013

Victoria

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I have some strict beliefs about running.  I really don't understand doing it for recreation.  Why run when bikes exist?  As a rule I only run away from things, or in the airport.  But I will modify that from now on having had to run to a pier to catch a boat. 
Both my friend and I were running uncharacteristically late.  Well, we left on time, and the uncontrollable elements of a big city got in our way.  But we found ourselves arriving at the port for our boat to Victoria, Canada with literally minutes to spare as we parked the car.  So, I only run away from things, or toward things that will take me on a trip.  That adage is a work in progress.
Running toward your transportation is an exhilarating way to start a holiday.  Then sitting in a boat for 3 hours is less exhilarating, but, as I love boats, I didn't mind. 

I'm sorry, Canada, but it is easy to forget you are a foreign country.  I blithely put my passport back in my backpack, stowed under our tour bus.  It wasn&…

Rainier

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At 5000 feet in the Paradise area of Mt. Rainier National Park, one is still 9000 feet from the summit, in spring it makes rare, unscheduled appearances.  From the visitor center, we did glimpse the summit for a glorious 5-10 seconds, it's curved, snowy, outline barely discernible from the clouds behind it.

Wind and snow decide how tall and how straight the trees grow here, and even in late May many struggle to peek out of the snow.  They are called krummholtz, a German word meaning twisted and crooked. 

Shrouded in cloud, Mt. Rainier is a mysterious force.  It is considered an active volcano, which is more concerning having visited Mt. St. Helen's.  25 glaciers adorn the mountain which would melt in the case of an eruption, forming a violent mudflow that would travel for miles into populated areas.  But, that is unlikely.  Kind of.

Even on a rainy day, the park is amazing. The mountain road to 'paradise' is windy and wonderful and full of viewpoints. Granted, viewpo…

Orcas

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The Puget sound is the second largest estuary in the United States, behind the Chesapeake Bay.  Within the Puget Sound are the San Juan Islands.  We took a ferry from Anacortes to Orcas Island, an upiside-down U shaped island, where we would be camping for the next four days.   

Washington state has the largest ferry system in the US.  I think it's pretty awesome. Mostly because I love to travel by boat.  The only problem with the system is that there is no reservation system.  Therfore, when we arrived with an hour to spare before our boat, we were quite surprised to actually miss it because there were already so many people waiting.  Therefore we got to hang out at the ferry port for, well, quite some time.  Eventually we did get on a boat and even found our campsite at Moran State Park and set up before dark. 

In the morning, we took the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.  This is a cute port town full of artists and specialty shops.  It was nice just to wander around …

Hey You Guys!

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The entire purpose of the trip out west wasn't to visit Astoria, Oregon, home of the Goonies, but it was a pretty important part.  But, I'm getting ahead of myself. 

We drove west and turned onto the pacific coast highway, before us, over a cliff was my first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean.  We stopped on the first turnout and immediately saw a bald eagle.  This was just a prelude to the beauty before us.  From the wildflowers to the strange rock formations jutting out of the ocean, this was a beautiful sight.  The weather was perfect and there were stacks of waves forming on the bright blue
water.  Okay, maybe I'm not good at describing it. So, here's a picture. 

We then headed south to Oswold West state park to dip our toes in (as dipping anything more would have led to immediate hypothermia) at Smuggler's Cove.  It's a short walk through towering evergreens to the beach which boggled my East coast mind where the prelude to the ocean is infinate flatness.   Lo…

Put a Bird on it

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On May 18th 1980, Mt. St. Helen's erupted in a spectacular show of mother nature's power.  A 5.1 magnitude earthquake sent the north face of the mountain flying.  The initial blast burned the landscape 14 miles away.  From there, a hot, turbulent flow of mud and debris traveled down the mountain at 300 miles and hour, destroying everything in its path.  (please read that in a dramatic, movie trailer narrator type of voice.)

It's pretty scary to think about, but also one of most fascinating places I've been.  Sadly, we did not see the mountain itself due to clouds, (even though it is 1300 feet smaller than it was on May 17th 1980).

After coasting back toward sea level, we visited Multnomah Falls 30 minutes outside of Portland, Oregon.  These falls are literally yards from the highway and a popular destination for travelers.  At 582 feet, they are the second tallest year round falls in the United States.   It's a little over a mile to see the top of the falls, which w…