Thursday, July 23, 2009

Glacier National Park

As we visit each of the national parks we almost always come away thinking "it can't get any better than this!" Then we get to the next park and have to say it again. I think the beauty of the national park system is the diversity of the landscapes -- I don't think anyone can say Grand Teton is "better" than Yosemite, or Yellowstone is "better" than Canyonlands. They are each unique, they are each awesome (in the original sense of the word). Glacier NP, and it's Canadian sister park, Waterton Lakes, can certainly be described that way as well.

At one of our stops, I think it was Canyonlands, a fellow photographer was trying to capture the immensity of the scene before him. He said to me "there's no lens wide enough to capture this."

Uh oh. Windows just gave me the blue screen of death error message. I'd better try to add some images before my laptop dies.
So far so good. And yes, that's a bear photographed through the windshield of the truck.

A Big Surprise

After the Olympic NP, we headed west, but needed to spend a couple of nights on the road before reaching Glacier National Park. Just by measuring distances, we wound up in a place that's barely a dot on some maps. But what a place! The town is Blueslide, WA, and I have no idea why its called that. The manager of the campground said he thinks of it as Washington's hidden treasure. It's on a beautiful river and the campsite they gave us was right on the river. The pictures don't do it justice. If we hadn't been booked near Glacier the following day, we would have stayed longer than just one night.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Olympic National Park

I've been to Seattle several times but never crossed Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. The peninsula is suprisingly big, maybe 100 miles north to south and 100 miles east to west. More than half of it is taken up by the Olympic National Park, and more is made up of several national forests. More spectacular mountains. As an Easterner who has visited the west many times, it took this trip to make me realize just how spectacular the mountain west is. The mountains of Washington are no exception.

If I'm able to attach a couple of photos to this blogisode, the mountain shot is at Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic NP. It really reminded us of Switzerland (except for the wandering deer). The other image is in one of three temperate rain forests in the park. Climate and geography combine here to keep these areas very wet, and usually mild. Some of the biggest non-redwood trees in the country grow here -- the average height is 250 feet. There's also a lot of different kinds of moss and other air plants covering the trees. Very unusual forests.

Leaving the peninsula we crossed Puget Sound on a ferryboat--no problem fitting the truck and trailer. We spent a couple of nights near Seattle, and today we drove across North Cascades Natonal Park (more spectacular mountains) and are currently in a neat campground on a river near the town of Twisp, Washington. We were here once before, and never did find out the origin of the name "Twisp." Fortunately, it's not it New Jersey or it might be called Twisp Twp. Anyway, it's pretty much in the center of Washington going west to east, and not to far from the Canadian border.

Tomorrow we'll be heading to a small town near the Idaho border, and then onto Glacier National Park in Montana, where we'll spend a few days.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Weve spent the last few days in Oregon. As I recall, a few years ago this state was so popular that officials, somewhat jokingly, asked people to stop moving here. I've visited Portland a few times in the past, but this was the first time I've seen the coast and the Willamette Valley. We drove up the coast from northern California to Coos Bay, OR. We needed to spend the night there because the truck was due for service. The RV park there was filled with mostly permanent residents or "full-timers"-- RVers who spend their entire lives on the road, often staying in one place for several weeks or months.

Anyway, its easy to understand why this state is so popular. For the most part the climate is temperate -- mild winters and not too hot summers. The forests here are magnificent and the farmland is wonderful. We've had our fill of cherries, berries, corn and other local produce. We drove through an area called the grass seed capital of the world. I had never thought about it, but grass seed comes from farms. They harvest it like wheat and oats, except with smaller equipment. :)

The waterfall photos are from Silver Falls State Park -- the biggest state park in Oregon. There's an 8 mile trail that runs past 10 waterfalls. Most are over 100 feet high. We just saw 3 of them.

Tomorrow we're off to Mount St. Helen's. Hopefully, she won't blow her stack while we're visiting.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Redwoods National Park

I haven't included a lot of images of the campgrounds we've stayed in -- one campground or RV park is pretty much like any other. But when we camp under huge redwood trees, I think its worth a picture. We're at the Redwoods RV Park about 8 miles north of Crescent City, CA. The other images were taken in Redwoods National Park and one of the state parks. The trees in the campground are all second growth trees -- maybe a hundred years old. There are some stumps here that are all that remains of the original trees.

Fortunately, a fair number of groves of first growth trees have been preserved in the parks. A UPS ranger directed us to a dirt road through some of these amazing trees. Here we found loads of 2000 year old trees, many over 300 feet tall. I can't imagine how even the most greedy lumbermen could look at those trees in terms of board feet -- but that's what happened when redwood was harvested for decks and lawn furniture. There's something mystical or spiritual to walk among those giants. It tends to give one perspective about humans' place on earth.

Saturday, July 04, 2009


We spent most of a week near Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. Since it's the holiday weekend, we elected not to drive on the fourth, so we'll be moving on Sunday morning.

Like so many of the other national parks, Yosemite is spectacular. I've attached a few of the many photos I took, including El Capitan and waterfalls in Yosemite Valley as well as a few other scenes in the park. Unfortunately, the NPS decided to do a controlled burn on one of the ridges above the valley, so the views of the famous Ansel Adams photographed features are a bit hazy. As we entered the valley I told Penny we wouldn't leave until I duplicated all of those Adams images. Since he lugged his 8 x 10 view camera to the tops of the mountains many times just to get the single exposure he wanted, I don't think she believed me.

We got into the valley a few days before the holiday weekend, so the crowds weren't too bad. The next day, however, we waited an hour just to get into the park.

The weather here has been pretty spectacular too. Warm and dry during the days, and quite cool at night.

Comet just reminded me that I haven't mentioned the cats in a while. They're still apparently content. Comet has relinquished the space behind the TV in favor of the table, when he seems to spend most of his time. He does grudgingly share it with us at meal time and when we need a place to set up the laptop.
And you may have noticed that I still haven't figured out how to place the images exactly where they belong within the narrative. Maybe I should read the instructions for blogger.