Friday, June 24, 2016

Road trip!

So I suppose I ought to update this poor, neglected blog with house progress pictures, but that's too big a job to tackle today so I'll just start with our recent ROAD TRIP!!!  It was AMAZING!!!  The VanDaams moved to Oregon and we offered to drive their car down for them so off we went!  We had always wanted to make the trip back down by car and this was the perfect opportunity!  We camped, hotel-ed and stayed with friends and family as we made our way down the road!  It was such an amazing trip that we want to do it again and take even longer!  We allowed 12 days to drive about 2500 miles so we weren't terribly pressed for time but there was sooooooo much to see and do that we would like to take a few months next time!  We had wanted to get down to northern California to see Crescent City where my uncle used to live and see the Redwoods but we didn't quite make it.  We hit the Oregon coast on Father's Day weekend and ran out of steam.  Roads and campgrounds were full and though the scenery was amazing, the traffic was not.  We had also passed by a number of places where we had really wanted to spend more time so we turned back north a bit earlier than originally planned and moseyed back up the coast and headed to VanDaams to deliver the car and chill out for a few days.  It was great to spend a little time there relaxing and visiting and also gave us time to visit with another friend near Portland.  The entire trip was so great that it is hard to put into words!  So I'll start with pictures!

One of the reasons I haven't updated the blog is that I hate it when the pictures take so long to load so I always try to edit pictures so the files aren't so large.  In order to actually put together an update I confess that I'm going to give up on doing that!  I'll apologize in advance if you have slow internet!

One of the highlights of the trip for me was BEARS!  We saw 15 bears over the course of three days!  The first was in the Yukon just before we crossed into BC.  It was a really pretty, cinnamon colored black bear probably a couple of years old.  He was not at all bothered by our presence and just stood there munching grass and looking around.

We camped that night not far from where we saw the bear right next to a lovely little stream that babbled alongside us through the night.  The next morning we crossed over into British Columbia and got on what is called the Cassiar highway that runs through the Cassiar mountains along the coast of British Columbia.  Not far down the "highway" (impressive word for an unmarked two lane road barely wide enough for larger vehicles to pass by each other) we stopped to look at a gorgeous little lake surrounded by wildfire burned trees, noting the bear proof garbage receptacles and a picnic table with a 55 gallon drum for garbage that was clearly NOT bear proof!  It had been knocked over and the contents strewn about.  Rodney made a pit stop in the woods and then we continued on.  Not a quarter mile down the road we met the local hoodlums who had likely knocked-over the garbage barrel - a pair of young black bears!  One was another lovely cinnamon and the other quite black.  They weren't too concerned about us but they also weren't planning to stick around any longer than necessary.  I have pictures of those two, but not all that clear as they headed off into the woods.  As you'll see later, there's no sense bothering with those pictures.  The lake:

And we just kept on seeing bears.  This is another cinnamon colored one who was likely a young female.  Momma bear was there too when we stopped, but she took off like a shot!  Baby just hung out right there, completely unconcerned about us watching her.

We stopped at a jade place there that had jade BOULDERS!  Crazy!


And we saw more bears...

And then we saw Ferdinand.  This bear was just laying in the patch of seeded dandelions and rolling around munching on them.  Rodney must have been driving at that point because as we went by I said, "There was a bear there laying in a patch of dandelions!" Rodney had not seen it and we debated if we should turn around and go back and we eventually did.  We drove back but didn't see it and then just as we were getting ready to turn around again we saw a bear!  But we both thought it was farther than Ferdinand so we went a little farther so as not to disturb this bear and we turned around and headed back down the road and when we FINALLY got back to that point, sure enough, there was this silly bear still lying there rolling around and munching on dandelions!  Silly old bear!

And another, and another.  We ended up seeing 12 more bears that day!

We had talked to some Australian tourists that day who had seen many bears at a wildlife viewing walkway in Hyder, AK.  We camped that night in more bear country in BC, near the highway out to Stewart, BC and Hyder, AK.  We'd had such fun watching the black bears the previous day that we decided to take the highway out to Hyder and see if we could see some grizzlies.  Just a little bit out from where we camped we saw another young black bear crossing the road in a hurry!  And just a little bit beyond that encounter we saw a grizzly crossing the road!  He was far too quick for me to grab the camera but it was still an amazing encounter just the way I like it - with the car between us!!!  We didn't see any more bears that day but we had a lovely time seeing the scenery and trees on the way to Stewart and Hyder and then we had a lovely breakfast in Stewart talking with the locals.  It was a delightful side trip!

BC was a little dull through the mid-section but probably only because the other part had been so spectacular in scenery, bears and lack of traffic.  We did drive through a couple of small villages with incredible totem poles:


And we took a hike out to a fish counting setup that was pretty interesting.  It wasn't really the prime season for that, but it was still interesting.  We mostly admired all the plants and trees growing along the road, and the bear droppings.  A rather disturbingly large pile, other smaller piles were fresher...

This almost felt like home!  Except the mountains weren't nearly high enough.

There were fields just FULL of wildflowers!  Imagine an entire field with this orange hue!

We also saw a few mule deer though we didn't catch any pictures.  It rained quite a bit through our BC mid-section day so we ended up in a couple of hotels.  That wasn't all bad.  We really needed showers by then anyway.  ;)  On our last night in BC we stayed in an adorable hotel called the Nomad which was an old style motel completely remodeled.  The owner was a delight to talk to and the rooms were updated, but you sort of felt like you were in a time warp!  It was one of our favorite stops!   The next morning we would cross over into the US again, but not before driving through three distinct areas.  Clinton has sort of a hilly prairie topography, then you drop down into the Fraser River canyon which is a sage-brush mountainous desert and when you come out the bottom of that canyon you are back in Pacific northwest rain-forest!  It was mind-boggling the major changes through such a short drive!  I didn't take pictures in Clinton, but this is the Fraser River canyon and the next shots are southern BC.


Once we crossed back into the US we
 stopped in Mt Vernon, WA to visit Joyce, a friend we met from working at Victory.  She fed us, let us wash some laundry, gave us some space to do some tent repair and just all around chilled out!  It was so great to see her home and area and she gave us a little bit of a tour including the gorgeous Deception Pass and a garden nearby.  Fuscias growing outdoors as landscape plants!?!?!?!  We were continually blown away by the plants that grew outdoors in Washington!  Not planning to move there though!  There are already too many people there for our taste!

I did manage to catch up with my cousin who lives in West Seattle so we went into Seattle the next afternoon (that was enough to cure us of any interest in living in that area) to Pike's Place market and then went to visit my cousin that evening.  Pike's Place was definitely interesting, but an hour was plenty.  We aren't good shoppers.  I had not seen my cousin since we were both very young (maybe 5 and 10?) so it was great to actually get to meet and get to know each other a bit.  We will need to repeat that when we can spend a little more time!


The next morning we headed west to catch the famous highway 101 which runs along the coast of Washington and Oregon.  We tried to stick to the coastline as much as possible, occasionally taking smaller side roads to get even closer to the coast.  We did have a great time along the coast!  The scenery was amazing and we saw so much wildlife!  We didn't see any more bears, but we did see whales!  Amazing!  We were able to camp almost on the beach one night.  You could hear the waves crashing not far from our tent!  Well, until I put in my earplugs...

A little Columbia Blacktail buck.

Then as we moved in from the coast once, we ran across this sand dune area.  It was beautiful in its own way, but just so different from anything we had seen previously!

And then all of a sudden I saw this strange sight!  It looked like someone had plowed the dune!  It took us days to unravel the mystery!  We traced back up the coast at one point looking for an available campground and we found a place that catered to ATVs.  This dune was where they were allowed to ride the ATVs!

One place we stayed had amazing tide pools so we got up early to go explore.  Fun!

And really, the pictures barely scratch the surface!  It was an amazing trip which we hope to do again only taking even longer!  It's time for an adventure vehicle!  And if no one complains too loudly about the size of the pictures, maybe I can dig in and update the house progress over the last few years of blog neglect!

Morning commute

Morning commute