Archive for the ‘Washington’ Category

After spending the night in Cape Disappointment State Park, we crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge over the mouth of the Columbia River into Astoria, Oregon.  I like the visual rhythm of the bridge trusses and rocks in this photo:

Astoria-Megler Bridge -- over four miles long

But I like this shot of the bridge as well:

View from the Astoria Column

The 125-foot-tall Astoria Column was built in 1926 by the Great Northern Railway.  Its purpose was to attract suckers  tourists like me (it worked!).  I climbed its interior spiral staircase (164 steps!) and stumbled out gasping onto the viewing platform for a panorama of mountains, river, ocean and city.  There were gorgeous vistas, spitting rain, and sporadic gusting winds trying to blast the camera out of my hands:

Astoria Column viewing platform (hang on to your camera!)

The column has Pacific Northwest historical scenes carved and painted, spiraling, into its concrete exterior.  I don’t know how many sinking ships are depicted, but we learned that the Columbia River Bar is still the most treacherous in the world when we visited the Columbia River Maritime Museum.  A Columbia River Bar Pilot has to take the helm of every ship that needs to make it through the perilous collision of river and ocean.  (The videos of this are incredible, BTW).

At the museum, my inner nerd finally had free rein, fell in love with ancient technology, and grabbed the camera:

Oil lamp mounted on a gimbal to keep it level regardless of ship movement

I’m starting to understand the steampunk fascination with old technology applied in a beautiful way.  Ship compasses, candles, lamps and so forth have been gimbal-mounted for over 2000 years (thank you, ancient Greeks), and sailors reading this would be amused at my admiration for something they take for granted, but hey!  How cool is that lamp?  🙂  Bear with me — just one more photo out of many:

This combination skylight, air vent and bench seat came from the deck of a paddlewheel ship that plied the Columbia.  I admire the problem-solving ingenuity, the craftsmanship, and the desire to make a thing beautiful as well as functional.

Speaking of which — wait until you see the road we drove down later!…

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As you drive through the rainy side of the Olympic Peninsula to the west and south, Highway 101 meanders through Olympic National Park, Olympic National Forest, and Indian land.  The landscape varies from breathtakingly beautiful primeval rain forest to befuddling ugliness.  There are long stretches of chopped-down forest where it seems the tree trash logging leftovers have been shoved into gigantic rubbish piles and left by the highway to bleach with age.  It’s the stumpy, jagged, arboreal equivalent of meth mouth.

Think I’ll show you a bit of pretty rain forest that looks like it should contain velociraptors, but has this little guy showing off his lunch instead:

"Be afraid. Be very afraid," squeaked the mutant velociraptor

The other bit of ugliness we encountered was Sweet Pea’s joyful foray into a field where she rolled in cow poop.  This resulted in a scolding, an unheated outdoor shower (no colder than the rain, though), and another (with shampoo) a few miles down the road when we realized we could still smell her.

Naughty (cold, wet, shivering) Sweet Pea wrapped in my parka

Sweet Pea resting after her ordeal 🙂

We eventually headed back to the coast, and visited Cape Disappointment, where the Lewis and Clark expedition finally saw the Pacific Ocean.  The vicious Columbia River bar, destroyer of ships, eventually needed lighthouses:

Cape Disappointment lighthouse

The lighthouse is still in use. There’s a narrow, pretty walking trail that climbs from the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center parking lot (it splits — right to the Center, ahead to the lighthouse).  It passes Dead Man’s Cove trail, a Coast Guard station, and an abandoned bunker used from 1906 to  World War II:

Battery Harvey Allen is abandoned, but not closed off

The last bit of trail is a wide, steep concrete road that the lighthouse keepers use.  It takes you to views like this:

Roaring, crashing waves and view from the lighthouse headlands

Pretty, but ominous -- storm on the way

Next stop:  Astoria, Oregon…

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Sweet Pea The Traveling Dog and I went for a walk at dusk down a dirt country road near Sequim that was blocked to traffic.  I was glad I had her on a leash when a herd of deer bounded across the road in front of us.  She finds my photography annoying — why stop to take this photo when we could be chasing deer?

The next day, Steve and I awoke to yet more drizzly gray skies and headed west on the 101 with a little trepidation.  If this was the sunny, Sequim-y side of the Olympic Peninsula, would we need an ark ?  🙂  No worries. The sun came out, and there were plenty of beautiful places to stop and walk:

The Elwha River

The Madison Falls Trail off Olympic Hot Springs Road leads you to this:

We followed the easy trail along Madison Creek to Madison Falls

Olympic National Park is lush and green

Further west on the 101 is Lake Crescent and the surrounding forest.  This trail winds past the Storm King Ranger Station:

Hiking trail in the Lake Crescent region

You can still see the raindrops on this mushroom

This image looks almost Japanese to me. The bridge leads to...

...Marymere Falls

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West of Sequim is Port Angeles, a working port with a ferry to Victoria, Vancouver Island, Canada, and a really cool sign across from the ferry:

A really beautiful welcome sign

But wait, there’s more!  Public art abounds, and there were many sculptures outdoors downtown. This one at the waterfront represents railway workers:

One of many metal sculptures near the waterfront

We turned inland and headed for Hurricane Ridge.  The trees were turning color:

Watercolor trees

At the end of Hurricane Ridge Road are many hiking trails.  The deer are pretty casual about visitors:

Relaxing in the sun

She lives in a beautiful place:

View from Klahhane Ridge trail

The weather started changing as we headed down the mountain.  It was named Hurricane Ridge for good reason, and it was easy to imagine it battered by gale force winds and blizzards of snow.  All we had to deal with was fog:

Trees in the mist...weather moving in...time to move out...

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Looking at the Strait of Juan de Fuca

We’d poked around Vancouver for a bit, had a pleasant walk in Frenchman’s Bar Regional Park, but had to get on the dreaded 5 to head north to the Olympic Peninsula. (For the record, it wasn’t so bad).  🙂  We caught the 101 on the east side along the Hood Canal and had to endure driving through mile after mile of green and blue gorgeousness.  By the time we got to Sequim, it was time for another walk, so off we went to Dungeness Spit.

The chilly beauty of the Dungeness Spit

Rocks like eggs in a nest of driftwood

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Up the 97 we went, crossing the Columbia River from Oregon into Washington near the dam at The Dalles:

One of 14 major dams on the Columbia River

Bridge at The Dalles

We drove around befuddled in farm country for a bit until we picked up the 14 and headed west through the Columbia Gorge.

The Columbia was once a wild, roaring beast of a river rampaging its way through the Cascade range.  Locks and hydroelectric dams changed all that.  The Gorge itself is mile after winding mile of forests and mountains, some with tunnels carved through for trains or cars; little towns strung along the highway like beads on a string; and always, the gigantic river nearby, glimpsed through the trees or dominating the landscape in the clearings.  You can follow the tracks of the Lewis and Clark expedition (pullouts, historical markers, signage galore), and imagine their astonishment if they could see the changes that have taken place since their journey into the unknown.

View from a trail at a rest stop along the Gorge

Most of the 190 miles between The Dalles and Vancouver were serious eye candy. Vancouver itself?  Not so much… 🙂

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There, I said it.  The overpriced corporatized coffee behemoth, scourge of mom and pop coffeehouses nationwide, blah-diddy-blah.  I don’t care — it gave me a place to go this morning to post this.  Ahhh, Starbucks.  Breakfast sandwich, coffee and wi-fi, electrical outlets at every table for laptops.  It’s drizzling out there (surprise! Washington in October, go figure!) but cozy in here.

This country is so full of stunning, gorgeous, knock-your-socks-off beauty.  I forget that sometimes, but this trip has been a continuous reminder…

The Alabama Hills’ cowboy movie deja vu voodoo outside of Lone Pine:

On the Arch Rock Trail, Movie Road, Alabama Hills

June Lake Loop’s chain of lovely lakes, each with its own personality:

Gull Lake on the June Lake Loop off the 395 outside of Bishop

Lava Beds National Monument, the coolest, most interesting place I’d never heard of:

Sentinel Cave, Lava Beds National Monument

Crater Lake’s embodiment of  “blueness” and mind-boggling creation story:

Crater Lake National Park

Deschutes River’s wild, rip-roaring waterfalls alongside its walking trails:

Benham Falls, Deschutes River

The Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side, heading west through forested cliffs carved with drive-through tunnels, breathtaking views at every turn in the road:

Train tunnel through Columbia River Gorge, Washington side

…well, you get the picture(s)!

I’ll be writing more about all these wonderful places, the people we’ve met, and the things we’ve done and learned.  Talk to y’all later…

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