Friday, 29 November 2013

Mount St. Helens and into Oregon

 Mount St. Helens and into Oregon

          We headed south in Washington towards Mount St. Helens. I-5 was much improved after we left the Seattle area. We decided to stay in Seaquest State Park, just off the I-5, opposite The Mount St. Helens Visitors’ Center. It was a relatively easy drive on a good road and we arrived in daylight to choose our site.
Our choice of site at the end of the row

The Park - tall trees, very little underbrush
Only one section of the Park was open. There were 6 or 7 RV’s there, and the Host. Apparently it was Elk hunting season. The hunters were up and mobile before 5am, back by 4pm or so, and soon, quiet for the night. We talked to a couple, who had not had much luck, but were hopeful. One fellow had a bull tag (a licence to hunt only bull elk), but had seen only several groups of cows.
We drove over to the visitors’ Centre, but it was 10 to 4pm, almost closing time, so we just looked around the gift shop, promising to come back.
The Visitors' Center
They had wifi and a live feed to Mount St. Helens, but it was ‘socked in’ so we just saw a grey screen. It was cloudy and drizzly by this time, so we looked at the trail nearby, but decided to go back to the Runaround Sue.
Early [for us] the next day we went back to the Visitors’ Center. Mount St. Helens was still socked in, so we went through the extremely informative displays and watched a short film of the 1980 eruption and the subsequent devastation. Then we walked the trail around the Silver Lake marsh in front of the Visitors’ Center, and got caught in a downpour.
A beautiful walk over the marsh

The marsh turns to a lake

The next day when we checked in at the Visitors’ Center, we had fog, but we could see Mount St. Helens on the live feed, so we hopped in the car and headed up! As we drove closer, the terrible devastation became more evident.
a stump torn up
Miles from Mount St. Helens

Another section of the devestated area

Scientists had been watching the mountain change, as a bulge appeared and grew on the west side of the mountain.
Zoom in and see the sequence

The bulge in March

The whole area
By May, residents and scientists had been cleared beyond the danger line. However, no one expected the volcano to blow laterally. Much of the damage was caused by the initial land slide which released the pressure, causing the blast of hot ash and gases as the side of the mountain blew out, not up, removing, toppling and scorching 370 square km of forest in 3 minutes.
Before and After the Explosion
Many new valleys, rivers and even new lakes were formed.
Coldwater Lake

Castle Lake

You can’t really get a sense of the destruction and its massive size from pictures. We saw it on TV and in pictures; it’s quite different being there. It is enormous. Magnificent.
Mount St. Helens 33 years later, as we saw it from Johnson's Ridge Observatory
A storm came through the next day, so we stayed in, just went to the Visitors’ Centre and to the Castle Rock Library to use the internet. I was just told “Welcome to the Pacific Northwest Rainforest”.
The next day we headed to Oregon, only stopping at the Vancouver, WA Costco to stock up on the lamb shanks and beef. We drove through Portland, and decided to stay at Champoeg [pronounced Sham-POO-ie] State Heritage Park, SW of Portland.
Paths through the Park

-still in Rainforest Country with lots of moss

The only wildlife we saw, a tiny salamander
Our site of choice backing o to a field- note: no deciduous leaves to fall
It includes the site of the town of Champoeg on the Willamette [pronounced Wil-LAM-ette] River. This was one of the important towns in Oregon in 1860, with 29 houses, 60 buildings, a population of nearly 200 from all over the world, and was a gateway to the fertile prairies of the Willamette Valley. In 1861, Floods washed away most of the wooden buildings, and the townsite was abandoned, but the important transportation link remained. In 1892, another disastrous flood resulted in the site being abandoned.
The Willamette River- the marker on the pole is the height of the 1892 flood
The Visitors’ Centre in the park has excellent historical exhibits of the development of this region of Oregon.

The next day we headed for Lincoln and the Oregon Coast. On the way, we discovered, in McMinnville, the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum
This is the first thing you see as you come up to the Museums
- the home of the Spruce Goose, Howard Hughes’ Flying Boat, manufactured in 1947, with 8 engines, a wing span of 319ft. 11in., 79ft. 4in. Long and a gross weight of 400,000lbs.
The Spruce Goose- note the US Coastguard plane under its wing
It is massive. For flotation in case of an accident, Howard Hughes had beach balls placed in the wings and some in the lower compartment of the fuselage.
Some beach balls were actually found in the Spruce Goose when work was done on it
This gives a sense of its size
The Museum includes displays ranging from the elegant aeronautic designs of two unknown bike mechanics – Orville and Wilbur Wright – to an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird that can fly at speeds of over 2,000 miles per hour. Founded in the memory of Captain Michael King Smith, the exhibits celebrate the lives of innovators, pilots, and veterans who pioneered flight in these remarkable machines. There are four buildings:
The home of the Spruce Goose

The Museums
one dedicated to flight from 1909 to 1945, and Commercial Aviation, home-built machines and the Capt. Michael King Smith firearms collection; a second dedicated to the Space Age and Rotary Flight; the third, a theatre, where films are shown several times per day; and finally the Wings and Waves Waterpark.
The Wings and Waves Waterpark
This is an indoor, all-season educational waterpark that includes ten waterslides (ranging from slides for the little ones to slides for daredevils), a wave pool and a children’s museum dedicated to teaching students about the power of water. On top of the building is an Evergreen B747-100 aircraft, which houses the top of some of the slides.
Having spent most of the day here, we left to head to Devil’s Lake State Park in Lincoln to begin our exploration down the Oregon Coast.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Vancouver Island and into the US

Vancouver Island and into the US

It was a beautiful sunny day when we left Vancouver. However, not for long! The fog rolled in off the Georgia Strait, and soon we were unable to see anything around us.
Sunny as we leave

But the fog soon began to roll in
When we got off the ferry, we headed through Nanaimo to the Living Forest RV Resort.
Many of the Parks are self-register or choose-your-own-site, outside office hours. So we drove around and found a pull-through site while we waited for the office to open. There were several sites overlooking the water; however, they were booked for the weekend. Many of the people on the Ocean-front and the next level, the Ocean-view were there for the winter. We decided to stay where we were.
Still fog

Lots of prety Maple leaves...

Fog cleared about 5, that is the Mainland in the distance

But, fog soon came rolling in again

For the future, note to selves: Don’t set up under deciduous trees in a windy, foggy, rainy, Pacific northwest rainforest, fall-climate. It was a heavy fog the first night dripping off the trees, combined with the breeze bringing the leaves down, it was a musical drumming on the trailer roof all night. The leaves were piled high on the trailer and solar panel, stuck on with the fog and rain. The sites behind us, back-in into beautiful fir-treed sites -not a leaf in sight!
Just up the road, we discovered one of the Island’s best kept secrets, Serious Coffee. They have coffee shops all over the Island, but only on the Island, and they make the best lattes and cappuccinos. They also had wifi, so we became daily patrons. John contacted his cousin, and we enjoyed a lovely evening catching up with western family. We explored Nanaimo’s harbour and downtown streets.
Mural on a building downtown

It was fairly clear when we started out - looking through the gap

Then the fog started to come in - walking on the Waterfront Trail

We drove north to see Qualicum Beach
Tide was out,  lots of seaweed and ground fog

and inland to see Cathedral Grove. It was foggy and grey in Nanaimo and up the coast. When we got to Cameron Lake, the sun suddenly appeared,
Fog at the end of Cameron Lake- We are in the SUN
and shone for the rest of our visit to Cathedral Grove

Underbrush, moss on the trees

Some windfall, and tall, tall trees

Some trees are bigger than others

This is the tallest tree- at 76 metres tall
and Port Alberni. Usually it is foggy here and sunny on the coast, but not today. As we drove south, the fog once again covered the coast. 

Having had enough of the fog, we headed south. We decided to stay outside Victoria, at Weirs’ Beach RV Resort. We had a site right on the water, facing the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and backing onto the lagoon.
Looking along the line of Waterfront sites

Run Around Sue

Looking up the beach

The lagoon behind us

The Strait of Juan de Fuga in front of us

This is a clean, friendly resort. There is a clubhouse with a pool table, dart board, TV, laundry facilities and always a jigsaw puzzle on the go.
The Clubhouse
However, it was several days before we could actually see Victoria from our trailer- more fog!

We spent several days in Victoria. What a beautiful city! The first visit was around the inner harbour.

The Empress Hotel

The Inner Harbour

Parliament Buildings

The Coho Ferry to Port Angeles

The fog rolled in by late afternoon

The big fir tree in front of the Parliament Buildings
One evening we met a friend, had dinner at her place, and then went down to the harbour to party. Another day we drove up to Sidney,

North from Sidney Harbour
then into Victoria by a different route, parked and wandered along the waterfront path from the cruise boat docks and around Fisherman’s Wharf. The houseboats are amazing. Each one is unique.

The sunset from Victoria, our last evening
The days were getting cooler and poor weather was forecast for the next few days, so we decided to head into the U.S. We took the ferry from Sidney to Anacortes.
Lined up for the Ferry. We were there 2 hours early

Boarding the US Ferry- much cheaper than the BC ferries.
It was a beautiful ride through the San Juan Islands,
The route of the Ferry to Anacortes
stopping once at Friday Harbour.

Friday Harbour
We drove out to I-5 and south.  We stayed in Everett at Maple Grove RV Park. It was rather expensive, at $44 per night plus $5 hotel tax (hotel tax! - WTF [from John]), but clean and very convenient to all we wanted to do. However, we had some difficulty getting the Airstream level, and sites are very close together with low shrubs dividing them.
Maple Grove RV Park
The first thing we did was to find a Costco to get me a prepaid phone. When we got to Costco we were amazed at the prices of wine. Robert Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon came in a box of 4 bottles, and worked out -with exchange- to be about $5 per bottle [John checked the LCBO listings- it is 2 ½ times this price]. There were lots of other ‘wine bargains’ for not much more! We also decided to try some seasoned, fully-cooked lamb shanks. These are fantastic- 2 to a package, individually wrapped with light gravy- and so easy to cook, just pop the bag in hot water, keep it just under the boil for 60 min and eat! When we went back to get more, we also bought the sirloin roast beef- 2 separate packages- open, put in a dish in the oven at 375 for 17 minutes and eat [and one package is plenty for 2 or 3]. It is rare too! Needless to say, before we left Washington, we picked up a couple of each. Our frig is full.

Then we had to shop. We could not bring any fruits or vegetables across the border, so we had to restock, but not in the quantities Costco offers. So Safeway became our store of choice.
We had booked a tour of the Boeing commercial jet assembly plant, just a short drive from Maple Grove.  The tour was amazing. The hanger is about 8 stories high, with 6 separate bays. Generally an assembly-line technique is used. In one bay, three 777’s were in the last stages of being assembled. One was lengthwise having the seats and interior completed, and two were angled at the other end. In a separate bay, workers were using a completely different technique to assemble the 787. It is a modular assembly: one section of the plane is assembled completely on a platform, and then the whole platform moves to the next station. There is also an interesting series of displays in the Future of Flight Aviation Center with a lot of extra information on the history of Boeing.
We couldn't take any pictures inside. The blue doors are the 6 Bays- each a separate assembly unit

Planes, in front of the paint sheds, painted  and lined up waiting to be delivered around the world.

The next day a dreadful wind and rain storm hit the area. A lot of areas were without power and had trees down. We were lucky- just more rain! So we stayed in until the worst was over, and then checked out Everett Mall and their LA Fitness.
Because there were still a number of areas without power, we decided to go to the Flying Heritage Collection. It is a fascinating museum with very knowledgeable volunteers. This museum traced War II through the planes used and the personal stories of men and women who flew them. It highlights some of the most important and iconic military machines of the Second World War. Each plane had a story attached and the history of that particular plane.
Curtiss P40 Tomahawk

an example of the type of information

Russian MiG-29UB Fulcrum
In a separate building, were WWII tanks and other artillery.

the second building
All artifacts are from the private collection of philanthropist Paul G. Allen. Each appears just as it did in battle, and most are functional. 

Our last day, we drove into Seattle and saw the incredible Dale Chihuly exhibition. Words can’t describe his talent and the beauty of his work.
This is on a pedestal and almost reaches the ceiling
A Ceiling of Glsss

The Garden

A Float Boat

Suspended from the ceiling in a Glass House

Looking through the Glass House to Seattle's Needle

Outside in the Garden

A part of the Outside Garden

We then walked down to Pike Place Market, stopped at the first Starbucks [but the line was out the door, so we moved on],
Original Starbucks

The Original Logo...
and wandered around the interesting vendors’ stalls. There is quite a variety- lots of seafood, crafts, flowers, only one coffee place, restaurants – all on multiple floors. You walk in at street level, then go down to several more levels!

There is a string attached to the Monkfish- when someone came close to look at it, one of the men pulled the string, it moved and ...

We continued south on the I-5 toward Mount St. Helens- our next stop. I-5 is a great freeway, 4 or 6-lanes divided, but, around Seattle, it often felt as if we were driving on cobblestones or a corduroy road!