We arrived at our first stop in Washington during a steady rainfall. It was the first time we had to set up in the rain since we hit the road full time 8 months ago so we have nothing to complain about. After over 2 days of pouring rain the sun once again peeked out from behind the clouds and we were able to head out for some sightseeing. Although it was not a perfectly clear day, we were fortunate enough to see the peak of Mt. Rainier as we entered into the Mt. Rainier National Park. We learned that much of the time people don't even see the peak due to the high precipitation and cloud cover in the area. We started our trip through the park at the lower elevation and drove through a moss and lichen covered forest of evergreens. We weren't driving for long when we came upon a black bear foraging right on the side of the road. As we drove further into the higher elevations we saw some beautiful waterfalls and lots of snow. We took a couple of short hikes before reaching the highest point we could drive. That was at the visitor center where we were surrounded in 20 to 30 foot snow banks. We were lucky enough to once again get a few peeks between the clouds of the top of Mt. Rainier which tops off at 14,416 feet, by far the highest point in the area. Our next campground took us to Monroe Washington where we were able to celebrate Claudia’s birthday with a trip into Seattle. Claudia has posted a separate blog entry describing our day there so be sure to check it out. Following our day in Seattle, we took a day to relax before heading out on a beautiful 5 mile hike into Wallace Falls State Park. Stella joined us as we made our way through some beautiful forest and up to 3 gorgeous waterfalls. I say "up" because it was quite a climb but we all made it back and forth without too much trouble. Our next campground was supposed to be our last stop before beginning our Canadian and Alaskan adventure but unfortunately, we learned very quickly that this was not a good campground for us. With no cell service, Wi-Fi or TV and a site that needed a lot of work we decided that we just couldn't stay there for 2 weeks. Because it was the beginning of a 3 day Canadian weekend however and with the campgrounds full we decided to stick it out for 3 days. We took advantage of our time there by doing some necessary shopping as well as taking a very nice drive out to Oak Harbor, a town on an island off the Washington coast. While there we crossed a couple of enormous bridges through what we learned was called Deception Pass. We pulled over to take a closer look and discovered a beautiful canyon with the ocean running through it as we walked across both bridges and climbed along the banks. This is another example of the type of places we have been lucky enough to stumble across that display beautiful parts of this country that we never knew existed. When we did finally hit the road again, we found a great campground in Lynden Washington where we were able to relax and prepare for the next phase of our adventure. While there we took a trip across the border and visited Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Vancouver. In addition to crossing over a 450 foot long, 250 foot high suspension bridge across a gorge, we also climbed up into an enormous tree house and walked from treetop to treetop across a series of suspension bridges. Yes, they were high and yes, they swayed. We had some great views up there and when we returned to ground level, we had many more great views as we walked along paths in this beautiful park within a forest containing some of the oldest trees in North America. After our walk, we still had one more path to take. This time it was along a path they call the "Cliffwalk" and it was just that. This was a series of boardwalks attached to the wall of cliffs and eventually out onto a portion of the boardwalk that jutted out from the cliff faces by about 40 or 50 feet so that you felt like you were suspended in midair. This was a bit creepy but another great view, particularly straight down. It turned out this was the last sightseeing trip we took out of Washington due to plenty of rain during our stay in Lynden. Instead we continued to look for places to see in Alaska and in addition to booking a Riverboat Discovery Tour out of Fairbanks we also made lots of notes about other great spots to check out at our various stops. Knowing that I’m stating the obvious, we’re very excited about the next phase of our trip. Beginning in 2 more days, we begin our 5700 mile, 52 day tour through some unbelievable areas of Canada and Alaska before returning to the US on July 20th in Shelby, Montana. We’re ready to go!! Ed
We went to Seattle for a very special occasion – my birthday! The weather was perfect for walking around the city. We started our day strolling around the iconic Public Market at Pike Place. Then we hopped on the monorail for a short ride to the Space Needle. The view from the top was spectacular! There are snow covered peaks visible all around Seattle, including Mt. Rainier, which is 60 miles away as the crow flies. Just beautiful! Then we were back on the monorail to the market where we strolled some more and watched the fish mongers tossing fish around their store. We took a short walk over to the waterfront and rode the “Great Wheel”, a huge Ferris wheel that extends out over the bay and also has spectacular views. (I loved it! Ed, the roller coaster king, was very “nervous”.) Then we walked back to the market and had a delicious lunch at the Athenian Restaurant. There is a seat at the counter designated as where Tom Hanks was filmed having lunch in the movie Sleepless in Seattle. That was our brush with greatness. After lunch we strolled some more, purchased some swordfish steaks for supper, then headed home. The swordfish was fabulous! It was a wonderful day. Claudia
Before I begin talking about our time in Oregon, I want to tell you about a stop we made on our way there. Our final stop in California was at the Driftwood RV Resort in Los Molinos. This is a small private campground right on the Sacramento River that has just been taken over by new owners. After we checked in, we were told that we were the only campers and to just drive down to the river, park however we like and make ourselves at home. We ended up parking sideways along the river so that the entire canopy side of the RV was facing the river with just an amazing view. We spent most of our 3 days there just sitting by our site, listening to the birds and entertaining ourselves by watching 2 ospreys that were busy watching over their nest and looking for food in the river. It was an outstanding way to end our time in California. Our next stop was at Crater Lake RV Park in Prospect, Oregon. We ended up with another nice site in a quiet, wooded area with barely any other campers nearby. From here we headed off to Crater Lake National Park not really knowing what to expect. The bad news was that most of the scenic drive around the crater as well as most of the hiking trails were all closed due to snow. Snow banks in the parking lot of the visitor center were well over 15 feet high and many of the buildings were still completely covered in snow. The good news was that even at 7100 feet, it was still 70 degrees outside and all that snow made the area even more beautiful than we could have hoped for. Even with some overcast clouds hovering overhead, the beauty of Crater Lake couldn't be missed. This is another park that we plan on returning to in warmer weather for a different perspective and to enjoy some hiking around the rim of the crater. On the way back to the campground we decided to stop at two of the points of interest in the area that we were told about when we checked in at the campground. Rogue Gorge was an awesome raging river flowing through a beautiful gorge and Natural Bridge was further down that river where the water rushed into underground lava tubes and then came rushing back out of caves further down the river. Both places were well worth the trip. The next day we had breakfast out in a historic local landmark before heading out to visit several scenic spots that we heard about through the campground. We took several hikes through the forest and saw gorgeous waterfalls, loads of rapids and beautiful gorges. Stella was in her glory once again as she ran freely, off leash through many of the trails. Our next stop in Oregon was in Silverton. Silverton is located in the Willamette Valley where it seems that everywhere you look it's green. While in Silverton, we enjoyed a visit to the Oregon Garden. The Oregon Garden is a pet friendly, 80-acre botanical garden, featuring more than 20 specialty gardens showcasing the diverse botanical beauty that can be found in the Willamette Valley and throughout the Pacific Northwest. It was a beautiful place to visit and a great way to end our time here in Oregon. Ed
Ed and Claudia always dreamed of retiring and travelling the country in their motorhome. They retired in 2013 and this is the continuing story of their adventures on the road.