Saturday, July 25, 2009

July 25, 2009

Grand Coulee Dam

We left the fairgrounds about 8am. happy to be gone. There is going to be some sort of car race function and the place is crawling with racing types. The guy next to us talked on his cell phone ‘til 11:00pm. He really didn’t need the phone. I’m sure whoever he was talking to could hear him without the phone. Also there was some sort of preliminary thing so there was loud racing much of the evening.

Drove east on Washington route 2 toward Wenatchee, right through the heart of Washington’s apple growing area. Lots of apple trees. Other fruit as well. In the middle of the area is a small town called Cashmere. Town is probably unknown to most but something that is made here is VERY well known. A block off the main street is a small building that houses a two room candy factory and a store. The factory is where Aplets & Cotlets (and varieties of the same) are made. All the Aplets & Cotlets you have ever seen or eaten were made in this small building. We tasted (and tasted) the free samples and had a tour of the production area. It was a weekend so we did not see candy being made, just the equipment. We then tasted some more samples [ :) ] and had to buy a selection from the source.

Back on the road to Grand Coulee. Passed endless fields of wheat, far more that we ever saw in Kansas. This area is a far cry from the ancient forests we left two days ago. It is rolling, dry landscape that is periodically cut by rivers. Sometimes the rivers flow through steeply sloped canyons with strips of very fertile land at the bottom of the canyon. The apple growing areas are this kind situation. Not the huge, wide orchards of California’s central valley. Other times the canyon walls are vertical and may run for miles. The reservoir behind Grand Coulee Dam is several very long fingers of water instead of a broad lake.

We found a RV park only three blocks from one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. The park isn’t much but it has the basics AND one other perk – a shuttle to the dam to see the laser show. We spent some time in the afternoon computing and then went to dinner. The restaurant is called La Presa. It is clean and neat without a lot of Mexican frufru decorations. Just good food. One thing I really like to see in a Mexican restaurant is a plate of food that has obvious different items on it. Sadly, there are many places where everything on the plate runs together and is pretty much the same color. You sort of take their word you are getting what you ordered. La Presa’s meals have distinct items, don’t run together, have color variety, and large portions. And the plates are huge and covered. Last time we were there we asked for our customary pitcher of frozen margaritas. They told us they did not serve by the pitcher but they did have several sizes of individual servings. We said we would each like a large. They looked at us a bit strangely and asked if we were sure as the large was pretty good size. We assured them large would be fine. When the drinks arrived we understood their concern. The glasses were probably quart size or better. About half a pitcher per drink. Guess it intended to be shared. We were fine with them as the amount was about what we normally got. And the margaritas were very tasty. No change this time. Got the look and the concerned question. We told them we had been there before and knew what we were getting into. Still big and very good.

Back to the carbus to wait for shuttle time. The shuttle left before sundown so we could spend some time at the visitor center prior to the show.

Here is the view of the dam from the visitor center.


Grand Coulee Dam is a mile wide and Lake Roosevelt behind it is over 150 miles long. Every night during summer a laser light show is projected on the dam. The dark part of the picture above is the spillway. Normally it is dry as water is going under the dam through the three power houses. Just before the show the gates are opened. The water flowing donw the dam provides a white screen for the show. The show is not limited to the spillway area though. At times there are lights dancing from one of the dam to the other – one mile.

Here is the dam after dark with the spillway still closed.

Here is the dam with the spillway running.

Some shots of the show.

Friday, July 24, 2009

July 24, 2009

Another Short Day

Another short day.  Drove along the east side of Seattle and then east a few miles to Evergreen Fairgrounds RV parking.  Able to catch up on internet and email from the last few days.  Tomorrow we head east.

July 23, 2009


We left at 8:30 to get to visitors center by 9:00.  Center opens at 10:00 but given our experience of yesterday we wanted to be sure we got a spot in the lot.  We planned to hike one or two local trails before the center opened.  Even with the early time the lot was one third full.  We took a trail that leads to several views of Nisqually Glacier which feeds the Nisqually river that flows by the campground.  This trail still had patches of snow on it in spots.  LOTS of wildflowers.  Many varieties.  The park service has a whole brochure devoted to wildflowers of the area.  Saw several types of wild life also.

First was this.

That’s a frog if you couldn’t make it out.

Second was a martin (badger like mammal) but he was too quick to photo.

On our way back toward the visitors center we met a couple of there grazing near the path.

Here is a picture of Nisqually Glacier.  The dark spot in the center about a quarter way up the picture is the base of the glacier with the beginning of the river flowing out of it.  The glacier is the brownish mass above the river.  It is brown because of a rock slide that happened some time ago.  The dirt and rocks have coated and been incorporated into the glacier.  The water coming out of the base of the glacier is not a trickle.  It is a full blown river and moving fast.

Notice the clouds in the picture above.  More later.

Here is the Nisqually River from a bridge down river a ways.  That water is fast and loud.  Yes, at times the river is as wide as the rock bed you see.

05 Nisqually River down from bridge


When we got back to the parking lot the center was open and we caught a ranger led walk through the sub-alpine meadow to another waterfall.  The ranger discussed the wildflowers and other plants and trees of the area and how they survive in an area that averages over 600 inches of snow a year.

I mentioned the clouds.  When we got to the lot, all through our first hike, and half way through our second hike the views were like this:

The second half of our ranger walk and for the rest of the day the view was this:

Believe me there is a mountain there.

Sue has a before and after set from the same spot.

Rainier at 9:00

 09 Mt. Rainier 9 am

Rainier at 11:00

10 Mt. Rainier, 11 pm

Again, the lot was full.  There were people everywhere and all they saw was the above view.

We toured the center, watched a movie on the mountain and park, and toured the Inn (Yes, there is one here too.  Again, historic and interesting.). 

13 Pete at paradise Inn entrance

This rustic piano hosted a famous pianist.  President Harry Truman played it on a visit to the park in 1945.


We left the parking lot about 1:30 (our spot was quickly grabbed up) and went to yet yet another falls to eat our lunch.

Myrtle Falls

Myrtle Falls

14 sue and Pete at Narada Falls on Paradise River

Back to campground.  Evening Ranger talk was on history and dangers of climbing the mountain.

July 22, 2009

Mount Rainier National Park

Another pretty short drive to Mount Rainier National Park. 

01 Mt. Ranier Nat'l Park

From the entrance at the edge of the park it is about seven miles of twisty, climbing, 25 mph (sometimes slower) road to the campground.  Once we got there it took us over 30 minutes to settle on a campsite that would hold the carbus and was not reserved during the two days we wanted to stay.  There were lots empty sites but most of them were reserved starting two days later(weekend).  We had to verify that a possible spot was indeed open when we wanted it.  We finally got settled and had lunch.  The main visitor center for our corner of the park is another nine mile up the road past the campground.  We figured we would go there and check things out in preparation for our day tomorrow.  Get some information, take some pictures, and plan our day.  As we started up the road we noticed a sign that mentioned the possibility of a full parking lot at the center if lights were flashing.  They were not flashing and we could not see how a spot seemingly so remote could have that many visitors.  It was a bright sunny day with no clouds and we took advantage of every view spot on our way up.

02 Mt. Rainier1

When we reached the visitor center at Paradise (so called because an early visitor thought it looked like what Paradise must look like) we found out the reason for the sign.  The lot which holds well over 200 cars was packed.  The lights were not flashing because the overflow parking (parallel parking along the exit road for a mile and a half ) was only three quarters full.  This was a Wednesday afternoon.  We decided on a Plan B – do more things down the hill that afternoon and come back early tomorrow.  Headed back down, stopping at more spots including a couple of waterfalls and went to another visitor center at site of original park headquarters.  There are a couple of museums there as well as the inevitable Inn.  Every park has one it seems, sometimes more than one.  Rainier probably has five or six given it’s size and dispersed access points.  One museum was the former service station and had displays on transportation in the park.  On display outside was a brand new acquisition, it had been donated two days earlier.

Hiked a couple of trails and then back to campsite.  Ranger program that evening was on wild flowers of the park.  Very timely.  They are everywhere.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 21, 2009

Mount St. Helens

Shortest drive yet in carbus.  Fifteen miles north to Castle Rock.  Parked and hooked up and then drove close to 50 miles east to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  The drive takes about 90 minutes not counting stops along the way.  We made a number of view stops and got to end of road visitor center about 1:00pm.  Lots of good info in center and great view of mountain and devastation. This view is actually several miles west of end of road.

St Helens pano

This shot shows small portion of Spirit Lake.  Blue spot in center. (Maybe not so blue)

This is a cool map in visitors center.  There is a narration that describes the progression of the eruption and the the events following.  Each event lights up with fiber optic lights to show affected areas of each event.  This picture is showing the mud flow down the Tuttle River. It is the orange area at the top.

July 20, 2009

Fabric Mecca?, Fort Vancouver, Astoria

Headed north back through Oregon City and on to eastern Portland.  There is a fabric store there called Fabric Depot.  It is sort of legendary among serious sewers and quilters.  It was on the way so had to visit.  The place is huge.  Just about everything one could want to sew or quilt.  We wandered around, were suitably impressed, and left.


Next stop, Fort Vancouver.  This is actually a multiple attraction.  There is the original fort from early pioneer days.  That site is encompassed by a larger army post that dates back to before 1850.  Some military functions still exist on parts of the post.  Several houses on officers row are open for viewing.  It ranked with the Presidio as a choice assignment.

This is the Marshal House.  Named for General Marshal who was commandant of Fort Vancouver for two years and among other things formatted The Marshal Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after WWII.

Marshall House

This is the Grant House.  Named for U.S. Grant.  He did not command Fort Vancouver but was stationed there as Quartermaster for two years.

Grant House

On north about 30 miles to an Elks lodge RV lot.  After parking we drove west to Astoria.  We got there sort of late so didn’t do much sightseeing.  We did go to the Astoria Column.  Hill with great views and on top is a tower with even better views.

Astoria Column     164 steps to top


View down Columbia River toward Pacific Ocean

Back home to eat and write blogs.

July 19, 2009

Post Wedding Brunch, GeoMecca

Sunday morning we drove to Katie and Joel’s house where her dad and brother were preparing a brunch for 50 or 60 people.  They did a great job.  Every one was well fed and had left over cake for dessert.

Katie’s house is about ten miles from the site of the original geocache.  This had been a ‘to do’ thing for us since we started geocaching and this was obviously the time to do it.  The original stash is gone but there is a plaque there, and a replacement cache has been placed very nearby.  We drove the ten miles and headed up a hill in to the woods.  Found the spot with no problem and shortly located the cache. Nearby was the plaque.  We logged our visit and photographed the plaque.  So we have made our pilgrimage to Geocache Mecca.

original cache plaque

July 18, 2009


We kicked back all morning and got cleaned up and dressed after noon.  Took the 40 minute drive to Aurora to the wedding site.  We wanted to get there early so we could set up for video and get atmosphere shots as well as wedding party stuff.  Most of the pictures were done before the wedding to cut down the reception dead spot.  This wedding had a different twist – a pre-ceremony happy hour.  Snacks, beverages, and socializing before the big event.  The ceremony was nice and pretty standard.  The official photographer was very good.  She even took a fish-eye photo of everyone there as part of the ceremony.  The reception was pretty standard.  Good food.  We chatted with new, current, and old friends from Auburn who had made the trip from various places.  Instead of rushing off to some special place, the bride and groom made the trip back to wherever on the shuttle bus (actual school bus) with 30 or 40 guests.  We helped with some cleanup and then drove back to the carbus for some welcome sleep.  We’ll get some photos up soon. Here is a teaser.

Bride and groom (r.) and parents of bride (l.)

Dave, Aggie, Katie, Joel

July 17, 2009

Trail of Ten Falls,  Wedding Rehearsal

Up early.  Nice weather but was going to be warm.  Needed to get into the first part of our day while it was cool.  We drove to Silver Falls State Park.  Very pretty place.  Oregon’s largest and among the nicest.  We took a walk.  Slightly less than ten miles.  There is a trail that loops through lots of beautiful forest and along the way passes by and in some cases behind ten different waterfalls.  We had done this trail before but it could probably be done monthly and never get old.  Took us just over four hours. 

South Falls (note trail behind)   View from behind North Falls

The park visitor area includes a lodge built in the ‘30s by CCC workers.  Amazing craftsmanship.  The furniture in the lodge was constructed using the wood from two Myrtle trees.  Beautiful.  In use every day and it looks as new as the items in the Myrtlewood factories and stores we saw on the coast.

Home to clean up and then off to Katie Glovers wedding rehearsal.  We hope to do video and snapshot type photos of the wedding and Katies folks invited us to the rehearsal to see the layout and then to the rehearsal dinner.  We had a good time then back to carbus to download days pictures and charge batteries.