Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Playing Catch UP

From the coast -- up and over the Coast Range on a rainy day -- and into Eugene.   Lucky us it became a marvelous Indian Summer weekend and we did a bit of "duty free" shopping to take advantage of no sales tax in Oregon.  A few new toys & clothes.  A bit of hiking in the nearby hills and it was clear enough to see the Sisters Mountains to the east (they loom above Bend, OR).

Eugene is home to the University of Oregon -- it was homecoming weekend.  The Ducks thrashed the UW Huskies.  Who cares?

Down to Grants Pass and a side trip to Oregon Caves National Monument.  Fun to explore a cave, but really not very remarkable.

Today we arrived in Ashland -- a bit of theater the next couple of nights & a chance to enjoy the healing hot springs.  Then we will continue south.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Oregon Coast

Meandering south along 101.  Miles of rugged shorelines -- cliffs, coves, rock stacks, sandy beaches.  Acres of moss laden trees clinging to cliffs.  Everything green and moist.  Mostly gray and overcast skies but occasionally a snippet of brilliant blue.

We say farewell to Lewis & Clark at Ft Clatsop near Astoria.  Our trail this year overlapped the Corps of Discovery since the Missouri River outside of St. Louis; to Ft Mandan in North Dakota; the Bitterroot Mountains, Lolo Pass, and the Columbia River.   While it was an amazing expedition -- they were successful because of luck, good will from people of color, and a young Indian gal.

And...we somehow manage to have our trip coincide with the ocean lovers dream:   ocean front camping & a full moon (think huge tides) & long period swells from that mega storm in Japan.  What that means is SURF, ROUGH WATER, and SNEAKER WAVES.  We were seeing 8+ tides.

We camped at the beach...but at high tide, oops, no beach.  The Coast Guard and Park Rangers were plucking hapless folks from isolated rock points.  We scrambled further up the dune from those sneaker waves.  We watched a wedding party crowded up under the high cliff & that bride's dress looked a bit sandy at the hem!  Waves crashed over the sea walls in small towns.  It was mesmerizing & loud & stunningly beautiful.  And...just beyond the surf line...there were the gray whales:  blowing, rolling, diving.

Ft Clatsop -- winter on the Oregon Coast for Lewis & Clark

Peaking through the glass floor of an Astoria brew pub -- friendly seals

Hiking out Cape Falcon.  See the surfers?

Cape Lookout view towards the spit -- we are camped behind the spit.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

Geo Guesser...

So where are we?  A few clues follow:

The city icon reflected in a Chihuly globe

The land lord looking good.
Famous film director poses for a photo shot

All things salmon

Every one is the 12th Man.  Every crane is making the neighbor Amazon enclave.
Wow.  We have loved our hometown.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Mt Ranier National Park

Mt Ranier is a mountain wonderland famous for dense forests, dazzling wildflower meadows,  waterfalls, tremendous snowfields, and rugged glaciers.  The mountain makes its own weather -- it is a behemoth sentinel over Seattle and all of western/central Washington.

So dense forests, snowpack, water falls, all sounds like it takes a bit of water to maintain THAT environment.  Let's go see!

We arrived under gray skies with a forecast for a couple of inches of rain.  Umm.  Would we see the mountain??  The ranger smiled.  No.  Oh well.

We hiked in a drizzle and discovered our raincoats are no longer water proof (or water resistant.)  And we sat inside Bessie warm and dry while it rained.

We eventually ventured out and did a long hike under gray, maybe clearing skies.  Then suddenly -- BLUE SKY and WHITE MOUNTAIN!!  We raced up the road to Paradise at about 5,500 feet to stare at the 14,410 foot peak.   We were in awe.  And about 90 minutes later the clouds encompassed the peak.  By the time we were back to the campground....rain.  Rain for another day.  But we were moving on thrilled to have had a peak at Tahoma, the dormant but ever present volcano!

Treated to a special peak at Tahoma!  We were thrilled!

Green, lush, and dripping vegetation

Sort of the "bob for apples" version in a mushroom.  DEADLY -- don't even touch!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Mount St Helens

Vancouver! Vancouver!

The call went out in May 1980 from a USGS volcano watcher as Mt St Helens erupted -- after a few months of ominous signs.  The once symmetrical, snow topped mountain became a living picture of VOLCAN -- the god of volcanoes!

The largest landslide in history, a huge lateral blast, and hours of flow, cloud, ash, and tremors.  Mountain lost, trees blown down for miles, a river smothered, new lakes made, lives lost.  Then quiet and a new landscape to contemplate.  Monochromatic; lifeless; arid.  But in the ensuing years bits of life have sprung up and brush and small trees appear.  Salamanders are thriving.  Small water pockets beckon ducks.  And every now and then the mountain rumbles and magma oozes up in the caldera.  The glacier grows.

A bit of steam can be seen -- mostly it is drab, dusty, and sobering.
The glacier is almost BLACK because it is so full of rocks and dust.

Coldwater Lake formed by a debris pile.  Some shrub beginning to grow back.

One area in the "hummocks" has become a wetlands as small pools of water collect and creeks meander.
The area is full of salamanders & birds.  

Looking back from the Toutle River -- the north facing side was completely blown away.
The missing mountain now is the hummocks and piles of debris.  

The Toutle River today -- about 150 feet HIGHER than the old river bed.  That is a lot of debris!