Sunday, October 1, 2017

Family Vacation (July and August 1995): Washington and British Columbia

July 29, 1995 (Saturday):

We flew Alaska Airlines ($824.00 total for all of us) out of Ontario, leaving at 9:50 a.m. and arriving at SeaTac between Seattle and Tacoma, around 12:09. The views on the flight up were pretty spectacular. The Sierras were mostly covered with snow; Mt. Lassen was right below us, snowy with brown splotches; Mt. Shasta was mostly covered in snow and even larger; Lake Tahoe was to our right and more distant; Crater Lake was very impressive, it's circular bowl filled with very deep waters; the Three Sisters to our right; the second tallest mountain in Oregon, Mount Jefferson; Mount Hood, with a pointed summit; Mount Adams, the second tallest peak in Washington; and Mount Rainier (the one we've come to see). We could not see Mt. St. Helens or any other peaks in Washington, all of the other landmarks were covered by clouds.

We caught a shuttle bus to Advantage car rental where we picked up a van ($719.11) and headed southwest on I-5 to Olympia, then west on SR-8 to SR-12 to Hoquiam, then north on SR-101 toward Olympic National Park.

We arrived at the Amanda Park Motel, located across the Quinault River on the right side (it is past the visitor center, 50 to 60 feet from the river). We had two queen beds and a refrigerator (it is not fancy) for $50.00 plus tax. The owner indicated that two herds of elk, each with 100+ elk, can usually be seen. One herd is in the open fields in the first 1/2 mile on the north road past the bridge between North Fork and Graves Creek. The other herd is in the open field near the ranger station on the north road above Lake Quinault.

Around 6:00 p.m. we drove down the South Shore Drive of Lake Quinault. Where the bridge crosses over the Quinault River to the North Shore Drive there are some open meadows. We spotted a herd of elk through the trees. We grabbed the camera and slowly walked through the ferns and trees. A couple of elk were very close and we were able to photograph them. We continued further where we could see one or two elk heads above the bushes. As we got closer, a whole herd of elk became visible, including numerous young elk with barely visible white spots on their coats. We spooked many of them and they stampeded away. Then some came back and were joined by others that came from the west. Then some began bugling. It was not a real loud bugle, but we heard it numerous times. As Judy put it, "its like we are watching National Geographic." We counted 30 elk as we were leaving and had likely seen many more than that considering those that had run off.

We drove further down the North Shore Drive and I spotted a black bear to the left in some trees. We tried getting some pictures as he meandered along, but I couldn't get a good head shot. He wandered out of sight and I got out of the car to follow him. Judy wasn't pleased. I went to where I had last seen him and had about given up, when I spotted him to the west. He was standing on his hind legs with his front legs reaching up into a tree among the leaves. I don't know what he was doing, but it was almost like he was grabbing some kind of food out of the leaves. I tried getting some more pictures, but none of them were any good. The bear moved a little more and I tried getting closer. Suddenly I spooked him and he high tailed it through the woods, incredibly fast. As I came back to the road Judy indicated she had seen him cross the road.

We saw more elk in groups before turning back down the road (the North Shore Drive was blocked further down by a road washout). On the way back, after I followed another herd of elk for a short way into the trees, we saw a spike buck to the distant south on the edge of a meadow.

As we headed back and it was quite distant, quite a ways past the Olympic National Park boundary (outside of the park), we saw another large group of elk near the road. We were looking for antlers as all we had seen so far were cow elk. Judy spotted a bull with a fair rack, but it was too dark and I had the wrong lens to try for a picture.

The Olympic National Park guide indicates these elk are Roosevelt Elk, named after Pres. Theodore Roosevelt, and one of the main reasons the park was formed. These elk exist in herds, unlike the more solitary Rocky Mountain elk. These elk are larger, have a white rump, have antlers that are more bunchy and are much shyer than their Rocky Mountain relatives. "[I]t is unlikely that you will see any while you are in the park." Well, we figured we saw well over 100 elk, thanks to directions from our motel owner.

July 30, 1995 (Sunday):

We stopped for some cereal, milk and bananas at the Amanda Park store and drove the North Shore Road to the July Creek campground. We ate breakfast sitting on a log on the shore of Lake Quinault. It was cool, but pretty.

We stopped along the road for a hike down to Beach No. 4 (we found the beach names to be very creative (one through five). We found numerous starfish on some rocks and a cormorant  perched on a little pinnacle. We spent about half an hour just viewing various starfish and other tide pool delights.

We stopped for a longer hike down to Ruby Beach. It had a beautiful body of water like a lake (I'm not sure if it was ocean water trapped from low tide or river water trapped from low run off). We skipped rocks and had an unlimited supply of smooth flat rocks to use. There were large logs washed up on shore and a sea stack (offshore island) we couldn't get to as the tide was coming in.

We drove in about 18 miles to the Hoh Rain Forest (off the main road). There were many more tourists here. We walked two short trails, the Hall of Mosses Trail and the Cedar Trail. The Hall of Mosses trail had a hall of a lot of mosses. Western Hemlock, Douglas Fir and Sitka Spruce and other trees with moss clinging to their sides and branches. It looked like it was straight out of a horror film. Andrew was vigilant in his search for a salamander (checking each little pool and stream), but none were located.

We drove through the timber town of Forks and were excited to find fresh fruits and vegetables. We bought 5 ears of corn for a dollar and they had lettuce, 3 heads for a dollar (I don't recall ever seeing it so cheap). I was struck by the amount of chewing tobacco in the stores, especially as the person in front of me in the mini store ordered a can of Skoal which was right near the counter. It must be the rugged, timber mentality. We also noticed more smokers, in general, and less availability of non or low fat food items. I guess California really is its own little world.

We drove to La Push, on the Quillayute Indian Reservation where we had reserved a beachfront condo at La Push Ocean Park ($88.00 plus 8% tax). It was a large, two story stand alone, with two double beds downstairs, a bed couch upstairs and a kitchen. It was very large, but rundown and not very clean. We made turkey sandwiches with tomato, lettuce, cheese and avocado, which really was one of our better self-made meals on the trip.

After eating, we walked out to the beach and about froze to death. The wind was blowing and the chill was great. We walked toward the large sea stack which dominates the area and which serves as the outer barrier for their harbor. We then walked into the dock area and saw them unload a boat with its cargo of sea bass. We then walked back to the condo for the night.

July 31, 1995 (Monday):

At 6:00 A.M. we awoke and shortly thereafter headed to the car for a drive to Rialto Beach. The beach is near La Push on the other side of the Quillayute River, but to get to it you have to drive outside of town and around about 12 of 15 miles, which we did.

The wind was blowing, it was a little foggy and cold. Everyone was chilly and wondering if this was a good idea. I exchanged some of my warmer clothing items with Sam, and he gave his sweatshirt to Andrew, and we started walking the beach. The first part of the beach has enormous logs washed up upon it. The sand is a dark gravel and higher up on the beach near the logs are thousands of rounded rocks. Judy would love to bring in a semi and take home thousands of them for our garden.

Initially the water had no rocks jutting out of it. But we walked toward hole-in-the-rock and began to get some. We were looking for seals and otters, and thought we would have the most luck finding them in that environment.

Eventually we got to some sea stacks (large rock outcroppings in the water, which are remnants of a previous shoreline that has eroded away). Near these sea stacks were rocks and accompanying tide pools. We also reached hole-in-the-wall near low tide which allowed us to walk through it without getting wet. At higher tide, the way is blocked by water, and one must follow a trail up the side of the hill and around it.

We found hundreds of starfish, from bright orange and red, to brown and purple. Lots of seaweed covered the rocks, mostly kelp and a bright fluorescent green type. There was also a greenish sea anemone that was quite common and some reddish orange coloration around some of the rocks. Interestingly, I don't recall seeing any sea urchins.

We got to spend but a short time and needed to get back to the cabin to shower, cleanup and check-out.

After checking out at 11:00, Judy drove us northeast to Crescent Lake. We drove down from higher ground into a valley surrounded by mountains and found this gorgeous lake of deep blue. It is quite large and the drive around it is quite windy. We drove to the Storm King Ranger Station and found the trail to Marymere Falls. Signs indicated it was either a 1.5 or 2 mile round trip hike.

The path took us through some beautiful old growth forest very similar to what we'd seen on the other side of the peninsula, which surprised me because the rain fall on this side is less, because of the rainshadow effect of the Olympic Mountains. The large hemlocks with shaggy moss hanging from their limbs with filtering light coming through is a beautiful sight.

The hike is along a wonderfully maintained trail and then over two bridges over small streams. The bridges are just huge logs, with hand rails on each side nailed to the log. The last part of the hike is up the side of the mountain where the waterfall is. It has switch-backs with nicely constructed wood handrails.

The waterfall itself is 90 feet tall. It is pretty, but not spectacular. It is not putting out anywhere near the volume of water that the waterfalls at Havasupai put out, but it is a nice setting and worth the hike.

Sam and Andrew were what were amazing. They have so much energy in their small bodies needing to be burned that they constantly run along the trail, jump up against the trees with their feet and bounce back onto the trail, and then whirl around in a 360. We compared them to a pin-ball game and also as replicas of Tigger, the bouncing tiger in Winny-the-Pooh.

We drove further, down into Port Angeles, then back out past the visitor center and started climbing a fairly steep grade into the Olympic Mountains toward Hurricane Ridge. We were now in the rain shadow. The growth was lush, but not as dense as on the west side of the range. We passed a viewpoint looking east and saw snowy Mt. Rainier looming off in the skyline, all alone. We drove past a couple of deer along the side of the road and hoped we had not lost our only opportunity to get a good picture of a deer.

As we neared the top of Hurricane Ridge, snowy peaks of the Olympic Mountains came into view. Then, all of a sudden, we reached the ridge and an incredible view sprang forth: a rugged, jagged ridge of mountains, with snowy glaciers clinging to their sides. The view is every bit as spectacular as the view of the Sierras from White Mountain or the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park, and maybe more so, because the mountains are closer. It was hard to believe that we were only at 5,000 to 6,000 feet and the tallest mountains are just under 8,000 feet.

As we got out of the car at Hurricane Ridge, there was a doe black-tailed deer laying in the grass near the front of our car. I quickly grabbed the camera for a few shots. She started licking the kids hands (the salt on them) and eating grass out of their hands. We were feeling incredibly lucky, then noticed that no one else seemed to be paying them much attention. We crossed the road and found a large buck in velvet laying beneath a bush about 10 yards down the mountain. I went down the hill for a shot and had someone chew me out for doing so (but I did get a picture). Then we noticed other deer near the visitor center. Before we left, there were four large buck all stationed about 10 yards apart on the side of the hill, resting from the warm weather (although it was only in the 60's).

A log book at the ranger station indicated that someone had just seen a cougar about 30 minutes earlier on the dirt road that leads to Deer Park. We wanted to see some wildlife and the ranger told us of the Hurricane Hill hike. Thinking I knew what she was talking about, we set out. Unfortunately, I led us on a trip up to Sunrise Point. We did get a view of Point Angeles and Vancouver Island, but it was loaded with hikers. We passed up the opportunity to do an additional 8 mile round trip up to Obstruction Peak and back. On the way back down we spotted another deer, by this time not a big event.

We stayed the night in Sequim ("Sqwim") at the Econolodge for $58.00 plus tax (two queen beds, a microwave and regrigerator). We went out and played a round of 5 holes of miniature golf on the motel property and rented Mrs. Doubtfire from the front desk and watched it in our room. We had smoked salmon for dinner (we purchased on our drive in).

August 1,1995 (Tuesday):

We got on the road, drove over the Hood Canal Bridge, down over another bridge in Tacoma, to SeaTac Airport. We were just in time to pick up my brother, Matt, who arrived about 12:10 on Southwest Airlines. After getting his backpack, we got on the road and headed out.

Northwest Trek is located six miles north of Eatonville on SR 161. It is located on approximately 635 acres of beautiful woods. We all felt it is the best zoo we have seen for the North American animals it contained.

Initially we took a 40-50 minute ride on a tram/bus which took us around an enclosure with a small lake, grasslands, and semi-mountainous area with trees. We saw one mountain goat, several caribou (the kind that are endangered, indigenous to Canada and the northwest, not the Alaskan kind), a group of California bighorn ewes and lambs, a group of four or five bighorn rams with large racks, 15 to 20 bison, 15 to 20 elk, some with large racks, and a number of white-tailed and black-tailed deer. We did not see any moose or pronghorn antelope.

The best part of the zoo was the cages. They were generally one view from ground level and a second view from above. Wolves, black bears, grizzly bears, bobcats, lynxes, a cougar (which we went to a second time and heard growl several times), porcupine, badgers, raccoons, river otters, beaver, martin, fisher, barn owl, great horned owl, snowy owl, bald eagle, golden eagle. We particularly enjoyed the beaver and otters, which we watched quite a while swimming. The beaver gnawed off some branches of a tree and took them into his den and the otters were doing a mating ritual and biting each other and rolling around in the water, then pushing off from the glass front of the enclosure and then swimming backwards with the motion of a dolphin (tail and body doing the wriggling motion).

Sam and Andrew spotted a garter snake swimming along the mote in front of the cougar enclosure and were as thrilled to see that as anything.

This was a big hit, I think Sam and Andrew's favorite activity so far.

We arrived late at Mount Haven. It is situated just a mile or so before the Nisqually entrance to Rainier National Park, and about 6 or 8 miles east of Ashford (although it sports an Ashford address). We had the "Lodge," a two story wood building. Judy and I slept in a double bed behind its own little partition. Matt had a single bed just outside it. The three kids slept upstairs in a loft, each in their own single bed.

August 2, 1995 (Wednesday):

Mount Haven is just a mile or so outside the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park. From there it is another 22 miles or so to Paradise, where the Guidehouse is. As we drove up about 8:45 this morning, we caught a view of Mt. Rainier shining in the sun and it was really incredible. From a distance, for example, from Tacoma, it looks gigantic and dominates the skyline. From closeup, it looks much smaller. Judy and the kids were questioning whether it was really it (it looked to small to be the gigantic mountain we had seen earlier).

We went into the Guidehouse and it was bustling with energy. A group was getting ready to climb the Mountain that morning and our group was getting ready to have Climbing School. Approximately 25 in each group. Matt and I rented boots (Raichle Avanti), ski poles, an ice axe, and crampons (SMC).

The hike up Mount Rainier is a separateblogpost covering August 2 to August 4.

August 5, 1995 (Saturday):

We got off to a late start. After yesterday's exhaustion, sitting around felt good. It was shortly after 11:00 that we got off.

We stopped at a little Mt. St. Helens store along the way and viewed a 20 minute video on the eruption of Mt. St. Helens. We changed our itinerary, instead of going to the east side of the mountain, we went around to the west side Visitor's Center. This Visitor's Mount St. Helens Visitor's Center

Drive closer to Mount St. Helens

Wolf Haven International near Tenino has a "Howl-in" beginning at 6:00 P.M. on weekends during the summer. They have 24 or 36 wolves which they have either in twos or singly in separate cages. We had a tour which only showed a few of the wolves. Many were timid and they didn't want them to be viewed. The kids went under a small tent and Rachael and Andrew had wolf paws painted on their cheeks. Then we went into a small amphitheater where a long-haired fellow that knew a lot about wolves was answering questions about the wolves of Yellowstone, the habits of wolves, etc. A person put on a wonderful puppet show. Sam got to play a small drum for part of the show and Rachael got to go in front and participate. (tour, longhaired Indian, puppet show, female singer, howling)

August 6, 1995 (Sunday):

Pike Street Market in Seattle (fish, including "flying fish", wolf eel; fruits and vegetables; other shops)

Lunch at Red Robin

August 7, 1995 (Monday):

$111.00 six course breakfast for four at the Salish Lodge in Snoqualmie, near Snoqualmie Falls (venison and potato hash, salmon and poached egg, fruit cup, pastry basket, dungeoness crab crepe, waffle on pineapple). It was at least double what I ever hope to spend on breakfast again. It was not particularly great, but that is the breaks. Russ Hinckley had to leave for Hong Kong later in the day and Susan had to pick up Russ's sister who was staying in a hotel, just down from Vancouver.

We took Chelsea and Lindsey and headed out for the zoo in Tacoma. However, the weather was so bad that we turned around and went to the Seattle Aquarium in downtown Seattle. It was small, but fairly nice. In particular, I enjoyed an exhibit with a puffin, which swam underwater and went after mussels and clams. They also had a nice sea otter exhibit and an employee holding up a sea otter pelt for us to touch. It has 600,000 hairs per square inch which makes it very thick and soft.

Pacific Science Center

Space Needle

August 8, 1995 (Tuesday):

We found out that to meet the 8:30 ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria, we needed to be in Port Angeles about 5:00 A.M. So we woke up at 2:25 A.M. and were driving by 3:00. As we drove past Tacoma over a bridge, a sign indicated the Hood Canal Bridge was closed until 5:00 A.M. We did a quick map calculation and figured that the fastest way otherwise would still take us longer than if we just waited for the bridge to open. As it turned out, we had not left early enough anyway and only waited about 20 minutes for the bridge to open.

We arrived in Port Angeles about 6:00 A.M. to find that we had missed the early boat and had to check in for the 12:45 ferry. That left us 6 3/4 hours to kill in Port Angeles.

We started by going across the street to a small restaurant and having pancakes for breakfast (which were not particularly good). We then walked the streets, looking in shop windows. Eventually we go to a store and purchased a USA Today and some magazines and spent some time in a veterans park reading at a picnic table. Time actually went much faster than it could have, given our tiredness and lack of things to do.

The ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, actually left about 1:00 P.M. and was over an hour trip. Things got kind of bumpy with some sizeable swells and we were feeling a little queazy. We had some excitement thinking we had bumped into some orcas (killer whales). However, as we saw them again, I believe they were dolphins.

Victoria, even from the ferry, is very British looking. After spending some time in Canada, the name "British" Columbia has new meaning. Pictures of the Queen are everywhere. The Parliament Building, which I believe relates just to British Columbia, is a distinctive dark rock with green copper domes. We went inside briefly, long enough to see various rooms labeled as the Ministry of such and such, and got out.

Across the street is the Royal Museum of London Wax Museum. The initial room has many of the British Royalty, including the current Queen, Prince Charles and Diana and Henry the VIII and his six wives. We saw Queen Victoria and Disraeli, the WWII players including Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Ike Eisenhower; religious leaders including several popes and Brigham Young; U.S. Presidents including Bill Clinton, Bush and Lincoln; explorers and adventurers including Sir Edmund Hillary; and a chamber of horrors, including Hitler, a guillotine, the rack, cramped spiky area from the Tower of London, a hook in the belly, and Madame Tussaud, who apparently started the trade of making wax figures, when she was forced to make wax figure of famous people beheaded during the French Revolution.

The British Columbia Museum, next door to Parliament, houses some beautiful exhibits. It has a tremendous collection of Indian artifacts, including totem poles, and a series of natural history exhibits, including a replica of a woolly mammoth.

We walked through a portion of Victoria, past the Empress Hotel, to Roger's Chocolates. We purchased a small box of selections and a few cremes, including rum nut and chocolate nut. Jim Coffin had claimed they are one of the great chocolates, particularly their creams. They were good, but I don't believe they match Cummings. We looked for a place to eat but couldn't settle on anything. We did notice numerous young longhairs playing music and walking the streets. It was the only thing that made us feel a tinch uncomfortable in walking the streets.

We stayed at the Super 8 Motel in Saanichton and had dinner at the Basil Restaurant across the street. The food was a real bargain and I had salmon, steamed mussels and clams which were tremendous.

August 9, 1995 (Wednesday):

We drove about 4 or 5 miles off the main road to Butchart Gardens. It was absolutely jammed with cars and people, although the road in did not seem crowded at all. There were a large number of Japanese and both Rachael and I commented on how pushy and rude they seemed to be. They were always pushing around, walking through pictures and jabbering in an annoying way.

The gardens were beautiful, but it was so crowded that it was difficult just to enjoy it. I took several pictures just to show the crowds, not the flowers.

The ferry from Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island to Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, is much better than the ferry we took from Port Angeles. The wait is always less than an hour, we probably waited 30 or 40 minutes, and you drive directly on to the boat. There are three levels of cars and two lanes driving onto each level, so loading and unloading is much faster. It was also about $6.00 cheaper, even though the distance is probably greater. The ferry passes between several islands, although I'm not sure they are the San Juan Islands, they are very close in proximity. As we were passing throughout the channel between Galiano Island and Mayne Island, I spotted a small lighthouse on Mayne Island that I wanted to photograph. I changed my camera lens to the 300mm and aiming to shoot, we passed the point of the island and Mt. Rainier loomed in the distance. I took a picture of the lighthouse with Mt. Rainier and hope that the picture turns out. It was quite a spectacular view.

We drove through Vancouver and were impressed by how large it was, how narrow the streets were, and how difficult it is to find your way through it. It definitely has a large city feel to it.

The drive up to Squamish, once we reached Horseshoe Bay, was beautiful. It looked just what I would imagine it would be driving by the fjords in Norway. The Bay goes inland and the road follows steep cliffs many miles inland. The only thing spoiling the view is a pulp and paper mill toward the east end of the Bay.

I had been wanting some good old fashioned British style fish and chips. As we were driving toward Squamish, Judy noticed a roadside restaurant (the Ninety-Niner) that advertised them. We stopped and got three orders, which included three pieces of cod. We smothered them in white vinegar and salt and had a delicious treat. Judy poured a diet rootbeer in her glass and had the glass bottom break off and empty all over her. The owner gave us our drinks for free. There was a signed picture of Richard Gere on the wall. Apparently, they filmed a portion of a movie there at the restaurant.

Shannon Falls, about 1,100 feet tall, are just outside Squamish. The falls start at the top of a mountain and come all the way to the base. You see the top of the falls from the road, but the base is obscured by pine trees. As you get to the falls, just a short walk of .2 miles or so, you see the lower portion of the falls, but have the higher parts obscured.

After checking in at the Sea to Sky Motel in Squamish, we drove up the road a few miles to Alice Lake. We took a little walk partially around the Lake and I got a nice photo of Mount Garibaldi, a distinctive glacier clad mountain with a pointy right side peak and a heavy glacier saddle with a more rounded left side peak, lower peak.

August 10, 1995 (Thursday):

We got out of Squamish later than we wanted to. I didn't get up until almost 7:30 and the rest followed. We didn't actually get out until after 9:30.

I dropped Judy and Rachael off in the Gastown area of Vancouver and then took Sam and Andrew to the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. It was extremely crowded, partially due to the recent birth of a Beluga Whale, just a couple of weeks old. We did see the whale with its mother, but it was very crowded and we did not go underneath to see them swimming under the water and that was where they spent most of their time.

We did see their two killer whales which were impressive, particularly under water. They came skimming by the glass and we could see their rubbery skin with battle scars and their tremendous size. It was a thrill to be so near.

They had some sea otters, one particularly large one that looked like the size of a small coyote. They are almost as cute as the river otters at Northwest Trek, but the crowds detract from the ability to sit and enjoy them.

They also had exhibits of freshwater fish, including rainbow trout, various salmon, different frogs, a garter snake and newts.

There was a rainforest portion which was extremely hot and muggy. Sam described it as barely being able to breath. The best exhibit was an incredibly long anaconda. It's head was above water, but its enormous body was stretched out underwater. It had to be over 20 feet long. There were very large piranhas, an emerald tree boa and rainbow boa, some weird turtles and other rainforest type fish.

Sam discovered some dark black squirrels in the park with semi-bushy tails which were quite friendly. I'm wondering if they are Douglas Squirrels (after the Douglas Firs?). There were also numerous Canada geese on the grounds which would come up to feed. The zoo is being phased out, but there were some exhibits. In the penguin exhibit were two blue herons which were very beautiful. They were more exciting than the penguins.

We drove what seemed like forever into the heart of downtown Vancouver. We went down Georgia Street and the traffic was jammed. We finally took a side street and found an A&W to eat at, just past the heart of the China Town (which is apparently the second largest in North America, after San Francisco's).

We met Judy and Rachael at 3:00 (we dropped them off about 11:00) in Gas Town, on Water and Abbott. They were disappointed with the shopping and wished they had had the car. Rachael bought a ring.

We wanted to avoid the 99 which had been so crowded the night before. So we got on Hwy 1 and set out. It got to a standstill and we spent an hour or two going virtually nowhere. Eventually, as we got over the bridge past Port Coquitlam, traffic picked up. I believe that the bridges just aren't big enough to handle the volume of traffic and slow everything up.

We took Hwy 15 down through Surrey and hooked up with the I-5 near Blaine. We stopped at an outlet mall and bought four rain slickers at Helly-Hansen, on sale for $10.00 each. Hopefully, they will help our horse and river trips the next few days as scattered showers are expected.

We hit another horrendous stop on the I-5 past Bellingham. We were stop and go (and mostly stopped) for almost two hours. We were eventually detoured off the freeway right about where we needed to go, near Sedro Woolley. It looked like an enormous accident down the freeway with many police lights flashing and we did see one ambulance heading towards Bellingham.

We ate at a small drive-in in Concrete and got to Clark's Skagit River Cabins after 9:00. The cabin has two double beds, a single bed, two couches, a tub, microwave and fridge and t.v.

August 11, 1995 (Friday):

We woke up at 5:00 in order to get to Mazama by 8:00 (over 89 miles away on a crooked, windy road). The kids spotted about 6 rabbits playing on the lawns outside the cabins and spent several minutes trying to coax them into eating out of their hands.

The drive went through North Cascade National Park, at least kind of. We saw a visitor center, and a sign marking the exit of the North Cascade scenic drive, but no other real indication of a National Park. I believe the river is not in the Park, but that both sides of the river, after some distance, are.

We arrived at Early Winters Outfitting and Guide Service right at 8:00. About 9:00, they got the horses into the trailer and we drove 6 miles back toward the Cascades to a trail called Cedar Ridge (?). The sign indicated a waterfall in 2 miles and the ridge in 10 miles.

Andrew got a horse named "Gizmo," Sam a horse named "Mr. Ed," Rachael a horse named "Festus," Judy a horse named "Snoopy," and I got a horse named "Poco." Our guide, a young girl named Heather, had a horse named "Billie."

Heather went first with Sam and Andrew right behind. Then me, Rachael and Judy. Judy had to go last because Snoopy had a bad habit of kicking things behind him. We rode up through a beautiful river valley, gradually climbing the whole way. At times the stream was well below us, with fairly steep drops below the trail. I must admit that I thought many times that I hoped my horse was sure footed because one misstep and we were going to get hurt badly.

After about 1 3/4 hours, about 11:00, we stopped in an open grassy area. Heather had forgotten the fishing poles and went back to get them. We had our sack lunches which consisted of a turkey sandwich prepared by the Mazama Country Inn, some carrot sticks and crackers. Early Winters had a large canvas tent erected which apparently they use for overnighters.

Heather indicated we were in about 5 miles. We were below a beautiful mountain peak with some snow on it, and my altimeter put us at about 4,500 feet or so. When not in the sun, it was cold. Judy and I found a nice slanted rock in the meadow, in the sun, and laid down for a nice rest. The kids spent that time gathering green grass and leaves to feed to their horses.

About 1:00, we went for a short walk further up the trail. Judy gathered some wild flowers which she put in a bouquet which we took a picture of.

Heather got back about 2:00 with the fishing poles. Judy and Sam went off first and quickly caught a small fish. It was probably 6 inches long. They couldn't get the hook out of the mouth and so we weren't able to get it back into the water. I cleaned it, but we didn't have any place to keep it cool.

One of the two rods was broken and so we ended up with the one line. Ultimately, shortly after 3:00, we needed to get ready to get back. By the time the gear was put away and the horses rounded up, it was 3:40 and we headed back.

On the way back, Rachael and I traded places in line. We got back to the parking area about 5:10 or so.

After checking in at the Mazama Country Inn, Judy was not feeling well. Her eye was bloodshot and oozing white gook. The prices at the Inn restaurant were too steep, so I took the kids in the van to Winthrop, 14 miles east, for dinner. We ate at the Riverside Grill. Winthrop is kind of a touristy old west town which looks like it was built as a western movie set. Lots of old fashioned eating areas and souvenir joints.

On the way back we saw three white-tail deer. They are distinctively different than both the black-tail and mule deer. When they run, their tails stand up completely on end and all they have is white, on the tail and on the rump. They were a beautiful tawny brown.

August 12, 1995 (Saturday):

We stopped at the little grocery/gas station in Mazama and bought roast beef sandwiches, soda pop and a candy bar for lunch.

We started our ascent into the Cascades again and drove just pass Washington Pass (about 5,500 feet) to the Blue Lake Trail, near the Liberty Bell. This had been recommended to us by our river guides as a place where we might possibly see mountain goats.

As we pulled up, the rain had been coming down pretty hard and we debated whether or not to get out. The clincher was that we had a river trip starting at 2:00 and nothing else to do until then and nowhere else to go. We got loaded down in rain gear, put the food in the pack and set out. The trail to Blue Lake was supposed to be 2.2 miles. We walked about a half hour and decided, with lunch, that we shouldn't go any further. We found a large rock that was fairly dry and climbed upon it.

We had just gotten out of the trees and looked up at the craggy peaks above. We ate our sandwiches and started our drink. We looked up on the peaks for mountain goats, but couldn't see any. It started to rain again, so we hurriedly got our rain gear and started back.

We drove down to Goodell Creek Campground and finally found our guide, Dave, and two other people doing the river. After getting on water shoes (booties), we drove with Dave to take our autos seven miles downriver. We dropped off our cars and drove back up to Goodell Creek.

Dave taught us how to hold a paddle, how to paddle frontwards and backwards. We put on life preservers and he put Judy and I at the front of the rubber boat. We set into the water and before too long, we hit Goodell Creek rapids. We hit one square on and drenched me pretty good, water all over me, soaking my head. Then things mellowed out.

Dave taught us that gneiss, from the glaciers, made the river the beautiful bluish green. He let me take my camera along in a waterproof bag and I was able to get some pictures toward the beginning.

We determined that taking the river was a great way to see scenery. When hiking you're always looking at your feet and your view is often limited by trees. On the river, you are going faster, so the scenery changes more often; you have time to sit back and enjoy it as it goes by.

We hit some great rapids toward the tail end of the trip. Dave said they were mild Class III. The kids and Judy loved it. Judy looked at me and asked me when we could do it again.

All told, we did about three hours, going about 12 river miles. We all had a blast. It was a great way to top off a great trip.

We checked into Clark's Skagit River Cabins for the night and then drove into Marblemount for dinner at Buffalo ..... I had a buffalo t-bone stake which was $25.00. It was about 14 ounces and very good (tough). Sam had a venison burger which was also very good.

We've been reading Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls, the author of Where the Red Fern Grows. We have all been enthralled by it, reading it this morning in Mazama, in the car and tonight before bed. Judy was over at the Laundromat until 11:30 P.M. trying to get wet clothes washed so we can get it all home. 

1 comment:

  1. An incredibly magical, never to be forgotten moment on this trip was sitting among the tall grasses and listening to and watching the bugling elk.