15 August 2012

Grants Pass and Crater Lake National Park

We left Newport and headed south along the coastal highway (OR 101) to Coos Bay where we turned east at 5:21 PM on 12 July.  At that point we were officially EASTBOUND and headed back to the Atlantic Coast from the Pacific.  As we climbed into the coastal mountain range the sun came out, it got warmer and the fog dissipated!  Our long hard cold summer in the NW seemed to fade quickly in the rearview camera!

The next day we arrived in Grants Pass OR and stayed in a county RV park on the Rouge River.  We were looking forward to spending several days with good friends from our AF days at Mather AFB, Jim and Judy.  Now that we were on the eastern slope of the coastal mountains the weather was quite pleasant, sunny and warm, clear & warm, dry & warm, blue skies and warm!  You get the idea - it was warm!

One day Jim & Judy took us south to the Redwood Forest in northern CA.  BJ had been particularly interested in this trip and once we got there I understood why.  What magnificent trees these are!
Growing into the clouds!

Magnificent giants!

BJ had understood much better then I what awesome giants these Redwood trees were.  Now we both are looking even more forward to out next trip west when we will include the Sequoia forests in out must see list!

On another day Jim and Judy took us to Crater Lake National Park.  Lots of snow still on the ground in late July and the perimeter road still had not been completely cleared of snow and was still impassable!

Nonetheless the lake was beautiful.  The actual lake is about 700 ft below the rim where the visitors center and most of the support facilities were located.  While I was not interested in doing it during this visit I was interested in maybe scuba diving the lake on a future visit.  On the way to the lake we stopped at a Forest Service service center and while talking to one of the rangers I found out he was a diver and went to the Keys most Springs on  a dive vacation.  He had dived Crater Lake and gave some interesting facts.  First of all it is cold (that was not news), second it is excellent visibility (clear water and little if any current to stir things up).  However it is a 700+ ft trail down to the water and Park Service does not allow any wheeled vehicles, e.g. carts, on the trail.  You have to haul your dive gear down the trail and after the dive you had to haul it back UP the trail!

Crater Lake

Crater Lake Hotel

Visitors overlook built by CCC

Crater Lake from the rim!  That is snow, not white sand!

BJ with Jim & Judy

Imagine carrying your dive gear down & UP this path!

The trip to and back from Crater Lake was equally enjoyable and a little warmer then Crater Lake!

One of several beautiful water falls we visited on the way to Crater Lake!

Jim & Judy's friend, Peking Duck was with us and really liked the geocache we found on the trip to Crater Lake!

The Living Sutmp - an interesting pheonome they showed us.  After the tree was cut it continued to grown and "repair" the cut by growing over it!  The roots of the stump and the adjacent tree were intertwined and it got nutrition from the joined roots!

A river was narrowed and running rapidly thru gorge!

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

13 August 2012

Oregon Coast - Beautiful & Cold

We moved on to Newport OR which is on the Pacific Coast in central portion of the OR.  We expected it to be cool, but not as cold as it was!  WE stayed on the beach at a beautiful state park immediately south of Newport OR.
Tide up - this is an island with a tree!
Beautiful rocky beaches
Some more dynamic beach landscape
A pretty inlet!
This was a cold and gloomy day!

Sandy beach, but lots of stuff
Horse riding on the beach was a big thing!
Wreck diving on the beach!
Temp was about 60 degrees at noon in mid-July!
Downtown Newport OR
A Newport resident!

We enjoyed our stay but were ready to leave after a week of 56-60 degree days, more often wet and foggy then sunny!  The coastal mountain range holds the cold from the Pacific Ocean close and sun  never really warms it up or at least not in July when we were there!

Always at home no matter where we are!

11 August 2012

Let's Have Some Humor!

While we are hanging out in way rural NW Alabama I was looking for something entertaining on the i-net.  I clicked on one of the "Favorites" I have listed on my browser.  It was one I check every so often, but not too frequently.

Wow, this close to the FL primary (in 3 days) I should have been watching it more closely.  It is the website of the Key West Citizen, the Key West daily paper.  It is a hoot.  It is a small daily paper, usually about 15 sheets with two sections.  They do dedicate a half-page or less to things going on outside the Keys but to an outsider the Key West news can really be entertaining!

Today's news is about a number of wanna be elected officials.  Some push around police officers doing their job, others embezzle money to finance their political ambitions, others just act normal (stupid by normal definitions!)  The comments following most stories is as entertaining as anything!

At any rate here is the link - add it to your favorites (at least until after the election in November)!

Key West news     

Always at home, no matter where we are!!

Mt St Helens twice

Our first trip to Mt St Helens was more interesting then we expected.  We were staying near Hood River OR and as we crossed the Columbia River I noted I needed to get some gas in the Jeep.  No problem, the map showed several small towns on our route.  We went on our way thru the rural countryside with beautiful forest blanketing the land in every direction.  We eventually got to the small town we had seen on the map.  Its single gas station was on the main drag (nearly the only street in town) and the pumps were blocked off as they were replacing the underground tanks. 
So we proceeded on thinking we would find a gas station in one of the other little towns on our route – WRONG!  After several small towns that barely had any residents, let alone any stores we looked at how far we still had to go.  According to the "miles to empty" reading in the Jeep we probably had enough gas – but considering the desolation of the countryside we we decided it was not worth the risk!  We turned around and backtracked first to that gas station that was not selling gas while the tanks were being replaced.  I asked where their nearest competition was and they told me – it was another 10 miles and on the road running along the WA side of the Columbia River.  It turned out to be just a few miles further from where we had turned away from the river heading to Mt St Helens.  At any rate we gassed up and while looking around found a nice little restaurant on the river and had lunch.  Over lunch we decided to resurrect our plans for the day – visit Mt St Helens!  When we had to turn around we just figured it was not going to happen that day, but with a full tank and full stomachs it sounded like a good idea again!
On this trip we were visiting the "backside" of the mountain, the south side.  The major blast on 18 May 1981 was to the north where the side of the mountain collapsed in the first few seconds of the event!  But, there was still plenty of evidence of the blast on the south.  In addition to a large swath where a molten mass of materials and melted water rushed down the side of the mountain there were downed trees and debris still very evident!  There were beautiful overlooks and the forest were recovered not far from the mountain.  This was all remote sections with plenty of recreational activities such as camping and hiking and rafting.  Part of the road was still blocked by snow and was closed!  We were there first in late June and snow was still plentiful. 
The "notch" in the middle of the peak is where the river of  debris  flowed out of the crater and down the side of the mountain!

This is part of the path the debris took.  It was much wider then this  as this is where the annual snow melt runs now.
About a week after our first visit to Mt St Helens we decided we wanted to see the "front side" of the mountain.  This is where the blast was most evident and where the most destruction was focused and where the visitors center is located.  It is on the north slope of the mountain.  It was about a 70 mile trip from Stubb Stewart State Park east of Portland to the entrance to the Mt St Helens National Monument, then another 30+ miles to the Visitor Center which was squarely in front of and about 4 miles from the summit.  
They explained and demonstrated in animated videos how in the first few seconds of the eruption a massive earthquake caused the north side of the cone to collapse and slide away so instead of having a normal cone that would direct a lot of the energy up and into the sky, you had this vast opening on the north  side of the cone and as the eruption occurred a huge amount of the energy that would normally have been expended upwards was directed outwards to the north.  This lateral force was very significant and for miles it just snapped Hugh trees like toothpicks and pushed unimaginable amounts of debris out for miles.  The evidence of the force is still visible and unmistakable.  That lateral blast force seems to be a defining characteristic of this event.  Without the lateral blast this would have still been a significant event, but the physical damage would have been more localized.  The ash would have still been spread across a vast area and created havoc. 
Mt St Helens from the north approach
From the north face -you can see where the side is gone!
After the blast this was a river of mud, boulders and debris about 70 to  100 ft  deep!
This was a tree covers slope directly in front of the blast and about 6 miles away!  Still not substantial growth, all the topsoil and trees were blown off by the blast!

Always at home, no matter where we   are!

Beautiful Oregon

We crossed from eastern WA into eastern OR and got on I-84 heading west!  We were travelling along the Colombia River.  Initially it was rolling farmland with vast golden fields of grain spreading to the horizon on both sides of the Colombia.  However, as we moved westward the fields changed into steep walls along each side of the mighty Colombia!  We were in the awesome Colombia River Gorge!  It was magnificent and on our first day it was very windy and the water was violently responding with large waves crashing into the rocky sides of the gorge.  I-84 and the railroad ran along the southern side of the gorge intertwined with each other.  Sometimes the railroad was to our left and sometimes between the Interstate and the Colombia.  But, the river, with the steep gorge walls framing it, was always magnificent.  East of Hood River OR we found a state park wedged between I-84 and the railroad in the gorge.  The entrance to the state park was actually from a small rest area on I-84!
A bend in the river
View from part of the 1920's highway
As we explored the area we found that parts of a highway built in the 1920 to attract tourist to the area still existed in some parts of the gorge.  It had been a highway full of beautiful vistas along the steep gorge walls.  Today small parts of it are open to vehicular traffic and some other parts are for hiking and biking only and some of it was incorporated into the current road system! 
The beautiful Columbia River
 Wind surfing was obviously a very popular sport on the many windy days in the Colombia Gorge.  We saw many wind surfers out and the higher the wind the more surfers!
More windsurfers!
After several days enjoying the gorge we moved to a state park that was about 35 miles west of Portland, near Beaverton.  Stub Stewart State Park was the newest state park in the OR system and was well designed and located in the countryside about 20 miles south of the Columbia.  Portland OR is a port city on the Columbia and we saw impressive harbor facilities on the Columbia in Portland. 
Stub Stewart State Park has beautiful trails thru magnificent forests with trees that seem to reach into the blue sky above.  For hiking through the beautiful forest you are rewarded with some beautiful views looking out over seemingly endless beautiful verdant forests!
Beautiful view of forests reaching to forever!
Trees that grew into the clouds!

Always at home no matter where we are!