Thursday, April 29, 2010

Port Angeles, WA

When we were told to allow two hours for a walking tour of this city we were surprised. It is a small port city, surely it would not take two hours to see everything. Don, from Heritage Tours, did have plenty to say about his fair town. It was at the Visitor's Center where we got connected up with him. Initially he sat us down to explain the city's major building project of 1914. Some of the streets of the town, located at the bottom of a hill, were constantly being flooded and  having problems of sewage coming back into the area when the tide came in. It was necessary to elevate those streets, and that project was completed in six months with all the townspeople working 24/7 to complete it. Concrete walls were poured and then soil and water were shot with cannons down from the hills to fill in the streets between the walls. Any future buildings constructed along those streets had to be put up on wooden piers. There is a mural on one of the town's buildings which shows the whole construction process quite well. After thirty minutes of getting all the details from Don I was getting quite sleepy and was thankful when he announced that it was time to start our tour of the town.
Many of the town's original buildings were torn down except for three which were jacked up to street level. One of those buildings has remained a family shoe store for the past 100 years. It's owner, the fourth generation of his family to sell shoes, has restored many of the original features of the building. Below is a mural on an outside wall of the building.
 Interestingly enough, that building may have been a family shoe store, but in the early 1900s the upstairs rooms were used as a brothel. The town back in those days had a lot of sailors and loggers coming in for relaxation and fun. Brothels were in high demand. The owner has restored those rooms to look like what they did back at that time. Don showed us many interesting details of those upstairs rooms- like the peep hole where the madam could look through and check out prospective customers, and the trap door from the poker room where the clientele could climb to the roof and flee any law officials entering the building.
 The main attraction of the town is its underground rooms, and there are not that many presently. Over the years the owners of the buildings filled in their underground area with basements. Utility companies put in wiring and plumbing. Those sections of the underground are now inaccessible. Don pleaded for some of that area to be kept open for historical purposes. One underground section used to be a miniature golf course in the early 1900s. Below is a mural which was found on a wall there. It depicts a fire which had occurred at that time in a local forest.
Our Port Angeles tour did take over two hours, and then some. Don had many stories to tell of its history. He has been doing these tours for quite some time and occasionally he will get someone on his tours who once lived in the town. From these people he has been collecting additional town history.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010


After being on the road for two days it did seem crazy to suddenly make a trip over to Seattle. However, our son Mike was there for a business conference and we sure hated to miss the chance to see him. He also has an important birthday coming up- his thirtieth.  It would be fun to at least buy him a drink for that milestone!  We drove over to Bainbridge Island and from there took a ferry to Seattle. Because of  heavy traffic we missed the ferry we had hoped to catch, consequently arriving later in Seattle than planned.  Mike was also busy, in fact, we need to kill about an hour before spending any time with him, so we ended up at Pike's Market. Anyone who has been to Seattle should know about Pike's Market. How about these flowers for sale there?

I do believe that if I lived anywhere near this market I would be there daily. It is a shopper's paradise, especially for fresh produce locally grown. There are also seafood-tossing fishmongers who are very interesting to watch. I sure wanted to take some fish home but that was impossible as it would be several hours before we headed back. We enjoyed what little time we had at the market and I know I am anxious to get back over there before we leave this area.
We did meet up with Mike eventually and had supper with him.We had all of one hour with him before he needed to catch his ride for the airport. It still was a great afternoon and well worth the little bit of time we could spend with Mike.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Sol Duc River Falls

After our hike in the rain forest we headed back to Forks for lunch and to find a laundromat. I needed to dry out my jeans. As a side note, Forks takes its name from the forks of three nearby rivers the Bogachiel, Calawah, and  Sol Duc. I am coming to appreciate the fact that many of the strange sounding words in this area are Indian words. Not surprising as there are eight Indian tribes in Washington. Sol Duc in the Sklallam language means "shining waters". As we drove into the Sol Duc river area we noticed signs pointing the way to a resort. This is the only full-scale resort within Olympic National Park and it has a hot springs bathing pool. The park lies in an area of tremendous geothermal activity. To get to the Sol Duc Falls we needed to drive into higher elevations. Consequently we went from seeing a lot of green in the rain forest to seeing the white of snow. Below is a picture of my brother hiking up toward the falls. It was still raining.
It has happened to us before that we hike out toward a scenic spot uncertain as to exactly what we are looking for. A fall of water came be anything from a small trickle running down a hillside or a thunderous wide stream flowing from high mountain cliffs. The former was the first stream of water we saw on our hike. We thought maybe that was what we were looking for. I would have been satisfied but, no, we had to hike further.
There was no question as to whether we were at the right spot when we saw the falls. They were impressive, three large streams of water spilling over large rock boulders and landing about 20 feet below into a steep cliff. It was worth the hike to see them but we had seen enough water for one day. We headed for home.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Hoh Rainforest

Hiking in the Hoh Rainforest was our major goal while touring the Olympic National Park. We shot the first day of our trip at the Cape and visiting Neha Bay. That evening we checked into a motel at Forks. Maybe you are familiar with the science fiction Twilight book and movie series?  I got through the Harry Potter books and did not pursue that next popular series. Anyway, the setting for Twilight is Forks. We were told at the motel that Twilight  has helped the economy of this town. The picture below, taken at the local burger joint, tells it all. There are many stores in Forks selling Twilight souvenirs and offering trips to the sites.
Our first thrill on that second day was the sight of two elk who stepped onto the road as we entered the rain forest. Unfortunately as fast as they appeared they also disappeared! The rain came off and on while we were in Hoh Rainforest. It seemed like the full ten feet of rain that falls on this forest in a year fell on the one day we were there!  My brother Wayne and John had full rain gear, tops and bottoms, while I just had a rain coat. I quit hiking after two short trails and then sat in the car while Wayne and John did part of a third trail.
 The paths through the forest were a challenge to navigate as quite a few were either totally under water or, at best, quite soggy. Notice the trail in the picture below. I did not have on waterproof hiking boots so I climbed up a log on the right side in order to by-pass the puddle. Also notice the length of those logs. It may give you an idea  of the full height of the trees in the forest.
I really can't complain too much about the wet weather,however (after all we are talking rain forest). The beauty of the lush vegetation was awesome. The presence of many ferns and towering mossy old growth woods of spruce,firs and hemlocks made up for any wet discomfort we felt! And I could not get over the many clear mountain streams of water we saw. I think any pictures which I took in the forest really can't capture its full beauty.

Cape Flattery

We left Sequim Friday morning and headed to the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula
 with little hope of any improvement on the weather. We stopped for a picnic lunch at a beach along the coast. Hard to believe that looking out over the ocean we could see Canada! About 18 miles across the Strait of Juan lies Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. After lunch we drove to Cape Flattery, one of the most dramatic "land's ends" on Earth, marking the most northwestern point in the continental United States.In a year's time John and I have traveled to the four corners of the United States!  On Cape Flattery we hiked to an observation deck from which we could view the  deep caves and grottoes  carved into the sandstone of the Cape by the pounding surf. It is estimated that in 200-300 years time this maze of sea caves will be washed away by the force of the ocean's waves.
Cape Flattery was named by Captain J.Cook. He named this important nautical landmark that "flattered" him with the hopes of a safe  harbor(there was none).
 Hiking around on the Cape we thought there was a skunk near our trail because of the presence of its familiar odor. We then came upon some skunk cabbage. We have been seeing a lot of that plant in the marshy areas where we have been hiking.  It may have a bad odor,but it does have a pretty flower.
At Cape Flattery is the town of Neah Bay, the center of the Makah Nation land. It is also the location of a museum of artifacts from archaeological digs, most notably the Ozette Village which existed about 500 years ago. Something which was quite fascinating for me to learn was that the Native Indian in the northwest made clothing and hats from cedar bark. They pounded it until it was soft and fluffy,  pliant enough to be woven on their primitive looms. The cedar tree was their most abundant resource and they made many items from it.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Olympic Game Farm

I want to post one more picture taken in the town of Port Townsend. In the downtown area of the town are these stairs leading up to the residential section. In some ways this town reminded me of Galena Illinois.
Yesterday we drove to Olympic Game Farm. When we purchased our tickets we were asked whether we wanted a loaf of bread to feed the animals.  We did purchase one and that made our drive through the park a very amusing one. Once the animals and birds figured out that we were a car with food, the feeding frenzy began.
In case you are wondering that is white fallow deer in the picture above. And it was not only llamas,deer, yaks, bison and elk after our food. We also had to contend with peacocks, sparrows and gulls. We learned very fast not to open our windows completely.
 Even little bunnies started hopping down the road after our car! Would you believe they like bread? One rabbit even stood on his hind legs with his paws out for food- I really wanted to get a picture of that but I didn't move fast enough. Supposedly the farm does feature some world-famous animal actors, maybe he was one of them. It seemed a cool day to me, but the grizzly pictured below looked like he was feeling warm.
We were not ready to head back home yet after touring the farm. We wanted to get in some hiking so we drove to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. Dungeness Spit,as the refuge is also called, is one of the world's longest natural sand spits. It is about 5.5 miles long and continuing to grow at 20 feet per year. Hikers are restricted to the north shore of the spit. Piles of driftwood create the dividing line between the visitors and the refuge located on the southern side of the sand bar. It does makes for a good bird blind from which it is possible to view the many species of birds likely to be present there. Unfortunately while we were there it was cold and windy, we were not about to stop our hiking to view any birds! What was exciting for me on that hike was a tiny purple orchid which I found in the forest next to the seashore. That completed what turned out for me to be a wonderful Earth Day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Port Townsend

We finally got a sunny day yesterday so we headed out to explore the area around us. Our first stop was at the Sklallam Tribal Center. I took the above picture at a park there, which lies on the shores of Discovery Bay. In 1874 several Sklallam tribes resisted efforts to move them to a reservation in Skohomish and bought 210 acres of land at a place they called Jamestown Beach. They were eventually able to purchase more land at a central location on Highway 101 where they established their governing offices. We stopped there to look at their Northwest Native American Expressions Art Gallery.  There are several totem poles located on the grounds, below is a picture of my brother Wayne standing by the bear totem. The bear is holding a salmon in his paws.
 There is a House of Myth Carving Shed here where visitors may view totem poles and other art work being made for the tribe. Part of the Sklallam campus here is the 7 Cedars Casino. After this stop we drove further north to Port Townsend. This small town had its heyday in the late 1800s and early 1900s. It was then a major seaport, fishing and lumber area. Over the years the town has kept many of its spacious Victorian houses and fine brick or stone downtown shops.
 And what a surprise we had, while driving through the residential area, to see these deer gazing in one of the corner lots! They acted like it was no big deal to have cars whizzing buy or people stopping to take their picture.
We had quite a delightful afternoon strolling the streets of the downtown district. Down the street and beyond the building below is the bay.
 Port Townsend has some excellent antique shops. I was amazed at the large quantity of old furniture, dishes and books in one of the stores which we wandered into. Unfortunately we presently have no home to put the stuff should we wish to purchase anything! We finished off our afternoon with an ice cream pie at the Elevated Ice Cream Store. That was a pleasant change from ordering the usual ice cream cone. The shop also advertises that it gives out small portions so one does not have to share with another person.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Northern Washington

Yesterday we moved north out of the Vancouver area. We drove past Mount St. Helens and over the Toutle River. That is the river which comes down from the volcanic mountain. It still has a gray shoreline from when the volcano erupted in 1980. Another river we passed had three deer standing on a sandbar, a bit unusual for the middle of the day. Before going on I have to mention another river we saw yesterday with a rather unusual name- it was the Duckabush River. Maybe some canoeist had trouble navigating that river, or maybe there really is/was a Mr. Duckabush. Driving on Highway 5 a strange monument caught my eye. All I could see was several high towers, one had on it what looked like the figure of Jesus, another an eagle. I researched that later. What we had passed was the Gospodors Monument Park. The Jesus figure is really Mother Theresa. One tower is a memorial to all Native Americans, the other one remembers all of the Holocaust victims. There are apparently also other smaller works of art in this park. That is sum total of what I found out about those monuments. After Highway 5 we took Highway 101. Yes, that is the highway we had taken in California. If we kept going up and over the Olympic Peninsula on that highway we would head south and back to California. It was a beautiful drive along the Dabob Bay. We were entering higher elevations, the foothills of the Olympic Mountains. The road was narrow and curving, going up and over many forested hills.  The shoreline was a bit muddy in appearance because the tide was out. We drove through many small picturesque villages. Sadly many of the restaurants,shops, and gas stations were closed with for sale signs on them. One village  we drove through had a building with a sign on it indicating it was a tribal headquarters. Down the road further from that building was a brightly lit casino. It seemed to be doing a good business, its parking lot looked almost full. By late afternoon we arrived at our destination, which was the town of Sequim. Here we have plans to spend a couple of weeks with my brother Wayne and his wife Mary Jo. We are in a beautiful park, the picture below is what we can see out of our side door.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lilac Festival

The above house was the home of Hulda Klager located in Woodland Washington. She was also known as the lilac lady. In 1903 she received a book by Luther Burbank. His work to  improve plant propagation caught Hulda's attention. Her own tests began with an apple tree on her farm. She moved on from apple trees to lilacs. By 1910 she had fourteen new varieties to show for her efforts. In ten years she had enough varieties to host her first open house during the spring bloom. We attended the lilac festival at her home yesterday. The colors of her lilacs range from every shade of lavender and purple to white and very light pinks. To put it mildly, her gardens of lilacs are absolutely gorgeous. Also, if there are that many lilacs in one place, the fragrance of their blooms can be quite powerful! That has to be one of the best fragrances of any flowering plant.
Also present in the gardens are many other beautiful flowering trees, flowers and bushes. Azaleas, rhododendron, and dogwood are at their peak of blooming now in this area. And how about this awesome viburnum tree with its white flowers?
On our way home we stopped to see our nephew Cedric and his wife Angela. They were spending their Sunday afternoon painting Angela's coffee shop. I actually think that they had more fun painting than we did touring the lilacs!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ridgefield National Wildlife

Along the lower reaches of the Columbia River lies this wildlife refuge. The 5,218 acres of refuge contain a lush mixture of wetlands, grasslands, and forests of Douglas-fir and Oregon white oak. Lewis and Clarke came to this area first in November 5,1805 and observed a  large Cathlapotle Indian village with 14 cedar plankhouses. Below is a replica of  one of those homes which we saw yesterday while hiking in the Refuge.
The door was designed to be low and round to keep out enemies, supposedly representing the womb. A Chinook Indian painted the man on the door. The red side of his face  represents his spirituality. He has only three ribs because that was one of  the Cathlapotle Indian's favorite numbers. Lewis and Clark returned to this village in March 1806 and camped at a "butifull grassy place" about a mile upstream. I could not help but often think of these two men as we hiked the forests and walked along the lake located there.
 We saw many patches of the Lily Avalanche wildflower, pictured below.
There was also a lot of the False Solomon's Seal. In one large patch of that plant the blue Camus flower also made its appearance.
 After completing the hike in the woodland area of the Refuge we drove over to the River "S" Unit of the refuge on the lower Columbia River. This is a four-mile road through wetlands where there are a variety of migratory waterfowl and other wildlife. As we entered the area we espied this American Bittern staring intently into a drainage pipe. It was a long time that he stood here in this pose. We moved on.
We also saw one river otter swimming around, also a black-crowned night heron ,a white egret, cinnamon teal and mallard ducks. Canadian geese were everywhere, I had never seen so many of them before in one place. What an awesome sight when a large number of them would take flight at the same time!


Friday, April 16, 2010

Waterfront Renaissance Trail

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday and amazingly no water came down from the sky. A perfect day to do some bike riding. Downtown Vancouver sits on the north bank of the Columbia River. Consequently, riding on the waterfront trail offered us some beautiful views of the river. We stopped for a little while on a pier to  talk to several men who were fishing there.There were a lot of small boats on the river, quite unusual for it being a weekday. We soon came to find out that the salmon were running!  We saw one man come up from his boat with three of them.
The trail seemed to have a surprise waiting for us at its every bend and curve. True, there are many condos, hotels and restaurants along this trail, but they still did not seem to take away from the beauty of the waterfront.  And there was only one place on this trail where we got this spectacular view of Mt. Hood.
Along the way we passed by the Kaiser Shipyards(not in operation today). During World War 11 these shipyards turned out more than 140 ships. About 20,000 people were employed here, half of them women. Remember Rosie the Riveter? Along the trail there is a monument to the many women who joined the work force at the shipyards.
 There was another historical monument on the trail;  a tribute to the Native Americans, especially one female by the name of Ilchee, also know as the moon girl.
Legend has it that she had the powers of a shaman and paddled her own canoe- something only the chiefs did. That story packs more meaning into something my mother always told me: "love many,trust few, always paddle your own canoe". She must have know Ilchee!   The last leg of our journey took us through some wetlands. I could wax eloquent on the blooming spring foliage; birds swooping and singing around us, but I will spare my readers on that. Suffice it for me to say that we had a fantastic bike ride along the riverfront.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Crystal Springs Rhododendron Gardens- Portland

What a perfect time of the year to visit a rhododendron garden! After driving into Portland, picking up our niece Cheryl and nephew Daryl,  we headed for the Crystal Springs Gardens.
 These gardens also have azaleas. The azaleas and rhododendrons bloom from February and continue through June. There is a lake and waterfalls in this seven acre garden, which makes for a beautiful setting for the blooming bushes. There were numerous migratory waterfowl either in the lake or out wandering on the paths with us while we were there.
While walking the gardens I could not help but take many pictures. I wanted to capture all that beauty forever!  I will post one more here before moving on.
For lunch we ate at the "trailers". They are a cluster of food trailers located on a street corner in Portland. It is like an outdoor food court. Interestingly enough, the type of food offered at these trailers is international; as French, Mexican and English. I had a delicious salmon crepe sandwich, Cheryl and Daryl enjoyed poutine( french fries covered with gravy and cheese curds). John and I had a similar dish when we were in Quebec, it is quite the comfort food and does not taste as bad as it sounds!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fort Vancouver Washington

It is just amazing that I woke up to sunshine today! The last two days started out with cloudy skies and rain. I heard someone say yesterday that if you stand in one spot here too long you will get rooted! Maybe there is some truth to that here in the northwest. We toured Fort Vancouver yesterday. There are only a few reconstructed buildings on the site now of what was once a very important settlement in the Pacific Northwest. It was then headquarters for the Hudson Bay Company of England. When the United States acquired full authority of all the territory south of the 49th parallel, the Hudson Bay Company left and the fort was abandoned. What was interesting to me yesterday in our tour of the fort was the display of artifacts which archeologists have found over the years here.  Since 1948 more than one million artifacts have been recovered. The workers at the fort during the nineteenth century represented many nationalities. One artifact is a Peruvian coin, another is a carved pipe bowl which shows the culture of the Chinook Indian as well as the Hawaiian native. Another artifact is a brick that once was a part of the Roman ruins. After touring the fort we drove over to Officer Row. In 1849 the first US army post in the Pacific Northwest was established near Fort Vancouver. The base is now closed, but the officers homes have been restored and are being used as commercial buildings. One house has been opened to the public for tours, and that is the home of  Brigadier General George C. Marshall. He was Secretary of State at the time of the creation of the post-World War 11 European recovery plan. In the house is a copy of the Nobel Peace Prize he won because of his work on that recovery act, which is also called the Marshal Plan. He and his wife lived here from 1936-1938.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Battleground Washington

We attended services Sunday at the church of our sister-in-law Marta. It is Prince of Peace Lutheran, an LCMS church. The pastor of the church, Tony Schultz, played the guitar for several contemporary songs. His sermon was on "Breathe", based on the Bible verses of John 20:19-31. In those verses the story is told how Christ breathed on his disciples, giving them the Holy Spirit and transforming their lives forever. I had  never before connected that story with other incidences in the Bible of God breathing on someone and giving them life.It was a very interesting sermon. In the afternoon we hiked at Battleground Lake State park with Marta and her husband Terry.
 Aren't they the happy newly weds! They were married in January and now are blessed with a total of nine offspring between them. Terry's youngest son, Zach, happily joined us for the hike.
The lake in this park is called a caldera, it  is believed to have been formed from an ancient volcano. It was very still and quiet the day we were there, except for some  people  fishing. Below is a picture of the lake. 
At this park I also found another lily- of- the valley bush, this one has pink leaves and I just could not pass by it without snapping a picture.