Travels in Review 2019 – Part 5
The Pacific Northwest is known for its dramatic coastline, snow-capped mountains, and dense green forests. By the time we entered Oregon, it had been a full month with nearly 21 days spent in California. So much to see! We both agreed that we would take it at a slower pace in future travels. We had already visited 7 National Parks.
Not to be outdone by the previous parks were the views at Crater Lake National Park. Snow again covered much of the park closing the north rim drive. This nearing July 4th! We were able to capture some fantastic pictures of the clear blue water’s reflective qualities. The lake was created as melted snow and rain filled the volcano that had imploded on itself over 7000 years ago. Crater Lake is one of the most transparent bodies of water around with a depth over 1900 feet. We headed back in the evening hoping to catch the dark sky viewing we had heard about but no such luck. The sky clouded over, giving us a gorgeous golden orange sunset.
From there, we changed plans and decided to visit AM Solar in Eugene, OR, as they were closing for the July 4th week. AM Solar is the company where we purchased most of our solar equipment. Gerry met with Mitch Boyer to review his solar install and tweak the software settings. Mitch kindly spent nearly 2 hours with us providing additional support and instruction. We can now update any data information and error codes with AM Solar.
Eugene has a farmer’s market and a curious art/craft market we attended while there. A step back in time with a variety of tie-dye, macrame, and “pretty flower vases” as Gerry called them. We did find a spacious county park to spend time over the busy holiday week.
I started the next leg of the drive to our stay at Fort Stevens State Park near Astoria, WA. There we took some time to explore some of the coastal towns. We enjoyed the city of Cannon and a drive through the neighboring Ecola State Park on the coast. Beautiful views of the expanse of the Pacific Ocean from the cliffs. At the beach, we hiked a couple of miles to Haystack Rock and the tidal pools that surrounded it to find a variety of sea creatures and birds. That evening we dined on the much anticipated Dungeness crabs we had picked up at a fish market by the park.
Off we went next to Olympic National Park. How can any place on earth be so green? We hiked nearly 5 miles the first day through temperate rain forest thick with moss, ferns of all shapes, and fragrant spruce and pines. Crystal clear lakes, rivers, and streams abound, including the Sol Duc Falls with the picturesque bridge I have often seen in brochures.
Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, one of three in Olympic NP, offers views of the snow-capped Olympic Mountain range. As we hiked along the High Ridge Trail, the clouds descended on the mountains, and we soon lost our picture perfect day. A colorful assortment of wildflowers including Indian Paintbrush followed us along the paths and drives in the park.
Mount Rainier National Park is another fantastic park. Having an altitude of 14,410, Mount Rainier is still considered an active volcano. Hoping to see our best panoramic views, we headed to the Paradise Area at over 5000 feet high. The area named for its abundant wildflower meadows, Paradise is also home to the park’s newest visitor center and Paradise Inn. Henry M. Jackson Visitor Center completed in 2008 includes exhibits, a gift store and, a cafeteria. Paradise Inn is a beautiful older building with a rustic alpine feel first constructed around the late 1910s with recent renovations done in the 1980s through the 2000s.
From the visitor center, we did an exhausting but exhilarating 3-mile upward hike. Unfortunately, there was no sight of Mount Rainier, which was shrouded in dense clouds. Views of the mountain range across from Rainier and the glaciers, along with the sub-alpine meadow flowers and animals, made it all worthwhile. On this trail was our first sighting of a marmot, undisturbed from his munching as we passed by.
On our way out of the park, we decided to stop by The National Park Inn for a few souvenirs. To our surprise, the clouds lifted, and we had the view we wanted. A young couple who were staying at the Inn and enjoying the view of Mount Rainier told us this was the first they had seen of it in the four days they were here. We lucked out as the next day it rained.
Favorite nightly stays on this segment:
Armitage Park, Eugene, OR – We stayed here for a week while visiting AM Solar. Spacious lots and with ample green space.
Fort Stevens State Park, Hammond, OR – We enjoyed the many bike trails, beaches, lakes and even a shipwreck. Close to Astoria, OR and convenient for our ocean drive on US HWY 101. Coco Approved – Lots of birds and wildlife.
Alder Lake Campground, Eatonville, WA – Maintained by Tacoma Water. Neat but crowded campground when we arrived. We had one of the last sites available. Close to Mount Rainier.
Next Up: Travels in Review 2019 Finale! Glacier, Rocky and The Great Sand Dunes