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2002 West Camping Vacation Travel Log - page 3 of 5
Week 3 ~ Monday August 5 to Sunday August 11, 2002

Monday August 5 - We left Indian Creek campground in Yellowstone heading north to Montana. It took us a few hours to get out of the park due to the constant great scenery getting in the way of the camera. We had to check out the Fountain Paint Pots and all the geo thermal activity that creates all the bazaar landscapes with the colorful mineral deposits.

This may look like a hazardous waste chemical spill, but it is really some of the hot mineral stuff that oozes from the ground.
...and more goo and whatever.
Awesome colors created by the hot springs. A lot of this stuff here at Yellowstone.
And we are off driving up into Montana. This is one big, beautiful state!
See the grass? See the cattle? See the mountains? See the cow poop?

Tuesday Aug 6 - Well, we stayed in a really crappy campground last night. Actually the campsites were nice, but the facilities were crap. They may have cleaned the restrooms and showers back in June... of last year. We had a very nice drive today across the southwest chunk of Montana. Lot's of eye candy. Definitely not a boring drive like going across Kansas (blah).

Sleepy Montana clouds. Overcast with some really cool cloud formations. Good day for a long drive without a glaring sun.

We continued across that little skinny part of Idaho and it is absolutely beautiful even without the potatoes. Into Washington we go and the landscape changes to a flat plateau type country where you can see for miles. Looks like Nebraska! We had to fire up the GPS and check the maps to be sure we didn't go east instead of west. We were going west alright. Spokane looks like a city to avoid. Not much to look at. Very few trees. Flat land. Blah. We quickly passed thru on the I90 at 60 miles per hour.

Westward we go into eastern Washington. Now these are what they call silos out here. That's a freight train next to them.
Them suckers are big!
I'm telling you, eastern Washington is flat like Nebraska. Great farmland. All plowed and ready for planting as far as you can see. There were little dust tornados all over the place. Cool.
We stopped at a scenic overlook of the Columbia River and I found a petrified dinosaur turd. Actually a lava rock. I'm going to put this baby in the BBQ and watch it take three hours to heat up. The lava rock is something like 3000 feet thick over this entire area so I picked up a large bag of it for the gas BBQ's. Same stuff they sell in Home Depot for $7 for a small bag. I am cheap. Nice souvenir. A bunch of lava rock.

Eastern Washington is really flat and arid. The rain coming from the west is all dumped on the Cascade Mountains and the eastern plains are in what they call the rain shadow and get little rain.

We spent the night in a really nice KOA in Ellensburg and recharged the batteries, cooled down the refrigerator, made ice and took showers.

Wednesday Aug 7 - We are all refreshed with all the batteries recharged and the refrigerator nice and cold and new ice made. And we are off to Mt Rainer National Park, but first we have to finish the drive through central Washington.

Hey hay get outta my way! We are on US-12 west of Yakima.
We are in the eastern half of Washington and there is a lot of farming going on here.
Fruit is big business here. Washington apples anyone?
Driving up to a higher viewpoint shows all the individuals farms or ranches on the lower plains. Looks much more impressive in real life. Can't catch the true wide-angle view.
Mt Rainier is so easy to photograph. It is absolutely beautiful.

And here we are in Mt Rainier National Park where the center of attraction is, of course, Mt Rainier, a real active volcano that is predicted to blow like Mt. St. Helens did back in July of 1980. But it may not happen here for another 500 years. The park is quite large with absolutely breathtaking views.
We drove up to Paradise and went to the Visitor Center and checked out the camping at the different campgrounds. Took a bunch of pictures of the mountains and headed off to our chosen campground.

And here is our campsite at Cougar Rock campground. The trees in the picture are at least 200 years old and tall, tall, tall. It is so nice and quiet here you can here a chipmunk fart.
I have said it many, many times, "This is the BEST campground anywhere."
An old yuppy camper with a bottle of Michelob, a computer and a bag of prunes.
That's my HP Omnibook 6000 P-700 notebook that has served us very well.
And we had our first campfire. It doesn't get any better thann this. Perfect!

The drought out west has caused a ban on all fires in all parks up to here. They get a fair amount of rain here and campfires are allowed. The best camping ever. (I am still proclaiming this in 2015) It went down to about 40 degrees at night.

Thursday Aug 8 - We drove back up to Paradise and toured the Paradise Inn. Nice place. We had a slow day driving around and taking in the scenery. Went to Longmire and visited the museum and general store (bought some ice) and spent an hour with a park ranger who gave us a great history lesson about John Longmire and how he settled the area. Fascinating story.

Mt Rainier, again, with lots of rock, a mountain stream and a small footbridge.

I went on a 2.5 mile hike that started here, just outside the entrance to our campground. Walked up to Carter Falls. And I do mean up. It was an awesome hike through the woods along a river to the falls. Good exercise. Diane stayed at the campsite and made dinner. We went to a ranger talk at the amphitheater and learned about bears. It was not as cold tonight. Good sleeping.

We haven't had any cell phone signal for two days now. Maybe tomorrow I 'll be able to upload this stuff and get our email.

Friday Aug 9 - Boy do we hate to leave Cougar Rock campground. I took a bunch more pictures of the campground and will show them off when we get back home. We got a late start on the road to Olympic National Park which promises to be a real highlight of this trip. The drive to the park was not as picturesque as other days. We just had to stop at one of the numerous espresso stands that are along all the roads out here. Really great coffee and a whole lot cheaper than Starbucks.

We are spending the night at Forks 101 RV Park in Forks, Washington which is just a few miles inland from the ocean and just a bit outside the Olympic Park border. The skies are heavily overcast. They get a lot of rain here. We are about 20 miles from the only rain forest in the US and we will visit it tomorrow. We have an okay cell signal here so we should be able to get email. I'm having technical troubles sending emails, but I'll give it another try.

Saturday Aug 10 - We went to the Rain Forest today and walked the two miles along the two nature trails and took a crap load of pictures. This place is really, really neat! They get 150+ inches of rain here every year. This forest runs up the coast from this park to Alaska and is the only rain forest in North America.

Creepy looking trees in the rain forest.
A couple of shots of the trees and epiphyte in the rain forest. Now, go to the dictionary and look up epiphyte.
New baby trees will root themselves onto the top side of fallen trees and the dead tree will rot and disappear and the little trees grow into big trees and look like this. Understand?

The Spruce trees grow at least 200 years and big winds in the winter will knock down the 250 foot tall buggers. Now you have this big ol' log lying on the forest floor that starts decaying and seedlings begin growing on top of the log which may be 3 or 4 ft in diameter. Fifty years down the road, the log is pretty much gone and the trees have matured with their roots now grown through the decayed log and anchored into the ground. Eventually, the log is gone and there is now a row of huge trees where the log originally fell. See the row of trees in the above picture. Ninety percent of all the trees in this rain forest have started this way.

When the log is completely rotted, the root system of the tree looks like this. After a hundred years or so, these roots will all fuse together and become part of the main trunk of a really big tree.
Now this is a big tree! It's a 500+ year old Spruce tree that is 12½ feet in diameter.

We also went to Rialdo Beach where it was about 10 degrees cooler, windy (of course) and extremely overcast. One ugly place. No wildlife to be found even though the literature claims differently. The birds aren't stupid. They're 20 miles inland in the rain forest eating mosquitoes and pooping on the tourists cars in the parking lot.

Bright and cheery Rialdo beach.
The entire coastline is covered with huge logs and driftwood. It was really this grey and dark. Lots of big waves and cold water. Not at all like a Michigan beach. Well it's the Pacific. In the winter, it gets really nasty here.

Tomorrow we are leaving the west side of the park and heading around the north side where we should be able to see the mountains.

Sunday Aug 11 - The drive on US101 from the west side of Olympic National Park around to the north was so easy and the scenery so typical of what we think Washington looks like. Beautiful green forests and quiet lakes and streams. We have perfect weather; sunny with a high of about 80 degrees. We are now in the rain shadow and there is only about 25 inches of annual rainfall here which is about 10 inches less than what we have in Michigan. We parked the trailer in the early afternoon in Heart O' the Hills campground and will be spending two nights here. This place is real nice with very large trees and lots of smaller vegetation. It is one of the many rustic campgrounds in the park. Only ten bucks a night with nice restrooms and good water. Typical of the National Parks. Of course there is no cell phone service here again so I will upload this stuff to internet and get our email tomorrow when we drive to town.

Heart O' the Hills campground. Really great camping, again.
Here is our Heart O' the Hills campsite with a really big 5 foot in diameter freshly-cut tree stump and part of the trunk laying in the campsite across the road from the rear of the trailer.

We took the full driving tour up to Hurricane Ridge where you can see all the mountains worth seeing. Not a long drive and only a little over 5000 feet up, but there the mountains are snow capped and have glaciers and high meadows of absolutely beautiful wild flowers. The mountains are not nearly as spectacular as the mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park. Smaller mountains that are closer together.

Now here's a question: Aren't hurricanes only found in the Atlantic and in the Pacific these storms are called cyclones? So why Hurricane Ridge?

Hurricane mountains in Washington.

Lots and lots of hiking trails through the woods in the entire park. We toured the Visitor's Center up on Hurricane Ridge, ate a sandwich lunch in the picnic area and then walked the trails and shot more pictures. The winters are very harsh here and some of the trees are all twisted and ripped apart showing the results of the high winds blowing in from the Pacific.

There is quite a view from the picnic area. I took in some of the warm sun and finished off a brew. I would like to do this again someday.
My Sony digital camera takes some pretty good close-ups. I have a lot of wild flower pictures.
A Hurricane deer walking thru the parking lot.
The Black Tailed deer are very tame and there is a $100 fine if you feed them. Party poopers.
Here's a bit of left-over snow near the nature trail up on Hurricane Ridge. They get 150 inches of annual rainfall here which happens mostly in the winter with July and August being real dry with about 4 inches each month. They do get over 100 feet of annual snowfall up here.

We went back to the campsite and had a bit of supper, just a bit, after which we went to a ranger talk about forest fire and how it regenerates the forests every hundred years or so. Fire is good! The park gets from 15 to 30 lightning caused fires each year and 10 to 20 human caused fires. The forests are fairly wet and don't burn well. Rats! I wanted to burn one.

And this is the end of Week 3 of our vacation. Go back to Week 2 -- Go to Week 4