Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Moving day

Today we're headed for the coast. Our neighbors next door tell us the campground's sites are surrounded by tall trees, so our satellite set up may be questionable. If that's the case, I won't be online as much for the next two weeks. Fair warning.

A Town of Painted Ladies

Port Townsend is one of three cities nationwide to be on the National Register of Historic Places due to its large number of Victorian houses and buildings built in the late 1800s. According to information online, the city declined in the early 1900s when a proposed railway line did not come through as expected which meant the city could not develop and expand its shipping port. Without that, the population slowly declined even after a paper mill was built in the 1920s. Folks just disappeared leaving all the buildings to slowly start to decay.

In the 1970s retirees and folks anxious to be away from the larger cities started buying the beautiful old homes and restoring them. Today, many have been converted to bed and breakfasts and restored to their old glory. Downtown has come back to life with a variety of shops in buildings that have been cleaned up and repainted to highlight their architectural details. The city offers a driving tour with seagulls painted on the street to follow, although the streets are narrow and the parking is all on-street parallel parking; delivery trucks straddle the median to drop off packages. For any one with a large vehicle or a RV, the city offers a park & ride lot on the east end of town with a shuttle service-it's located at the Safeway shopping center entrance. There is also a walking tour that highlights many of the more elaborate buildings and homes. If you enjoy Victorian style architecture, this is definitely a town to see.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Victoria, British Columbia

Everyone told us that a trip to Victoria, BC was a "must see", so yesterday's day trip was a ferry boat ride to Vancouver Island to explore Victoria. Although Victoria itself is a large town, a lot of the main tourist attractions are within a few blocks so walking isn't a big problem. Of course, they have carriage rides and double-decker bus tours and harbor taxis and even pedicabs, which are like rickshaws pulled by a person on a bicycle rather than a person on foot. That clarification is for any word purists among you.

We missed the tall ships exhibition that occurred over the weekend, although we did pass two of the ships returning to Port Angeles for display. Unfortunately, a marine layer was settling in as we passed the ships so they appeared as "ghost ships" in the distance, which was a neat effect to see but made for a poor picture. Of course, this way we also missed all the crowds!

We passed on the Bushart Gardens tour which takes about four hours. There are any number of combinations of tour packages ranging from the Grand City tour lasting an hour and a half to overnight stays with tours of the Gardens, the city, the Craigdarroch Castle and more. In town there's the Miniatures World, the Royal British Columbia Museum, the Royal London Wax Museum, the Undersea Gardens and more. We wandered through the main streets of town, stopping in Hudson's of Hudson Bay fame, watching the glass blowers at Starfish Glassworks, picked up a very expensive ($12.50 for two) pair of ice cream cones after a very tasty lunch at Milestone's Inner Harbor restaurant on the wharf. The buildings in town are beautifully restored and many have been rebuilt to look as if they were built in the 1860s. There are shops for anything you could possibly want, including the Rubber Rainbow Condom Co. shop. I kid you not-it's even listed in the tourist guide!

Victoria is a marvelous place to people watch; we heard many different languages and accents being spoken as we sat on a wall on the wharf before boarding the ferry to return to Port Angeles. We decided that Victoria is definitely a city we'll come back to explore, but the next time we'll bring a lot more money! It is can be quite expensive if you want to take any of the tours, although just wandering the streets and exploring the shops will keep you entertained for hours.

The ferry ride back in the evening air was quite cold, so take a warm jacket if you go. Hot chocolate on our return to the rig tasted wonderful!

Clouds laying on the mountains at sunset, Sequim, WA Posted by Hello

The Olympic Mountains rising from the clouds outside of Port Angeles, WA Posted by Hello

A mural in a town square in Port Angeles, WA-note the steep steps rising behind it Posted by Hello

Two forms of transportation in Victoria; a harbor taxi and a sea plane Posted by Hello

The Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

The wharf at Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

A street artist creating a mountain/moonscape painting from spray paint and wallpapering tools, Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

An apprentice glass blower from the Starfish Glassworks, Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

A building from the 1860s on Bastion Square, Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

A totem pole on the grounds of Victoria's Parliament buildings Posted by Hello

Victoria's Parliament buildings Posted by Hello

A gentleman playing bagpipes at the entrance to the Royal Scots Hotel, Victoria, BC Posted by Hello

Ghost ship; a tall ship returning to Port Angeles from Victoria through a marine layer of cloud Posted by Hello

Friday, June 24, 2005

Olympic National Park

Wow! This is not a one-day park; it is huge! Over 1,400 square mile of forests, mountains, coast line and lakes. Olympic National Park is awesome in the truest sense of the word. Our brief foray into the park included driving up to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and listening to a talk about the wildlife in the park given by a 23-year employee who obviously loved her job. It's so enjoyable to listen to someone who not only is knowledgeable but cares about her work. She gave the talk with the Olympic mountains as a backdrop and used animal pelts of the actual animals found in the park (these skins were from animals that died naturally and were salvaged) such as the black bear, bobcat, coyote, cougar and marmot. She also talked about the Roosevelt elk found in the park, although they tend to stay in the Hoh rain forest area.

President Grover Cleveland first created the Olympic Forest Reserve, President Teddy Roosevelt designated it a national monument, but President Franklin Roosevelt made the entire area a national park. This was done mainly to preserve the area from the logging industry which was steadily destroying a lot of the forests. What a wonderful decision it was to save this area.

We walked to two waterfalls; a .4 mile round trip walk to Madison Falls, which is a 60 foot tall waterfall and then to Marymere Falls, which was a 3 mile round trip walk. We picnicked beside Madison Falls and were the only people there for a half hour which was nice as we could enjoy the sight and sound of the falls as we ate. The walk to the Marymere Falls was almost like walking through a rain forest with the trees draped heavily in moss and ferns covering the forest floor. The bridges over Barnes Creek leading to the falls were single logs cut in half to be as unobtrusive in the natural habitat as possible. Marymere Falls is 90 feet tall and the last 1/8 mile to reach it gets your heart pumping with the climb. We ran into a young man who took the Storm King trail which is listed as having steep switchbacks and a 2,000 foot gain in elevation; he said that the trail was scary-narrow near the top and not maintained very well and that near the top they had placed ropes to grab on to for assistance in getting to the top. Hmm, I can see that a lot of this park would be for the young and hearty.

Lakes Crescent and Sutherland are beautiful lakes with clear blue-green water along US 101 that look like they'd be wonderful for boating. We didn't go further west to explore the rain forest areas or the Sol Duc hot springs area or further on to the coast; as I said, this is more than a one day park. If you like to hike, Olympic National Park would be the place to come see. The staff at the visitors' centers are very helpful and knowledgeable and wandering the trails in the stillness of the forests is an incredible feeling. The blue grouse (pictured below) was the only unusual wildlife we saw, but I'm sure if you were farther into the park early in the morning or near dusk you'd probably see a lot more animals. Of course, the deer were out but we were hoping for something a little more unusual. Haze (pollution?) kept the visibility down over the Strait of Juan de Fuco but you could see Victoria, British Columbia across the strait and Mt. Baker way in the distance.

Boy, are we going to sleep well tonight!

A Blue Grouse presenting himself to an unseen female in Olympic National Park, WA Posted by Hello

The Olympic Mountains and the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

Indian Paintbrush and lupine in Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

This is a very hazy shot of Mt. Baker in the distance, the Strait of Juan de Fuca in the middle. Taken from Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park, WA Posted by Hello

The Brauns at Madison Falls, Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

Lake Crescent and a sea of daisies at the Storm King visitor information center, Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

S/he had an itchy tail! Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

A very young fawn feeding at the Storm King visitor information center, Olympic NP, WA Posted by Hello

Ferns and forest and moss on the way to Marymere Falls. And this isn't even the rain forest area! Posted by Hello

A log bridge leading to Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park, WA Posted by Hello

Marymere Falls, Olympic National Park, WA Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Firecracker flowers (I have no idea of their real name) at the entrance to our campground. Sequim, WA Posted by Hello
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