Olympic National Park – Hoh Rain Forest (December 2019)

On my trip back home to visit my family in Washington, we (my daughter, her boyfriend, and his 3 children ) decided to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in the Olympic National Park as they live only a two-hour drive away. For the 30 plus years, I and my husband had lived with our kids in Washington we had made a few trips over the years to the Olympic National Park, but we had not been to the Rain Forest. I think with working, raising kids and the fact that we lived in Gig Harbor, WA another two hours further south made for a 4-hour drive just one way.

I was really excited that we were going to the rain forest, the weather forecast was for rain which is not surprising since the Hoh Rain Forest gets as much as 14 feet of rain a year, along with the fog and mist which adds another 30 inches of rain, making this one of the world’s lushest rain forests, and designated as one of the wonders of Washington State.  So we packed some lunch and off we headed about 9 AM this Saturday morning. As the morning progressed the rain held off and some sun actually started coming out.

Some of the most common trees that grow here are the Sitka Spruce and Western Hemlock (Washington’s official state tree), which can reach heights of over 300 feet and seven feet in diameter. Most of them are covered with huge clumps of hanging moss and ferns. Moss is an epiphyte, which is a plant that grows on another plant without harming it as opposed to a parasite. Epiphytes get their moisture and nutrients from the air, rain, fog, and debris that accumulates around them.

We arrived at the Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center at about 12:30 P.M. and took a look at our map as to the different trails we thought we wanted to do. We decided on the most popular trail….”The Hall of Mosses Trail” is a 0.8-mile loop. This trail proved to be just right for me since I have bad knees. Walking through this trail was absolutely awesome and beautiful, it’s like walking through a living, green cathedral.  The best time to visit the rain forest is when it is damp and raining because that is when the moss is the lushest and greenest. The rainy winter and spring seasons are also the best times to see the Roosevelt Elk that live in the area since they move to higher elevations in the summer. The best way to share our day is through my pictures, hope you enjoy them!

After our hike, we ate our lunch that we packed and started heading back home…..our timing was perfect as within about 10 minutes of leaving it started to rain. On our way out of the park we stopped and got some pictures of this beautiful herd of Roosevelt Elk…..Olympic National Park is home to the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt Elk in the Pacific Northwest. Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, they are the largest variety of elk in North America. The Hoh Rain Forest is one of the best places to see these amazing animals. They are non-migratory herds that stay in the Hoh Rain Forest area throughout the year as they feed mainly on ferns, shrubs, and lichens from the rain forest, as well as the meadow grasses.

Our drive back took us through Forks, WA  where the “Twilight” story took place. We stopped at the Visitor Center just outside of town where we got a “Twilight” map of Forks and saw “Bella’s Trucks.” Next, we stopped in town to check out the “Forever Twilight” collection at the Rainforest Arts Center. The space is small but it’s pretty cool, you can view the authentic on-screen costumes that were worn,  authentic movie props used by the actors, a backdrop for photos, fan quilt, and other interesting memorabilia.

And our last stop of the day was at Madison Falls. Madison Falls was a short paved walk through a lush forest from the parking lot. At the end of the paved trail is a viewing point where you are able to see the falls drop 40-50 ft into the creek below which runs into the Elwha River just across the paved road opposite the parking lot. The Elwah River is a 45-mile river on the Olympic Peninsula and runs into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roaming around the Pacific Northwest-WA (November 2019)

This post is about some of my roaming and wanderings that the Pacific Northwest has to offer. Many of you who know me and who have been reading my blog know that before I started my nomadic lifestyle I lived and raised a family in the Pacific Northwest of Washington State for almost 40 years. I still have family there and so I, of course, get back to spend time with them.

FIERO MARINE LIFE CENTER

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I stopped one day at the Port Angeles waterfront and checked out the Fiero Marine Life Center. The facility is very small and the young woman who was volunteering that day was so full of amazing information about all the sea life that I ended up being there for about an hour and a half. There are about 5 tanks containing various marine life that are fed directly by seawater from the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The natural water flow keeps the habitats at exactly the right temperature and provides the food source the habitats feed on.

I enjoy the Sea Anemones with their beautiful colors, they are among the most colorful creatures in the ocean that range from purple, red, green and white. Their bodies consist of a stalk that ends in a flattened disk with a central mouth surrounded by tentacles. Anemones are carnivores and will eat fish, crabs, and anything else that swims within reach.

I found the Pacific Hagfish to be disgusting looking but amazed at the by-product it produces that is used in consumer products. It lives near the ocean floor and excretes huge amounts of slime in self-defense, so when a hagfish feels threatened, it releases hagfish slime, a protein-based, jelly-like substance from slime pores that run the length of its body. This slime is a thick glycoprotein excretion called mucin. The mucin is made up of long, thread-like fibers. These strands, which are arranged in bundles called skeins, are thinner than human hair, stronger than nylon, and extremely flexible. When the skeins come into contact with seawater, the glue holding them together dissolves, allowing the slime to expand rapidly. It is said that one hagfish can fill a five-gallon bucket with slime in only a few minutes. This gooey material has a surprising number of uses…… Hagfish are already used for making products such as “eel-skin” bags. The strong, flexible fabrics made from hagfish slime could replace petroleum-based materials like nylon which would be more durable and environmentally-friendly.

There are many uses that are being researched…..such as protective gear like safety helmets and Kevlar vests, airbags in our cars, lightweight strength and flexible car parts. The U.S. Navy is currently working with hagfish slime, hoping to create a substance that can protect divers from underwater attacks, fight fires and even stop missiles.

PORT WILLIAMS / MARLYN NELSON COUNTY PARK

Little remains of Port Williams which was once a thriving commercial port on the bay of the  Strait of Juan De Fuca near Port Angeles, WA.  In 1944, the waterfront with beautiful views was renamed Marlyn Nelson County Park in honor of a Sequim born Navy sailor who died from wounds in the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Nelson was 19 years old and a 1940 graduate of Sequim High School. He was an engine room mechanic on the battleship USS California. A monument bearing his name and a photograph was erected at the one-acre park in 1999.

DUNGENESS LIGHTHOUSE

Operating since 1857 at the tip of Dungeness Spit, the Dungeness Light Station was the first lighthouse built in the Washington territory. Once towering 91 feet, the upper portion of the light station’s brick tower was removed to deterioration in 1927 and is now 63 feet. Living quarters were added and modified over the ensuing decades to accommodate lighthouse keepers, who often lived at the lighthouse with their families, and an armored marine cable bought power to the light station in 1934. The light station and 80 acres surrounding it were designated a National Historic District and placed on the National Historic District and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1993.

PUGET SOUND SPOTTED SEALS

I drove out to the spit in Port Angeles and found some spotted seals hanging out on the logs on the bayside of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. If you did not have binoculars or a camera like mine that zooms in I would never have seen them and they blend in with the logs. These harbor seals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal protection act and Washington State. Their populations in Washington State have recovered since the 1970s. Here are some pictures of the seals, the harbor and the Straits of Juan de Fuca.

More miscellaneous photos I took while wandering

 

 

Washington State – Family Visit (November-December 2019)

After leaving Kings Canyon National park on November 4, 2019, I made my way back to Washington State to spend some time with my kids and grandkids. I always have a great time with this crew of mine…..Here are some of our adventures:

Within a couple days of my arrival back in Washington, I rented an Airbnb for the month of November……it allowed me space to have my grandkids spend time with me, cook, and hang out with them without being so cooped up in my motorhome.

Here is my cute little Airbnb in Port Orchard, WA along the waterfront of Sinclair Inlet across from the Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA:

Hanging out with Grandma making Christmas ornaments, and painting name letters

The Bug Museum

Harborside Fountain Park

 Puget Sound Naval Museum

  Rock N Bowl

 

Ice Skating

Thanksgiving

Roaming around Gig Harbor

Christmas Lights

Seeing Friends

Kings Canyon National Park – End of Season November 2019

Well here it is November 4, 2019, and my 6 month season at Kings Canyon National Park has come to an end. Today was the day I was pulling out and heading to Washington State. I had spent the week packing things up in my motorhome for traveling and today I was up early to do last minute things and get my tow dolly connected to the motorhome. I thought I had it all figured out and I pretty much did, but there always seems to be a hang-up here and there. A few days prior I had managed to pull by hand my tow dolly out of the brush where it had been sitting since arriving here back in April. A few of the rental trailers had been picked up by the rental company so the two spaces next to me were empty and made it easier to pull the dolly out and place it in the empty spot next to me. My plan then was that I could just pull my motorhome out of my spot and then back up to the dolly and hook it up. Well, my motorhome is 34 feet long and for some reason, after several attempts, I just could not seem to get it backed into the position I needed. I was close but just not where I really wanted to be, so I decided that maybe I could just pull it by hand to line up with the hitch on the motorhome. Well, I just did not have the psychical strength to get it moved and pulled by hand to line up correctly and in fact, it ended up rolling kind of sideways into the backside of the motorhome. No worries no damage. Knowing I was not going to be able to do this by myself I called up a couple of my guy co-workers, but they were working and involved with a year-end audit so they could not leave. I called my co-worker Andrew, who is the restaurant manager. Things were slow so he was able to help me out. He had the muscles to get the dolly moved to where we needed it and between us, we managed to get it hooked up on the hitch. My next obstacle was since I had been there one of the power lines was lower than it had been before due to some work that had been done over the summer, so Andrew kept a watch as I pulled out and up the hill that I was not going to catch the top of my motorhome on the wires…..Yea!, I cleared the lines. The next obstacle was just getting down the rutted out dirt road that was always a mess to drive even our cars on. I just took it really slow and easy so that I didn’t rattle and shake everything out of the cupboards in the motorhome. I made it down to the flat area of the parking lot where I had parked my car the night before. I knew Andrew had to be getting back to work and I thought I could load my car myself. So I proceeded and was able to get the car pretty much loaded by myself…..this was really the first time I was doing it by myself as the previous few times since I have been towing the car I have had help. I was doing good till I was at the part where I had to place the tire webs over the front tires and just wasn’t sure about if I was placing them correctly. About that time two of our girl co-workers came by in the company truck and asked if I needed help…..I was debating whether they could be of any help when I saw Rick our housing manager. I told the girls thank you but I thought Rick would proably be able to help me, so I got Rick and YES, he was so much help, he actually gave me good tips and got me all setup and the car secured for travel.

I made my last rounds stopping off at the Market, the Trading Post, and the Restaurant to say my last goodbyes to everyone. It was bitter-sweet. My time at Kings Canyon was amazing but also had its frustrations. I was ready for a change and ready to get back to Washington to spend time with my family. I made so many good friends at Kings Canyon and I knew I was also going to miss them a lot.

I was finally pulling out about 12:30 P.M. made my way down the mountain which is all downhill for 57 miles from Grant Grove Village to Fresno, CA. I made it to Stockton, CA by late afternoon where I was meeting up with a friend who lived there to have dinner, visit and stay overnight. It was great to catch up with my friend and take a good break from the day of just trying to get loaded up, on the road and driving. I stayed overnight at the Walmart parking lot.

November 5th – This morning I was back on the road knowing I needed to get the air checked in my motorhome tires before I went to much further. After sitting for 6 months at Kings Canyon I knew they were a bit low and you just can’t get air in your tires anywhere. The tires are much bigger than car tires so I needed a truck place. In Lodi just off the freeway about 12 miles from where I had stayed at the Walmart, there are several truck services, so I got off at the exit and spotted a truck tire and wash place that was an easy pull in and out. Pulling a tow car I can not back up so I always have to be thinking ahead about getting in and out of places pretty easily.  I parked alongside the road and walked into the place of business to make sure they would be able to help me out and sure enough, they could. There were no other trucks being serviced so I was able to pull right in and get taken care of. My tires were a bit low just as I thought…..all tires were checked including the tow dolly tires. I was not charged at all, but gave him a tip for the service and helping me out. So off I went, hopping easily right back on the freeway. I drove this day till I stopped at a rest stop about 4 PM just outside of Weed, CA as it was getting later in the day, I don’t like to drive in the dark and did not want to be driving over the Siskiyous in the dark.

November 6th – I made it through the night just fine although it was cold. One of the things I have going against me right now is my propane heater and my generator does not work, so I have no heat when I am on the road and its November…..Brrrr! I bundle up a bit more, put on my gloves, turn on the front dash heater but it’s not really made to heat up all the space in the motorhome, but it does a good enough job after a while that I am fairly comfortable. Today I drove a few hours and stopped at a rest stop at about noon for some lunch and to get a shower while the temperatures were warmer. I proceeded on my way and stopped again for the night around 4 PM just a couple hours before Portland. OR.

November 7th – Today I drive the rest of the way to Washington close to my destination of Gig Harbor arriving about 7 PM. I drive to Port Orchard, a small town about 15 miles outside of Gig Harbor where I can park at Walmart for the night. My son lives about a half-hour away so he and his girlfriend come to see me and welcome me home. I stay the night in Port Orchard but the temperatures really drop during the night and it’s very cold without any heat.

November 8th – This morning I called my son and talked to him about how cold it had gotten during the night. My son talks to the homeowners where he lives to see if I can bring my motorhome to their place to park and hook up to electricity for the night….I am so grateful as they say that it is fine. I have an Airbnb reserved in Port Orchard on the 9th for a month, so I just needed to get through one more night in my motorhome. I drive out to the Key Peninsula and my son helps me get parked and all settled in. I am happy to be warmer.

November 9th – It rained during the night and I awake to some drizzling rain. I spend a few hours getting some things packed up and loaded into the car that I will take with me to the Airbnb that I think I might need and some of my scraping book stuff to work on while I am staying there. I borrow a car from my son’s girlfriend since mine needs to be worked on. I head out about 1:30 and pick my grandson up from high school at 2 PM. He is going with me to the Port Orchard Airbnb to help me unload the car and get set up. Check-in time is 3 PM…..We get to the Airbnb, meet up with Shannon the host who was very nice. The cottage is just as awesome and cute as I thought it would be from the pictures that were posted on the website. The cottage sits at the front of the property near the road with a circular driveway between the cottage and the main house which is on the waterfront. The cottage is blocked from street noise and view by a row of very tall Juniper trees….its a lovely place.

 

 

How it all began

Some of you are probably wondering how this all began. This is something I have wanted to do for a very long time. My initial thinking sometime back was to get an RV while I was working and have it paid off by the time I retired, which is at the minimum 6 years away, and then hit the road. I just am not the type of person who in retirement would be happy just living in an apartment and looking at the 4 walls.  During the past year, I began to see stories of people selling their homes, all their belongings, quitting their jobs and hitting the road in their RV’s or travel trailers. Then a friend from high school retired got herself an airstream and started traveling, then I saw another old friend and her husband spend a month traveling in their camper.  I was seeing all these great adventures and the beautiful places they were visiting….. Every day is a new adventure and meeting new people, seeing old friends and family. I was seeing folks removing themselves from being tied down to a job, a  house, a car payment and the same thing day in and day out, I was seeing them removing the stress from their lives, exploring and being free and happy. In August of 2015, I went on a two-week road trip with my three grandchildren. I saw old friends I grew up and went to high school with,  spent time hanging out with them and going on great adventures….. quad riding on a friends ranch, horseback riding on another friends ranch, swimming (lot’s of swimming), visiting my hometown of Truckee, California and getting to see the famous Squaw Valley where the 1960 Olympics took place and where the ice rink I used to skate on as a kid was, but is now gone, the house the grandkids mom lived in when she was born, dip their toes in the famous Donner Lake, go to the Donner State Park and visit the new museum and see the Donner Party Memorial, take a drive up old highway 40 to Donner Summit to the viewpoint and take in beautiful Donner Lake and really get a feel for what the Donner Party was trying to accomplish crossing those rugged, rocky mountains in wagon trains,  a day playing in the sand and swimming in beautiful Lake Tahoe. In addition, we visited Crater Lake……drove around the whole lake, which was so beautiful and interesting. We spent a few nights camping in various places and we were able to see and visit with an old co-worker in Klamath Falls. We went to Vacaville, California and stayed with another high school friend, went swimming and toured the Jelly Belly Factory and at the end of our tour, we ran into my brother and his girlfriend out of the blue.  We crossed over through Napa Valley (Wine Country) to the Redwoods and the ocean. What majestic trees the redwoods are and the preservation that has taken place to preserve these trees for us all to still enjoy. This trip was such a special, bonding, rewarding trip that will be with me always.