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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turned 60 years…… June 19th!

Well, a couple of weeks have gone by since my birthday and turning the big 60! Wow, where have the years gone? I remember in my younger years thinking 60 was so old and so far away and before you know it here I am 60, but do I feel old? Oh, there are some days I do especially when the body has its aches and pains…….but in my head, I still feel young at heart and I just want to keep on going and going. Turning 60 this year meant that I was not near family and friends to celebrate as I am working and living in Kings Canyon National Park an hour and a half outside of Fresno, CA. Two good friends, Colleen and Teri who live about 5 hours away had been talking about coming up here to visit me, so I suggested they come for my birthday! So the planning started a couple months ago…..they were able to get reservations at the John Muir Lodge which worked out really great because it is right near where I live and work. They were easily able to get a room for the night of June 18th, but there were no openings for June 19th so we kept checking to see if there were any cancellations and looking into other options just in case. The time was getting closer and still, nothing was coming up…..but Teri persisted and called the lodge and low and behold there was a cancellation for June 19th and she snagged it up. We were all so excited and happy about that.

So June 18th finally arrives……Colleen and Teri start out early so they can get here by 11/11:30 so we will have several hours to go exploring on Tuesday. Well, due to traffic, potty, gas stops, and a little site seeing they arrived about 2:30 P.M. I, of course, was on pins and needles as I waited for them to get here…..it was too hard to stay home at the RV waiting so I spent a couple hours at Grant Grove Village near the meadow on a bench taking in nature and texted there where I would be when they arrived.

As I was sitting on the bench I heard a voice ” Were here” I jumped up, gave them both big hugs…..so happy to see them! We got them checked into their room at John Muir Lodge, chatted and let them unwind a bit from the long drive. I first took them to where I lived with my RV in the woods so they could check out my neighborhood.

Our next stop was the General Grant Tree Trail, a 1/4 mile walking loop that is a nice, easy stroll and lots of fun as we checked out the “Fallen Monarch” which was home for 2 years in the late 1800s to the Gamlin brothers who were loggers while they built their cabin just up a ways from the Fallen Monarch. The Fallen Monarch was also used by the US Calvary for a time as a stable for their horses. 

Next on the path was the  General Grant Tree, which is the nation’s only living national shrine. In 1956, President Eisenhower gave the Grant Tree this designation in memory of Americans who gave their lives in wartime. Named after Civil War General and our 18th president Ulysses S. Grant, this tree has a volume estimated at 46,608 cubic feet, weighs over 1,250 tons, is 267 feet tall (the height of a 24-story building), and has a diameter at base height of 29 feet. The General Grant Tree is the world’s third-largest tree. Then it was off to dinner at the Grant Grove restaurant and the end of Day 1.

 

   

 

 

Kings Canyon National Park/Grant Grove Village – General Grant Tree Walking Loop

The first stop on the .08 mile loop is the “Fallen Monarch, ” a thousand-year-old Sequoia Tree that is more than just a big old log lying on the ground. The Fallen Monarch has lived through different periods of history with a unique past. No one knows when this giant fell but is was hallowed by wildfires so that when it fell, it became a tunnel that you can walk through. We do know that a couple brothers who were loggers….the Gamlin brothers found shelter in this tree. It served as temporary housing for them from 1870-1872 while they were constructing their cabin not far from the Fallen Monarch. Soon after the Gamlin brothers moved into their new cabin the tree became a gathering place and soon became the local saloon and hotel with table, chairs and even a homemade chimney that extended out the tree’s bark. Later in 1876, the chimney was used as a cookstove and the trunk of the tree as the stables for 32 horses of the US Cavalry.

The General Grant Tree has a volume estimated at 46,608 cubic feet, weighs over 1,250 tons, is 267 feet tall (the height of a 24-story building), and has a diameter at a base height of 29 feet. The General Grant Tree is young by sequoia standards at around 1,700 years old and is still growing thicker. The General Grant Tree is the world’s third-largest tree (General Sherman Tree is the largest) with the broadest base diameter of any sequoia at 40.3 feet. The General Grant Tree is a significant tree for all of America. In addition, to being “The Nation’s Christmas Tree,” The General Grant Tree is a national shrine in memory of the men and women of the Armed Forces who have served and fought and died to keep America free. The General Grant Tree is America’s only living shrine. The tree is of course named after Ulysses S. Grant, the victorious Civil War General, and America’s 18th president”.

As you continue up the trail you come to the Gamlin Cabin. The cabin is over 140 years old and has been reconstructed and relocated three times. “The cabin was built in 1872 by Israel Gamlin, who with his brother Thomas filed a timber claim to 160 acres within the Grant Grove. They lived here until 1878 while grazing cattle in the mountains. After General Grant National Park was established in 1890 the cabin was used as a storehouse by the U.S. Cavalry who patrolled the park until 1913. Later it became the quarters of the first park ranger station”.

Gamlin Cabin

Next on the trail loops is the Centennial Stump. The Centennial stump has a diameter of 24 feet and an interesting history.  “This tree was cut in 1875, and a 16-foot section was sent to the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition of 1876. Only the outer shell was exhibited, the parts being reassembled after shipment. Eastern people refused to accept the exhibit as part of a single tree and called in a “California Hoax”. It took two men nine days to chop down the tree. Its upper trunk is the scarred log downslope from the Grant Tree. Ladies from a nearby logging camp used to conduct Sunday school services for their children upon the stump”. The “California Hoax” was a sad finish for the 1,800-year-old tree, it would be 14 more years before the grove received permanent federal preservation as a national park”.

IMG_2545

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Am I?

Wow! here is July 1, 2018………Time is just flying by. It’s funny I seem to say that phrase a lot, but it really seems like it is all the time. There are all these moments and milestones that happen in life…..you start looking at your family, friends and especially kids and how quickly things seem to be going by.

Well as the title of this blog says…..Where I am? I have a friend who has referred to me a time or two as that character “Waldo”, you know the one where you have to find where Waldo is in this book of crazy pictures…”Where’s Waldo”. As I stated in my last blog titled “I’m Back”, it has been two and a half years since I have done any blogging. I post quite a bit on my personal Facebook page so a lot of you know where I am and what I am doing. But I thought for those who maybe are not on Facebook or are not on that often some of you may not know where I am, or maybe you are new to my blog page. I am hoping to reach other readers who do not know me that I would like to share my life, my travels, and experiences. I have found over the last couple years as I have been living this RV lifestyle, that many others are also and we are all doing this traveling, RV life all a little bit different. We each have different experiences that we can share with each other and learn from as well as sharing the gorgeous, beautiful places we have been, giving references and recommendations, as well as sharing the experience and the feeling we have visiting these places.

So currently I am living and working in Phoenix Arizona. I arrived here on January 1, 2018……6 months ago, half a year…..Wow! It originally was to just be a temporary job, but turned into a long-term permanent job…..how long term? Not sure yet……taking it a day at a time! I am working for a Heavy Equipment, Truck, and RV Repair shop where I do a variety of things but mostly office work. I met the owner here two years ago when I was in Phoenix and needed to have the oil changed in my RV along with some other work they found. I ended up at that time spending about 4 days here with repairs. We got a chance to know each other and hit it off well. I found them to be honest, down to earth and compassionate. Over the last two years, I have stayed in touch and our friendship and connection continued to grow.  I had been working and living at the Grand Canyon since March of 2017. In December 2017 I made a decision that it was time to move on, but was needing some temporary work before starting a new National Park job at the Badlands in South Dakota. I was offered temporary work here in Phoenix at the repair shop……things were going well and I was offered to stay long term. I took up the offer feeling that this is where I needed to be for now to get more financially on my feet as well as get some more RV work done. South Dakota would be there for another time. So here I am in Phoneix, AZ. I am enjoying the area and all the things there are to see and do here. I have a few friends who live in the area as well as a couple friends who live 2-3 hours away.

Winters here in Phoenix are great as the temperatures are around 70-75 degrees during the day. Summer I am finding so far to be pretty hot and I am not enjoying this heat too much. So I find myself indoors most days as it is just too hot to be outside doing anything unless you can find a water activity. So with all this indoor time, I am getting caught up on other projects I have been wanting to get done…..scrapbooking and my blogging. I hope you will come along for the ride and join me in this chapter of my life…….where I have been, where I am now and who knows where I will be next!

20180121_12343920180121_211611

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park – May 12, 2018

I headed out of Phoenix early to visit the Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park on Highway 60 just 3 miles outside of Superior, AZ. From Phoneix, it is a 67-mile drive…. an easy hour drive. With temperatures already reaching 90-100 degrees during mid-day I wanted to get there early when it was going to be cooler. Two years ago when I was in and around Phoneix in February the cacti were not in bloom, so now that I am in Phoenix for a while I wanted to be sure I got a chance to see them. I had heard and read about the arboretum and wanted to make a visit here and thought it would be a great opportunity to see and experience all kinds of different plant life and blooming cacti as well as a little trail hiking. Boyce Arboretum did not disappoint me.

Entrance fees are reasonable $12.50 for adults 13 or older, $5.00 for children 5-12 and children 4 and under are free. The arboretum hours from October to April are 8 am – 5 pm with no entry after 4 pm. May to September hours are 6 am to 3 pm with no entry after 2 pm.

Boyce Thompson Arboretum is the largest and oldest botanical garden in Arizona. It was founded in 1924 as a desert plant research facility and “living museum” by William Boyce Thompson, a mining engineer who made his fortune in the mining industry. Boyce was fascinated with the landscape around Superior, so he built a winter home overlooking Queen Creek and beneath the towering volcanic remnant……Picketpost Mountain located in the Sonoran Desert on 323 acres.

20180512_103416

Upon my arrival at the Boyce Thompson Arboretum, you pay at the window just inside the doorway and given a map of the grounds. In this entrance area, you will find a gift store, the restrooms, as well as plants to buy. You are then free to wander the grounds how and where you want at your own leisure. I followed the 1.5-mile main loop which took me a couple of hours as I took some short side trails, checked out so many of the cactus and various plants and vegetation, took pictures, stopped to rest, relax and just enjoy.

BTA Map

Here are some things I saw on my trail walk……Flowers

Cacti

Gila Monsters, Twisted trees, Ayer Lake, Eucalyptus Trees, Mountains, and Trails

The Clevenger House…….a stone and mortar building was home for a family of 5 in the early 1900s. Robert Clevenger and his family were homesteaders who made their living by truck farming along Queen Creek. They left this area in the early 1920s. This building was purchased along with the surrounding land by William Boyce Thompson. It was remodeled as a playhouse for his grandchildren. Today it is used for drying and displaying herbs as well as a cool respite from the summer heat.

By the time I had finished up the loop, it was getting midday and the temperatures were really starting to warm up. It was a great day, really enjoyed this place. Now off to Ray Mine.