Favorite Trail Ever

Jason picked out an incredible hike for us today.  We hiked the Sauk Mountain trail in the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.  It was another brutal drive up a forest service road to get to the trail head, but not as bad as the road outside Mt. Ranier.  From the trail head, we hiked up the mountain through a wildflower meadow.  The views were incredible the entire trail and the wildflowers and butterflies were gorgeous.  We saw buttercups, lilies, paintbrush, phlox, and columbine.  As we neared the top, we saw heather.  There were so many flowers and I have no clue about the names of most of them.

By the time we got to the top, I was done in.  I definitely need to get in better shape.  Nevertheless, we made good time so I guess there is hope for me.  The views from the top were amazing,  We could see Mt. Baker, Puget Sound, and east and south to the Cascades.  We could barely make out Mt. Ranier through the haze.

I give Jason a lot of credit for picking great hikes and not killing me in the process!!

I thought it would be hard to beat my favorite hikes which include a hike on the Oregon Coast and the trail to Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park.  When we started our hike today, I immediately placed it in the top three hikes.  Upon reaching the top, it moved to first place.

The dogs got wiped out on this hike.  It was half the distance as yesterday but more than twice the change in elevation.  Jason thinks the dogs weren’t getting the mountain breeze close to the ground and we were in the sun the whole way.  The dogs probably got a little overheated.  We met a couple that was hiking with a Golden Retriever and made it all the way to the top, but the dog was having trouble on the way down.  They were helping him walk and kept resting him and giving him water along the way.  Jason thinks the dog may have been hot.  That dog will likely fall asleep as soon as he gets in the car.

We have so many fabulous pictures, it was hard to choose.  

Today, I really could have used my lens that is in the repair shop.  Regis took all the pictures.  His little camera does a great job!

Jason agreed to leave Coco with us for a couple weeks.  It will be good for Dart and we enjoy her.  She is an amazing little dog.  She is skinny but very athletic.  She is very friendly and gets along with everyone.  It will be fun to have her for a few weeks.

Mount Baker Lake hike

We hiked 8 miles round trip today on a beautiful hike.  The forest was beautiful.  The path was a little above the lake, so we got views of the lake now and then.  I still find the aqua color of the water unbelievable.  We got occasional views of the snow capped mountains.  It was one of the nicest hikes I have been on.

The dogs had a great time and were well behaved.

The place that Jason got the recommendation for the hike, suggested a stop at the local Brew Pub after the hike.  We thought that sounded like a great idea, so we dropped the dogs off at the RV and went to the Brew Pub.  Upon pulling up, we noticed a place that looked like you tied up your horses.  By the time we left, it was obvious that it was, indeed, a place to tie up your horse.  In our parting picture, you will see that we have the only vehicle and we are clearly in the minority by not riding a horse to the Brew Pub.

Concrete

The campground we stayed at in Everett was almost entirely concrete.  There were some small bushes between campsites, but no grass.  To take Dart out, we had to go through a locked gate in the back of the campground to a mostly gravel area.  I hated it.  But, it was close to some other things, so it was fine for the four days we stayed there.  It was clean and the campground staff was very nice.  It served its purpose.

We left Everett to go to the town of Concrete in the mountains.  We are in a nice campground with trees and grass.  We left concrete to go to Concrete.

After we set up camp, we went to the center of town to do some laundry.  Although the campgrounds often have a place to do laundry, laundromats usually have more and bigger machines and a way to get much needed quarters.  We usually find that doing laundry isn’t that much of a chore since you get to spend a little time in the town.  Regis chatted with a couple guys and got the scoop on things.  He also took a bunch of pictures of the town which I included below.  He found out that the town burned down twice, so they built it with concrete the last time and renamed the town.

At the campground, there is WiFi access only within 50 feet of the Family Center.  We a bit out of the 50 foot range, but Regis was able to get access from his laptop.  In order to search for some future campsites, I sat on the couch next to Regis, he handed his laptop to me, and I proceeded to try to look at camping possibilities.  I couldn’t get access.  He was sitting next to me and had access, I couldn’t get access with the same computer.  I handed it back to him and “voila” access.  Hmmmm.

It turns out there is a tree between us and the Family Center.  Where Regis was sitting, the tree was not a problem.  Where I was sitting, it blocked access.  Regis almost busted a rib laughing when he could get the computer to hum for him and I got nothing.

I found out that getting sites over the week-ends is tough.  Campgrounds are already filled now.  Perhaps school being out is part of the problem.  And, the fourth of July week-end set me into a panic because I had a hard time finding a campground.  The whole situation caused a major change in plans.  But, c’est la vie.  We’ll be spending the Fourth of July on the Olympic Peninsula.  That wasn’t the original plan, but it works.  Best to be flexible.  I was able to get us campsites through July 13.

Jason is on his way up from Seattle to join us right now.  He has some hiking planned for the next two days.  He’ll probably kill me.  If I don’t post tomorrow, you can assume that I’m recovering in a heap somewhere in the RV (or perhaps worse, in a hospital).  I will try to keep up.

We are also learning something about ourselves.  We find that in our favorite campgrounds, we are often the biggest RV.  These campgrounds tend to be occupied with people who are enjoying “camping”.  In our least favorite campgrounds, we tend to be the smallest RV with lots of Class A’s in the place.  These campgrounds are less about nature and more about concrete.  I think it means we want to “camp” but we are cushy campers.  I’m no longer interested in freezing in a tent, but I still want the trees and the whole camping experience.  It gives us something to think about as we continue our travels.

Whidbey Island

We went to Whidbey Island again today.  We loved it and it was great to be able to take Dart off leash on the beach.  It wasn’t as hazy, so we noticed Mount Rainier in the distance.  We didn’t see it yesterday.  Pretty wild.  This picture is taken from the beach on Whidbey Island and shows Seattle on the right and Mount Rainier to the left of Seattle.

When we got on the Island, I pointed out to Regis we could drive all the way up it and cross a bridge back to the mainland and loop around and come back without taking the ferry.  He said he wasn’t interested in driving that much. (You know where this is headed.)

Dart cut his paw pad yesterday.  We thought he would be okay, but as soon as he got to the wet part of the beach, he kept stopping to bite at his paw.  We think the salt water may have been causing him some pain.  As a result, we didn’t walk on the beach as planned.  Since the sun was out and we had no shade, Dart was not happy, so we left pretty soon.  But, not before I got a picture of these two dogs playing.

I like this backlit heron shot. 

Regis kept driving north on the Island and pointing out all the restaurants.  I figured that meant he was hungry, so I suggested we stop and get something to eat.  We found a dock with picnic tables and a local restaurant to serve us.  While we were waiting for lunch to be served, we saw a seal in the water.

After we left the restaurant, Regis kept driving north and we saw a family of bald eagles in a field.  It looked like mom and dad were on the ground with one youngster while another was circling overhead.  A guy was trying to mow the field.

Regis kept driving north until he was over 3/4 up the island.  He then suggested we continue and drive to the mainland.

We had to drive over Deception Pass to get to Fidalgo Island that connects to the mainland.  It was stunning.  I jumped out with Regis’ camera to take pictures but failed to remember to push the button down the whole way.  Let me tell you, those pictures would have been awesome.  It would have been National Geographic material.  Sadly, we have no pictures.  You’ll have to go to Deception Pass  yourself and see how stunningly beautiful it is.

Off to the North Cascades tomorrow!!

Two Hikes

We went to Whidbey Island today and had a great time on two hikes.  We had to take the ferry to the Island.  The first hike was on the beach.  We went to a beach that allowed dogs off leash.  Dart had such a good time.  We plan to go again tomorrow and we’ll see if we can get some video of his exuberance.  This dog loves being off leash and loves the beach.  I’m am loading this blog post up with pictures below to make up for the last couple days.

We saw lots of eagles, immature and adults.  We also saw lots of little crabs running on the beach.  I posted a picture below of a crab up against my shoe.

The sky was incredibly blue.  The evergreens were deep, dark green.  When you looked at the evergreens with the backdrop of the deep blue sky, it was stunning.  I couldn’t stop looking at it.  The song “The Bluest Skies You’ve Ever Seen in Seattle” kept running through my head as I looked at the sky.  The water was blue, the trees were green, and the sky was blue.  It almost overwhelms the senses taking it all in with bald eagles screaming in the background.  It makes you feel so alive.  Maybe that’s why Dart was zooming all over the beach jumping and barking.  He was so happy.  I know why.

Our next hike was through an old growth forest.  The trees were awesome.  There were lots of ferns.  The trees are so big, it’s hard to take a picture.  I’m stuck with my big zoom lens for now and couldn’t take a picture because the trees were so big.  Any pictures we got are from Regis’s camera.

The first picture is a view from the ferry.  The third picture is a fort Dart found. The fifth picture is a crab next to my shoe. The sixth picture shows how patriotic this community is.  Everyone is flying a US flag. The seventh picture is a telephone booth.  When is the last time you saw one of those? The next three pictures are in the old growth forest.  That last picture is a view of the Cascades from the ferry.

When on the beach you could see Puget sound with the Olympic mountains in the background on one side and the Cascades in the background on the other side.  What a view!!!!!!

Whole Foods

We did not get to Whidbey today but I don’t see any reason why we won’t get there tomorrow.  We had to move our campsite today and that didn’t take place until about 10:00.  We are staying 4 nights here and have to move twice.  It’s a pain in the neck.  I didn’t think through how much it would hold you up that day.  You have to make the move by 11:00, but you have to wait for the person in your site to leave first.

After we set up camp again, we dropped my lens off to be fixed.  The guy thinks he knows what’s wrong with it and it will be ready in 1-2 weeks to pick up.  It sounds like a straight forward problem to correct.

After we dropped off the lens, we went to a nearby Whole Foods for groceries.  OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  I could have stayed in there for days.  I bought so much fresh food, there is no way we can eat it all.  Did I say OMG?  If Regis and Dart weren’t waiting in the truck, I’d probably still be in there.  For dinner tonight we had seasoned tuna (Whole Foods seasoned it perfectly and Regis cooked it just right), cabbage crunch, beet and kale salad, and a glass of local wine.  They bake their own tortilla chips, so I bought a bag of those with fresh salsa.  I munched on that all afternoon along with the fresh strawberries.  Yum, yum, yum.

I’m not particularly fond of Everett where we are camping (too congested), but I may just move into the Whole Foods parking lot and live there.

Regis fixed broken things in the RV this afternoon and worked on getting my computer humming.  He’s been getting screaming WiFi access in this campground, enough to watch Netflix last night.  My computer can barely load a page.  After buying gear and tooling around, it appears my WiFi card may be the problem.

This week-end Jason and Coco will meet up with us in the Cascades to go hiking.  Jason may make some Daiquiris with fresh fruit like nectarines or strawberries.

This is a picture from the produce section in Whole Foods.  I was too busy buying food to take more pictures.  Thank me.  Otherwise, you would be drooling on your keyboard.

No Pics Today

We moved from a campground south of Seattle to one north of Seattle.  It is just as unappealing.  At least it’s clean.

I went to the Camera Clinic to get my lens fixed but didn’t bother to check their hours of operation before I left.  They are closed on Mondays.

Tomorrow, we plan to go to Whidbey Island.  They have a beach that allows you to have your dogs off leash.  If the weather is nice, we might get some good views of Mount Ranier.  No matter, it should be beautiful anyway.  It’s two miles long, so we can do a nice hike.  I should be able to get some pictures tomorrow.

The Road From Hell

Today we headed to Mount Rainier for a hike.  We found a couple hikes in the wilderness lands next to the park that allow you to bring your dog.  The lands are managed by USDA.  Once we found the Forest Service road, we had to follow it for 8 miles.  It was the worst road we have ever driven on.  We almost turned around after the first mile.  I’m glad we didn’t, but the ride was horrible.  Dart hated it.  There were so many potholes, bumps, rocks, and washouts on the road that it probably took us 45 minutes or so to get the trailhead.  There was some spectacular views of Rainier, so it was worth it.  It took awhile to find the trailhead, but we finally did.

The hike was beautiful.  Dart loved it so much I think he forgave us for the ride up.  We got a couple good views of Rainier and the wildflowers were lovely.  I decided not to lug my camera on the trail, so I don’t have good wildflower pictures from the hike itself.  I grabbed a shot of some Foxgloves as we descended the forest road.

Once again, Dart exuberantly ran back and forth the entire hike.  He had as much energy when he finished the hike as when he started.  I could barely make it back to the car.   We also left him off the leash when we met other hikers with dogs.  He did much better interfacing with them when he’s not on the leash than when he is.

We went briefly into the National Park, but it was late in the day so we didn’t stay long and headed home.  You probably get your best views of Ranier outside the park anyway.  But, the road going in to the park went through a beautiful forest.  It was really awesome.

Today we saw some of the tallest trees we’ve ever seen.  It’s typical for here, but new for us.  I would love to take a Loblolly Pine and stand it next to one of these trees to see the difference.

Dashing D’Artagnan Meets Coco Cristal

Dart got to meet Jason’s Bedlington Terrier, Coco today.  All went well.  We took them to a local coffee place and I got another fantastic cappuccino.  It’s Seattle.  It’s to be expected.  But, wow!  Afterwards, we left the dogs to bond in Jason’s apartment while we had a fabulous brunch.   It appeared to go well.

After brunch, we went on a hike in Discovery Park.  It was a beautiful day and I think the dogs loved the hike.  We loved the great views.  If you look closely below in the second picture, you will see Mount Rainier.  The third picture shows Regis, Jason, Coco, and Dart and Puget Sound.  On the way back to the campground, we took a picture of Mount Rainier while driving.  It is so big, it is surreal.  You don’t get an appreciation from this picture.  Mt. Rainier is over 14,000 feet high.

We found a couple hikes we can take Dart in the Mount Rainier area, so our current plans are to head that way tomorrow.

Fresh Fish!

We woke up to a chilly and overcast day.  Jason says that the weather has been sunny and warm until today.  Regis blames the change in weather on me.

Jason took us to Seattle where we went to the new Starbucks Roastery.  I got a cappuccino.  It was unlike any cappuccino I have ever had, but it was very delicious – and beautiful!

We then went to Pike’s Place with Dart.  The place was crowded.  I’m sure that Dart was hating every minute of it but he was very well behaved.  I went to the fish market to get fresh fish.  It was awesome.  So many choices and not enough room in our freezer/refrigerator to purchase a lot.  I settled for rainbow trout and Copper River salmon.  We ate the trout for dinner with fresh corn and fresh baked bread.  I am going to make French Toast tomorrow morning with the leftover bread.   I’m ready to move to Seattle for the fresh food.  I’m not really a city person but could probably get over it with such accessible great food.

We also got fresh nectarines, strawberries, and the corn at the market.  The nectarines were so juicy you had to eat them over the sink and suck the juices in as you were taking a bite.  Jason told me he was making a Nectarine Mojito with his nectarine.  I almost drove to his apartment to get one myself.  Maybe I can get him to make a Mojito tomorrow with the strawberries.  Yum!

We made plans to go to the North Cascades next week-end to hike.  I searched some other campgrounds around Seattle and had some difficulty because of the US open golf tournament taking place this week (here of all places).  Who would have known it would impact camping availability.  I was able to make reservations in a campground in Everett but we have to move 3 times in 4 days in the campground.  It’s better than moving to another campground!

The last picture here is all that’s left of the delicious trout – skin (which Dart happily ate).