Archive for April, 2011

I have arrived.

The final stop of our journey, the final frontier, Alaska. Ketchikan, Alaska.

We arrived Saturday Morning at about 1 in the morning. We were scheduled to meet up with our landlord at 6am, but luckily for us we saw the light in his office switch on around 4:45am, so we were able to unpack the car and get into our new place a little earlier than expected, which was nice after our weird hours of sleeping our last day of travel.

While here I will be the office manager for Southeast Sea Kayaks. http://www.kayakketchian.com . Only problem so far is that I don’t start work till May 3rd! Lucky Rhet is already working. Hopefully I will find somethings to do without blowing too much money.

The trip went extremely well. No problems of any sort, just a relaxed trip in a sort of vacation kind of way, the way it was suppose to be.

this is how we roll

We traveled from

Naples, Fl -> Orlando, Fl. ->Perry Lake, Beaumont, Miss

issippi. -> Tias, Dallas, Texas. -> Uncle Craigs, Ruidoso, New Mexico. -> Cave Creek, Az -> Joshua Tree National Park, Califonia -Somewhere off the 101 south of Garberville, Ca. -> Somewhere off the 101 South of Crescent City ->Sunset Bay State Park, Cape

Arago Highway, Coos Bay, OR ->Mount Rainier National Park, Wa. -> North of Vancouver, B.C. ->…

There were a couple other stops I will have to update later. My mind is no longer working and I dont have my planner here to set me straight.

I am debating whether or not to update more about our trip up here, but at the least I will certainly be adding pictures from our journey.

I do not currently have internet at my apartment,

but hopefully something will get worked out so that I can keep updating frequently.

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canadian ramblin

 

 

                    Canada certainly does not seem like the most populous place, but that was good because we were fortunate enough to start seeing some good wildlife. Dill was not so convinced about these Canadian roads, but found some refuge on top of her cage where she was less likely to slide from side to side.

lovely lichen

We saw millions of mule deer. and a magpie (love them).

 Every family has their “things”, Rhet and his mom like to stop at cemeteries,

so we stopped in the little town of Lillooet and walked around

 the cemetery for a little while.   

 

Back on the road we ended up seeing some bighorn sheep which were so awesome! They were crossing the road and we were able to pull over and take a couple pictures.

Black Bear

Further down the road Rhet pulls over out of know where asking for his binoculars, I of course do not know what he sees that I don’t, but right across the valley is a black bear moseying around and forging some food. Rhet, mister bear whisperer. This is the second black bear I have ever seen out in the wild (not on a tour), and he has spotted both of them, in also identical circumstances, I would have just assumed that little black figure was a rock. Personally, I’m more of a moose whisperer, and a few hours later we are pulling over to watch a moose.

Made a very strange U-turn later in the evening for a potential animal spotting. Driving through middle of no-where Canada something runs across the road and I say ‘was that a cat’, then we are thinking coyote, which only leaves one option, fox. I felt more comfortable since that seemed to be almost the exact same way Rhet came to the conclusion as well. So we make a u-turn and get the spot light out, and when we get close to where we see it, it runs across the road again, so fast though we didn’t get a better idea of what we were looking for, but how strange that it wanted to run in front of our car two times.

Big Horn Sheep

mini ponies, mini donkeys, baby bunnies, and TULIPS!

Inch by inch across the map we are getting closer and closer to Alaska.

mini pony!

No real ‘bumps’ along the road, and just taking it easy. Woke up in Mount Rainer this morning and headed up towards Seattle to meet up with Batman for lunch. Passed some mini ponies on the way, Rhet made sure to turn around so I could get a better look. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t have one of these silly little ponies. We love soup and salad buffets and ended up going to lunch at one near Batmans work that we hadn’t ever heard of before, but it was good, and it felt good to be overly stuffed, as you always are when you “get your money’s worth” out of one of those type of places. Hadn’t seen Batman since last time I was in Arcata in 2008, so it was fun to see him, but he had to go back to work, and we had the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival on our list of things to do. Found in the 1000 things to do before you die book, taking place only in April, and right off the highway!

DaffoDills

tulips

bayybee bunniee !!!

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Tulips, tulips, tulips, and daffoDills too, no relation to my Dill as far as I know. We did see a few curious creatures that were more closely related to Dill though. In one of the tulip flower beds we saw a couple baby bunnies running around happy as can be, they made me feel much better about the baby bunnies I met a few weeks ago that had a less fortunate existence when they met Rhet’s Grandma’s dog Charlie :o(. I never would have thought baby bunnies would make me so happy, but there really is no other word for them besides precious. If that wasn’t enough excitement to add to the Tulip Festival we also passed a alpaca farm (one day I will learn why they are different than llamas) and…wait for it…. a mini donkey farm!!!!!! Mini donkeys are real you ask? Why yes, yes they are, and they are absolutely fabulous. How do they rank compared to mini ponies? I have not yet completed enough research in that field, but you can rest assure I will let you know.

she is always making me giggle

. ohana .

After soaking in as many glorious tulips as possible, we headed to Canada. Only currently on day 2 without a shower, I was surprised they pulled us aside into their special customs building to make sure we were fit to enter their splendid country (,and at 5.17 a gallon for gas and 7 dollars for some Captain Crunch, I still continue to be proud to be an American).

so many tulips around here they grow out of trees too.

It is almost safe to say we were the only people who had been pulled into this special building that were receiving the green light into Canadia. One group ahead of us, the girl didn’t speak English. The second group was two unshaven unbrushed hippies, that possibly had recently decide to partake in illegal activities, I overheard the border patrol mentioning that they did not have enough monetary funds to enter Canada. The lady directly in line in front of us was the craziest. I assume she was pulled over for her lack of judgement on whether or not to put on a bra that morning, but more likely it was because she was coming through to visit some ‘guy’ that she had met before, well not really, well they skyped, and she was coming to the country to so some ‘investigative research’… and she was a complete wackadoodle, trying to talk really loud and get us to agree with her that it was ridiculous they pulled her over because her flight was 25 minutes late and now she was going to miss her ferry…, we silently just took a few steps back so that they would know there was no need to associate us with her.

These two are strictly business

We found a cute little spot on the water north of Vancouver and called it a day.

campin canadian

our wild puffin chase

Looking at my notes this morning I saw we would be driving by somewhere called “Elk Creek Preserve”. I have no recollection of why I put this in my notes… did I get it from a

Elk at Elk Creek Preserve

travel book I was reading … off of a website? I honestly have no clue. Were there suppose to be elk at this location? Maybe there was a nice scenic hike I wanted to do there that was close to the highway? My mom had said that if I was young enough to have a mind of metal, mine would be a sieve. I ask Rhet if we can take the exit to this “Elk Creek Preserve” anyway, hopefully something fun is there, why else would have

Red Wing Blackbird

I written it down? Sure enough we get there and there is a field full of Elk! I am morethan excited! I had been hoping to see some elk in NorthernCalifornia, but these were the first of our trip! I love when the animals are right where they are supposed to be! (Rhet was later upset (understandably) that there were no otters at Otter Rock). At this stop I also saw the only redwing blackbirds of the trip.

We continued our journey up the coast to the Sea Lion Caves. A natural sea lion cave that had an elevator that traveled down to where you could view the sea lions almost from a level position. The cave smelt AWFUL. Rhet was curious as to why the information boards weren’t installed on the path before you got into the elevator that sent you down to the ripe rotting-fish smell of the sea lion cave, but other than that it was a pretty awesome little attraction. Just a natural cave full of sea lions, from on top of the cliff you were also able to view some sea lions that were sunbathing outside of the cave, but it was pretty neat how it was set up.

Sealions outside

sea lions inside

(Only one problem with this place)The office/gift shop was set on the top of the cliff with large windows overlooking the ocean. I asked the lady that took our money if she had seen any whales today, she said oh none today, I saw about 8 yesterday, but none today. We finish our transaction, continue down to the sea lion cave, and on the way out (like any good establishment the exit  is through the gift shop,) I hear the same lady telling some guest she watched a whale swim by about 30 minutes ago. !!!! I was like WHAT!?!?! You saw a whale?!? Unimpressed, and nonchalantly, she says “yea, but it didn’t breach or anything”. Oregonians, I am the one that is beginning to be unimpressed.

Devils Punch Bowl

To Otter Rock! Why did I want to go here so bad? I am still unsure. Just another stop on the coast. Gorgeous, yes, but didn’t seem to have anything the rest of coast didn’t. Located at Otter Rock is a formation caused by the tides in the rock called the Devils Punchbowl, which I would imagine at some extreme tides is very wicked, but when we were there, it just looked like a hole in the rock. 2 amazing things there though; 1) Californian Ground Squirrels (so cute) 2) A cat of the leash, that seemed to actually follow his owner, not vice versa.

ground squirrel

On to the most famous rock on the Oregon Coast, Haystack Rock! We weren’t expecting much from this rock except maybe some tide pooling at low tide, but instead we were sent on a wild goose puffin chase. On our walk from the car to the beach we stop to read one of the informative signs to see what kind of things we should be looking for in the tide pools, instead we read that Haystack Rock is inhabited by puffins for part of the year. Not only is it inhabited by puffins part of the year, the prime viewing time is supposedly in April, and they are suppose to have the largest number of puffins on the west coast. Now as if starfish are not exciting enough, we have starfish AND puffins to look for! I

the best picture we were able to get, of these so called puffins.

do not see any puffins, Rhet doesn’t see any puffins, now these starfish are not as enjoyable. Where are these mysterious puffins? Thank goodness Rhet has these amazing Nikon

binoculars! No, I still don’t see any puffins. Spring seems late this year, many places we have visited along our journey that should be in full bloom already, are not. Maybe the puffins haven’t arrived? I am not pleased with the false advertising and demand a trip to the visitor center for some more accurate information than these signs that are out along this path to the beach year round. Upon arrival at the visitor center I am treated like any stupid tourist and asked “well do you know what puffins look like”, hello lady I grew up

THIS is what a puffin looks like, lady.

down the street from Sea World, lets skip these stupid questions and get to the information, she then pulls out a map and traces me directions to Haystack Rock, I inform her, yes, I have heard they were there, but I didn’t see any, is there somewhere else they hang out? Are you sure they have already arrived for the year? “Yes, they are out there, look on the north-west facing section of the rock”. Round two: binoculars in one hand and zoom lense in the other, we will find those puffins. Standing, watching the north-west face of the rock, I notice two silhouettes that as far as my knowledge goes, appear to be flying like puffins, Rhet concurs. We watch, move closer, further, around this way, around that way, but that seems to be the best view we can get of them, distant silhouettes flying from the rock out to fish and back, but we are never able to see any land on the rock, and thus are unable to see where any are nesting. The tide also did not go out far enough for us to be able to get a view of that side of the rock. At least the tide pooling didn’t let us down :o)

Haystack Rock

Starfish :o)

Rhet likes starfish too!

North of Haystack Rock on one of the most northern beaches in Oregon is the famous ship wreck of the Peter Iredale. The setting seemed as if we could not have arrived there at a better time. There were just enough clouds in the sky to give the sunset some depth and drama. The information boards said that when the ship wrecked most of it was dismantled and used for parts, but the section of the bow they left has been there ever since.

From the Peter Iredale we drove north catch a glimpse of the Columbia River before the sun completely set. On the way we passed a good size herd of elk right next to the road! Gorgeous! Only one in the herd had started to grow his antlers, but they all were looking pretty big I thought!

After grabbing dinner at a silly little place called Pig n Pancake we got the crazy idea to camp in Washington instead of Oregon. The Further north we got, the less options there were, everything was still closed for winter. We made it to Mount Rainier National Park where all the roads to campsites were still shut down and spent the night sleeping in the truck while it snowed outside.

rainier

blazing my own oregon trail

we had a cute camp

Misty and overcast left little optimism about finding these elusive gray whales, which to many people are not elusive at all. Living large this morning we went out

. cute .

to breakfast at a cute little restaurant which I believe use to be some sort of fishing or docking store… something salty. It was awesome to be able to eat a nice hot breakfast inside and watch the seals and sea lions lazily lay around on the dock outside the window.

From Crescent City we drove the coast up to Sunset Bay State Park in Oregon with no luck spotting any whales. Although the internet says this time of year if you sit in the same spot for an hour an average of 6 whales should pass you (humf). We drove up to a point overlooking the ocean a little ways up from our camp ground, two ladies were standing with binoculars. I enquire if they have spotted any whales, they say ‘no, just one shark’, which starts my skeptism, but I continue to look for something, anything, anyway. “Oh, there is a whale” one of the ladies casually mentions. “Where?” I shout with the enthusiasm of a kid that realizes you don’t have to wait till Halloween, that candy is something you can acquire year-round. “Oh right over there between those two rocks”, This lady couldn’t seem more bored, and didn’t seem to realize when I said “where” that meant I did not see it. Not only did they not give me further directions besides “oh by that rock” (for those of you that don’t know, the northwest coast of the United States is a gigantic pile of rocks. “By that rock” is not a real direction.) She didn’t offer her binoculars, and they don’t even continue to watch the whale, they just left. What a bunch of whale watching hooey. I continue to be skeptical, but one of the “rocks” I was looking at, didn’t seem to be there later. Was that the whale? Had the tide changed and covered up that rock? I will never know, but I do know I have no fond spot in my heart for those spoiled whale watching Oregonians and their lack of excitement for whales or need to share the experience. (From this view point though, we were able to watch 2 bald eagles sit on top of a rock together for the duration of our ‘viewing’.)

We continued to move on to a sport I have a much more successful track record with, Tidepooling! For as long I can remember I have collected tiny pieces of broken urchin shells I have found on the beach. Completely accepting that finding a whole one ashore was impossible because they are so delicate, yet since I’ve meet Rhet I have found whole ones everywhere we go! Bahamas, BAM perfect urchin shell. Naples, BAM perfect urchin shell (spines still intact (my dad also found a perfect one this year at Fort Desoto while visiting Kerry and Bobby)). Oregon coast tidepool, where we do not see ANY live urchins, zero zilch none, BAM perfect urchin shell.

somethings will never change

Hello Humboldt.

Spent the night last night south of Garberville, Ca. and took the scenic drive through the Avenue of the Giants today. Woke up in a flooded tent, but can’t expect much else camping up here this time of year.

. Rhet . Wallace . Redwood .

Yes, it is impossible to capture how huge these trees really are. Although not the widest trees in the world, The coastal redwood trees are the tallest, with many averaging 350 feet tall. Well, how tall is that really? 350 feet, that would be 4,200 inches. I on the other hand am 63 inches tall. These trees were here long before I was, and hopefully will continue to thrive long after we all are gone.

I am still surprised at how quiet the forest always seems (we did manage to find a few cute banana slugs though),

slimey

and how these trees seem to continue to grow no matter what. Some completely hollow through the trunk except for their bark, where you can stand inside of the bottom of the tree, and they seem to stand with ease over a couple hundred feet tall. Miraculous. If anyone has seen on television, or read the National Geographic article on how they took many photos of one of the larger redwoods and then pieced all the photos together, this is the only photo I’ve seen that seems to do these trees any justice.

After checking out the Redwoods, (yes I think it is appropriate for Redwood to be capitalized,) we drove up to Arcata to meet up with Brendan. There will always be a special place in my heart for Northern California so I said I was thankful that it was a perfect dreary, nasty, Arcata day, because if it were gorgeous out it would only make that spot in my heart a little larger.

we love redwoods

It was wonderful to see Brendan, as always, and we had a beer up by the Plaza before Rhet and I hit the road. The dreary, nasty day only got worse as drove away from Arcata and headed north towards Crescent City.

me on a redwood tree

……….

a redwood trying to look like a moose?

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redwood woods

… if you’re going to san francisco …

We left Arizona yesterday evening and spent the in Joshua Tree National Park. After having to convince Rhet to go, and hearing not so rave reviews from the few people I asked about it, I thought it was really cool. We came in late in the evening and camped near the southern entrance of the park, and spent Friday morning driving up to the northern exit. Neither of us knew exactly what to expect a Joshua tree to look like, and after driving half way through the park I was beginning to feel less than impressed by these weird shrubbish things we were beginning to figure must be “Joshua trees”… and then finally BAM! trees trees trees.

This is a joshua tree

Very strange that we drove through half of the park and did not see one, but a very exciting feeling that those other shrub things along the road were not what this whole National Park was dedicated to. I guess the park was just letting our suspense build, and I guess that is why the main entrance is in the north, not the southern section. After exiting the park, we traveled many miles and were still occasionally seeing Joshua trees off the side of the road, only making it stranger that we literally spotted none in the southern half of the park.  Overall I thought the park was awesome! The slightest change in elevation through the park seemed to put us in a completely different biome, no Joshua trees, then millions of them,

Cholla catus

no cholla catus, then millions of them, disappearing as soon as they arrived on this beautiful stretch of highway.

After leaving the park we headed up to beautiful Bakersfield (yes, I AM using the term ‘beautiful’ very loosely), to visit the Buck Owens Crystal Palace. I guess it is a concert venue that Buck Owens created while he was still alive, and is now a concert venue/museum with a lot of items that have been collected over the year that were his, or donated to him/his museum. I thought the coolest thing there was a car that was located behind the bar. It was originally a gift to Elvis from Nudie, who apparently was a famous tailor to the stars, Elvis lost it in a poker match to Buck Owens, and Buck but it on display at his Crystal Palace. It was pretty awesome car, with guns and horseshoes welded onto it and embroidered seats, ridiculous and awesome.

ridiculous

From Bakersfield we drove up to San Francisco. Came in from the east and got to cross over the Bay Bridge (at 7:01 pm, one minute after the toll price dropped :o). )and the Golden Gate Bridge as well. We hung out in town for a little while, Watched the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge, and found somewhere to eat soup out of a bread bowl down by the piers.