Wednesday, August 29, 2012

4 days on Mount Rainer with Dad Aug 29 - Sept 1

Dad decided to go with me on the first leg in the camper.  He had never seen Mount Rainier Park, and it was on the list… So we got dad off the island for the first time in over a year.   It was really nice.  We talked as we traveled and figured out that it had been about 32 years since we had been camping together.  It just happened that trip, long ago, was also in a truck camper  (though I have to say they were a lot different back then than mine is today)…  On the way down to Rainier,  we stopped by the massive REI in Seattle to pick up some new hiking boots…

The first night we found a campground at White River campground on the North east side of the park (near Sunrise).  One of the things interesting about the park, is that we could not find cell service anywhere…. 

The next day we got up and amazingly there was a mountain right there!  We could not see it the day/night before.  We had breakfast and then decided to walk up the river some towards the mountain.  We found the wonderland trail that goes all the way around the mountain and hiked it for a couple miles.

Since it was Thursday,  before the labor day weekend,  we decided to go over to Paradise to do hiking there.  We knew there was no way we could fight the holiday weekend crowds that would start on Friday…. This ended up being a very wise choice….We hiked a few miles up past the mountain meadows full of flowers up towards the glaciers.  There were still quite a few people, but much nicer than it would have been on the weekend.  We hiked about 3 miles on Paradise.  On the way back down,  we stopped at The Grove of the Patriarchs.   This is a grove of old growth trees that have not been disturbed for hundreds and possibly thousands of years.  We saw a couple of 1000 year old Douglas Firs.  It was pretty amazing…  we hiked about 1.5 miles here..  so we totaled about 8 miles for the day.  Pretty good with dad!

We decided to camp at Ohanapecosh campgrounds for the next 2 days and not drive at all for a day.  The campgrounds were incredible among all the old trees.  On the third day, we hiked up to Silver falls from the campgrounds.  On the last day we drove up to Sunrise for a final hike before getting dad back to the islands,  all of them were really nice hikes. 

You can’t go wrong hiking anywhere around Mount Rainer…  I probably should put in a lot more detail here… but I am typing this much later and the time was really just for dad and I… we had 4 days together without any technology,  not even a phone or text,  and it was just time for us... It was a wonderful way for dad and I to spend some amazing time together.

We had a nice Greek dinner on the way to the ferry and said our goodbyes till later….

Sunday, August 26, 2012

From Victoria back to San Juan Island

It was a wonderful way to start the trip!  We drove around a bit,  picked some blackberries and enjoyed the Vancouver Island a little more before we had to leave.  I turned in the Mustang and caught a cab to the ferry from Sidney back to Friday Harbor. 

I met a guy in the ferry line that was travelling around from California and had been in Victoria for a couple of days.  He was heading back to Friday Harbor to meet some friends before heading back to California.   The next night some of the actors from Island Stage Left  were performing at the Rumor Mill (they performed an incredible version of the Shakespeare play “Mid Summer Nights Dream” that I had seen back in early July)  He invited me to join them for some beers  and music the next night. 

I did join them for great music and good beer.  It was a very good night.   I stayed around the island for a couple of days to help Dad out and to get the camper ready for the trip.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Butchart Gardens ( north of Victoria).

Brentwood Bay offers a boat service over to the Butchart gardens.  This is a wonderful way to get into the gardens without all the hassle of driving and parking… About a 20 minute boat ride over is the way to go.  We saw much of the bay, including thousands (not kidding…) of moon Jelly fish.   We pulled into the secluded cove and walked into the back entrance to the park… through the Japanese gardens.  It was Saturday,  so it was crowded,  but the gardens are incredible,  it is one of my favorite places.

On Saturday’s they have a fireworks show in the gardens choreographed with the music.  This is no normal show and it lasts over 30 minutes.  It was a great way to end the day…   Afterwards the hordes of people all went the same direction to go to the parking lot… but we just headed back through the Japanese gardens and back to the boat waiting to take us back to the resort….  Much better way to travel than to fight traffic..  Pictures of the gardens will be posted to the website soon.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Victoria - BC Canada

We started the day with a ride on the Victoria Clipper ferry from Seattle to downtown Victoria.  Before we left I got some fruit and pastries from the little Russian bakery around the corner…  Definitely better than what they had available on the boat.   One hint… you can pick up your boarding passes the night before,  and the order you pick them up… is the order you board the boat.  We were number 206, but we found decent seats next to 6 ladies that had been traveling together for over 40 years, since they were in college together... They were lots of fun!
The ride was very nice until they decided to have us fill out the custom forms.  It was pretty bumpy around that time,  and everyone did not feel too well… including me.  They handed out some ginger candies, and I went outside for a while,  and this helped me recover quickly… and boy was I glad.  I had not been motion sick for years….

We arrived in Victoria, and it was a gorgeous day.  We walked along the water area and found a place for fish and chips.  We then walked around town for a while until it was time to get the rent car.  Hint:  Rogers chocolate has Dark Chocolate mint Ice Cream bars.  They are probably the best I ever had…  

They had a Mustang GT 5.0 convertible as an upgrade, and the weather was too nice to pass it up.   We took our time and followed the East coast.  It was nice to see San Juan Island from the Canada side.  I was had always looked toward Canada from the Islands…  then we headed up to the Brentwood Bay Resort.   Brentwood Bay is a very small resort with beautiful views of the bay.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


After an early flight to Seattle, we hit the ground running,  First we took a cab from the airport to the Doubletree Arctic Hotel.  It was a wonderful old hotel with lots of character (and really nice too!)  The staff was really friendly and gave us lots of ideas for the day. 
First we walked over to the monorail (from the 1962 World’s Fair) and took it to the area around the Space Needle and the EMP museum.  The museum was really interesting, especially the Science Fiction collection.  We ended up with a private tour of that area and Helga told us many behind the scenes stories of the items in the collection…We got to see Captain Kirks chair, covered with Tribbles...The Terminator skull.. and they had an Avatar exhibit with full size Avatar shoes you could step into… unfortunately they actually looked like they fit me…  a couple of girls were laughing and asked if they could get a pictures with me…

From there,  it was up the Space Needle for incredible view of the whole area.  On the way up we even were able to look down into the new Chihuly gardens.  We chose not to go this time,  mainly because I had just spend a lot of time photographing the ones in the Dallas Arboretum (on the website).  The view from the top was definitely worth the trip.  From there it was on to Pikes Market and then over to Ivan’s for dinner.  It was a good day in Seattle,  We did all the touristy stuff but had a great time.  Not a normal day for me away from cities,  but that will come soon enough…  Pics will be posted to the website of the day in Seattle soon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

End of Summer Summary

It has been a wonderful summer!  And now it’s time to get going on my big trip (and to start blogging again…)  To catch everyone up on what’s been going on,  I had incredible summer with family and friends.  I was able to spend time on the San Juan Islands finishing out a cabin,  watching eagles for many hours on end, taking hikes, seeing the fox almost daily and occasionally seeing orca whales… We were able to share the islands having family around and even some friends drop in from Texas.   We ate extremely well with all the fresh seafood and other food from the islands.  I took so many pictures it will take time to process them,  so watch the website as I continue to post more pictures of the summer travels and the Islands.
In July, I headed back to Texas. My brother and family hadn’t been there for a few years, and decided to come during the peak heat of the summer. When I left the islands, it was 52 degrees, the next day when 20 of us went to the Ranger game, It was 106….
It was a good week with everyone around,  and a little busier and noisier than the San Juan’s,  but was the first time all 4 of us (brothers, sister, and families) had been together for a few years.  It was good to see everyone.
After everyone left it was time to prepare for McKenna and Trey to go to college.  McKenna was very organized with everything she needed/wanted for college and to make her dorm uniquely hers….McKenna decided to decorate her dorm with 6 of my prints on stretched canvas.  Most of them she had converted to black and white (and are on the website…)  McKenna and I drove down with her Rav4 completely loaded… we could not even fit in an additional role of paper towels…
We got down there and got McKenna’s dorm set up after we hauled all her stuff up 3 flights of stairs in the heat… Thank goodness Javi was there to help too…  We even got McKenna’s 7 ft tall cabinet up the stairs and installed….  Then it was back to get Trey prepared and on his way to Corpus too.     After that, all I had to do was get everything wrapped up and in shape for me to start my trip.   I leave for Seattle early tomorrow morning….

Stay tuned... more posts coming... just need to find internet connections...