Archive for July, 2010

Oregon coast

There are lots of dead zones in cell/data service between towns on the Oregon coast and we’ve chosen RV parks mostly in those gaps so there is a corresponding gap in our postings. Many beautiful sights these past few days as we explored by car and on walks. One walk took us on a steep trail down to the ocean through dense woods. We could hear the waves and smell the salty water, but it wasn’t until we were almost upon it that we could see the ocean. We came out into an ocean-front meadow with Wild Cucumber growing along the border. We then went to the nearby Cape Meares lighthouse where we saw Common Murres, Pigeon Guillemots and Cormorants by the hundreds in the water and along the rocky cliffs. These photos show the more open woods right beside the ocean.

Wild Cucumber

(Wild cucumber, a perennial whose trailing vine dies back, is also known as Old Man in the Ground or Manroot because of its large taproot with limb-like characteristics.)

End of the walk

View just north of Cape Meares lighthouse

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Headed down Hwy 101

The Oregon coast.  We have memories of towing our 32ft. travel trailer on this often narrow, winding, cliff-hugging, abruptly edged road.  The breathtaking scenery adds to the driving challenge, even with our smaller Rialta and the Subaru, since we have to fight the urge to goggle at every turn in the road.  It doesn’t matter that we’ve seen it all several times before.


The “with a view of the ocean” site. And it was true, if we sat in the front seats of the RV.

Peek-a-boo view of the ocean

Doing the hook-ups

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An overnight in Astoria, Oregon.

We stopped about midday in Astoria and stayed the night at Pier 38 RV Park right beside the mighty Columbia River. We watched cormorants emerging from the depths with fish to swallow and listened to the bellowing of sea lions well into the evening. The combined weight of about 5 sea lions nearly submerged that stretch of dock.

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We headed out of Skagit County, Washington this morning, excited to be finally on the road and on with our adventure, but sorry to leave. . . again. It’s just 3 months since we moved back down from Alaska, with the intention of moving on as quickly as possible, but we soon remembered why we liked the area so well and stayed so many years. Skagit county is a beautiful — no, make that stunning — county, from the shores of the Salish Sea and the farmland panorama of The Valley, to the county’s eastern border well into the Cascade Mountains. Nine months of relentless cloudy skies and rain-drenched, lush landscapes give way this time of year to sunny skies, drought conditions and vast dust clouds blowing across fields from the wheels of farm vehicles in the Valley. Unless you’ve lived here, you can’t understand that this area has a wonderful climate — year-round.

"Hay For Sale", Sedro Woolley, WA

We saw these two men playing cards beside their “store” in the Thrifty Foods Store parking lot just before we left today and we asked to take their picture since, to us, they represent Skagit County at it’s best – timeless, relaxed and real.

Transplants from the East coast (Maryland), we have, over the course of about a decade and a half, explored the county and much of the state, as well as a lot of the Northwest region and, sometime/where along the way, we truly became Washingtonians. And now we sit in a campground just the other side of the Columbia River in Oregon, taking a moment to say good-bye. Good-bye to the Valley’s fresh, local produce; the beautiful walks; the salty air by the bays; the awesome power of the Skagit River; the old growth forest in Rockport upriver; and the creatures, human and otherwise, whom we’ve encountered. It’s also a lifestyle that we’re leaving.

We will also miss our favorite place for lunch: the Rachawadee Thai Cafe in Mount Vernon. Open the door to see a narrow aisle between the brick wall to the right and, to the left, just ten red-topped, low stools before a long stainless steel counter that divides the cafe lengthwise.

We’ve often enjoyed the excellent food in addition to the performance art, during the lunchtime rush hour, of 4 people working in coordinated, efficient and good-natured concert to slice, stock, clean, cook and serve delicious food, all the while providing excellent customer service. We will think fondly of the times we’ve left the cafe with our mouths pleasantly afire, having ordered 3 out of 4 stars heat per entree. We made sure to go there for lunch yesterday where we ordered enough food for leftovers for tonight’s dinner.

This evening, with the sun going down after what seemed a sweltering drive in the sunny low 70s, the air is freshening with a breeze over the grassy RV sites surrounded by trees as we sit on our lawn chairs, the dogs lying contentedly near our feet. Here we are today — where will we be tomorrow? We have no definite answer to that question and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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This is Indian Pipe. We’ve come across it occasionally in western Washington, most recently here on Fidalgo Island. According to Wikipedia,
“Monotropa uniflora, also known as the Ghost Plant, Indian Pipe, or Corpse Plant is a herbaceous perennial plant, formerly classified in the family Monotropaceae, but now included within the Ericaceae. It is native to temperate regions of Asia, North America and northern South America, but with large gaps between areas.[1] It is generally scarce or rare in occurrence but is common or even ubiquitous in some areas, such as many parts of eastern North America.
Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a myco-heterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest. The complex relationship that allows this plant to grow also makes propagation difficult.”
(Link to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_Pipe)

So flower, closely associated with fungi.

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Brian taking a much needed break on a long hike, dangling his feet off of a log while eating gorp.  This is the day we discovered that Millie loves cashews.  We already knew Annie loves raisins, but didn’t realize how good she was at sniffing them out when we accidentally dropped them into dense ground cover. (Anacortes Forest Lands)

Lisa & Millie by Padilla Bay.  No, they hadn’t planned for their outfits to match, but Brian thought it was really cute so he got them to pose.

Brian & Annie in Larrabee State Park, in the Chuckanut Mountains beside Samish Bay. They appreciated the shade on this hike with highs in the 70s. Used to Alaskan weather, we all have yet to get used to this warmer clime.

A great way to hold Annie’s attention: stand on the ball.  (Cascade Trail)

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Terns by the Bay

We sat for a while beside Indian Slough where it would reach Padilla Bay were it high tide, watching Caspian Terns.  So graceful in flight, they looked more like gulls as they stood in the sand.  One would fly close by occasionally, with a sharp eye on the water, bill pointed downwards.

When they spot a fish, they dive, splashing the surface and sometimes going mostly under to capture their prey.  We also watched the mating ritual of male, fish in mouth, walking up to a female who would snub, snub, snub and then sometimes decide to take the fish, leaving the male standing alone, looking forlorn, but we assume it was a success.

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