Shoshone California – Death Valley

While staying at the Escapees Co-op RV Park in Pahrump Nevada we made a day trip to the southern part of Death Valley National Park and the little town of Shoshone California.  There we found a great museum and an area called Dublin Gulch where miners carved homes out of the soft rock bluffs in the area.

The highway to Shoshone CA

Shoshone CA

Shoshone Museum

Dublin Gulch miners home

A short drive from Shoshone is the town of Tecopa and the China Ranch Date Farm.  The current farm was started in 1992 on the site of an old farm established in 1890 by a Chinese man who used the site on the Amargosa River to grow fruits and veggies for the miners.  The area has many abandoned mines from years of mining lead, silver, gypsum and talc.  He disappeared mysteriously in 1896.  Today the farm grows and sells many date varieties, gifts and date shakes.  Ranch parking provides access to the China Ranch Trail thru the desert, along the old Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad line and across the Amargosa River to a beautiful slot canyon.

China Ranch Date Farm

Assay office along trail

Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad right of way

Trail to slot canyon

Slot Canyon destination

Posted in California, Desert, History, national parks, Nevada | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Fall on the Oregon Coast

While we certainly enjoy hunting mushrooms, the draw of coastal Oregon is much more than that.  Whale watching, lighthouses, gorgeous views, hiking, seals and sea lions are easily accessible.  We even hiked nearly face to face with huge elk.  There’s a lot of history here too but that will have to wait until next time.

View from Ecola State Park

Haystack at Cannon Beach

Scene at the town of Cannon Beach

Creek to Sea

Tidepool life at Hug Point

Green sea anemone at low tide

Cape Meares State Scenic Viewpoint offers tours of the 1890s lighthouse and home of the Octopus Tree, the largest Sitka Spruce in the state.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Boiler Bay SSV offers views of surf, whales and seabirds.

Boiler Bay

Conde McCollough designed bridge

Nehalem Bay State Park sits on a spit of land separating Nehalem Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Nehalem Bay beach

Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area is a BLM site just north of Newport Oregon.  The headland juts one mile into the ocean with Oregon’s tallest lighthouse and tidepools teeming with life.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse

Seals on the coast

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse guards the entrance to Newport’s harbor.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse

Newport Bridge

Newport fishing fleet

Sea lions at Newport

Whale off the coast

Roosevelt Elk on the coast

Cape Arago Highway leads to three State Parks; Cape Arago, Sunset Bay and Shore Acres.  It also takes us to Simpson Reef Scenic Viewpoint which overlooks hundreds of barking sea lions.

Cape Arago Lighthouse

 

Sunset Bay

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Shore Acres SP is on the site of Asa Simpson, a very successful shipping and timber baron.  The home burned but the gardens remain and the coastal setting offers great views of titanic wave action.

Shore Acres SP gardens

Shore Acres water garden

Surf near Shore Acres

Crashing waves at Shore Acres

At North Bend Oregon the beautiful bridge over the Coos River memorializes the impassioned work of the visionary highway department engineer Conde B. McCollough.

Conde McCollough Memorial Bridge- beautiful cantilever design

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Wild Mushrooms in Oregon

Fall on the Oregon coast is a great time for foraging and enjoying seasonal foods.  Wild mushrooms are gathered in large quantities and many varieties.  Cranberries are harvested and distributed fresh.  Apples are everywhere and often found on neglected trees yet still perfectly good to eat or process into applesauce, desserts etc.

Fresh Oregon cranberries …$5

Great farmers markets

Foraging for wild mushrooms is one of our favorite activities.  Its a great reason to get out into the forest and wander for hours.  Oregon is the one state we know that offers free guided hikes to learn and collect these delicacies.  Starting at Fort Stephens State Park in September the ranger programs introduce many people to the ins and outs of collecting.  One weekend we participated with friends Martie and Phil.  We all found King Boletes with rookie Phil finding the most.  These are very easy to identify, great for cooking and improved by drying.

King Boletes

Boletus edulis in situ

Mushroom habitat in Ft. Stephens State Park

Martie and Phil

Down the coast we found Lobster mushrooms while visiting the Cape Meares Lighthouse State Park.  We weren’t even looking.  These mushrooms are very unusual yet common.  They are actually a Russula mushroom parasitized by another fungi.  Incredibly the result is a tasteless fungi becoming a delicious one that really does smell and taste like lobster.  We made into a fabulous Lobster Bisque and mushroom crab cakes.

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Lobster mushroom

While staying near Newport OR we found more Boletes, Lobsters, Chanterelles and even our first ever Cauliflower mushroom.  The headland at Cape Perpetua gave us the chance to hunt in coastal mountain terrain.  The small town of Yachats (YAH-hots) had their 20th annual mushroom festival Oct. 18-20.  We attended some great lectures, wild mushroom displays, and a market of unusual varieties for sale.  It was fun being around people as obsessed as we are.  We collected so many boletes and lobsters that we got out the food dehydrator to preserve for future use.

Yachats Mushroom Fest

Good chanterelle harvest

Cauliflower mushroom

Cape Perpetua trail

Dried King Boletes

 

 

 

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Olympic Peninsula

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is a world all its own.  “Discovered” by Spaniard Juan de Fuca in the 16th century it is the northwestern most place in the continental United States.  It has hundreds of miles of coastline from Puget Sound to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the North Pacific ocean.  Olympic National Park fills most of the vast interior with wilderness and the area is crowned with the Olympic Mountains which have snow capped peaks near 8000 feet.  There is so much to explore.

Indian family in 1914

Cape Flaterry is the actual northwesternmost point of the continental US.  It is on the Makah Indian Reservation one of 8 tribes who still call the peninsula home.  Friends Mark and Lyn joined us on a long day trip to see this area.  We ended the day with a great meal at Nourish http://www.nourishsequim.com/ restaurant in Sequim WA.

Mark and Lyn

Us on the coast

Cape Flattery lighthouse

Cape Flattery

Port Townsend WA was near our base for this area.  We stayed at the Escapees Evergreen Coho RV Park in Chimacum, a nice farming community.  We found great farmer’s markets and fruitstands.   Tomatoes, squash, greens and fruit were abundant.  The area has a rich history with many Victorian homes and old military installations.  Fort Flagler and Ft. Worden are now public parks with beautiful seaside locations.  Located at the northeast corner of the peninsula both forts afford great views of ship traffic from the Pacific to Puget Sound.  Harbor seals, sea lions and otters are common and occasionally whales and orcas can be seen.

Ship passing Ft. Flagler

Ft. Worden lighthouse

Ft. Flagler beach

Tug at Port Hadlock

Victoria BC is a short (1.5 hour) ferry ride from Port Angeles WA.  The days we crossed the seas were like glass.  We have visited Victoria many times.  Its the retirement capital of Canada and provincial capital of British Columbia.  We stayed at the Pendray Inn and Teahouse, a wonderful B & B with a traditional English High Tea.  High Tea offers the smallest amount of food for the highest price and very good tea.  We had a great stay and celebrated our 38th wedding anniversary.  Our visit included a tour of the Royal BC Museum, one of the best in all Canada.

MV Coho ferry

Pendray Inn and Teahouse

BC Parliament

First Nations at BC Museum

Wooly Mammoth at BC Musum

Olympic National Monument was established in 1909 by President Theodore Roosevelt.  It became a national park in 1938.  The park preserves the unique temperate rain forest and mountains of the Olympic Peninsula.  Parts of it are among the wettest places on earth.  While there we visited the Salmon Cascade, a series of waterfalls where salmon swim upstream 70 miles to spawn.  It is incredible to see these big fish leaping up the rocks in a desperate attempt to reach their birthplace and place to lay eggs and then die.  Nearby Sol Duc Falls is another beautiful site in the park.

Salmon leaping Salmon Cascade

Rainforest in Olympic NP

Overall Port Townsend is said to have 67 more days of sun than Seattle.  While we were there in September we experienced the end of Summer and beginning of Fall.  The weather included more rain but mostly pleasant days with mild temps.  We could actually  see ourselves living here for part of the year.

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Washington

Our goal this Summer was to babysit our granddaughter for the month of August before she started kindergarten.  That meant a visit to the great state of Washington.  We crossed the mouth of the Columbia River to enter the state near the town of Ilwaco.  Ilwaco is a thriving fishing town and we arrived during the Summer Coho salmon run just offshore.  We booked a trip on the Coho Sally and caught our limit of 2 fish each.

NW Native American salmon art

Coho Sally

The mouth of the Columbia River has been called the graveyard of the Pacific.  There were once 3 shipwrecks in one week.  It’s been very tranquil on our visits.

Pacific beach

Trail to beach near Seaview WA

Northwest beach Di

Beach at Ft. Stephens

Vashon Island is one of the large islands in Puget Sound accessible by ferry.  We spent a pleasant day there exploring the farmer’s market, lighthouse and rural scenery.  Beautiful.

Wa State Ferry to Vashon Island

Point Robinson Lighthouse

Beautiful Vashon seaside

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Oregon

Oregon is one of our favorite states.  It is rightfully famous for its Pacific coast.  While staying in Seaside we had the chance to tour some of  the parks of the northern OR coast.  Oregon parks are ubiquitous on the coast.  One can nearly step from park to park they are co close together.  We visited Ecola State Park, Hug Point Recreation Area and Ft. Stevens State Park among others.  These parks offer great views and beach access.  Cannon Beach is a popular tourist destination with a famous rock

Pristine beach near Ecola SP

Cannon Beach and Rock

Roosevelt elk in park

Hug Point beach

Old seaside road

Seasonal falls at beach

Sea star “Patrick”?
at low tide

Sea anemones in tide pool

Another look at Cannon Beach

Our route to the Oregon coast took us along the mighty Columbia River.  It is so impressive.  We found a free camping site at a Corps of Engineers area called Rufus Landing near John Day Dam.  Certain times of year this area is used by Native Americans for salmon fishing using scaffolds.  This activity is protected by treaty and would be interesting to see but just now we got to enjoy the riverfront views.  There are busy UP and BNSF main lines running on opposite sides of the river.  We also saw hundreds of giant white pelicans that call this place home.  Just before dark a Columbia River Cruise Ship passed by and entered the locks to go upstream.   We were so happy to find such a serene place an hour from Portland with incredible views.

Goldie on the Columbia River

Fishing scaffolds

Giant white pelicans

Basalt cliffs at sunset

John Day Dam at night

Astoria is a historic town at the mouth of the Columbia River.  Founded in 1811, it is the first American town west of the Rockies.  It is named for John Jacob Astor whose fur trading company founded Fort Astoria.  Its a great small town with a vibrant art scene, micro breweries and a great Farmers Market all summer.  The Astoria Column was built in 1926 and affords great views from the top while the murals spiraling around depict events in the early history of Oregon.

Astoria Farmers Market

Astoria Column

Town view from the top of the Column

Fort Clatsop is a National Park Service site nearby that has costumed  interpreters in summer.  Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery spent the winter of 1805-06 there after reaching the Pacific coast on their epic journey.  They had nearly starved on what became the Washington state coast before the Clatsop Indians shared the abundant elk on the Oregon side.  The Clatsop saw trading opportunities.  Lewis recorded only 12 days without rain and of those only 6 with sun  during their stay from early December to late March.  They couldn’t wait to leave the area heading back to St. Louis.  The reconstructed fort is an excellent replica.  While there we took a ranger led kayak tour on the Lewis and Clark River where the fort is located.

Lewis and Clark’s
Ft. Clatsop

Ranger led kayak paddle on the Lewis and Clark River

Lewis and Clark River with pilings from the logging days

Oregon is one of our favorite states.  The climate is mild, its not too crowded, they have great parks and beaches, the people are friendly.  We stayed in Seaside OR at the Thousand Trails RV Park there.  Seaside is the oldest resort town in the state and its a very busy place in Summer.  Their Fourth of July fireworks show is among the largest on the West coast.  We plan to return in the Fall.

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Lee’s Ferry and Glen Canyon Arizona

NFS campground view

Lee’s Ferry is the only place in 700 miles of canyon country where one can drive to the Colorado River.  This made it a prominent location in the history of northeastern Arizona.  Today it can be reached from Page AZ or the North Rim of the Grand Canyon or from Flagstaff off US 89.  Lee’s Ferry Campground is part of Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and one of the most beautiful campgrounds we have ever visited.  Our photos really don’t do it justice.  It is surrounded on 3 sides by the Colorado River and beautiful red cliffs.  We hiked a scenic trail up a dry wash before visiting the riverside to see boats launching and historic ruins.

Vermillion Cliffs

Dry wash trail

Opuntia cacti blooming

Ruins Lee’s Fort

Colorado River launch point

Great trout fishing

Lee’s Ferry is the launch point for all raft trips through the Grand Canyon.  It is also at the end of the Glen Canyon area of the river.  We took a boat tour of the canyon below the Glen Canyon Dam which was very controversial when it was built.  The resulting Lake Powell is now a large recreation area and the town of Page is a booming recreation destination.  We had a great guide for the river trip which cruised thru smooth water between towering red cliffs.  The trip included a stop to see ancient petroglyphs.

Navaho Bridge

Marble Canyon from bridge

Glen Canyon Dam

River below dam

River boat trip

Beach for petroglyph viewing

Very detailed petroglyphs

Late day sun on red rocks

We visited Lee’s Ferry the first week of May.  The weather was perfect.  We understand it can get very hot in Summer and quite cold in Winter.  There are many trails to explore and guided fishing trips available.

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