Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Olympic National Park

We had a couple of weeks before our last Oregon host position, so we headed north to visit a few sites that we had missed on previous visits. Olympic National Park is on Washington's Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest sprawling across several different ecosystems, from the peaks of the Olympic Mountains to old-growth forests. The glacier-clad Mt. Olympus cuts through the park's rainforests and along its Pacific coastline. 

Since many of the campgrounds are first come first serve and few that could accommodate our 24 feet, we planned to arrive early to try and snag a place to stay after delaying our arrival for a day due to the Hobie competition being held over the weekend. Most of the campers had left by the time we arrived at Quinault's Rainforest Campground. Site number one is the only lake front site and happened to be open when we pulled up. Lucky for us.

Quinault Lake, WA

The park’s four rain forests are part of a huge Pacific Northwest rainforest that once stretched from Oregon’s southern coast to southeastern Alaska. Because of development, very few temperate rainforests outside of Olympic National Park exist along this stretch today.
But what makes a temperate forest? Rain. Rain. And more rain ? 12-14 feet per year, to be exact in Olympic. Climate also is important. In Olympic, temperatures rarely drop below freezing or go above 80F, enabling an incredibly unique ecosystem to grow.

Loggers cut he notch in the middle of the stump to place a board  to stand on while cutting down the tree.

Quinault Rain Forest is home to the world’s largest Sitka spruce tree that is more than 1,000 years old. Quinault also has several waterfalls, including Merriman Falls along the narrow South Shore Road.  We didn't have a problem getting past the few oncoming vehicles.

On the way back, we took the North Shore Road. We didn't like that side at all. It was more narrow without many turnouts and steep cliffs at times. Without a place to turn around, I assumed the quiet mode. We only met three vehicles which we shimmied past. Fortunately, we were on a good section when a huge truck with gravel came around the corner. I am not sure how that would have played out two miles back.

It was hard to resist the blueberries, huckleberries and blackberries on our hikes,

On the way to Ruby Beach and low tide not happening for a while, we stopped at Kalalock Lodge for brunch overlooking the ocean.

 Ruby Beach

There was enough misty rain to make the pictures more interesting.
Anemones in tide pools 

Forks, WA

Logger's memorial

Darn telemarketers

Forks is a great location for Mitch Dodds, the mountain man TV fellow and the Twilight movies. The foggy mornings and steam rising off the logs as the sun shines through the trees give an eerie feel. They have been good to Forks. Many improvements have been made to the area since we last visited 12 years ago. 
On previous visits, we missed several sections of the National Park and took the opportunity to visit them this time. It was much wetter then. August is one of the driest months in the rainforest. But this year western Washington is suffering from a serious drought. The local towns are even considering water restictions. 

When we see the sun shining through spiderwebs, I remember hiking in Costa Rica with a guide. Mike took a right hand path while we followed the guide to the left. I suddenly said "stop" in a firm voice, fortunately Mike listened this time. He was close to walking into a large spider web with an equally large spider in the middle of the web at face level.

Fall seems to be arriving early.

Even though the waterfalls were smaller than usual, 

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Back at Stub Stewart

Trying not to get fired!

Oregon State Parks employs an archeologist that provide education, development and treatment of cultural resources.  One of her jobs is surveying the trails on state land for proper land use and avoiding destroying important artifacts.  Our host coordinator approached us about hiking with her once a week while at LL Stub Stewart as walking partners since hiking alone is not a good plan and there have been cougar sightings in the park. Recently, a lady, hiking alone, was killed by a cougar in the Columbia Gorge Region.

 Nancy started with a tutorial about what she was looking for. Since most of the park is on a mountain slope, she didn't expect any Native American artifacts, mostly found on plateaus and along rivers. But did expect logging artifacts which we did find a few on a ridge used to hold logs from
the valley below for removal on the logging roads. We reached 7 miles and I knew we had 2 1/2 miles to go if we turned around at that point. She began mapping out the next trails we would be walking. I said "Uncle". We offered to wait while she walked up the hill two more times and she could walkout with us. We headed to Ninja Bowl Teriyaki in Banks once we got home, eating the entire bowl. We usually only eat half and have the rest for dinner. The next hike was a short 7 miles round trip. Much better.

All of that walking and our findings were two old rusty cans and two old bottles which really excited Nancy. I was excited to sit down while she took pictures and did her documentation. 

 Cycling the farm roads during the harvest was a fun way to spend our days off or mornings before we had to do our nature tables. We filled the freezer with blackberries from along the side of the roads.
A stop at Oak Knoll Winery.

 We were sure our days as interpretive hosts were limited. I misread the flyer that we handed out in the evening as they would get s'mores at the campfire demo. I soon realized that there would be no s'mores for the kids. We snuck out to avoid the back lash. Ranger Sophie was in for a surprise. Oops!
Perseids meteor shower is a yearly event in August at Stub Stewart, a dark sky location with frequent star gazing parties at the Hilltop Day Use area. The Meteor shower brings out hundreds of people many with giant telescopes. On our first day, Sophie said to let her know if anyone was interested in helping out with crowd and parking control. We thought we were flying under the radar but she caught up with us and we agreed to help out. Our shift would be 8 pm to 11pm. I guess this was a little payback for the s'more incident. 

Once the Hilltop parking lot was full, we were to "rove" and radio when there were empty spots. We set up our chairs at the exit and watched the comets blazing throughthe sky losing track of time until an hour later we heard Ranger Ramona anounce on the radio that there was an open spot. Losing track of time, we got up and found people had been leaving and we missed them. We just pretended that they had just left and radioed that we had new openings. Oops.  At 1030, I radioed that I was
ready to go home and wouldn't mind a replacement. Good thing we are volunteers or we would be fired for sure.


The bat skeleton at our Nature Table.

A batty lady ready to teach the people that bats eat 600 mosquitos an hour.

 Happy Big 70th Birthday to Mike! We had a little party with the rangers and hosts and had a fun visit.

The freezer is full.

We were happy that Mike's daughter, Amanda, completed her 20 weeks of chemotherapy and looks great. She still has surgery and radiation to go. It is a tough journey for her and her family. It is tough knowing what they are going though.
Life is just too precarious and unpredictable.
Since we have a little time before heading to Willamette Mission for our last stop in Oregon, we are heading to Washington's Olympic Penninsula.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Detroit Lake, Oregon

A mini vacation

I never thought that I would say anyplace was drier than the desert of Arizona. But Oregon's high desert would be that place. It didn't matter how much moisturizer I put on, I was still dry. The dirt puffs up like talcum powder being tossed in the wind as we walked. During a Jr Ranger hike to see beaver activity, we were soon coughing from the dust being stirred up by the person's foot steps in front of us. It was time to move on once again.

A bee keeper biologist at Sun River Botanical Gardens gave a lively and interesting look at bee behavior. We had no idea how little we knew about bees.

 La Pine State Park was run very differently than previous parks. We just did our duties, helped out campers and texted the ranger on duty if there were any problems and there were plenty of those. 

We were surprised at the number of people from Holland and Switzerland that found their way to our little park in their rental RVs. We enjoyed a potluck, a pie day and potato day on Sunday afternoons with the other hosts and rangers.

Detroit Lake

Detroit Lake has a ghost town that could be seen during the drought of 2016. Often when the reservoirs are drawn down for winter storms the foundations of Old Detroit are revealed.  In 1938, Congress authorized the Detroit Dam to provide flood control, hydroelectricity, irrigation and recreation. This put the stamp of death on Old Detroit. The 200 person town was moved to higher ground.

We stayed at Detroit Lake for a mini vacation on the way to Stub Stewart. Arriving 10 minutes before the host potluck started, we were invited to join them when they heard we were hosts in transit. We timed that just right! The interpretive ranger gave us a tour of their interpretive resources and asked us to consider leading kayak classes at some point. Detroit Lake is a bit remote for us and Salem and the grocery stores are 47 miles away. The campground is on Highway 20 and has lots of traffic noise. Two days was more than enough listening to down shifting semis even though the lake is beautiful.

One reason for the visit to Detroit Lake was cycling the Cascading Rivers Scenic Bikeway but passed once we drove the route we had planned. The winding road was narrow with shade trees that made strobing light making it difficult to see a cyclist even with safety gear. The day was safer walking and enjoying the lake.

Driving through the farms, we could see marijuana farms taking over where once were growing watermelon and other fruits and vegetables. I guess you have to go with the most profitable crop.

A hike along the North Santiam River

We had committed to volunteer for 2 months when we started hosting and are now starting our 5th month, finding it to be a good addition to our nomadic life. We planned to try different parks and different positions (we don't clean bathrooms). When LL Stub Stewart offered the interpretivee
position, we jumped at the chance even though we had been here in May. Washington State Parks made a few offers for last minute openings but nothing fit the bill for us.

Back to Stub Stewart...

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