Our fifth wheel and the truck

Monday, October 18, 2010

It's week twelve already!!!!

One of the problems with our lives is that we spend so much time anticipating and looking forward to events and they come and go so quickly. It is amazing to think that we have been on the road in this wonderful country for three months.

As I said at the end of my last blog, when we left Kelli and Don’s the plan was to go to Olympic Nat’l Park for a few days then head south so we could visit Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens before heading down the west coast to the southern states for winter. Weeelllll we got on the road and before we even got anywhere we change our minds (mainly because the weather was not looking too flash) and decided to give Olympic Park a miss and head straight to Randle, WA which is halfway between Mt Rainier and Mt St Helens.

We headed to the Shady Firs RV Park and didn’t bother booking. We have discovered that all the RV parks in the north are either closed or closing for the winter or, if they are open all year they have lots of empty spaces. Shady Firs is a beautiful spot and had lots of empty spaces - in fact - we were the only ones there when we pulled in.

The weather on Monday wasn’t flash - lots of cloud around - but we decided to go to Mt Rainier anyway. We entered the park from the east at Ohanapecosh and headed west. Ohanapecosh has the most magnificent old growth forest. I almost laid on my back on the ground just to soak in the enormity of these giants. You will certainly get a crick in your neck looking up all the time. As it was the last day of the summer season for the visitor centre and the camp ground, the walks were extremely quiet and sort of surreal. We found ourselves whispering so as not to disturb the serenity of it.

We wound our way through the park as we headed to ‘Paradise' which is the closest that you can get by car to the mountain itself. Did you know that Mt Rainier has more named glaciers than any other mountain? Anyway, we arrived in Paradise after waterfalls, creeks, glaciers, beautiful autumn colours, majestic forests and breathtaking views, only to find that the summit was covered in cloud. Never mind, we had an incredible day and decided that as we had only seen one side of the park we would come back on again so that we could see the west side of the park and maybe get a better view of the summit - weather permitting.

That decision was one of the best that we have made because Tuesday dawned with amazing clear skies and was just a beautiful autumn day. Keeping in mind that the weather could change very quickly up there, we headed straight up to Paradise to take advantage of the clear skies. If I say that it was amazing, brilliant and breathtaking would that give you some idea of how absolutely beautiful it was. If I could add all the photos that I took, you may get some idea. And it doesn’t matter that I am not a photographer or that I have a little inexpensive digital camera, the views and sites are so amazing you would think I was a professional!! Seriously, the views are so lovely they make even me look good!

There are so many hiking trails in the park but I have to tell you, if the sign says 1.2miles then ignore the one and the decimal point because the trail will be at least two miles. And if it says 0.4miles then double that! We took the walk to Nisqually Glacier Lookout and then on the all down-hill trail to Nisqually Falls (oh yes and it is all up hill going back to the car!). But they are so worth the effort!

We had a very late lunch at the Lodge at the entry to the park and then enjoyed a leisurely wander through the ‘Trail of the Shadows”. We saw evidence of beavers, the hot springs and once again the most amazing old growth forest. Do I overuse the word amazing? I will have to expand my use of superlatives so that I can adequately describe what we see!

We come away from a day like today both physically and emotionally spent. There is just so much to take in that you end up with SOD ( for newbies to this blog that is the acronym for Sensory Overload Disorder) once again.

But, come the morning, we are up and eager to do the whole lot all over again as we planned on heading to Mt St Helens. It seems incredible that it is 30 years since the eruption.

The drive to the east side of Mt St Helens is truly lovely with beautiful forests and it isn’t until you get closer to the mountain that you actually come face to face with the results of that catastrophe.

There are areas that have been replanted and are beginning to cover the scars however there are significant areas that have been left and there is very little sign of recovery. One of the things that is hard to accept is that there are areas close to the mountain that appear untouched by the blast while other areas much further away were completely erased. Spirit Lake, which is on the north (?) side of the mountain, is just the most beautiful lake except that there are huge expanses of fallen logs floating - from a distance it was hard to know what was on the surface of the lake but as we got closer (and used the binoculars - oh duhh) you could see that they were dead trees. There are huge areas where the logs have just bottled-necked.

We sat in the shadow of Mt St Helens to have lunch and contemplated the amazing forces of nature that could bring such devastation to people’s lives and the whole area surrounding the mountain. Quite a sobering moment.

We have a new plan!! From now on we will take at least one day a week when we do not go sightseeing or rushing around. It is the only way I am going to get any ‘jobs’ done! We have realized that we have plenty of time and we don’t need to see everything right now!! I don’t know how long it will last but we will see!!!! Maybe just for this week, so tomorrow is the day.

It is Friday and off we go again! This time we are headed to the Oregon coast of which we have heard so many wonderful things. It will have to be good given that the beaches at home (West Aust.) are magnificent! I will attach a photo of a beach at Esperance (south coast) just to give those of you who haven’t seen a West Aussie beach, some idea of how magnificent they really are. The kid in the photo is our youngest son who was on a ‘road trip’ with one of his friends from Connecticut.

We are staying in Lincoln City, OR at a beautiful RV park on the banks of the Selitz River. It is the most gorgeous setting and is a good start to our exploration of the Oregon coast. We headed south to Newport and the following day went north towards Tillamook stopping along the way at some of the scenic outlooks.

Depoe Bay is the cutest place with its harbour. I don’t know that it is the smallest harbour in the world but it is cute. One thing I didn’t know was that Captain James Cook landed at Cape Foulweather on the Oregon Coast!! We stopped at some beautiful places and I actually saw a whale (from a long way away!) I think if I had to compare the Oregon coast I would have to say it was more like the Great Ocean Road in Victoria than the beaches of WA. It is certainly beautiful and some of the little bays, the huge outcrops of rock and the Sand Lake were stunning. The Tillamook Cheese and Ice Cream Company was a wonderful stop too. They have 38 different flavours of icecream. Yummy!!!

Our next move will be towards Crater Lake but I think we may do a small detour as I believe that around Roseburg there are some wonderful wineries!!! My sort of place is Roseburg. The only problem is, that unlike our visits to Margaret River (back home), we won’t be able to buy a couple of dozen bottles to take home with us. No room in the RV - bummer!!!!!!

Take care of you and yours and happiness and good health to all our friends and family.

Till the next, hopefully not so long, episode in this saga I will say ooroo and catch you again soon!


  1. Esperance is beautiful...so many shades of blue. Just stunning! It looks like the water would be warm. Is that the case or is it like the Northern Pacific and frigid all the time?

    I imagine that the cheese from Tillamook didn't find i's way into your rig. Too bad because it is really great cheese.

    Remind Rick to tell you about seeing Mt St Helens erupt. He had a ring side seat!

    Paula, you may have an inexpensive camera but you sure take some wonderful pictures. You had a unique view of Mt Ranier. We have tried so many times to get a good shot but it is always too far away. Someday we will get closer and soon too!
    Safe travels you guys

    Karen Bennett

  2. Hi Karen
    The water at Esperance can be cold coming up from the Southern Ocean but absolutely beautiful for swimming in the summer. Norm and I went scuba diving down there and the wetsuits were a must!
    By the way is it Rick that likes fishing? Because I love fishing and need someone to teach me how you guys fish! It is a bit different back home - drop a line in and hope that you get something more than a blowie! I will trade you for a roast lamb dinner (if I can buy some lamb) or some other succulent Aussie fare.
    December is not far away. I hope you are still into the cart wheels?
    Take care and be safe
    Hugs Paula