October 8-17, 2016 – Jonathan visits St. George

On Saturday, October 8, 2016 John, Jon, and I hit the road for St. George at 5:45AM! Jonathan likes to take the route through Yosemite NP and as it takes a little longer, it is imperative that we leave a little early so we can finish in daylight. So armed with bagels and coffee for an in-car breakfast, we are off. Traffic is a little heavier than usual due to it being Columbus Day weekend but we make good time and by lunchtime we have reached Tonopah, NV.

We arrive in St. George around 7PM MDT, check to see that everything is in working order (both Direct TV and the internet are on the fritz) and then head over to the Club for some so-so dinner.

As we will do five times during Jon’s stay, we play tennis the next morning. Poor Jon has tennis elbow but plays valiantly through the pain. I am playing horribly through all of our sessions and only start to improve at the very end of our stay.

Jon ready for his forehand

Jon ready for his forehand

John hitting his forehand

John hitting his forehand

Jonathan and I have such fun grocery shopping and cooking. We get the ingredients for his favorite “mom” meal, meatballs and gravy over noodles with green beans.

Jon's favorite, meatballs and gravy over noodles with green beans

Jon’s favorite, meatballs and gravy over noodles with green beans

The days fly by and Jon plays golf on his non-tennis days and arranges music, takes naps, and continues to shop and cook with us. We bring some better wines along to share. One of our older Zinfandels gets a big thumbs up from all of us.

Jon cooking vegetables for fajitas

Jon cooking vegetables for fajitas

Jon and John in the kitchen

Jon and John in the kitchen

This 2004 Imagery Zinfandel is the bomb!

This 2004 Imagery Zinfandel is the bomb!

Another yummy dinner, chicken fajitas

Another yummy dinner, chicken fajitas

We are also trying to find new places to eat. The dining scene in St. George is pretty grim but there must be restaurants other than Mongolian BBQ and Mad Pita to eat! We try Jalapeño’s, Dickey’s BBQ, and strike gold at Irmita’s. There are daily specials and the Tuesday mulitas are delicious and economical.

Irmita's Tuesday special, Mulita

Irmita’s Tuesday special, Mulita

One day we decide to take a hike in Zion NP. Since October is a pretty popular time, we search out less well-known spots to hike. Our choice is off the Hop Kiln Trail along the Kolob Terrace Rd. We decide to go off-trail to find what another hiker has named Hoodoo City. We have great fun exploring and are careful to leave a cairn so we won’t get lost coming back. Plus there are no other adventurers on our hike.

Jon near "Hoodoo City"

Jon near “Hoodoo City”

Mary and John silly selfie in the slickrock

Mary and John silly selfie in the slickrock

Tiny Jon in the wilderness

Tiny Jon in the wilderness

Our next stop is at the Lava Point Overlook. The view of Wildcat Canyon and The main Zion Canyon peaks are phenomenal.

The view from Lava Point towards Zion Canyon

The view from Lava Point towards Zion Canyon

Mary and John at the overlook

Mary and John at the overlook

Jon at Lava Point

Jon at Lava Point

The colorful aspens along Kolob Terrace Rd.

The colorful aspens along Kolob Terrace Rd.

Our culinary point of view this week is international. In addition to the Mexican chicken fajitas above, we also make –


We all have a great time and are so happy that Jonathan loves this place as much as we do. It is nice to think that there might be generations of Pilats enjoying St. George and the wonderful nearby parks in the future.
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September 30, 2016 – Meals for September

Here’s what we made during September, 2016. Obviously we had more meals than this but some pictures I forgot to take, some dinners we ate out, sometimes we had takeout, and some evenings we were invited to other peoples’ homes.

September 20, 2016 – Visiting with the Kendalls

Our good friends Eileen and Jim Kendall are up in the Bay Area visiting their daughter, Ali, and her family. We drive over to Corte Madera to see them and have some lunch. Ali and Van’s daughter, Vea, models her Halloween finery for us.  We all dine al fresco next to the Bay in the beautiful weather.  Sadly we did not get to see Eli as he was at preschool and Van, of course, who was off working. We have been slowly transferring our Bruder trucks to the Swearingen small fry.  I am so glad they are getting a new home.

Many thanks to Eileen and Jim for having us over for lunch and sharing their family with us.

Eileen helps Vea into her Halloween skirt an hat

Eileen helps Vea into her Halloween skirt an hat

Vea checks out Eli's fright wig

Vea checks out Eli’s fright wig

Ali and Vea share some lunch by San Francisco Bay

Ali and Vea share some lunch by San Francisco Bay

 

September 16, 2016 – John’s birthday celebration coincides with Hookslide performance

For John’s birthday we decide to postpone the celebration for two days and head over to the peninsula for dinner, a Hookslide concert at Domenico’s Winery, and an overnight.  Food and accommodations were good and Hookslide was great.  Plus there was a bonus of getting to see Nathan and Sam!

Dinner at Mistrals in Redwood Shores included shrimp risotto and...

Dinner at Mistrals in Redwood Shores included shrimp risotto and…

blackened sea bass.

blackened sea bass.

Hookslide at Domenico's Winery

Hookslide at Domenico’s Winery

Sam and Ryan listening

Sam and Ryan listening

Hookslide singing loudly

Hookslide singing loudly

Nathan is engrossed in a chess game with some ear protection!

Nathan is engrossed in a chess game with some ear protection!

 

September 8, 2016 – Quick trip to St. George

Did we really drive all the way to St. George for just 5 days?! Yes, we did.The house was in good shape and ready for our trip with Jonathan in October when we will stay for more than 5 days!  We enjoyed the evenings looking at the pond, John grilling dinner, and the temperatures coming down.

Dusk on the pond behind the house in St. George

Dusk on the pond behind the house in St. George

He's a grillman!

He’s a grillman!

September 3, 2016 – Family day

We have just gotten back from our trip or so it seems and now Nathan and Sam will be heading back to school. Time for one last summer get-together. We have Zayde burgers, play fake tennis, and the kids enjoy games with Mom.

Nathan and Sam with Ryan

Nathan and Sam with Ryan

The tennis players pose after an exhausting game of fake tennis

The tennis players pose after an exhausting game of fake tennis

August 9, 2016 – The return home

Originally our plan is to take a few days driving and get to St. George, UT to check things out at the house and then return home.  However, temperatures in St. George are hovering around 105F for a high and 80F for a low and it just seems too daunting. So instead we will spend a night in Portland as originally planned and then head home with an overnight in Redding, CA. One of our goals on this trip is to escape the heat and if we end up where it is much hotter than home that seems counter-productive.

We start out earlish because we have to cross the border back into the U.S.  Having had a lengthy delay getting into Canada we can only imagine how difficult the trip back in will be. Amazingly it takes about 5 minutes. Huh.

We want to stop in Portland because several years ago we were in Portland for Davis Cup and we ate at Jake’s where we had razor clams. They were fabulous! So after checking into our very nice hotel, the Sentinel, we make a reservation and walk the few blocks to the restaurant. (Thanks, internet, for the pictures below)

There is a saying about not being able to go home again. My experience is that it is very difficult to go back to a restaurant that you loved and have it be as good as you remember. This is true of our experience at Jake’s. We start out with a calmari appetizer which is fine but the razor clam entree is heavily breaded and the flavor is just not the same. I remember them have this maple syrupy element to them in their sweetness. This dinner was an over breaded piece of seafood with a lump of mashed potatoes and green beans. Sigh.

Fried calamari

Fried calamari

Sad razor clams with blob of potatoes and green beans

Sad razor clams with blob of potatoes and green beans

Oh well. The next day we hightail it to Redding, CA. We do get to see the magnificent Mount Shasta along the way.  It is the volcano that is the farthest south in the Cascade Range.  It is surprisingly enormous when it comes into view, kind of like seeing Mt. Rainier in Seattle.

Mount Shasta

Mount Shasta

Finally, we end our culinary journey at Olive Garden which normally we wouldn’t go to but, hey, it’s Redding and probably not a place to get adventurous.  Our eggplant parmesan was actually quite good.

Eggplant parmesan from Olive Garden

Eggplant parmesan from Olive Garden

So that’s it, our whole trip. We drove about 2400 miles, had beautifully cool weather, enjoyed ocean breezes, saw amazing vistas and fabulou flora, ate our own home-cooking and had some amazing restaurant meals, and loved being in each other’s company. Pretty wonderful, I’d say.

 

August 8, 2016 – Vancouver, B.C.

Today is our last day in Vancouver and we have a full day planned.  Also we are going back to Maenam’s for dinner. Yay!

Our first and longest stop is at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology.  The mission of the museum is to present world arts and cultures with a special emphasis on the First Nations peoples of the British Columbia area. As you enter the building there is an enormous room full of totems and other artifacts.

Board with otter - Coastal Salish people c.1890

Board with otter – Coastal Salish people c.1890

One thing I did not realize is that the totem poles were used as structural elements inside their houses. The different carved elements brought different spirits into the house.

Haida totem pole

Haida totem pole

There is also a display of large ceremonial bowls that look like small boats used for tribal gatherings. There is a giant spoon to use in the left hand bowl.

Ceremonial bowls

Ceremonial bowls

Ceremonial masks

Ceremonial masks

The great vaulted exhibition room holds many fabulous totem poles.

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Exiting the space devoted to the First Peoples of British Columbia, there is a large space devoted to the First Peoples of the Pacific Islands, Africa, Asia and Latin America. Many of the statues are representations of myths that seem to include the capture and rape of women.

This has to do with a man hiding and watching as beautiful young women came to a bathing place in bird disguise. He watched as they stepped out of their costumes and came back the next day and stole one of the costumes. He promised to help the woman get back her costume but captured her instead to be his wife.

This has to do with a man hiding and watching as beautiful young women came to a bathing place in bird disguise. He watched as they stepped out of their costumes and came back the next day and stole one of the costumes. He promised to help the woman get back her costume but captured her instead to be his wife.

This has to do with the rape of the moon woman.

Rape of the moon woman by the crocodile man of Papua New Guinea.

There is also a contemporary exhibit going on called Unceded Territories. The art deals with colonialist suppression of First Nations peoples and the ongoing struggle for Indigenous rights to lands, resources, and sovereignty.

One of the paintings in the exhibition by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

One of the paintings in the exhibition by Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun

There are rooms and rooms full of everything the museum has collected. It is a little daunting. In back of the museum is a large outdoor installation.

Outdoor exhibit

Outdoor exhibit

After doing a pretty thorough job investigating the Museum of Anthropology we return to our hotel for a little lunch and feet up time.

This afternoon we head out to the Nitobe Memorial Garden, also at the University of British Columbia. According to their website –

“Dr. Inazo Nitobe (1862-1933) was an agriculturalist, scholar, Quaker, philosopher, statesman and educator. Dr. Nitobe was educated at Sapporo Agricultural College, University of Tokyo, Johns Hopkins and University of Halle (Germany). Early in his life he expressed the desire to be a “bridge over the Pacific” and he devoted much of his life to promoting trust and understanding between the United States and Japan.”

It is quite a serene place with a tea house and a walk that takes one from birth to death through decorative lamps and rocks. (Unfortunately my phone starts ringing as we are amidst the solitude.)

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Nitobe Memorial Garden

Next we visit some park land along the English Bay so I can take a panoramic picture of Vancouver.

Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver, British Columbia

Tonight is our final dinner in Vancouver so we decide to go back to Maenam knowing that the experience there will most likely be better than anywhere else. The waitstaff recognizes us and greets us warmly.  The menu for the chef’s dinner has changed since we were here on Saturday so we have several new dishes. Once again it is so good. If I lived here I would come to Maenam’s at least once a week.

(I have only included pictures of the items we did not have last time. We had the fabulous clams and the duck salad again.)

This time our amuse bouche includes shrimp toast with salmon tartar and prawn as well as the yummy meatball

This time our amuse bouche includes shrimp toast with salmon tartar and prawn as well as the yummy meatball

Hot and sour chicken soup with oyster mushrooms

Hot and sour chicken soup with oyster mushrooms

Hanger steak with red curry, egg, beans, cilantro and ginger

Hanger steak with red curry, egg, beans, cilantro and ginger

Ling cod tempura with basil, shallot, chili, and fried green peppercorns

Ling cod tempura with basil, shallot, chili, and fried green peppercorns

Black sesame panna cotta with raspberry and sesame brittle and fresh coconut sorbet

Black sesame panna cotta with raspberry and sesame brittle and fresh coconut sorbet

We have had a great time in Vancouver.  There were many interesting things to see, the city is clean and safe, the people are warm and friendly, and the food is OUTSTANDING!

 

 

August 7, 2016 – Vancouver, B.C.

Our plan today is to go to the Queen Elizabeth Park to see the gardens and to see the Bloedel Conservatory. The park is at the highest point in Vancouver and there are panoramic views.

View of downtown Vancouver from Queen Elizabeth Park

View of downtown Vancouver from Queen Elizabeth Park

The first place we visit is the Bloedel Conservatory. It is full of tropical plants and birds.  There is a helpful brochure that refers to numbered sites in the conservatory.

John in front of Bloedel Conservatory

John in front of Bloedel Conservatory

Tropical plants

Tropical plants

Koi

Koi

Tropical birds

Tropical birds

Weird tree

Weird tree

Bird eating seeds

Bird eating seeds

Colorful birds

Colorful birds

After spending a good deal of time in the Conservatory we decide to get lunch at the restaurant at the park, Seasons in the Park. It is a lovely restaurant with beautiful views of the park out the windows. The restaurant hosted a meeting between President Clinton and President Yeltsin in 1993. And the food is good too!

Delicious salmon and salad at Seasons in the Park

Delicious salmon and salad at Seasons in the Park

Plaque commemorating the meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin

Plaque commemorating the meeting between Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin

After our late lunch we walk around the garden some more. Part of the garden is in quarries that are no longer in use.  It is a dramatic setting where you can look at the overall garden from above and then walk among the plantings.

Looking down into the Little Quarry Garden

Looking down into the Little Quarry Garden

Another view

Another view

Plantings

Plantings

Mary hiding behind a giant leaf

Mary hiding behind a giant leaf

In the early evening we head over to Granville Island which is the happening place in Vancouver. There are music venues, shops, and restaurants. We decide to dine at Edible Canada, a restaurant that showcases Canadian products. Our dinner starts out well but goes down hill at the entree course.  John didn’t like his and didn’t eat some of it.  John usually likes everything!

YUKON ARCTIC CHAR GRAVLAX gin cured char, Vancouver Island sea salt, lemon crema, fresh dill, crusty bread, pickled onion YUM!

YUKON ARCTIC CHAR GRAVLAX
gin cured char, Vancouver Island sea salt, lemon crema, fresh dill, crusty bread, pickled onion YUM!

These are french fries that are cooked in duck fat. They are soggy and not great. BOO!

These are french fries that are cooked in duck fat. They are soggy and not great. BOO!

Three kinds of salt - the bacon salt is especially delicious

Three kinds of salt – the bacon salt is especially delicious

FARMERS HARVEST daily selection of organic farm fresh vegetables, Canadian grain hummus, pickled vegetables - This was not so good. John had his with smoked sturgeon which he wouldn't even eat it was so rubbery and off-putting plus the grain hummus was just regular chickpea hummus

FARMERS HARVEST
daily selection of organic farm fresh vegetables, Canadian grain hummus, pickled vegetables – This was not so good. John had his with smoked sturgeon which he wouldn’t even eat it was so rubbery and off-putting plus the grain hummus was just regular chickpea hummus

Lastly we take a walk around Granville Island and look at the shops.  The view of downtown Vancouver is pretty spectacular.

Downtown Vancouver from Granville Island

Downtown Vancouver from Granville Island

 

August 6, 2016 – To Vancouver, B.C.

After breakfast we get our bags packed up and head out to find our way up to Canada.  We are hoping that the border crossing will not be too lengthy.  The times we have crossed into Canada, it has been quite expeditious. It is usually getting back into the U.S. that is time-consuming.

But not today. Times for getting into Canada are posted some miles before the crossing. If we continue on I-5 the wait is half an hour, if we use an alternate, it is 10 minutes. Wisely, or so we think, we choose the shorter wait time. It takes more than an hour and we are questioned and a dog comes around to sniff our car. The only drugs we are likely to have with us might be to ease our creaky joints from sitting in the car for an extra hour!

Waiting at the Canadian border, eh?

Waiting at the Canadian border, eh?

After finding our way to Vancouver and negotiating the myriad roads closed for repaving or repair, we get to our digs for tonight and the next two nights, the West Coast Suites at University of British Columbia.  We have opted for another apartment type set up and the University is a great setting. It is situated on a peninsula southwest of downtown and there is easy access to lots of great neighborhoods and parks.

Typical suite at West Coast Suites at UBC

Typical suite at West Coast Suites at UBC

Only downside is that there is no air conditioning! What, were they not expecting Americans to visit? And there are no screens. Amazingly the only problem we run into during our three night stay is the noise of wild animals attacking prey. It is lovely and cool and nary a bug flies into our room.

We decide to take some time to get ourselves sorted out and do some wash. We also want to investigate someplace to eat. While I am looking around the internet I find a restaurant that has won Vancouver Magazine’s 2016 restaurant of the year as well as many other accolades, Maenum, serving Thai cuisine. I love Thai cuisine! Since we have skipped lunch we make a reservation on the earlyish side .

logo

amazing food night after night; transforming Vancouver’s dining scene

– Vancouver Magazine, Restaurant of the Year

Parking is an adventure. It is a combination of internet and phone. We call the number on the meter and we go through an extensive menu of punching in our license plate number and credit card so we can park.  Then we walk the couple of blocks to Maenum and are only 10 minutes late. (I hate to be late.) But all is well and we are set for a culinary adventure.

We select the chef’s menu which consists of at least 6 small plates. It is only $45 Canadian and the wine pairing is $30 C. Wow, what a deal! And it is spectacular. Here is what we dine on –

Kingfish and prawn on a betel leaf plus pork and chicken meatmall with chile and pineapple

Kingfish and prawn on a betel leaf plus pork and chicken meatball with chile and pineapple

Sablefish with oyster mushrooms in a lemongrass broth with dill, kaffir lime and fresh tumeric

Sablefish with oyster mushrooms in a lemongrass broth with dill, kaffir lime and fresh tumeric

Cllams in a spicy broth and lemongrass and chiles served with fabulous nahm jim sauce

Clams in a spicy broth and lemongrass and chiles served with fabulous nahm jim sauce

Duck salad with mint, fried shallot, and lychee

Duck salad with mint, fried shallot, and lychee

Surgeon with green curry sauce steamed in a banana leaf and served with a cilantro and mint salad

Surgeon with green curry sauce steamed in a banana leaf and served with a cilantro and mint salad

Breaded and fried chicken with basil, cashews, guajillo chiles and fresh baby corn

Breaded and fried chicken with basil, cashews, guajillo chiles and fresh baby corn

There was also a coconut panna cotta which was also delicious but in my hurry to eat it I forget to take a picture.  This was really a five star dinner. I am afraid that wherever we eat next will not be able to even come close.

 

 

August 5, 2016 – La Conner, Washington

Note: After spending most of the day in La Conner, Washington trying to catch up on posts, I decide that for the rest of the vacation I will spend my time enjoying where I am instead of writing blog posts.  I have plenty of notes so here is my first post after returning home.

So here we are in La Conner, Washington. We decide that today will be a walking-around kind of day. A day where I can catch up on postings and watch the boats sail by in the channel below our window.  There are interesting Native American reproductions across the channel and a mishmash of old an new buildings in town.

Boats at anchor with Native American replica structures across the channel

Boats at anchor with Native American replica structures across the channel

We venture out around lunch time to find some tasty treats of the sea and look at the architecture of the town.  The architecture is somewhat of a mishmash. There are older buildings and also a startling 1970’s style post office. What were they thinking!?

The U.S. Post Office breaks up the harmony of the buildings in downtown La Conner

The U.S. Post Office breaks up the harmony of the buildings in downtown La Conner

We decide to have lunch at the La Conner Brewing Company. Their menu looks good and there is a large board posting their beers according to alcohol content and hoppiness.  John decides on the Fishtown Summer Ale and I have a wheat beer.

Beer board

Beer board

John is happy with his choice

John is happy with his choice

For lunch I have crab cakes that are kind of overwhelmed by the sweet spicy chili sauce and John has  wood-fired chipotle clams. It is one of the best dishes of the trip so far.

Mary's crab cakes

Mary’s crab cakes

John's fabulous chipotle clams

John’s fabulous chipotle clams

After lunch we have a little siesta and watch the boat go by. (And I write more catch-up posts.)

A sailboat that has passed under the bridge and continues down the channel

A sailboat that has passed under the bridge and continues down the channel

After the sun goes down we venture out again in search of dinner.  We try the Oyster and Thistle which is the highest rated restaurant in town.  Unfortunately the kitchen is in the weeds. In the room in which we are seated, no one has food. Our server aggressively suggest we had better order a salad since it will be a while until any main courses are coming. We are a bit too full from lunch for this and decline. The waitperson touches me a couple of time which I really don’t like at all!! She says our bread is baking and after a longish wait we get four slices of bread in a basket. Sigh.

Finally our entrees arrive.

Mary's  curried shrimp and scallops

Mary’s curried shrimp and scallops

John's paella?

John’s paella?

I have curried shrimp and scallops in a lukewarm sauce with mushy rice.  John has a paella of clams, duck confit, chorizo, prawns, escargot, and the kitchen sink served in a bowl. There is no paella pan and no crispy rice. These dishes are okay but not a big success.

Looking forward to Vancouver tomorrow!!

August 4, 2016 – to La Conner, Washington via ferry

We get an early start today. We are traveling across the top of the Olympic Peninsula to Port Townsend and catching a ferry from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island. First business first, though, is a stop at Mary Clark Rd. with a picture of the aforementioned Mary Clark (now Mary Pilat.) We have no idea who this Mary Clark was but we found this road on our last trip up here and it deserves and updated picture.

My street

Mary Pilat nee Clark and Mary Clark Rd.

The trip along the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula is beautiful with tall trees and sparkling lakes. We arrive at Port Townsend shortly before lunch. We stop at the Visitor’s Center and get another fistful of brochures and maps listing the sights in and around Port Townsend. It seems that most of Port Townsend was originally built around 1890 in the Victorian style. We have a map now describing the most interesting of these structures.

The lady at the Visitor’s Center recommends Doc’s for lunch. It is right on the water.

Doc's Restaurant (not my picture)

Doc’s Restaurant (not my picture)

John has a Port Townsend Stout and we both have salads plus clams and mussels in a white wine sauce.  The downside is that there is way too much garlic in the dish but otherwise the shellfish is nicely cooked and delicious.

John with stout

John with stout

Garlic with clams and mussels

Garlic with clams and mussels

We have some time to kill before our ferry reservation at 2:45 PM.  It’s a good thing that I looked to see whether you needed a reservation because many of the crossings are sold out. In the meantime we look around Port Townsend and take a trip out to Fort Worden to see the lighthouse.

Lighthouse and lightkeeper's house at Fort Worden (a lot of gull droppings!)

Lighthouse and lightkeeper’s house at Fort Worden (a lot of gull droppings!)

Finally it is time to drive onto the ferry. It is a beautiful day to make the crossing so we sit on the sun deck to enjoy it.

Looking back at Port Townsend, Washington

Looking back at Port Townsend, Washington

Our sister ship crossing back to Port Townsend

Our sister ship crossing back to Port Townsend

On the other side is Whidbey Island and the land is used for farming. We see lots of signs for blueberries. We are driving from island to island now and there is spectacular scenery at Deception Pass. A group of sailors led by Joseph Whidbey, part of the Vancouver Expedition, found and mapped Deception Pass on June 7, 1792. George Vancouver gave it the name “Deception” because it had misled him into thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula. (Wikipedia)

Deception Pass (credit blog.anacortes.org)

Deception Pass (credit blog.anacortes.org)

We are headed to the Channel Lodge and after a long day’s worth of driving what could be better than having our intrepid GPS, Jack, take us to the wrong place by about 12 miles. But ultimately we find our way and check into the okay but expensive Channel Lodge in La Conner, Washington.  The place could do with a facelift.

We wander around downtown a bit and have dinner at Nell Thorn. I have an excellent salad and some calamari which are only rings, no tentacles. John has fried oysters.

Our evening ends with some walking and a friendly encounter with some other tourists.

Sunset on the Skagit River

Sunset on a channel of the Skagit River

 

August 3, 2016 – Hoh Rain Forest near Forks, Washington

Our plan for today is to visit the Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park and then drive out to the most northwestern point in the continental United States.

What a difference eight years makes! The last time we were here in this remote corner of the Northwest, there were very few visitors and we were able to enjoy a peaceful walk through the rain forest. This time, however, there are so many people – people playing music, babies crying, frustrated parents trying to get their kids to smile for the camera, kids running on the trails and off the trails, annoyed drivers not being able to find parking spaces, foreign visitors who don’t understand what is permissible, Americans who don’t understand what is permissible, and on and on. This celebration of 100 years of the National Park Service has strained the capacity of the parks.

We get to the Hoh visitor center early enough that we can find parking in the overflow lot. We decide to take the Hall of Mosses Trail.

John at the Hoh Visitor Center

John at the Hoh Visitor Center

On the Hall of Mosses Trail - moss!

On the Hall of Mosses Trail – moss!

Along this trail are interpretive signs explaining the cycle of life in the rainforest.

Explanatory plaque

Explanatory plaque

Nurselog with colonnade of trees

Nurselog with colonnade of trees

Stilt-like roots from growing over a now rotted-away nurselog

Stilt-like roots from growing over a now rotted-away nurselog

The forest is fascinating. I love the moss.

This moss gets all its nutrients from the air

This moss gets all its nutrients from the air

Moss growing on top of a fence post

Moss growing on top of a fence post

Moss covering the trees

Moss covering the trees

Moss in a swampy area

Moss in a swampy area

After our hike we head back to the our room for lunch and then head out towards Neah Bay near Flattery Point, the most northwestern place in the continental U.S. We stop along the way to search for whales (zero) and otters (also zero.) The body of water here is the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Investigating further we find that Juan de Fuca was Greek rather than Spanish and the Strait was named by an Englishman after him. All these waterways in the Northwest were caused by glaciation.

Looking across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Looking across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Reaching the road’s end, the area is the reservation of the Cape People, the Makah Tribe. The Makah were named by surrounding Native Americans with a name meaning “people generous with food.” Their flag symbol shows a red and white thunderbird with a whale in its talons.

Tribal symbol of the Makah Tribe

Tribal symbol of the Makah Tribe

John standing on a jetty in Neah Bay

John standing on a jetty in Neah Bay

After our excursion it is time to make dinner. The Quillayute River Resort provides each unit with a Weber grill. Tonight we’ll be having hamburgers!

Lastly, another beautiful view of flowers at the Quillayute River Resort.

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August 2, 2016 – Quinault Rain Forest and more

Wow, I am running behind on posting. After spending a long time doing the last marymom and Clark and Lewis posts when I wanted to be doing other things, I went on strike. Now it seems that the only loser in this was me. I need to keep current or else it becomes overwhelming. I don’t know whether I will get back to writing Clark and Lewis stories because they take so long. Damn you punctuation!

Anyway, we leave the house in Westport and look to find things along the way to Forks, Washington that we want to see. Our first plan is to go to the Polson home and museum in Hoquiam and to see the tall ships including the Mary Washington of Pirates of the Caribbean fame in Aberdeen. As it turns out the Polson stuff is closed on Tuesdays and the tall ships are out of port. Sigh. Then I remember seeing a sign for a rainforest other than the Hoh so we decide we will find it.

We stop in Hoquiam at the Visitor’s Center. Jean, the nice lady there, gives us a ton of ideas of things to do and lots of pamphlets. (John loves to save this stuff!) We start by taking a look at the “Historic Aberdeen Mansion” which looks like a biggish Victorian house. There are nice trees and plants there, though.

Historic Aberdeem Mansion

Historic Aberdeen Mansion

What is this tree? John suggests elm but I think maybe something else

What is this tree? John suggests elm but I think may be something else

We stop in Hoquiam for lunch and I take an election photo. I wished I had taken a photo of the one for Takko. We amuse ourselves making stupid jokes about their names.

I have been amused by this candidate's sign whose name I imagine is pronounced "mistaken." It brings to mine jokes with a "Who's on first" vibe

I have been amused by this candidate’s sign whose name I imagine is pronounced “mistaken.” It brings to mine jokes with a “Who’s on first” vibe

After lunch we find the Quinault Rainforest and hike a short interpretive trail.

Trail in the Quinault Rainforest

Trail in the Quinault Rainforest

There are many large trees along the trail. I especially like the nurse logs which are fallen trees who support the growth of new trees. The new trees form a colonnade along the log and their roots wrap around the old trunk. The log serves as a repository of water during dry times for the new trees.

John does his usual big tree, little John

John does his usual big tree, little John

Here's me with a new tree on a nurse log

Here’s me with a new tree on a nurse log

Tree growing around a stump

Tree growing around a stump

Lots of new life growing from a broken tree

Lots of new life growing from a broken tree

Down the road a bit is the World’s Record Sitka Spruce. We cannot miss this!

IMG_2444

It’s down a trail that has lots of beautiful foliage.

Wild raspberries

Wild raspberries

Foxglove

Foxglove

Then we get to the tree itself and it is immense!

Facts about the Sitka Spruce recorder holder

Facts about the Sitka Spruce recorder holder

So here's the tree which looks big but  when you compare it to little John...

So here’s the tree which looks big but when you compare it to little John…

Immense tree, tiny John!

Immense tree, tiny John!

Today's selfie

Today’s selfie

We are staying a cute apartment type inn a few miles outside of Forks, Washington.

 

The Quillayute Resort is so picturesque with beautiful flowers and the river right outside the door.

 

July 31 and August 1, 2016- Westport, Washington

We are definitely taking this vacation pretty easy. Sleeping in (until almost 6 AM), having a lot of pajama time, taking a nap or two, and heading out in the afternoon to see what can be seen. These two days we concentrate on Westport and don’t wander far afield. Westport is located on a peninsula on the south side of the entrance to Grays Harbor from the Pacific Ocean. The Westport Marina is the largest marina on the actual coast of the northwest U.S. The marina is home to a lot of commercial fishing boats. We walk around the docks and take a look at the Maritime Museum.

Commercial fishing boats in the Westport Marina

Commercial fishing boats in the Westport Marina

Crab pots

Crab pots

You can buy fresh fish right from the docks

You can buy fresh fish right from the docks

We stop by the Maritime Museum just in time for closing. So we walk around the outside and look at the exhibits. There are many skeletons of blue and gray whales. Enormous!

Maritime Museum

Maritime Museum

Gray whale skeleton

Gray whale skeleton

We also notice that there is a fishing derby going on. The winner is the person who catches the biggest fish in different categories. Maybe they are all waiting until the last minute but the whole time we were down there only one person came in with a fish.

Fish derby

Fish derby

After watching the incredibly exciting (not) fish derby we head to check on the tennis court that I found by looking on Google maps. It is cracked and in bad shape. Two little boys say that someone has tried to burn it down recently.  We are not sure how that would work but we decide to give tennis a pass tomorrow.

Derelict tennis court

Derelict tennis court

We stop at the grocery store and pick up some chicken and vegetables to make for dinner.

Chicken with stuffed potato and zucchini with carrot saute

Chicken with stuffed potato and zucchini with carrot saute

After dinner we take a walk down the beach. Some people are building a big bonfire, someone else is driving their truck down the beach. This is the most activity we’ve seen on any beach. We find some sand dollars (related to urchins) to bring home to Nathan and Sam. But the weather is turning colder and it is time to head back to the house.

Beach bonfire

Beach bonfire

Headlights from a truck on the beach

Headlights from a truck on the beach

Sand dollar

Sand dollar

Cold woman and the sea

Cold woman and the sea

On Monday we didn’t do much. Mostly just sat around in comfy clothes and did puzzles and such. Late in the day we went out to see Washington’s tallest lighthouse and buy something for dinner.

John at the lighthouse

John at the lighthouse

The actual lighthouse

The actual lighthouse

Fresh fish store at the marina.

Fresh fish store at the marina.

Rockfish, couscous, and broccoli for dinner

Rockfish, couscous, and broccoli for dinner

Tomorrow we head north to the Olympic National Park and the rainforests.

 

 

 

 

July 30, 2016 – From Bandon, Oregon to Westport, Washington

When I was planning this trip I looked at the distances between stops to decide whether the driving was do-able in a day. We usually like to limit the driving to no more than four hours so we can stop and see things along the way. The distance from Bandon to Westport was 324 miles. That’s a little longer than I like but the rental looked good and it would be a fun trip up the coast.

Maybe 300+ miles is okay if you are driving 75 mph but it is definitely not so good when you are averaging around 45 mph. The road is windy and there are a lot of small towns with speed limits of 25 to 30 mph. Also there is a lot of traffic. So we end up leaving at 8 AM and getting to Westport around 5 PM. Plus there are a lot of bridges and cliffs so John drives the whole thing. My bad.

We do make one short stop at the Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretative Center to learn all about transportation in Oregon in the 19th and 20th centuries and the man, Conde McCullough, who was the architect of the bridges. The bridge over the Alsea Bay that McCullough designed has been replaced but there is a model at the museum and they have saved the art deco pillars at the beginning and end of the bridge. It’s a quick visit since we are under time pressure but interesting and informative.

Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center

Alsea Bay Bridge Interpretive Center

Model of the Conde McCullough Alsea Bay Bridge

Model of the Conde McCullough Alsea Bay Bridge

Art deco elements from the old bridge

Art deco elements from the old bridge

New bridge

New bridge

On and on John drives with just a very short lunch break. Finally we are at the Oregon/Washington border. Looming before us is the very long, high, narrow bridge across the Columbia River.  It is pretty freaky.

Approaching the Columbia River bridge

Approaching the Columbia River bridge

Finally around 5PM we pull into the driveway of our rental for the next 3 days. The inside looks and smells like a new house but on the outside the weather and poor building materials have made it look a little shabby. The inside is really nice, though.

A picture of the rental taken from the back

A picture of the rental taken from the back

John schleps in all our stuff while I try to organize it. We discuss what to have for dinner and hit the local supermarket. As the sun goes down we prepare a simple dinner of corn and spinach. We are both too tired to hassle with a big production.

View out the dining area window

View out the dining area window

Sunset

Sunset

Dinner

Dinner

After dinner we take a walk to the beach except when we get to the end of the path through the reeds there is a 6 foot drop. So we enjoy the sounds and sight of the ocean from our perch above the beach. Maybe tomorrow we will find where the access to the beach is.

Hard to see but this is where the path ends to a drop down to the beach

Hard to see but this is where the path ends to a drop down to the beach

It is getting dark as I take a picture looking north

It is getting dark as I take a picture looking north

 

July 29, 2016 – Bandon, Oregon

We are here for three nights and it is nice not to be unpacking and packing. We do not have a big agenda of things to do. There’s time for a little activity but even more time for reading, doing puzzles, writing blogs, cooking dinners, and looking out the window at the ocean. I like the slower pace for a change.

This morning it is sunny again and we decide to go use the tennis courts we found next to the high school. As usual the tennis courts are in disrepair. There are cracks in the surface and the nets hang loosely moving in the breeze.

Did I say breeze? I mean wind, gale, category 3 hurricane force wind to someone who is trying to play tennis. It is blowing from behind me because there is no way I could hit through it to get the ball over the net. The wind even takes my racket and wiggles it around in my hand when I go to hit. Even harder though is trying to figure out what John’s shots are going to do. They are much shorter than they should be since the wind is pushing them back. Between the wind and the uneven surface we give up after about a half an hour.

Neglected tennis courts

Neglected tennis courts

Next we decide to go to the beach and see if we can find our house up on the bluff. Needless to say if it was windy on the tennis court, it is amazingly so on the beach. We walk a bit on the sand but the wide beach is intersected by small rivers of fast moving water which keeps us from going far. The first beach we go to is the Whiskey Run Beach. It is a little south of where the house is.

John by one of the streams on the beach

John by one of the streams on the beach

Deserted beach

Deserted beach

We decide to try another beach just north of the house to see if we can find it. Since access to the beach is at longish intervals due to the bluffs, the next picture is the best I can do. The house is somewhere up on the bluff.

The house is somewhere up there

The house is somewhere up there.  (Merchants Beach at Seven Devils Recreation Area)

An intrepid soul is parasailing in the 50 degree windy conditions

An intrepid soul is parasailing in the 50 degree windy conditions

The wind is pretty enervating so after a stop at the store we decide spend the rest of the afternoon quietly.

We really love making our own food while on vacation. It is fun to see what you can invent with a limited supply of items. As usual we have brought a few of our knives, a spreader, peeler, and cutting board with us.  You never know what you are going to find in a rental.

Equipment from home and some leftover bits and pieces for dinner tonight

Equipment from home and some leftover bits and pieces for dinner tonight

John and I use the cast iron pan again to cook a dinner of Asian beef and broccoli with rice.

Cooking Asian beef and broccoli

Cooking Asian beef and broccoli

Dinner is a success! We watch some ocean and some TV and call it a night.

Dinner turns out well and you cannot beat the view!

Dinner turns out well and you cannot beat the view!

July 28, 2016 – Bandon, Oregon

Upon arising I look out the window and, what is that I see?  It’s a bright orb. Why, it must be the sun! I imagined that there would be only chilly gloom the whole time we are here. But the day is sparkling so I grab my phone for a few pictures before the sun hides away again.

Good morning sunshine!

Good morning sunshine!

Following are some pictures of the exterior of the house, Shore Pines,that we are staying in. It is on a bluff overlooking the ocean and although you can see the beach and the ocean you have to go by car to one of the nearby beach access points to actually get on the beach.That’s really not much of a drawback since the temperatures of the air and the water are cool to cold and the wind howls off the Pacific pretty much 24/7.

The house has three bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a kitchen/great room. It is very well equipped and except for the uncomfortable queen bed and odd, not-cotton sheets is ideal. It is very isolated with no near neighbors at all.

Rental house from the driveway approach

Rental house from the driveway approach

Close-up of front of house

Close-up of front of house

House with ocean behind

House with ocean behind

Today we head out to Myrtle Point to the Coos County Fair about a half an hour away. As we pull into the parking lot we are directed to our space by people on horseback. This is a really rural county full of ranchers and farmers.

Parking lot attendant

Parking lot attendant

We are mostly interested in the animals. A couple of years ago when we were up here we also came to the fair and learned a lot about llamas at their judging. We are hoping to see some more animal competitions while we are here this time. We start out by taking a look at the goats in their enclosures.

Sleepy goats

Sleepy goats

Coos County has an active 4-H program and there are a lot of kids competing. We are a little surprised by the non-sentimentality of the people and their animals. The competitions are named by the end result, such as beef showmanship, pork best in show. We spend some time watching young 4-H-ers compete in the beef showmanship. These kids look to be 10 and under and sometimes they are more controlled by the “beef” than the other way around. But everyone is trying hard and gets a ribbon.

Older siblings help the little ones with their showings

Older siblings help the little ones with their showings

Our favorite little girl and her cow. She has very good control and her French braid is best-in-show

Our favorite little girl and her cow. She has very good control and her French braid is best-in-show

Next we wander over to a display of long horned cattle. Wow, do they have big horns but seem very docile. The little boy hangs his hat on one of the horns and the cow pretty much ignores him. Then the man cracks a whip right next to the cow’s face and it doesn’t flinch at all. Apparently that is an important trait of these cattle. These enormous cows are making a comeback in Texas where they were almost wiped out at the turn of the century from blizzards.

Long horned cattle

Long horned cattle

Then it is on to the llamas, John’s favorite animals. Along with Ponch, Llama was John’s nickname at his fraternity at MIT. He has a long upper lip hence the name.

John and the very alert llama

John and the very alert llama

Sitting down llama

Sitting down llama

It is around 2 PM when we get back into Bandon and time for some lunch. We walk around for a bit and check out a couple of fish markets. Maybe we will make some sort of fish for dinner tomorrow. During our walk around downtown Bandon the wind is so strong that I have to hold on to my hat the whole time or it would be swept off my head.

Although some intrepid souls are eating outside, we opt for the warmer, less windy Wheelhouse restaurant. John orders oyster stew which he raves about. I have a rockfish sandwich. The fish is very good and the coleslaw is really tasty too.

Oyster stew

Oyster stew

Rockfish sandwich with coleslaw and fries

Rockfish sandwich with coleslaw and fries

After lunch we head back to the house for a little nap time. For dinner John makes an excellent steak in the cast iron frying pan we found in one of the cupboards. I make a salad. We figure out how to use the TV here and watch a couple of programs on Netflix. Tonight we decide that two of us in a queen size bed doesn’t work out well so we opt for separate bedrooms. Tonight the sleeping should be better!

 

July 27, 2016 – From Eureka to Bandon

This morning is chilly and foggy. Our plan is to head up CA 101 along the coast with a stop at the Prarie Creek Visitor Center for some information about the Redwood National Park and then another stop at a commercial site called “The Trees of Mystery.” We have no idea if this will be some awful tree-themed park or something better.

Luckily the fog lifts as we approach the Visitor’s Center. The Redwoods National Park is a conglomeration of national and state parks conserving and highlighting the world’s tallest trees. Redwoods grow from small seeds into organisms that can weigh 500 tons and be taller than the Statue of Liberty.  They have foot thick bark that makes them all but impervious to fire and insects. After procuring some brochures we head out along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway where the majesty of the tall trees can be appreciated.

Driving along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

Driving along the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway

A majestic redwood

A majestic redwood

From the sublime to the somewhat more ridiculous, we stop next at the touristy “Trees of Mystery.” We are greeted by an enormous waving statue of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox. Paul Bunyan is a folk (or fake) lore figure and part of the Trees of Mystery is devoted to his story.

Giant Paul Bunyan and Ox

Giant Paul Bunyan and Ox

We join the line to get tickets and soon we are on our way hiking the main trail with its various named redwoods. I take a short break at the bear settee.

Mary is bear-y happy for a break from the uphill trek

Mary is bear-y happy for a break from the uphill trek

It is hard to see the elephant in the dappled light but it's there!

It is hard to see the elephant in the dappled light but it’s there!

There are many beautiful views as we walk up the trail. Here’s one of the sunlight streaming through the trees.

Sunlight streaming through the trees

Sunlight streaming through the trees

We stop for a photo op at the Brotherhood Tree, the tallest one in the park. It has a nice sentiment on the sign.

John at the Brotherhood Tree

John at the Brotherhood Tree

Tiny John, big tree

Tiny John, big tree

Looking up towards the top of the 297 ft. tree

Looking up towards the top of the 297 ft. tree

The next portion of our adventure is a gondola ride up to the treetops. We meet a nice family from Washington State who are making the opposite journey from ours. They ask us what to see along the California coast.

From our vantage point high above the trees we can see the marine layer rolling back in.

A passing gondola

A passing gondola

The marine layer rolling back in

The marine layer rolling back in

The Trail of Tall Tales is next and is devoted to the lore of Paul Bunyan.  There are many of his adventures carved into redwood slabs with a chain saw. This is less interesting although I enjoy taking a picture of J.P. Stumpy with my own J.P.

J.P. Stumpy with J.P.

J.P. Stumpy with J.P.

At the end of the trails we are ushered into the gift shop after passing a cross section of a thousand year old tree. The earliest rings are from the time of the Crusades, 1096 A.D.

Tree rings through history

Tree rings through history

We need to be at our rental house around 4 PM so it is time to hustle up the coast after a quick bite for lunch in Crescent City. I rented this house on VRBO and it is supposed to be right on the ocean surrounded by solitude. I am hoping that it lives up to the hype (and price.) We follow the directions and head down a dirt road and around a bend and there it is. The house and the ocean! It is a pretty spectacular setting. Yay!

All the windows on the back side of the house face the ocean.

All the windows on the back side of the house face the ocean.

Just to the south is the Bandon Dunes golf resort with its famous links style course

Just to the south is the Bandon Dunes golf resort with its famous links style course

 

July 26, 2015 – A trip up the West Coast

Today we start our long-awaited trip up the West Coast. Our first stop will be in Eureka, CA and then we will stay for a few days in Oregon, and Washington before ending in Vancouver, BC. It is really hot in our part of California with temperatures over 100F. We are seeking some cooler weather and a change of place and pace.

Part of our trip takes us through the beautiful redwood forest in California. In the picture below you can see a fabulous giant redwood tree in back of the Big Foot Schlock Shop. (For family members, “Souvenir shop ahead, watch for schlock!) One wonders what the zoning laws used to be.

Watch for Schlock!

Watch for Schlock!

We skip lunch and get to Eureka around 3 PM. As we approach we can see the remnants of the marine layer and watch the temperature, which has been as high as 102F on the trip, dip down to 64F. What a welcome relief!

At 3 PM in the afternoon the marine layer on the coast has started to burn off

At 3 PM in the afternoon the marine layer on the coast has started to burn off

We have an early dinner (so embarrassing to be like old folks) to make up for our missed lunch. We find the Sea Grill in downtown Eureka and decide to try out the local seafood. The oysters and clams are good but the potato and vegetables are a miss. However, the friendly competent service makes the dinner a success.

Mary's clams in a white wine sauce

Mary’s clams in a white wine sauce

John's baked oysters

John’s baked oysters

After dinner we drive over to Samoa Island, the barrier island for Humboldt Bay. It is really not developed at all except for some ugly heavy industry like electric generation and wood pulp manufacturing. There is a picturesque Coast Guard station, a breakfront, and old gun emplacements left over from WWII.

Looking towards the entrance to Humboldt Bay

Looking towards the entrance to Humboldt Bay

Watching the waves break with Clark and Lewis

Watching the waves break with Clark and Lewis

Coast Guard Station

Coast Guard Station

Beach selfie

Beach selfie