Monthly Archives: June 2017

SACAJAWEA HERITAGE TRAIL IN THE TRI-CITIES

It has been pretty hot here in the Pasco area. We have been wanting to do the Sacajawea Heritage Trail (SHT lol) since we first came to this area on March 26th to take possession of our new Arctic Fox FW. However, weather (too cold and windy during our first visit and too hot now, end of June), and “TO DO LISTS” kept us from exploring the trail. Finally the other day, we got up early enough to escape the mid-day heat, loaded the bicycles into the truck, and drove to Chiawana Park, Pasco, on the north side of the Columbia River. We headed west, the sun at our backs.

Chiawana Park

Starting out!

The trail as it passes through Chiawana Park.

The trail is 19 miles. No sooner had we started than we spotted a pelican, standing on a rock in the river, close to shore. We had to stop and take pics. In the process we met an elderly gentleman (a 30 year resident of the area) who said that 10 years ago there were no pelicans here. It’s just in the past 10 years or so that they have moved into the area. They are such ungainly creatures but so powerful and graceful in flight; serene-looking as they float in groups down the river.

We continued on, heading west, along the river. On this side of the river, the trail often stayed beside the river offering spectacular views but in places turned inland a bit to pass behind gated mansions perched riverside. We crossed the river over the 182 bridge and continued by the river in an easterly direction, the sun now on our faces.

On this side, we stopped often to take pics or just to admire the scenes.

Heading east along the south side of the river after crossing the bridge.

A short stop for a rest, a snack on some cherries (’tis the season after all), and to watch the river go by.

A “goose crossing” sign. Now I’ve seen them all….flamingo, camel, donkey, ostrich, frogs ….

…and here’s the reason for the sign….a waterfowl refuge with flocks of geese, both white and grey, all honking at each other; a goose cacophony ….  protecting their young? territory? food? who knows?

Continuing eastwards towards (and under) the blue bridge.

Continuing east towards the cable bridge which we crossed to get back to the north side of the Columbia River.

On the north side getting ready to pass underneath the cable bridge, looking for a place to stop and have our lunch.

Heading back under the Blue Bridge to Chiawana Park, our starting point.

This is the route we took:

… and this is the map we used and some more info about the trail:

 

OROVILLE WASHINGTON

We are getting more and more comfortable with our Arctic Fox. It’s easy to tow; easy to hitch especially with the new Curt hitch; easy to level with the 6 point automatic leveling system, and now that we have a routine, easy to store everything in its allocated place, safe for transport to wherever we happen to be traveling to. In other words, we love it more and more every day.

The trip from Steelhead, BC to Oroville WA was uneventful. The drive was as beautiful as I remembered from last year. We took HWY 1 to Kamloops, HWY 5 to Merritt, HWY 5A to Princeton, and HWY 3 through Hedley and Keremeos to the Osoyoos border crossing. There was no wait, not even one other car in front of us. After a brief ‘Agriculture Inspection’ where they took away my limes and lemons and asked several times if we had any pets (we don’t) we were through and on our way to Osoyoos Lake Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Last year we stayed in the parking lot at Princes which has now been taken over by new owners who have shut down their facilities. It is still possible to park there for free but we preferred this time to stay at Veteran’s Memorial Park. It is a beautiful park, well maintained with power and water hookups, as well as shower and toilet facilities, right on the shores of Osoyoos Lake. Most of the time here for us it has been very quiet with few campers. However, July and August will be fully booked as is always the case here. As a matter of fact, today, (Friday) there have been quite a number of campers arriving at the park.

View of our campsite & Arctic Fox from the water.

Boat launch.

We’ve spent our time here:
Visiting with friends;

Making a beer run!

Close enough to walk for groceries.

Kayaking;

Great beach to take off from.

Birdwatching is so rewarding from a kayak.

The lake was like glass.

Our new ‘wheelie cart’ attracted a lot of attention & questions. Works great. Bought it on Amazon for about $40.

Birdwatcher extra-ordinaire in action.

Red necked grebe and her babe.

Hiking the Similkameen Trail which we learned is one small section of the Pacific Northwest Scenic Trail;

The Taber trailhead halfway along the trail for a shorter hike.

Mikal on the old train trestle.

Visiting a most amazing outdoor museum in Molson and driving the scenic 9 mile road with signboards explaining the historical significance of the area;

Some history!

More history of the area.

The old Molson School museum.

Visiting local eateries. We went out for brunch once to Eva’s Diner & Bakery, and to dinner twice. The first time to a Mexican restaurant called ‘Rancho Grande’ and the second time to ‘Pastimes’ a local pub/eatery well known for its burgers (elk, bison, beef, pulled pork). Both places were excellent.

The food was excellent but we were initially attracted by the colorful benches outside. All the furniture inside is of the same style.

Great food & prices. Favorite of bikers.

We ended up our visit to Oroville with a concert at the local Alpine Brewing Company. They featured a group called “Hippies on Vacation” while serving great brews and wine (which they only sold by the bottle – poor me!!).

Great venue outside on the patio – waiting for the concert to begin.

The Similkameen… Trail

An overcast day… threatening rain. In fact, the forecast was for rain later. If you wait for the days to be perfect then a lot of perfect days disappear. This was one of those days.

After a most beautiful day kayaking the day before…  we decided to give our weary arms a days rest and hike the Similkameen Trail. When completed the Similkameen Trail will run to Nighthawk – a small incorporated community and a border crossing into Canada. So far, it is approximately a 7 to 8 mile round trip up the Similkameen River from Oroville, WA to the Enloe Dam… an old rail bed converted to a hiking trail.

It was a perfect temperature 72 F (22 C). A breeze was blowing and the partial cloudiness moderated the sun’s intensity.  Good thing too, because I had forgotten my sunscreen. I have a good base tan but still am leery about sun damage. Sunshine can be healthy helping your body to produce vitamin D…too much sunshine is not. The forecast said to expect some rain later in the afternoon, so we included our ponchos in our daypacks. Nothing can make a pleasant hike more miserable than ignoring a forecast or forgetting rain gear, wind breaker or warmer piece of clothing. Tis better to have and NOT need than to NEED and NOT have.

We walked almost 2 miles to the Taber access (where a truss bridge takes the trail across the river ) before we saw another person. A family was wandering back from the bridge to the parking area. The trail left the rail bed and wound around a private vineyard. Unfortunately, the farmer had decided (even though the wind was blowing  >10mph the upper limit point for spraying) to spray his crop. We timed our crossing of the wind born spray area to avoid exposure… even so we got a few whiffs of pesticide and I am sure, a light covering of the stuff on our exposed skin. It seems impossible anymore to avoid some sort of contamination from modern agricultural poisons.

 

Crossing the bridge we strolled up the trail to the Enloe Dam, listening to the gentle roar of the river rapids below us and the birds singing above

The return trip was pleasant as like the ascent, we met nary a soul descending. We arrived back at our starting point 4 hours after we started. It was a great day and we felt tired… for me the best memory…

Lazy Days at Steelhead Provincial Park

Steelhead Provincial Park is a small park in the town of Savona BC, on the banks of Kamloops Lake, just where it empties into the Thompson River. We stayed at Steelhead for 17 spectacular days. Spectacular for the good times with dear friends, for the views of the lake, for the maintenance of the park by the staff, for the cleanliness of its facilities (hot showers and flush toilets), and for the friendliness of the park staff and the fun we had with them.

Power & electric sites in the foreground, lakefront sites beyond.

Since we were there from the end of May to mid – June, we experienced the lake and the river while they were at their highest levels. Once, twice and some days even more, we walked to the lake’s edge to check the markers we had established (small sticks pushed into the sand) to check the water level. Most of our time there, the water level of the lake went up, often washing away our markers.

Driftwood & debris washed ashore.

Steelhead from across the lake.

Close – up from across the lake.

We stayed in two different sites. The first site was in an open meadow with lots of trees, chosen because we were able to set up a group camp area with our friends. In addition, it was a bit more sheltered from the winds and fewer people chose to camp there, choosing instead the lakefront and water/electrical sites (of which there were only 8). We ‘dry-camped’ there for 12 days which gave us a good feeling about the capacities of our grey/black tanks as well as the amount of time our batteries would last.

The second site was right where the lake narrowed and curved into/became the river. We stayed at that site, on our own, for the next 6 days, continuing to ‘dry-camp.’ There is no sani-station at this park so at one point we did pack up and drive to Juniper Beach Provincial Park which had a coin-operated ($5) sani-station, to dump both tanks and which was the closest at only 5 miles or so north of where we were.

The current was very strong and the water level was so high that many of the trees normally on the banks were deep in water. This attracted many birds and the odd beaver too. It was here that the almost full-time bird-watching started. We had a spectacular view; no sooner did we get ourselves seated, either inside or out, than a bird would appear. We got to know them and to understand some of their habits.

Bullock’s Oriole

Eastern Kingbird

Lewis Woodpecker

Magpie. Curious as ever.

Meadowlark with such a sweet song.

Northern Flicker

Starlings in a tree just beside our fifth wheel.

Merganzer & babies – we counted 18 one day and 23 the next!

We also enjoyed a paddle or two with the kayaks but since we were at the end of the lake the wind would funnel down the river canyon from either end, creating strong winds and white caps. I’m a fair weather kayaker and enjoy the peace and calm accompanied by the warmth of the sun that come with that kind of kayaking.

We explored the area west to Walhachin;

On the south side of the Thompson River looking west.

On the south side looking east towards Steelhead.

The bridge we crossed to get to Walhachin.

Osprey nest which has been added to over the many years its been there!

Close-up of the osprey nest.

Crossing back over on our way home.

and east towards Kamloops to see the amazing but little known Balancing Rock.

The hike to get to the balancing rock.

The view.

The Balancing Rock.

Close up.

Notice the small figure of a person in the foreground to get an idea of the size.

The time finally came for us to head south towards Osoyoos and the border crossing at Oroville.

OLYMPIA & THE NISQUALLY WILDLIFE REFUGE

Packed up and ready to leave by 10, we headed out of our spot….oh so carefully….I watched while Mike pulled out….all A-Okay! No encounters with trees. I hopped back in the truck and we headed down the road to “dump our load” at the sani-station before hitting the open road. As we were driving on the main road out of the park, we heard a funny noise. I barely heard it; sounded like the splash of water hitting the road. I thought it was water from the roof, or maybe elsewhere, that was set in motion with the driving. Mike thought it was the bikes but we kept on going until a car driving behind us flashed its lights. The driver told us a tree had reached out and grabbed our antenna. It pulled it right out by the roots and let it fall to the pavement where bits and pieces of plastic broke off. Thankfully the park rangers happened on the scene and drove back to get the antenna while Mike drove to the sani-station, fuming with anger at Arctic Fox and their major design flaw. I was upset too, not angry….but then….I wasn’t the one that would have to fix it. It had started to rain again which didn’t make the fixing job any more pleasant for Mike. While he got busy fixing, I gave our contact details to the rangers who promised to fill out an incident report for their own purposes as well as ours, for insurance purposes.

By the time we got going it was 1130. Once again on this drive, I was another “Nervous Nellie” until we hit I5. The new Rand McNally GPS made major mistakes twice!! First in Longview and then again nearer Olympia where it took us past where we should have exited and had us take the next exit, go over the I 5 and then right back on the I5 heading south again. After that though, we had no problems finding the Landyacht Harbor RV Park, where they were very friendly and welcoming. It’s a great park and very quiet while we were there. The only problem was that all of the connections were at the back of the trailer which meant the electrical cord had to stretch all the way out – first time for that….and the black/grey water hose was stretched to the max. Thankfully we had an extra section of hose.

The next day we met Mike’s cousin at the Nisqually Wildlife Refuge which was the highlight of our visit. Beautiful! Spectacular! Phenomenal! We walked, took pics, talked, met a photographer who had taken some great pics of the baby great horned owls (it took him 8 hours of sitting patiently waiting but his shot was well worth it) and who showed us the tree where the owlets were (they didn’t appear for us). He also pointed out a peregrine falcon, and a nest that looked like a weaver bird and a hummingbird nest. He was very quick to spot birds.

Goose IN a nest!

Goose ON a barn roof!

Goose IN a tree!

Goose ON a tree!

Colorful lichens.

We were up early the next morning as it was a travel day….a BIG travel day in our perceptions as we had to drive from Olympia through Tacoma, Seatac, and Seattle. We had everything ready and were on the road by 915.

The first part of the trip, there wasn’t too much traffic but through Tacoma it was heavy but then thinned out again. Not for long. Soon, we were caught up in bumper to bumper traffic pretty much until after Mercer Street in downtown Seattle when it at least started to flow a bit faster. We’d been inching along for a long ways.

The border crossing was a bit hairy but only because of our size and trying to fit through the gates. They asked a few questions but before long we were on our way. No sooner had we gotten back on HWY 99 and we had to turn on 2nd Ave. That turned out to be the “Fast Track” for the commercial trucks. Our turn came right after. Reached the park easily, registered and got into our site, a pull-through. Nice park but we are very close to one another….can almost see into the windows of the rig beside us and behind us. The best thing about this park was its proximity to a splendid little bar called Bennett’s Pub….a five minute walk!

NEHALEM BAY STATE PARK OREGON COAST

Our dream was a reality. We had arrived at Nehalem Bay State Park on the Oregon Coast. Our site was great. We were treated with several visits from the locals.

We couldn’t wait to get to the beach for our first views.

We didn’t walk too far that first day but far enough to see a huge bald eagle just as it took off from its unseen perch on the beach.

On the second day, we tried to cycle into Manzanita but we were too out of shape. After a few very steep ups and downs, with lungs working like bellows and quads feeling like rubber, we returned and took the truck instead. What a lovely quaint little village with lots of cute shops, restaurants, an organic food market and more.

Every day we walked the beach, either north or south, depending upon the direction of the wind. We quickly learned to walk into the wind at the beginning of our walks, giving us the added bonus of the wind at our backs walking back home when we were tired.

Walking southerly towards the town of Tillamook, the beach ended at a driftwood jetty on top of which sat….our immense bald eagle.

As I sat and rested with my back against a log, Mike went to take pics. When he came back he asked, “Did you see the seals? They’re surfing in the waves!” I looked and did see them playing where the waves were the tallest – where they were cut by the jetty. What a sight! Found some whole sand dollars; all the way there we’d seen lots of broken ones but in this one spot we found some whole ones. We also found several dead “sea creatures” and one live one. Never did discover exactly what it was.

My favorite birds (in addition to eagles and hummers) are the sandpipers. I love the way they scurry about on the sand, forming a line to stay just ahead of incoming waves, then breaking rank again to see what delights the ocean wave has brought them, heads bobbing up and down with tiny bills poking into the sand – just like mini-drills.

On one day, we woke up to an expected sunny day. Beautiful blue sky. We’d planned to spend the day on the beach here but we both were in the mood to explore. Originally we had tried to reserve at Cape Disappointment up the coast across the Columbia River, in Washington but it was booked for the times we wanted.

Cape Disappointment State Park is indeed beautiful and we enjoyed the time we spent hiking up the trail to the interpretive center and lighthouse followed by a long walk past the North Jetty along the beach. We stopped briefly to bathe in the sun and once again were treated to an even better performance of two seals surfing in the waves. When a wave gets ready to curl and become a breaker, the top third becomes translucent. This time, for just a moment before the wave curled, we saw the clear, unmistakable forms of two seals right there in the centre of the wave, seal shadows in the green translucence. Spectacular!

On the way back: we were dive-bombed by some black-headed gulls who didn’t like us invading their space; and we saw a huge big crab, barely alive and wondered why none of the birds had found it yet.

All in all it was a great day topped off by dinner at the Sand Dune Pub in Manzanita.

The final few days there were typical west coast days; days of endless, drumming rain. It was time for us to leave.