Sunday, October 9, 2016

Orcas Island!

The last adventure of summer! And certainly not the least. 

In late September, the four of us drove up to Orcas Island, one of the San Juan Islands. In case you are not familiar with them, they're not the sort of tropical islands--probably in the Caribbean--that you might imagine! They're actually off the coast of Washington State, an easy day's drive from us.

Here's a map to give you an idea where they are. The marker is on Orcas Island.

There's no bridge to these islands, though they have a significant population. Instead, you have to take a ferry. That in itself is a fun adventure! Below you can see what the line of parked cars waiting for the ferry at Anacortes looked like.

We stayed at a very cute little cottage on Orcas Island at a place called Cabins on the Point. It was great! We had views of West Sound out the back, and access to the water. Plus, there were kayaks on the property that we were allowed to use!

Our cottage was an old, quaint little house. My favorite feature was the lovely sun room off the back. It was a perfect place to sit, think, and read.

Old, chipped-paint flooring in the sun room. I thought it looked kinda neat.

"The last rose of summer" outside the sun room windows.

Vintage door knobs.

I also had fun taking some shots around the yard.

The lovely little front porch! (Not the entrance we actually used.)

The back porch of our cottage.

The view down to the water from our cottage.

One of our adventures during our time on the island was an early morning hike up to Ship Peak. The trail head was very close to our cottage, and what a beautiful view there was!

Another adventure was driving up to the top of Mt. Constitution. It's the highest point on the island. From there you can see the mainland, Mt. Baker, and even Canada!

Looking through a window in the lookout tower on top of Mt. Constitution.

That's Mt. Baker (at least I'm pretty sure) in the center on the horizon.

Spending time by and on the water at our cottage was probably my favorite thing to do. There was a small dock on the property.

We also got to have a fire by the water one night!

Here's some pictures of the ferry ride on the way home. This picture is from the ferry stop at Shaw Island. It was fun to watch the process of docking.

Christina and I had fun wandering around the ferry decks!

We passed a sailboat on our way back to Anacortes.

We also passed a another ferry.

And so ended a wonderful week away. It was a great time to rest and relax. If you've not been to the San Juan Islands, I highly recommend a visit!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Labor Day on the Coast

Here is a smattering of pictures from our Labor Day camping trip to the Coast. We stayed at Beverly Beach State Park--a new spot for me. We were blessed with really wonderful weather (not at all a guaranteed thing in September!).  These pictures don't cover the whole trip, but they do show some of the things I ended up capturing with my "big camera" at different spots. As usual, I was pretty terrible about taking people shots, but we enjoyed spending the weekend with very dear friends. Most of these pictures were taken while exploring the area with Christina and Caitlin.

The lovely view from the Otter Crest lookout. The long stretch of beach in the background is the Beverly Beach area. And the little spit of land just a bit nearer to the camera is Devil's Punch Bowl.

And here's Devil's Punch Bowl itself. The ocean was calm the day we were there, but I think if we had been there when the ocean was rougher, we would have seen water spraying up out of this hole.

Christina enjoying the sunset at Beverly Beach.

Yaquina Head Lighthouse (as seen from Cobble Beach).

This is the view looking out from Cobble Beach. Do you see the little spots in the water on the left and the lumps on the rocks? Those are seals! (Well, there's some birds on the rocks, too.)

Tiny treasures in the tide pools at Cobble Beach! 

(That's Christina on the left checking out a tide pool.)

Looking down at Cobble Beach. 

We also checked out Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, which is a bit south in Newport. The lighthouse there is on top of the keeper's house. This is the view out the front door of the keeper's house.

Anyway, there's a few shots from our time at the Coast. Next up is pictures from our time on Orcas Island!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Ape Canyon

Oh, it's been a busy summer. 
("Oh, sure, always say that. Can we get to the pictures, please?")
But it has been busy! Just getting away to do something picture-worthy feels like a challenge. There's work, and now school, plus all the extra summer events, like weddings and such. But yes, we can get to the pictures.
("Okay, good. Enough of your excuses.")

In early August we hiked the Ape Canyon trail. Christina was the only one who had done this trail before and she really liked it, so she's been trying to get the rest of the family to do it with her for years. We ended up going on one of the only cloudy, misty days of the summer it seemed. But that's okay. Ape Canyon follows a ridge line up to the foot of Mt. St. Helens. Along the way, you pass from lush forest to the other-worldly blast zone. We never saw the whole mountain, but enough to know she was there. :-) 

About two-thirds of the hike looks more or less like this--lush forest. 

 But then you get to this.

Check out the roots in the bottom left of this picture! It looks like the 1980 eruption took the tree and left nothing but this.

 This is a view from the edge of the blast zone through a crack in the ridge toward the lush forest beyond.

The blast zone is pretty barren, but there are signs of life! Someday this tiny tree might be part of another lush forest!

This, I think, is part of the area called the Plains of Abraham (I don't know why...). It does look almost like a landscape out of the Middle East.

This little pool was fed by water--glacier and snow melt, I would think--coming through the blast zone.

More signs of life! 

This little fern is fighting to grow out of the volcanic rock!

It was a good hike, but it was long--we think we might have hiked as much as 10 miles. That was a bit long, considering how out of shape I am--my legs were definitely complaining! Still, it was good to get out there. I'm glad Christina kept asking us to do it!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Adventures on the Big Island

I'm excited to have something new to share with you! Last weekend Christina and I spent a couple delightful days exploring the the island of Hawaii (the Big Island) for the first time. We weren't sure if we would make our flights, so we didn't book a room ahead of time. We spent a good portion of our first afternoon on the island trying to make a last minute reservation while sitting in a Kona coffee shop. It was a little stressful not knowing where were going to spend the night, but it ended well!

Here's what we ended up with--it was more than we needed, but quite fun! A little cottage at Volcano Guest House, very close to the national park. This proved very useful for nighttime drives to see lava action at the park! Christina and I slept upstairs with the windows open, listening to the peaceful night noises of the rain forest. 

Lush plants grew right up to the windows of our cottage!

The guest house property was set back from the road and surrounded by lovely rain forest. Christina and I marveled at the beautiful flowers that were growing around the property. 

 The driveway leading up to our cottage.

As I mentioned, we were close to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, so Christina and I made several visits to it. 

This is Steaming Bluffs. I can't explain the science behind the steam vents in this area, except that they're connected to all the volcanic activity in the park. They look quite interesting, don't they?

Christina peeks into a steam vent.

My favorite experience at the park was going to the overlook by Jagger Museum, where you can see the lava glow from Halema'uma'u Crater. It was like nothing I've seen before! Pictures don't completely convey the way it looked (not to mention the sulfur smell!). Our host had mentioned that there was an "event" at the park right now, and in our ignorance we imagined some kind of special park program. What he meant was that the viewing at the crater was good right now. It was indeed an event though. There were more people there are night than when we visited during the day. They even had to direct traffic for parking. It felt like we were attending a concert.

This is a close-up of the lip of the lava lake--you can just see burbles of lava peeking up on the right side. 

Here's a slow-shutter shot of the entire crater.  The orange glow is not lava itself but the smoke coming up from the crater floor reflecting the light of the lava below.

 We came back to the same overlook the next day.

This is the Kilauea Iki lava bed. There was an eruption here in 1959 and the floor was covered with a lake of lava! (You can see Halema'uma'u Crater in the background and Mauna Loa is the mountain behind that.)

We also went to Punaluu, a black sand beach not far from the park.

This pretty pond is next to the beach.

 The view from Punaluu

There was a turtle hanging out in the shallows!

Black sand is so stunning!

The last spot we visited was possibly my favorite. 'Akaka Falls is a stunning waterfall a little north of Hilo. The trail to it is a very pretty, easy loop through the rain forest.

No idea what this is, but it's pretty!

Interesting fact: there is a Hawaiian fish called the 'o'opu that actually climbs up this waterfall. Seriously! There's a sign about it at the overlook that says "The 'o'opu uses its suction disk and pectoral fins to climb up the water-slickened surfaces along the rocky sides of the waterfall." Who knew?

 No surprise--we saw a rainbow while we were in Hawaii.

 Well, that's it for pictures from our trip. Thanks for reading--it was a great little adventure to get to share with my big sister. :-)