Monthly Archives: June 2013


Trees, trees and more trees. Big trees. Reeeeallly big trees. I think that on this journey, I’ve seen a trillion trees, no lie, but none so lovely as the mighty Coastal Redwoods.

The Thriller with his Gandalf walking stick, next to a fallen redwood fragment

The Thriller with his Gandalf walking stick, next to a fallen redwood fragment

Jedidiah Smith State Park is just six miles up the road from our hotel, so we spent several hours yesterday hiking the groves of these magnificent giants. We took so many photos, it’s hard to narrow them down to four or five to show you here.

We learned from a ranger that the state and national park services combined a while back to save the redwoods, when California was in its most dire financial straits. It’s a very nice setup now, and we took advantage of the well-maintained trails.

I'd hate to have been around when this one fell

I’d hate to have been nearby when this one fell

The Thriller has uploaded many different pictures to Facebook, but here are some from my phone. It’s hard to wrap your brain around the sheer size of these monsters, so having bodies in front of them helps with perspective.

We didn’t see any wildlife along the trails, except for one species, and from what we learned, it’s among the most important in the forest. I got up-close and personal with the banana slug, who has reached an agreement with the redwoods: you give me the moisture my skin needs to thrive, and I won’t eat any redwood seedlings, but rather forage for stuff that competes with the redwoods’ survival. How cool is that? Mmm, slimy…

C'mere, you. Give us a hug.

C’mere, you. Give us a squeeze.

It was a beautiful day for hiking (and hugging). Sixty-seven degrees outside, and no end to the sunshine — unlike the weather I heard we have back home, yikes! (BalloonFest getting rained on? Terrible.) My tree pictures suggest an overcast day, but that just shows how much light these 300-foot-tall drinks of water filter out when they stand together. Amazing experience.

After the trees, we headed back to Crescent City to take in the seaside.

Crescent City is a working harbor town, right on the Pacific shore. There is a functioning lighthouse, which we visited at low tide. Really pretty, and of course, on a hill, so by the time we made the huge climb, we both felt like we were walking on our tongues. But worth the effort. What wasn’t worth it was waiting for the next group tour through the lighthouse, where no photographs were allowed. Psh. Take that.

PeacefulThe beautiful blue of the Pacific was mesmerizing, and we stood for a long time on a jetty and admired it. But since it was low tide, and all sorts of slimy sea life and dead things barnacled to rocks were smelling up the shoreline, we didn’t stay as long as we would have liked.

After the day of hiking and hiking, we both had worked up quite the appetite. So we had a late picnic lunch back in the park, inside one of these weird looking tipi things that actually provided decent shade.

The evening was filled with laundry and relaxing. I watched Love in the Time of Cholera, with Javier Bardem. It was…well, nice. Anyway, it was good to just hang out for the night. The Thriller got on Facebook, read up about our next stop, and took care of some business from home.

Today, more California fun as we make our way to the Featherbed Railroad Bed and Breakfast, in Nice. What a cool name for a city: Nice. Nice!

See you tomorrow — Monday, already??

Oregon II

What a day yesterday! We finished out our stay in Oregon in fine style, seeing some of the most beautiful sights we’ve ever visited.

It was a bit of a long drive (378 miles, about 7 hours of drive time), getting from Government Camp to Crescent City, California. We added several hours to that by seeing some awesome places: Crooked River Gorge, and the amazing Crater Lake.

The Ogden Scenic Viewpoint at the Crooked River High Bridge (in rural Jefferson County, OR) is named after Peter Ogden, an Oregon pioneer, and strangely, the namesake of the city of Ogden, Utah.

We happened upon this fantastic park quite by accident. It was a bit unsettling to see that the concrete barriers were only waist-high, and that one over-balanced camera shot posture could send someone 300 feet over the edge, on the way to meet Jesus. In fact, pets are not allowed at the viewing wall; signs warned that many dogs had died — presumably by having paws up on the wall and seeing something just on the other side, and jumping after it. *shudder*

But wow, what a view. And speaking of views…

Crater Lake is a picture waiting to be made. I told someone on Facebook yesterday that it appeared to want its photo taken. My only regret was not having the wherewithal to creep down that steep hill and put my feet in the lake (and by “wherewithal,” I mean the ability to get back up the mountain afterwards).

No matter the vantage point of your shot, you were photographing likely the most gorgeous body of clean water in the world. We stood for a long time and just tried to take it all in. And while I was standing there, a visitor showed up on the rock barrier right in front of me. I wish I’d been fast enough to shoot the picture while he was looking right at me.

After leaving Crater Lake, we were already tired, but faced another 3+ hours on the road. We dragged into the Lighthouse Inn here in coastal Crescent City, CA, around dinnertime. We got some food, took showers, got PJs on, and called it a night.

Today — the Redwood Forest! Back at ya tomorrow, fiends, and happy Saturday!


It was nice that the only state remaining on my “never visited” list (in the lower 48) was such a pleasure to roam over the last two days.

Using our nice room in the ski village of Government Camp as a home base, we spent our time enjoying waterfalls, mountains and the beautiful Columbia River.

The most enjoyable part was traveling along historic US 30, along the river gorge. Unfortunately, our views of Mt. Hood were obscured mostly by clouds, and when we got up near the summit, where the skiers were playing, the snow was dirty and ugly, and there weren’t many photo ops. I guess, after St. Helens and Rainier, it was a bit of a letdown. Still beautiful, though, wow.

I got another picture later, from the highway, and that was our best Hood photo.

The biggest thrill for us was the Columbia River. Of course, after eating a spectacular lunch at the Multnomah Falls Restaurant, we walked up to the falls and took some photos. (I also took a couple of videos for the grandsons.)

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls

The sun was directly in my eyes for this photo, so it isn’t the best resolution, but this particular bridge is the most photographed piece of architecture in all of Oregon. No surprise there, right? The view downward from the bridge made me kind of woozy. It was all fantastic.

The Columbia River, from Vista House

The Columbia River, from Vista House

We stood on the top balcony of Vista House, and as it was a clear day, we saw forever. Breathtaking view.

And now we’re off to sunny California, to walk along the chilly shores of the Pacific, and see some tall trees. Check ya later, fiends — and happy Finkday!

The cheese stands alone

till1Why? Because it’s so tasty, that’s why!

Yesterday, we visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory in rural Oregon. And by “rural Oregon,” I mean oh dear Lord I had no idea that 70 miles north of Portland meant meandering for hours up and down mountains and through dense forests at 45 MPH behind a huge camper.

Still, it was worth every minute and mile. The only downside was that by the time we reached our hotel in Government Camp (near the entrance to Mt. Hood National Forest), we were pretty much fagged out, and unwilling to make the 100+ mile trip to Columbia River Gorge. So we’re doing that today. We’re going to try and squeeze in Mt. Hood and Columbia both, since we’re California-bound tomorrow morning.

Huge vats hold the milk for processing.

Huge vats hold the milk for processing.

So, Tillamook — best cheese in the world. They have a great tourist thing happening up there, too. They don’t give tours inside the actual plant; instead, the sunken factory floor is completely encased in glass, and you can just walk around the periphery and watch the workers. Brilliant, because not only do they not have to pay tour guides and charge admission, they don’t have to deal with safety regulations attached to bringing the general public onto a food processing floor. Yesterday, they were packaging their famous Cheddar Baby Loaf.

Talk about an assembly line. The aged cheese is first cut into huge blocks that travel down a conveyor. They’re shaved, cut into loaves, wrapped, labeled and boxed for transport, all on that one floor. It was quite the sight to behold.

Afterwards, the best part: tasting! The samples are put out buffet-style, with toothpicks at every trough, enabling the tourist cattle to graze at their leisure on the flavor of their choice. My fave — the garlic cheddar. The Thriller dug the colby.

And of course, the reason the tours are free is the presence of the ice cream parlor and huge store, where everything under the sun is for sale. And judging by the hundreds of people who were there yesterday with us, waiting in line to be called up to the next of six cashier registers, the free tours are worth it for them.

Of course, we absconded with a few treats for ourselves.

And after the drive to Government Camp, it was close to dinnertime, so we holed up in our awesome room — complete with full kitchen, bonus — and made our own meal.

With cheese and crackers for dessert, natch. ;-)

Washington III

Our last day in Washington was nice and relaxing. We didn’t see anything super-special; rather, we ate breakfast, got showered, took off for Chehalis, and got stuff done.

We made a stop at Wally for cooler supplies, spent 90 minutes at the laundromat, had a nice lunch at Taco Del Mar, then caught a matinee of World War Z at the local movie theater. It was a totally stress-free day.

On the 70-mile return drive, we stopped and took photos of a herd of elk, grazing in a meadow after a hard rain.

Nope. No elken presence here.

We have yet to see the elk that are supposed to walk about every day outside our room window. We’ve seen, um, evidence that they’ve been there, but other than that, no go.

Still, we watch. Still, they laugh.

OK, today, we’re off to the Portland area. The plan is to see the Tillamook Dairy (yummy — I shall purchase cheese) and the Columbia River Gorge before heading for our hotel in Government Camp, just outside Mt. Hood National Park. More beauty coming our (and your) way. How fun!

Unfortunately, we’re looking at rain, rain and more rain over the next few days. But hey, it’s the Pacific Northwest, right? Something else I find amusing:

I wonder how long the local TV weather guys have included the town of Forks on their daily forecast maps. Haha to them if it’s just been over the last few years. Seriously?? (If that means nothing to you, you’ve obviously not read any of the Twilight books, or seen any of the movies. It’s OK — not a big deal. :-) )

So off we go! It’s been real, Washington. Loved it. And of course, I heart all my fiends for coming to read about our silly little Odysseys. Hugs to you all.