A Travellerspoint blog

Crater Lake & the Lava Beds


I had to start this blog with a picture of Crater Lake, as I know that is what turns out to be the heading. It is just the most beautiful sight.

large_Crater_Lake_Cover_A.jpg
Crater Lake - The Deepest, Cleanest, Most Blue lake around.

In our last blog I said I would explain why Charl has morphed into 'Chuck'. Apologies to Mil (mother-in-law) who loathes her children's names being shortened or altered. However, as in Aus., the Americans are battling with the pronounciation of Charl who becomes, Charles, Shaaar, Cherl, but we cottoned on that Chuck was an easy pronounciation, hence Chuck!

After Chuck's mountain biking 'incident' on our last day in Bend, when he fell off, landed on his backpack, and broke the screen of his phone, we had to wait back a bit in Bend to have it fixed. No problem as we needed to fill the tank with gas (what we call petrol), do a shop have a last good coffee for a while etc.

The drive out of Bend was beautiful, the road became narrow, uphill and down dale, over passes and down the other side, with trees about 15m high, hugging the sides of the road, left and right, leaving no space between us and the trees. Due to the height of the trees, they formed a tight dark corridor with a little light shining from the sky above us, it was quite spectacular. There is no shortage of either trees or rivers and lakes in Oregon. Unfortunately, because it is so very dry, we are finding fire bans throughout most of our trip and we might have to invest in a propane (what we call gas) bbq. Our other option is heat up meals in the microwave or salads. I could live on the latter but Charl would not survive. It is difficult to comprehend a state which has cold winters, snow, so much water flowing through rivers and waterfalls and yet now in summer, fire bans, due to the heat. Well, we all know what has been happening with fires, for months, in California, so it is not assigned to any one state, but rather 'the state' at present. But..... We managed to sweet talk the camp host at the park in Prospect (Crater Lake RV camp) and were allowed to use our bbq as long as we used briquettes and not wood. The 'camp hosts', not to be mistaken for 'camp men', (ha ha) were so good to us, Kathy even provided her personal Wi-Fi details for us to use, when we mentioned that the public Wi-Fi was very slow.

large_Terry_A.jpg
Terry hard at work

Prospect is tiny but is called a town....I guess because it has an hotel, post office and small school, that qualifies it as a town! We had such a laugh; Charl packed the backpack with eats and drinks and we set off on the scooter to explore the town, well we didn't know it was a one horse town and that the horse had died, so after 20 minutes, we were back at camp!

On our first night, the camp host, came by and told us that there were some singers in town and would be playing guitars and singing around the camp fire. After our dinner we ambled along, the camp fire was a porcelain dish, with ceramic ‘logs’, fed by a propane (gas) cylinder - did the job and looked very realistic. The guitarist, Steve Ide and wife, Lesley, were pretty good musicians and we had a wonderful evening, keeping the insects out of our wine, chatting and listening to the music. At one point the Lesley said 'play a cowboy song', so Steve started to strum the acoustic guitar, Lesley backing and Steve singing and he also started yodelling! When he was finished Charl said 'since when do Cowboys yodel?' Well apparently they were well taught by the immigrants and yes, man, Cowboys yodel. The trio, although only two of the three band members were present, have a band called Old West Trio; it's worth googling them. A link to one of their You tube is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cW7pB5frj58. We got to chat to this couple, and when they learnt that our trip was flexible, they asked if we would meet at their camp site the following day, bring our maps along and they would set us a better route. We were on for this!

large_IMG_1269.jpg
Nestled in amongst the trees

A little aside here.....we thought we were in a national park site, but around the camp fire we soon learnt that this lovely rustic setting was in fact a private camp. It was a sad story; the owners had RV’ d for 10 years and decided to build a camp site that they felt, after their travelling experiences, would be what many people would want in a camp site. So they developed this one, but the owner has recently been diagnosed with stage four cancer. The singers were in fact on their way back to California via east Oregon, but when they got word that the owner was so ill, they changed tac, headed down the west and came to sing for the owner. They knew the owner well as they often entertained at the camp site.

We set off for Medford to have the scooter looked at. MMm....glad there was a shopping Centre close by, because it was a wasted sort of trip of 45 miles! There was nothing wrong with the scooter, except for the fact that somehow, the 'kill switch' had been activated and that was the reason for it not starting, after the carburettor problem had been sorted by Chuck. Humph. Chuck was suitably embarrassed.

So ...a coffee sorted out the head in Medford and we looked at maps and on the way back, decided to take the park rangers advice, us, lovers of good sites, to see the not to be missed Flounce Rock viewpoint. WELL......said park ranger should be shot (it is the USA where they all have guns).... this road was suitable for a 4x4 not an RV. We got onto a 'road of no return' we gave it that name because there was absolutely nowhere to turn around, once we had started the uphill climb. We kept saying 'do we try to turn or do we continue?' Eventually we saw the wood for the trees, so to speak. Left RV in a spot and hiked up a bit......views....yes...of Lost Creek Lake, Pacific Coast Mt Range, Prospect etc.., worth the added stress and wrinkles - NO! Anyhoo.....(to quote Heather)..... We took some pics, lots of deep breaths and braced ourselves for the downhill trek home. Now the RV was absolutely fine but the scooter, attached onto the back, slowly started to resemble a 'scrambler bike' although it had never 'scrambled'. There was so much dust and dirt attached to it, Chuck was not a happy camper.

large_Crater_Lak..e_rock_view.jpg
This is the view we had from Flounce Rock

large_Dirty_scooter.jpg
But this is what the scooter on the back of the RV looked like - NOT happy Jan!!

That over and done with, we survived, the RV was no worse off, and just a very dirty scooter - we headed to the Mill Creek Falls and Avenue of Giant Boulders, which luckily for us, were located at the same place. A site to behold and on tar road, an even better site to behold!! I felt I needed to confront said park ranger, although he looked like a very gentle soul and we had interacted with him at the music evening the night before, we decided to just let it go. We had, after all, ended on a high note.

large_Crater_Lak..of_boulders.jpg
Giant boulders

large_Crater_Lak..Creek_Falls.jpg
Mill Creek Falls

But that's not all - no - we had another sticky bum experience - gee we seem to attract these dudes!! The singer, Steve, without wife and change of plan, came over to our site, instead of us going to them, to give advice on our next travels. Eventually, very rude of me I know, but after seating him with a beer and a map....an hour or so later, I couldn't contain myself. So I clanged pots, went in and out of the RV shut cupboard doors loudly and eventually put the plates, cutlery and food on the table outside. OH!!! the penny dropped ....I did also say that he was due to play at camp fire and he may well be late for that - he left taking unfinished beer with him. Great of him to give advice, but we honestly didn't need the amount he was giving, he was almost directing us to the airport out of NYC it was that complete.

large_Crater_Lake_2_7D_010Band.jpg
The day Lesley and Steve departed, we presented them with an Australian souvenir and they, in turn, gave us a copy of their CD.

We ate dinner, composed ourselves with the help of a vino or two and then headed to listen to Steve (still no Lesley) play the guitar and sing again. It was another convivial night around the 'gas camp fire', seems quite odd that, for a camp fire, not to be wood burning, but another fun evening with different guests from the camp site. What we appreciate about this site is the fact that it was rustic, but the camp hosts were very mindful of their guests, interacted with us and looked after us in a special way and a way which we haven't experienced before in other countries.

Crater Lake.....the main reason for us to visit this area. We set off around 11am not quite knowing what to expect, other than a very blue lake, within a national park. Well......after checking out the visitor centre we started to make our way through the park and there, in the distance we spied it...... The bluest, most beautiful lake we have ever seen, surrounded by steep sandy banks, absolutely awesome! We were also extremely lucky as there were no fires around to cause any haze. Another bonus was the fact that they were celebrating the 'centenary of national parks' and the entrance fee had been waived for four days. Sorry to give you a little geography/history session here, but if you don't have much knowledge of Crater Lake, you will be interested:

Way back 7,700 years ago the active volcano on Mt Mazama erupted, kaboom....taking all those who were there, with it; no cremation coats! Thankfully they would not have known what had hit them. This crater formed and centuries of rain and snow filled the basin forming the deep blue lake. Apparently this is the cleanest, large body of water in the world and the bluest lake; also, it is the deepest in the USA. No rivers or streams lead into or out of the lake - the depth of the lake is 592 metres, and the width is 5-8 miles, annual snowfall in this area is 13 metres. The rim of the crater around which we drove was 33 miles. The blue of the lake, is due to the depth and clarity, allowing the sun rays to be absorbed. The Crater Lake park was established in 1902, it is 183,000 acres in size and attracts over 615,000 visitors per annum.

large_Crater_Lake_103beauteous.jpg
Crater Lake - Beauteous!

large_Crater_Lak..dden_castle.jpg
Pumice Castle

We chose to drive east to west, so that we had the pull off views on the right side, which saved us crossing onto the other side of the road and incoming traffic. There were over 30 scenic stops around and, I should add, that we stopped at most of them, it was just too good not to! Around every corner we thought we may get a better view of what we had just left behind us. Some of the lookout stops were: Phantom Ship, Pumice Castle, Sun Notch, Cloudcap Overlook and Wizard Island. Crater Lake was a photographers dream!!

large_Everywhere_Man_2_A.jpg
And the Everywhere Man appeared!

large_Crater_Lak..sney_castle.jpg
Phantom Ship or Disney castle?

At one of the stops a family was feeding, although all signs said 'do not feed wildlife' but one 'gets them' the world over - these amazing Golden Mantled ground squirrels (not chipmunks - those have stripes on their head) - they were obviously looking to be fed, skittish, running along the ground, their heads peeping up looking here and there for food, they were so cute! They were very quick which made photographing them a huge challenge!

large_Crater_Lak..nd_Squirrel.jpg
Squirrel

I nearly forgot to mention, that on our drive to Crater Lake, we stopped off at Rogue River Gorge, it too was very pretty and worth the stop. Strangely, one of the few places we have seen, thus far, in America, where it was fenced off for safety. We had been to far more dangerous, non-fenced areas than this one. Perhaps there is a story behind it that we were not aware of?

large_Crater_Lak..rogue_river.jpg
Rogue River Gorge

Due to the fact that we so enjoyed the Prospect RV park, people and surrounds, we booked in for a fourth night. The extra time gave us a chance to re-plan our route to Lake Tahoe, which would now include more things to see, whereas our original route was one 'just to get us to the lake'. And by sheer good luck, we have managed to secure 2 nights at Yosemite. So now we are including that in our itinerary. We were very lucky - there is normally a 6 month waiting list to get in!

large_Crater_Lak..spect_river.jpg
Last night at Prospect, having sundowners at the river alongside the park.

California Dreamin......
Over the border....bye Oregon we had the most special time with you..... Hello California....

We diverted and back tracked a bit, on our way out of Oregon and onto California. The neighbour at the Prospect RV Park had waxed lyrical about Diamond Lake, so we decided to investigate. It was a lovely lake, quite busy with holiday makers, but nothing, in comparison to Crater Lake. We filled up with gas and 🎶 🎶'hit the road Chuck'....🎶 🎶

We saw quite a few dead buck (roadkill) on this easy drive to Tule Lake. About 15 miles before the Californian border, we started to drive alongside a lake, Klamath Lake; it was so beautiful, travelling with this lake for such a long way. Pelicans were flying above and a little further on, we saw some Eagles soaring up in the sky. Thus far, Diamond Lake is the only lake on which we have seen any activity, as in canoes or boats.

large_A_diamond_lake.jpg
Diamond Lake

We went through a mini tornado and it shook the van a bit, threw up sand onto us but not too bad. We could see the whirlwind happening on the ground as the dust turned and then spewed over. Exciting!

Our GPS failed us and led us to the wrong turn off and we got a bit lost; but eventually, found.....our RV site was another 25 miles further up the road, than expected. The site was fine, but small in facilities. For example there was one small washer and dryer, whereas previous places have had at least four of each. Fortunately the park was not busy and due to the machine being so small, we had to do two washes and two dries. But we were able to get the weekly washing loaded and dried, our camp for the previous four nights, had no laundry facilities, so we were happy we had clothes to wear. We were getting a tad desperate for clean clothes! OOohh....that's why there have been so many flies following us around.

The animals are becoming scarier than in Oz! Saw a dinosaur.......well it was a large lizard.....the ground squirrels are so hard to photograph as they move faster than a flea. Saw birds that have heads similar to that of the Hoopoe bird, but each time I grab by camera they fly away.

Lava Beds - Modoc National Park - (to see the lava tubes) - was the reason we found ourselves here, near to Tule Lake in the middle of absolutely nowhere......but there have been a few films shot in this area, such as 'Stand by Me'

The 15mile drive through the national park, to the visitor centre was not dissimilar to the Nullarbor crossing, in that it was miles of scrub. The road had clearly been built without the help of either engineer or surveyor, it was tar, but very bumpy indeed.

large_Lava_Beds_7D_035_A.jpg
Charl going down into one of the Caves - Note the two big flashlights.

We stopped at the information centre and found that the centenary week of national parks, applied in California as well, so entry was free. We picked up maps and borrowed flashlights and did some caving. It was amazing, walking and crouching in these caves, which have been formed by volcanic lava, one can see the formations on the floor, as the hot lava came down and formed these amazing patterns. Overhead, the lava rock, some small and some large. This was also the place where the Indians fought hard to keep their land.

large_Lava_Beds_7D_027_A.jpg
The roof of the cave had really interesting features.

There were very few tourists, so the stillness around was unbelievable, with a few crickets chirping outside, that was all the noise we heard. I was totally fascinated with the landscape. Hills, a butte or two in the very far distance and the scrub and red ground in the foreground. Butte (pronounced beaut), is an isolated hill with a relatively flat top and sometimes steep vertical sides.

I tell you, you don't want to be in one of those caves and lose your flashlight. We turned ours off and you would have absolutely no chance of finding where you had come in from, just scary pitch black nothingness before one’s eyes.

large_Taqui_Lava_CaveA.jpg
Taken from inside the cave looking out - Taqui is the Sillouette

We were very lucky to get into an RV site, as the famous Burning Man week-long festival was taking place in the 'nearby' Black Rock desert. I said 'nearby, because the festival was some 138 miles from the RV parks!! We could not attend the festival, as the tickets were all sold out. Lucky us!!

'Highway' 139 how they call this a highway I don't know! It was 80 something miles of uneven, bumpy, lumpy narrow type farm road! This was the first time I was really aware of rattling cupboards land clinking glasses, thought we would have only glass shards and no glasses by the time we arrived at our destination, Virginia City, but all was good. We drove up and down arid mountain passes until we finally reached civilization of Susanville, where we stopped for gas and lunch. Also checked air in tyres of RV also oil into engine and gear box, it didn't need the latter.

Bugger....I'm just too darn honest! We got stopped at inspection, the lady asked if we had mangoes, citrus etc., ,I was about to say no to all them then I admitted that we did have a lemon and a few avo's ..She took them but they never got placed onto a " disease bin' so we feel sure that these border people never buy fresh groceries, they live off their takings! We visualised her waving us on whilst she whipped up an avo/lemon sandwich for morning tea! Ha, Ha.... I still had a sliced lemon for my G & T she didn't ask about anything sliced only whole!!

On that note... Eat your heart out G&T drinkers..... How about a bottle of Bombay for $27 I'm talking 1.75L? Can you believe how cheap that is??? Bye bye Mr Gordon's....see ya in Noosa again....

large_Gin_in_TrolleyA.jpg
My Gin in the Trolley!!

There was great excitement in Susanville, not just for the fact that we had arrived, but we stopped to fill up with petrol and I saw smoke billowing from the direction we had just come. The next thing sirens were blaring, and the police and several Lassen County Sheriff cars came buzzing by. Interesting note is that when police or fire engines have sirens on, cars in both lanes pull over, not just the lane in which the car sirens are in. We must have seen at least 10 cars, but strangely not a fire engine in sight.

We hit Reno at rush hour time and it had been a while since we had been through a city...madness....lanes of traffic trying to merge...us in unknown territory being guided by GPS.... saying to ourselves we hate city life and roads!!! Whilst navigating lanes ducking from left to right ...phew eventually out of the hectic traffic and into the mountains again ahead.

large_Taqui_TruckA.jpg
This is a 'standard' size ute in the USA - compare it to the size of me!!

We had the most incredible, uphill drive to Virginia City; we got to an elevation of 6789 feet. And levelled at 6000 feet when we finally reached the park. We had a little hiccup on arrival as we had our booking confirmed on email, but the lady had no record of it - when Chuck gave the reference name - it turned out we booked the same name park i.e. Virginia City RV Park, but the one in Montana, not Virginia City! Hope the Montana people are not still waiting for us to book in! A plus is that we had no mobile coverage when we booked ahead, so only booked by email, therefore no credit card details were given, thus no wasted money on a site not used.

Good thing for us the park was not full and we could be accommodated. Our 'neighbour' told us 'that things close real early so we best head on out' so we hooked up, grabbed our joggers and hit the town.

large_Virginia_City_7D_080A.jpg
Which way to go?

large_Virginia_City_7D_088A.jpg
Lots of Junk Shops called "Antique Shops" - ha, ha! BTW - you can see who they support for President in this area.

Oh my word!! This was touristy, but not a tourist to be seen, and so much fun. For SA people think Gold Reef City on a very small scale with nil people. Charl headed into a saloon, I left him there to order beer and wine and I ducked off to grab some photos. I eventually found him back at the pub... Just him, one young local bloke and the bar lady. Turned out the local bloke has a friend who lives in Perth, who is his snow ski buddy. We then chatted to the bar lady, got some local info as she works by day at the tourist kiosk. Then an elderly regular arrived. He was so happy to chat to out of towners and when we told him we were on the road for three months, he asked 'is this work related?' I replied 'no, retirement related'. 'Humph....he said, I've been retired for twenty years, Miss, and ain't been nowhere!' We then went in search of dinner. Oh, we found the Bucket of blood saloon before dinner, so had another drink and chatted to more locals.

large_Virginia_City_7D_021A.jpg
The Red dog Saloon

We wandered down the street as we heard music coming from a cafe, where a band was jamming. They obviously didn't usually play as a band and were just jamming. The guitarist, on a Gibson Les Paul (Chuck was in Awe!) was amazing, he was also blind. How is it that his compatriots could tease him about being blind, but it's politically incorrect to have jibes at other people? Blind guitarist loved being teased. It was such a fun evening.

large_Virginia_City_7D_066A.jpg
Blind Guy on his Les Paul - might be blind, but he could make the guitar talk!

We were not able to buy alcohol from the cafe, so I chose the table, whilst Charl went to buy our dinner drinks from the saloon down the road. Whilst he was in the queue, the chef/waiter from the cafe, with whom we had a lady put in our dinner order, was also in the queue. He admitted to Chuck that 'he was quite drunk, was getting grog for the band players and would soon have our dinner cooked'. Well it all happened so quickly, the next thing our food was at the table and I wouldn't have guessed it had been cooked by a drunken chef. Chef’s wife/ waitron brought us our cutlery and soon she was up singing Hotel California with the band. These are the types of experiences we love and why we enjoy travelling this way. Everybody here, so forthcoming and friendly, smiling and happy - population here is 800.

Today Charl called immigration, (still trying to sort out visa problem but getting nowhere fast) , we had no call wait time and the lady on the other end was so helpful 'yes sir, no sir, three bags full Sir, thank you sir for your patience, then, thank you sir for holding, thank you sir for calling etc'. it was amazing!! Let's hope we will have an amazing outcome eventually for our two days grace we are looking for. We may yet be passing a hat around or asking to be bailed out of prison for overstaying by two days.

Posted by Taqui 18:37 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Oregon - Bend


Bend, Beautiful Bend.......

This was such a full on week in Bend, we feel we needed to push on for a holiday!

Due to the fact that we could not get the extra night at Hood River - White Salmon, we moved on to Crooked River Ranch for one night, before heading into Bend. Perhaps it was the odd name that attracted us to Crooked River or the proximity to Bend or maybe just because they had a site for us homeless happy campers but this was a fantastic stop, an oasis in the middle of the dessert. The site was cut out into the Rock and had a golf course, swimming pool, saloon and horse riding and 86 RV sites. Crooked River is a tributary of the Deschutes River situated in central Oregon, near to Terrebonne, which is 23 miles from Bend, our next stop.

large_Crooked_River_Ranch_019A.jpg
A beautiful Golf Course in the middle of a dessert

large_Crooked_River_Ranch_016A.jpg
Right beside a large Canyon

Thankfully we are still keeping to the right side of the road and we have not yet decapitated any of those cyclists or pedestrians. The drive from Hood River, through the mountains was so picturesque, thickly lined roadsides with green tall trees and mountain tops peeping out, an absolute delight to the eyes.

We arrived in Bend at Crown Villa Resort at lunch time and this was a lovely site to stay in. Very smart with tennis courts, putting green, spa etc., not that we had time to use any of the facilities. Charl chose the site, due to it only being 4.9 miles from where our friends live. The weather was very warm as Oregon is going through a bit of a heatwave. Whilst most of the RV's were monsters of up to 60 feet in length, not all were:

large_Bend_7D_04.._large_vans.jpg
Some folk have only a small RV!

It helps to have local knowledge. Our good friends from Noosa, Trish and Garth, co- ordinated their trip to see their kids & grandies who live in Bend, at the same time as our visit. We spent the afternoon with Trish and Garth and then when their family returned from their day out, we all had supper together. It was lovely to be with a family again, watching the boys interact, play, laugh and for us to chat to them. Unfortunately on our way to their house, the scooter decided it did not want to go, so we had to get a lift back to our RV with Steve.

large_Dinner_Bend_A.jpg
Dinner at Steve & Heather. No Steve - He took the Photo

Together with Garth and Trish, and Steve and Heather, we did heaps of the fun things that the locals get to do and enjoy. Most importantly, the best coffee shops. We had our first good coffee since leaving Noosa, on our second day here - oh how good that tasted!

large_Bend_7D_003A_canoe_art.jpg
One of the beautiful and interesting Sculptures on just about every roundabout - or Rotary, as our TomTom calls them!

Wednesday 17th
Started off the day by having the scooter carburettor looked at. The problem was with the electric choke and we had to order a new one, which came from California. Thankfully we had arranged to spend a week in Bend, so that gave time for the part to arrive.

With the caffeine injection we then jumped into Steve and Heather's car, which was filled with all types of blow up floats. We, (nine of us), then headed to the Deschutes river. On the way, we saw two deer, eating trees at a roundabout! What a fantastic treat to see. After blowing up the various tubes, sup boards and even a double bed li-lo we jumped in and floated down the river until we reached a set of rapids; they were the fun part. This was an amazing experience as we floated past restaurants and then after the rapids, we were in a residential area and had a good gawk at their properties.

large_Bend_River_Float_7D_043A.jpg
The River Float

As with the rest of Bend, the gardens were beautifully maintained and pretty with many flower gardens. It is hard to imagine that in winter, this lush green town gets blanketed in snow, the river freezes over and everybody then heads to the ski fields of Mt Bachelor. They have the best of both worlds here; it is so similar to Noosa, but instead of the sea, they have the mountains. People were always outdoors exercising - walking, mountain biking, kayaking and water skiing.

There was also a good choice of golf courses. Again, due to being with locals, we headed to 10 Barrel Brewing - beer sampling for some, wine testing for others whilst listening to a very good energetic band with full moon overhead. What a great day and night out. We loved having the local knowledge, aka the Berg's, to steer us in all the right directions.

large_Bend_7D_015A_Brewefest.jpg
The Beer Wars - over 40 Craft Breweries fighting for the honour of being the best IPA Brewer at the event

Bend_Beer_Wars_7D_010A.jpgGB_and_CharlA.jpg
Charl, Garth, Steve & Heather sampled the beer, whilst Trish & Taqui sampled the local wines

The following day we had a lovely walk around Farewell Bend park which is alongside the Deschutes River and we were able to get a different perspective of the river on which we floated down the previous day. This walk also lead us to The Old Mill district where there were some great boutiques and a lovely Strictly Organic Coffee Co...ahh...another great coffee!

The residents in Bend love to party and why not, when they can boast the most amount of breweries in any place in the USA! We were lucky enough to try out the pub at Tetherow Golf club, which had a lively convivial feel to it and some good snacks and drinks too. Then onto Sparrow, a local bakery and patisserie, who celebrated their 10th birthday by opening up their courtyard and inviting the entire town for snacks and drinks, there was also a Mexican band playing, and many people danced the evening away; another fun evening in this lovely town.

Garth did most of the driving in Bend, Charl in passenger seat helping navigation and with the help of google maps, we arrived at most places safely but giggling! Trish and I found the funny side of most things and laughed our way through nearly colliding with other cars mirrors, gently saying that we need to keep right and looking for parking spots....the men were very accommodating of our snide remarks. As we did a quick tour of downtown bend, we found benches to entice the men to sit on, to watch the people go by, whilst we ducked in and out of shops for a quick bit of retail therapy.

large_Bend_7D_045A_Bend_Statue.jpg
Charl thought it might be a good idea to check if there was anything in the statues wallet!

When in America do as the Americans do.....so we set off with Steve and family to Costco, no visit to the US of A would be complete before visiting here. Well.....heaps of lovely food samplings, lots of trying on of Ray Ban and Maui Jim sunglasses, etc., etc. a great American experience where the trolley is double the usual size, to accommodate the large packaging. I've never before seen such large blocks of cheese, huge packets of cereal, giant jars of jam etc. The goods were loaded into the boot, door forced closed, we heard a bit of rattling around, bottles going clink; fortunately eggs did not get squished, it all got to the house safely.

Talking stores, we also visited a Home Depot store....Bunnings on steroids! Wow! Everything for the home and garden under one roof. Although we know Australia is a very expensive country, this trip to America has reinforced that......it's so cheap here in America, compared to Aus.

I had a dream fulfilled here, in Bend. I have always wondered what it would be like to go up a ski lift in summer, rather than in winter when the mountain is covered in snow and we are weighed down with ski's, poles, and thick winter wear. We drove from Steve and Heather's house to Mt Bachelor, took ski lifts up to the mountain lodge, wearing t shirts and shorts, where we had sundowners and snacks and watched the mountain-face change colours as the sun set, this was an absolute treat and a wonder to see.

large_Bend_7D_02..Mt_Bachelor.jpg
The views from the Lodge up Mt Batchelor were stunning. As was the Sunset

large_Bend_7D_029A_Mt_Bachelor.jpg
I can never resist a Sunset Pic!!

Our local tour guides, aka Heather and Steve very kindly booked us days ahead, into a cocktail bar, which was downtown. Thankfully they have a car which seats eight people. Our poor driver was trying so hard to find us a spot close to our venue. Just picture Steve looking for a parking spot in a busy area with six passengers all shouting 'there's one....oh no, it's a one hour park'...look! 'Over there somebody is coming out of their park .......ohhhhh no false alarm' .....'what about that one?'....eventually Steve managed all on his own to find the perfect spot between the two venues we needed to be at. We started off at Dogwood Cocktail Tavern, sampling wonderful cocktails in such a warm atmosphere. We could just imagine, in a few months’ time, with snow falling, people opening the doors to this wonderful inn and enjoying the warmth.

large_Bend_Cocktails_A.jpg
Cocktails at Dogwood Cocktail tavern

Well, we enjoyed the cocktails and an hour later, crossed the road and entered into 900 Wall Street where we were welcomed with open arms and had a superb dinner. A waiter who gave all the correct recommendations and was excellent at his job, together with a great chef, made for culinary delights. Then a short stroll up the road for an ice cream to finish off another wonderful day.

large_900_Wall_A.jpg
Stunning Meal for us

large_Bend_Meal_A.jpg
& Some other folk have a couple of wines with their meal!

We also had the pleasure of being invited to friends of Heather and Steve for an afternoon bbq. This couple live on a property in Tumelo which is on the outskirts of Bend and the Deschutes River runs past their property, beautiful setting. They all had fun doing another float from further up the river and stopped at the property. Some of us chose to stay back, sip a glass of vino and photograph 'the floaters' coming in to land. They were brave hosts this couple, Pat and Larry, besides the nine in our party, another couple whom they had not seen for 25 years also stopped by and neighbours came in through their interleading garden gate, to join in the gathering.

large_Bend_7D_06..hutes_float.jpg
Another tube down a different part of the river

large_Bend_7D_05..t_and_Larry.jpg
followed by a BBQ at Larry & Pat

We do need, at this point, to thank the younger members of the Berg family for staying home and being very patient whilst the adults went off partying day and night. You are such great, patient young men, thank you for generously sharing your parents with us. We also got to meet Heathers mum, Rita, who drove for 3 hours to come from Portland to Bend to meet us all and drove back home again the following day.

"Good-bye's" are so hard.....and we had a grand finale to wish Bend and our friends au revoir... No amount of "thank you's" would be sufficient to thank you for your hospitality.

Our last day in Bend, Steve, Heather and Chuck (we know him as Charl, but that's another story), went mountain bike riding down Mt Bachelor....they have scars, sore bodies and smashed iPhone screens to prove it!!

large_Bend_MTB_A.jpg
Ready for the Lava Slopes of Mt Bachelor

The more sensible people, Trish, Garth and moi, stayed behind to walk, sip coffee and shop. We also spent some lovely time telling ghost stories to the boys, playing Eye Spy and doing some silly things that only grand moms do with kids! Our resident chef, aka Garth cooked up two versions of pasta which was so yummy and we ended with, yes, eat your hearts out, Melk Tert and finally Steve lit a fire in their newly built fire pit and we sampled s'more's. For non-Americans it was Graham crackers which sandwiched Hershey's chocolate and a toasted marshmallow....an absolute must!! I hope we will cope for the rest of our travels without you lot, because we have had the most awesome experiences, company, hosting and family experiences. And I know we are so going to miss you all so much.

Apologies for the late posting of the blog - internet coverage has not been great since leaving Bend. Also for some of the photos - not the greatest quality, but sometimes an iPhone has to suffice.

large_Farewell_Bend_A.jpg
Farewell Bend - we had a wonderful stay

Posted by Taqui 09:48 Archived in USA Comments (3)

Into Oregon

onto Portland & Hood River


[b][/b]We had a short drive from Mt Rainier to Lake Harmony on the 7th and were relieved to find space at the park in which we had hoped to stop. We are slowly going up the rungs of the ladder; there was a lake there, but no sites overlooking the lake.....getting there! Unfortunately it rained on and off both days, with cloud cover so we were not able to get to explore Mt St Helens. However it gave us time to update the blog, which takes a fair while and to relax after the hiking in Mt Rainier.

large_Good_Site_A.jpg
Our RV nestled in a nice quiet spot.

We have been asked the comparison between the caravan in which we toured Australia for a year and this RV. Well they both have their pro's and con's. The caravan had similar appliances, except it did have a very handy small washing machine. The caravan had an ordinary microwave, whereas the RV has a convection microwave. Also, the bed in the caravan was a queen size and we could walk around it. The bed in the RV is a double and Charl told me that on the first night, I slept as if it was a king-size. Apparently I almost pushed him over and out of his side of the RV! No problem, there were some pool noodles in the boot so all I had to do, was place one down the centre of the mattress and voila all sorted 'his and her' sides! It is a well thought out van, with lots more lighting than we ever had in the caravan and more than enough cupboard space. And the best part is we can ‘hook up’ to the sewage system – rather than the chemical loo we had in the caravan. And I can get to the fridge and loo if necessary whilst we are on the move. Down side is you always have your 'house on your back'. So if you want to do any sight-seeing, you need to take the whole beast. We have overcome that with the scooter as detailed below.

Ok Houston, we have a problem! Charl started the bbq at 5.30 and we sat out with our evening drink, next thang (see we can speak American) the newly settled couple in the site next to us, Donna and Dennis from Seattle, appeared, drinks in hand. Four, yes people, FOUR hours later they left us. By which time, the fire had burned out, the wood was finished and I was so hungry I was ready to eat the table ....we waved them good-bye with steel grins on our faces and made a hasty retreat into the RV, dinner placed back into the fridge, out came the bread and toaster and that was dinner!! We have to learn to be less pleasant people!!

Big_RV_s_A.jpg
Some of these RV's in the USA are large

(Tuesday 9th) On the road again..... Our drive from Washington State to Portland, Oregon was easy; we are both feeling less stressed about moving this van around. Everything is bigger in the USA, including the vehicles. Look at the photo above, this is an RV with a trailer at the back and a car, so we have this type of vehicle overtaking us or in the lane next to us, which is quite intimidating, we are not small either and have huge mirrors that take up space so we are all taking up the road space. Every now and then I see a pedestrian to my right and I think 'matey you are lucky because those mirrors just nearly scraped your forehead'! I almost want to wind down my window and shout 'duck!!!!!'

Well here we have it; we were alongside my much longed for river. This park had heaps of bird hides, a resident squirrel or three, space for me to walk...whoop whoop....I was in my little element and we were not too far from the city (20 miles) either, so a very convenient place to stop for a few nights. Let's just hope we don't get any more sticky bums who come for a drink and stay for four hours!!! Don't get us wrong, we love socializing and meeting new people but hey, they can get way too comfy and we don't get to eat our dinner.

Check out these eggs we bought at the supermarket. Have you ever before seen such white eggs? Do the American hens have bleach in their bums???

White_Eggs_A.jpg
White Eggs

We made a trip to the city and decided to go by bus. We walked along the waterfront and crossed over the river to get to Renovo Cycles; this visit was on Charl's wish list. Renovo manufacture wooden bicycles, the idea where Charl's building of his wooden bike all began. We were fortunate to meet Mr Renovo, i.e. Ken Wheeler. He was a very pleasant man, and clearly an animal lover. Together with his Poodle dog, Albert, and cat Sprocket, he very kindly lead us on a tour of the factory. The dog was very playful and at one time Ken said to the dog 'Albert, sit - these people are from Australia and want to see the factory. Now Albert, I have forgotten where the CNC machine is, will you show us?' At this point Albert gave a bark and then raced along and jumped up and sat on this large machine. He did the same for a few more of the work-stations. When we saw the cat, my first remark was 'oh they are colour coded' both animals were grey and white. I managed to get a photo of Albert on top of the machine, but the cat was a bit shy.

Albert_on_CnC_A.jpg
Albert on the CNC machine at Renovo

Charl told Ken that he had built a wooden bike, based on Renovo's ideas and after our meeting; Ken requested, and Charl forwarded the pictures and a 'thank you' for showing us around. Within seconds we had a reply:

Hey Charl,
Meeting you and Taqui was a treat, thank you for looking us up.
Your bike is superb, nice work, great attention to the smallest of detail, thank you for sending the pics.
Want a job? :)
Best of fun on the rest of your vacation...
-Ken

Whilst in Portland we bought a scooter. Charl had been chasing one for a while, and as luck would have it, this day we had taken the bus into the city, and the seller called whilst we were having lunch. We took an Uber to the given address, test drove and then we had the problem of getting it back to the RV camp. We tried using bicycle routes on Google Maps, but that proved futile and eventually had to bite the bullet and hit the 25 miles on the Pacific Highway....huge trucks whizzing by nearly blowing me off into the other lane, but I held on tight and imagined the stiff gin and tonic when we reached home. What a reward that G&T was! The scooter will certainly make our lives easier, when wanting to go places, but hopefully not on the highways again. Can imagine how the truck drivers were cursing the grey haired dudes taking up their space.

Scooter__1_A.jpg Scooter_2_A.jpg

Charl finally found a scooter for the back of the RV

My bestie in Noosa has a son and family who live in Oregon and so Trish knows the area well. She had told me about the wonderful Woodburn Outlets just outside of Salem. We decided to visit the outlets on our way to see Silver Creek Falls. Needless to say, we never got to Silver Falls, as we spent over five hours at the outlets! The credit card got bashed but I was a very happy purchaser!

Shopping_A.jpg
Day of shopping in Salem – a very happy me!

Our last day In Portland was the hottest day since arriving in the USA at around 34 C. We used five modes of transport to get to and around the city. We started with Shanks' Pony (walking) from the RV resort to the bus stop, then bus into town, from there a tram to connect to the Portland aerial sky tram, and from sky tram back to the city on the tram and then the hop on hop off trolley bus around Washington Park. Here we saw the beautiful Japanese Gardens, apparently the most authentic outside of Japan. Also visited the rose garden which had the most amazing perfume wafting right through the huge amount of roses. We walked along the rows of roses, most of which were fully in bloom, an absolute delight! It is no wonder, Portland is known as the City of roses. We finally got back 'home' at around 6.15pm and all that transport cost us $2.50 each, excluding the aerial tram. Pretty cheap I'd say!

Oregon_7D_..nese_garden.jpg A_artist_a..nese_garden.jpg
Japanese Gardens – stunning. And a Girl creating a sculpture for an upcoming exhibition in the garden

A4C18772B19B61C293EF7A1B313EEC34.jpg Oregon_7D_..rose_garden.jpg
Rose Gardens – just as stunning and the aromas, amazing. Pity I can't share the scent with you!

We moved on to Hood River, which is a village on the banks of the Columbia River. Because of the gorge, it has wind funnelling through most of the time. Charl was happy as it meant an opportunity to kitesurf.

large_Beach_Hood_RiverA.jpg

Charl & Taqui at the beach in Hood River Gorge

We stayed on the Washington State side of the area, which meant a daily drive across the steel bridge. The first day we did it on the scooter, which was hair-raising to say the least. The bridge is made of steel mesh, and it felt like the scooter was going to slip out from under us at any moment. The next day we took the RV, which was just as hair-raising. The bridge is VERY narrow with no shoulder. So, it was a case of fold in the side mirrors, stay as close as possible to the side of the bridge, and pray when a large vehicle came towards us!

large_Steel_BridgeA.jpg

The Steel Bridge – fold in mirrors, close your eyes & pray!

We did the fruit loop which was basically about a 35mile loop around orchards which reminded us so much of the Stellenbosch area in Cape Town. There were fruit stalls, vineyards and fields all along the way and also wineries and breweries. The whole drive was beautiful with Mt Hood in front of us and Mt St Helens behind, just couldn't stop photographing all this beauty. We stopped at Full Sail Brewery for a lovely tasting of different ales.

Hood_River_7D_041B.jpg Beer_tastingA.jpg

A few Beers to sample

From there it was a short walk to the Naked Winery. The names of their wines are apt for the winery name. Orgasmic Chardonnay, Penetration Red, Climax Cab Sav., etc

Hood_River_7D_046A.jpg Hood_River_7D_045A.jpg

Wine anyone?

It was on this route that I got a headache. No, it was not from fruits, fresh or fermented! We have been keeping the laundry basket, which is filled with spare linen and towels and also a brand new 2L bottle of washing liquid, in the spare part above the drivers cab. Well, during a smart manoeuvre of the RV that Charl had to do, this came crashing down and hit me on the head like a tonne of bricks! I didn't realise what had happened until I saw the basket and contents on the floor. Needless to say the linen basket now has a new place.

Hood_River_40D_005_A.jpg Hood_River_7D_035A.jpg

Taqui at Work & Taqui at Play

large_Hood_River_7D_016A.jpg

From many areas we were treated to wonderful views of Mt Hood

We ended off our stay in this lovely part of Oregon by sitting on the grass down by the beach at the river, having one last look at the kite surfers flying their kites in the strong wind and also watching the families sitting on the grass banks, enjoying the sunshine. We actually tried to book into the campsite for another night, even before arriving, but unfortunately the whole of Hood River was booked up. So, that meant no kite for Charl – but he can always do that in Noosa!

large_Hood_River_Kites.jpg

Hood River Events Park - Charl counted 82 kites in the sky at one stage.

Posted by Taqui 17:43 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Washington State


View Americantravels on Taqui's travel map.


Our last night in Seattle after disembarking from the Cruise Ship. We were in an AirBnB again, but in a different part of Vancouver. Beautiful views of the Vancouver skyline by night.

large_7D_023ASeattle_at_sunset.jpg
Vancouver skyline by night

Monday 1st August - The start of the next part of our adventure....
Early rise - Yawn..... We left for Seattle on the Amtrak Cascades train from Vancouver to Seattle at 6.30 a.m. so it was a rather early start to the day!

The train ride went well, although, somehow we were not on the train we thought we had booked for. Anyhow the scenery was very pretty, the train very comfortable and we had free Wi-Fi for most of journey, which kept Charl and I busy.

Our greeting in Seattle was overcast and chilly but the sun soon peeped out and it warmed up, so much so that later on in the day, we had the aircon working overtime in the RV.

Washington_7D_043.jpg
Our Home for the next 3 months

We picked up the RV, which was clean and well stocked, thanks to Neil Scheibe and family, who drove it up to Seattle. All was fine and we drove, getting used to the right hand side of the road, off to camp site No 1, which we had booked from the ship, given we had limited coms from which to book. And that we would be staying in a city, during major school holidays and not knowing where we were going. After disembarking to collect the RV, we took the third go 'at getting a site', and we were getting desperate to find one. The reviews on the net seemed good.

The actual site was not so good. Sleepless in Seattle.....not the movie.... but us!! OMG we were alongside a bloody highway!!! The 'site' - actually a gravel patch - cheek by jowl with RV’s, was convenient to where we had to collect the scooter rack the following day, so there was some good in it. On the positive side, it gave us a place and time to get unpacked, sort out and reorganize cupboard space. Given our early start to the day, we were almost asleep on our feet by the time we went to bed.

We had a small hitch with the stamping of our passport into the USA, we have October 21 stamped as our exit date but we are booked to leave NYC on October 23rd. This came about as we could only get a 90 day on-line visa and with the cruise leaving from Canada, but entering into USA waters, we lost a few days to USA. We were assured it would alter when we got back to Canada and exited for the USA but, not everything goes according to plan, and that did not happen. We either need to beg forgiveness and see if we can extend our visa, or alter our dates somewhere, to leave two days earlier than planned. We will be working on this in the near future.

Okay, so by now you are saying to yourself 'how come no photo's as yet? Charl spent the morning calling around trying to find a scooter for us to put onto the back of the van, to make life easier for getting around. And this is proving to be more of a challenge than anticipated. As well as this, it has taken way too many calls to find a park to move into from here......phew.....finally found one! Also, we found that Google maps on the iPad were just not working for us, so we invested in a GPS. We certainly will be happy to exit city life on the 5th and head for the hills or mountains, we are feeling too stressed being in the city and feel like country bumpkins.

The days seem to start off overcast and a little cool, but it soon warms up, which is great because we did not bring any winter clothes.

We packed up camp and headed to the city where, luckily, we found parking not too far from where we wanted to begin our sight-seeing. Seattle is a very pretty city, but traffic-wise the third busiest in America, so the traffic is heavy. So having to park the large RV in the city was a challenge!

We did a 'Ride the Duck tour', our first 'duck tour' and it was lots of fun. For those who don't know what it is, it's an amphibious vehicle. So we started on wheels touring around the city with a driver/pilot and a comedian of a guide. All the highlights and buildings were pointed out to us as we drove along. Then we came to a slipway and the bus turned into a boat and bobbed around the waters of Seattle, taking in the views of the city, which was a pretty cool way of seeing it. After the tour we took a walk through Olympia Park which is about 14 acres of park and houses some lovely sculptures. There is also an amphitheatre here which was donated by Bill and Melinda Gates who live in Seattle and of course have funded quite a bit to the city.

7D040A_Duck_Ride.jpg 7D_059__2_.._Duck_Pilot.jpg

Ride the Duck & Our Pilot and Funny Guide

We went to the EMP (Experience Music Project museum) museum which is dedicated to rock music, science fiction and popular culture through exhibits and interactive installations. We were running out of parking meter time by now and had to give up taking this tour.

large_EMP.jpg
Experience Music Project Museum

The traffic was hectic, and we took about an hour and half to get to our RV Park, which is about 25 miles out of the city. It was stop start traffic jams for ages and ages before we got onto the freeway. And even on the 5 lane freeway, the traffic just crawled.

Moved to Issaquah RV park in the suburb located about 17 miles (27 km) east of Seattle. MMm...Alongside another highway but we found that a little bit of a nightcap helps the situation! Amazing, we had just set up camp and flown our small Aussie Flag (we have a SA sticker on the back of the RV), when a couple from New South Wales, Oz, and their adult son appeared. They were SO happy to see another Aussie couple; they brought their drinks over and stayed that long that we thought they would never leave!

The following morning we set off in rather a hurry. Seattle had air and marine shows, and the main bridge to the city, which is on the freeway, was being closed at 9.30. This Charl found out when he went to the office to pay for our site. Just made it over the bridge with the lights flashing “bridge closing’. There is a good monorail system in town and the town is vibrant and pretty with trees, hanging baskets and planter boxes. We took the monorail to Pike Place Markets which was extremely busy so we had just a quick look and then to the viewing point and then went to view the gum wall - an entire wall onto which people have stuck old gum - Yuck, even got some stuck under our shoes!

7D_105_A_Pike_Market.jpg Gum_Wall.jpg

Pike Market & Gum wall

Andrew, Debbie and our grand-daughters had visited last year when they were in Seattle, so we went along to take pics to send back to the girls so they can see 'Marney and Pops' went to the same places as they did.

Thereafter we sat on the steps at the space needle, listened to the buskers (of which there are plenty) and watched the people go by whilst we had lunch. Jets were flying over at intervals during the day and making a very low and loud appearance.

Space_Needle.jpg 7D_127_A_Seattle_Locals.jpg

Space Needle & a few Seattle locals

Finally got back to our RV Park after another one and a half hour drive.

Our exit from camp site through the town of Issaquah was very pretty and within minutes we were amongst groves of trees. The 81 mile drive to Mount Rainier National Park was beautiful and the mountains, with snow tipped tops were a majestic sight! It did mean we were without Comms for two days as we were high up in the mountains. Amazing how we are all so used to permanent internet coverage, that we almost feel as if our arm has been cut off without having access for a while!

Paula and Brian, if you are reading this, you will be interested. At an outlook point along the way, we asked a chap to take the photo below and he instantly said 'are you from Australia' - seems our accents must be changing! He went on to introduce us to his wife and two young kids, a girl of about 8 and a boy of around 6. He said 'you know of the Cochlear association which began in Australia, well both of our kids were born profoundly deaf, due to a genetic defect, and have Cochlear implants’. We went on to tell them of Gaby's great Cochlear implant success story. Their son had his at 10 months and daughter at 2 years as they held out for the newest one for her. Amazing, and what a lovely family they were, I could have adopted them!

Washington_7D_005_A.jpg
RV & Mt Rainier in the background

Not all goes according to plan; when we arrived at Cougar Rock on Mt Rainier within the park, where we intended to stay for two nights, we were greeted with a 'we are full' sign. It had already been full by 8 am. The park ranger told us that weekends are a no go for getting into parks, and again, it is school holidays. We had to leave the national park and found a place about four miles out. So we could easily return the next day to do some walking and sightseeing. This was not quite what we visualised but, slowly but surely we are working up the rungs of the ladder. Eventually we will be camping by a river with beautiful views!!!

There were no comms, no mobile connection, and we were not 'hooked up', which means that we had no provided services, such as electricity, water or dump facilities. No problems because the van is equipped with generator, water tanks and loo, shower and basin, we were fine.

large_0458F9DBE7350722D933AAFDAC3CDE64.jpg
Mt Rainier - see the glacier in the middle

We drove back into the national park the following morning and walked for miles and miles and more miles to view three different waterfalls. This was our type of 'what we wanted to see’ trip. I cannot believe that Charl did not complain once! In fact, it was me, at the last waterfall, which had a steep gradient, who was lagging behind!

The first waterfall is for you, Lindsy, as it was called Carter Falls, a lovely scenic and easy route up to the fall, the smallest of the three we saw that day.

Washington_7D_023.jpg
Carter Falls

The next fall was about a 3 mile drive from there. This one was for you, Christine; yes, Christine Falls.

Washington..stine_falls.jpg
Christine Falls

From Christine falls we had a long uphill walk over rocky terrain, lots of tree roots to negotiate, timber steps etc., and eventually after about 3 miles, (it was almost an 'are we there yet daddy') situation, we arrived at...this is for you Patti Bennie.....Comet Falls. Remember when you and Jack woke Charl and I up at about 2am in 1986 ringing the doorbell saying 'open up your pub, we need to celebrate Halleeeyy's Commmmmet with you. This waterfall was certainly well worth the hike, it was amazing!!!

Washington..Comet_falls.jpg
Comet Falls

Here we met a delightful couple from Oregon who were keen hikers. He said ‘we love our food so we hike so that we can eat'. They had come out for a day trip and she needed to be back by dark to check on her horses.

BTW - some have asked. It is possible to view a map of our route by clicking on" View Americantravels on Taqui's travel map" just below the section Heading. You can then increase or decrease the size of the map using the + and - signs.

Posted by Taqui 16:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Inside Passage of Alaska

We boarded the big ship 'Infinity' on the 24th July, this was our first taste to cruising and we hope to do more in the future, the bug has bitten! This is the largest ocean vessel that Charl and I have been on, (up until now it had been a 52 foot Catamaran), you can see in the photo of her below, all 965 feet, that this one is quite a 'beast', by comparison.

CIN-160724..3646815_GPR.jpg
Our home for the next 7 days

We left Vancouver on a beautiful sunny clear day as seen below and it slowly became cloudy and damp through the Inside Passage of Alaska and remained so most of the time. With one in every three on board being a crew member, the service was quite exceptional and the food and booze choices, were never ending and we will disembark as new persona... 'Michelin Man and Mrs Piggy'.....or perhaps 'Dozy and thunder thighs!

CIN-160724..3649609_GPR.jpg
Very Happy Taqui & Charl Boarding

Fat_Lady.jpg Old_Man.jpg
Different shape Taqui & Charl at end of cruise!

The main aim of the cruise was for us to see Hubbard Glacier and after three nights at sea, and an afternoon stop at Icy Strait Point, we finally arrived (on the 27th) and saw it, in all its beauty, as we started to make our way into Yakutat Bay. At the entry point, we started to see pieces of ice floating in the water, large and small and realised that we were not too far from the glacier. At some stage during the night, we had picked up an Alaskan Pilot, who guided the ship into the bay and then we cruised around, seeing it from all angles, for about an hour and 20 minutes. During this time, we took in the breath-taking colours, listened to the 'thunder' as the ice bergs fell into the sea, before leaving to begin our way to Juneau.

large_IMG_1136_A.jpg

An iPhone photo of Hubbard Glacier to give perspective of its size

084_A.jpg
Just a small portion of Hubbard Glacier - photos don't really do it justice

Contrary to what we are told regarding global warming, we learnt that when a glacier calves i.e. a berg falls off the glacier, it is in fact a good sign and not a bad one. It is not due to global warming, but rather, it indicates a healthy glacier.

071_A_floa..ice_Hubbard.jpg
Floating Ice at Hubbard Glacier

Our impression of Juneau, which we visited on the 28th, was of a pretty town with very friendly people. It is also the capital of Alaska, where parliament apparently sits and does nothing for six months and then they go on vacation for the rest of the year! It was drizzling when we boarded a bus to take us up to Mendenhall Glacier, but by the time we reached the stop, the rain too, had stopped. We were extremely lucky as apparently it had rained all week, cleared up for us and since Juneau gets 230 rainy days a year, it was a good day.

050_A.jpg 40D_022_A.jpg

Mendenhall Glacier & Up close & almost personal

I wasn't going to miss any photo opportunities so went armed with both cameras. Thankfully I had my 'Everywhere man' with me, who acted as my gopher and carried the heaviest of the two cameras for me. He even took some good shots with it. I have him in training! Here he is, still smiling for the camera, even after having to work so hard.

045_A_Mendenhall_glacier.jpg
Everywhere man working for his keep at Mendenhall Glacier

After seeing this beautiful glacier, which is receding quite rapidly, (apparently it will hardly be there in 50 years' time), on the other hand, some glaciers are increasing in size. There are only 42 miles of road in Juneau and the only way to reach Juneau, is by sea or plane. It was our intention to see the salmon run and photograph bald headed Eagles, but as we were about to hail a cab, it began to rain. We made the decision to head back to the ship, rather than get rain splattered photographs. We were sure to see this in Ketchikan, which was our next stop.

7D_044_A_Salmon_berry.jpg
A Salmon Berry which the Bears eat

We arrived in Ketchikan the following afternoon at 2:30pm having sailed all through the night and following morning. The weather was partly cloudy and around 14C but felt warmer. This was a busy port, seaplanes taking off and landing, fishing boats coming and going and helicopters whizzing overhead - shortly before we came in to dock, we were parallel to the airport, so were really close to large planes taking off.

7D_063.jpg
Ketchikan Welcome

40D_002A_Ketchikan_port.jpg
Ketchikan Harbour

Whoop whoop......saw the salmon run!!! These fish are so determined, it is quite amazing to watch them struggle and fight against the current, in fact at this point, it was a waterfall, in order to get upstream. When they are adults and about five years old, they go back to where they were born, spawn and then die. We saw heaps who had made it up stream and lots of dead ones too. Quite sad really, they get one season of bonking and that's it, good-bye...nature is cruel. An interesting fact, is that the bald headed Eagles come along and take the dead fish, but leave the inners and head, the Bears then come along finish off the rest of the fish, those parts of the fish, is what fattens up the Bears for their hibernation time.

40D_010A_salmon_run.jpg
Salmon Run

We had the nights of the 29th and 30th out on the ocean enjoying the activities on board, and docked back in Vancouver early on Sunday 31st, greeted by warm beautiful weather.

This was a very worthwhile trip, good sights, a great holiday as everything was done for us, bed made, turned down at night etc., we decided to take full advantage of it and didn't do any exercise, although there was a walking track around the ship as well as a very well equipped gym. We instead chose the arm lifting and jaw chewing exercises!

Posted by Taqui 16:17 Comments (1)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 17) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 »