Monday, July 13, 2015

Hurricane Hill - best hike ever?

Yesterday we wrapped up our weekend in Port Angeles by heading up to Hurricane Ridge. I remember going there on a trip oh so many years ago before I moved to Seattle. It was the same spectacular destination I remember, down to the deer roaming all over the place. I don't think I did the hike to Hurricane Hill all those years ago but yesterday, it was one of the loveliest hikes ever. It rained a little bit but even that wasn't a big issue. The clouds had rolled in making for dramatic if not expansive views. There were forests and wildflower, marmots, and more deer. It was gorgeous hike on a beautiful day.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Port Angeles - What Happened to all the Sunshine??

view from our room (click photo for full panorama)
We had another full week of sunshine in Seattle last week and wanted to make the most of what we assumed would be another glorious weekend, so Cheryl and I took Friday off and drove to Port Angeles. Originally, we had a great weekend planned in Whistler, but there are an inordinate number of wildfires burning in British Columbia right now and after looking at some live video and reading some news articles (findings: the air quality in Whistler was compared to that of Beijing and the mayor of Whistler was encouraging people to stay indoors - Indoors? In Whistler??) I cancelled the hotel reservation and we decided to come to Port Angeles instead. We arrived at the Red Lion on Friday afternoon, checked into our very nice waterfront room, and strolled around the town.
Cheryl and the rocktopus
Today we got up early and went sea kayaking. The good news: the Straight of Juan de Fuca was calm and almost glassy; the bad news: it rained almost the entire time we were on the water. Oh well, that's what wet-suits (Spanx of the sea) are for. Cheryl and I thought it was a bit of over-kill when our guide Brogan told us to suit up, but it turned out to be a good move. It rained fairly steadily, but the padding was very pleasant, as was our guide, and we saw otters (bunnies of the sea), a harbor seal (puppies of the sea), cormorants (they're just birds, I got nothin'), sea stars, and lots of bull kelp. Nice way to spend the  morning.

After we kayaked, we stopped at a homey cafe for a late breakfast, and then drove to the Lake Crescent Lodge. I've passed by Lake Crescent many times but have never stopped lake-side before. It's a beautiful clear blue lake and lodge looks like a wonderful place to stay. From there we did a fairly easy hike (in the rain but sheltered by the trees) to Marymere Falls which was gorgeous.
Lake Crescent
Back in town we did a little more perusing of the shops and then had Thai food for dinner. When I was a kid, my parents and I used to drive 90 minutes from Sacramento to Berkeley because that's what you had to do to get Thai food back in the old days. Now you can get perfectly good Thai food in industrial port towns in rural Washington. Progress, people, this is progress.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Rolling on the River

It was a long weekend for the 4th of July this year, hot-hot-hot outside, and staying home and doing nothing in the heat was not an option. Cheryl didn't have plans either so at the last minute, I decided we needed to find something to do in/around fresh water, and we ended up spending the 4th in a raft on the Wenatchee River. We left Friday morning and stopped in Leavenworth for lunch. It must have been close to 100 degrees out and while Leavenworth is a cute little alpine town, we just didn't have it in us to walk around in the blazing sun and wander through looking at the shops and
things. Instead we continued straight through to Wenatchee and checked into our nicely air conditioned room at the Coast Hotel. Look, I admit it, we're wimps when it comes to the heat (and the cold. And if there are lots of bugs). We can power through when we need to, we've been to Thailand together, after all, but we didn't really feel like walking around the booming metropolis that is [not] downtown Wenatchee so we got a few snacks from the health food store across the street and stayed in for the evening. We had to meet the river guide at 9am the next day so we got up early and stopped in the lovely little Anjou Bakery
which I'd been to years ago in the town of Cashmere and got coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and then made our way to the meeting spot. A lot of people had the same idea we did for the 4th and there were enough people in the group to fill five rafts. We decided we wanted to go with the guide named Hudson who greeted us when we arrived, and pounced on a nice looking family of 4 from Virginia who were vacationing in the Northwest and suggested they go in Hudson's raft too.

We had a blast. The river wasn't running super-fast, mostly class II, I'd say, with a few thrilling class III parts that were really fun. The Virginians were nice company, Ray and Kathy were the mom and dad, and Tracy and Steven were their high-school and college-age daughter and son. Hudson helped us get to know each other by asking a lot of questions (mostly water-activity-related), and pointed out interesting things on the river (like Steve Miller's vacation house; we should have knocked on the door and solved the age-old mystery of what the hell a "pompitous of love" is), while teaching us how to paddle for maximum efficiency, and expertly steering our raft.

We stopped about a third of the way down for a lunch of sandwiches and lemonade and for a cooling swim. Then, we were back in the rafts and heading downstream. There were some pretty gnarly rapids on the last two thirds of the way, and two of the other rafts got stuck on the rocks and a couple people even went overboard. Hudson steered us toward one of the floaters and when we got our raft right next to him, I, employing the rescue technique Hudson had taught us, grabbed the lapels of his life jacket, pushed him down enough to gain some extra buoyancy, and then pulled him up and into the raft. Dude outweighed me by a good many pounds but he popped right up and right into our raft. I will note this heroic (my assessment) rescue in the unlikely event that I decide to join the Coast Guard.
That happened close to the end of the trip and we got out shortly thereafter and pulled out of the river back where our cars were parked. We were tired but exhilarated, as well as totally cooled off. We hit the road for home and got back in plenty of time for the fireworks.