A Travellerspoint blog

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Mountains and deserts at incredible temperatures

Written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 48 °C
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Once we had left Yosemite, it was fascinating to see how quickly the landscape changed.

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The road dropped quickly towards Lee Vinings at Mono Lake. It was tempting to stay at one of the National Forest campgrounds next to lakes with great vistas along the road – but they were all full and anyhow after three days without electrical hookup, we wanted to fill up our batteries. Consequently, we went down into Lee Vinings and arrived before 5pm such that our reserved campground was still available for us.
We did take a bit of time to explore Mono Lake and to read about how it rapidly decreased in size after the city of LA started diverting water from the streams.

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The next morning, we left towards south and passing signs towards ‘Devils Postpile National Monument’ we decided that we wanted to have a look. We had not realized that we were not able to go all the way there, but had to use a shuttle bus. But as we had already gone up quite a bit into the mountains of Mammoth Lakes, we figured that we might as well do that.

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And it was quite a sight to see the basalt columns of Devil’s Postpile. It seems that there are only very few places in the world where this geological phenomenon can be observed so nicely.

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After the sightseeing, we treated ourselves to Bavarian food. Kind of: Sam’s Yodler Burger was not too different vs. any other burger he had so far and I would have classified my Bavarian Chilli as just a regular chilli. After all, at least I am not aware of any typical food that is anything like a chilli in Bavaria.
Heading down towards Bishop and Big Pine we suddenly saw a sign advertising hot springs. We did not want to spend the money to stay at the RV park there, but realized that a bit further down there were a couple of other cars parked and there were people in swimsuits. So we tried our luck and enjoyed soaking in the hot water before heading on to our place for the night.

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The next day it was then time to get into Death Valley. On the way there we passed some nice mountains and also the National Historical Site of Manzanar. We did not stop there though and rather headed on to our hot destination.

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And yes, it was extremely hot. Neither one of us has ever been in such a heat before – well apart from in a sauna. The thermometer at Furnace Creek read 119 °F (48.3 °C) at 218ft below sea level.

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So Death Valley really counts as desert. We do love deserts, but fairly enough, Death Valley in the height of summer was after all just too hot for us. Due to the temperatures not even jumping dunes was an option. It seems that the only thing searching out such hot temperatures were fighter jet pilots (we saw an F18 passing just a bit in front of our car and it was really low!), test car drivers (Erlkönige) and tourists from far away. We clearly belonged to the last category and limited ourselves to viewing the sites from the car and just getting out for very quick stops such as the lowest point of the USA called Badwater or Artist's Palette and eventually retreating to our campground.

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We were easily able to resist the urge to play golf on the world’s lowest golf course. But the pool was very tempting and it was such a big relief to get out of the heat into the pool. Still, it was fascinating to see how the biggest pool we’ve seen so far on our travels was located in the middle of one of the hottest deserts of the world.

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At the pool we also met Jerry and got to talk a bit. Jerry is from Florida and came to Death Valley to support his friend Jodie to run the ‘Badwater135’ ultra marathon. We had seen a couple of cars with signs ‘Careful – runners on the road’, but had not realized what this was about. So for those who don’t know (i.e. just like us): the Badwater135 is a race over 135 miles (or 217 km) from the lowest to the trail head to the highest point Mt Whitney in the continuous 48 US states. It takes place on purpose in the extreme summer heat and all runners are supported by a crew of three people who join them running for the most parts of their run. So while Jerry was ‘just’ a crew member, he would be running 40 miles in the next day. And he told us that just a couple of weeks ago he had been running a 100 mile ultra marathon in Florida…

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We were thunderstruck. This was just way too crazy. And even though the Badwater135 site clearly says that the run is not intended to be viewed by spectators and that the recommended options to see it are competing, serving as crew or following on social media, we did watch the race. At 1pm we went out to the road and observed how the runners were passing after their first 17 miles by the checkpoint at the place we stayed overnight. Wow!

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We did sleep a bit overnight. But quite frankly, we did not sleep really well. It was just way too hot despite having the aircon running in the camper van. So we were happy to go to the pool again first thing in the morning before eventually leaving Death Valley via Zabriskie Point towards Las Vegas.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 14:29 Archived in USA Tagged desert springs death valley pool hot point marathon basin heat deepest mono temperatures Comments (1)

Summer splurge in Las Vegas

Las Vegas

sunny 45 °C
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To get a first impression of Las Vegas, we could not hesitate to take a detour via the Strip. And yes, it was quite a change seeing the masses of people and traffic after having been out in the nature for the last couple of days.

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We had made reservations at the Las Vegas ‘KOA at ‘Sam’s Town’ already a couple of days ago in order to have some packages sent to the KOA in our name. The place had been recommended to us already back in Sedona by the Germans we had met there and they were right: it is a very practical campground fairly central in Las Vegas with unmatched rates given the amenities even including a free shuttle bus to the strip. We had nice evening lights coming from the Eastside Cannery Hotel and Casino in the back of our spot.

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Las Vegas was significantly cooler than Death Valley, but still way too hot after we’ve gotten used to the temperate coast of California. So our first outing was to the pool and that’s also how we started our next day.
We then headed towards the Strip to do some sightseeing and people watching. Even though we only spent some time at Treasure Island, the Mirage and the Venetian, we did get quite a good impression of the awesome buildings, features and shows the hotels are putting up there in order to lure people into their casinos.

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We were back just in time for our Cirque de Soleil show ‘Mystere’ at Treasure Island. And as expected, the show was unbelievably great. It’s just always fascinating to see the storyline interwoven with acrobatics, the music, humorous elements and seeing so many details happening in parallel such that there’s not a single second of boredom coming up. The tickets were not really cheap and it did cost us a bit of decision taking before deciding, but it was definitively worth every single cent of it.

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On the way back home, Sam and I would have loved to wander the nightly streets of Vegas, but considering how late it was and how exhausted Max was after his first circus experience, it was clear that we’d go home straight away. But as our path led us down a bit of the Strip anyhow, we got to see at least a bit of Vegas by night – specifically the famous fountains in front of the Bellagio Hotel.

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The next day we were on separate missions: Sam ticked off his long time bucket list item to go to a shooting range. He took the hotel shuttle into town and got picked up there by an open Military Hummer H1. Knowing how much he loves this car / tank, the outing was off to a great start. At ‘Battlefield Las Vegas’ he was then invited to choose the package he’d like to go for. And probably he was a bit envious of the four Canadians just in front of him who payed 1,600 $ to do the ‘modern warfare package’, but stayed reasonable to just go for the standard ‘Black OPS’ package.
Still, he was excited about the professionalism of the all retired army / marines / air-force staff and he loved the shooting with the various arms he had booked. I have not checked the target (which he got to take as a souvenir, just like the ‘19$ value t-shirt’), but according to Sam’s account he did very well except for one of the machine guns which surprised him a bit and consequently got him off target. All in all, he was happy. More than happy.

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Before heading back to the campground, he walked much more of the Strip than what would be possible in our usual group of three. He was specifically impressed by Cesar's Palace, the Bellagio Fountains and by the great people watching. Eventually he ended the afternoon at a sports-bar before taking the bus shuttle back to our home base.

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In the meantime, Max and I took our camper van to a local garage, had a full inspection done, got the oil changed and invested into new breaks. Fortunately enough, the waiting are of the garage featured some car magazines and air-conditioning. And with an intermediate excursion to get lunch at a nearby mall, Max and I were quite exhausted. After all, Las Vegas at midday is not too much cooler vs. Death Valley. Depending at which site we looked in the internet, we had 45 °C at a real feel of 51 °C or 111 °F equivalent to 119 °F real feel… Whatever it was in reality, it was very hot.
Once the car was fixed and an extensive visit to the playground we headed back in order to jump into the pool to cool off a bit. Sam was back just in time to join us and we had fun…
A bit later in the evening we took advantage of the free water & laser show at the Sam’s Town hotel. It was nicely done and as usual we were amazed at the broad display of national pride with national anthems, flags, songs etc. This is something I have never ever seen in Germany, where only since the soccer world cup in 2006 it started to be socially acceptable to display a German flag in public. Let’s see if this will even change. Until it does, we’ll need to continue enjoying the national pride shown in countries like the USA, France or others.

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The next day we just enjoyed a very lazy day without any sightseeing or errands at all. We just stayed in our campground and spent lots of time at the pool. We also extensively used our laptop to bring the blog up to date and to get the pictures of the last couple of days sorted out and edited.
Still, one day of not doing anything seems to be the absolute limit of what we can bear, so without much thinking it was clear that we’d head onwards the next day.
Heading out of Las Vegas, we all waved back to the city. We had enjoyed our stay there and will definitively come back some time. There’s just so much to see and do there. And while many things to do are coming at a hefty price tag, there are lots of things for free or much cheaper than in other places.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 05:12 Archived in USA Tagged las vegas circus pool range strip shooting garage cirque Comments (0)

Utah’s spectacular (& crowded) national parks

Quail Creek State Park, Zion NP, Bryce Canyon NP, Torrey

semi-overcast 32 °C
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Quite frankly, even at the risk of being very unfair to the state of Nevada, there’s nothing else we did there beyond visiting Las Vegas. And interestingly enough, the nice and interesting landscapes started just after we passed the borderline to Arizona (just for a couple of miles) and then shortly after to Utah.
We had a base plan in regards to where to stay overnight. Freecampsites.net features a nice place just before the entrance to Zion National Park and that’s where we wanted to go. After all, it was Saturday in the middle of vacation season and consequently all reservation campgrounds in the National Park were full and the recommendation for getting a first come – first serve campground was to be there between 5 and 6am: so clearly not an option for us.
As usual, we took opportunities as they came along and wanted to try our luck at a KOA campground close to St. George. On the way there, we passed a Quail Creek State Park and realized that it was beautifully located next to a lake and had nice shaded tables at all campsites. So we tried our luck and could hardly believe it that a) there were still spaces available and b) the single electrical hook up site was still available as well. Great – this way we’d be able to have our air-con running in the can tonight such that temperatures will be bearable.

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After a dip in the lake, Sam impressed me with some great car fixing. He installed the pieces for the doors we had ordered to the KOA in Las Vegas using his small, but flexible tool kit. And now our side door works again – hooray!

The next day, we were quite positively surprised that we still got a campsite at Zion National Park’s South campground. Lucky us… So we immediately reserved for two nights, set up camp and then headed off to explore the Visitor Center and the Pa’rus Trail. Given the heat we eventually took a right turn down to the Virgin River where we spent the rest of the day hanging out in and around the water.
In the evening we invited Ralf, a German motorbiker who moved to the US already years ago after winning a green-card in the lottery. It proved to be an excellent decision to invite him to join us on our site – he has travelled pretty much all of the western states of the US and Canada and was happy to share lots of tips and recommendations with us. So with his help, we were able to get a feeling what to see and visit specifically on our way from Moab to Yellowstone and then onwards from there to Seattle / Vancouver.
The next day was dedicated to exploring the Zion valley. The views of the sheer rock faces to both sides of the valley were really impressive. But less impressive were the masses of people being shuttled by bus from one viewpoint to the next. We chose the Riverside Walk that is leading to the Narrows – a walk that I had hiked already some 23 years ago. And either my memory was playing tricks on me or something about it was different this time. But while I clearly recall other people taking the hike and then continuing onwards through the river (which back then impressed me very, very much), this time it felt that we were walking the streets of a busy city – that’s how crowded it was. Unfortunately not much fun. And even though we might have found a bit more solitude on some other walks, by the time we got back to the shuttle bus, we rather wanted to just get out of the masses and back to our nice campground and eventually to a spot in the river to cool off.

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On our way out of the park in the next morning we got to see some nice vistas of the valley from above. And while very different from the valley floor, we really liked the landscape up there very much. We would have loved to go for the Valley Overview Trail, but due to lack of parking spots and enormous traffic in that location, there was simply no chance at all to do it.

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Thus we continued our journey through some absolutely nice landscapes towards Bryce Canyon. On our way we could not resist the temptation to stop at a German Bakery to get a loaf of ‘real’ German bread – the price was outrageous by German standards, but the taste was absolutely worth it.
Eventually we passed Red Canyon which featured stunning colors even in the midday sun. Soon after we reached Bryce Canyon and once again were lucky to still get a campground in early afternoon. But as soon as the spot was secured, it was time to explore the sights of the national park.

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Unfortunately, some clouds had formed, bringing not only a bit of rain, but also thunderstorms.
Before heading to the main and most popular viewpoints, we took the scenic route to the southern end of the park at Rainbow Point. All of us were freezing and were simply not used to not seeing the sun and getting wet – after all had seen our last 30 min episode of trickly rain in La Paz, Mexico and the last real rain back at Mesa Verde in mid-May.

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By the time we worked our way up again towards Inspiration Point, on the of the main viewpoints in the park, the sun was out again and we got to the probably the best view the park has to offer in perfect light and at pleasant temperatures again.

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Given that our campground was very close to Inspiration Point, we took another hike there later towards sunset and were there just in time for perfect light.

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The other big asset of Bryce Canyon next to its spectacular ‘hoodoos’ – that’s how the columns in the park are called – is the clear and dark nightly sky. Sam took a shot at trying to get some shots of the milky way to match the ones he had taken back in Mexico. He was very pleased with the results and to his big pride even managed to catch a shooting star in one of the pictures.

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The next morning was dedicated to driving along the Scenic Byway 12. And yes, it was very scenic giving lots of reasons to stop and take pictures. We specifically liked the views of the Staircase Escalante – a very remote wilderness.
We had planned to go all the way to Capitol Reef National Park and therefore did not take any of the many detours the Scenic Byway had on offer. And given all the switchbacks and curves along the way we did not nearly progress as fast as we had anticipated. So eventually after a stop in Bicknell to get a car part exchanged and our parking brake adjusted on the van, we resorted to stay in Torrey for the night. After a couple of days in national park campgrounds it was time again for a proper shower and we looked forward to having some wifi (which was in vain, as it did not really work). Still, the facilities with pool, basketball court and a large area for kids to play ballgames was worth the investment.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:49 Archived in USA Tagged rain lake valley wilderness crowd zion thunder bryce escalante viewpoint Comments (1)

The National Parks around Moab

Capitol Reef NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP

semi-overcast 37 °C
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We had a full day’s worth of activities in front of us and consequently started earlier than usual. The first place on our list was the scenic drive in Capitol Reef National Park, the least visited of Utah’s five national parks.
Once more we were impressed by the scenery and the ever changing landscapes around us. But even more so we liked our stop at the orchard on the way out again: it was apricot season and we had lots of fun picking them. In the process, we treated ourselves to eat many of them and eventually could not resist to take five pounds with us.

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After a bit of a break in the shade of large trees next to the river, we continued our journey towards Little White Horse Canyon. After all, we had met a French and a German family who had been equally impressed by the hike and highly recommended it to us. And they promised that it would not be too crowded – which we perceived as a big plus given the many people we had around us in Zion and Bryce National Parks.
Already the way there was very nice and there were lots of photo opportunities along the route.

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By the time we arrived at the trail head, grey clouds were looming over the canyon and we had a bit of concerns as if it was safe to go in or not. But fortunately by the time we had finished lunch, the clouds had left and we were safe to go.
And we really liked the hike. After a bit of a hike along a wash in the glaring afternoon sun, the interesting part started with a bit of climbing over some rocks stuck in the narrower parts of the canyon and soon after we found ourselves in a slot canyon which somewhat resembled Antelope Canyon – except that we had it alone for ourselves and the light was not as perfect as it had been there.

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After our drive it was time for the last stretch of road for today to reach Moab. And it was faster than expected, as it was the first time we were allowed to drive 80 mph on an interstate.
And arriving in Moab also meant taking a bit of a timeout from traveling around. We had booked a spot in the local KOA campground for three nights and used that time to just relax a bit. Our main activities consisted of going to the pool, playing table tennis and mini golf. And we also caught up with our families back home and got the blog entries up to Las Vegas uploaded and published.
While I had really needed that break, Sam was already keen to move on. So eventually we moved on again. Our first stop was in town at the Moab Brewery to get some lunch. The food was excellent and great value for money.
We then headed on to Canyonlands NP and enjoy the grand vistas of the canyons the Colorado and Green River have carved. The part of the park is called Island in the Sky for a good reason – only a narrow bridge allows to access the large table that is surrounded by canyons on all sides.
Then it was time for getting a bit of exercise and we hiked to Mesa Arch which is located in a spectacular spot right along the cliffs going down towards the canyons.

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Our campground was on top of the Canyonlands area, just outside the park and with clouds and thunderstorms approaching we felt a bit exposed. In the end it was not too bad after all. We got treated to a nice sunset and the storm must have decided to change its direction such that we only got a bit of rain.

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The next day we started with a hike of the two trails at our campground before hitting the road and checking out Arches NP. The park is amazing and we loved the different rock formations and obviously the arches. Max’ favorite was Sand Dune Arch – less for the arch, but much more so for the huge sand dune underneath it. Sam even hiked the bit further to also get a glimpse of Broken Arch while we continued enjoying the sand.

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In the late afternoon we even attempted the hike to Landscape Arch – luckily there was already a bit of shade by then. To do this hike at midday temperatures and full exposure to the sun would probably not have been a smart idea. Already along the way we got to see a couple of other arches and nice features.

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Even though the top attraction in Arches is the hike to Delicate Arch – the official landmark of the park and of the state of Utah – we did not attempt it. We were fine with all the other sights we had seen such as Balancing Rock. And we’re pretty sure that this was a wise decision and we were much better off with just retreating to our campground along the Colorado River.

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The next morning, we had a very early start to get into Moab, as Sam had arranged for a motorbike tour with a KTM 350. Renting a motorbike and going offroad had been on his list of things to do on our trip. And which place would be better suited for that other than Moab?
And he was happy to having gone. There were lots of offroad trails for motorized vehicles to choose from (and there would have been even more for mountainbikes). His favorite trail was the ‘Cliffhanger’ where at certain instances he had to think through if he dares to go down the steep inclines, as afterwards he’d need to be sure to get up again on his own.

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But also Max and my day was filled with lots of fun. After exploring the local BMX park and enjoying the rides there, we headed to the city pool where Sam met us once he was done motorbiking.
After having excellent food at legendary Milt’s Stop and Eat, presumably one of Moab’s oldest diners (another recommendation we had taken from Jakob’s ’36 hours’ book), it was time to say good-bye to Moab and to head off towards the more northern and cooler parts of the country. Given that it was already quite late in the day, we did not go too far and stopped along the Colorado River again at Hittle Bottom campground. The location of the campground was simply great in what seemed to be an enormous natural amphitheater. The rock formations reminded us a lot of Monument Valley and we got to enjoy them in the great evening light.

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At night we were treated again to a beautiful night sky featuring the milky way and lots of shooting stars. And thanks to the camera suite Otmar sent to Sam, now Sam was even able to experiment with longer lens openings than the 30 sec maximum he had to deal with so far.

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Moab had been a nice place for staying a couple of days. The mix of national parks, adventures and lots of backcountry to explore makes the town a good base for spending some time.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 23:47 Archived in USA Tagged park canyon colorado national pool arch moab koa Comments (0)

Driving towards the Grand Tetons

Dinosaur NM, Flaming Gorge, Big Sandy, Jackson Hole, Grand Teton NP

semi-overcast 25 °C
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After our couple of days in Moab and surroundings our next big destination will be Yellowstone. There is no real must do tourist attraction along the way and we had not been sure for a long time if we should go via Salt Lake City or rather via Flaming Gorge. Ralf, our camping partner in Zion NP, convinced us that we’ll not regret it to pass by the Flaming Gorge and that’s what we wanted to do.
Our first travel day after a couple of days was dominated by the drive to Dinosaur National Monument, one of the biggest sites for dinosaur fossils. The fossil wall showing more than 1500 bones in their original position was very impressive. Unfortunately, the place was not really catering to the interests of kids, such that alternating Sam and I had to keep Max entertained. So we did not stay too long before heading on to our campground for the night.

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Once again we had a day of driving ahead of us with the Flaming Gorge being the highlight of that stretch. While most of the Flaming Gorge is now hidden by the large reservoir, there was still enough left to make a great impression on us.

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Eventually we went along the western shore line and eventually stopped at Big Sandy Reservoir for the night.
We did not expect too much of the location, but were amazed: we found a spot directly above the water. There was no wind at all and the lake lay in front of us like a mirror. And it was so quiet! We’ve been at many locations so far, but this struck us as one of the quietest places we’ve ever encountered. And it was also so remote that it was really dark at night such that once again we got treated to a nice view of the milky way.

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And finally on Friday we arrived in the early afternoon at Jackson, the gateway to the Grand Teton National Park. As we did not have a reservation for the night, we considered ourselves quite lucky to still get a slot in the Gros Ventre Campground along the southern boundary of the park.
We spent the rest of the day just taking it easy at our camp. And we were lucky to have with Terry and Lorrie great neighbors with whom we spent the evening playing Quirkle and Farkle. While Sam and I had been playing card and dice games quite a bit together, it was fun to play with others and to play different games again. So we just enjoyed and ignored our original plan of uploading Sam’s edited pictures and publishing the next blog posts. The posts will have to wait.
We spent the full next day to explore the park. Along the back roads we discovered a herd of bison. They were pretty unimpressed by us and enjoyed grazing against the backdrop of the Grand Teton mountains.

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For lunch we went down to the Snake River such that we could also observe the rafts starting and passing by in the river.
Approaching Jackson Lake and getting closer to the mountains, the clouds started drawing in. By the time we saw the first views of Jenny Lake along the trail we’d been hiking from String Lake thunder startled us and forced us to return to the car. On our way back to the campground Sam took a couple of attempts to catch lightning in a picture and was lucky in one of them.

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We’d been hoping to see some moose on the way back. While we did not get to see any moose, we were rewarded by seeing a rainbow.

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And as Max had been very patient over the last couple of days with the lots of driving we had done, he got the full next day to do just activities he likes. So he got to throw stones into Slide Lake and play lots of Lego. The alternating rain and thunderstorms did not allow for too many outside activities anyhow, so this was a fun and relaxing way to fill the day.
Eventually the rain subsided and we headed to Teton Village to take the free gondola up the mountain – a recommendation Lorrie and Terry had given us. By the time we got there, the sun was coming through the clouds nicely again. Already on our way up with the gondola we got to see a couple of marmots and a deer.
We enjoyed the view from the top, but did not wait too long before heading down again. With more than 3000 ft to descend at after 5pm, we rather wanted to get started. Once again we got to see marmots, lots of squirrels and chipmunks. Half way down the mountain, there was a trickle of rain and enough distant thunder to scare us. Luckily enough the sun came back again after a while and we were able to just enjoy the hike down.

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On our way back to the campsite we had hoped to spot some moose in the evening light. But despite some observing, we only got to see lots of deer and no moose. So we’ll just need to wait and see if we’ll see some of them in Yellowstone then, where we’ll head to tomorrow.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 14:51 Archived in USA Tagged mountain lake hike gondola bison bone dinosaur teton silence Comments (1)

Traffic jams in fascinating Yellowstone

Written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

sunny 28 °C
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We left the Grand Tetons early in the morning, as we wanted to have a chance to get a spot for the next two nights at the first come – first serve campground at Lewis Lake. The last two days it had filled by 2pm, so with being there around 10:30am, we figured we should be fine.
While the theory sounds good, practical life proved us wrong. We had not factored into our equation the long waiting time to even get into the national park, nor the fact that on this Monday morning Lewis Lake should already be full at 10:49am. Fine, so a change of plans was needed. We decided to spend our day to explore the south western bit of the park to see Old Faithful and the Grand Prismatic Spring and to head out of the park to West Yellowstone to find a campground for the night.
Old Faithful performed as expected: shortly after 1:17pm we were among the big crowd of people watching it erupt nicely. After a couple of minutes, the show was over and within minutes the area was empty again, as people had dispersed in all directions.

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We headed off as well and hiked along the bike path and a boardwalk to see more of the geysers and hot pools of the area. All over the place there was something going on: geysers were spitting steam, hot pools were boiling and there was just a fine note of sulfur in the air.

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At Biscuit Basin the looks of emerald pool were tempting us to take a dip. But looks can be deceiving: we probably would not have enjoyed being boiled in there and anyhow there were enough signs around to tell us that leaving the boardwalk is not only dangerous, but also unlawful. So we enjoyed the looks of the volcanic features without touching or getting closer.

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Our next stop was supposed to be the Midway Basin, the location of the Grand Prismatic Spring. Unfortunately, we were not the only ones with this plan. And many others before us were so adamant to stick to their plan that by waiting in the left lane to turn, they caused an enormous traffic jam which backed up more than a mile. Eventually we figured that with us being stuck in traffic anyhow, Sam should have a goo on foot to see the Spring, while Max and I stayed in the car, inching our way forward very slowly. Eventually Sam got back to the car and we headed on to our last destination for the day, the volcanic features along Firehole Loop Drive.

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And then it was time to leave the park in order to find a place to stay for the night. The drive from Madison junction to West Yellowstone is just 14 miles / 23 km, but it took us well over an hour to cover the distance. We’re not really sure why we were stuck in an enormous traffic jam again, but we suspect that it was either people watching some deer or some deer crossing or standing on the road. Still, no matter what it was, as we were quite tired and keen to get to a campground, we were really happy once traffic started moving again.
We tried our luck at a National Forest Campground north of West Yellowstone, which was full already. As the next free governmental (and consequently affordable) campground would have been over 20 miles further, we opted for a private one 5 miles down a gravel road. It was just already way too late for another long drive.

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At night I tried my luck to still reserve a space in a campground in Yellowstone, such that we’d not have to go through the ordeal of getting out of the park just to get in again the next morning. It seemed that there was still availability at Fishing Bridge RV Park (where we had already a reservation for Wednesday night), but somehow I did not manage to reserve it and half an hour later, even that one slot was already gone. Hmmm….
The next morning, I used the WIFI at the campground and spent lots of time on German tax questions. That is not really what I consider fun and it’s just so energy draining. So I was happy when I was done. And it felt like a reward for the work I had done, when I got a call from someone in Yellowstone welcoming me for this evening to stay at Fishing Bridge RV Park. Somehow I must have managed to reserve a site after all and just did not see the confirmation page or got a confirmatory email.
That was so great news! After our first experiences with traffic in Yellowstone we were already at the point to just spend a day outside of the park without having a reservation inside… But now, as we had a reservation after all, we were ready to hit the road, get some groceries and gas in West Yellowstone and to explore the area between Madison and Norris. We stopped at all the key sites along the way: Terrace Springs, Gibbon Falls, Beryl Spring and Artists Paintpots.

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Still, the best came last: a stop at Norris Geyser Basin, which is the hottest one in Yellowstone. It features not only geysers and hot pools, but also fumaroles and mud pools, i.e. all types of volcanic that exist. The landscape was fascinating and we were happy that we had made the stop at Norris.

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From there it was only a short drive via Canyon to Fishing Bridge through the Hayden Valley which is one of the prime spots for wildlife viewing in Yellowstone. We figured that it was perfect timing to go through the valley in the late afternoon / early evening as we hoped to see some wildlife.
And yes, our plan worked out. We got to do much more wildlife viewing than what we expected. It took us over 2 hours to drive the 16 mile / 25 km stretch from Canyon to Fishing Bridge, as we got stuck in a gigantic traffic jam.
While traffic was still moving, we got to see already the first bison in the distance. When traffic first started stopping, we attributed that to the three dark wolves up in the hills and the grey / white wolf just on the other side of the Yellowstone River. But after we had passed the craziness of that bottleneck, traffic did not get better, but worse. It got to the point that we only got to move forward the distance of those cars in front of us which gave up and turned around.

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So we opened our roof and Sam started heating up the remainder of yesterday’s soup. After all we were standing more than driving and when moving our speed did not surpass 2 mph anyhow.
Eventually Sam and Max headed off to get some exercise along the road. With Max biking and Sam running, I soon lost sight of them as they passed the cars in front of me. A bit later I got to see lots of ducks and Canadian wild geese along the river and eventually in the rear view mirror a couple of bison. And to keep myself busy in this somewhat frustrating standstill, I at least took a couple of pictures.

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Some more time passed and, a guy that eventually had started running along the traffic jam just like Max and Sam came back and reported to everyone who was interested the reason for the traffic jam: a big herd of bison was crossing the road somewhere in front of us and as they were not just crossing, but also idling on the road, there was simply no way to move forward. I must say that it was a big relief to hear that it was wildlife stopping us and not necessarily just sightseeing tourists. Even though realistically it is always a combination, as those people close to the wildlife cannot hesitate to take pictures and consequently slow everything down.
A couple of hundred yards / meters before the actual bottleneck Sam and Max waited for me and got back into the car. And eventually we started moving again and got to our campground around 9:30pm, so much later vs. what we had planned for.
After so much driving and so many traffic jams we were a bit hesitant about how to spend the day. The ranger at the information center convinced us that our plan of going to Canyon to see the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a must see item. You should not have come all the way to Yellowstone without having seen that… So after spending a bit of time on the beach of Lake Yellowstone, back we went through the Hayden Valley to do as he suggested. And this time we were held up a bit by sightseeing tourists just stopping in the road or partly blocking the roadway, but it was just so much better than the day before. We did stop ourselves a couple of times at various pull-outs to take pictures and observe the wildlife. We specifically liked to watch the bison. With their huge size they are just impressive and at the same time they are surprisingly fast when chasing a competitor or their preferred female – after all this time of the year is mating season for them.

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The Upper Yellowstone Falls from Uncle Tom’s Point along the South Rim were already quite impressive. But nothing could beat the view of the much higher (300 ft / 100 m) Lower Yellowstone Falls from the bottom of Uncle Tom’s trail. It was quite an adventure to get down the over 300 steps and steep grades, but the view was definitively worth it – specifically as the sun was coming in at such an angle that part of the waterfall looked just light green instead of white.

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After having seen the Lower Falls so close, we still wanted to see how they look from the Artists Point Overview. While the view was nice, we were not too impressed by the crowds of people there and left quickly after having taken a couple of pictures.

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The way back to camp proved to be much more relaxed and fast than yesterday evening and despite a bit of backed up traffic here and there, we got to Fishing Bridge in a mere 35 min.
Our next day in Yellowstone was dedicated to the Northern part which we had not seen so far. So we went up through the mountains along Mt. Washburn and the Yellowstone river to Mammoth Hot Springs. As the campground there was full by the time we arrived, this would be our last day in the park.
So we visited the lower and upper terraces – a phenomenon we had not seen so far. With their lively colors and a constant stream of hot water trickling down the active springs, it was a really nice sight. But also the older and now dormant features were quite impressive – a white and grey landscape surrounding dead trees.

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And with that it was time to say good bye to Yellowstone and to head towards the next adventures.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 07:00 Archived in USA Tagged traffic lake terrace spring geyser yellowstone elk wolf bison jam sulphur Comments (0)

Through the Rockies on our way to the Pacific Northwest

Livingston, Anaconda, Granite, Coeur d' Alene, Spokane, Ellensburg

sunny 24 °C
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Our plan was to leave Yellowstone via the Northeast Exit and to drive along the Beartooth Highway. We had already gotten that recommendation from the French couple we had met in Loreto, once more from Ralf in Zion and it was also featured as a spectacular diversion in Janis’ National Park magazine.
Still, after looking at the map and realizing it would be more than a 200 mile / 300 km detour and factoring in that it was starting to rain heavily when we left Mammoth Hot Springs, we decided to skip the Beartooth Pass. I guess that with the over 9000 miles we’ve driven so far and Max still not being a real fan of long drives, we have gotten a bit more conscious about distances and the difference in mileage we can make on small windy roads vs. the interstates.
So the new plan now foresees to leave Yellowstone via the North Entrance, getting on the interstate in Livingston and heading due West via Idaho to Washington. This plan also results in skipping beautiful Glacier National Park in favor of having more time to spend at Mt Rainier and Olympic National Parks. Unfortunately, even with five months to spend in North America, we have to make choices and it’s simply not possible to see everything we’d love to see.
By the time we arrived at our beautiful campground at Mallard’s Rest 42 miles north of the park exit right next to the Yellowstone River, the heavy rain had stopped and there were only the clouds remaining.

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We hoped that by night time they’d be gone such that we could observe the Perseid meteor showers. And we were lucky indeed, around 11 pm most clouds had disappeared and we got to see significantly bigger and lighter shooting stars than so far on our journey – in fact the nicest ones both Sam and I have ever seen so far.
The next day no one of us was keen to leave. So we took it easy and enjoyed our lovely campground for a bit longer. Eventually hunger made us leave after all and Rosa’s Pizza in Livingston came just at the right time to help us out.
Sam had picked the Lost Creek State Park for camping this night via our map. As we pretty much did not have much network reception and internet since back in Moab, we could not check our usual resources. And as our mobile phone seems to have issues since the update to a newer version of the operating system, also our navigation system Scout let us down, as it did not find the downloaded maps on the SD card anymore. So with just the map as a guide, we did not really have high hopes in finding a campground when there was no camping signposted, just binoculars for wildlife watching. We turned around and rather headed to a national forest campground a bit behind Anaconda.
That way Sam also got to tick one more of the items on his bucket list: he wanted to see a ghost town and close to Philipsburg there was ‘Granite’ up the hill. Despite the recommendation to only go up the road with a vehicle with high clearance (which ours definitively does not have), we went up the 4 steep and windy miles making over 1200 ft / 400 m within that relatively short distance. The road was relatively good (much better than what we had encountered in Mexico around Coco’s Corner) and we made it without any issues.
There were still quite a couple of buildings around – all of them in more or less desolate states. After all, the main exploitation of the mine with more than 3000 miners living there had taken place already over 100 years ago. And since then nature was allowed to take over again.

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But as there was not too much to see with many buildings simply being destroyed over the years and probably some wildfires, we left again and made our way down the steep grade. And even though it felt like we had been sitting in the car already for ages, we only really started getting moving once we had reached the interstate.
As we were only going to pass a very short stretch of Idaho (less than 100 miles), we at least wanted to stay there for a night. The plan was good, the execution less so: what had looked on our famous map like a very short 10-mile detour from the interstate to get to a lakeside campground along Lake Coeur d’Alene, turned out to be a tiny windy road that did not end and did not get us to where we wanted. And after an hours’ worth of driving and seemingly just being half way of where we wanted to get to, we turned around with a bit of frustration.
At least we were lucky then to get a spot at the campground at Wolf’s Lodge – at a cheaper rate than the KOA in Spokane we had called and with better services. And the first activity was to use the WIFI and to install the Washington map again on the mobile phone, such that as of tomorrow we’d be able to do better planning again. And then we headed with Max to the kids’ puppet-theater and games evening. He had lots of fun and was really proud once he got his new football as a prize.
The next day I requested to spend a day in a mall. We’ve had enough landscapes and nature around us and this felt just like the right change in scenery and atmosphere. And so the Spokane Valley Mall was the perfect opportunity to see how many Americans spend their Sunday, but as well to get new sandals for all of us.
We spent so much time in the mall that we did not want to go much further to find a place for the night. So when we saw the signs at the interstate in Spokane towards the Riverside State Park, we simply took the exit and eventually got a space at the Pitcher and Bowl area of the park.

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So after having spent most of the day inside, we got the opportunity to hike a bit, to throw stones into the river and building some dams.
The next morning, we eventually headed on towards Western Washington. We were amazed – after weeks and weeks of having poor to no mobile phone reception, we suddenly had continuous excellent phone connection all along the highways even far from the next towns. The last time we were able to enjoy that luxury was probably along the densely populated stretches of the California coast. We used the opportunity to make some calls and research while driving. While I’d consider myself not necessarily dependent on a mobile phone, it still proves to come in very handy when trip planning. And it helps to save tons of money when being able to research free vs. governmental vs. private camping options. So it felt relieving to see that I had my planning tools back at my disposition again.
We eventually stopped in Ellensburg for the night. Even though we were a bit disappointed when we realized that the pool of the KOA was defect and closed, we consoled ourselves with the fact that we had a really nice location under big shady trees next to a very fast flowing river. A nice spot to stay and figure out where to go next…

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 14:51 Archived in USA Tagged town shopping lake river mall drive ghost yellowstone idaho reception Comments (1)

Islands and Ferries in the Pacific Northwest

Everett, Whidbey Island, Orcas Island

sunny 24 °C
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We had made it all the way to Ellensburg an hour east of Seattle and Sam and I had to do some decision making: what would we like to see and do in the next couple of days and in which order. Mt Rainier vs. Seattle vs. San Juan Islands were the candidates. And after going through several options, we were clear on the base plan and I was able to go ahead and make reservations for accommodation and the ferry for the San Juan Islands.
So the next morning we passed the tempting looking Mt Rainier and drove towards Seattle and then north towards Anacortes to be well positioned for our ferry reservation the next morning. Instead of just taking the interstate north from Seattle, I figured we might as well take a scenic detour via Whidbey Island.
What I had not taken into account is that on the way to the ferry in Mutkileo, we passed directly by the Boeing factories. And it was simply way too tempting to stop at their ‘Future of Flight’ facility. While the museum did not tempt us too much – after all it seemed hard to top the experience we’ve had at the PIMA air and space museum in Tucson – we were very tempted to go on the tour of the production facilities. Unfortunately, Max did not meet the height requirement, so only Sam got to take the tour. Fortunately enough, the museum turned out to be very kids friendly and consequently Max and I did not have any trouble at all to fill the two hours until Sam was back.

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Even though it was much later than the original plan had anticipated, we still took the ferry over towards Clinton on Whidbey Island. We had to wait a bit to get onto one of the ferries and then enjoyed a short transit over.
Sticking to the main road along the island proved to provide us with lots of forest views and little else. So we took the turnoff towards Fort Casey and were rewarded with nice sights of Puget Sound from there. Walking along the battery with it's large canons, we could not resist to wonder how much energy was put into the defense of a place that in the end never got attacked at any stage.

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Our destination for the night was State Park at Deception Pass, which is famed as one of the nicest state parks in Washington. While for Sam the stay there was the ultimate experience and probably the best place we stayed at so far overall, I felt a bit deceived in fact.

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As we soon realized, the State Park is located less than two miles north of the airfield of a naval base. There were probably three F18 fighter jets which started their flight training at around 8pm turning in circles attempting to land at the base and then starting through again. And with every round we got treated in 1 minute intervals to about 20 seconds of unbelievable noise. We were able to see exactly the exhaust of the planes pointed in our direction in a distance of maybe 500 yards / meters. And just from the noise level it felt like they were running in afterburner mode.
With every round they made, Sam looked even more excited and soon got the binoculars out to watch even closer. Max was frustrated by the noise and was protecting his ears with his hands on every turn. And after realizing the noise did not seem to eventually stop with darkness setting in, I got quite frustrated. By the time I went to bed a bit after 10pm, they continued to make their rounds. And even when Sam went to sleep an hour later they had not stopped yet.
At least all three of us tend to sleep very well despite noise around us, so I guess we can call ourselves lucky in that respect. We were well rested when the alarm went off the next morning, had breakfast and headed to the Ferry.
We had made reservations to go to the San Juan islands. Given that it’s high season and all campgrounds I checked seemed to be full, I had booked a camping spot for us via Airbnb on Orcas Island.

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Once the ferry landed, we directly went to ‘The Lodge on Orcas’ where the owner David was waiting for us. We were thrilled – what a gem we had found: a nice secluded place. A couple of rooms and really nice spaces to be shared by all guests: a big and clean kitchen, nice sitting areas, several terraces and balconies and a large outside garden with an orchard featuring ripe Asian pears and a couple of hammocks. Wow!
It was an easy decision to just spend the day in the lodge without going anywhere else. Barbecue, hammocks, afternoon tea, a short walk to the beach and back, nice talks with other guests – what a great day!

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The next day we did explore the island a bit. Moran State Park is not far away and we did a bit of hiking to the Cascades and Hidden Falls before heading up to Mount Constitution. Up there we had an excellent view of the Puget Sound with the islands surrounding us, to Vancouver Islands, the Cascades Range with Mt. Baker and into the Vancouver area in Canada.

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Before heading back towards our lodge, we could not resist the temptation to stop at the shellfish farm in Bark Bay. We had lots of fun picking a dozen oysters, opening them and trying to distinguish the tastes of the three different kinds of oysters we had selected. In retrospect we should probably have skipped the fun – at least I would have felt much better the following day. Well, what should I say: no risk, no fun…

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That evening we enjoyed another barbecue before taking advantage of the large variety of games in the lodge to play some board games.
It was really hard to leave the lodge again and stayed pretty much as long as we could. Before heading off, we got to take a lot of food which Tom, Lina, Lilly and Chloe had left over before leaving the day before – thanks guys! But eventually it was time to say good-bye to David and to head into Eastsound – the nice little town on Orcas Island. It is very laid back, offers a nice variety of shopping opportunities and we enjoyed our time there very much. Still, we limited our shopping to ice cream (6$ for a single scoop) and ‘real’ bread (9$ for a small loaf), even though there would have been much else that that would have been nice to have.

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We had originally been considering to also visit some of the other islands of the San Juan archipelago, but taking into account the ferry waiting times and transfers, eventually had rather wanted to take it easy just on Orcas. Still, to get back, we did spend another hour waiting at the ferry terminal waiting for our turn to get onto the ferry back to Anacortes.

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This time we even played a bit of puzzle – what a nice idea of the ferry company to keep the passengers entertained – before heading off onto Fidalgo Island and eventually the mainland. We all agreed: It had been a fun trip to Orcas Island!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 07:07 Archived in USA Tagged island plane ferry driftwood jets boeing orcas battery production Comments (0)

Cultural and natural highlights around Seattle

Seattle, Muckleshoot reservation, Mt Rainier National Park

semi-overcast 22 °C
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The drive towards the Seattle / Takoma KOA where we had made reservations for the weekend was lengthy and we were happy to eventually arrive. We were not too impressed by the camping spot we got right next to a busy road, nor the facilities of the KOA. To quote Sam: ‘If this would have been the first KOA we got to, it would have been the last’. But the location of the KOA is good and the next morning the pool was also nice and clean, so we should not complain too much…
We had quite a plan what to do and headed off around noon for our first adventure: We wanted to see the Skopabsh Pow Wow of the Muckleshoot Tribe, which took place just half an hour away from the KOA. We got there just in time for the Grand Entry, placed our folding chairs in an excellent location in the shade directly next to the dancing area. It was very impressive – specifically for Max – to see the various groups of dancers enter the arena until eventually maybe 200 (?) dancers of all ages danced to the music.

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There was no entry fee or anything and we felt welcomed to be there. This being said, we were probably the only foreign tourists there and in general the number of non-Native American people was quite limited.

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The dancers were clearly proud of their cultural heritage and it seemed that for them like the most natural thing to preserve it. Seeing the pride of everyone who was in the arena was fascinating. And it made no difference if it was the little five-year-olds, the youngsters or the elderly ladies and chiefs.

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We enjoyed the event very much – the dancing, the drumming & singing, the dance contests, the food, everything was a lot of fun. It had been really worthwhile to attend the Pow Wow and we were very happy that we went.

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Still, eventually we left and headed into Seattle. We had wanted to go to a baseball game at some stage anyhow. And given that we still owed Max a celebration for not needing diapers at night anymore and that the Seattle Mariners were currently in town playing the Milwaukee Brewers, this was a great opportunity. So we headed to Safeco Field, got tickets far up on the View Level and soaked up the atmosphere.

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Max was given lots of baseball cards as he walked along with us. We then made sure he got his ‘first ballgame certificate’ before stopping at the playground close to the bleachers. After watching the first two innings of the game, it was time for hot dogs. A bit later, Max got to show his skills at throwing, running and batting at the kids’ corner. He also joined the Mariners’ Kids Club to get a backpack, ball and Badge with his name and picture on. And in addition to all that, it was StarWars night and consequently we even got to meet a couple of StarWars characters.

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We were simply amazed how many free activities there were to keep the kids (and their parents) entertained and happy. And we enjoyed the view and the fun of it all...

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Luckily enough we stayed until the end of the 8th inning to see a couple of runs and even some home runs. But by then it was pretty sure that the Mariners would win and with Max being beyond just tired it was time to head back to the KOA and to have a good night’s sleep.
The next morning was overcast and fairly cool – always a very strange thing to happen, as we’ve been spoiled by so much sunshine lately. But we stuck to our plan to go to Mt Rainier National Park and headed south east.
We still had an errand to run along the way: a stop at the Crocs store in the large outlet mall of Auburn. Sam had managed to rip apart his Crocs in Yellowstone and was in dire need to get new ones. Once he was the happy new owner of a pair of camouflage Crocs (yellow and orange were out of stock in his size) and lunch at a Philippine place at the local food court, we headed off.
Mount Rainier had been looming all along in the distance, raising up impressively over the rather flat area around it. As we got closer, we realized that it was actually not quite as flat as it had seemed and that from close up the mountain lost a bit of it majesty.
Once we got to the park, we stopped at the White River campground and got an excellent spot right next to the river between old trees featuring lichen that looked like long beards. There were warning signs advising us to retreat to higher ground in the event of and earthquake or loud noises coming from the volcano. After all, Mt Rainier is an active volcano and it's power should not be taken too lightly.

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Sam got the fire started and before too long we had a nice stew on the fire featuring beans, potatoes, broccoli, kale, onion, squash, tomato and corn - a nice combination of flavors that tasted really well. Together with our neighbors Kyle and Elon we roasted some marshmallows, got treated to some pop tarts and enjoyed watching the boys play with each other.
After a quiet and starry night, we got to enjoy the celebrations of a group of hikers who just completed the 94-mile wonderland trail around the mountain, hiked about 0.1 mile of the hike ourselves.

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As we did not feel like doing much hiking – despite having lots of great opportunities to do so - we took our car up to Sunrise to enjoy a much closer view of the mountain / volcano, it's glaciers and the sub alpine meadows.

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At that stage, we still were able to see the mountain. A bit later it was all covered in clouds until, eventually one had to know that there is a mountain hidden somewhere. So by the time we got to the reflection lakes which usually provide perfect picture opportunities of the mountain, we did not even bother to take pictures. But at least we found some nice waterfalls and a cute chipmunk.

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We camped outside the national park at the Big Creek campground, located in a nice forest right next to a small stream. And we even had a little neighbor visiting us on our picnic table.

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One last night with just the three of us – as for the next week Janis will be traveling with us.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 07:07 Archived in USA Tagged baseball volcano mountain indian river glacier dance drums seattle active powwow Comments (0)

Exploring the Olympic Peninsula with Janis

Sequim Bay State Park, Hurricane ridge, Fairholme campground at Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Hot Springs, Hoh rain forest, Forks

sunny 24 °C
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The next morning, we headed north from Mt. Rainier towards the Olympic Peninsula to meet Janis. Around noon we finally managed to get a signal on the mobile phone again and got Janis’ update that she had landed well and was already on the ferry looking forward to meet us at the reserved campground in Sequim Bay State Park. Just a bit later we pulled into the state park ourselves and there she was.
Wow – we’ve seen a lot in the almost four months since leaving her place in Chicago and had many stories to tell. And Janis had lots of things to tell us as well, such that we’d have enough to talk about in the coming week.
The state park was really nice with a view towards the blue waters of Sequim Bay. As we realized down at the small beach, we’d even be able to legally catch crabs there. Well, except on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. And in addition as it’s only allowed to take male crabs, we would have needed to know how to distinguish male from female crabs… So we just admired the view and had a nice barbecue for dinner. To do so we had to borrow the neighbors’ barbecue grill, as unfortunately due to the drought the county had declared a fire ban.
The next day we started to explore Hurricane Ridge - our first venture into Olympic National Park. The ridge offered not only sweeping views of the surrounding mountains and the ocean, but also the view to one of the wildfires raging in the park. We were amazed about the sheer amounts of ash creating enormous clouds.

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As usual we popped up the roof of our camper when preparing lunch, which attracted the attention of people walking and driving by. And once again this resulted in a quick tour of the van and its multiple features. Once that mission was accomplished and we had created enough envy, it was time to explore some of the trails up on the ridge before enjoying afternoon tea (and cake) at one of Port Angeles’ skate parks.

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After one more night in Sequim Bay, we moved on to Lake Crescent. It was August 25th, the 100th birthday of the National Park Service and consequently there were several special activities taking place at the Storm King Ranger Station. Even though it was tempting to stay longer, we had a mission to accomplish: we continued to the western shore of the lake in order to set up camp at Fairholme campground. And we were lucky to still get a nice spot in what seemed to be an ancient forest adorned by giant Douglas fir, hemlock spruce, ferns and mosses.

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We immediately fell in love with the beautiful campground and it did not take long to decide that we’d extend our stay to two nights. And as it was just nice sitting at the lake shore and enjoying the view, we just moved our plan to go to Sol Duc Hot Springs to the next day.

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This allowed us to leave for Sol Duc still in the morning and before too long we found ourselves soaking in one of the hot pools. In an attempt of bravery, we went to the cool fresh water pool first, but it did not take long to realize that 72 °F is just a bit too cold for being comfortable. To warm up for a start we chose the coolest one of the hot pools at 97 °F, but before too long we also tried the 104 °F one. And yes, it was very pleasant soaking there in the sunshine in a wide forested valley.
And we even managed to take a hike along the Sol Duc River after our baths – even though we had already predicted that we might be too lazy and tired afterwards. While the hike we nice, it was not nearly as fascinating as the Grove of the Ancients Trail we on the way out of the valley. We were really impressed by the huge ancient trees – about 700-year-old sentinels mixed in with younger trees and young growth starting on the decaying trunks of fallen trees.

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After another night at Fairholme and discovering also the nice campground trail there, it was time to leave. Our next destination was Forks, the location of the ‘Twilight’ novel and movies. Presumably Forks is one of the wettest places in the continental United States. Not surprisingly, it was drizzling by the time we arrived and it was significantly colder than it had been further east.
We were not surprised – after all our day trip was to Hoh rain forest and quite obviously there needs to be a lot of rain to support a rain forest. Even though we had seen already quite a lot of ancient forests in the last days, the rain forest was really amazing: long mosses hanging down from the trees and lot of fern all over the place. Still it was most impressing to see how young trees start growing on the fallen 200+ ft. logs. What looks cute initially eventually ends with gigantic trees all standing side by side. Most of them feature big cave like openings underneath – proof for a long decayed host tree they started growing on hundreds of years ago.

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It was only after we had done our (quite expensive) shopping at the local Thriftway grocery store, that we found out two pieces of trivia about it: they claim to be located in the western most shopping center of the continental US and this is the place where Twilight character Bella works and shops.
Our next venture took us to the airport to check out the ‘Hot Thunder Night’ and were disappointed that there was absolutely nothing going on. As the BBQ place we wanted to go to did not admit anyone below 21, we had to go back towards the town center. And lucky us: otherwise we might not have realized that this was where the Hot Thunder Night took place. The main street running through town – the US 101 – was blocked off and as we approached the start of the detour, we already saw a car doing a burn out and producing big clouds of burnt rubber in the process.
We parked and had a look at this spectacle which seems to be taken straight out of an old movie scene.

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Anything from vintage car, hot rod, old pimped car, motorbike and modern pickup truck took the challenge to spin the wheels along main street under the cheer of the crowd. The excitement was big – especially for the kids who were racing towards the hot asphalt after each round.

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After we had seen enough and gaped at the donut one of the cars made instead of just going straight like everyone else, it was time to warm up and have food. We were lucky to get one of the window seats at the adjacent Chinese restaurant, such that we could continue watching the spectacle. It was a fun evening and accompanied by the sound of Queen’s ‘We will rock you’ we eventually headed home.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 07:41 Archived in USA Tagged rainforest springs park lake tree national fire hot out twilight ridge fern olympic janis Comments (2)

Some last days in the US before heading to Canada

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

semi-overcast 20 °C
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After a quiet night - without any vampire sightings - in Forks we headed for the Mora beach. We planned to have a hike along the beach and as it was raining by far more than just a mere drizzle, for the first time since early May we had to wear our rain jackets.
The so-called sea stacks and the significant amounts of gigantic driftwood along the stony beach created a somewhat mysterious atmosphere. And even though we’re usually preferring bright sunshine and heat vs. rain and cold, the weather somehow matched the landscape. As Janis rightfully said: this is the classical Pacific Northwest how one imagines it.

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After lots of stone collecting, stone skipping, stone stacking and stone castle building we longed for a hot tea and cake in our cozy van.

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A bit later we had found a nice spot at the Bear Creek Campground. The only challenge was the fact that while it was in principle free of charge, it required every vehicle to have a Discovery Pass. We had one, but Janis did not. After lots of research, we eventually found out that the online system was down and that there was no place close-by to buy one. So after a bit of thinking, we pitched Janis’ tent and parked her car outside the campground in front of the Bear Creek Café – a somewhat classical place to eat and drink in the middle of nowhere.
In exchange for the parking spot, Janis and I planned to get some French Fries to take away. After sitting at the counter and seeing the pies in the fridge, we ordered two bumbleberry pies as well, which as we learned consist of blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. And to give Sam a chance to see the place as well, Janis offered to join him for a beer there while Max and I got to play Lego and eat the French Fries in the van.
As we passed Lake Crescent the next day, Sam came up with the great idea to rent kayaks. We enjoyed our trip on the lake very much. Max did an excellent job in helping Sam move their kayak while Janis and I trailed them and tried to keep up.

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As we took a break on a quiet beach along the shore, Sam discovered a large swing. It just did not seem to reach far enough out such that it would have been safe to swing into the lake. Still: it was lots of fun just to swing there. Both Sam and Max enjoyed that portion of the trip almost as much as the kayaking itself.

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After a dip into the lake and picnic, we continued towards Fort Townsend. After setting up camp, we explored a bit of the town and the Fort Worden state park. We liked the town a lot. With its hilly setting on the coast, old Victorian buildings and grazing deer, it was a very pleasant place to be. And the state park with the lighthouse and it's beach was very pleasant as well.

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So after exploring until it got dark, we ended up having a very late dinner back at our place and some final rounds of playing our new and favourite dice game with Janis – which she once again won. What a pity that it will take a couple of weeks before we’ll be able to ask for another round to finally manage to beat her.
The next morning, Janis was treated by Sam to Kaiserschmarrn (Austrian ‘scrambled pancakes’) before she had to head off towards the ferry and ultimately to her flight back to Chicago.
We took it easy and left a bit later to reach the Port Townsend ferry just before departure. The ferry ride was smooth and short and we had a déjà vu – after all we had been at the Coupeville ferry terminal and Fort Casey just two weeks ago already.

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This time we arrived there around noon and consequently had a bit more time to spend at Whidbey Island. Thus this time stops at Fort Ebey and later at Deception Pass Bridge were easily possible. Once again Sam and Max were happy about the F18s circling above the Naval Air Base and Deception Pass State Park.

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I guess both of them would have loved to stay there again. But I gave a clear enough veto such that eventually we continued our journey towards Canada - the next destination of our journey.

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 09:27 Archived in USA Tagged rain beach kayak lighthouse wet ferry driftwood swing Comments (0)

Welcome to Canada

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

rain 18 °C
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Heading north from Whidbey Island it did not take too long to reach the Canadian border. The signs along the interstate had advised us already that the wait would be less than 5 minutes. That sounded much better vs. the more than one hour we had spent at our last border crossing from Mexico into the USA.
And it was so easy: The Canadian immigration officer had lots of sympathy for our travel plans and admitted that she had taken off a year for travelling herself already. So we were admitted without any further questioning.
A bit further the ladies at the visitor information center advised us to rather stay closer to the border vs. going all the way Vancouver as we might be stuck in traffic otherwise. So that’s what we did and soon were pleasantly surprised by the nice landscaping and gardening at Peace Arch RV Park. And despite the fact that lots of people had warned us about the high prices in Canada, it was much cheaper than expected and what we were used to.
The only downside was the weather: in the night it started raining heavily and after a bit of thinking what to do, we decided to just take it easy and to stay for another night.
Max was delighted to play LEGO, Sam used the opportunity to repair also the back door of our van which involved the de- and reinstallation of the air-conditioning unit and I finally managed to publish three long overdue blog posts. As a reward for a relaxing and still productive day, we had food delivered and enjoyed Greek food which we had not had since we had left Germany.

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Luckily enough, the next day the weather was much better. Lots of clouds, but at least no rain. So we headed into Vancouver, were a bit surprised about the heavy traffic even at midday and soon enough found ourselves at one of the many bicycle rental places.
Sam suggested renting a tandem and even though I was a bit reserved about not being able to steer nor brake in the back seat, I agreed. Admittedly, it did take a bit of getting used to in the beginning. But eventually I was able to relax and we had lots of fun doing the 10km stretch along the seawall surrounding Stanley Park.
Visiting the park on a bike was an excellent choice. We were able to stop multiple times, enjoyed nice vistas and got some exercise in the fresh air. Great!

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Leaving Vancouver during rush hour was quicker than expected and we easily reached the Eagle Wind RV Park, where I had made a reservation for the night. We had spotted the RV park in one of the camping brochures we had picked up at the information center. And while we could have also gone to multiple other places, this one had mentioned in the text that it was close to a drive-in theater. It seems there are only three such drive-ins remaining in British Columbia, so we keen to use this opportunity.
The Twilight Drive-In in Langley was just a couple of minutes away from camp and our plan worked perfectly: while we were enjoying ‘Pete’s Dragon’ and a bit later ‘The BFG’, Max was sleeping deeply in the back of the van. Still, Sam and I were quite amazed to see in the intermission between the two movies how many (young) kids were still up and had obviously watched the movie. We preferred Max sleeping in the back vs. us having to explain to him why things are happening and what each scene really means. Especially the BFG I could not have seen him watching at all. That would have been a guarantee for lots of bad dreams. Still, it was an excellent idea of Sam’s to go to the movies.
As we had gotten home to our RV park long after midnight, we did take it easy the next morning before heading east. We wanted to stop at the Chilliwack Walmart in an attempt to stock up on groceries again. Unfortunately, we were turned away due to a bomb threat. And quite frankly, with lots of police around and the employees all standing in the parking lot, it felt better to leave and shop at Safeway instead.
As we headed on towards the mountains, it started raining more and more heavily. In retrospect we could have saved ourselves the scenic but longer drive through Manning Provincial Park and taken the larger highway instead. After all, there was no real view to enjoy anyhow and it certainly would not have made any sense to make the detour to the Cascades viewpoint in the downpour we were in.
Admittedly, after passing Manning Park, we did have a stretch of road without rain and did get to see the enormous Copper Mountain. But soon enough we got into the next rain shower that lasted until our next campground at the South Shore of Penticton and long into the night.
Luckily enough, most of the clouds were gone by the next morning and we got to see a bit of our surroundings driving up along the lakes of the Okanagan Valley. The area is said to resemble a bit the Garda Lake region in Italy. And with the hilly surroundings, the vineries and orchards around we really liked it there.
Max liked it as well: he could have spent hours in the Kelowna skate park. At the same time, we enjoyed watching him and hoped that he’d wear himself out enough such that he’d be fine with us going for wine tasting – which is clearly not the most fun activity for kids. What should I say: specifically, as now the sun was out as well, so far all of us were quite happy to be in Canada.

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Posted by dreiumdiewelt 21:55 Archived in Canada Tagged rain valley bike movie lego seawall tandem drivein Comments (0)

Back home already? Germans everywhere

Lake Country, Barrière, Grey Wells Provincial Park

semi-overcast 13 °C
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We had happily arrived in Lake Country and picked a spot at the Wood Lake Campground. Even though it was Saturday evening of the long Labor Day weekend, we had no trouble at all getting a spot. So lucky us!
And we had already a plan in mind what to do: even though it had probably never occurred to us that Canada is a wine producing country, it is. And as we had not done so in any of the previous wine regions we came through, this time we wanted to go for some wine tasting. Our campground was ideally positioned for that plan, such that we only had to drive for a very short distance. After a very nice tasting session at Intrigue Wines and getting a bottle of their beautiful Gewürztraminer, we headed to Blind Tiger. While nicely positioned on the crest of a hill, we were neither impressed by the people there, nor by the wines.

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So we quickly headed on again: Arrowleaf treated us to an excellent view of the lake from their terrace and lawns and we also liked their Bacchus, but we kept the best for last: The Grey Monk Estate Vinery. They seem to be the oldest and most established vinery in BC, founded some 25 years ago by Germans. And also Heidi, the lady serving us our tastings, had German roots. We liked their wines best of all we had tasted so far, so once again got another bottle to take with us for a special occasion.

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Back at the campground it was already time for dinner. Luckily enough, with all the rain of the last couple of days the fireban had been lifted and we were able to light a campfire and have corn on the cob and sausages from the BBQ.
Max spent the next morning at the playground while we were getting the van ready to leave. When checking on him, I noticed a German family just next to the playground with a truck and trailer that did not look like the usual rental equipment. We soon found out that they’ve been living in Canada for the last eight years and invited them over to our van. While Max played with his new friend Aiyana, Carola and Uwe supplied us with lots of ideas and recommendations on where to go and what to visit. So our original plan of heading towards Revelstoke was dumped pretty quickly and we decided to head up towards Clearwater and the Grey Wells Provincial Park.
After a mandatory stop at one of the many produce stands along the road, we were stocked up with local fruit and vegetables and headed towards Kamloops and then through the very scenic North Thompson valley. Passing through the small town of Barrière we noticed a large sign along the road advertising the rodeo taking place on Labor Day weekend. We could not resist to change our plans once more and to have a look.
We were quite lucky: arriving at 4:15pm we did not have to pay an entrance fee anymore and still got to see quite a variety of rodeo disciplines. Initially, we were treated to ‘Junior Breakaway Roping’ followed by ‘Team Roping’. It was quite impressive to see how good people did in targeting to catch a running calf. And especially how hard it is in the team event to catch it both around the neck as well as around one of the hind legs.

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Next on the agenda was the bull riding event. I’m sure that I would never ever dare to get even close to one of these massive bulls – what a huge packet of muscles! While it was interesting to see, how excited the crowd around us got during the bull riding, I’m quite sure that I’d never get to be a fan of that discipline. After all, the bulls just looked really tormented in the process.

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The following chuck wagon races were much more fun. Seeing them race around the track and three of them coming next to each other around the corner, was quite a sight. The excitement and fun of the chuck wagon races was over way too quickly. And quite frankly, the heavy horses that followed – kind of a tractor pulling event with horses instead of tractors – was rather boring in comparison.

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So we headed out of the arena to check out the other entertainment provided, such as food: Sam went for mini donuts, I got a ‘haystack’ (which I’d have described as taco salad) and Max was excited about his multi-colored ‘Rainbow’ icecream. Last but not least, we stopped at ‘Hilde’s Sausage’ to procure some Leberkäse from the butcher who’s been providing German meat products in Canada for the last eight years. And despite the long distance to his former home, he could not resist having the discussion with me, if it is called ‘Leberkäse’ or ‘Fleischkäse’. I used to have the same arguments with the butchers in Crailsheim, so that felt a bit like home.
In the evening we were lucky to still get a campground in town despite the long Labor Day weekend and the rodeo taking place in town. Camping in Canada seemed suddenly much easier than in the US and more adapted to our traveling style without any reservations (which would not have allowed for any sudden changes in plan, as happened just again today).
The next morning, we continued the Wells Gray Information Center in Clearwater. After getting all information we needed, there was just one of those impossible moments. I suddenly stood right across from Kerstin, a former colleague of mine from Crailsheim who I had not seen probably for the last nine years. Still, despite those years we recognized each other at once with this incredible ‘Kerstin?!?’ and ‘Birgit?!?’. The world is just so small and sometimes you have to be nine time zones away from home to meet your friends. What an encounter!
So we obviously exchanged the latest news from the last years and found out that Kerstin and her husband Sven were headed into the same general direction were fortunate enough to cross paths again three more times during the next couple of days.

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Wells Grey Provincial Park did not make a big effort to impress us with it’s nice weather. Whenever it was not drizzling rain, it was heavily overcast and always looked like the rain might start again any minute. But both the Spahat Falls as well as Helmcken Falls did impress us. Admittedly, we have seen quite a lot of falls already in the last couple of months, but we liked the big bowl both waterfalls had carved behind them. Very nice!

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Given the weather and the fact that the road further into the park was not paved, but gravel only, we would have usually retreated to the campground. But as beginning of September is just the time of the salmon coming back to Clearwater River to spawn, we could not resist continuing to Bailey’s Chute, a small cascade of white water just a bit too high for the salmon to pass. Still, despite the fact that by then the salmon will have went upriver more than 600km and not eaten anything for more than 100 days, some of them have still the energy to try to jump the rapids. The Chinook Salmon is at 22kg one of the largest of its kind and it was really impressive to see them jump. Given the heavy rainfall of the last couple of days, the task was probably even harder than usual, but still enough of them tried fruitlessly in order to eventually give up and spawn a bit further downriver at the horseshoe bend.

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And for all three stops once again we felt surrounded by Germans. Seemingly with school starting again in the US and Canada, there were much less locals traveling than before. And the Wells Gray Provincial Park is probably just a bit too less known for those people doing Canada in five days.

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That evening we could not resist having German food and it was great to enjoy Leberkäse and Kartoffelbrei for dinner. In Germany we have a saying ‘Liebe geht durch den Magen’ which is probably not adequately translated by the word by word transcription of ‘Love goes through the stomach’ – still, there was a feeling of being home just right then and there in the middle of Canada. And eventually a feeling of ‘I’m so stuffed, I guess I should have stopped eating already a while ago’…

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 20:42 Archived in Canada Tagged salmon lake waterfall germans rodeo produce vinery kerstin Comments (0)

Getting into the Canadian Rockies

Grey Wells PP, Tete Jaune Cache, Jasper NP, Icefields Parkway

overcast 10 °C
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Waking up in Grey Wells Provincial Park in a drizzling rain did not quite feel like this is how Canada should be like. Still, the rain needs to happen at some stage to keep all of the waterfalls in the park supplied with enough water. And Dawson Falls were a very nice sight indeed and despite the fact that they are just 4 miles upstream from Helmcken Falls, quite different.
Given the weather we were not really tempted to go further into the park for kayaking on Clearwater Lake and made our way back to the highway. Just after the crest of a small hill while still in the park, I was suddenly forced to slam the brakes: there was a bear mother standing in the middle of the road with two small cubs. Sam was quick enough to take a picture before the three headed into the forest, hiding so well from view that we have not seen them anymore even though they could not have been more than five meters from the road. That made us wonder how many bears (and other wildlife) we might have passed already without noticing them.

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After a round of shopping and enjoying salmon and berries on a ‘bannock’ (a kind of Indian frybread) the drive north was dominated by rain such that the mountain views were obscured by clouds most of the time.
Luckily, by the time we reached Valemount, the rain had stopped and gave way to even some bits of sunshine. Valemount’s salmon run is taking place two weeks before the one in Gray Wells, but we were lucky enough to still spot a salmon in the spawning area of the local creek – a female protecting her nest. What a different setting vs. the craziness of the Bailey’s Chute we had seen the day before.

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Sam and Max were at least as fascinated by the salon as by the truck and especially the one on its trailer across the road. They would trade in our van in to travel with that truck without any hesitation.

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That evening we followed Uwe and Carola’s recommendation of staying overnight at the campground of the Tete Jaune Lodge. And in fact the location directly next to Fraser River and the facilities were simply great.

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And at the risk of sounding a bit crazy: I was delighted to encounter what I consider ‘normal’ washing machines spinning around a horizontal axis. And yes: our clothes were clean after washing them – even Max’ stuff. Hooray!
The next morning it was quite obvious that it did not make any sense to stop at Mt. Robson, the highest point in the Canadian Rockies. Given all the clouds, we simply passed by and were happy at every opportunity to see a bit of the landscape around us.

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Eventually we headed directly into Jasper National Park where we got a spot for the next two nights at Whistler Campground. To Max’ delight the friendly ranger at the gate had made sure we were located right next to a large playground.
After enjoying the pleasantries of our new home location, we headed off for a hike to the Five Lakes. Already on the way there, we were impressed by the nice vistas of rivers with the mountains in the back.

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And once we arrived at the Five Likes, not surprisingly, we had the impression that also there were more Germans than any other nationality. The hike was really nice and Max was even officially allowed to ride his bike on the trail – unlike in the American national parks where almost all trails were officially for hikers only.

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There had been a warning sign at the start of the trail to watch out for bears, as they like to come to this area during berry season. So we made sure to talk loud enough and consequently did not encounter any bears, even though they might have been close by. We did see lots of squirrels though and a couple of smaller animals and insects.

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We enjoyed the solitude of the five small lakes along the trail. At one of them there was even a pair of the red chairs located in especially scenic spots all through Jasper national park.

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On our way back to camp, we noticed a couple of cars parked along the road with people getting out to have a look at an elk. Even though it was a really large male elk and a beautiful sight, we rather stayed away and were even a bit worried about the people getting so close. After all, we had been warned by enough signs about the elk during fall rut season and were cautious not to get too close.
The next morning it was raining and consequently we did not feel like going for any sightseeing in the national park. Instead we took advantage of one of the activities directly at the campground and went geocaching. With a GPS we borrowed from the ranger station we headed off to find the 10 caches hidden all over the campground. And that took quite a while – after all the campground is enormous at 781 spots spread widely in a forest probably a mile long by half a mile wide.

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It was fun finding the locations of the caches and their hiding places. So maybe geocaching is something we’ll continue doing also in other places.
After hiking so much on a rather cool and partially raining day, we had promised to Max that we’d go to the local pool. As usual, he enjoyed being in the water, swimming, jumping and sliding with pure delight.
After dinner (Kaiserschmarrn) that evening Sam set off towards a meadow south of the campground to see if he’ll be able to see any elk during their rut. After a long time of hiding and watching, he eventually returned back to the van having seen no animals at all – not even squirrels. I suspect he had been watched silently by a couple of animals who were doing just as well a great job in hiding themselves, but we’ll never know for sure…

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 08:46 Archived in Canada Tagged salmon lake river pool hike bear geocaching campground rut Comments (1)

Rain and snow – hey, that was not the plan!

written by Birgit, pictures mostly by Sam

rain 5 °C
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That last night at Jasper NP we did get awfully cold. Lucky us that our van has a heating system, but as we somehow don’t want it running all night, it did eventually get just too chilly for my taste. Hadn’t we planned our tour route such that we’d be skipping winter this year?
After warming up a bit over breakfast with hot tea and hot chocolate, we headed off towards the Edith Cavell mountain and its Angel glacier. Due to recent rock fall resulting in a sudden flood and mudslide we were not allowed to get close to the lake, so we had to content ourselves with the view from the distance. It was pretty cold up at the glacier and as it had snowed in the night before, we did get to see quite a couple of small avalanches.

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As we were heading south along the Icefields Parkway, which is often dubbed to be one of the most beautiful mountain roads in the world, the Athabasca Falls were our next destination. We were lucky to stay dry during our stop there. Despite the lack of sunlight, it was surprising how intense the colors looked.

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And in regards to the scenery, we were impressed by the beautiful mountains on both sides of the huge glacier valley we were driving through. Most likely (certainly) the views would have been even more impressive if there would have been a bit more sunshine. We consoled ourselves with the fact that the nice white snowcaps of the mountains around us were a very pretty sight as well which we would have missed in warmer or nicer weather.

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As we reached the Columbia Icefield, we briefly stopped at the local visitor center, only in order to realize that it is extremely catered to everyone being willing to spend lots of money on commercial tours driving onto the Athabasca glacier and spending a couple of minutes there such they can justify buying T-Shirts and other paraphernalia saying ‘I stood on a glacier’. We skipped the questionable pleasure of doing so and rather hiked to the toe of the glacier in the next morning.

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It was actually a quite scary experience even just to drive down to the parking lot from the visitor center. Every couple of hundred meters there were signs with the year when the glacier’s toe was at that location. Quite frankly, I had not realized that the glacier had started retreating already massively since 1885 when it still reached all the way up to where today the visitor center is located.
But even more impressive was the hike up towards the glacier realizing how much the retreat of the glacier speed up in the more recent past. It was quite a hike from the 1985 sign up to the actual glacier. We hiked over large slabs of stone engraved by the glacial ice. And due to the severe winds and cold rain, I must admit that Max and I did not even complete all of the hike, but headed down again once we had reached an intermediate overlook. Sam continued and was lucky enough to catch a quick episode of sunshine on the bright glacial ice.

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As we moved on the weather got a bit more pleasant again. At least it stopped raining and we got to see a bit of the landscape around us.

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Also at the trail to the Mistaya Canyon we were lucky to have no rain. The canyon reminded us much of the Antelope Canyon in the sense that we saw how the forces of water formed a slot canyon just like there. But other than in Arizona, as long as there are glaciers around in the Canadian mountains, there’s no likelihood that in the near future anyone will be able to wander into these slot canyons without being washed away by the forces of the Athabasca River – one of the three river systems starting in the Columbia Icefield and ending in the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic Ocean.

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Next on our list of destinations was a hike to Peyto Lake, that Ralf had praised already back in Zion when we talked about the Canadian National Parks. Unfortunately, when we got there it was pouring rain and there was no view whatsoever. That was quite a pity and we once again realized at that stage how lucky we had been with the weather so far during our trip. With hardly any days of rain and lots of sunshine, we had been blessed with picture perfect photo opportunities so far. And being spoiled as such, it was a bit hard to accept that we’d simply not get to see one of the highlights of the Icefields Parkway. We did get a look at bow lake though, which was pretty nice as well!

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Luckily enough, our night at Mosquito Creek Campground was absolutely free of mosquitoes. In pouring rain at temperatures just above freezing, they would have had a hard life. We did have it a bit warmer in our van, but we would not have complained about a couple of degrees more.
The next day, we realize how low the snowline had come down during the night. A pretty, but also very cold sight!

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A bit later we did get to see a very still Lake Herbert before heading to Lake Louise.

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Our guidebook claims that Lake Louise is the most visited mountain lake worldwide. Even though I’m doubting the truth of the statement, we were simply amazed about the masses of people we saw there. The massive ‘The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’ did not help either to restore a sense of romance of being at a very beautiful glacial lake. Neither did the weather: it started snowing lightly out of very low hanging clouds.
After a brief look at the lake, we gave up all sightseeing activities and headed to Banff in search of a nice and warm café. We were very happy with that choice. Being in a pleasant place having a hot tea felt much more heart-warming than continuing to be out in the cold.
But our luck was soon to turn: after grocery shopping in Canmore and checking out one of the local skate parks, we headed to our place for the night. We were invited at Carola, Uwe and Aiyana’s who we had met a week earlier in Lake Country.

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We had pizza for dinner, lots of pleasant conversations and Max enjoyed playing with Aiyana until late in the night. It was simply great. And all of us were so happy to spend the night inside in a warm and comfy bed vs. staying outside in temperatures below freezing.
Life is beautiful! Thanks, Uwe, Carola and Aiyana!

Posted by dreiumdiewelt 13:56 Archived in Canada Tagged snow rain canyon lake glacier castle icefields freezing Comments (1)

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