The California Lost Coast and Humboldt Redwoods State Park

A few days among the giant redwoods sounded like a good idea before we concluded our 2014 Pacific Northwest adventure. We settled in at The Ancient Redwoods RV Park where the Immortal Tree stands. The tree survived a lightning strike that removed approximately 50 feet from its height in 1908 and a flood in 1964, two recent life-threatening events that have occurred during its 950 – 1,000 years.

Immortal Tree

Lost Coast

We drove around the next day and chanced upon one of those roads that made us ask, “I wonder where that goes.” Over bumpy terrain we traveled, up hills and down hills, through small settlements in the middle of what looked like nowhere until we arrived at Shelter Cove.

Mal Coombs Park

Cape Mendocino Lighthouse located at Mal Coombs Park in Cape Mendocino attracted our attention. First lit on December 1, 1868, the US Coast Guard abandoned the building at its original location in 1948 when it installed a new beacon light on higher ground. For the next 50 years, salt spray, punishing winds and torrential rains deteriorated the lighthouse until a group of citizens gained control, restored, and installed it at Mal Coombs Park.

Cape Mendocino Lighthouse

Near the lighthouse stands a statue and marker honoring Mario Machi, a founder of Shelter Cove along with his brothers Tony and Babe. The marker states he survived the Bataan Death March and three years of captivity in World War II. How wonderful that the man was so loved the town saw fit to honor him.

Beloved founder and resident Mario Machi

Not far from the lighthouse, we found tide pools to explore.

Crashing waves not far from tide pools

The clear water made it easy to spot sea life among the shallow waters.

Clear, clear water

I almost missed seeing the crab among the pebbles, shells, and bones.

Hey, what you looking at?

This was our first experience seeing a chiton shell. Our marine biologist friend later told us chitons are common. Thanks, Ray for educating us.

Chiton shell

Another first for us was the turban snails with their colorful purple and blue shells, definitely my favorite.

Turban Snails

A mile or so up the road along the coast we stopped for a photo op, catching a little wave action and capturing flowers nestled in the grass.

Bouquet of flowers nestled in the grass

Humboldt Redwoods State Park

We never tire of walking among the California redwood trees and the Humboldt Redwoods State Park did not disappoint. The 53,000-acre park includes 17,000 acres of old-growth coast redwoods, the tallest known tree species in the world. They average in height from 150 – 250 feet tall and can exceed 350 feet, with a diameter of 20 feet or more. The bark on a mature tree can be one foot thick.

Searching for the top

Rather than a taproot like most trees, the root system of a redwood is shallow and extends up to 100 feet outward connecting with the root systems of other trees. I once heard on a podcast that trees communicate with each other and share resources through their root systems. If one tree needs nutrients to survive, the other trees will pitch in. The trees also possess a natural resistance to fire, disease, and insects, which contributes to their long life.

Jon and Linda standing by a root

The trees can live several 100 years or even more than 2,000 years. Consequently, they are the oldest tree species in the world. High winds and flooding are the trees’ enemies.

There’s the top

A tree can reproduce when one of its seeds germinate (a rare occurrence) or when a new tree sprouts from the root of a parent or from burls. Seedlings that survive can grow more than 1 foot per year.

Hey, here I am.

Besides the old-growth forest, the park contains 250 campsites for tents and RVs 24 feet in length or shorter, 100 miles of hiking, biking, and riding trails, and the scenic 32-mile Avenue of the Giants. Driving along the Avenue of the Giants at times is like driving through a tunnel lined with the magnificent trees.

Giant ferns for a giant tree

Thanks to Henry Fairfield Osborn, John C. Merriam, and Madison Grant, who formed Save the Redwoods League in 1918. Without their perseverance and fundraising, the trees may not have survived the loggers’ axes.

Have a seat, or maybe not.

Dyerville Overlook

On our way back to our temporary home, we stopped at the Dyerville Overlook near Garberville. We would have expected more water running in the Eel River during May. A little research revealed dams and diversions limit the amount of water that flows at this location. They also maintain sufficient water to sustain fish populations during the dry season and prevent the type of flooding that occurred in 1955 that destroyed the Dyerville settlement and the one in 1964 which wiped out four other communities.

Abandoned railroad bridge

The bridge once carried Northwestern Pacific Railroad traffic between Eureka and San Francisco. Sadly, the railroad suffered the same fate as the communities destroyed by the floods. The graffiti painted train engine shown in our Eureka, California, blog post may have once rolled over the bridge in its heyday.

We started this series with the tulips in Washington, and end with a couple more flowers of a different varieties.

Yum, yum, gettin’ me some nectar
Purple flower

Fifth Wheel Dreams

Throughout our travels on this trip, we continued to find fault with our little trailer and dreamed of the Cougar fifth wheel we saw in Washington. Along our route we stopped in at a dealer in Oregon and another one in Petaluma, California. After perusing the pamphlets and climbing in and out the various styles and sizes, we made our choice. One month later, we were the proud owners of a new truck and fifth wheel, enjoying the outdoors on a shakedown cruise.

We gained elbow room in our new trailer.

Since then we have checked out the new models of all brands at the annual RV show at our local fairgrounds and during our travels. To date we have yet to find another model or size that would suit us any better. After five years we are satisfied with our purchase. Now if we can get back on the road to enjoy it, we would be super happy campers. Soon. Hopefully, soon.

Safe Travels

Eureka, California, Here We Come

We continue our 2014 Pacific Northwest Tour with a quick stop in Eureka, California. A hurried walk through town, taking photos of iconic Victorian homes, and more photos at the marina on Woodley Island was about all we could fit into the few hours we had to explore.

View of Carson Mansion with a raptor in the sky

The Ingomar Club, or Carson Mansion, and the Pink Lady are the first images that appear when conducting an online search for Eureka, California. So excuse me while I add my contributions to the plethora of shots that already grace the internet.

Carson Mansion and Ingomar Club

The Ingomar Club, a private social club in Eureka, has the distinction of owning the Carson Mansion. Their mission is the restoration and preservation of the mansion and the grounds. They offer fine dining and social experiences for its members. Initiation fees and membership dues are not posted on their website. If I have to call or fill out an application, I suspect their fees and dues are out of reach for my budget.

Based on the exterior, I must conclude that Ingomar Club has lived up to its mission in preserving the property. The maintenance of the high standard lumberman William Carson established in 1885 when he built the home is evident. The 19th Century Victorian architecture with all the nooks-and-grannies and decorative wood adornments must need constant care and upkeep.

I desperately wanted to peek inside. Alas, that is not possible. This is a private establishment. Members only. Not open to the public. No tours. Stand over there across the street, take your photos, and “see ya” was the message.

The Pink Lady

The Pink Lady, a Queen Anne Victorian home built in 1889 by William and Sarah Carson as a wedding present to their son Milton, is another story. After the Milton Carson family sold the home it passed through several owners. In 2014 when I took the photos, an architect used it for his office.

Since then, new owners have renovated the home as a vacation rental. It can accommodate up to 10 guests in its 4 bedrooms with 6 beds and 2.5 baths. The full baths feature claw-foot tubs. The modern kitchen includes the necessary amenities and essentials. On, they advertise that you just may get a chance to dine at the Carson Mansion. What was that? Dinner at the Carson Mansion?

“Hey, Jon. Pack the bags. We’re driving to Eureka.”

“Okay, okay, Linda. Calm down already.”

Sorry, I got carried away.

Anyway, both buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The architects for both the Carson Mansion and The Pink Lady were Samuel and Joseph Cather Newsom, Newsom and Newsom Architects of San Francisco. Wait a minute. California Governor Gavin Newsom grew up in San Francisco. Could he be related? Wikipedia says no.

Unable to obtain accommodations at The Pink Lady? I imagine Carter House, Carter Cottage, and Bell Cottage have equally impressive digs for a night or two.

Carter House Inn
Bell Cottage and Carter Cottage

When visiting, don’t forget to take a stroll around Historic Downtown Eureka for more examples of Victorian-era buildings.

Oberon Grill still in business as of August 2019

Eureka boasts not one but two bookstores for a population of approximately 27,000. They probably enjoy business from students attending Humboldt State University, which is only eight miles away.

The Booklegger looks like a place to step in and browse the aisles
Eureka Books is also a thriving enterprise

I couldn’t pass up a photo of this rusted hunk of a train engine splattered with graffiti. It’s not the usual iconic photos of Eureka. I wondered if a group was planning on reviving the abandoned railroad or turn it into a museum at some point. A quick search on the internet did not reveal any plans to do unless I missed something.

Abandoned rolling stock

When a drive over to Woodley Island Marina to see Table Bluff Lighthouse is a must. Although the lighthouse stands only 35 feet tall, ships 20 miles away could see the light. This was because of the bluff’s height. The original structure was built in 1892 and the light was deactivated in 1975. The tower was moved to Woodley Island Marina in 1987.

Table Bluff Lighthouse no longer sits on a bluff

Another local iconic photo is of the sculpture The Fisherman by Dick Crane. It resides at the marina on Woodley Island.

The Fisherman by Dick Crane

As always, I wished we would have had more time to explore Eureka and Humboldt County. I find it frustrating that there is so much to see and so little time in which to see it all.

We make one more stop on our way home. Stay tuned for the Lost Coast and Humboldt Redwoods State Park.

Safe Travels


We Continue a Look Back on Our 2014 Pacific Northwest Adventure

Our 2014 Pacific Northwest adventure continued on May 6 as we headed south and a bit east toward Central Point, Oregon. We had stopped at the KOA in Central Point on our way north to Washington State. This time we planned to stay a few days so Jon could reconnect with an old friend from high school.

About 15 miles north of Grants Pass, we noticed a covered bridge near Interstate 5, so we had to stop to have a look. Covered bridges are not a common sight in our home state of California.

Grave Creek Bridge

The Grave Creek Bridge in Josephine County was built in 1929 and once carried traffic from U.S. Route 99, the Pacific Highway. In 1979 the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Closed in the late 1990s for repairs, it reopened in 2001. The 105-foot Howe truss bridge includes six Gothic windows on each side, rounded portals, and a shake roof.

Jon connected with his friend, and we enjoyed a dinner with him and his wife. They recommended the Upper Table Rock trail for a bit of exercise and a fantastic view of the Rogue Valley from the volcanic rock plateau. The clear skies and warmer weather were welcomed as we walked through the trees that towered above the trail on either side.

Upper Table Rock Trail

Wildflowers dotted the terrain here and there with their blossoms tracking the sun. Pacific Madrone trees along with California black oak, Douglas fir, and incense cedar provided shade for hikers and homes for the birds and rodents that live in the area.

Ookow wildflower
Unidentified hairy flower. Does anyone know its name?

Pacific Madrone trees

Daisy-like flower

I always find it interesting to learn about the geology of a place. The Upper and Lower Table Rocks brochure tells the story that began 7.5 million years ago when a shield volcano (similar to Kilauea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii) erupted.

Upper Table Rock plateau with basalt showing through the grass

The volcano’s lava spread over the entire valley causing the valley floor to rise 800 feet to the height of the plateaus. Over millions of years, the ancient Rogue River eroded and carved out 90 percent of the lava rock, leaving the rich valley, a few monoliths, and the two horseshoe-shaped mesas known as Table Rocks.

The Rogue Valley

As I stood back from the edge of the mesa, I tried to imagine the valley filled with lava rock. It must have looked similar to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. Then I tried to image a river flowing so powerfully to clear out the basalt. It’s the same old geological story of building up and breaking down. It makes me wonder what Craters of the Moon might look like in a few million years.

View of Lower Table Rock from Upper Table Rock

After our hike, we stopped in at the Del Rio Winery for a tasting and to see if they had a bottle of something we might enjoy.

Del Rio Winery

The tasting room is located in Gold Hill in the historic Rock Point Stage Hotel. Constructed in 1865, the hotel, as noted on their website, has quite a history of ownership.

Del Rio Vineyards

The winery offers both red and white varietals, a picnic area for visitors to use, and concerts during the summer.

Next up we continue our 2014 tour and make a stop in Eureka, California.

Safe Travels


Astoria and Coos Bay, Oregon

Our mini-vacation in Victoria, B.C. came to an end, so we boarded the ferry and returned to the rainy cold weather in Port Angeles, Washington. On May 1, 2014, we headed south in search of sunny skies. We weren’t sure how much sun we’d see, though. The Oregon coast is known more for its foggy and wet weather. We selected the Astoria Seaside KOA for a two-night stay.

Astoria, Oregon

The Goonies is one of my favorite movies and I’m not ashamed to say so. There’s a sentimental reason for my selection, but today is not the day to spin the tale. I can say that when visiting Astoria, all dedicated fans of the movie must visit the Oregon Film Museum. The movie was filmed there, after all.

The museum is housed in the old county jail, which was used as a movie set not only for The Goonies but Come See the Paradise and Short Circuit. Inside, visitors will find exhibits and galleries where they can learn the movie-making craft by producing their own movie. One gallery is dedicated to all things Goonies and, of course, there is a museum store.

Is that the Fratelli’s Jeep Cherokee from The Goonies?

Across the street from the museum stands the Captain George Flavel House Museum. The house, constructed in 1885 in the Queen Anne style, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. We weren’t able to tour the home during our visit, but I sure want to in the future. While conducting research, I came across interesting stories about Captain Flavel, his descendants, and the home’s restoration while conducting research. Now I want to walk through the rooms where these people lived to feel what it’s like to live a Victorian home.

Captain George Flavel House Museum

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

We made it into the visitor’s center at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park by dodging raindrops. While we waited for a cloud burst to pass by, one of the volunteers pointed out places on a map for us to explore. Armed with our rainproof hoodies and umbrellas, we ventured out onto the soggy trail.

The replica of Fort Clatsop gave us an idea of how the Corps of Discovery spent their winter from December 1805 to March 1806. It must have been a cold and wet place to settle in the early 1800s.

Fort Clatsop replica

The replica dugout in the photo below depicts one of three the Corps used when they left Fort Clatsop on March 23, 1806, along with four Indian canoes they bought, and another one they found.

Replica of a dugout the Corps of Discovery may have used

Visiting the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park inspired us to incorporate additional Lewis and Clark historical sites in our future trips. We have ticked off two spots. This one in Astoria, and the Sacajawea State Park and Interpretive Center in Pasco, Washington, which is included in our “Tri-Cities Wrap Up and On to Oregon” post. Only 14 states left for us to explore out of the 16 located along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. Under the 2019 John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, the trail was extended 1,200 miles to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Hope we’re back on the road again soon so we can get started.

We continued south from Astoria to Seaside, Oregon. Seaside is where the Corps produced salt needed to preserve meat. Due to the inclement weather, we didn’t venture out to the Salt Cairn, but we did make it to Cannon Beach to see Haystack Rock. I was only able to capture an obscured view in the photo below. The fog hung so close to shore it reduced visibility to only a few yards.

Then it was back up the peninsula to Fort Stevens State Park where we walked to the beach. I thought it strange to find the remnants of the Peter Iredale shipwreck. The four-masted steel sailing vessel ran ashore on October 25, 1906, and there she rested on the beach 108 years later at a point along the Graveyard of the Pacific.

Peter Iredale shipwreck

The Peter Iredale is but one of more than 2,000 shipwrecks that have occurred along the northwest coast from Tillamook Bay to Cape Scott Provincial Park on Victoria Island.

Peter Iredale shipwreck

I missed capturing Haystack Rock but took home the next shot as a consolation photo. Unfortunately, I have no idea exactly where the photo was taken, somewhere along the Oregon coast between Astoria and the Waldport/Newport KOA, where we stayed for one night in gale-force winds.

Rocks on the shoreline

Coos Bay and Cape Arago

Coos Bay was our next stop for two nights where the highlight of our visit was exploring Cape Arago.

Overlook along Cape Arago Highway
Tide Pools along Cape Arago Highway

The lighthouse that remains on Chief’s Island, was the third lighthouse built. An original lighthouse met its demise in 1936, a keeper’s duplex and the second lighthouse were razed in 1956 and in the 1960s, respectively. Also, a bridge from the mainland to the station was removed to prevent unauthorized access and restore the shoreline to a natural state.

Cape Arago Lighthouse from Sunset Bay Trail

The Coast Guard signed over twenty-four acres of land including Chief’s Island to the Confederated Tribes on August 3, 2013. Under the terms of the agreement, the tribes are required to make the light station available to the general public for cultural, educational, recreational, and historic preservation purposes. Apparently, the Confederated Tribes plan on developing an interpretive center, but a quick search did not reveal anything available for visitors as of July 2019.

Along the highway are places to get out of the car and view the rocky cliffs and beaches.

Rock formations along Cape Arago Highway
Uplifted Rock Formations along Cape Arago Highway

Then there is the Shore Acres State Park. The park began with the 1942 purchase of the Louis J. and Lela G. Simpson’s oceanfront estate and formal garden. Additional acquisitions expanded the park boundaries to its current size. In 1970, garden restoration efforts began, returning the garden to its earlier grandeur.

Kniphofia Papaya Popsicle or Red Hot Pokers in front of the Shore Acres Observation Building
Shore Acres Garden
Yellow Rose
Water Fountain
Rock Rose
Garden delights
Heron sculptures in the Lilly pond
Does anyone know what kind of trees these are?
Shoreline view

Back in Coos Bay, we checked out the Boardwalk. The Lady Washington was docked next to a couple of smaller and more modern looking sailing craft.

The Lady Washington Tall Ship
The Lady Washington

The Lady Washington and the Hawaiian Chieftan tall ships offer 3-hour tours when in the harbor. These replicas of historic ships travel the coasts of Washington, Oregon, California, and B.C. The crew let us on board to walk around the deck before they shut down for the day. But it was too late for a tour.

Also on the boardwalk, we found this sculpture as a tribute to veterans.

Ecclesiastes 3:8 calls for a time to love and a time to hate, a time of war, and a time of peace

It would be my preference that there was never a time for hate or war. Unfortunately, since hatred and war have been in the world since the beginning of time, I doubt my dream will ever occur.

Next up: We stop at the Central Point KOA again to take in a hike and taste a bit of Oregon wine.

Our 2014 Pacific Northwest Trip Continues in Port Angeles, Washington, and Victoria B.C.

After we had our fill of all things tulips, we headed across the bay to the Port Angeles KOA. They had opened a few days before our arrival at the end of April 2014 and were still in the process of completing maintenance projects.

Port Angeles KOA campsite

It wasn’t the finest KOA we had stayed at but the pretty wildflowers in bloom were a bonus. Since we were leaving the trailer for a night and taking the ferry to Victoria B.C., it suited us fine.

Dandelions and Daisies

Their website now lists the campground as a Journey classification, they have new camp hosts and updated amenities. Although they are open year-round, amenities and the number of sites during winter are limited.

While in Port Angeles, we had time to explore a small bit of the Olympic National Park. A short distance from U.S. Highway 101 we found Marymere Falls to be an easy roundtrip hike of 1.8 miles.

Marymere Falls Trail

There was no doubt we were walking in a rain forest when we saw tree limbs dripping with lichen, and moss clinging to the trees like a green coat. I expected fairies and gnomes to appear any minute.

Lichen draped like a sweater on tree limbs
An Alder tree (??) dwarfs the bus.

Blue Forget Me Nots and wild white trilliums poked their blossoms up through the undergrowth of sword ferns, while polished roots snaked there way around the base of the trees toward the ground.

Forget Me Nots
Bridge across rippling waters
White Trillium
Polished roots, ferns, and moss

The falls weren’t particularly spectacular, surely nothing like Niagara Falls or even Twin Falls in Idaho. But, hey, who doesn’t like feeling the spray on their face or marveling at the power of water flowing into the pool below?

Marymere Falls

We stopped at Granny’s Café for a home-style meal after our drive and hike. Granny’s history dates back to the 1950s. Their website details how each owner has honored the original vision of the restaurant while adding touches of their own. I’m sure we’d have another great meal there if we visited today.

Granny’s Cafe going strong for over 65 years

The next day we waved good-bye to the Olympic Mountains and Port Angeles as we ferried to Victoria B.C. We arrived on the first ferry to give us plenty of time for exploration.

Port Angeles, Washington, and the Olympic Mountain Range

And explore we did. First stop was the British Government Parliament Building for a tour.

Some kind of event in front of the building
Staircase inside Parliament Building
Tile mosaic floor
Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Window commemorating the 60th year of her reign from 1837 to 1897

Of course, we couldn’t pass up Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel.

The Empress Hotel
Tea at the Empress Hotel
Fresh berries with whip cream was the first course

We walked off our meal around the harbor, through downtown, and took a Dark and Stormy break at the Sticky Wicket.

Wish we had time for a 3-hour sail
Dave Harris, One Man Band, Victoria B.C.
Ferry Boat
Plenty of street art to admire
“Daddy, you’re home.”
“Them some tall tulips, Henry.”
McDonald’s everywhere we go
The Sticky Wicket Pub & Restaurant
Inside Sticky Wicket looking out

Then we went on to Beacon Hill Park, making for a long day and miles of walking. If visiting Victoria with no time to make the drive to Butchart Garden, try Beacon Hill Park as a substitute.

Beacon Hill Park is full of flowers

The garden provides visitors with peaceful surroundings to enjoy the colorful display of flowers, trees, and water features, along with geese, ducks, and blackbirds. Oh, and don’t forget the garden art.

Bouquet of flowers
“One o’clock, lady with a camera. Turn to your left. I’ll turn right.”
What you lookin’ at?
Where have all the fairies gone?
Red Hibiscus
Blue and lavender bell-shaped flowers
Okay, yellow tulips, point your faces to the right.
Monkey Puzzle tree. Watch your back.
Water fountain in the pond
Okay, here I come. Who needs a drink of water?

The Royal Scot Hotel & Suites served as our home for the night and boy did we ever have a good night’s sleep after our long day.

Royal Scot Hotel & Suites

We had plenty of time to tour the Craigdarroch Castle the next day before we caught the ferry back to Port Angeles. The Victorian era building incorporates 11th and 12th century southern French, Spanish, and Italian Romanesque elements, all evident by the arches, columns, and towers.

Craigdarroch Castle would make a great setting for a murder mystery
Inlaid tiles and wood
Fireplace detail
Stained glass window

When I heard that the man who built the castle between 1887 and 1890 was Robert Dunsmuir, I thought about the Dunsmuir House in Oakland, California, which we had visited years ago. Could there be a connection? Yes, indeed. Robert’s son Alexander Dunsmuir built the house in Oakland for his bride Josephine. Unfortunately, Alexander never lived in the Oakland home. He died in New York while on his honeymoon with Josephine who died two years later.

Information about Craigdarroch Castle can be found here.

Next up we continue looking back on our 2014 Pacific Northwest adventure as we turn south along the rugged Oregon coastline.

Safe Travels

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Mount Vernon Street Fair, and Sites along Chuckanut Highway

Our look back on our 2014 Pacific Northwest trip continues with our arrival at the Burlington/Anacortes KOA on April 23.

Our campsite at Burlington KOA

It looks like we had the place to ourselves. We did at first. Then the rain came. And then other travelers came with their trucks and campers, fifth wheels, trailers, and motorhomes. Outside our dinette window, we watched as pets and their owners ventured out to take care of business, protected by hooded jackets and umbrellas.

We shook our heads when two large German shepherds jumped out of a camper followed by their humans and wondered how they all fit in such a small space. We could barely ward off claustrophobia in our 23’ trailer. Having to share with a dog or two was out of the question. Maybe we should have opted for the model with the slide.

Everyone gets into the tulip spirit in Skagit Valley. I found these in the gardens around the KOA park during a walk in between the drizzles.

Five tulips and a daffodil

The next day we hit the roads in search of the fields and fields of tulips. What we found were fields of wet earth newly turned under, fields of green plants with the blossoms lopped off, and fields that still bloomed bright under the dark skies.

Tulip farm
Tulip field

Tulip Town and RoozenGaarde are the main growers in Skagit County, planting the majority of the 450 acres of tulips in the valley. RoozenGaarde is open year round. At their 3-acre show garden, they plant three hundred thousand spring-flowering bulbs.

Tulip Town Windmill

Tulip Town is open from March 30 through May 1. They dedicate about 10-acres of farmland to tulips in a rainbow pattern. Hop on the trolley for a ride through the fields. An International Peace Garden is also on display as is a windmill. Inside is an indoor flower and garden show, which allows visitors to get their tulip fix even when rain falls from the sky. Wander around and enjoy the art and gift shop or buy a bulb or two or twenty to display in your yard.

Tulips, and tulips, and more tulips

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival runs the entire month of April with activities throughout the county. Don’t miss the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair held on the third weekend in April.

Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair

If going, pick up a Skagit Valley Tulip Festival brochure at Knowing when and where the events occur will ensure arrival at the best time.

Music, music, everywhere at the street fair.

Vendors and artists of all kinds display their wares at the Street Fair. Jon bought his first Big Skinny wallet at the fair. I bought a beanie, and the Chinook salmon he is holding in the photo below swims around in one of our empty raised beds.

Do you Chinook, Chinook?

Jon stopped planting a vegetable garden when we started traveling so much. No sense doing all that work just to see it all go to waste when we leave.

Musical Band at Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair

We took a drive along the Chuckanut Scenic Highway (WA 11)  to Bellingham one day, which has great views of the sound and San Juan islands.

View across the sound from Chuckanut Highway
Bellingham street scene

While we were in Bellingham, we found the Whatcom Falls Park. Referred to as the Picnic Ground in the 1890s the park grew to its 241 acres by the 1930s through the generosity of local philanthropists, volunteers, donations, and federal grants.

Overlooking the Whatcom Creek Falls
Whatcom Creek Falls
Stone bridge built in 1939 of Chuckanut sandstone arches reclaimed from a burned-out building.
Moss and roots make for an interesting formation.

In Fairhaven Historic District, we came across the 1924 Zodiac Sailing Schooner. Top on my list of things to do during my next visit to Skagit Valley is a cruise throughout the San Juan Islands on the tall ship. Choose a sailing cruise ranging from a few hours to multiple days. Sign me up for the 3-day history or maybe the 4-day lighthouse tour.

1924 Zodiac Sailing Schooner

I can hear the flap of the sails and feel the spray on my face just thinking about the tall ship slicing through the waters.

At Marine Park, we couldn’t beat the view across Bellingham Bay toward Lummi and Portage islands. It was the perfect setting for our picnic lunch, especially when the train passed by.

Marine Park

Before we left Burlington, we made a trip to Camping World to pick up some kind of gizmo for the trailer. “Hey, let’s take a peek at their trailers,” I said.

So we did. The Cougar half-ton towables looked nice. “But, wait, what about the fifth wheels? We never did look at those when we bought the Aluma-Lite.”

As we drove back to the KOA Jon asked, “What do you think of the one with the kitchen in the rear?”

“It sure had a lot of counter space, plus a couch and a swivel recliner where we can sit, not just a dinette like we have now. And we wouldn’t have to get dressed in the living area.”

“We’d have to buy a new truck.”

And so the next day we headed to our stop in Port Angeles, with the Cougar brochure tucked safely in my backpack.

Safe Travels

Going Back in Time: Pacific Northwest 2014

What’s a travel blogger to do when she can’t travel? Take a break and stop posting? No, I did that after my surgery. Change the focus and write about other topics? How about politics, global warming, news of the day, or writing tips? Naw. Too much noise out there already and I don’t have anything unique to add to the discourse. Besides, I like writing about travel.

I’ve got it. Let’s go back in time. Back to 2014 to the trip that started it all.

Cue the time machine sounds. And away we go . . .

We were in a hurry when we left the San Francisco Bay Area on April 21, 2014. The tulip-watch websites declared the flowers in prime condition and visitors streaming into Skagit Valley to experience the colorful displays. Our goal was to arrive before the farmers chopped off all the tulips.

The second goal of the trip was to test out our new travel trailer (a 23′ 2013 Aluma Lite 207QB) and determine if the RV lifestyle would work for us while exploring America.

A quick stop in Medford, Oregon, for a night stay, then on to Portland, Oregon. Arriving early in the day gave us plenty of time to explore the Pittock Mansion and enjoy the Pacific Northwest rainy weather.

Pittock Mansion Exterior Garden

Henry and Georgiana Pittock began building the ‘mansion on the hill’ in 1912 and moved in during 1914. The couple met in Portland after they each crossed the country on the Oregon Trail. They helped shape the great City of Portland from a stump town in the 1850s into the industrial city that prospers today.

Pittock Mansion Garden View
Pittock Mansion Staircase

Henry worked as a typesetter for The Oregonian and in 1860 became its owner. He also invested in real estate, banking, railroads, and many other industries. Georgiana, meanwhile, founded several charities and cultural organizations.

Architectural Detail

The last Pittock family members to live in the home moved out in 1958 and planted a for sale sign. On October 12, 1962, the Columbus Day Storm arrived with its hurricane-force winds. The storm hurled tiles off the roof and smashed windowpanes. Water seeped through, damaging the interior.

Under the Staircase

Developers came sniffing around two years later. They wanted to tear the mansion down and build a housing development.

Pittock Mansion Library

Many thanks go out to the dedicated residents of Portland for raising the funds to purchase the property, save the mansion and restore it to its earlier glory.

Pittock Mansion Library

It’s hard to believe that the restoration took only 15 months. It was ready for its public debut in 1965. And to think the developers wanted to tear down such a beautiful historic building.

Pittock Mansion Kitchen and Restored Flooring

Wandering around exploring the inside of historic homes is one of our favorite past times when traveling. We found a beauty of one such home in Portland, Oregon. Both guided and self-guided tours are available. We recommend the guided tour to learn the inside scoop and gossip.

Next up: The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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