Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Birthday laughinggeo!

Today i'm 5years old - how incredible, so much has happened in the last 5 yrs (nearly 250blogs!) - thought a face lift was appropriate with that and the big move across the atlantic

link to 1st ever post, 28th September 2005...here's to lots more posting and exciting times to come ;-)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Olympic trip-monday

An early start, quite some distance to cover in the car to get back to Seattle and the airport. The sun had also decided to take a labour day holiday, the cloud clung to the sides of the hills and rolled in off the sea, we cruised through a few small towns and navigated ourselves to the ferry port north of Seattle, making a direct line now for the first ever Starbucks, which we noticed in fact has a very slightly different symbol to the well known green circle! We actually got our coffee in le Panier which caught our eye as it had exceedingly good pain au chocolate! Delicious, and how S managed to find us a seat I've no idea!

We strolled around the lovely Pike Place market which had many gorgeous items, although none of which managed to make it into our hands! It was all very pleasant and we it felt quite similar to norway with all the boats in the harbour, bays, greeness and mountains close by!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Olympic trip-sunday

Today is going to be a busy day. First off, we are heading to Hurricane Ridge to see the views across the mountains, but first breakfast. D had a nice short stack of pancakes and i had a croissant casserole. It was berry and granola with some orange zest baked with a bit of a dough...very yummy. We had a bit of a walk after that to kick in the digestion and look at the beautiful lake in front of us.

We got ready and headed to port angeles and then hurricane ridge. We found a nice walk of 1.6 miles which should bring us to a nice view point where we could see olympic on the south side and canada on the north side. After a quick snap at the amazing views already, we took off for our hike. Along the way we found a very cute and speedy chipmunk. It was really really fast. We kept walking hoping to see a marmot or a bald eagle. We got to the top and the view on the south was nice but not so much in the north...Canada was in the clouds! D spotted a marmot on a little rock quite far away but with we could see it quite nicely with the binos. We got closer and realize that there were actually 2 of them. They were quite big (at least bigger than i thought). We observed them for a while but the clouds were coming in so it was time to head back as we were getting quite cold. We had a close encounter with a deer along the way. But it was not too close and it looked nice. Back at the visitor center we had a nice cup of coffee to warm us us along with a nice cliff bar.

D spotted a secret back road across to the rafting place which was at the Elwha river. We headed back down the road and a little offpiste as the road turned into a dirt track. As we were a little early for the trip we took a side trip up a fabulous dense forest track where the light amongst the trees was just great.

Dave the kayak man gave us big yellow water proof trousers and wet suite boots to keep us dry and warm and we met Lorenzo the boat pilot for our trip, it was going to be a private trip just for us in a little blue inflatable. We headed about 6 miles up river back into the park before getting into the boat, it was a beautiful afternoon and we were quite excited all suited up ready to go! Lorenzo gave us a couple of tips and then it was "forward paddle 2 please", lovely. We cruised past some fisherman before hitting our first rapid, although the water was fairly low it was great fun as he led us through a bunch more rapids and told us about the mountains and trees. It was his last trip for the season. We saw lots of dippers dipping along the rocky shores and fishing along the banks, as well as a couple of kingfishers shooting away from us into the distance. "forward three please"! We managed to take a couple of pics as we cruised along a little flatter section before some more rapids, and then into the pools at the bottom infront of the dam. He showed us an enormous drowned cedar tree that still stood resolute since the construction of the dam in 1915! Then we were at the take out where the van was waiting for us and we headed back to take off out wet socks and trousers from all the splashes and excitement! Definitely a wet bum!

As dinner at lake crescent had only been nice enough we decided to make a trip up to the SolDuc hot springs for a bathe before trying their dinner. It was a lovely drive up through the forest as. The sunlight slowly slipped away, we paid our dews and hopped into the pools along with quite a few other folk, the birds were coming in to roost for the night overhead. It wasn't too sulphury and being a pleasant temperature we soaked for a while before showering and heading in for dins, lovely salmon followed by more salmon, but no space for pud unfortunately. A bit of a drive home, quick glance at the wonderful exhibition of stars overhead before packing all our stuff and crashing into bed. What a day!

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Olympic trip-saturday

Bit too much of a lie in....we eventually came round at ten to ten...but it only took us ten mins to get up and head out for breaky...such an incredible view from the breakfast table, all the logs jammed in the river and the just beyond the pacific rolling in on some big breakers. We ate like kings, hash browns with omelet and bacon and thick slabs of toast with more Marion berry jam, washed down with bottomless Starbucks coffee and followed up with muesli yogurt, we weren't ready to hit the road until nearer midday.

The ranger lady told us we weren't going to get too low a tide today so the rock pools wouldn't be very accessible, but we took a fabulous walk along the beach seeing the mist rising out of the sea blowing along the sands where the sanderlings and sand pipers ran up and down the beach avoiding the breaking surf. Seagulls grouped in flocks as the sea receded and we walked along the log strewn shores. Such a romantic start to the day!

We drove up the coast and stopped at the big cedar, which was really very large! And then further up to Rialto beach which was really pretty. Unlike the beach next to Kalaloch which had been very nice fine sand this was quite cobbly with occasional dark sand from the basalt outcrops. Again there were logs all washed up at the back of the beach, but by this time we were more interested in finding the tide pools with the promise of anemones and star fish. We weren't disappointed, altho the tide wasn't very low we could still get close enough to stick our noses into the pools and see some of the incredible greens of the anemones and purple and oranges of the star fishes. We decided to dash back to Beach 4 where we found yet more tide pools and lots of barnacles and a great selection of star fish, fabulous. So many photos and several wet feet episodes as we got a little too close to the now incoming tide! Well worth it though!

By the time we'd walked over all the cliffs and taken a million photos it was nearly 3...definitely time to get going up to the Hoh rain forest, it was hard dragging ourselves away from the blue blue sky and sweeping beaches where we could see some sort of scoup diving in the surf zone, but the mountains were calling.

We flashed our NP frequent flyer badge and were waived into the park free of charge, the rain forest that receives something like 12ft of rainfall per year just around the corner. We saw a cafe called the hard rain cafe instead of the hard rock cafe!

We did a little walk called the hall of mosses which was covered in lots of mosses, all hanging from the trees, both amazingly impressive. We saw a little red squirrel eating his 4hr while we were fearsomely nibbled by the mosquitos! Then we carried on to the xxxx walk it really was a great walk. About 5 mins after D said how quiet it was, but where are all the animals did we spot across the other side of the river a herd of Roosevelt Elk, fantastic, time for the long lenses and the binos and even a male with some large antlers! We were super pleased with seeing them...

We headed back for the car to get to our final destination of the day, Lake Crescent lodge. We got in the car and a few minutes down the road, some cars stopped to observed some elk munching on the side of the road. We did the same and parked the car nearby observing from the other side of the road at a safe distance. D took some nice shots making his famous moose impression!! Then the elk decided to cross the road and we didn't want to scare him of so we stayed quietly in the car. He decided to munch literally right in front of the car. S not being the best with animals at such close quarters was quite (actually very) scared and hid behind the dashboard, D kept saying "don't to look up". I glanced a few times and didn't like what i saw..his huge antlers right in front of the windscreen! The ranger came to our rescue and the damn elk would not move whatsoever even with the flashing lights and the sounds...unbelievable. We finally managed to leave and i was quite happy about that!! We made it back quite late at the crescent lodge so we settled quickly and headed for a well deserved dinner overlooking the lake. Time to rest to be ready for another day of adventure tomorrow!

Friday, September 03, 2010

Olympic trip-friday

The light slowly woke us and we could smell something like toast coming up the stairs. Time for breaky. Tremendous way to start the day, a cranberry and walnut scone followed by banana and coconut sorbet and then the fabulously decadent french toast which was infact a croissant filled with cream cheese drizzled with Marionberry jam served with bacon! We were well set up for the road.

It was nearly 10 by the time we got on the road heading to the coast, first stop lake quinault on the very southern edge of the park, it was fabulous heading along the tree lined roads catching glimpses here and there of the Olympics way in the distance, it was a gorgeous day with lots of blue sky and warmth, there were lots of crows and the occasional bigger bird circling over head.

We stopped into the national forest ranger station to get some tips and then at the general store for some snacks before seeing the worlds largest special tree, pretty large diameter, Soaz even did some climbing and posed for the camera half up the trunk!!

We were headed for the end of the road for a walk along the huge river, the scenery was super nice, lots of heavily wooded valley sides and most of the trees carrying large mossy beards! The river must have a massive energy in flood for the logs strewn about the gravel beds were plentiful and mostly full size trees, not just saplings, but today the river was pottering down quietly enough for a dipper to be enjoying lunch on the banks and in the current, we watched him and a juvenile perhaps at a road stop with sweeping views up to rocky peaks in the distance. S spotted a fine waterfall so we stopped and posed next to the park sign and admired the falls before finding the start of our chosen walk for the day.

Wolf bar camp spot was 2.5miles walk along the edge of the river, there was a little car parking spot where we changed and packed our cliff bars before sauntering along the little path, the trees were huge, towering above us, many covered in long wispy mossy fronds, nicely dry today, and difficult to imagine this place reportedly gets 12ft of rain a year, fingers crossed none this weekend please! It was a great walk, we saw a big green toad with a white stripe down its back, some large green slugs, lots of insects, some of which decided to eat us and even a little snake that disappeared quickly into the undergrowth!

It was a very nice walk and we went back towards lake quinault using the north road this time. We stopped at the National Park ranger station but they were closing. The lady gave us a few tips and we were on our way to see the trail. It was a very pleasant trail where we saw lots of moses.

It was then time to head to kalaloch our final stop of the day. We got there just fine and checked into our nice little log cabin which look like a norwegian cabin with a fire place. D made a nice fire for us and the cabin temperature increased by 10 degrees easily.

We had a fantastic dinner, made of baguette with chives and cream cheese topped with salmon and marion berry jam...soo good! Followed by alaskan salmon and halibut and the grand finale was a marion berry cobbler...such a tasty dinner! Now time to go to bed and rest for tomorrow's adventure.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Olympic trip-thursday evening

We landed under a fiery deep red sunset and could see Mt Rainer just behind the airport, we had also seen it from the air and were generally pretty excited to be in Seattle for a tour of Olympic National Park. No bags to collect we jumped on a bus to take us to pick our hire car which worked out very smooth and we were on the road down to a little B&B (the Swantown Inn) in Olympia about an hour south.

It was gorgeous, and the chap was very friendly, we got settled and D even sneaked in a couple of much needed chocolate biscuits, well we had been on the go since 1pm and it was pretty much midnight NOLA time. Such a nice room and soft sheets, we were out like lights!