Wednesday, August 3, 2011

what I did on my summer vacation

This is a very picture-heavy post, in case you hadn't noticed already. Which is actually kind of a pain in the butt to put together, since Blogger doesn't have a good way to handle mass uploading of photos. It can only handle five at a time, individually chosen, and all five have to have the same alignment (left/center/right) and that alignment cannot be changed after they've been uploaded. It's really quite annoying, although to be fair it is a free service so I suppose I can't complain too much.

Anyway, on with the pictures! The last week of June and first week of July were spent with our friends from New Jersey, including a week on the Olympic Peninsula. We had a really great time and got to visit a lot of neat stuff that we hadn't yet seen despite living here for ten years now.

The Hoh Rain Forest was very impressive, even for just the small hikes we enjoyed around the ranger station. The trees are enormous, as can be seen from this fallen tree that is several hundred feet long with the trail built right next to it. The park has done a great job with informational signs about nurse logs and how the trees grow, and it was very neat to see the differences between the trees as they grew.

Told you there were some big trees!

Our next excursion was to Cape Flattery, which is the most northwestern point in the continental United States. It's a very long and windy drive to get there, with the roads not in the best condition, so I am rather glad we did not ride our motorcycles out there in May like we had originally considered. The Cape itself is on tribal land, and there is a very nice but steep hike from the parking lot down to the edge of the cliff with several lookouts built into the land. The colors of the water as the tide rolled in and out were just amazing...teals, greens, blues, whites, all on the moss green and stone gray of the rocks. Beautiful!

More lovely water colors, swirling in the tide.

Since this was tribal land and not a state park, dogs were allowed on the trail. We left Phoebe in the truck since it was crowded, but the three border collies came along with us. I even got Ezri to scramble up the ladder to the biggest lookout platform with me!

They were less than impressed as they waited for all six of us to take a group picture on another lookout.

We took a whale watching trip out of Port Townsend which had a lunchtime layover in Friday Harbor, both places we had never been. Unfortunately we did not see any whales, as all three local pods were hanging out closer to Canada that day, but we really enjoyed the boat ride and our lunch at a great restaurant. I'd like to go back to Friday Harbor with more time to walk around and explore, as our short two hour layover wasn't long enough to do much.

Harbor seals out sunning themselves, including a few baby seal pups!

Bald eagle hanging out on driftwood and looking for his own lunch. I took this photo with the biggest zoom my little camera could manage, and I'm pretty pleased with it!

On the Fourth of July we drove to the top of Hurricane Ridge and did a hike along the main hiking trail at the top. It was much improved from our motorcycle visit on Memorial Day, when we couldn't even get out of the main parking lot due to snow, but the highest parking lot was still snowed in and some of our hike was on packed snow. That's quite late for even the Olympic peninsula! The views were absolutely stunning, as shown above, and we had a very good time walking around and looking at all the different alpine plants and rock structures.

Our last outing was to the Sol Duc Hot Springs, including a hike just a few miles from the resort up to a gorgeous waterfall. The hike out to the waterfall was covered with these amazing little ground cover plants, which are related to the dogwood tree and look just like little tiny dogwood branches. The hot springs were very nice and I highly recommend a visit there - the hottest one, straight out of the spring, was at about 106F - heaven on a chilly 65F day!

Tiny waterfall on our way up to the bigger waterfall. Very picturesque with the moss and the cascading water.

The main waterfall, framed between a split tree truck. I am very proud of this picture and the composition that I achieved with the tree.

It was cool for summer but brilliantly sunny, with sunlight peeking down through the trees throughout our hike. Again, I'm pretty proud of my composition in this shot and pleased that the sun flare worked out so well!

We really enjoyed our trip, and I'd like to go out to the peninsula again at some point. The only thing I found to complain about was the restrictions on dogs in national parks, which includes most of the parks and hikes on the Olympic peninsula. I understand why the restrictions are in place, but I also wish there was a way to take a "Responsible Dog Hiker" test so that my dogs could hike along with me and enjoy the days that we did.

On to our next adventure - PAX!! Just three weeks away now!

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