Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Nov. & Dec. 2015 in Camp Verde, AZ

We have really enjoyed our stay in Camp Verde,  it's a good central location for exploring the area. Here are a few hiking pictures from our Sedona outings. We love Sedona for all the hiking and jeeping trails...amazing red rocks and scenery. This was one of our first hikes to Fay Canyon, a fairly easy hike.   

This day we hiked the Little Horse Trail to Chicken Point. The trail took us within viewing distance of the Chapel of the Holy Cross. On the way back we took a side trail which took us over to the Chapel. It's a very peaceful place to visit. Visitors are welcome to go inside and have a quiet time to reflect or a time of prayer. 

Inside the chapel with the cross forefront to amazing views.

Hiking Cathedral Rock. This hike was a bit more challenging in places, had to do a little boulder crawling. 

Met up with this seasoned hiker on Cathedral trail. He lives in the area and hikes here a lot. He pointed out many different rock formations and their names. Showed us other trails and ended up leading us down a back trail to Oak Creek which runs thru Sedona. Great day. 

Quite the vantage point, yes, that's Tom out there. 
I was standing in what they call the saddle of Cathedral where a vortex is located. There are several known vortex locations around Sedona which are said to have energy fields that many people believe can be felt within. The vortexes are a very popular attraction in Sedona, spiritual to many. 

On our way down from the saddle.

El Nino has produced colder than normal temperatures in AZ this winter. Sedona has had a couple snowfalls, we wanted to see a little winter and get in the Christmas spirit. 

The snow and the red rocks created such beautiful scenes.

 Jeeping with our family. Soldiers Pass Trail and Mushroom Rocks.
I can't believe we've been in this area 2 months, there are so many more trails we wanted to check out. Guess we'll have to come back. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Oregon, Columbia Gorge

Am catching up with our travels in Oregon, what a beautiful state, I'm sure we will return.
We traveled north thru central Oregon to the city of The Dalles on the Columbia River. Here we turned due west heading for the coast. We drove the historic Columbia River Scenic Byway, also known as Hwy 30. The highway runs along the Columbia River and the Columbia gorge. (The Columbia River forms the border between Oregon and Washington.) The scenery and history beyond any of our expectations, it was beautiful. The highway was designed and built in the early 1900’s for the emerging auto travelers. It’s a narrow winding road with beautiful views of the river, the gorge, spectacular waterfalls, architectural designed bridges and the most beautiful rest stop we’ve ever seen. It’s a highway meant to enjoy, the speed limit only 45mph. 

Crater Lake, Oregon:

Crater Lake was formed by a volcanic eruption that occurred thousands of years ago. At 1,943 feet deep, it is the deepest lake in United States. It is fed only by rain and snow. It has no river inlets, no boat ramps, only one steep hiking trail to the bottom, making it one of the cleanest large bodies of water in the world. It is famous for it’s exceptional clarity and intense blue color. 

Even with the smokey skies from the nearby wildfires,
the water was the bluest water I’ve ever seen. 

The smokey skies added it’s own special effects on the landscape,
at times it looked like a watercolor painting.

Odell, OregonAlong the Columbia Gorge near Mt Hood.
Hood River Fruit Loop, I loved this day. The fruit loop is approximately 30 miles of orchards, wineries and farmland with fruit and vegetable stands. We visited a farm with huge gardens of fresh flowers for the picking, the flowers were beautiful, (was missing our gardens). It was rather expensive to pick a bouquet of flowers, wonder why this hasn’t caught on in Wisconsin, perhaps because so many grow flowers.(?) We did pick blackberries...large, juicy and very tasty, also bought some blueberries. The fruit loop took us by vineyards and beautiful orchards of apples and pears. We stopped at a winery for some wine tasting and left with a couple bottles of local wine

Our fresh berries, we were in berry heaven.

Traveling the Columbia River Scenic Byway:
So many beautiful waterfalls along this highway. Multnomah Falls being one of the most famous. It’s height of 620 ft makes it the tallest falls in the state. A short climb up to the Benson bridge is a great place to enjoy the view or feel the mist of the falls. There are more than 90 waterfalls along the Columbia Gorge.

Along the scenic byway...can you believe this is a rest stop? The Vista House, the most beautiful rest stop ever. Completed in 1918 as an observatory and rest stop with majestic views up and down the Columbia River.
Inside the rest stop, stained glass windows and beautifully tiled floors.
A view of the Columbia River from the Vista House Rest Stop.

Next post we'll be on the coast. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Redwoods in northern CA

Marker at a trail head.
 In walking among these gigantic trees that are 1,000+ years old and feeling such
calm quiet peace...for a moment it feels like all is right in the world. 

I've included some quotes about the Redwoods because in many cases 
my words just don't seem adequate.

This is their temple, vaulted high,
And here we pause with reverent eye,
With silent tongue and awe-struck soul;
For here we sense life's proper goal.
To be like these, straight, true and fine,
To make our world like theirs, a shrine;
Sink down, O traveler, on your knees,
God stands before you in these trees.
Joseph B Strauss "The Redwoods" 1932  

The Eternal Tree House was once a huge Redwood estimated to be 2500 years old when it was cut by loggers in the early 1900’s. The remaining stump contained a huge cavern caused by fire. It was used by Indians, trappers and even livestock for shelter. In 1950 the 20 ft area was made into a gift shop. Although the original trunk of the tree is gone, the stump remained and continued living. Today it is the parent of more than a dozen Redwoods which grow from the stump’s roots and are now more than 40 ft high. The Eternal Tree House is located on the Avenue of the Giants highway in the little burb of Redcrest. Our campground was also on the Avenue of Giants highway about a mile from here. Ancient Redwoods RV park was one of our favorite RV parks.

The Redwoods have remarkable resilience. They are nearly immune to insects, decay and fire. They have a thick bark (up to 12” thick) that provides protection, it contains a resin that is distasteful to termites and insects. When exposed to fire the bark chars and turns into a heat shield of sorts. What an amazing tree.
Hard to believe but this Redwood is still alive and thriving, the branches on top looked like any other healthy Redwood. These cavities have been caused by fires over many years. Intense fires can penetrate the bark through cracks, the heartwood in the middle of the tree is "empty wood or dead wood", the tree gets it's nourishment from the outer wood under the bark.    

Can you ever take too many pictures of the Redwoods?? 

In looking at my photos on the computer the answer is  yes

As much as I tried, photos don't capture the grander of these trees and the forest. 

There are many different groves within the Redwood National Park, these groves were either from land donated to the park or money was given to the Redwood Preservation Foundation and the grove was then named after them. The groves range from small acreages to 1,000's of acres. To mention a few, there is the Roosevelt Grove, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Rockefeller Grove and Founders Grove. 
We heard about the Stout Grove and didn't realize until we arrived at the trailhead and read the sign that we were quite familiar with this name. Back where we come from in WI, the Stout name was huge in logging. There are streets named after him and his partner, Knapp. The Stouts built a beautiful mansion of a house on an island on Red Cedar Lake, accessible only by boat. It has passed hands several times but is still known as Stout Island. We learned that the Stouts were also involved in the lumbering business in the Redwoods.   

As the trees grow in height they often lose their lower branches creating 
this beautiful canopy over head.   

In the early 1900's, Charles Kellogg built a camper out of a hollowed out Redwood tree and traveled the country bringing awareness to preserving the ancient Redwood trees. It was called the Travel Log. It was mounted on WWI military truck. Today we realize what a gift his (and other's) forward thinking has given us. 

Many Redwoods with burned out cavities are alive and thriving in the forest.

I liked our reflection in this sign. 

Redwoods sprout new trees from the fallen trees or limbs. 
Here you can see a new tree sprouting from a rotting redwood.  

The redwood is one of the few conifers that sprout from the stump and roots, and it declares itself willing to begin immediately to repair the damage of the lumberman and also that of the 
forest-burner.” ~John Muir 

A tree hug.

Another Redwood that survived the ravages of man (the tree is still alive).
 Known as the girded tree, back in the 1900's it was stripped of it's lower bark which was used for siding on a small building that served as a tourist attraction. 

Hard to believe this is all natural.

This grove with all the greenery looked like a well kept park, but it was just another grove in the forest. I'm not sure why this one had so much of the clover like greenery growing while others didn't...but it sure was beautiful. 

Our campground on the Avenue of the Giants highway.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Fern Canyon, 

in Praire Creek Redwoods State Park  Klamath CA

Oct. 2015, Fern Canyon is how I imagine a rainforest to be. After a 10 mile drive on a narrow dirt road, thru Redwoods and a little creek, we arrived at the trail head. The drive itself was beautiful, Fern Canyon the frosting on the cake.  
A mile trail thru the canyon with a creek at the bottom. 80 ft high walls covered with at least 5 different kinds of ferns. Huge overhanging trees on top the ridge. Water dripping down from the hanging gardens and the sound of trickling water, all make for a glorious hike.

Was wishing I had my mudders on. After several creek crossings, most over logs or wobbly branches strewn across the trickling water, I ended up with wet feet as did many  other hikers we met. 

Tom shows off his skills and keeps his feet dry.

 It was like walking in a terrarium.
Interesting note, a part of Jurassic Park 2 was filmed here. 

A Banana Slug, easy to see how they get their name. They can grow up to 9”.
All for now. Stay tuned for more of the Redwoods to follow. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Lassen Volcanic National Park, CA.

 Aug/2015 - This park was a hidden gem for us, we saw it on the map in route to Oregon and decided to check it out, so glad we did. We ended up camping here for several days, there was much to see and so many hiking trails. Our campground was on this little Lake Manzanita, there was a nice trail around the lake. We watched a few sunsets from this point. The highest mountain in the background is Lassen Peak which last erupted in 1917. We hiked to the top, which was a challenging climb for me but well worth it with beautiful views, we were surprised to find small patches of snow on the top, although it was very windy and cold up there.

Lassen reminded us of a little "Yellowstone". We walked the boardwalks over this hydrothermal area. Warnings to stay on the walkway explain the surface may look solid but in places it's a thin crust with boiling acidic water underneath. I liked the colors in the landscape. 
There have been many eruptions in the park and surrounding area. We climbed another volcano, Cinder Cone, a type of eruption where the top and inside blew out. It was a steep climb, all on loose cinder, another good workout worth the effort. I've never seen anything like it. Note the little pine tree growing on the top of this volcano, others on the left also making a come back. There's a trail that circles the top (which we did) but we were exhausted and didn't take the trail down into the center. 

View from the top of Cinder Cone over the back side. We were blown away when we looked over the back side and saw this view of the lava and cinder beds. It was like being in a watercolor painting. 

Heading down Cinder Cone, much easier than going up. 

At the bottom looking back at Cinder Cone, I feel a sense of accomplishment. 
(You can see part of the trail.) 

Friday, October 2, 2015

Oregon, Port Orford - September 2015

Oregon travels, south to north:
Our son asked if the beaches are crowded...I added this photo for him and his wife, they're accustomed to busy New England beaches. Those are our tracks, we walk a beach somewhere everyday and never tire of it because they're all different. 
Regarding our blog...I’ve fallen behind, will blame some on lack of internet. The Oregon State Parks on the coast have sparse internet/cell service. Other than that little inconvenience, the State Parks are very nice with beautiful ocean beach locations. Our trip thru Oregon started in the south central part of the state, we meandered north thru Bend and up the middle to the The Dallas on the Columbia River, the river divides the states of Oregon and Washington, the area known as the Columbia Gorge. The Lewis and Clark expedition followed the Columbia river to the coast (the historic Lewis and Clark Trail). Once we reached the NW corner of Oregon, we followed the coast north to south. As I write, we’re in Port Orford, near the southern border. This is where I’ll continue our blog and in time will back track on some of the highlights from earlier travels. 

Port Orford is the kind of little town we’re drawn to, not all touristy. The fishing industry appears to be the main source of employment. Interesting note, some of the fish from this little port are shipped out alive to restaurants. They’re placed in large water filled containers for shipping. I think the most fascinating thing about Port Orford is the dock itself, it’s called a dolly dock and is one of only 2 in the U.S. Since the town’s open-water harbor isn’t protected from the crashing sea swells, boats in the commercial fishing fleet are hoisted in and out of the harbor by a huge crane everyday, the boats are loaded on a trailer and kept safe up on the cement dock. It’s quite a sight to watch. 

Days End - Fishing boat being lifted up onto the dock.

 The hoist swings the boat over the dock.

This is a different boat but you can see it being loaded onto a trailer.

On our beach walk - Sea Anemones
Sea Anemones are considered to be the flower of the sea, they look like plants but are really meat eating animals. They attach to rocks in shallow water or tide pools, they wait for their food to swim by then sting it with their tentacles. (I like flowers of most any kind, it was a nice surprise to find these in a small pool on the beach.)

A little drive south of Port Orford on Hwy 101. 
Every beach, every view, every day, all different and all so amazingly beautiful.

Another spectacular view, looking towards Port Orford.