Wednesday, August 27, 2014

8/25 Mount St. Helens

I have circled the Olympic Peninsula counter-clockwise and am now headed slowly south, down the coast of Washington and Oregon. I took a slight detour before my next coastal campground in Oregon and headed over to see Mount St. Helens again.  I was here about 20 years ago when Rob was working counting owls.  It has grown up a lot, but it is still one impressive mountain!

You can see the Toutle River in this photo.



I like the way the visitor center is built into the hillside.  They have glass windows in the front that would be destroyed by another volcano blast, but there are survival rooms and equipment in the basement.
 
 
 


 
Note that I am the only motorhome properly parked in the RV spaces.

This is a memorial to the people who died in the 1980 eruption.

Friday, August 22, 2014

8/22 Lighthouse & Coast Guard Museum

I put things away and unhooked today from my camping spot and went exploring.  I knew there was a nearby lighthouse and museum.

The lighthouse was a lot closer to the beach when it was built, but construction of a jetty caused sand to build up and left it farther back.  I still functioned for many years because it was so tall. 

This is looking up at the 135 stairs from the bottom.

And looking down from the top!

This is looking up at the "clamshell" 3rd order Fresnel lens.  A clamshell lens is round on one side and shaped like a clamshell on the other.   Third order means it is bigger than fourth order lens, but a lot smaller than a first order lens which can be 10-15' tall.  Point Arena and Cape Hatteras have first order lens. 

This third order light could be seen 20 miles out to sea.

Here you can see the clamshell shape.
 
 
A view from the top.  Could not go outside so had to take photo through the glass.

Small town of Westport from the lighthouse top.

 
 This is the Coast Guard Museum in Westport.

This little building had some whale and seal bones and other things that floated up on the beach. 


This is a first order Fresnel lens from Cape Desperation, farther north along the Olympic Peninsula.  When they tore the lighthouse down, they gave the lens to the museum here and a building was specifically built to house it.  You can see how big it is!

 
 Westport is a very busy fishing port, but no one is fishing for crabs, so I was not able to buy any.  Kids at the next door campsite rented some crab pots yesterday along a dock somewhere and had a whole bucketful of Dungeness crabs!  Too cold for me to go crabbing, however, so I will wait until I can find some in a few weeks when crabbing season begins.  

This is just a small part of the harbor area.  All you could smell was fish because they have a couple of processing plants in town! 
 

8/21 Twin Harbors State Park

This is an interesting part of the Washington state coast, but this state park is not one I will come back to.  It is old and not in very good shape.  Roads are crumbling and dusty, plus there are not very many open sites for good satellite coverage.  Sites are also small and anything larger than my motorhome would not fit at all.  I have one of the largest sites, and I had to pull back to the far end just to get in. 

In addition, the beach is at least 1,500 feet away, which for me, is not walking distance.  I rode my bike down today, but was disappointed because the sand was stony.  I am no doubt spoiled from the gorgeous beach at Pacific Beach, which was my last state park.  No view here also.  A view is really important to me because I spend a lot of time working in my motorhome.

Anyway, here are some photos of the beach:

The local cross country team had been running on the beach this morning and took the opportunity to do some much needed cleanup.  There was an amazing amount of trash.  Not sure why this beach was so trashy, but it was full of empty water bottles and food wrappers. 

You can see how rocky the beach is in this photo.  Not very good for barefoot walking, not that I do that.  Even a sandy beach has sharp shells, so I usually wear beach shoes.

Monday, August 18, 2014

8/17 Pacific Beach State Park, WA

This is a terrific beach-front state park along the Pacific Ocean, on the southern part of the Olympic Peninsula.  As you might guess from my previous posts, I am headed south down the Pacific Coast for the next few weeks. 

About the only problem with this area is the heavy fog.  Most days, at least while I was here, the fog did no lift enough to see the surf until about noon.  Here is a photo of the campground.  A bit more crowded than most state parks, although since I took this at mid-day most of the weekenders were gone. 

Just walking out to the surf turned out to be quite a hike, and it was not even completely low tide.  This is an enormously wide beach, I assume from the stream that has dumped a lot of sand over the years.  Nice sand, too.  Not sharp or gravelly the way some other beach sand was in Puget Sound. 

This is the stream, about half-way out to the surf.  It bends north along the flat beach area before it finally empties into the ocean.  You can see the fog bank on the right and flowing onto the beach in the distance. Sand was nicely hard-packed for walking.

Another photo of the stream headed out to the surf.  See the small people-dots in the distance?  People are the only things that give these photos perspective.

Whew!  Finally made it to the surf.  Because the land is so incredibly flat, the waves break across a very wide area.  There is an area where the water is only an inch or two deep so you can easily walk in it with beach shoes.  There are not too many shells on this beach which makes it even easier to walk on the sand.  You could probably walk barefoot, but you would really have to be careful where you stepped.  I got a small shell piece in my beach sandals, and it was sharp!!
 
Note that in this photo you can see the fog blowing across the sand between me and the shore.  Really weird to be out past some of the fog.  You can really see the size of this beach at this point because of the tiny houses in the town far in the distance. 
 
I have my bike battery charging and am planning on a bike ride later this afternoon, so more photos tomorrow. 
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

8/16 Hoh Valley, Olympic National Park, WA

The Hoh is a wide, flat river that drains much of the rainforest here.  It is a long, but worthwhile drive up along the river to the visitor's center and hiking trails. 



 
I think this is a Western Red Cedar.
 

This is called the Moss Trail, so lots of ferns and moss. Most of the stuff on this log is Fern Moss.

Western Maidenhair Fern

Western Sword Fern

 
Lettuce Lichen growing on tree roots.  

 
 Artist's Fungus

Bracken Fern
 
Because the soil is so poor, many young trees grow on fallen trees.  Once the "nurse" tree completely decays, the roots of the trees that grew on it, still show its shape and location. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

8/15 La Push Reservation Campground

This is a basic campground with horrible internet service, but with another gorgeous view. Most of the campsites face the ocean, although the dunes make it a little hard to actually see the water, especially with the fog.  It is a very short walk to the beach, however. 

Lots of very old logs on the beach. 


This is looking northwest up the beach to the small islands that are part of the reservation.  Can't get to them, however, without a boat, and I don't think even then.  I believe they are off-limits to non-tribal members.


This view is southwest.

I looked these small jellies up, and they are called "By the Wind Sailor".  The beach was covered with them.  Here is a website that mentions them:  http://www.climatewatch.org.au/species/jellies/by-the-wind-sailor
 
Among all the other logs on the beach is this behemoth. It must have been here for ages. 

  

 

Could not resist climbing on it, but was too scared to walk all the way to the end.  The big dog was walking up and down the beach trying to find human friends.  He would latch onto a group and walk with them for a while, then pick someone else.  One young couple was holding hands, and he placed himself right in between them!  Very funny.   

Kids were enjoying climbing on and hiding in the other side of the stump.  There is one inside in this photo, but it is hard to see him.