Sunday, September 5, 2010

Major Milestone: West Coast Washington

After three months, 7,800 miles, and countless black beans, we've made it to Washington State! What an amazingly diverse place! We drove through the north eastern part of the state which is relatively dry with sagebrush and ponderosa pines dominating the hillsides. But the rivers run bold here, and with irrigation this otherwise barren landscape becomes a verdant, fruitful land. The Washington apples are hanging heavy and ripe on the apple trees - quite a contrast from their dry mountainous surroundings.

Two friends had mentioned that we should stop in the town of Twisp, WA, so we spent the night in the cute town and found a free camping spot with hookups beside the library - score! In the morning we walked to Cinnamon Twisp Bakery for a delicious breakfast. This place was so cute and had such tasty food that I had a tourist moment and had to buy a T-shirt.

Once our bellies were full, we headed up to Heart's Pass for a scenic hike on the Pacific Crest Trail. Much to our dismay, there was a cold front moving in and little balls of ice started spitting from the sky! We bundle up once again.

We saw many pika in the talus slopes on our hike. This one's a precocious little "boulder bunny".

It was another cold and rainy day as we drove through North Cascades National Park. All the high peaks were enshrouded in clouds. We were first-hand witnesses to the rain-shadow effect of the Cascade mountains which keeps the eastern part of the state dry, and creates a lush rain-forest on the coast. Although we did not see the peaks, the misty drive was still magical.

Because of the high elevations and bountiful moisture, North Cascades National Park has over 300 glaciers, much more than Glacier National Park. I had the need to witness the glaciers here, so I put up a fight to stay in the mountains one more day before hitting the coast. Luckily it paid off, and the clouds lifted the next day. We headed up to Cascade Pass for a hike with gorgeous views of glaciers and jagged peaks. Here's the U-shaped glacial valley with pika filled talus slopes that we hiked up.

We were on the western side of the Cascade Range, and the flora changed dramatically from the semi-arid landscapes we have been traveling through for the past month or so. There were ferns, moss, and waterfalls everywhere. It really softens the rugged, dramatic landscape. Soothing to the soul as well!

Here's my mountain goat at Cascade Pass.

On September 2 we hit the west coast - only a day later than originally planned! Pretty amazing! We spent Labor Day Weekend with the Witherspoons on Whidbey Island in Puget Sound. It was such a treat to spend time with friends, visit the beach, and be able to walk to a cute town that has everything you could need or want. Here's the view of the Langley Marina with islands and the Cascades in the background. Such an amazing place!

Adalaya had a great time playing with Bella. She was really needing some girl time with her long-time friend. Bella also has 2 gerbils which was a big plus for my rodent-loving girl!

Eric took us to South Whidbey State Park which has old growth forests and a beautiful beach. Here's a cool specimen of bull kelp that Eric showed us how to cut into a horn. George is demonstrating his musical abilities.

Then we played a fun game of beach stone golf.

We ate like royalty at the Witherspoons' - homemade Belgium waffles, fresh local peaches and apples, fresh salmon, sushi, and BBQ ribs. Plus a night on the town for pizza and a movie - both of which we walked to from their house. Such a great visit! Thank you Amanda, Eric, Bella and Theo for all the good food and good fun! We miss you already!


  1. Hi Folks, Your adventures seem to get better and better. It was such fun to see photos of Amanda and Bella(so grown up)after so many years. What a treat for you all. I am learning so much geography from your travels.
    Travel quote: I have found that there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. Mark Twain

  2. The comment above was made by Rosanne. I can't figure out hoe to get Annie's name off of my account. I'm working on it.