Neah Bay via Lake Sylvia

We planned to spend several days on the Olympic Peninsula, specifically the Olympic National Park as so many people had told us how much they enjoyed it. We scheduled a break after we crossed the extremely long bridge over the Columbia River Estuary at Astoria into Washington State. On this stop-over, we found Lake Sylvia State Park at Montesano, East of Aberdeen, where we spent a pleasant afternoon by the lake and on a loop trail around it. The next morning, on the way north, we met a National Park Ranger who insisted that we travel all the way to Cape Flattery and hike the trail out to the most north-westerly point of the Continental US. The ranger was so insistent in helping us plan this part of the trip; she had also recommended the Makah Indian Museum at Neah Bay, not far from the Cape. It was well worth the drive. We parked ourselves at Neah Bay, a village with an extensive fishing fleet and visited the museum (where no photographs were allowed). It was very interesting and the exhibits displayed the life of the tribe through the seasons with some excellent reproductions of whaling canoes and a full size ‘Longhouse.’ The Longhouse was a central meeting place for the community and provided shelter in the winter and offered shade during the summer. The museum also documented the mudslide that destroyed the Makah village of Ozette in ~1560 and the archeological dig that took place starting in 1970 after tidal erosion revealed some of the structures. Many of the artifacts at the museum came from this site. Due to over-fishing, the fishing fleet was effectively ‘grounded’ for several days, so we didn’t see much activity in the harbor.

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Cape Flattery

The next morning we drove to Cape Flattery and hiked the steep trail down to the point overlooking Tatoosh Island (named after Chief Tatoosh of the Makah Tribe). This is a truly beautiful spot with several overlooks including one with a view of the lighthouse on the Island. The trail is well maintained by the Makah Nation, who provide loaner walking sticks for the climb down and up (see below). The weather was misty, cloud ceiling low, so we took our time and tried to take advantage of the few sunny intermissions. The lighthouse was built in 1854 marking the southerly end of the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca between the USA and Canada. It was decommissioned when a more modern solar-powered light structure was built in 2008 and the lighthouse is in the process of being turned over to the Makah Nation. British explorer Captain James Cook named Cape Flattery in 1778 when searching for a way from the Pacific to the Atlantic. However, he missed the Strait and ended up sailing up the west coast of Vancouver Island.

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Map

  • Cape Flattery, WA

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    Cape Flattery, (Land's End) WA

  • Oregon Coastline in the Mist

    On our way to the Pacific North-West, we decided to travel up the coast. The rocky shoreline and expansive beaches were reminiscent of the West Coast of Scotland and we enjoyed the views, even in the mist that followed us most of the way. In addition to the many viewpoints, we stopped at Humbug State Park, Lincoln City and Cannon Beach, all with amazing rock formations. While in Lincoln City, Cheryl met up with a long lost childhood friend, Carol Cooper Jimenez, and two full days of reminiscing raised the social quotient. It had been 50 years since they last saw each other. We were so busy telling stories that we actually forgot to take pictures.

    We had fun watching a couple of very well trained Golden Labs chasing a stick into the surf (see movie below). Plus, we found a colony of Murres nesting in the cliffs by Cape Meares which were fascinating fliers. Whale watching at Depoe Bay, South of Lincoln City, was also on our agenda but rough seas and chilling winds put us off so all we saw were a few blowholes and glimpses as whales briefly surfaced before diving again.

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    Click below to start movie of the dogs:

    Elks, Jays, and an Art Museum

    Just after we crossed into Oregon, we noticed a herd of Elk by the roadside, seemingly trapped between Highway 101 and an RV Park. We spent an hour or so watching the herd dynamics as they decided which way to move. Identifying the lead decision makers and watching as they tested various alternatives was great entertainment. Steller's JayOn our way from Depoe Bay to Lincoln City, Cheryl noticed an extensive display of garden kinetic art (her favorite, see movie below) so we stopped and investigated, finding some interesting work by local artists including some fused glass pieces. Afternoon entertainment at Humbug State Park was watching Steller’s Jays fight over some chips that were left on our picnic table and more that we left on our rug (see movie below).

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    Click below to start movie of kinetic art:

    Click below to start movie about the Steller’s Jays:

  • Oregon Coast

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    Travels up the Oregon Coast

  • North to Oregon

    On our way from the LA area up to the Oregon border, we traveled most of the way on the Pacific Coast Highway (Route 1). When the coastal fog lifted, we had some beautiful ocean views. We also took a side trip or two, visited an ailing friend in Palo Alto and dropped in on the Apple Headquarters (we were only allowed in the store). We also visited Fortuna, a quaint ‘Victorian’ town South of Eureka. At San Simeon and Crescent City, we encountered some sea mammals (see below).

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    Elephant Seals near San Simeon

    Elephant Seals are amazing creatures. We happened on Piedras Blancas beach, 4 miles North of Hearst Castle, where a colony of 23,000 elephant seals is based. They started coming to this area only in 1990. The males develop bulbous noses (hence the name) and grow to as much as 5,000 pounds, 16 feet long. Mature males spend 8-9 months a year at sea alone and 3-4 months on land in a close knit colony. On land, the seals eat and drink nothing. Much ‘jousting’ occurs as the growing males seek to dominate their male companions. At sea they feed continuously and dive up to 3,000 feet for periods of 30 minutes. One in three elephant seals is eaten by Orcas. There was a lot of jousting going on when we arrived, mostly in the water.

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    Sea Lions at Crescent City

    We arrived at Crescent City and found an RV park overlooking the beach where we spent a few days catching up with some work commitments and so that Cheryl could publish our monthly community magazine. As we were falling asleep I heard what I thought was a seal bark. Cheryl convinced me that it was a dog but the next day we found a colony of Sea Lions in the Harbor. I was reminded of the famous James Thurber Cartoon (link). It turns out that Seals are fairly quiet creatures as compared with Sea Lions that bark a lot. They were definitely Sea Lions (see movie below) also identifiable by their mini ears. There must have been fish around as there were several Pelicans cruising the same area.

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    Sea Lion Movie

     

    Coastal Flowers

    One of the truly beautiful things about cruising the coast of California is the quantity and quality of the perennial flowers and succulents. We particularly enjoyed the display outside the Succulent Cafe in Solvang.
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  • California Coast

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    Travels up the California Coast

  • Santa Rosa, Sonoma County

    Tembrock's HomeWe were very happy to visit old friends from the days when Colin worked in Cupertino when his family was growing up. The Tembrocks’ children were similar ages and played together. We have many happy memories of staying with them in a cabin at Lake Tahoe and visiting their orchard in the town of Hollister. The Tembrocks now live in Santa Rosa, Sonoma Valley in a beautiful house they built on 10 acres which often houses some of their four children and 8 grandchildren when visiting. Judy has had a very successful career as a portrait and wedding photographer and Joe has planted a vinyard (English spelling) and sells 90% of his grapes to winemaking enthusiasts who come from afar when the Brix (sugar content) is just right for winemaking. Future ChardonnayThe remaining 10% is fermented, aged and bottled by Joe and I can vouch for its excellence, particularly the Petite Syrah.

    We shared many stories, found that we still had much in common, and enjoyed meeting two of their grown-up children and three grandchildren. They fed, wined, and toured us around the area. We couldn’t have wished for a better weekend.

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    Coastal Redwoods

    The California Coastal Redwoods are amazing trees, growing upwards of 350 feet and can live for over 1,800 years, making them some of the oldest living things on earth. Their longevity is helped by the fact that they are fire resistant, can live after their heartwood has been severely damaged. We spent time in the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve with our friends. We camped overnight in the Richardson Grove State Park, near Benbow, and drove ‘The Avenue of the Giants’ parallel with SR101 up towards Eureka. It’s hard to capture the immense scale of these trees but here are a few photos we took.

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    Junk Art in Sebastopol

    Cheryl has always been a fan of ‘Junk Art’ (definition: three-dimensional art made from discarded material). She was excited to learn from Judy that there was a street in Sebastopol in which every house had Junk Art in their front yard. We walked up and down and met the artist, Patrick Amiot, who supplies a piece with every home purchase and uses the street as his gallery. Some of the pieces are truly brilliant and humorous, the way everyday items are incorporated.

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  • Santa Rosa

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    Santa Rosa, California and Sonoma Valley