Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Driftwood Days

We spent several days on Whidbey Island, parked in Rocky Point Recreation Area - a great spot near Oak Harbor. It's actually on NAS land (Naval Air Station), but they allow others to use it ($7 for military, $8 for us.) What a deal! The spaces are huge and within sight of the Strait of Juan De Fuca and walking distance to the beach. If you're interested in a cheap and scenic campground, the coordinates are 48.32172, -122.69814. No hookups, of course, but they have a dump with water. We heard rumors that they might close it, so call the Gallery Golf course to check first.

We were lucky to be in Oak Harbor during their annual Driftwood Days. What a hoot! Groups of people get together and build imaginative things out of anything they find on the beach. They create their masterpieces at low tide, the judges award prizes, then the creations are washed away by the incoming tide.

I liked this one because the youngsters put a lot of detail in it. They had decorative seaweed, pieces of driftwood for cups and plates, and seashell hors d'oeuvres. Also they were cute kids.

This one is hard to see, but it's a giant octopus which has captured these kids who played it up, yelling for help. I liked the interactivity.

This very solid looking boat had the coolest figurehead on the prow. I do have to wonder if they cheated and brought it with them. What are the chances that they found it that day?

And look at this gorgeous starfish. I would give them 'best use of material' with all the rocks and green touches.

Another great boat. I swear this one looked like it should float.

But my very favorite was this Loch Ness monster because they used the water as part of their creation. That was brave. In fact right after I took this picture, the head fell down. Luckily the judging was over.

As you can see, there is plenty of driftwood available for the contest.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

This and That

We spent a week in Mt. Vernon, WA, and, although they pale beside the crabbing experience, we did do a few other things.

When we first arrived, we ran smack into some police action.

We even made the paper.

I just liked this lone tree we found on our walk around one of the San Juan Islands.

There is always food involved with the WINs. This was just finger foods, but we filled up.

One day we took a tour of the Boeing factory in Everett. Cameras are not allowed on the tour, but we saw them building the giant 747s and the new 787s. They get parts from all over the world and built specially modified 747s to transport them. I thought it look like a pregnant airplane.

One day we visited nearby La Conner, home of the famous (in their minds, anyway) Rainbow Bridge. Cute town, but honestly, all these little towns are cute.

But for something unusual, just look at these clouds!

Have you ever seen a perfect 'feather' cloud?

One more of Rainbow Bridge and cool clouds.

Can you see what this naughty little fountain dog is doing?

Oh, and most exciting, we did laundry and replaced a spring on one of the leveling jacks that broke. Woo-hoo!

On a totally unrelated topic, my daughter's friend posted this warning on Facebook.

As Hurricane Irene prepares to batter the East Coast, federal disaster officials have warned that Internet outages could force people to interact with other people for the first time in years. Residents are bracing themselves for the horror of awkward silences and unwanted eye contact. FEMA has advised: “Be prepared. Write down possible topics to talk about in advance. Sports...the weather. Remember, a conversation is basically a series of Facebook updates strung together."

Not to make light of a serious subject, but I thought it was cute.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

New Experience

And really, what would life be without a new experience now and then? This one happened when Ron and I moved north to Mt. Vernon, WA, to join our friends at the Skagit (rhymes with gadget) County fairgrounds.

Fellow WINs Ron and Patty have been living in the area all summer, enjoying Ron's boat. They went above and beyond on the hospitality by taking all of us out for a day of crabbing, six at a time. It took three days to give everybody a turn.

Here's Captain Ron.

It was pretty foggy when we motored out, but Ron had lots of lookouts.

Whoa, what's this? Looks like some kind of ghost ship.

Able first mate Patty did a fine job.

I couldn't believe the number of crabs that we caught. I was so shocked that I forgot to take a picture until half were out. Even with throwing back all the females, which most of them were, we ended up with 10 legal-sized crabs out of two traps.

I thought I was holding it as instructed, but this one still scratched me.

Charlotte is fearless and took control of this monster.

The fun really began when the crabs started escaping the cage and running all over the bottom of the boat. No pictures, sorry, I was too busy screaming like a girl.

Ron uses a clever method to kill them - one quick chop in half. Seems much more humane than throwing them in the boiling water alive. Here Diane tries the technique.

Then he cleaned them right on the boat. This guy was hoping for a taste.

We took our catch to Saddlebag Island, which is a state park, where Ron proceeded to cook them in a big pot with a propane gas burner that he had brought along. What a guy!

We all agreed that it was a memorable day. We can't thank Ron enough for giving us this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Mt. St. Helens - East Side!

Or maybe I should say 'the other side.' The east entrance to Mt. St. Helens is less accessible and therefore not as popular. That's unfortunate because, in my opinion, it's much more interesting. Although the west side has that lovely observatory and the view of the Toutle River valley, the east has been left to recover on its own. You see the three distinct areas of devastation, created by the May 1980 horizontal blast from Mt. St. Helens.

After driving along a twisty road through beautiful old growth forest, you turn a corner and there it is - the scorch zone. In this first zone, which extends up to 17 miles from the volcano, the trees were instantly killed by a cloud of hot air and fine ash. You can see these ghost trees still standing after 31 years and the new growth since then.

Next is the blowdown zone from 7.5 to 15.5 miles from the mountain. In this area, the trees were snapped off and lie pointing in the direction of the blast.
In the closest zone to the mountain, the tree removal zone, the trees were actually ripped out of the ground, roots and all. I was confused because there isn't much debris in that area, but the ranger told us these trees were not just ripped out of the ground, but were blown for miles. Sure enough, we did see them in the other zones, but I didn't get a good picture. Just imagine giant trees flying through the air!

You also get a nice view of Spirit Lake, which rose 800 feet in a tidal wave effect when the north side of the Mt. St. Helens collapsed into it. That snapped off all the trees on the surrounding hills and carried the logs back to the surface of the lake. Although a lot have since sunk to the bottom, you can see all the logs that remain floating to this day.

At the end of the road is a parking lot with a ranger who gives an informative talk and answers questions. That doesn't sound like much, but he was very good. But for those who just have to do more, there are 368 steps to the top of Windy Ridge.

The flowers weren't quite as magnificent as on the other side, but there were some nice patches. Here's nearby Mt. Adams as seen from about half way up the steps.
For those of you who don't want that much of a workout, I'll be honest. It isn't worth it. You get a view of Spirit Lake which isn't as good as the one from the viewpoint along the road. And you see Mt. St. Helens from 200 feet higher than at the bottom of the steps. It's just for bragging rights.

Here's the lady herself. But wait! What's that I see?


That's a lot of steps to run down.
Before you ask, that was just blowing ash coming off the edge of the mountain. Although it does put out steam at times, that would come from the center.

Speaking of steam, here are a couple of steam engine pictures for my father.

We found it in Elbe, WA, and I had to stand in the street to get the picture, so I couldn't get the whole thing in. Looks old.

And in the 'what the heck' category, I want to know who rides in the lawn chairs?

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Mt. Rainier

Our next stop was Mineral, WA, a tiny town on a pretty lake which is convieniently located near Mt. Rainier.

We headed up to Mt. Rainier National Park and had this lovely first look at the mountain. See it? Pretty great, huh?

At the Longmire museum, I was very impressed by this picture. This is the actual garb worn by the first woman to climb Mt. Rainier. Wow! Like the climb itself isn't hard enough without wearing a dress to do it!

We stopped to admire Christine Falls, obviously named after my younger daughter. Although the lower section of the falls was pretty with the stone bridge framing it . . .

I thought the upper part was more interesting.
(Yes, I know I promised no more waterfalls, but I believe I specified Oregon waterfalls.)

Then I noticed what my GPS was trying to tell me. Ah, if it was only that easy to find.

Here's Ron at one of the viewpoints patiently waiting for the mountain to appear.

But wait! How about another waterfall? This is Narada Falls - another beauty.

We finally reached the Paradise visitor center. At 5400ft, this is the highest point on the park road and the departure point for climbers to the 14122 ft. peak. Mt. Rainier is truly a sight from this point, but, alas, she was completely hidden in the clouds.

Looking for other entertainment, we spotted this park ranger cutting steps in the snow. Hum. I don't see those lasting too long.

And the other mountains in the area looked pretty cool.

But little did I realize, the best view I would get of Mt. Rainier would be on a walk around Mineral Lake from the campground where we stayed. However this was the next evening since it never did clear up that day.

Now I know what you're thinking, "Why didn't you wait until the next day to visit Mt. Rainier?" Well the answer is we were pressed for time and had something else already planned. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Loggers' Jubilee

We moved on to Napavine, WA, where we stayed on property owned by Jerry who is a former WIN. It's amazing but he looks just like he did 10 years ago when I first met him. I wish I could say the same about myself.

We had our normal fun time with the rest of the WINs, but we also attended the 69th Annual Loggers' Jubilee in Morton, WA. This event celebrates the long history of logging in the Pacific Northwest and is the most entertainment you can buy for $5!

The day began with bed races between the girls of the area schools. Those girls really flew down the street.

Each bed had a trusting boy riding along. This one just had to see where he was going - maybe not so trusting.

Then it was time for the parade. Ted snapped this picture of Ellie, Joanne, Carolyn, me, and Ron waiting for the start. I just had to laugh because it looks like we can't decide which direction to watch for it.

Ah, here it comes with a most unusual color guard. Aren't they WW1 uniforms?

This superhero's horse moved forward when he bounced. That must have been quite a workout.

The Shriners made their usual splash, or bang in this case. That dummy really flew out of the cannon.

And you never saw so many logging trucks, but it was the theme of the parade, after all.

I liked the artwork on the side of this truck.

After eating some unhealthy food at the vendor booths, we made our way to the arena for the main event. The raising of the flag was especially moving with twisted steel beams from the World Trade Center on the truck behind the flag. No, we will never forget.

Although I'm not sure of the event names, I think this was the 'tree climb' - a race to climb an 80' pole and zoom back down. This contestant did the climb like he was walking on level ground.

This is the 'horizonal chop.' I'm posting this for two reasons: 1 - Look at the flimsy shoes these guys wear. Where are the steel-toed boots? and 2 - He was the only one with a nice plaid lumberjack shirt on. That was before they made him change into the contest t-shirt.

This was the 'single buck' event. Each man had a really long saw and a helper who placed a wedge into his cut and oiled the saw.

The next two are the 'springboard chop' where the logger cuts a notch in the tree, slaps in a spingboard and jumps up on the board - twice!

Then standing on the second springboard, he chops through the log attached to the top.
There were several 'log malfuncitons' where the top log toppled without being cut through.

There was a clown who made us all nervous when he climbed up the 80' pole and, at the top, juggled, did a handstand, and generally goofed off. Then his wife 'shot' him and he 'fell' off the pole. Of course I missed the beginning of the fall. I do wish they would announce when to start filming.

And I don't know the name of my favorite competition but I'm calling it the 'Log Run'. Check out the balance, speed, and skill required for this event.