Oregon and Washington

During my freshman year in college, I had the roommate from hell.  Imagine if you will… at a freshman college orientation, someone claiming their hobbies were “the stock market and money.”  Obsessive compulsive to the max, this guy would come in at 2am and spend 30 minutes getting ready for bed.  About midway into the first semester, I was going nuts!  Enter Chris Dunphy… He and I successfully executed the roommate swap (but thankfully it didn’t involve a menage-a-troi suggestion as it did in the Seinfeld episode).  For some reason, his roommate, a complete dingbat of a jock, and my roommate, Mr. Anal Retentive Financial hobbyist, got along, and so did Chris and I.  I forever will be in debt to Chris in helping me to restore my freshman year sleep pattern!  Anyhow, Chris Dunphy is now jobless and homeless by design.  Sound familiar?  He is living out of a T@B trailer and mostly staying with friends up and down the California coast.  We didn’t know too many people up and down the West coast, especially North of San Francisco, but thanks to Chris, we were going to meet a few folks.

In the last thrilling episode of T&A’s Big Adventure, we left you at Mt. Shasta, California.  Our attempt at updating our blogs got cut short in Mt. Shasta.  It turns out that Chris was heading south to Harbin Hot Springs and we were heading North.  The logical meeting place for us was about 4-5 hours North of Shasta at Martha’s Rhea Ranch (aka Neverdone Ranch) in Lebanon, Oregon.  So we headed North to meet up, skipping Crater Lake and the Oregon Vortex.  And we had a blast riding round the gorgeous grounds and chasing Rheas on an ATV.  They are actually quite beautiful birds.  We enjoyed playing with the other animals including the dogs, rabbits, chickens, and cats.  Martha and Leslie were incredibly nice hosts!  Thanks Martha and Leslie!

About 130 miles south of the California/Oregon border, the Sierra Nevada mountain range ends and the Cascade range begins.  And my-oh-my… the Cascades are striking. The aforementioned Mt. Shasta is but the first impressive hunk of volcanic mountain in the chain.  The cascades are a result of the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area of tectonic activity that forms a huge circle around the Pacific ocean.  Specifically, the Juan de Fuca plate is being shoved under the North American Plate creating a subduction zone. At this meeting of the plates, magma rises about 100-300km inland from the trench where the plates meet, creating striking volcanoes and mountains that pop up out of the surrounding hills with amazingly steep escarpments.

The destructive and renewal power of the earth is incredibly evident when looking at Crater Lake.  Around 4860 BC, Mt. Mazama erupted with a force that is estimated to be 42 times more powerful than the 1980 Mt. Saint Helens eruption.  After the eruption, the center of the volcano collapsed and formed the nation’s deepest lake.  Water only enters the lake from precipitation, and water only exits the lake via evaporation.  As sunlight hits the water, all colors, except for the deepest blue, is absorbed.  It is an incredibly beautiful area.  Teresa and I hit the trail and headed up to the top of Crater Lake National Park, Mt. Scott at 8926 ft, for gorgeous views.

We also hiked a trail by Annie Creek to view the pinnacles (volcanic hoodoos) and provided the mosquitoes with a tasty snack: us!

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to hike down to the lake or take a boat ride because I noticed that my front tire had gone flat.  Unfortunately, it was Sunday, and we ended up driving all the way to Grant’s Pass, Oregon to fix the tire.  At this point, we realized it was silly to drive all the way back to the park, so we continued on to the Oregon Vortex.  Unfortunately, we forgot our Mystery Spot Test Kit, but we did notice a few strange things.  Peoples’ height appears to be different at two different ends of a platform.  I agree this can be magnified by the building behind it, and by the camera/platform orientation, but I can’t explain these photos where there is no building, and I pretty much verified that the camera/platform was at a proper angle.

After another brief overnight stop at Neverdone Ranch, we actually took a detour west to the beautiful Oregon coast to visit our favorite microbrew, Rogue.  As it turns out, Rogue is too big now to be called a micro-brewery.  And it was pretty evident why.  They produce AWESOME beers, and the experts agree.  Rogue has more awards than they have room to display.  They certainly have a beautiful brewery location on the bay just across from historic Newport, Oregon.

When we arrived, we actually did get to see the god-like brewmaster, John C. Maier enjoying one of his brews at the pub above the brewery.  I was pretty certain it was him from the pictures I saw on the Rogue website, but my suspicions were only confirmed after we left the pub and started our tour.  Oh well.  It would have been great to chat with him.  The tour was pretty good.  We learned what we suspected.  Award winning brewer, John Maier, is allowed to do anything he wishes… no skimping on ingredients!

In what is becoming a more frequent occurrence, we opened our purse strings a little bit and decided to stay in the Rogue Bed and Beer above the Newport Public House.  Wow!  What a great place.  It is basically a furnished apartment right in the historic area of Newport, a short walk away from the bay, and probably a healthy walk from the beach.  The room came with a two pint glasses and two 22oz Rogue beers of your choice.  Overall, visiting Newport and Rogue was a great experience.  We will have to open our purse strings a little more often!  (We’ll only be travelling another month and a half anyhow.)

We headed North along the coast, stopping at a public beach to finally complete an update of our website, but it wasn’t without a bit incompetence… and, as one of my favorite quotes goes, “incompetence always leads to adventure.”  I accidentally left the head lights on (with the key in the ignition) while we sat in our car and completed our web update.  We managed to drain our car battery to the point where the engine wouldn’t turn over.  Fortunately, there was enough juice in our auxiliary battery to jump ourselves.  Nice!

On our way again, we got a call from Matt and Cindy from Vancouver, WA.  We met Matt and Cindy in Zion back in April and had been communicating via e-mail to let them know we were heading through the area.  They graciously invited us to stay with them at their home.  We had a great time talking about their trip to Europe.  Thanks Matt and Cindy!

Of the Cascade mountains, the most active of them is also the most famous.  In 1980, Mount Saint Helens provided America (and the world) with a front seat to one of nature’s most amazing spectacles.  The eruption of Mount Saint Helens and resulting landslide was the largest in historic times.  The landslide was awesome.  We saw photos in series literally showing a huge hunk of the mountain sloughing off.  Unbeknownst to many (including us), Mount Saint Helens is continuing to erupt.  A lava dome is continuing to build inside the caldera of the 1980’s eruption of Mt. Saint Helens.  (This currently episode of dome building started in October 2004.)  We thought it would be cool to experience a little earthquake while we were up near the mountain, but no such luck.  In any case, it was pretty neat to see the continuing recovery.  Compare the pair of images below.  The first image on the left (from my 1999 trip) with the next image and note the land’s ability to recover.

If the volcano of the past is Mount Mazama / Crater Lake, and the volcano of the present is Mount Saint Helen’s, then the volcano of the future is Mount Rainier.  Mount Rainer has the potential to destroy a good hunk of Seattle.  The good news is, people should have time to evacuate.  This is one of the most beautiful hunks of rock we have seen in our travels.  Mount Rainier sits at 14,400 ft, but the surrounding peaks only reach 7000 ft or so; Mount Rainier stands like a giant amongst the other rocks.  Paradise is an area that I had not visited before, but the name is an apt description. We must have hit it at the height of wildflower season.  It was just gorgeous!  And Mount Rainier was kind enough to peek through the clouds a few times for us.

After a long drive, we ended up on the Olympic peninsula in the rainforest.  Olympic National Park is the centerpiece of the peninsula and sports three vastly different terrains, including beach, rainforest (142 inches of rain a year!), and the Olympic range of mountains.  We did a couple of rainforest hikes… one in the North Fork of the Quinalt area and two in the Hoh Rainforest.  Impressive trees!  What is most interesting?  The new trees “nurse” by feeding on a decaying log.  You end up with these lines of trees, as well as trees that appear to stand on “root stilts”.

The beach area is also gorgeous.  Huge rock monoliths jut up out of the tidal areas and off shore.  Most of the beach areas have steep hillsides or rocky cliffs just above the shoreline affording some wonderful views.  Teresa and I did a 5 mile hike along the beach, exhausting ourselves trying to get some traction in the sandy soils.

Time to visit the home of the gods.  According to Greek legend, Zeus lives high on Mount Olympus.  Zeus had laughed at me last time I was in the Olympics by dousing me with rain and fog, hindering any views of his home atop Mount Olympus.  But this visit, I must have done something right.  We were afforded some beautiful views of Mount Olympus and the surrounding Olympic range from Hurricane Ridge.  Zeus put us to the test on a very tough hike from Obstruction Point.  This hike was only 5.5 miles, but we experienced almost 1700 ft of elevation difference during this hike.  For a maintained high altitude trail, this was the steepest terrain I’d ever seen.  Since the hike begins and ends at the same location, you not only have to hike up 1700 ft, you have to hike down 1700 ft over the route.  More beautiful views of volcanic peaks and meadows filled with flowers.  We were even graced with the presence of a buck with a nice rack on our drive out.  Thank the gods!

We left the peninsula via Washington State Ferry from Port Townsend to Keystone/Whidbey Island.

Our last stop in Washington was an extended stay at Nomadic Research Labs on Camano Island.  Steve Roberts is an electronics genius/geek who has made a name for himself by traveling across America on a bike outfitted with all kinds of techno gizmos.  He developed three bicycles, including Winnebiko, Winnebiko II, and BEHEMOTH (which stands for Big Electronic Human-Energized Machine… Only Too Heavy).  His travels on these bikes resulted in a book called Computing Across America.  I actually briefly met him in December 1995 while I was working at XcelleNet during one of his speaking gigs.  Thanks to Chris Dunphy, I was re-acquainted with Steve and we met his girlfriend Jeannie.  Our timing was unfortunately not great.  Steve had just purchased the trimaran S/V (sailing vessel) Nomadness and was preparing to embark on a 3 week trip partway up the inside passage.  He was a whirlwind trying to get ready before his departure.  In proper geek style, he spent much of the time getting his electronics ready, dealing with things like provisions last.  (I, of course, would do the same thing!)  Teresa and I just did our best to stay out of the way.  We did get a brief tour of his lab, which was incredibly interesting.  You can simply read through his various blogs to see what he is up to.  After he left, we helped Jeannie celebrate her birthday.  Our visit with NRL was a welcome respite from the road and we are eternally grateful to Steve and Jeannie for their hospitality and letting us camp out in their meadow and use their internet connection, shower, and laundry.  Thanks Steve and Jeannie!  Ned Konz, who is also staying at NRL, helped us seal up our camper a little better.  Thanks Ned!

We catch a ferry to Alaska Tuesday, August 8th, 6pm.  We’ll be traveling from Bellingham, Washington on the M/V (motor vessel) Malapasia arriving in Haines at 2:45am a few days later.  Wahoo!  We hope to tour Glacier Bay before heading to Anchorage, followed by visiting with friends in Talkeetna, Denali, then returning to the states via Canada, Banff/Lake Louise and Glacier National Park in Montana.

What’s cookin?  See ya in Alaska.

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