Thursday, July 31, 2014

Climbing Mount Rainier

Well, maybe a wee bit... There's a great trail that starts out from the Visitor's Center, and goes up the mountain. In the past I've been able to go a mile or so before the trail was snow covered and I had to turn around. But this year has had record snowfall, so we'll see.

So far, so good. And we even have some nice company on the trail.

But the trails I have taken in the past are closed a short distance up the mountain, and we are diverted onto a side trail. And even that is snow covered in a lot of parts. We trudge on through the snow for maybe a half mile, and finally turn around.

There are a few flowers along the trail, but nothing like what I've seen in the past.

There are Western Anemones -

And Avalanche Lilies, which appear right after snow melt.

This is a photo from when I was here in 2006.

In addition to the deer, we saw a couple marmots.

I was too slow with my zoom, but Phil got a nice picture.

In spite of the snow, the hike was still a lot of fun. There were more adventures in our Mount Rainier day, and I'll cover them in the next post. But for now - THE END.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Seattle - Above and Below Ground

Getting to Seattle from Gig Harbor would be a long drive, but there's a better way to get there. First, we took the Foot Ferry from Port Orchard to Bremerton.

Then in Bremerton, we caught the big ferry, which also takes vehicles, over to Seattle.

At first, I couldn't figure out why the gulls were flying along side the ferry.

Oh - now I get it!

In return for the snacks, the gulls directed us to Seattle.

Our first stop was Pike Place Market, famous for the fish throwing that goes on there. Unfortunately, only when someone buys one, so I didn't get a photo.

But the market is full of seafood -

Produce -

And gorgeous flowers.

From there, some of us went on the Underground Tour. It's a hilarious tour, promising "Dirt, Corruption, Sewers, and Scandal."

We walked through a network of underground storefronts and sidewalks that were at street level before the Great Fire of 1889.

After the fire, the streets were elevated and rebuilt 12-30 feet higher, so the original street levels are now in the basement.

Our tour guide, on the right, was very humorous.

At some places, you could see the original street level windows -

And compare them to photos of the original buildings.

The guide told lots of good stories and interesting facts, but I was more interested in pictures, so sometimes I wasn't paying attention....

But he did emphasize the roll that the toilet (parts of which were invented by Thomas Crapper) had in the decision to raise the lower parts of the city.

Before the raising, the gravity-flush toilets had to be elevated so that they would flush correctly, and not back up at high tide.

It's a great tour, and I highly recommend it!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Moochdocking in Paradise

We joined back up with the WINs in Gig Harbor, WA at the home of Mel and Donna Lee, fellow members. Not only do we have a view of Puget Sound, but -

This is the view out my door - RUSTY STUFF!!!

Just some of the 40+ rigs parked here! The neighbors were a little nervous at first, but they came around when they found out we didn't have wild parties or play loud music.

And if the water view and the rusty stuff aren't enough, look to the east for a view of Mount Ranier!

Mel and the local Boy Scouts put up two large tents for us to use for our afternoon gatherings.

Of course there's lots to do around here. One day we went for a walk on the beach, and found a large piece of an old boat. That may not thrill everyone, but I loved it!

And on another day, the group went clamming -

Which was an excuse for another pot luck!

Gig Harbor has a nice museum. My favorite thing was this old fishing boat, the Shenandoah. It was built in 1925 and used until 1999.

It's now being restored, which I think is kind of sad. I much prefer the way it is now.

Phil and I got a private tour of the inside, then I was made the guide for the rest of the group. Here I am demonstrating the unique pot that would stay on the stove during rough weather.

There's also an old schoolhouse on the property.

Inside the museum was a piece of "Galloping Gertie," the bridge between here and Tacoma that twisted violently and collapsed due to high winds a few months after it was completed in 1940.

You can see a video of the collapse on YouTube. When we crossed the Narrows from Tacoma, we came over on "Sturdy Gertie," the replacement.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mount St. Helens

We did a couple more hikes while on the south side of Mount St. Helens. The first was to June Lake, a trail that mostly goes through the woods, with occasional views of the mountain, and lava fields from many centuries ago. This is not the side that erupted in 1980, so the mountain looks fairly normal from here.

The lake is 1.3 miles from the trailhead. I know there is supposed to be a waterfall here - we could hear it, but it was around the corner.

Ah! How pretty! A little hard to get a picture of looking right into the sun - it looked better in person.

Another hike we did was down into Ape Cave, the longest known lava tube in North America, at almost 2 1/2 miles long. You enter via stairs in the middle of the tube, then can walk either the upper part, which is very difficult, or the lower part, which is easy. Guess which way I went!

It was fairly easy going, except that it was pitch black. I was happy I had bought a new bright flashlight recently.

We walked about a half mile (seemed longer) until we reached "The Meatball," a lava boulder wedged halfway to the cave's 30-foot ceiling.

From there we turned around and scurried back to the sunshine.

We then moved our rigs over to the east side of the mountain, where we could drive to the Windy Ridge viewpoint.

From here you get a good look at the crater which is a result of the 1980 eruption.

All that wood in the water is dead trees taken down by the blast.

I climbed the 439 steps up to the top of the ridge, where you could get a good look at a couple other volcanoes - Mt. Adams here -

And a little glimpse of Mt. Rainier.

We stayed at two different Sno Parks on our trip around the mountain - wonderful spots, and free if you have a Senior Pass.