Thursday, June 30, 2016

North Cascades National Park

One day trip we planned to take while visiting the Pacific Northwest was to
This trip did not disappoint us and it was a day filled with gorgeous scenery.  We drove Highway 20 East through the towns of Sedro-Woolly and Concrete, which were not particularly scenic but did give us a glimpse into what daily life is like in this part of the country.  Ronnie drove a total of 225 miles this day as we went all the way to Washington Pass and then turned around to go back to Fidalgo Island.

Once we entered the Park, you could see wildfire damage to the forest.

View of Gorge Dam on the Skagit River.

View from on top of Diablo Dam, in between Gorge Lake and Diablo Lake.

Wow, what a view from on top of Diablo Dam of Diablo Lake.

Wonderful views of Diablo Lake. I think that's the Diablo Dam seen in the distance.

More amazing views from lookouts over Diablo Lake.

Continuing eastward on the North Cascades Highway, the rugged mountain scenery just gets better.

Here's Rainy Pass, elevation 4855 ft.

Finally we reach Washington Pass Overlook. Elevation here is 5477ft. Everywhere you look, more awesome views of the surrounding mountains.

View from the Washington Pass Overlook of Highway 20 as it makes that northeast curve.

That's Highway 20 as it winds eastward towards the towns of Winthrop, Twisp and Okanogan.

And we were even treated to a very colorful sunset that evening after such a long day of  sightseeing.

More later..our trip to Heather Meadows and Mount Baker.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Fidalgo Island: Washington Park and Mount Erie

The "Island Area" of Washington State is rich with intriguing and scenic places to explore.  We begin our photographic journey here, where we're staying for a month, on Fidalgo Island.

Our first stop is
Washington Park located on the western tip of Fidalgo Island. Here are some highlights of our afternoon drive.
The tides are extreme here, varying from 7 to 8 feet.

There are many pull offs on Washington Park's main drive to encourage one to get out and enjoy the sweeping views from the high, rocky cliff line.

The Washington State Ferry system provides transportation to the San Juan Islands and Victoria, BC.  That's one of the state's ferries seen below.

The day began cloudy but by noon the sun was shining and temperatures rose into the upper 60's. At this particular pull-off, there were steps that allow you to walk down to the waterline and explore the tidal pools.

The 2.2 mile drive through Washington Park goes through old growth forests of Western Red Cedars, Western Hemlocks and Douglas-firs.

This is the Burrows Channel Viewpoint, also seen along the drive.

A view of the Skyline Marina and Burrows Bay.

Since the day was sunny and warming up, we drove on to the top of Mount Erie (elevation 1273')
where the views from it's summit were awesome.  No doubt, we plan to come back here again when the sky is a little more clearer for better views of Mt. Rainier.

Leaving Mount Erie, we traveled south on Highway 20 towards the famous Deception Pass Bridge.  We'll come back here later to visit and spend more time exploring Deception Pass State Park. There are trails and roads for better views of the bridge plus a walk on the beach will be interesting.

As we traveled southward, we soon came upon the village of Coupeville, which is located on Whidbey Island.  We walked down to the old fisherman's wharf that was established in 1905.

Coupeville, founded in 1852, is Washington State's second oldest town. These old buildings now house gift shops, galleries, restaurants and candy/ice cream parlors.

Notice again, the extreme tides.  You could see the water flowing back into the bay at a slow, steady pace.

  Looking from the Wharf, the sunny views of Coupeville's waterfront looked almost like a postcard.

More Later..

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Leavenworth, WA

We found Leavenworth to be somewhat of an interesting place.  It was a little bit "touristy" with lots of shops and restaurants that all seemed to be the same.  We only spent 4 nights in the area therefore not a lot of time was spent wondering the "Bavarian-style" village.  Here's some of highlights of our time there.

Leaving Coulee City and traveling west on Highway 2, you see the landscape change from rolling hills of wheat fields to the deep valley holding the Columbia River.
This part of Highway 2 was a steep descent, maybe 3 or 4 miles of 7% grade.
The views were incredible.

Once we reached the Columbia River you were greeted with many, many apple, pear and cherry orchards.

We stopped at one of the first fruit stands we saw and bought delicious fresh cherries.  We got the Bing cherries and those sweet Rainer ones too.

The apples and pears were not yet ripe but you could see them just hanging from the trees.

Orchards lined both sides of the road from Wenatchee to Leavenworth.

We crossed the Columbia River at the town of Wenatchee.  It's considered the Apple Capitol of the World.  It seemed we saw as many apple orchards here as we see orange groves in Florida.

Our drive to the Icicle River RV Park was gorgeous.  This RV park was perfect for us and so was our campsite.

Traveling along the gorge of the Icicle River, we found lots pull-offs to explore the river's and many rapids and waterfalls.

The Town of Leavenworth boasts a type of "Bavarian-style" architecture.  With a landscape of towering mountains surrounding the area, we could see why the town wanted you to think you were transported back to an Austrian mountain village. There, we found lots of retail shops, ice cream and fudge parlors, restaurants, pubs and tourists.  We happen to be there during the International Accordion Festival too.

And these costumed gentleman seem to fit right it....

The Icicle Brewery was our favorite shop to visit.

Raspberry Wheat Heffiwizen
Bootjack IPA

It rained one day so we visited the Pybus Public Farmers Market in Wenatchee. Leavenworth is about 22 miles west on Highway 2.

There were several restaurants and craft stalls in the market.  There were olive oil stalls, ice cream, meat and seafood markets and even a wine tasting section.
We found more fruit stands to visit in Leavenworth.  These are the smaller type of cherries used for pies.  They were growing in a small road-side orchard in some one's front yard.

One of the highlights of our stay in Leavenworth was leaving, moving west on Highway 2.  Traveling over Stevens Pass (Stevens Pass History of the 1910 Avalanche) was one of the most beautiful roads we have traveled.  We saw high, jagged, snow capped mountains with streaming waterfalls while a whitewater river followed along the road. 

Stevens Pass was another steep descent.  I believe it was 7 miles of about a 6% to 7% grade.  You could see the old railroad bed of the Great Northern Railroad on the far mountain side.

The entire drive on Highway 2, from Spokane to Everett, was filled with fantastic scenery and changing landscapes that we will not soon forget.

We are now located in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island.  We plan to be here for a month.  We are centrally located to explore the San Juan Islands, North Cascades National Park and the town of Victoria, British Columbia.

More Later.