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Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Gallery, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 36 comments

We spent two and a half months on Lopez Island last year, our sixth summer in the islands. And we didn’t return to the mainland until we sailed back on the ferry to Anacortes in September.

That’s a long time to be on an island that’s only 15 miles long and eight miles wide. Do we ever get island fever? Not really. In addition to magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and a calendar filled with cultural events, Lopez has just about everything we need—superb local foods, a weekly farmer’s market, a delightful library, excellent coffee shops and cafés, and even a terrific bike shop (we do a lot of biking on the island, and there’s always something in need of repair). For everything else, there’s FedEx. We do, however, enjoy hopping on the inter-island ferry on day jaunts to explore nearby islands.

The San Juan archipelago has 172 named islands and reefs, most of which are too tiny to be inhabited. The Washington State ferries serve four: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw. Each island shares spectacular Pacific Northwest Island scenery—emerald forests, pastoral farmland, and sparkling jewel-like bays. But each also has a slightly different flavor, and it’s fun to explore all of them.

The first of July, we’ll be sailing once again to Lopez Island. We’ll be settling in as interpretive hosts for two months—a position we love, on an island we love, surrounded by people we love. We’ll once again be doing lots of inter-island journeys, and look forward to sharing our explorations with you. Meanwhile, I’ve been sorting through photos of last summer’s adventures. It gives me something to look forward to, especially since it’s snowing again today in Ashland. This has been one long, crazy winter.

Island Hopping

Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island

Boats Docked At Friday Harbor

Summer In Friday Harbor

Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery

Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop

San Juan Islands Museum Of Art

I Think He's Seen Enough

Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Searching For Whales

An Orca In The Distance

Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones

An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch

At American Camp

Hiking Mt. Finlayson

View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

At The Lavender Festival

Sculptures In The Lavender Fields

Making A Lavender Wreath

San Juan Islands Sculpture Park

Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden

Orcas Island Ferry Landing

Eastsound Village On Orcas Island

Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village

Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound

A Merman Overlooking The Village

A Beautiful Labryinth Walk

Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries

Turtleback Mountain Trailhead

Turtleback Mountain Views

Oyster Stout? Umm....No.

Hiking In Moran State Park

The View From Mt. Constitution

Island Hopping
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor
Summer In Friday Harbor
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art
I Think He's Seen Enough
Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Searching For Whales
An Orca In The Distance
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch
At American Camp
Hiking Mt. Finlayson
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
At The Lavender Festival
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields
Making A Lavender Wreath
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden
Orcas Island Ferry Landing
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound
A Merman Overlooking The Village
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead
Turtleback Mountain Views
Oyster Stout? Umm....No.
Hiking In Moran State Park
The View From Mt. Constitution
Island Hopping thumbnail
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island thumbnail
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor thumbnail
Summer In Friday Harbor thumbnail
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery thumbnail
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop thumbnail
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art thumbnail
I Think He's Seen Enough thumbnail
Lime Kiln Lighthouse thumbnail
Searching For Whales thumbnail
An Orca In The Distance thumbnail
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones thumbnail
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch thumbnail
At American Camp thumbnail
Hiking Mt. Finlayson thumbnail
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail thumbnail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm thumbnail
At The Lavender Festival thumbnail
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields thumbnail
Making A Lavender Wreath thumbnail
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park thumbnail
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden thumbnail
Orcas Island Ferry Landing thumbnail
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island thumbnail
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village thumbnail
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound thumbnail
A Merman Overlooking The Village thumbnail
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk thumbnail
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Views thumbnail
Oyster Stout? Umm....No. thumbnail
Hiking In Moran State Park thumbnail
The View From Mt. Constitution thumbnail

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Another Summer On Lopez Island

Another Summer On Lopez Island

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Biking, Birding, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 37 comments

As of mid-October, we’re back in Ashland, Oregon, taking care of a myriad of things that need to be completed before we can again resume our travels. This is a challenging part of fulltime RV life—there’s always a mountain of stuff to deal with when we return to our hometown each year. It’s no different than what any other grown-up person has to deal with in life—traveling or not. But it feels a bit daunting when we’re compressing a year’s worth of necessary evils into a few weeks. (The wonderful part is that we’ve also rejoined the tribe of our dear Ashland friends.)

We’re in the midst of trailer repairs, medical and dental appointments, taxes, maintenance tasks on our Ashland home, rooting out our storage unit, trailer home-improvement projects, and more. Last but not least, I have a blog to catch up on. So without further ado, I’m going to whisk you back to mid-June and our summer on Lopez Island.

As the ferry churned through the cold waters of the Pacific and chugged past the maze of islands that make up the San Juan archipelago, we leaned over the railing, anticipating our first glimpse of the small island that would once again be our summer home.

This year, we spent two-and-a-half months on Lopez Island—our longest stretch yet. From mid-June until early September, we were once again temporary Lopezians, immersing ourselves fully in the unique culture of Pacific Northwest island life.

We fell in love with Lopez the first time we visited, almost a dozen years ago.

Six of the past seven years, we’ve spent part of every summer hosting at beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. We contemplate spending time other places, but each summer finds us once again on the ferry to the islands.

I don’t think life gets any better than summer in the San Juan’s. The weather is near perfect, with plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and temperatures in the 70’s. (This makes up for long, long winters of gray and chill and rain—one of the primary reasons we don’t seriously consider living in the islands year-round.)

The scenery is idyllic—pastoral farmland, deep green mossy forests, secluded coves, and rocky cliffs plunging to sapphire seas. Small wonder that the first European settlers to the island described Lopez as a paradise.

Perfect weather and idyllic scenery aside, the strongest draw for us now is our community of friends on Lopez. In our six summers on the island, we’ve developed enduring friendships that transcend time and distance. We gather often with friends for delicious meals, evenings of music, and a variety of island adventures, from biking and hiking to art openings, concerts, and wine tastings. Each summer, we also delight in sharing Lopez with friends visiting from Ashland and fellow full-time RVing friends we’ve met in our travels. To add to this year’s fun, our grandson Findlay sailed to “Camp Lopez” to stay with us for a week.

We’re fortunate to have a hosting position that fits perfectly with our interests. This was our fourth year teaching Interpretive Programs for kids and adults, including the Junior Ranger programs. We teach about native plants, birds found on Lopez, and the traditions of the Salish tribes who first inhabited the islands. Making hundreds of copies of the Jr. Ranger’s booklets gets tedious, but teaching never does. We often come away from a morning of teaching feeling uplifted and inspired by the brilliance, inquisitiveness, and hilarity of the kids we teach (a lot of the adults are just as much fun).

We’re lucky, too, in that the staff at Spencer Spit is terrific. Each summer when we return to the park, we feel like we’re returning home. Our relationship with Lopez and the community of wonderful people on the island continues to deepen—for this, we are deeply grateful. Thanks, Lopez and friends, for another delightful summer. We’ll be back!

I’ve written in detail about our Lopez adventures over the past several years. If you’re interested in reading more, type “Lopez” in the search box and you’ll find lots of posts and photos. Here’s a post with some basic information, should you be interested:

Living Local On Lopez Island

Next Up: Adventures On Orcas And San Juan Island

Another Summer On Lopez

Arriving On Lopez

Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit

Peaceful View Across The Marsh

Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach

Early Morning At Spencer Spit

Art On The Beach

Findlay And My Hat

A Map Of The Island

Peaceful Island Biking

Biking To Town

It's All Picturesque

The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth

Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay

Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay

A View Of Mt. Baker

Shark Reef In Late Afternoon

San Juan Island From Shark Reef

Baby Harbor Seal

Barred Owl On The Trail

On The Trail To Iceberg Point

Endless Views From Iceberg Point

Biking To Fisherman's Bay

Overlooking Fisherman's Bay

A Beach Walk With Findlay

Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez

We Have Company

Delightful Purple Sea Stars

In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm

Our Favorite Farmstand

The Wonderful Lopez Library

It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!

Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade

Saturday Farmer's Market

A Friendly Farmer At The Market

Our Home On Lopez

Our Outdoor Classroom

Teaching About Native Traditions

They Chose Wolf Totems

Birding For Kids

Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge

Coffee With The Birds Program

Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)

Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker

Violet Green Swallows

Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia

Ranger Tina And Findlay

Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer

Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site

An Evening Of Music Around The Fire

Bruce And Sheila At Home

Music Evening With Nick And Susie

Michael And Ann In Her Studio

Del And Cindy At Vita's

Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)

Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica

Traveling Friends Perry And Beth

Ashland Friends Dick And Viki

Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit

Until Next Time

Another Summer On Lopez
Arriving On Lopez
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit
Peaceful View Across The Marsh
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach
Early Morning At Spencer Spit
Art On The Beach
Findlay And My Hat
A Map Of The Island
Peaceful Island Biking
Biking To Town
It's All Picturesque
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay
A View Of Mt. Baker
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon
San Juan Island From Shark Reef
Baby Harbor Seal
Barred Owl On The Trail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point
Endless Views From Iceberg Point
Biking To Fisherman's Bay
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay
A Beach Walk With Findlay
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez
We Have Company
Delightful Purple Sea Stars
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm
Our Favorite Farmstand
The Wonderful Lopez Library
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade
Saturday Farmer's Market
A Friendly Farmer At The Market
Our Home On Lopez
Our Outdoor Classroom
Teaching About Native Traditions
They Chose Wolf Totems
Birding For Kids
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge
Coffee With The Birds Program
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker
Violet Green Swallows
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia
Ranger Tina And Findlay
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire
Bruce And Sheila At Home
Music Evening With Nick And Susie
Michael And Ann In Her Studio
Del And Cindy At Vita's
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit
Until Next Time
Another Summer On Lopez thumbnail
Arriving On Lopez thumbnail
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit thumbnail
Peaceful View Across The Marsh thumbnail
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach thumbnail
Early Morning At Spencer Spit thumbnail
Art On The Beach thumbnail
Findlay And My Hat thumbnail
A Map Of The Island thumbnail
Peaceful Island Biking thumbnail
Biking To Town thumbnail
It's All Picturesque thumbnail
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth thumbnail
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay thumbnail
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay thumbnail
A View Of Mt. Baker thumbnail
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon thumbnail
San Juan Island From Shark Reef thumbnail
Baby Harbor Seal thumbnail
Barred Owl On The Trail thumbnail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point thumbnail
Endless Views From Iceberg Point thumbnail
Biking To Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
A Beach Walk With Findlay thumbnail
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez thumbnail
We Have Company thumbnail
Delightful Purple Sea Stars thumbnail
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm thumbnail
Our Favorite Farmstand thumbnail
The Wonderful Lopez Library thumbnail
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet! thumbnail
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade thumbnail
Saturday Farmer's Market thumbnail
A Friendly Farmer At The Market thumbnail
Our Home On Lopez thumbnail
Our Outdoor Classroom thumbnail
Teaching About Native Traditions thumbnail
They Chose Wolf Totems thumbnail
Birding For Kids thumbnail
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge thumbnail
Coffee With The Birds Program thumbnail
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren) thumbnail
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker thumbnail
Violet Green Swallows thumbnail
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia thumbnail
Ranger Tina And Findlay thumbnail
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer thumbnail
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site thumbnail
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire thumbnail
Bruce And Sheila At Home thumbnail
Music Evening With Nick And Susie thumbnail
Michael And Ann In Her Studio thumbnail
Del And Cindy At Vita's thumbnail
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family) thumbnail
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica thumbnail
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth thumbnail
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki thumbnail
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit thumbnail
Until Next Time thumbnail

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On The Way To Lopez Island

On The Way To Lopez Island

Posted by on Oct 6, 2016 in Biking, Food, Gallery, Travel, Washington | 25 comments

On one of our first journeys to the San Juan Islands, we discovered the tiny hamlet of Edison, in the Skagit Valley of western Washington. With a population of only 133, it doesn’t seem like there could be much worth stopping for.

True, Edison is little more than a wide spot in the road. But this particular wide spot has a disproportionate number of seriously fine eating establishments and unique art galleries. Edison embodies the farm-to-table, healthy (with a side of local pastured bacon), environmentally conscious, creatively quirky ambiance that infuses much of the Pacific Northwest.

Leaving Winthrop and our adventures in the North Cascades, the drive along the North Cascades Scenic Byway and through the pastoral farmland of the Skagit Valley was a beautiful one. One hundred and forty miles later, we pulled into our favorite campground in the area—Bay View State Park, overlooking Padilla Bay. At only nine miles from the ferry landing in Anacortes, it puts us on the doorstep of the San Juan Islands—and it’s also perfectly positioned for a visit to Edison.

It’s an easy six-and-a-half mile bike ride along the bay and through acres of blueberry fields from Bay View State Park to Edison. Our destination is always Tweets, a former gas station turned café. (There are more good choices; this just happens to be our favorite.)

The big garage doors roll up Friday through Sunday, revealing a rustic interior with a charmingly eccentric décor of roughhewn wood tables, local artwork, random trinkets, and a twinkling chandelier. The food offerings are equally eclectic, prompted by what’s in season in the neighborhood (including eggs from the proprietors’ chickens and vegetables from their garden). The food is delicious, the atmosphere casual and relaxed, and the coffee excellent.

The two-block town is worth a leisurely exploration, including locally made treasures from reclaimed materials at the Lucky Dumpster; curiosities at Shop Curator that rival a small natural history museum; and lovely cheeses and wines at Slough Food. Even though breakfast is more than satisfying, we can never resist picking up a couple of bite-sized cocoa nib shortbread cookies from Breadfarm. (It’s also worth biking an additional mile to the even tinier hamlet of Bow; we’ve enjoyed both the Rhody Cafe and their sidekick Farm-To-Market Bakery.)

In the never-ending cycle of new adventures that traveling fulltime brings, we’ve found that we appreciate the familiarity of favorite places that we return to time and again. Stopping at Bay View State Park and biking into Edison has become something of a small tradition for us—a couple of days here gives us the opportunity to catch our breath from our long cross country journeys, and eases us into the laid-back island life that awaits.

About the campground:

At only nine miles from the ferry landing in Anacortes, Bay View State Park is perfectly located for a journey to the San Juan Islands. The best sites for RV’s are sites 1-9, which have partial hookups (water and electric) and also happen to be nearest Padilla Bay (the end sites even have views of the bay). There’s a nice biking/walking trail just a mile from the park that wends around the bay. Verizon coverage is good.

Next Up: Summer On Lopez Island 

Farmstand In The North Cascades

Heading West From Winthrop

Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway

Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand

Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison

Tweets Cafe

Inside Tweets Cafe

Slow Food On The Slough

The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures

Baby Barn Swallows

Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery

Breadfarm Bakery In Edison

Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm

Biking To The Rhody Cafe

Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe

Biking Around Padilla Bay

Low Tide At Padilla Bay

RV Site At Bay View State Park

In Line For The Ferry To The Islands

Here Comes The Ferry!

Heading For The Islands

Sailing Past Mt. Baker

Arriving On Lopez Island

Farmstand In The North Cascades
Heading West From Winthrop
Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway
Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand
Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison
Tweets Cafe
Inside Tweets Cafe
Slow Food On The Slough
The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures
Baby Barn Swallows
Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery
Breadfarm Bakery In Edison
Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm
Biking To The Rhody Cafe
Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe
Biking Around Padilla Bay
Low Tide At Padilla Bay
RV Site At Bay View State Park
In Line For The Ferry To The Islands
Here Comes The Ferry!
Heading For The Islands
Sailing Past Mt. Baker
Arriving On Lopez Island
Farmstand In The North Cascades thumbnail
Heading West From Winthrop thumbnail
Along The North Cascades Scenic Highway thumbnail
Organic Treats From Cascadian Farm Stand thumbnail
Blueberry Fields On The Way To Edison thumbnail
Tweets Cafe thumbnail
Inside Tweets Cafe thumbnail
Slow Food On The Slough thumbnail
The Lucky Dumpster Recycled Treasures thumbnail
Baby Barn Swallows thumbnail
Part Curio Shop, Part Gallery thumbnail
Breadfarm Bakery In Edison thumbnail
Yummy Cookies At Breadfarm thumbnail
Biking To The Rhody Cafe thumbnail
Inside Cozy Rhododendron Cafe thumbnail
Biking Around Padilla Bay thumbnail
Low Tide At Padilla Bay thumbnail
RV Site At Bay View State Park thumbnail
In Line For The Ferry To The Islands thumbnail
Here Comes The Ferry! thumbnail
Heading For The Islands thumbnail
Sailing Past Mt. Baker thumbnail
Arriving On Lopez Island thumbnail

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Finally! The North Cascades

Finally! The North Cascades

Posted by on Sep 24, 2016 in Food, Gallery, Hiking, Travel, Washington | 24 comments

We’ve tried at least four times in the past few years to get to North Cascades National Park. Each time, we were foiled by mudslides, snowstorms, or wildfires. In mid-June, no random acts of nature interfered, and we finally made it there.

The park is not easy to access under the best of conditions. Located in far northwestern Washington, it’s an untamed landscape of high jagged glacial peaks and deep, thickly forested valleys. One road—North Cascades Scenic Highway—crosses the park, and it’s closed for about six months of the year.

Unlike many other national parks, North Cascades isn’t particularly drive-by friendly (except for the highly photogenic Diablo Lake, featured in the photo above). To really appreciate the magnificence of the park, you need to get out and hike the trails. And that was our intention—although things didn’t turn out exactly the way we planned.

We set up camp for three nights at lovely Pearrygin Lake State Park, just outside the little Western themed town of Winthrop, near the eastern slope of the national park. Bright and early the next morning, we headed to the Forest Service office to pick up a trail map. What we neglected to consider is that most of the trails are still buried in snow until sometime in July.

Fortunately, the ranger was knowledgeable and helpful, and she steered us toward several lower elevation hikes off of State Route 20 (AKA North Cascades Scenic Highway). Although the hikes weren’t within the boundaries of the national park, they offered a wonderful introduction to the beauty of the North Cascades.

Our hikes off of Highway 20 (a 3.5-mile round trip meander along Cedar Creek to Cedar Falls, and a four-mile round-trip hike to Cutthroat Lake) were the quintessential Pacific Northwest forest hikes. We knocked out both of those in a day—if we had it to do again, we would go straight to the Cutthroat Lake Trail and hike all the way to Cutthroat Pass (for a 10-mile hike). The Cutthroat Lake Trail is more interesting, more challenging, and more spectacular than the Cedar Creek Trail.

For something entirely different, we drove about 12 miles from Lake Pearrygin to the Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to the national park. This is high desert, and the perfect place to explore in spring and early summer when there’s still snow at higher elevations. (Not so good when the weather heats up and the rattlesnakes emerge—we talked with several people who told us that the canyon is popular for rattlesnake hunting.)

We chose the Pipestone Canyon Rim Trail, another ranger-recommended hike; she told us that there might still be wildflowers in mid-June. That was an understatement—this was one of the most spectacular wildflower displays we’ve yet seen. For long stretches of the trail, we found ourselves wading through thick stands of purple lupine, white yarrow, and bright yellow balsamroot.

We started our hike on a chilly morning, perfect for keeping rattlers at bay. Clouds scudded across the sky, threatening and then delivering a rainstorm that almost made us turn back. But we unfurled our umbrellas and persevered. (I know, hiking with an umbrella seems ridiculous—but even though we have good raingear, there’s nothing like an umbrella for keeping dry in a storm.)

The 9-mile loop hike starts off as a flat, easy trail that quickly leads to a stunning canyon of cathedral-like rock columns (“pipestones”) rising 1500 feet above the canyon floor. After the first mile, the trail opens up into grassy meadows with a sprinkling of wildflowers and a few pieces of vintage farm equipment abandoned long ago. Three miles in, a narrow path heads up a steep trail to the ridge. And then, things start to get really interesting.

As soon as we crested the ridge, the skies cleared, and we found ourselves in wildflower heaven. Seriously, I’ve never seen wildflowers this tall and this lush. The backdrop was equally breathtaking—sweeping vistas of the dramatic peaks of the North Cascades rise above velvety green foothills, and the pretty Methow Valley sprawls far below. Every bit of this trail is gorgeous—it’s worth a trip to the Cascades in the spring just to experience Pipestone Canyon.

The beauty of the North Cascades captured our hearts, and there’s no question that we’ll return—next time, we’ll try a bit later in the year to that we can get to the higher elevation hikes. But had we not been there in mid-June, we would have certainly missed the spectacular Pipestone Canyon hike—it’s far too hot in summer, and of course, there’s the issue of rattlers.

For our adventures in civilization, we enjoyed a couple of forays into the little town of Winthrop (population 393). Once an aging little mining town, Winthrop reinvented itself in the mid-70’s as a Western themed town, replete with false Western storefronts, wooden sidewalks, and hitching posts. This is ordinarily the kind of place we would avoid (assuming it to be a prime tourist trap), but somehow, Winthrop has managed to skirt tackiness, and comes off as charming.

We enjoyed a stroll through town one evening, followed by a delicious tapas-style dinner and cocktails at the cozy Copper Glance. And we stopped by the Rocking Horse Bakery and coffee shop on the morning we set out to hike Pipestone Canyon for delicious gluten-free lemon curd muffins and espresso. I’ve been meaning to email the bakery to see if they’ll share their muffin recipe, it was that good.

About the campground:

Pearrygin Lake State Park was the perfect location for our explorations of the North Cascades and the Methow Valley. It’s a pretty park on the shores of Pearrygin Lake, with plenty of shade for hot days and an interesting 3-mile trail that traverses the hillside and a picturesque old homestead.

Note that there are two campgrounds here; the east campground is further along the access road and is the nicer of the two, with larger, more level, shady sites. The west campground was apparently originally an old RV park; the sites are much closer together. Electric/water/sewer hookups available; Verizon was decent. Our positive experience was probably because we camped there mid-week in mid-June. We’ve heard that weekends and summer are crazy (like most everywhere, right?).

Next Up: Heading To The Islands

The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park

Hiking Trail From The Campground

The Grasses Are Over My Head

Thinking About A New Truck

Lovely Lake Pearrygin

A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail

Cedar Creek Falls

On The Way To Cutthroat Lake

Such A Pretty Trail

One Of Many Obstacles

Happy To Have A Bridge

And Another Creek Crossing

Snow Even At Lower Elevations

Beautiful Cutthroat Lake

Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon

Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us

Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail

Hiking Up To The Ridge

Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers

Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance

The Vistas Are Breathtaking

Hip Deep In Wildflowers

"The Hills Are Alive" Lalala

Circling Back To The Trailhead

A Distant View Of Campbell Lake

Back To The Trailhead

A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird

Evening In Winthrop

Right Out Of The Wild West

He Needs A Stetson And Boots

Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance

Cocktails At The Copper Glance

Winthrop By Morning

Rocking Horse Bakery

The Local Brewery

Western Kitsch

At Lake Pearrygin State Park

Diablo Lake In North Cascades National Park

The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park
Hiking Trail From The Campground
The Grasses Are Over My Head
Thinking About A New Truck
Lovely Lake Pearrygin
A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail
Cedar Creek Falls
On The Way To Cutthroat Lake
Such A Pretty Trail
One Of Many Obstacles
Happy To Have A Bridge
And Another Creek Crossing
Snow Even At Lower Elevations
Beautiful Cutthroat Lake
Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon
Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us
Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail
Hiking Up To The Ridge
Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers
Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance
The Vistas Are Breathtaking
Hip Deep In Wildflowers
Circling Back To The Trailhead
A Distant View Of Campbell Lake
Back To The Trailhead
A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird
Evening In Winthrop
Right Out Of The Wild West
He Needs A Stetson And Boots
Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance
Cocktails At The Copper Glance
Winthrop By Morning
Rocking Horse Bakery
The Local Brewery
Western Kitsch
At Lake Pearrygin State Park
Diablo Lake In North Cascades National Park
The Road To Pearrygin Lake State Park thumbnail
Hiking Trail From The Campground thumbnail
The Grasses Are Over My Head thumbnail
Thinking About A New Truck thumbnail
Lovely Lake Pearrygin thumbnail
A Muddy Stretch On Cedar Creek Trail thumbnail
Cedar Creek Falls thumbnail
On The Way To Cutthroat Lake thumbnail
Such A Pretty Trail thumbnail
One Of Many Obstacles thumbnail
Happy To Have A Bridge thumbnail
And Another Creek Crossing thumbnail
Snow Even At Lower Elevations thumbnail
Beautiful Cutthroat Lake thumbnail
Hoodoos In Pipestone Canyon thumbnail
Not Going To Let A Rainstorm Stop Us thumbnail
Vintage Farm Equipment Along The Trail thumbnail
Hiking Up To The Ridge thumbnail
Clear Skies And Outrageous Wildflowers thumbnail
Peaks Of The North Cascades In The Distance thumbnail
The Vistas Are Breathtaking thumbnail
Hip Deep In Wildflowers thumbnail
Circling Back To The Trailhead thumbnail
A Distant View Of Campbell Lake thumbnail
Back To The Trailhead thumbnail
A Shiny Brewer's Blackbird thumbnail
Evening In Winthrop thumbnail
Right Out Of The Wild West thumbnail
He Needs A Stetson And Boots thumbnail
Tapas Evening At The Copper Glance thumbnail
Cocktails At The Copper Glance thumbnail
Winthrop By Morning thumbnail
Rocking Horse Bakery thumbnail
The Local Brewery thumbnail
Western Kitsch thumbnail
At Lake Pearrygin State Park thumbnail
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Family Fun In Pullman, WA

Family Fun In Pullman, WA

Posted by on Sep 19, 2016 in Biking, Family, Gallery, Hiking, Travel, Washington | 26 comments

Located in far eastern Washington is a handsome countryside of rolling agricultural land. Fields of wheat and lentils are a verdant green in spring, fading  to gold in late summer. Blue sky and clouds provide the backdrop; a few barns here and there add a bit of vertical interest. This is the Palouse.

It’s a place of bucolic beauty, and a photographer’s dream. But the big draw for us is family, and that’s why we once again found ourselves in Pullman in early June.

Our daughter Amanda, her partner Armando, and our grandson Findlay have been living in Pullman for a year now. It was a big adjustment for them, coming from San Juan Island, off the coast of Washington. (And honestly, an adjustment for us, as well. We were accustomed to having them as our next-door-island neighbors during our summers on Lopez Island.)

Amanda is in her second year of graduate school in ethnobotany at Washington State University, and Armando is working on his PhD. Findlay just started first grade. As you can imagine, they are all very busy with their various educational endeavors. We planned our visit for a window of opportunity when they all had a bit of free time, and we spent a wonderful week hanging out together, catching up, sharing meals, and exploring the area.

We biked the wonderful trail between Pullman and Moscow a couple of times (an easy 14-mile round trip ride through rolling farmland), enjoyed a morning at the Moscow Farmers Market (with an essential side-trip to the toy store on the plaza), and hiked up Kamiak Butte (the only real hike in the area, but a worthwhile one). And for a bit of art and culture, we visited the Dahmen Barn, a 1935 dairy barn turned into artists studios, with a unique fence made of 1,000 antique rusted wheels. Viewing art from the perspective of a six-year old is always enlightening.

It was a wonderful week. The only problem is that it went by far too quickly.

About the RV Park:

The only RV option in Pullman is the city park (Pullman RV Park). It’s not a resort by any means, but it’s a fine place to stay, and centrally located for walking to the beautiful Washington State University campus and pretty neighborhood parks. Full hook-ups, excellent Verizon coverage, and remarkably quiet at night (as long as you don’t plan your visit during a WSU home football game).

Next Up: Finally! The North Cascades

Family Fun In Pullman, WA

The Scenery Around Pullman

At The Moscow Farmers Market

Hooping At The Market

A Study In Radishes

His Current Passion

Counting Up His Life Savings

A Hiking Adventure

View From Kamiak Butte

Hiking Buddies

Having Fun

On Top Of Kamaik Butte

A Sweet Moment

Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow

Mostly Farmland Along The Trail

Armando And Amanda

Enjoying The Botanical Garden

Cooling Off On A Hot Day

Neighborhood Park In Pullman

The Dahmen Barn

A Pair Of Art Critics

Antique Iron Wheel Fence

Mustard In Bloom

Pullman RV Park

Family Fun In Pullman, WA
The Scenery Around Pullman
At The Moscow Farmers Market
Hooping At The Market
A Study In Radishes
His Current Passion
Counting Up His Life Savings
A Hiking Adventure
View From Kamiak Butte
Hiking Buddies
Having Fun
On Top Of Kamaik Butte
A Sweet Moment
Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow
Mostly Farmland Along The Trail
Armando And Amanda
Enjoying The Botanical Garden
Cooling Off On A Hot Day
Neighborhood Park In Pullman
The Dahmen Barn
A Pair Of Art Critics
Antique Iron Wheel Fence
Mustard In Bloom
Pullman RV Park
Family Fun In Pullman, WA thumbnail
The Scenery Around Pullman thumbnail
At The Moscow Farmers Market thumbnail
Hooping At The Market thumbnail
A Study In Radishes thumbnail
His Current Passion thumbnail
Counting Up His Life Savings thumbnail
A Hiking Adventure thumbnail
View From Kamiak Butte thumbnail
Hiking Buddies thumbnail
Having Fun thumbnail
On Top Of Kamaik Butte thumbnail
A Sweet Moment thumbnail
Biking Trail From Pullman To Moscow thumbnail
Mostly Farmland Along The Trail thumbnail
Armando And Amanda thumbnail
Enjoying The Botanical Garden thumbnail
Cooling Off On A Hot Day thumbnail
Neighborhood Park In Pullman thumbnail
The Dahmen Barn thumbnail
A Pair Of Art Critics thumbnail
Antique Iron Wheel Fence thumbnail
Mustard In Bloom thumbnail
Pullman RV Park thumbnail

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The Golden Hills Of Eastern Washington

The Golden Hills Of Eastern Washington

Posted by on Oct 11, 2015 in Art, Biking, Family, Gallery, Hiking, Oregon, Travel, Washington | 20 comments

Most people, when they think of Washington, envision lush green forests, laden with ferns and dripping with moss. That’s a pretty accurate image—if you’re talking about anything west of the Cascades. But cross the mountains, and you’ll find a dramatically different scene of gently rolling hills and vast expanses of farmland, dotted here and there with iconic red barns, silos, and windmills.

In early September, we traveled east from Lopez Island to Pullman, a town in far eastern Washington, deep in the heart of the Palouse prairie.

Covering almost 4,000 square miles, the Palouse was created during the Ice Age when silt blew in from ancient dry lakebeds to fashion a unique landscape of dunes. Once grasslands, the Palouse is now bountiful farmland planted with wheat, barley, canola, and lentils. Crops undulate across the rolling hills, creating a patchwork of green and yellow fields in the spring, turning to gold and rich black earth after harvest in late summer.

I wouldn’t exactly call Pullman a tourist destination, but it’s a mecca for landscape photographers. I can understand why, after seeing the interesting geometry and subtle colors of the Palouse. For us, the main attraction is our daughter and grandson, who recently moved to Pullman from San Juan Island to attend graduate school. It’s a big, exciting life change for them, and we were looking forward to visiting them in their new surroundings.

We explored the area together, discovering a beautiful hike up Kamiak Butte; biking the trail that runs from Pullman to nearby Moscow, Idaho; and visiting the delightful Saturday farmers’ market in Moscow. It poured rain off and on during our entire visit, and in looking for things to entertain a five-year-old, we came across the interesting little Appaloosa Museum, dedicated to the pretty leopard-spotted horses bred by the Nez Perce tribes in the Palouse.

As always, the time went by far too quickly. We enjoyed our adventures in the Palouse, but our most memorable moments were walking Amanda to class and visiting her campus office; cooking dinners together; baking cookies with Findlay; and reading to him while cuddling on the sofa. Sweet moments, indeed.

Leaving Pullman, we made a brief stop in the Columbia Gorge, halfway to our destination of Sisters, Oregon. More golden rolling hills, this time framing the mighty Columbia River. Our favorite place to stay in this area is Le Page Park, a Corps of Engineers campground. While the gorge is undeniably gorgeous and a fabulous place to explore, most of the campgrounds are impacted by significant train and traffic noise. Le Page campground, however, is just far enough away from the highway and train tracks to provide a peaceful respite. (It’s also a great deal, at $25 per night/half price for seniors. In contrast, Maryhill State Park across the river is $40 per night.)

This was our second visit to this area (our first visit was in June 2013, shortly after embarking on our full-time adventure). We relaxed in our waterfront site, biked the nearby Deschutes River trail, visited the lovely Maryhill Museum of Art across the river, and enjoyed wine tasting at nearby Maryhill Winery, winner of the 2015 Pacific Northwest Winery of the Year award. (Note that Maryhill Museum offers 2-for-1 admissions on Wednesdays, and if you show your museum ticket at the winery, tastings are free.)

Should you find yourself in the Columbia Gorge during the salmon run, look for signs advertising fresh fish. We scored a 16-pound Chinook salmon the day we pulled out of the campground, caught that morning by tribal fishers in their centuries-old tradition of harvesting salmon from the Columbia. The only problem was that we didn’t have an ice chest big enough to hold the enormous fish. We filled our bathtub with ice, laid the whole salmon out in the tub, and drove 125 miles to our destination, where our first order of business was filleting that beauty!

Next up: Sisters Music Festival!

The Golden Hills Of Eastern Washington

Miles Of Farmland

Hiking Up Kamiak Butte

Views From Kamiak Butte

Running Off Some Extra Energy

Bike Trail From Pullman To Moscow

Riding The Trail With Amanda And Findlay

Rainy Day At Moscow Farmers' Market

Local Goods At The Market

At The Appaloosa Museum

Little Bronco Buster

He's Saying "Don't Take My Picture"

Le Page COE Campground

Waterfront Site Overlooking John Day River

Where The John Day River Meets The Columbia

Sweet Sunset Over The River

The Lovely Deschutes River

Biking Along The Deschutes River

Maryhill Art Museum

Excellent Displays Of Native American Culture

Northwest Coast Ceremonial Masks

Beautiful Bronze At The Maryhill Museum

Interesting Sculpture At The Museum

Vineyards Over The Columbia

Wine Tasting At Maryhill Winery

Salmon That Ended Up In Our Bathtub

The Golden Hills Of Eastern Washington
Miles Of Farmland
Hiking Up Kamiak Butte
Views From Kamiak Butte
Running Off Some Extra Energy
Bike Trail From Pullman To Moscow
Riding The Trail With Amanda And Findlay
Rainy Day At Moscow Farmers' Market
Local Goods At The Market
At The Appaloosa Museum
Little Bronco Buster
He's Saying
Le Page COE Campground
Waterfront Site Overlooking John Day River
Where The John Day River Meets The Columbia
Sweet Sunset Over The River
The Lovely Deschutes River
Biking Along The Deschutes River
Maryhill Art Museum
Excellent Displays Of Native American Culture
Northwest Coast Ceremonial Masks
Beautiful Bronze At The Maryhill Museum
Interesting Sculpture At The Museum
Vineyards Over The Columbia
Wine Tasting At Maryhill Winery
Salmon That Ended Up In Our Bathtub
The Golden Hills Of Eastern Washington thumbnail
Miles Of Farmland thumbnail
Hiking Up Kamiak Butte thumbnail
Views From Kamiak Butte thumbnail
Running Off Some Extra Energy thumbnail
Bike Trail From Pullman To Moscow thumbnail
Riding The Trail With Amanda And Findlay thumbnail
Rainy Day At Moscow Farmers' Market thumbnail
Local Goods At The Market thumbnail
At The Appaloosa Museum thumbnail
Little Bronco Buster thumbnail
He's Saying
Le Page COE Campground thumbnail
Waterfront Site Overlooking John Day River thumbnail
Where The John Day River Meets The Columbia thumbnail
Sweet Sunset Over The River thumbnail
The Lovely Deschutes River thumbnail
Biking Along The Deschutes River thumbnail
Maryhill Art Museum thumbnail
Excellent Displays Of Native American Culture thumbnail
Northwest Coast Ceremonial Masks thumbnail
Beautiful Bronze At The Maryhill Museum thumbnail
Interesting Sculpture At The Museum thumbnail
Vineyards Over The Columbia thumbnail
Wine Tasting At Maryhill Winery thumbnail
Salmon That Ended Up In Our Bathtub thumbnail

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