(Click here for more photographs.)
We parked here at the Swinomish Lodge and Casino RV park which is located a bit east of Anacortes and Whidbey Island. During our car road trip in 2014 we spent a few days in nearby Oak Harbor.
We took a day trip from here, heading east to North Cascades National Park. This park contains some of America’s most beautiful mountain scenery. The mountains are not the tallest but with jagged peaks, cascading waterfalls, glaciers and sheer-walled cliffs there is ample dramatic beauty. We hiked the Thunder Knob Trail which afforded awesome views of Diablo Lake and the peaks beyond.
On another day we drove out to Whidbey Island and re-visited Oak Harbor and Coupeville. We had to treat ourselves to the steamed mussels at Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville. These are Penn Cove mussels which are grown right here in Coupeville.
Next stop: Hope, British Columbia
The Morro Bay sand spit is a long narrow, curved peninsula that extends from Montana de Oro State Park almost to Morro Rock. It separates Morro Bay from the ocean. We took a hike along the beach side of the sand spit which is about a 10 mile round trip.
Of course, the hike is on sand for the entire way but it’s not bad when you stay close to the surf where the sand is packed to give more firm footing. The main sight along the way is the variety of sea birds. There were areas where they were quite thick.
We saw various types of gulls, sandpipers, plovers, pelicans and a couple of snowy white egrets.
(Click HERE for more photographs.)
Zion National Park feels somewhat like an inside out Grand Canyon. You enter the park in the bottom of the canyon along the Virgin River. The sheer canyon walls tower above you, in some cases 4,000 feet, as you travel deeper north into the canyon. It’s certainly not the same scale as the Grand Canyon but it definitely impresses.
We took on a couple of the hikes here in the Zion Canyon. The first is the Angels Landing Hike (via the West Rim Trail). It’s listed as a 5.4 mile round trip with 1,488 feet of elevation. The first part is fairly straightforward with a good surface although steep at times it provided nice views of the canyon. Later you come to Walter’s Wiggles which is a series of very short, steep switchbacks. This takes you to a plateau from which you get a dramatic view with sheer drops of about 1,000 feet. From this point you must scramble across a steep rocky surface to get up and over an intermediate peak. You are provided a chain that you can hang onto to ensure you don’t tumble off into oblivion. Past this first peak you can then see the final scramble that will take you to the top of Angels Landing. It first crosses a narrow span and then up the spine of the next peak. The sheer drops on both sides will leave your throat a little constricted. We made it past the first peak but I was not prepared to take on the remainder so we took some nice photos from this vantage point and began our return hike. Continue reading
If you were driving along US Highway 20 in eastern Idaho, you might well not give much notice as you pass by Picabo, ID (pics), pronounced pick’-a-boo. There’s not much to attract your attention, the Picabo Angler store with Texaco gas pumps and the Rancher’s Supply store across the street are the only noticeable enterprises. Alongside the highway is a small RV park with 17 spaces which is adjacent to a field belonging to one of the many ranches around Picabo, this one has about 40 or 50 sheep, two llamas and two horses. Nice neighbors.
Lake Tahoe (pics) is a special place, perhaps not one of a kind but it’s on a short list. First, there’s the deep lake with a surface elevation of 6,225 feet and 72 miles of shoreline. In the summer this provides for all manner of water sports. In addition, the lake is surrounded by dramatic Sierra Nevada mountain ranges that not only provide dramatic and breathtaking vistas but almost unlimited hiking, biking, backpacking and camping opportunities.
Then in the winter, these mountains usually get a generous amount of snowfall which provides world class skiing opportunities at numerous ski resorts in the mountains that ring the lake. Skiing (downhill and cross country), snowboarding, snowmobiling and other winter alpine activities draw visitors from around the world. If the outdoors get to be too much, you can find a great restaurant, do some shopping or, since a portion of the lakeshore is in Nevada, visit one of the casinos.
Once again we feel privileged and lucky to have had the opportunity to spend two weeks here. Mostly due to the hospitality and generosity of our friends we were able to come here in July and to hike, bike, go the beach, spend time with friends and be awed by the natural beauty of this place. It’s really difficult to choose the best time of year to be in Tahoe, winter or summer. They’re both special.