Not All Who Wander Are Lost

Not All Who Wander Are Lost
June, 2019 - Mount Denali, Alaska

Friday, July 19, 2019

Spokane, Washington and Coeur D'Alene, Idaho

We spent a week at the Spokane KOA. It was conveniently located between Spokane and Coeur D'Alene. It was an okay campground. My biggest issue was the nearby train that came through a few times each night with a very loud horn that it blew four times each trip.

We explored Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane. The park has this really awesome looking slide, a giant Radio Flyer Wagon. There are stairs on one side and a slide on the other. Kids were having a great time!

The Spokane River runs through downtown with several waterfalls. They're pretty small as far as waterfalls go, but several power plants along the river provide power for the area. In the background you can see the clock tower which was built for the 1974 World's Fair and a new amphitheater that is still under construction.

Downtown Spokane was very clean and the buildings were well maintained. We walked to the Black Label Brewing Co. Kevin ordered a flight and said the beers were really good!

The forecast for the rest of the days we were there was about the same, cloudy with no rain. On Monday we drove to Lake Coeur D'Alene in Idaho. I had always heard this was such a beautiful area and a must see place. We bought tickets for a 90 minute boat tour.

Unfortunately, the weather guessers were wrong. We had rain/drizzle almost the entire tour. Luckily, the boat wasn't full and we were able to hang out on the enclosed lower level next to windows, so we still got a good view. It is a beautiful area, but not as great as what I was expecting. 

The tour was narrated. We learned the lake is 25 miles long with 135 miles of shoreline. We felt the narration could have been better. We saw many places that we wish would have had an explanation.  

The Coeur D'Alene Golf Resort has won many awards. Their signature hole floats in the lake (on the left side of the picture with the red flowers). A little boat takes you out to the hole to finish playing. A lady on our tour said they had watched play on the windy day before. She said only about 1 in 20 people actually landed their tee shot on the green. It's a pricey place to play, not in our budget!

This single family home is one of the most expensive places on the lake. We saw many large, beautiful homes.

This house is literally the house on the rock.

The next day we drove to Post Falls, Idaho to tour the Buck Knife Factory. Someone Kevin had talked to had said this was a great tour. They were correct. As we don't hunt or fish, we weren't too familiar with these knives. The entry fountain was beautiful. We saw several of these large rock fountains in the area.

In 1902 at the age of 13, Hoyt Buck made the first Buck Knife while working as a blacksmith apprentice. He went on to start the company in a shack in the backyard. Four generations later, they have a beautiful facility with 320 employees. 

Here's the view of the lobby. The lamp is made with elk antlers. The company uses elk for the handles of some of the knives. They have an agreement with the boy scouts in Montana who find the antlers shed by elk and send them to the company.

Pictures were not allowed on the tour. We saw how the knives are made. Much of the process is done by machines, but the final sharpening is all done by hand. The knives are warranted for life, and we saw a display of some of the totally rusted, burned and mangled knives that have been returned and replaced. The tour was free, but reservations were required. It was definitely interesting and worth a stop.

We're headed to three stops in Montana for the next 18 days. We were at Glacier in Montana several years ago, but otherwise have not seen much of the state. More exploring needs to be done!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Wenatchee, Washington

We spent the last few days at Wenatchee River County Park in Central Washington. We decided to stop here after finding out that fulltime RVers Steve and Joan were volunteering at the nearby Entiat Fish Hatchery. We have been reading each others blogs for several years and met them in Yuma a few years ago.

Their job is mainly taking care of the fish on the weekends when the employees aren't there. They also do some lawn mowing and maintenance jobs. They gave us a tour, and explained how the Chinook Salmon are raised for release back into the wild.

It was hard to get pictures of the fish, but here is one of the pools of small salmon.

They are hatched here and spend about 18 months being raised for release. They swim to the ocean and in about four or five years they come back to spawn in the river they were born in, having grown to about a size of 30 pounds.

Each fish raised here has a transponder implanted so Fish and Wildlife can track them and learn how to improve the process. The purpose of all of this is to mitigate the consequences to the salmon population when dams were built on the Columbia River.

There was an eagle nest on the property. Joan says she frequently sees the adult eagles in a nearby tree in the mornings.

Steve and Joan have a beautiful motor home with an enclosed trailer in which they tow their Jeep and motorcycle. They took us on a Jeep ride on some Forest Service back roads. Lots of beautiful scenery in this area. We ended up at an overlook where someone has hung a swing. What an amazing spot!!!

The fields in the background are apple orchards. Everywhere you look in this area there are apple, cherry or apricot trees. But, mainly apples. Lots of processing facilities as well. It was amazing to see how the trees were planted in stretches along the river between the hills and water.

I saw on the Washington Apple Association's website that about 60 percent of the apples in the country come from Washington. It takes the energy of 50 apple leaves to produce one apple. We stopped at several fruit stands during our stay. I've been thoroughly enjoying cherries and apricots.

We stopped for lunch at the Apple Cup Cafe in Lake Chelan, another cute town.

Steve and Joan were kind enough to let me take a picture to post.

We really enjoyed our visit, and so appreciate that they took the time to show us the hatchery and give us a tour in their Jeep.

On the way home, we stopped to tour the Rocky Beach Dam Visitor Center.

We went to the viewing area where we saw salmon swimming through the openings in the fish ladder.

We learned that the female lays an average of 5,000 eggs, of which only 6 to 8 will survive to return and spawn.

Here is part of the fish ladder. The large pipe above is where the salmon that are returning downstream to the ocean are piped past the dam. Kind of like a water slide for fish.

There is a really nice park on the dam grounds. Also, some very pretty landscaping. This Pac Man flower bed was amusing.

And the American Flag flower bed was beautifully done.

Yesterday we wandered around the nearby town of Leavenworth. In the 1960s a group of local residents mortgaged everything to save their town from the depression of a declining lumber and railroad economy. They recreated their mountain town into a Bavarian Village focused on tourism. It was a huge success. Today, it is one of the top tourist attractions in the state.

The downtown truly does look like a Bavarian town. There was live German music in the park, lots of buildings built in the Bavarian style, many shops and restaurants, and a huge May Pole. It looks crooked in the picture, but it wasn't. There were lots of tourists around.

We stopped at two microbreweries where Kevin had a few samples. The Icicle Brewery had good beer, hard cider for me, and a hot pretzel.

Behind the county park we are staying at is a migrant camp. I'm sure they need lots of labor when it comes time to harvesting all the fruit this area produces. I've never seen an organized camp like this. There are dozens of these white tents.

We really enjoyed our visit in this beautiful area of the state along the Columbia River. I'm amazed how mountainous Washington state is. The Cascade Range covers a huge area.

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

North Cascades National Park

Last Wednesday we headed north about 100 miles to visit North Cascades National Park. We had heard very little about this park; some parks are super popular, and others are barely recognized. We stopped at the visitor center and found out there is no fee to enter the park. State Highway 20 runs right through it.

The visitor center was only at 500 feet elevation. A very nice ranger gave me some tips about places to see the highlights of the park. Behind the center was a short boardwalk with views of the Picket Range. It was cloudy as this lower elevation, so not the best picture. As late as 1932, some peaks in this range were considered impossible to climb. The first alpine traverse of the range wasn't until 1963.

As we had been driving towards the park, we had noticed huge power lines. I wondered why this remote area needed so much power. We discovered that the Skagit River, which runs through the park, has three dams on it; creating some beautiful lakes and recreation areas.

Our first stop was the Gorge Dam overlook trail. This was the first dam created in the area back in 1924. The power created by the dams here have been sending power to Seattle ever since then.

These flowering bushes were blooming all over the area. I wasn't able to find out what they are, but they sure are pretty.

This is Gorge Creek Falls.

Our next stop was Diablo Lake created by Diablo Dam. Such a beautiful area. The dam is at the very back of the picture.

Next up was Ross Lake created by Ross Dam. This lake was narrow, but goes way back.

The views from Rainy Pass Overlook were spectacular.

Our last stop was Washington Pass Overlook. This is the highest point on the road in the park at 5,477 feet. We walked on a short wooded path to the overlook. It opened up to a breathtaking scene. It felt like we were up close to the mountains, rather than looking at them from below. Here are some of the pictures I took. It was another one of those places where you just stood in awe and enjoyed the scenery. There is no way photos can capture the grandeur and majesty of what we saw.

If you look close to the photo below, you can see some people standing at one of the overlooks on the left. Notice how high it is, and how it feels like you are up close to the mountains.

Along the path were some more pretty wildflowers.

I did some checking, and discovered this was the 36th national park we have visited. There are a total of 61, but at least 10 of those are in locations we will probably never get to. So, that means we have some more traveling to do! We've also been to quite a few national monuments and wildlife refuges.

Yesterday we checked out two microbreweries near us. The first was Cairn Brewing in Kenmore. Kevin said the Becker's Kolsch was very good. Next was Foggy Noggin Brewing in Bothell. While looking for places to visit, it seemed rather odd that they were only open on Saturdays from noon to 5 pm.  The GPS took us down a dead end road in a residential area. It turns out this microbrewery is in someone's garage, and has been in business since 2010.

Definitely the most unique brewery we've visited. They brew English Ales; Kevin had the Cream Ale nitro tap and said it was delicious!

We're leaving Bothell tomorrow, but not moving too far. Our next stop is about two hours away in Wenatchee, Washington. More adventures await!

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!

Friday, July 5, 2019

Alaska, Juneau and Ketchikan

After the morning whale watching excursion in Juneau, we were taken back to the dock. There were several eagles hanging around, perched on the nearby buildings and trees.

We walked about six blocks up the hill to the Alaska State Capitol Building. It was opened in 1931 as a federal building until statehood in 1959. Juneau is the only state capitol that is not accessible by road, only plane and boat. The building is old and not at all ornate as most state capitol buildings are.

There is a small park in front with a statue of William H. Seward. He was the secretary of state who organized the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867 for about $7 million. At the time, many believed it was a mistake and it was referred to as Seward's Folly. When gold was discovered in Alaska, it became obvious that it was a great decision.

Here's the view of Juneau from the ship. As you may have noticed, all the cities we've visited are built into hills. There are a lot of hills and mountains in Alaska.

The next day we docked at Ketchikan. We had booked a wildlife viewing and city tour excursion. The weather was sunny and in the 70s. Our guide told us that Ketchikan has 170 inches of rain a year, and that most every day is rainy and in the 50s. We definitely had good luck in the weather department. Not good luck in the wildlife viewing. 

We went to a river where the salmon  have just begun arriving to spawn. The guide told us that they had seen bear there the day before, but when it's sunny the bear stay in the cool woods. No bears for us. We did see more eagles.

Next we stopped at the Saxman totem pole village. It is the largest collection of standing totem poles in the world. Some of them are reproductions, some of them have stories, some of them are a mystery.

After the tour, we walked around. Ketchikan is on Revillagigedo Island, and the Ketchikan Creek runs through it. From the boardwalk, we saw these red and maroon starfish in the creek. I thought starfish were only in the tropics.

One of the oldest parts of town has been restored with lots of shops and restaurants. This was originally the red light district, and there is a brothel museum. We didn't feel the $10 per person entrance fee was worth a visit.

Marijuana was legalized in Alaska in 2014. I thought this was a clever name for a pot shop.

Here's the view of Ketchikan from the ship. More houses built into the hillside.

Our last day on the ship was another at sea day headed to Vancouver, Canada. It was again cool and overcast. We spent the day looking out one of the large windows watching the beautiful coast of British Columbia go by. Late in the day the clouds broke up, so I got a few nice pictures. 

We had a fantastic trip to Alaska. I strongly recommend a land and sea package for anyone thinking about booking a trip. Also, most of the ports we stopped at are small towns. I think the best excursions are on boats or planes to see the magnificence of Alaska. Those trips are quite expensive, though.

We chose not to take our RV. Our main goal was to see the highlights. We definitely think we accomplished that. Most of the RVs we saw were small, but there were some big ones as well. Our fifth wheel is 42 feet, and we just didn't want to deal with finding places to stay that would accommodate that size. 

Don’t wish upon a star – Reach for one!