Not All Who Wander Are Lost

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

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Lake Tahoe and Carson City, Nevada

We left California and headed to Minden, Nevada to see Lake Tahoe. It was a beautiful, scenic drive, but not so fun for Kevin. Lots of narrow, winding roads with drop offs. He has had a lot of that type of driving on this trip. Thank goodness for our Garmin RV GPS. She helps us find the best routes for towing.

The main reason I wanted to stop here was to see Lake Tahoe. I didn't realize that Minden was on the other side of a mountain about 30 miles away. We stayed for five nights, but only the first day was decent. It rained and was cold all the other days. Oh well, we've had pretty decent weather all summer; so can't complain.

We drove to Lake Tahoe on Sunday as this would be the only rain free day. Unfortunately, a lot of other people were also there making it difficult to find a place to stop and see the lake or take pictures. We started on the Nevada side and headed north. This was the first spot we could get a view. It was cloudy, so the water colors were not as nice as pictures I've seen. It was also very windy, so the lake was quite choppy.

The lake level was very low. In the picture below, you can see the piers sticking way up out of the water. All boats were anchored out in the lake, quite a ways from shore. If you click on the picture, you can see lots of boats out there.

We continued our tour along the west side of the lake which is in California. That side was much more built up with lots of expensive homes and not any places to park and see the lake. As we came around the south end, we climbed to a higher elevation. There were some pull out spots, but there were no parking spots in any of them. The sun had come out, so we were able to see the beautiful colors in Emerald Bay.

The west side of the Lake in Nevada is mostly natural with State Parks and Forests. Here are some views from that side.

The Nevada/California border runs right through the town of South Lake Tahoe. You can certainly tell where the border is as there were several casinos as soon as we entered Nevada.

On one of the less rainy days, we headed to Carson City, the capital of Nevada. The State Capital building is being renovated, and was totally surrounded in scaffolding.  It originally opened in 1871, so some updates were probably in order. It is the second oldest state capital building west of the Mississippi.

Here's what it is supposed to look like based on a model inside.

Some government offices are still in use, but many surrounding buildings have been built to house other state officials. There was a museum in one of the former chambers with lots of interesting information. 

Nevada became a state on October 31, 1864, a few days before the election for Lincoln's second term in office. The papers to become a state got lost in the mail, so with just a few days to go, officials telegraphed all of the required documents. It was the most expensive telegraph ever sent. They made the deadline, and Nevada helped Lincoln win the election. Unfortunately, he only served a few months of that term before being assassinated.

This seal of Nevada in the museum was made entirely of very small beads. I'm guessing it was about 2 feet square. 

This chair was made of elk horns for Governor John Sparks who was in office from 1903-1908. Teddy Roosevelt sat in it when he visited in 1903.

We walked along the downtown on Carson Street. We stopped in at the Nugget Casino, which is the oldest continuously operating casino in Carson City. It is still owned and operated by the descendants of the original owner. Unfortunately, the smoke smell was so awful, we walked right back out. I don't know how anyone can stand being in that smelly environment.

We also stopped at the Great Basin Brewing Company for some liquid refreshments. Kevin said the beers were quite tasty. On top of a hill on the outskirts of town, is a giant C and an American flag that measures 65 x 120 feet. It looks small from a distance, but it must be huge up close.

We stayed at Silver City RV Resort in Minden. It was a very nice park, although a bit pricey at $70 per night. They had a very nice clubhouse with this mural of Lake Tahoe. That's what I was hoping to see when we were there.

This old covered wagon was on the grounds. One of the original RVs!

The views from the park were very beautiful with mountains all around. Late the last evening we were there, the sun came out and provided this awesome double rainbow.

It was quite chilly our entire stay with highs in the low 60s and lows in the 40s. Our last night it got down to 35 degrees. Brrr!!!! We woke to sunny skies with snow on the tops of the highest mountains. It was 10 to 20 degrees below normal for our stay.

Our summer travels are coming to an end. We plan to be home on Saturday with a stop tonight in Tonopah, Nevada and tomorrow night in Kingman, Arizona. I'm looking forward to getting home and seeing our home remodel completed. When we left they still had to paint the outside and put up the back landing cover.

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

Friday, September 16, 2022

Klamath California and Redwood National Park

We very much enjoyed our visit to the Oregon Coast this summer, but it is time to head towards Yuma.  We spent a few days in Klamath, California to visit Redwood National Park. 

This was the 40th National Park we've been to. If you count the St. Louis Arch and Indiana Dunes, which were both not National Parks when we visited, that would be 42. There are a total of 63 of them, but several are in remote Alaska, Virgin Islands, American Samoa and other islands. We hope to visit about 10 more of them in the future.

In 1994 the National Park Service and California State Parks agreed to cooperatively manage their combined 133,000 acres of Redwood forests. It is a World Heritage Site. When logging began in 1850, roughly two million acres of old-growth coast redwood forests were in the coastal mountains of California. Today, just 5 percent remain; 35 percent of that being in the combined state and national parks. How sad! Public and private conservation organizations are working hard to preserve what is there, and help the newer trees grow in a healthy environment.

We hiked a short distance to the Big Tree Wayside to see the 13th tallest tree in the park. It is 286 feet tall, 23.7 feet in diameter, 74.5 feet in circumference and about 1500 years old. In order to get the entire tree into the picture, you have to stoop down and take it from below. This makes us look taller than we are. It's impossible to get the amazing size and scope of these trees in a photo!

Redwoods are the tallest trees in the world. The tallest known Redwood is in the national park, and is called Hyperion measuring 380.3 feet tall. It's exact location is kept secret to protect it from tourists.

Here are some of the others we saw on our hike. Enjoy their beauty and majesty!!

There are three species of redwood trees. The Dawn Redwood grow in China. The Giant Sequoia (which we saw in July) grow on the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in Central California. The tallest in the world Coast Redwoods grow along the Northern California coast and into southernmost coastal Oregon.

It is often amazing to me how hard nature works to survive. This tree is growing out of a dead log, and seems to be doing quite well. Look closely for the roots all over the log (click to enlarge photo).

We started our day in the parks driving to Fern Canyon. That was quite the adventure!! 

On the way there, we drove past Elk Meadow. These guys were having a rest. I counted about 15 females and young ones, and one Big Daddy!! He was looking out for his harem. These were Roosevelt Elk, a subspecies of North American elk. We saw Rocky Mountain Elk when we were in Estes Park, Colorado in 2010.

You can only access the canyon with a free online permit. I signed us up for the 8 am to 12 noon time slot. The dirt road to the canyon is 8 miles of bumpy, narrow, and winding torture; including crossing three shallow creeks! We made it to the check-in kiosk, but no one was there to check our permit or look at our National Parks Pass. Oh well, onward. We got to the small canyon parking lot and headed to the roughly 2 mile hike into the canyon. Parts of Jurassic Park was filmed in this location. I liked the sun shining between these trees.

The first part of the hike took us up to the top of the canyon. Then we came back down to the river flowing through it. We had been warned our shoes would get wet. They weren't kidding. There were logs and boards to cross over in some spots. Unless you're an acrobat, the logs were not easy to traverse. Since my shoes were going to get wet anyway, I walked in the river a lot of the way. I'd rather have wet feet than broken bones!!

The seven types of ferns growing along the 50 foot canyon walls were huge and awesome to see. To be honest, based on the road required to get there and the difficulty of the hike; I really wouldn't recommend this spot especially with a car. We saw plenty of cars; but I was sure glad we had a big truck. 

Here's one of the obstacles we climbed over.

Kevin carefully picking his way across

A banana slug on the trail. Kevin's foot is for size comparison.

I was sure happy when we were on the paved road again. The same Elk herd we saw on the way in was now standing up. 

While in Klamath, we stayed at the Klamath River RV Park. It is situated right along the river with beautiful views. We really enjoyed this park. It was very well taken care of. You could tell the owners cared. That makes such a HUGE difference!!

The fog in the picture below is where the river meets the ocean. All along the coast in Oregon and northern California, it was almost always foggy at the ocean.

One of the local tourist attractions had these huge statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox in their parking lot. I had always thought these characters were from the Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin areas. I guess if it attracts tourists, it works here, too. Paul is 49 feet tall, weights 30,000 pounds. The concrete base alone weighs 800,000 pounds. His axe is 27 feet long, and his boots are 10 feet high. That means the boots alone are as tall as a one story building. Babe is 35 feet tall and also weighs 30,000 pounds. You can see the people in the picture aren't even as tall as the base of Paul.

This bridge across the Klamath River has these bear statues on all four corners. I thought they were pretty cool.

One day we drove up to Crescent City and Crescent Beach. I had read that there are lots of sand dollars to be found at the beach. I found several. Here is what they look like when they are still alive. The ones I found are white, bleached by the sun. I plan to preserve them when we get home. We also stopped at the Port O'Pints Brewing Company so Kevin could have some fun, too. He's not much of a beach person.

On our last afternoon in Klamath, we went on the 2 hour Klamath River Jet Boat Tour. 

The boat took us about 22 miles up the river. About 6 times, the captain spun us in a 360 degree turn. It was so much fun. I found this picture online to show you what it was like. I was too busy holding on to take a photo!

Along the way, the captain would stop and show us some of the wildlife and explain some of the history of the area. These are double-crested cormorants.

We went to the estuary where the river meets the ocean. These pelicans and seagulls were hanging out on a sandbar. You can see how foggy it is. As soon as we got inland, the fog disappeared and we had a beautiful sunny trip.

We saw a pretty large black bear running along the steep bank. I was surprised a bear could run on such a steep area. This is where we saw him. I wasn't fast enough to actually get his picture.

We saw a couple of Bald Eagles and one of their nests.

The scenery along the way was fantastic. For the first few miles, we saw several fish camps along the shores. After that, there are no roads to access the river, so it was just pristine wild river and land. 

Here's the RV park we're staying at from the boat.

We've enjoyed our summer so far. I know Kevin will be happy to be out of the winding, mountainous roads. Tomorrow we head to Lake Tahoe for a few days. That should require one more trip over the mountains, and then we'll be headed back to the flat desert. We plan to be back in Yuma a week from tomorrow.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Florence, Oregon

Our last stop on the Oregon Coast was a week at Woahink Lake RV Resort just south of Florence. It is a very nice RV park with hedges between the roomy sites for privacy. It is one of the nicer parks we've stayed in.

Our first day we headed to the Heceda Head Lighthouse with Brad and Martha. Our friends John and Janie were docents at this lighthouse several years ago, and told us how beautiful it was. They were sure right.

Here's a view of the ocean from the path heading up to the lighthouse.

And our first glimpse of the lighthouse from the path.

And, here we are up close. The entire lighthouse was rebuilt and refurbished about ten years ago and looks great.

We learned that a few of the lighthouses along the Oregon Coast remain lit for boaters to use as reference points. This is one of them. The lens in most of the many lighthouses along the coast have lenses that came from France. Heceda Head is the only lighthouse with a lens made in England, and is the largest English lens of its type in the US. It is also the brightest light on the Oregon Coast.

The view from the top is gorgeous!!

From the lighthouse we headed to the Strawberry Hill Wayside just a bit further north. I had read that there were some tide pools at low tide, and was hoping to see more creatures. The path down to the beach wasn't too bad to navigate.

Sea star in one of the pools

Small crab about the size of a golf ball

I'm not sure what these purple things were, but they were cool

Another Sea Star clinging to the side of the rocks

I was playing tag with the tide waters to get the above picture

There is about a 40 mile long and 1.5 mile wide stretch along the Oregon Coast that has massive sand dunes. It is called the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, and is one of the largest expanses of temperate coastal sand dunes in the world. As we got close to Florence on our drive down, this was our first glimpse of the dunes.

The RV park we are staying at has direct access to the dunes, so there are lots of people staying here with ATVs. We walked up the road to see the dunes behind us. Here are those views. Lots of sand in every direction!

As you can imagine, several companies rent ATVs in this area. Sandland Adventures has a 24 passenger vehicle that takes customers out on a one hour tour of the dunes for only $20 per person. That sounded like fun, so the four of us signed up. Two of them went out. Here's the one we weren't on.

Here's the other buggy with a large fir tree growing in the sand

Our driver gave us some facts about the area. There are bear, black tailed deer, eagles, cougars and bobcats living in the dunes. We saw a black tailed deer similar to the one below grazing on the grass along the side of a trail. We've seen lots of white tailed deer living in Wisconsin, but this was the first black tailed deer.

Dunes in the rec area can get as high as 500 feet. This one was about 100 feet. It was a bit of a thrill coming down it. 

I was very surprised how much vegetation grows among the dunes. There are five tree islands. This one had a small pond near the bottom. With 80 inches of annual rain, these ponds get quite big during the winter and spring months.  

In years past, a non-native grass was introduced to the dunes area to try and keep the sand from blowing into the river. Later they learned the sand at the bar wasn't coming from the dunes, but was coming in from the ocean. In the meantime, the invasive grasses were taking over the dunes. Conservationists are now working hard to figure out how to undo the damage.

This unusual tree/bush was growing at Sandland Adventures. It looked like an upside down evergreen tree.

We went golfing with Brad and Martha at Forest Hills Golf Course in Reedsport. It was a beautiful day. The jackets came off shortly after starting play.

There were a number of beautiful chainsaw carved statues throughout the course. The manager told us that the course was opened 60 years ago, and one of the original members carved all of the sculptures and signs. Amazing!!

We leave Oregon tomorrow and head to the Redwoods National Park area in northwestern California. More adventures ahead!

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