Fixing the plane while flying it

Ruby Beach Rocks in Olympic NP
This photo has nothing to do with anything in this post… I’m just sharing it because it’s so cool… it’s the rocks on Ruby Beach in Olympic NP

In case you haven’t noticed, our website is getting an overhaul!  It’s nothing crazy different, but with the help of a fabulous web developer we’ve found in Louisiana, we are bringing our JOT site to the next level!

So thanks, in advance, for your patience as we do some things and try some things and move some bits and re-arrange some bobs; things may be just a little off for a day or two.  If it isn’t obvious, we’re making these changes to our live site — “fixing the plane while flying it,” as we used to say at HP.  I am working as quickly as I can to get the tweaking done and the little nuances of my new template all figured out so navigating it continues to be easy for our readers.  And with Alicia’s help, we’re trying to make sure the content we’re providing is entertaining, relevant, and fun.  Of course, as it always seems to happen, we have some connectivity issues presently as we’re here in yet another remote campground — this one in the Olympic Peninsula in Washington — so give us a few more days, but then let us know what you think.

Thanks for following along!

P.S.  Let me know if you need a super-fantastic web designer / web developer; I’ve got just the person for you!

Au Revoir to Oregon

Mount Hood
Mount Hood – she’s a beauty at 11,250′

Oregon is a wonderful state!  We’ve known this since our first trip here six years ago when we flew out to Portland and then drove through the Willamette Valley (Oregon wine country) over to the coast to Yachats to attend girlfriend Chris’s wedding.  Incidentally, that was our first vacation together [August 2009; we had been dating for four months] — clearly we did pretty well traveling as a couple… just look at us now! Continue reading

Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Fort Clatsop NHPThe Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery, was the first American expedition to explore the northwestern lands of the vast territory the United States purchased from France in 1803.  U.S. President Thomas Jefferson was keen to explore and map this newly-acquired territory known as the Louisiana Purchase, for it doubled the size of the country.  Jefferson wanted to lay claim on these lands before Britain and other powers were able to do so, determine what resources were available west of the Mississippi River, establish trade with and U.S. sovereignty over the native peoples, and find an all-water route across the continent to the Pacific Ocean. Continue reading

Crater Lake National Park

June 13-16 — It is the bluest and purest lake I have ever seen, and when accompanied by the matching cobalt blue sky as it was when we first saw it… stunning and breathtaking are two words that come to mind, but these don’t fully capture the remarkable beauty that is found here.  This is Crater Lake in Crater Lake National Park.
2015-06-14 22.13.11

Crater Lake was once Mount Mazama — that’s right; this lake was once a mountain!  It is one of a long line in a range that extends from northern California up through British Columbia; it’s where the earth’s crustal plates collide.  Through repeated volcanic eruptions, Mount Mazama grew for some half million years to a height of over 12,000 feet.  Throughout this time, glaciers formed and receded. Continue reading

Fred’s Redwood NP

Here are a few images from our recent stay in Redwood National Park. As you will see, we hiked among some really tall trees on the appropriately named Tall Tree Trail, and through lush vegetation in Fern Canyon. Note Laura sitting on the bench in the first photo. These big boys would make even Shaq look petite.


Redwood National and State Parks

Redwoods - the tallest trees in the worldRedwood National and State Parks - a joint ventureJune 8-11 — The last of our national park visits in California for awhile, we spent four days enjoying Redwood National and State Parks along the Pacific Ocean in northern California.  It was clear from the welcome sign that this park was a bit different than the others we have visited thus far.  In our requisite stop at the main Visitor Center and, in our opinion, mandatory viewing of the park’s overview movie, we learned the history of how these parks came to be and how they are all now jointly administered for better coordination of conservation and management activities.  

In the early 1900s, as more people were moving westward and settling into growing western cities and towns, the country’s insatiable appetite for lumber was being met by felling big tall redwood trees growing all along the Pacific coast.  Conservationists became alarmed by the relentless logging that was rapidly destroying redwood forests, and in 1918, a group was formed to protect these magnificent giants.  The Save-The-Redwoods League was able to purchase some of these old redwood groves.  The state of California also protected groves by creating some state parks.  And in 1968, the Redwood National Park was established to preserve even more of these ancient trees.  However, the damage had already been done.  Between the uncontrolled logging in the late 1800s and the more-regulated-but-still-damaging logging activities of the 1900s, 96 percent of the old-growth forests that once stood here as one of the most splendid and awesome ecosystems on the planet had been destroyed.

Beautiful Redwood NPThis once-sad story is turning the page here in Redwood National and State Parks.  Additional land has been added to the parks, and today great efforts are being made to replant the denuded sections of land, reclaim old logging roads, and erase the scars of the raw, clear-cut logging activities that once took place here.  It will take hundreds of years for new trees to grow to a modest size; but as this area makes up about half the world’s old growth redwood forest, these conservation efforts are required and appreciated by all those who visit these Redwood parks.

Trail through the giant treesHistory lesson now learned, we were here to see tall, stately trees, and that we did!  These gentle giants reach heights of more than 300 feet, and the tallest tree in the park system measures a whopping 379 feet tall!  Compare that to the Statue of Liberty at 240 feet – she’s got nothing on these boys!  Another impressive feature about these redwoods is their age – some are more than 2,000 years old!  Going back some sixty-five million years ago when dinosaurs roamed the earth, much of the northern hemisphere was covered with redwoods and their cousins, Sequioas.  The Ice Age and subsequent changes in climate and topography eliminated a great sweep of these trees, but today we can stroll through stands of these living artifacts and marvel at their massive size.

The scientific name for these redwoods is Sequoia Semperviers — Sequoia comes from the Cherokee Indian chief, Sequoyah, and Sempervirens is Latin for “always green” / “living forever.”   For being so ginormous, these trees have a surprisingly shallow root system — just 10-12 feet deep — but they reach out hundreds of feet wide, and these intermingled roots help keep one another strong.  Fog, we learned, plays a very important role in redwood growth, for it provides nearly half the moisture these tall trees receive.  However, these immense trees cannot grow too close to the coast for they are vulnerable to salt spray.  It seems this limited range of coastline is perfect for their continued growth. 

Ferns adorning the Big Trees Trail pathWe enjoyed some really wonderful hiking in these parks.  Fred hoofed it nearly 30 miles through what often looked and felt like a tropical rainforest.  I took a couple of days off but joined him for some of the hiking ventures.  Very cool snails and banana slugs and frogs made their homes along some of our trails.  Fern Canyon, in particular, features really lush vegetation and was the site for filming a couple of big movies.  Perhaps you’ve heard of Jurassic Park or Star Wars?  This is a very cool place…!

Very cool snail in the forestSpring irisBeautiful NatureFernsBanana SlugWestern TrilliumLeopard LillyFerns in Fern CanyonFerns in Fern CanyonRed-Flowering Currant

FoxgloveWild iris

Roosevelt Elk - some of the few herds we saw in Redwood NPLarge herd of Roosevelt ElkA final feature of the park is the large herds of Roosevelt elk roaming freely in these parts.  We saw them in several meadows as we drove through the park along Hwy 101, but our best sighting came as we were hiking along a coastal trail and came upon eight of them about 10′ from our trail.  They noticed us and looked up.  We stopped.  We all stared at one another for a bit.  Then I let them know in a very sweet voice we weren’t going to bother them and slowly proceeded up the trail hoping they didn’t see us as a threat.  They didn’t and we were safe!

Here is some more of the beautiful scenery we enjoyed in Redwood National and State Parks:

~ Beautiful Coastal Trail in Redwood National Park ~

Coastal Trail wrapping up our 7.5 mile hike

~ The other-worldly Fern Canyon ~

Prairie Creek in Fern Canyon

~ Lush ferns along the Fern Canyon Trail ~

Trail through the ferns

~ We are grateful that groves like this still stand today thanks to the generosity of donors like this ~

Memorial Groves, thanks to the Save-the-Redwoods League, we have these trees and protected forests now

~ Non Nobis Solum / Not For Us Alone  …  Indeed………. ~

Lovely bench for resting... inscribed NON NOBIS SOLUM - Not For Us Alone - how true!

~ Giants in the Mist ~

Ocean mist in the Redwood trees


Lord Stanley’s Cup…

Sweet victory!

… once again comes to Chicago!  An unprecedented three times in six years!!!  Woo Hoo!!!!!

So here we are in a campground about 30 miles from Crater Lake National Park.  Can’t get TV over the airwaves… too many trees.  Verizon service is, once again, nonexistent, which we’re getting used to by now in these remote areas.  We can live with this usually… it just means we have to use the campground’s Internet service.  But here in this campground, they have banned streaming.  That’s not uncommon; gotta share the bandwidth with others… we understand….  So we’ve not been able to tune in these last couple of Stanley Cup games.  We listened to Game 5 on Saturday night on Sirius Radio when the Hawks won and took the series lead 3-2.  But that brings us to tonight.  Knowingfeeling it in my bones that we were going to win tonight, we needed to find a place to watch Game 6.  The nearest place to our campground is six miles down the road, so we decided to go down to have some chow, a cocktail or two, and watch us win it all. Continue reading

Goodbye California. Hello Oregon!

California Coast / The Pacific Ocean

Five weeks after we drove into the state of California, we are now driving up Hwy 101 out of the state and into Oregon.  The time we’ve spent in Cali has been terrific!  We saw niece Kelsey row in the NCAA Women’s Rowing Championships.  We visited a couple sets of friends in the Sacramento area and really enjoyed our time with each of them.  We had Chicago friends join us for a week and hiked in two national parks with them.  In total, we tallied up five of the nine national parks in California; enjoying each one for its special uniqueness and beauty.  We are saving the remaining four parks that are in southern California until late fall / winter when the weather will be more tolerable in places like Death Valley NP and Joshua Tree NP.

We also celebrated our one-year anniversary as full-timers on the road while we were here.  June 1st marked one year of being Out There — my, how the time has flown!  After a year of practice, we now consider ourselves pretty competent in most things RV.  Setting up and breaking down camp and hooking Toad to the back of Charley and unhitching him when we arrive at our destination is now performed via muscle memory; we’ve really got this lifestyle down!  We are good at spotting parking spots that are long enough for both vehicles so we can run our errands while in the larger towns (we avoid big cities whenever we can) and for the most part we can sense when one or the other of us needs a little space.  We’ve had two flat tires on Charley and one on Toad, so we know we can get through those unpleasantries, as well.  All in all, it’s been a fabulous experience, and we’re not done yet!

Significant milestones occurred here in Cali, including turning over 20,000 miles on Toad, clicking 15,000 miles on Charley, and racking up 500 miles in our hiking boots!  Oregon is the 38th state that we’ve visited.  We’re almost halfway through the 59 national parks — we’ve visited 28 of them; that leaves 31 more to enjoy.  In total, we’ve been to 85 national park units.  There are now over 400 of these and we visit those that are on our way or nearby to where we’re visiting.

Okay, we’re nearing our Oregon campsite — our home now for the next five nights.  Truly, home is where our RV is, and it’ll be home for us for a while longer….

California Coast - Hwy 101