DECEPTION PASS, WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON
After Chris and Mark picked us up in Vancouver, we drove back down toward Seattle. We decided to take a trip around Whidbey Island in the Puget Sound west of Burlington. It is a beautiful Island with lots of inlets and bays. We toured Deception Pass State Park and stopped at Rosario Bay, a small bay pointing at the sound and originally home of the Samish Indians. There is a small day park there with picnic facilities.
Mark, Chris and I are in front of the Maiden of the sea. The Samish story is about a beautiful young maiden who saw a young man come up out of the ocean one day and she immediately fell in love with him. He wanted her to go back down in the sea and live with him, but her parents wouldn’t let her. Then the sea would no longer provide food for the Indians of the Bay. Finally, her parents relented and she married the young man of the sea then went with him. The sea again became bountiful for the tribe.
Each year she would come back to visit her parents, but eventually she became more and more like the sea and finally never returned; however, the sea never again held back it’s bounty to the Indians of the bay.
On the backside of the park, there is an inlet to the Skagit Bay, a beautiful area overlooking the coast line of Washington. The clouds began to roll in from the sea shrouding the tops of the trees in fog.
CODY’S FAMILY, MORGAN HILL, CALIFORNIA
We stopped for several days in Morgan Hill to visit Cody, Margaret and the grandsons, Jimmy and Nelson. Jimmy had to show us how they played water baseball by filling water balloons, then having Margaret pitch them to him. It was a wet game on a warm afternoon. Cody took us to Jim’s school in Seaside, California and we got to tour through the school and his classrooms. He had to show off their pet snake for us. We also got to visit Nelson’s High School on the trip although we didn’t tour the classrooms. School was over for the day and Nelson was practicing baseball with one of his team mates.
On Sunday, Nelson was playing baseball with his team at Monterey. He plays first base and pitches for his team. It was a double-header and we got to watch a lot of baseball. After the game, we went down to Cannery Row where the shops and restaurants were located.
After the boys posed with one of the locals, we all went to Bubba’s Shrimp House for dinner. As always, we had a wonderful visit and a fun time with Cody’s family.
NAPA VALLEY WINE TOUR
We met Jan’s daughter, Kyra and her husband Craig and Craig’s father, Bus and his stepmother, Carol at the Del Dotto Winery on friday afternoon after their trip from Kansas City. We toured the winery caves where they aged the vineyards wines sampling lots of good reds and purchased a few for home.
We had stayed the previous night In Calistoga in our 5th Wheel, but were planning on staying with the group at the rental house for the weekend. The house was well off the highway through a very narrow, tree covered lane. It was close getting the camper in beside the house and gave us some concern about backing it out, but that was for later.
After a wonderful dinner at the Ristorante Allegro that evening, we managed to get around the next morning in time to tour the Mumms Napa winery and partake of their delicious champagne. It was an interesting tour through their facility and then another tour of the various varieties of the champagne that they produce. Jan and I were a tangle of arms, but we didn’t spill a drop!
After a stop at the Culinary Institute of America for lunch, we drove to the top of Spring mountain between Napa and Sonoma valleys where Pride Mountain winery is located. Their vineyards were on the peak and the sides of the mountain allowing for cooler summer growing temperatures.
Hanna Winery in upper Sonoma valley was one of the highlights of our tour. The area was beautiful with vineyards covering the hillsides and their wines were very good. Of course many bottles were taken home with us.
The Rombauer winery was also a delight. It was located on the side of the hills in the center of Napa valley. Their white wines were excellent and their hillside gardens were beautiful.
Our last stop for the extended weekend was at the Chimney Rock winery in the Stag’s Leap District of Napa. The red wines were great, but what made the stop a special treat was meeting the owners son and the two wine makers.
Oh yes, and the problem with backing the 5th Wheel out of the narrow lane to the rental house! Well with the aid of everyone guiding me on all sides and stopping the traffic on the highway, I did manage to back it all the way without running off the road or hitting a tree. We quickly backed out on the highway, bid everyone goodbye and were on our way to Yosemite National Park.
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK
We arrived in Yosemite in the rain after a difficult drive on Highway 120 from Manteca to the Park. We had been told that Highway 140 was limited to vehicle lengths of 45 feet plus we would have to drive further south to reach Merced. On 120 there is a five mile climb up the side of a mountain with very sharp hairpin curves that is no fun to drive especially pulling a 5th Wheel! Once reaching the top, it was still 60 miles on a narrow two lane road in the rain. We were very happy to reach our campground in El Portal.
It had been 45 years since I had been in the Park and it was the first time for Jan, so we were excited. The next morning was sunny and bright as we entered the Park. Our first sight was of El Capitan, bright and beautiful above the trees.
We decided to drive to the park Visitors Center and leave the truck while we took a tour of the park on their shuttle buses. This way we could get a feel for the park and decide which areas we wanted to spend more time. At the Visitors Center, we picked up maps of the Park, looked at their displays and toured the village.
Our first stop on the bus was across from Yosemite Falls. It is so tall (vertical drop of 2425 feet) that you have to be on the other side of the valley floor to see all of it. The upper falls is a drop of 1430 feet. In early October, the snows from last winter were mostly melted in the high country above Yosemite and the summer had been dry.
Yesterdays rain was the first of the year, so the amount of water over the falls was not significant, but yet it was spectacular.
The sunny, clear skies didn’t last too long and by the time we were able to see Half Dome, the clouds had begun to move it. Even in the greyness, the mountain is a beautiful sight. It was sliced in half by a glacier that carved out the whole valley.
The Merced river flows through the valley floor fed by the many cascading falls draining the Sierra Mountain which surround the valley. The Merced is a sparkling, crystal clear stream with trout lurking in the shadows behind the rocks. The National Park Service has done a great job making the many scenic vistas available by walking and biking trails through the valley floor.
Here a wooden walking bridge crosses the river and in the background Sentinel Rocks rise above the valley floor making a picturesque scene.
A short walk up the trail from the wooden bridge is this wonderful view of Cathedral Rock across the grassy meadow and low pines. Yosemite provides so many great scenic areas that your mind almost becomes saturated with the wonder of it all. However as the darker clouds in the background behind Cathedral Rock began to show, it wasn’t long before clouds and rain began reduce the photo opportunities.
We drove up to the vista of Bridalveil Falls as the rain began. It had obviously started raining in the high country above the falls prior to our arrival as much more water was falling than we had previously seen earlier in the day. The falling rain in this photo gave an unusual quality to the falls and the trees in the foreground. The wind was also producing a mist of the water cascading down reminding us of how the falls had been named ‘Bridalveil’.
As the rain became heavier, we drove out of the valley back toward our campground in El Portal. Our last look at the valley was spectacular in an unusual way. The rain had begun to hide the scenic mountains in its mist. Cathedral Rock and Bridalveil Falls could still be seen on the right and El Capitan on the left, but Half Dome had disappeared in the rain. It was definitely a beautiful way to end a wonderful day in one of the most scenic National Parks.
Our trip out of Yosemite was on Highway 14o south to Merced. The highway was limited to vehicles 45 feet and we were pushing that limit with our 5th Wheel and truck. But after the difficult trip driving up 120, we decided we would spend the extra time and distance on 140. It turned out that the length restriction was based on the ability to turn onto a detoured bridge where the highway had been damaged by a rockslide. We had no difficulty turning onto the bridge in the confined area and the trip down to Merced was easy compared to the trip up 120. Our only difficulty driving to Lake Tahoe was another blow-out on the trailer. That was the second one this trip and hopefully the last one for awhile as the blow-out was on the last of the lousy Goodyear 2 ply trailer tires on the camper. All the five tires are now 8 and 10 ply truck tires which will hopefully carry the weight of the camper.
We arrived at the Lake Tahoe Valley RV Resort in South Lake Tahoe the evening of October 7th. The resort was a very large campground located in a grove of huge Ponderosa pine trees although it was late in the summer season and there were very few campers. The next morning we decided to drive around Lake Tahoe in the truck. Heading west from the park, we climbed up to the top of a mountain above Emerald Lake, thank goodness we didn’t put the 5th Wheel as some of the hairpin curves on the climb would have had us running over the back of the camper, they were so tight. The view from the top was spectacular with the bay below us and Lake Tahoe in the distance.
The only island in Lake Tahoe is in Emerald Bay. It is called Fannette and has rock tea house built on the very peak. In the photo, a tour boat has come down the bay around the Island to the rock castle at the end and then cruised back out of the bay.
We drove on up the western side of the lake past several of the large ski areas including Hollywood, Alpine and Squaw Valley (home of the 1960 Winter Olympics).
Up around the north end of the lake past Incline Village and down the eastern side, we stopped for lunch at Zephur Cove and strolled the beach. The lake was beautiful blue. On south we passed the numerous Casinos at Stateline and under the slopes of Heavenly Valley ski area. Soon we were back to park where the 5th Wheel was waiting for the next leg of our trip home.
MOAB, UTAH & the NATIONAL PARKS
CANYON LANDS NATIONAL PARK
We left Lake Tahoe on Highway 50 through Carson City then east and north to reach Interstate 80. We stopped overnight in Elko, Nevada and then again in Green River, Utah before driving into Moab in the morning of October 11th. We decided that we wanted to see all the National Parks in the area so we drove back north to the entrance of Canyonlands.
Canyonlands National Park is approximately 35.6 miles north to south, 22.5 miles east to west and extends over 500 square miles of untamed and untraveled canyons. Canyonlands was formed by the erosion of the native sandstone by the Colorado and Green rivers where they come together to form the mighty Colorado river which made the Grand Canyon.
The park is separated into two areas, northern is called ‘Isle in the Sky’ and is up on the plateau above the canyons formed by the Colorado and Green rivers. Therefore all of the vistas from the park paved roads look down. The first overlook is just past the Visitor Center looking down toward Moab as the Colorado river cuts through the sandstone bluffs into the park. The canyon has incredible colors of rust reds, creams, lime greens and far off blues and purples.
Along the road, the rocks form unusual shapes that remind you of other things such as the arch along the right which looks like a mouse head touching the bluff face. Up here the rocks are a lighter tan sandstone with stripes of darker tan to redish and even grey to black.
Juniper trees grow in the crevasses of the rocks on the tops of the bluffs. The winter snows and winds twist them into unusual shapes.
It is a wonder that they can survive in these harsh climates of summer heat and dryness and winter cold, snow and winds.
Further down the plateau, we found another pullout to the overlook of Buck Canyon. Here the cuts by the Colorado river have left deep secondary canyons in the lower plateau. It was interesting to see the many 4 x 4 roads and trails left over for years on the lower plateau. Canyonlands National Park has hundreds of miles of unpaved roads and trails that explore the canyon bottoms. These roads lead to Indian Cliff dwellings, Indian petroglyphs, natural arches and unlimited beauty.
As we turned to the west on the upper plateau, the canyons are formed by the Green River coming down north from Utah and Wyoming’s Flaming Gorge and Teton mountains. The Green river had cut into the sedimentary layers and sandstone rocks to create cliffs and canyons every bit as deep and beautiful as the Colorado.
Typical of the vistas along the drive was the Steamboat butte and Steeple Rock, a pinnacle of hard sandstone left as the water washed away the softer layers of sediment and stone.
We drove south onto the top of a bluff overlooking the Green river canyon. The National Park Service had built viewing platforms on the rock surfaces at the edge of the cliffs with stone abutments and wooden railings for safety.
They were needed as the drop from the edge of stone abutments was 250 feet straight down to the floor of the canyon.
In the background, the cream sandstone buttes were rounded and sliced off by a glacier that once covered this area. Note that Canyonlands also has a half dome.
On the way back to the Colorado side of the Isle of the Sky, these cliffs of orange sandstone formed the break between the Green and Colorado rivers. In the distance at the left edge of the photo, the Green river flows into the Colorado adding it’s strength to carve the Grand Canyon. Beyond this point, the Glen Canyon and Lake Powell starts.
That was where we would head the next day to visit the lower half of Canyonlands called the ‘Needles’.
We left ‘Isle of the Sky’ in mid-afternoon and decided to visit the many petroglyph sites along the Colorado river before it enters the National Park. The rock cliffs along the river are a prime area for finding petroglyphs, Indian drawings carved into the rock surfaces. The cliff faces have been coated by dark ‘desert varnish’ caused by rain water leaching out the minerals above the faces creating a dark layer on the surface. The Indians, in this case the Ute Indians then used other rocks to chip or scrape the surface through the coating of varnish allowing the lighter rock to show through to create a drawing. Petroglyph drawings have been found all over the western states depicting the Indians in their native costumes, symbols of water holes or direction to locations and of many animals including mountain sheep, buffalo, horses, dogs and in the above case a bear. This bear is unusual because of it’s size. It is approximately six feet long and three feet wide. Also visible are mountain sheep, symbols and even a hunter with bow and arrow at the nose of the bear.
Further along the river was an unusual arch called ‘Jug Handle Arch’. Note the three climbers on the face of the handle.
Below the handle in an area where the rock was coated with ‘desert varnish’ were another series of petroglyphs. Note again the Indian with the bow and arrow obviously shooting at the deer, also the two figures of Indians in costume.
As we were leaving the area for the drive back to Moab, the sun was going down in the west and shed it’s orange glow on the chalk bluffs on the opposite side of the river. It was obvious that the Ute Indians inhabited this region extensively in the past. Both sides of the river had areas where the rock walls were protected adequately to retain the desert varnish coating and most of these area were covered with petroglyphs. It would have been an ideal location with plenty of water, game and fish.
The next day we drove south from Moab to visit the lower half of Canyonlands National Park called ‘the Needles’. On the way we passed a beautiful arch along the side of the road. The sun was shinning on the back side and illuminating the opening. We reached the turnoff to the park several miles south of the arch and proceeded west toward the Needles.
As we reached a winding river area, there was a parking area for Newspaper Rock which turned out to be a large outcropping of sandstone, the lower portion darkened with desert varnish and covered with
Indian petroglyphs. This rock had a huge number of drawings of about every type that I have seen, thus the name ‘Newspaper Rock’! There are horses with Indians riding and shooting, buffalo, sheep, deer, dogs, figures and lots of symbols. The petroglyphs were in excellent conditions due to the care the Park had given them by blocking off any intrusion by vandals.
The Isle in the Sky was on the the top of the canyon and we were looking down on the bluffs and cut canyons. The Needles is down on the floor of the canyon and now we were driving on the floor of those canyons looking up at the bluff.
As we drove into the canyon floor, we began to see the spires rising into the air. The floor level where we were driving was a dry grass meadow with a small river running it’s length toward the Colorado river. The red bluff rose a couple hundred feet to the next level where these two spires had eroded to needle shapes. Both needles were only a mile or so apart.
Red Butte was the end of a rock outcropping that extended several miles along the park road.
Further into the park the rock color began to change to more tans and browns. Wooden Shoe arch was unique in that it looked sculpted out of the softer tan sandstone, but it was huge and sat on top of a long bluff over looking the valley floor.
Beyond Wooden Shoe we entered Mushroom Park where water had eroded the softer sandstone away from under slightly hard stone domes.
Typical of this area was the Kissing Arch with two of these domes just touching each other is if in a kiss.
And the funny looking pinnacle among a stand of rock mushrooms that looked like the head of a bird. The valley floor in this area was covered with these eroded pinnacles in all kinds of shapes. The paved road through the Needles Park was a very small part of the National Park, but it was impossible to travel into the other areas without a 4 wheel drive vehicle. Also you were not allowed to drive off the paved roads without obtaining a permit from the National Park Service at the Visitors Center. This was primarily to assure that campers and hikers were not lost in this vast primitive area. A vehicle break down or getting stuck in the loose sand of a river bed could be very dangerous.
The Needles was a long bluff of pinnacles that had been eroded over the millennial along the southern horizon. Unfortunately the paved road didn’t lead to there.
NATURAL BRIDGES NATIONAL MONUMENT
After leaving The Needles of Canyonlands National Park, we drove south toward four corners on Highway 191 with the idea of then taking Highway 95 west and north to the second of the National Parks in the Moab area, Capitol Reef. However, on the way up 95, we took a side road over to the National Monument called ‘Natural Bridges’. It was an interesting and beautiful side trip.
The distinction between an arch and a natural bridge seems to be that a river or stream carves out a bridge and
continues to run through it whereas an arch is carved by wind and water, but a stream or river does not run through it. I am not sure what constitutes a National Park verses a National Monument; however, to us Natural Bridges was every bit as beautiful as a National Park.
Although the stream was not named under Sipapu and Kachina Bridges, they were cut by the water flowing down White Canyon. Note that Sipapu is considered a young bridge in the sense that there is still a great deal of rock surrounding the opening thus it will take a great deal more erosion before the bridge is broken.
Just down White canyon from Sipapu Bridge is the remains of a Puebloan cliff dwelling called ‘Horse Collar Ruins’. Approximately 900 years ago, Mesa Verde cliff dwellers populated this region building their homes in the cliff crevasses near water. As the region became more arid, the people moved further south.
Closeup views of the ruins show a group of rock building ruins with a door outline. The right photo shows a covered rock area behind the large rocks in front and two round rooms in fairly good condition still standing. This was the only ruins visible in the area as far as we were told.
Upstream views of Kachina Natural Bridge were difficult to obtain without walking quite a distance so we decided to photograph Kachina from the downstream side. Actually Kachina was very similar to Sipapu although it was narrower and taller. Also this bridge is more fragile as the bridge above the opening is much thinner. This was a beautiful bridge though with expansive shelves of rock along sides below our viewing position. There were trails which led down to the stream.
However, the trails were steep and it was a long distance to the stream below. Further along the road we saw an outcropping of rock from the side of the bluff thatlooked like an Indian Head even to the long nose and high cheekbones.
Owachomo Natural Bridge was formed by the streams coming down Armstrong and Tuma canyons; however, over time the streams have either dried up or diverted to a different area leaving the bridge dry. The bridge is considered old as the upper rock bridge is very thin and may someday break down. Looking closely at the photograph you can see several major cracks across the span of the bridge.
Although the Monument is small, it is a beautiful place and well worth the trip to spend time there. It would be interesting to walk the trails to the canyon floor to see the bridges up close and to look at the cliff dwellings.
Capitol Reef National Park
After leaving the Natural Bridges, we drove across Glen Canyon at the head waters of Lake Powell heading north on 95 towards Hanksville and the cutoff to Capitol Reef. By this time is was getting late in the afternoon so we drove across the park stopping occasionally to take photos and hoping to reach the Visitor Center before it closed, but we didn’t make it. Again the paved road allows a very limited view of the park, but we enjoyed the drive through the park.
Although the two photos above seem very dissimilar in terms of the rock formations, the photo of the mountain on the right is extension an extension of the Castle Mountain on the left. That seemed to be the rule in Capitol Reef with significantly different colored and kinds of stone in the reefs.
Back down the road from the Visitor Center is the original school house for the children of the area. There were several farming communities in the park area and just outside of the park boundaries. None of these still use this school. There is a small stream that the road follows through the park area and again located on the walls of the rock cliffs are petroglyphs from the original Indian inhabitants.
There were many buttes along the drive such as Organ Pipe with it’s variety of colored rock from the reds, oranges, creams and blacks. The shear face of the mountain was evidence of the streams force in eroding the wall or evidence of a glacier that carved the face.
Again on the other side of the stream is a shearing of the face of the rock butte. This is also a reef area where the shearing of the rock faces can also occur
by one side of the reef grinding against the other and as the rock is pushed upward, the shaved faces become visible.
Along the stream, the rock faces provide beautiful shapes and colors to enjoy on our drive. The setting sun added to the colors and the shadows. Again along these walls were Indian Petroglyphs. There were large numbers of them, but the weather and rain had eroded them to the point that many were barely visible.
Partway through the Park was this old cabin where the Behunin family lived and farmed. Here is there story:
In 1882 Elijah Behunin and his family built this cabin, and Behunin was one of the first settlers in the area.
A family of ten lived here. Braided rugs covered the dirt floor. Ends of dress materials became curtains. There was a fireplace to cook in, and a water supply near the door. The family probably ate outside.
Father, mother and the two smallest children slept in the cabin. The post bed almost filled one side of the room. By widening a dugout in the cliff, the older boys had a place to sleep. The girls made a bed in an old wagon. They only lived here a few years before storms and floods had destroyed their gardens and fields forcing them to move on to higher ground.
The early pioneers obviously were very hardy individuals! As we left the park, the sun was setting. We drove back to I-70, then to Highway 191 on our way back to Moab and our camper. We had driven over 500 miles on the tour and seen two National Parks and a National Monument.
ARCHES NATIONAL PARK
We had visited ‘Isle of the Sky’ above the canyon floor, but at the same elevation of Moab. Then we visited the canyon floor at ‘The Needles’ and ‘Capitol Reef’. Now we climbed up over 1000 feet to the Arches National Park. Our first view of the beautiful buttes, pinnacles,spires and arches of dark red sandstone were called ‘Park Avenue’. We stopped for a photograph then drove around the buttes where the high elevation (4800 feet) valley led us off to the arches.
On our left as we drove along the park road was a group of pinnacles that had been named ‘Three Gossips’.
On the right was a butte called ‘Courthouse Towers’ which rose out of the valley floor over 250 feet.
The road climbed up into the Windows Section of the Park. Just before the turnoff to the
Garden of Eden were a group of pinnacles with the center one called ‘Balanced Rock’. It certainly wouldn’t take much of a shake for it to be unbalanced! Driving up through the Garden of Eden we saw the butte with the North and South Windows.
The Park Service has built a parking area and gravel walking paths up to each of the arches and off to the right side where the Turret Arch was located in another butte.
Although he is difficult to see, the tiny black figure at the black bottom of the arch is a man. It gives you a reference to the height of the arch. There were walking paths to the base of the arch and then you could climb up through the rocks at the base.
The arches are beautiful with their bright red-orange stone and carved shapes. We walked under the South arch, then around to the back side of both Window arches. The trail around the back was not as well developed, but it was fun seeing the arches from both sides.
From the Garden of Eden, we drove out to the Wolfe Ranch. Although we didn’t walk to the top of the bluff (a three mile hike up 500 feet in elevation). Us old blue-hairs just took a photo from the lower viewing area.
Wolfe Ranch was interesting with it’s log cabin soddy (although now covered with tar paper), a semi-cellar and post-rail corral. There was also a rock outcropping near the ranch with Indian petroglyphs carved into it.
We took the left photo from the road and then drove through the Devil’s Garden campground to the back side of the bluff. I climbed up a sand dune to the back side of Skyline Arch. The sun shinning through the arch was interesting.
An unusual arch was hidden in between these rocks on the left. It was almost as if these pointed rocks were pushed up out of the earth with gaps between them. We walked through the gaps to reach the Sand dune arch. The arch was actually the color shown in the photo on the right. The yellow-orange rock which formed the touching arch was backed by of one of the pinkish-red pointed rocks. The Sand Dune arch rock was lit by the sun, causing the sand and rock to glow. There were eight more arches in the Devil’s Garden on a seven mile trail. The parking lot was crowded and cars were parked illegally along the side of the road. Neither of us felt up to a 7 mile walk in the middle of the afternoon. It was sunny and warm and we decided that we had seen enough arches for one trip. We will leave them for the next time.
I saved this one arch from the Garden of Eden area for the final photo from Arches National Park. It is called ‘Double Arch’ and in our eyes was the most beautiful and interesting arch in the Park.
From Moab we drove back to Kansas with a short stop in Castle Rock, Colorado to meet some of Jan’s friends that she knew when she and Kyle lived there. We arrived home on the 16th of October a week ahead of a snow storm that dumped on the Colorado mountains and closed I-70. We were happy to be home and plan to stay for the winter.