Friday, August 30, 2013

Vacation Day 5; San Jaun

Ashley and I woke up early on Sunday morning to leave Todd and Tina's place in Bellingham.  We had a short drive to a ferry but needed to arrive early so that we were able to board.  Rumor had it that first come first serve was brutal on a Sunday.  We made the 9am ferry to Friday Harbor and set out for Lime Kiln State Park.  Ashley spend the entire ferry ride at the edge of the boat looking for wildlife.

Lime Kiln State Park is know for its wildlife sightings as well as a tourist hotspot for their lighthouse.  I do not understand the fascination with lighthouses, or any human made structure really.  We basically ignored the lighthouse and set out for a short hike along the rocky beach.

Immediately, we were spotting seals just off the coast.  We must have seen about 6 or 8 by the time we hit the actual beach area.  Once at the beach, we were confronted with massive jellyfish nearly washing up on the shoreline.  No one even dared step into the water there were so many!

While taking some pictures of the jellies, we heard a rustling behind us about 30 feet away where the beach gave way to forest.  There was a deer eating the berries and leaves of a nearby bush.  I photographed the deer for awhile until some less than polite humans tried to get close to it and the deer bolted.  Walking back up to the trail-head we spotted a pod of porpoises swimming just off the shoreline.

We left Lime Kiln State Park early due to a fear that we would not make the ferry back to the mainland.  We had a reservation for a later ferry down the road so it was important that we were able to get on the 3pm ferry off of Friday Harbor.

Fortunately, we were one of the last people to get a in the que for the 3pm ferry but it left us about 2 hours in Friday Harbor to wander around.  It was mostly a tourist trap with petty trinkets and overpriced goods.  After awhile we stumbled on a treasure.  Sea Shepherd is based out of Friday Harbor and they had a storefront!  It was a pretty awesome volunteer run shop that all proceeds go to funding the anti-whaling efforts of the Sea Shepherd crew.

After a series of ferries and a couple hours of driving, we ended up in Heart O'the Old Hills campground in Olympic National Park.  This would be the next leg of our journey but not until Monday, it was late and we were beat.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Vacation Day 4; Todd & Tina and a visit to Bellingham

The four of us woke up early on day 4 in our campsite.  In fact, Todd & Tina and a guest with them.  Peanut, a little rat-like dog with alien eyes was staying with them for a week and had tagged along on our camping/hiking adventure.

The four of us (plus Peanut) packed up camp and headed to some tail-heads.  Not knowing how much Peanut, Todd & Tina could do hiking-wise, we thought it best to do some simple hikes and it turned out great.  Our first stop was Nooksack Falls which was hard to see since it was fenced off but from what we were able to view, it looked impressive.

We arrived at Artist Point and walked on the snow for awhile.  Being from Georgia her whole life, Ashley has never seen snow this deep and was pretty taken by it.  It was far to overcast at that time of the day for us to see any of the views though.

We headed back down to the Heather Meadows area and spent several hours hiking the shorter trails and even started a small portion of the Chain Lakes trail.  Apparently, there is a unique animal called a Whistle Pig that lives in the rocky areas of this subalpine region.  It is somewhere between a ferret and a beaver.  Both Todd and I saw one but the girls missed out.

That afternoon we headed back to Bellingham Washington, where Todd & Tina live.  On the way back, we stopped at a food truck in Glacier Washington because we overheard a park ranger say they had vegan options.  The food was incredible and we gorged a bit too much.

Back at Todd &Tina's we went to a health food store to re-stock our groceries for later hikes and even scored a few vegan treats.  After a short tour of the city, Tina had some errands to run so Todd, Ashley and I went and walked the boardwalk.

When Tina got back we all went out to dinner at an asain noodle place.  It was a hearty and filling meal that Ashley and I really needed after several days eating bagel sandwiches and protein bars.  We even got showers and got to sleep indoors!  It was a nice relaxing day and great to see old friends.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vacation Day 3; Skyline Divide

Day 3 was going to be one of the harder hikes of our trip.  From the trail notes, the first 2 miles would take several hours and mainly be through thick woods, a fairly boring hike and a huge incline.  One you get to the top of the mountain, the hike was supposed to pay off.  It did, in a way that puts this hike high on my list of all time best hikes.

We arrived at the trail-head by about 7am, it was a little overcast, cold enough to see your breath, and high enough that the air was thin.  Fortunately, we had each found nice hiking sticks by now and began to pack up our gear and lunch.  Up the mountain we went.  The steep hike and thin air made us both short of breath often and it took us a long time to go just two miles.

Then, nearly out of no where, the trees broke and we popped out onto a massive mountain ridge.  The ridge was steep on both sides and covered with meadows filled with wildflowers.  The wildflowers were so plentiful that the entire area sounded of bees.  A constant buzzing and a strong scent of wildflower potpourri.

The ridge continued on for about 2 more miles along the steep crest with amazing views of the Mt Baker range.  It was quite an astonishing sight with massive snow capped mountains close enough to throw a rock unto.

We spend several hours hiking along the ridge and just enjoying the views.  I took pictures but they were unable to capture the true feeling of the top of the mountain we were on, it felt like we were in another country.

The trip back down the mountain felt much shorter and the sun had warmed up the air enough that it was far more pleasant.  After making in back to the car in under 2 hours, we headed back to our favorite campsite which we had reserved for two night.  It was around 5pm and we were going to meet up with some old friends of mine, Todd and Tina, for some camping and next day hiking.

We decided to get a campfire going and have a cookout.  We had some tempeh, veggie dogs, potatoes, garlic, spinach, onions, and more for dinner.  Long conversations with old friends and a hot meal over an open fire concluded with much needed sleep in the open night air made this one of the best days of our trip.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Vacation Day 2; North Cascades National Park

The day prior to leaving for our trip, there was a huge rock slide that caused a major roadway into North Cascades National Park to be closed.  The road was completely washed away and it looked like we were going to need to scrap our North Cascades day.  After asking a state ranger the prior night at Wallace Falls State Park we opted to see if we could scavenge at least an afternoon in the National Park.

As the sun rose on the tent that protected Ashley and I from a late night rain, we both awoke, packed up and decided to head to a little town about an hour away that had a visitor / information center for North Cascades.  Before we set off though, we headed back into the woods to pick our breakfast.  The night prior, we noticed about a quarter of a mile of blackberry bushes just off the trail.  We filled our mouths with fresh, wild blackberries (and dropped some in a bag for later) as our morning meal.

Once at the information center, we were told that we could get into the park but not all the way in.  Ashley and I decided to cobble together a makeshift day in the park and make the best of it before heading further north to camp.  While en-route to the park we stumbled upon the Cascadian Farms u-pick and store front on the side of the road.  Knowing the brand, we stopped and were pretty excited.  We did not have time to u-pink the fresh organic berries but we did buy a small amount in the store.  It was like a second breakfast for us and the blueberries were amazingly sweet and tender.

By the time we arrived in the park, the rain was coming down in a heavy misting and it was pretty overcast.  There were still some amazing sights in this mountain range and I wish we had the opportunity to have planned the day better but it was still a great park to visit.  We got in a few hikes, saw some great waterfalls, a strange beach-like place where all the trees had fallen, and some awesome overlooks.  The water was a teal color that we had never witnessed before.  It was pretty amazing.

On our way out of the park, we saw a gang of elk just eating in a field.  There were so many, it was impressive.  We had some dinner at a mildly sketchy thai food place, gassed up and headed north.

We ended our day in Douglas Fir campground in the Mt Baker area.  It was the only campsite where we would spend two nights and fortunately, it was the best campground we were in.  There was even a nice hike just off the campground that we took that evening after setting up.  We saw salmon swimming upstream which was pretty cool.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Vacation Day 1; Arrive at Wallace Falls State Park

Ashley and I were up early here in Atlanta for our flight to Seattle.  I have not spent much time in Washington and Ashley was completely new to the Pacific Northwest.  The anticipation was really ramped up for this trip as we have both worked hard over the past year and needed to reap the rewards.

With the time change, we arrived in Seattle, got our pack, picked up the rental car, stopped a natural foods store for supplies and we out of the city by about 2pm.  Shortly after, we were bombarded with the country landscape of fields of cows, and the looming of intimidating mountain peaks.

Lower Falls

By 4pm we could plainly see Wallace Falls State Park ahead.  We set up our first tent of the trip and immediately bounded into the coniferous woods.  Within an hour or two we were at the lower end of the falls.  It was quite a spectacle and a short but steep climb brought us to the middle portion of the massive waterfall.  The falls was so huge that you could see it clearly, miles away down the road before entering the park.  However, it did not compare to the sight before us.

Middle Falls

Sadly, it was starting to get late and we have been awake nearly 20 hours so we headed back off the mountain.  Back just in time for nightfall and we quickly passed out on the ground in preparation for another long adventure adventure the following day.

View from lower Falls

I would highly recommend Wallace Falls to anyone in the Washington area, it was a great kick off for our trip.

Scenic spot on the hike

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beating the heat...

Warm weather is in full stride here in Atlanta over the last couple of weeks.  It seems to be cooler than it has in years past but that is not saying much.  A vacation to the pacific northwest is going to be a nice break from the humidity and heat.

Popsicle are a great way to cool down.  They are the best when you make them yourself.  We used some lemonade and a fresh mint leave from the garden for these pops.  They were great, the mint really added some nice flavor.

I have a busy week coming up.  I need to get ready for vacation, Ashley and Kaleigh are moving in this weekend, and I still have to work 40 hours before Wed.  Vacation incoming!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Cooking with Kaleigh; Part 9: Spaghetti Squash!

Ashley and I decided to make some spaghetti squash with pesto.  This is a recipe I have used for several years and it wonderful.  The two flavors blend together in a way that is not only healthy but robust in flavor.  Kaleigh however, had never had spaghetti squash.  When we told her how it worked, she was very excited and opted to make a video for the dish.

She did not want to make a video for the pesto, maybe that will be another episode. The video has a few outtakes at the end so make sure you stick around for those.

There is a good chance that this is the final video shot in Ashley's house.  The girls are moving in next week!  It will be just in time for vacation and the start of school for Kaleigh.  August will be a busy month.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Bar B-Que dinner

I have been playing around with dehydrated soy for a few weeks.  I have found that large pieces take a long time to hydrate and sometimes end up chewy if you rush them.  The soy chickin that was used in the Kabob were dehydrated soy.  We used the remainder with some Bar B-Que sauce.  They came out well but are still not my favorite thing to cook with.

Ashley made some amazing cabbage as a side dish and it meshed with the BBQ soy chickin very well.  It made for a great meal when combined with a nice warm roll.

I am really looking forward to these types of meals on a regular basis when the girls (Ashley and Kaleigh) move in later this month.