Friday, July 21, 2017

DESTINATION: Galveston, Texas

Our next adventure was a weekend trip to Galveston, TexasGalveston is a coastal resort city on Galveston Island and Pelican Island of Texas.

Pleasure Pier on the beach at Galveston

Named after Bernardo de Gálvez y Madrid, Count of Gálvez, Galveston's first European settlements on the island were built around 1816 by French pirate Louis-Michel Aury to help the fledgling Republic of Mexico fight Spain. The Port of Galveston was established in 1825 by the Congress of Mexico following its independence from Spain. The city was the main port for the Texas Navy during the Texas Revolution, and later served as the capital of the Republic of Texas.

Pelican Island once housed an immigration station

Pelicans in Galveston Harbor

Carnival Cruises set sail from Port of Galveston

The tall ship Elissa is a three-masted barque. She is currently moored in Galveston, Texas, and is one of the oldest ships sailing today.  When she's not sailing, Elissa is moored at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston. Public tours are available year-round-provided she is not out sailing. The ship is sailed and maintained by qualified volunteers from around the nation.

The figurehead on the prow of the Elissa

The Elissa

We were promised dolphins!

Several boating tours offer dolphin watching near Pier 21.  Most boats offer a covered interior and are considered dolphin safe due to the type of motor on the boat. We used Baywatch Tours for our tour.  They offer daily 45-minute tours that allows guests to view the dolphins in their natural habitat during an informational tour of the harbor.

During the 19th century, Galveston became a major U.S. commercial center and one of the largest ports in the United States. It was devastated by the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, whose effects included flooding and a storm surge. The natural disaster on the exposed barrier island is still ranked as the deadliest in United States history, with an estimated death toll of 6,000 to 12,000 people.

Seawolf Park is located on Galveston's Pelican Island on a former immigration station site. The park offers one of the island's most popular fishing piers, picnic sites and a playground. The park is also home to tourist attractions, including the WWII submarine the USS Cavalla and one of only three destroyer escorts in the world, the USS Stewart. The remains of the tanker S.S. Selma, the largest concrete ship constructed, can be seen northwest of the park's fishing pier.

Seawolf Park

USS Stewart

USS Cavalla

Historical marker for SS Selma

SS Selma as seen from Seawolf Park

Galveston is home to six historic districts containing one of the largest and historically significant collections of 19th-century buildings in the United States, with over 60 structures listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Image result for jean lafitte galveston home
Remains of Jean Lafitte's (the pirate) house in Galveston.  The house was called Maison Rouge

Image result for galveston historic homes
Moody Mansion

Thursday, June 22, 2017

DESTINATION: Mount Rainier, Washington


It was time to say goodbye to Washington State.  Here's one last look at the beautiful mountains out of our plane window as we flew by.  We really enjoyed this adventure!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

DESTINATION: Ruby Beach, Washington

Since we were just a few miles from the Pacific Coast we decided to leave the Hoh Rainforest and spend a few minutes at Ruby Beach, Washington.  We were not disappointed with our decision.  The view from the look-out just below the parking lot was breath taking as was the beach once we got a closer look.

Cedar Creek empties into the Pacific Ocean at Ruby Beach

Famous for the reddish sand that occasionally gathers and large, rock islands known as sea stacks, Ruby Beach is one of the most well-known and highly anticipated beaches to visit along the Olympic coastline. This beach is the northernmost of the southern beaches in the coastal section of Olympic National Park. It is located on Highway 101, in Jefferson County, 27 miles south of the town of Forks.

Where's the beach?

Beautiful sight after climbing over all that driftwood

Like virtually all beaches on the northern coast, Ruby Beach has a tremendous amount of driftwood which we had to climb over to walk the beach and get closer to the sea stacks. 

Sea stacks on Ruby Beach

Destruction Island (also known historically as Green Island) is a 30-acre island located approximately 3.5 miles of Ruby Beach. Home to seabirds, shorebirds, and marine mammals, it is part of the Quillayute Needles National Wildlife Refuge.

Destruction Island as seen from Ruby Beach

Destruction Island was used as an anchorage by Spanish ships in 1775. A crew of seven men was sent to the mainland to procure supplies of wood and water, but was massacred by the local Indians, leading naval lieutenant Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra to name it the Isla de Dolores (the Island of Sorrows). Twelve years later, Captain Charles William Barkley, an independent English fur trader, arrived in the ship Imperial Eagle, and sent a party ashore from the island to a similar fate. He named the river where the second massacre took place the Destruction River. Captain George Vancouver later transferred the name to the Isla de Dolores when the river was given its Indian name, the Hoh River.

Three shipwrecks occurred at the island in 1889: Cassanora AdamsPort Gordon, and Wide West. The 94 foot Destruction Island Lighthouse was built on Destruction Island in 1888-91. A US Coast Guard detachment operated the lighthouse from 1939 to the early 1970s. The light was automated in 1968, before it was shut off for good in April 2008. The island itself is accessible only by boat.Jump up

DESTINATION: Hoh Rainforest, Washington

On our last day in the Olympic National Park we visited the Hoh Rainforest. It is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S.  Within Olympic National Park, the forest is protected from commercial exploitation. This includes 24 miles of low elevation forest 394 to 2,493 feet along the Hoh River. The Hoh River valley was formed thousands of years ago by glaciers. Between the park boundary and the Pacific Ocean, 48 km of river, much of the forest has been logged within the last century, although many pockets of forest remain.

The beautiful Hoh River flows in and out of Olympic National Park

Forks, Washington welcome sign

It looks like Bella is visiting the Forks Timber Museum! See her red truck on the left?

To get to the Hoh Rainforest we traveled west on Highway 101 and then headed south on the same highway going through Forks, Washington.  Forks may look familiar because it is the setting (and partial filming location) for the Twilight Movies.

After passing through Forks we turned back to the east and traveled on the Upper Hoh Road and back into the Olympic National Park.

Hoh Visitors Center

EVERYTHING in the forest is covered with moss!

The Hoh Rainforest is home to a National Park Service ranger station, from which backcountry trails extend deeper into the national park.

Near the visitor center is the Hall of Mosses Trail, a short trail—0.8 miles - which gives visitors a feel for the local ecosystem and views of maples draped with large growths of spikemoss. There is also the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles), which includes signs that identify various trailside trees and plants.  We enjoyed a hike through the Hall of Mossess but, unfortunately, we didn't have the time or energy to tackle the Spruce Nature Trail before we headed to Ruby Beach and back to home base, Lake Sutherland.

Gman or Hobbit?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

DESTINATION: Lake Crescent, Washington

Our "home base" for our Olympic National Park tour was Lake Sutherland, Washington.  Lake Crescent is just west of Lake Sutherland off Highway 101.  

Spooky Highway 101 between Lake Sutherland and Lake Crescent

Stopped by the Shadow Mountain General Store to get a geocache and look what we found!

Lake Crescent is a deep lake located entirely within Olympic National Park.  At an official maximum depth of 624 feet also the maximum depth of the depth sounder used to find that depth, it is officially the second deepest lake in Washington. Unofficial depth measurements of more than 1,000 feet have been rumored in the region for years, although this figure has recently been proven false after a lake-wide bathymetric survey was performed from 2013 to 2014. The results of this survey showed the maximum depth as being 596 feet. Using GIS statistical analysis, this survey also showed the lake contains approximately 0.5 cubic miles of fresh water.

Posing in front of Lake Crescent

Sun going down behind mountains

Around 8,000 years ago a great landslide from one of the Olympic Mountains dammed Indian Creek and the deep valley filled with water. Many geologists believe that Lake Crescent and nearby Lake Sutherland formed at the same time, but became separated by the landslide. This theory is supported by Klallum tribe legend which tells a story of Mount Storm King being angered by warring tribes and throwing a boulder to cut Lake Sutherland in two, resulting in Lake Crescent. The results of the landslide are easily visible from the summit of Pyramid Mountain. Eventually, the water found an alternative route out of the valley, spilling into the Lyre River, over the Lyre River Falls, and out to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Lake Crescent is known for its brilliant blue waters and exceptional clarity, caused by a lack of nitrogen in the water which inhibits the growth of algae. It is located in a popular recreational area which is home to a number of trails, including the Spruce Railroad Trail, Pyramid Mountain trail, and the Barnes Creek trail to Marymere Falls. The Spruce Railroad Trail follows the grade of what was once the tracks of a logging railroad along the shores of the lake. Following this trail on the north side of the lake, one can find the entrance to an old railroad tunnel as well as "Devils Punch Bowl", a popular swimming and diving area.

Outside the Lake Crescent Lodge

Barnes Creek runs near Lake Crescent Lodge and into the lake

Daisies at Barnes Creek

Cabins for rent at Lake Crescent Lodge

Deer outside cabins offered at Lake Crescent Lodge

Historic Lake Crescent Lodge sits on the shores of Lake Crescent. It was built in 1915 and is an ideal base camp for enjoying Olympic National Park, while experiencing the charm of a turn-of-the-century resort.