Monday, October 20, 2003

Log 14 - Southbound Through the Western USA with Tioga II

This blog covers September 11th to October 14th, 2003 as we depart Canada and travel south through the State of Washington and out to and down the Oregon Coast.  From there we visit the California Redwoods,  Napa wine country, Yosemite, Ancient Bristlecone Pines, Las Vegas, and back to Tucson before returning to Mexico.

September 11, 2003 - Good-bye Canada

After almost two months visiting friends and family in Canada, it was time to head south again.  This is the marina in Victoria, BC where it all began over a year ago as we  departed from here to set us up for our offshore passage to San Francisco.

Victoria harbor.
Sunday, September 14th - Seattle, Washington

We are glad to arrive in Seattle and have a terrific week-end with friends from s/v Chaika, a family we met last year cruising.  They are now back on the ground after their year cruising and were kind enough to show us some of their favourite spots in Seattle.  Here, we all marvel at the colourful bouquets in the downtown market.

Gerrit, Sheila, Joan & Katherine at the Seattle Market

Thursday, September 18th - The forest just west of Portland, Oregon!

Our next stop takes us to Portland to visit another cruising family we met last year from the s/v Swallow.  They too are now back on the ground again and busy with the family business.   Pam and Peter manage forested lands west of Portland.  The trees are harvested in a sustainable manner that has earned the family awards for responsible timber management. This day, Peter needed to  locate and map a creek that cuts across their property so we head out to help.  After an enjoyable day foraging the river banks, we have a tea in this little cabin on the property.
Peter and Pam - s/v Swallow

Saturday, September 20th - The Oregon Coast -  Back to the Ocean!

It is great to be back at the ocean again and the sand dunes are a real treat! The drive down the Oregon coast has given us a much different perspective than we experienced last year as we sailed down it!  It is very rugged.  No wonder we stayed as far off it as possible in our boat!  As we watch and listen to the waves crashing on the rocks, we joke about how your perspective can change dramatically depending upon where you are. Last year it would have terrified us to be anywhere near this rocky, unforgiving coast. One person's paradise is another's nightmare!!
Gerrit and Joel run wild and free!

Monday, September 22nd - Sand Rails for Sheila's birthday

The sand dunes along the Oregon coast were very unique, like none we had ever seen before.  We hired a driver and a sand rail and went for the ride of our lives.  Our driver was great as we would literally drive across vertical surfaces and then scream along at high speeds, up one dune and down the next.  He freaked us all out as we flew to the top of a 300' high dune only to fake we could not quite make it and rolled us backwards the whole way down as fast as we came up!    Talk about your heart stopping ride.
Our family sand railing in the dunes of Oregon.
Mexico had a number of hurricanes this year, including two that hit the popular cruising location of La Paz near the south end of the the Baja Peninsula.  The first, Ignacio, (shown here over La Paz) put a couple of boats on the beach.  The second, Marty, devastated the area on September 22, including Marina de La Paz where 80 boats were sunk or damaged and the marina destroyed.  Marty continued up the Sea of Cortez and hit near San Carlos, where our boat was stored for the hurricane season.  Luckily, our pre-departure preparations had been thorough and our boat only sustained minor scratches.   However, a number of other boats weren't so fortunate. Hurricanes are a fact of life and we must plan our cruise accordingly such that we clear the hurricane zones every July through October.
Hurricane Ignacio - The eye of the storm.

Friday, September 26th - Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park was created in 1968 to protect the world's tallest living trees, which at that time were being feverishly harvested.   There are 3 state parks within the national park boundaries, which form a World Heritage Site.  We spent  time in the Prairie Creek State Park and thoroughly enjoyed the fragrant hikes among these beauties
Gerrit, Joel and Chris

Friday, September 26th - A walk in the tall Redwoods

Trying to take pictures in a forest such as this does not do any justice whatsoever to the real grandeur of ones' surroundings.  These giant Coast Redwoods grow to nearly 370' tall, and can live up to 2000 years, though average 500-700 years, grow to 22 feet in diameter and encase themselves in bark that is 12" thick.  The forest's mild, moist climate assures abundant and diverse wildlife.
Joel, Sheila and the Giant Redwoods.
A seriously big tree. 

Thursday, October 2nd - Welcome to Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park embraces a great track of scenic wildlands set aside in 1890 to preserve a portion of the Sierra Nevada that stretches along California's eastern flank.  We arrived just before a weekend to just barely grab a campsite in this largely reservation-only park.
Yosemite...home of El Capitan and Half Dome

After our arrival, we rented bikes as it's easy to cover ground in the valley with paved trails and little elevation changes.  We managed to see much more than our legs would have seen. We all really enjoyed being back on a bike and began to chat about the bike we'd have once done our boating trip.
Great day exploring on bikes.
Yosemite Valley is a great example of a glacier-carved canyon.  The dramatic scale of its waterfalls, rounded domes, massive monoliths, and towering cliffs has inspired painters, photographers, and millions of visitors (including us!).  Shown here, El Capitan's sheer walls attract experienced rock climbers from around the globe.   It takes about three days and nights to scale the vertical rock face. We strain to see the climbers as small dots with our naked eye and then get closer looks through the binoculars. With the binoculars, we can literally see the colorful canvas of the beds a hiker would sleep in right there on the side of the mountain!!
El Capitan.

Friday, October 3rd - Tuolumne Grove of Giant Sequoias

Also within Yosemite park boundaries are a number of Giant Sequoias groves.  The largest of all living things, these towering trees have endured for thousands of years.  Though not quite as tall as Coast Redwoods, their bases are almost double at up to 40', and they live to 3200 years.
Joel, Gerrit and Sheila

Saturday, October 4th - TIOGA Pass

As we departed Yosemite, we just had to take the scenic Tioga Road through Yosemite's high country, passing by sparkling lakes, colorful meadows, sluffing domes, and lofty peaks.  At this location, Tioga Pass, the road crosses the Sierra Nevada's crest at 9945' and we begin a steep decent (6000') down a road cut into sheer mountain faces toward the deserts of Nevada.  After quite a few cool nights,  we begin to feel the desert heat rising up into the foothills.
Tioga Pass!

Sunday, October 5th - The Trees that Rewrote History - Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, CA.

Standing as ancient sentinels high atop the White Mountains of the Inyo National Forest at nearly 11,000 feet, the Great Basin Bristlecone Pines rank as the oldest trees in the world and have immense scientific importance, as well as cultural and scenic value. There are many trees in this area 4000 years of age and still growing!  Look up dedrochronology.  From these trees, scientists have assembled a continuous tree-ring chronology extending nearly 10,000 years that has been instrumental in correctly calibrating faulty radio-carbon (C-14) dating.  As a result, some artifacts discovered in Europe have been redated to a 1000 years or more older than previously thought hence historians have had to reinterpret the order of events throughout the Mediterranean and European areas.
Ancient BristleConePines

Monday, October 6th - And now for something completely unnatural...Las Vegas!  

What a place.  Bright neon lights shine through the night in Las Vegas advertising casinos, hotels, clubs, bars, and other businesses. Las Vegas was a small town until gangster Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel changed the city’s character forever by constructing its first lavish hotel-casino in 1945, the Flamingo.  With plenty to offer non-gambling tourists and pleasant temperatures, we all had a great time.
The Mirage Volcano - Las Vegas
Slot machines. Though kids aren't allowed to loiter in the hotel casinos, they can pass through.   Chris quickly demonstrated to the boys how these machines 'ate money'.  He would drop a coin in, push the spin button, grimace, drop-in another coin, push and grimace, ...
Slot machines.

Friday, October 10th - Lake Havasu City, Arizona

A couple of hours south of Vegas on Arizona's Colorado River we stopped for the night at Lake Havasu City, whose claim-to-fame is their purchase of the London Bridge from the city of London in 1968 for $2.5 million.  It took another 3 years and $4.5 million to transport and rebuild the bridge at this location.
The original London Bridge.

Saturday, October 11th - the Loop is Completed - Tucson AZ Again

104 days later, we cross our outbound track and return to our initial US staging ground of Tucson.   Tucson is significant to us as it's the last major stop before re-entering Mexico and we still have a number of items on our lists to purchase.  This picture shows a typical front-yard in Arizona, where home-owners here are as proud of their cacti as others are of their flower-beds.
A typical Tucson yard.

Tuesday, October 14th - Back in Mexico!

Well, we made it back into Mexico, RV loaded with supplies and boat parts for another cruising season.  Our plan now is to make a quick stop at the boat to drop some things off, then go inland for a couple of weeks.
Nogoles, Mexico
Stay tuned for Log 15 where we visit some old colonial sights and take a train to Creel in the heart of the Copper Canyon.