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Best of the West Coast: Other Stuff

August 22nd, 2009 2 comments

Since no one demanded it, I’m providing it.

Best West Coast Campgrounds

  1. Island Campground, Rogue-Umpqua (Day 16) – Riverside campsite, no mosquitoes, decent privacy, the sound of rushing water putting you to sleep…
  2. La Wiss Wiss Campground, Mt. Rainier (Days 24-25) – Riverside campsite (fine, you had to go down a trail), few mosquitoes, decent privacy, and the sound of rushing water to… A little less private than Island, quite a bit bigger, which is why it’s #2 instead of #1, despite the benefit of providing potable water.
  3. Dalles Campground, Mt. Rainier (Day 23) – Mt. Rainier has good campgrounds. For that matter, so far, everywhere that isn’t California has good campgrounds.

Worst campgrounds: Odessa in Oregon (although I shouldn’t complain about a campground that costs $0, it was pretty divey and there was no concierge service); Plaskett Creek at Big Sur (*no* privacy, no apparent understanding of boundaries by the people staying there, relatively loud, pretty crowded, $25/night).

Best West Coast Geographic Features

  1. Waterfalls.
  2. Peaks.
  3. Rivers.

Best West Coast Restaurant Food (I haven’t been trying to eat in great restaurants or anything, just — you know)

  1. Mi Chalateca, Federal Way (Day 30)
  2. That Peruvian place in San Francisco, San Francisco (Day 5)
  3. Round Table Pizza, South Lake Tahoe (Day 11) – All you can eat for $5.99!

Best West Coast Mountain

  1. Mt. Rainier
  2. Mt. Shuksan
  3. Mt. Thielsen

Best West Coast Waterfall

  1. Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19) – They should blast tunnels behind *every* waterfall. Plus it was very pretty.
  2. Nevada Fallsf, Yosemite (Day 10) – Probably the most angry waterfall I’ve seen in my life.
  3. Fall Creek Falls, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway (Day 17) – Like I sort of said yesterday, it reminded me of a secret waterfall you’d find on Kauai, only it was in Oregon.

Meh. Good enough.

bkd

Best of the West Coast: Hikes, Drives, Photos

August 21st, 2009 2 comments

I have the trip broken down into four or five parts (West Coast, Northern States, Northeast, South, and Southwest — it’s four if I combine the Northern States with the Northeast) and the West Coast is now finished, which means I figure I can do some evaluation. And if you’re joining the game already in progress, maybe this will help catch up. If you want to.

Nice intro. Oh well. Here goes:

Best West Coast Hikes > 10 mi.

  1. Glen Alpine Trail to Aloha Lake, Lake Tahoe (Day 12, 14 mi.) – Had everything. Except waterfalls. And there were bugs. But still: ever mile there was something new to look at that you hadn’t seen before, plus plenty of places to throw your hiking pulls on the rocks and jump into a lake.
  2. Half Dome Trail, Yosemite (Day 10, 18 mi.) – It wasn’t fun, but it was kind of an accomplishment and I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t dang pretty.
  3. Eagle Creek Trail to Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19, 12 mi.) – The hike itself was kind of dull, at least until you got close to the big falls, but the payoff was huge and there were many waterfalls.

Best West Coast Hikes < 10 mi.

  1. Bumpass Hell Trail, Lassen Volcanic National Park (Day 14, 4 mi.) – Kind of cheating in that the hike I did went beyond Bumpass Hell and I’m really just talking about the trail to Bumpass Hell and not the one that continues past it. Whatever. Great views of Brokeoff Mtn. and various mountain scenery for the first and last mile, interesting views (and odors) of hell for the second and third.
  2. Fall Creek Falls, Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway (Day 17, 2 mi.) – If you took your basic Hawaii waterfall hike (e.g., Manoa Falls on O’ahu), removed all the people, then put it in Oregon, it would be this hike — which I liked a lot better than the hike to Manoa Falls.
  3. Lassen Peak, Lassen Volcanic National Park (Day 15, 5 mi.) – Another hike that’s no fun, but ultimately pretty and rewarding. It’s kind of a steep one (2,000 feet elevation in 2.5 mi.), but it’s pretty cool to be on top of something 10,000 feet high. Some pretty nice views, too.

Best West Coast Drives

  1. Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, Oregon (Days 16-17) – Some awesome river gorges, a couple of very noteworthy mountain peaks, and trails leading off to waterfalls every four or five miles along the way. Highly, highly recommended.
  2. Mt. Rainier (Days 23-24) – The wildflowers were great, the rivers were great, the road borderline breathtaking. And I need a better thesaurus. And every time I hear the word “breathtaking”, I think of that one Seinfeld episode where the doctor calls Elaine “breathtaking”. It wasn’t really a top-flite joke or anything, I just remember it.
  3. Big Sur (Days 2-3) – I still think it’s a drive pretty much wasted if you don’t have a date with you and I didn’t really manage my routing very effectively while I was there. But still: pretty coastline! and not nearly as crowded as the Oregon Coast. Or as foggy.

Best West Coast Photos (That I Took on This Trip) (BTW, if you click on the link of the photo title, you’ll get a bigger version of the photo.)

  1. Mt. Thielsen, Rogue-Umpqua Byway (Day 16) – I love photos with roads or trails in them, sorry. And this mountain was very surprising to me. And I guess I also like how the photo conveys, you know, a *road trip* and all. mt thielsen oregon
  2. Stream Fording on the Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park (Day 29) – I like the action in this photo — it kind of moves the eye around a little bit. Most of the photos I take just show nature, which gets all static and boring, but my nephew is neither static nor boring.hoh river trail stream crossing
  3. Tunnel Falls, Columbia Gorge (Day 19) – I like feel like big, impressive nature stuff can be interacted with, which I guess is why I think it’s so cool that they blasted a hole behind this waterfall so that I could walk through it. And I like the big white line on the left side of the photo.tunnel falls landscape orientation
  4. Vernal Falls, Yosemite (Day 10) – Mostly I just like the dark red-brown stripes in the granite that run parallell to the waterfall itself. If I could marry those stripes, I’d do it, so help me. I also like that this photo got taken at 6 AM — I’m amazed any time I have evidence of having been awake before 10.vernal falls in morning light
  5. Grass Lake, Desolation Wilderness/Lake Tahoe (Day 12) – Reflection + red mountains + blue sky + contrail + where’s-Waldo waterfall = pure gold. IMHO.glen alpine grass lake

Right, so that’s it. Feel free to argue with me, especially on the photos — it’ll only make my ego grow stronger. If I get to it, I’ll post another West Coast Best-Of thing. If not, you didn’t miss much (“best things I vomited”, for instance).

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , , ,

And on the Seventh Day the Heavens Cleared, And There Were Mountains (Day 36)

August 19th, 2009 No comments

I understand that good weather isn’t Washington’s natural state, but this place is so much prettier when the sun’s out it’s ridiculous. And as someone who has waited two weeks just to get a transmission fixed, trust me, I *know* ridiculous.

The last day of the family reunion we finally got some decent weather, so we headed up to Mt. Baker, which was sort of supposed to be, like, the ever-present beacon of hope during our stay in that area. Instead it was a sort of hiss and byword that, some said, lay nearby and cloaked in clouds so that only the pure in heart could see it. I dunno. Maybe my heart just didn’t purify until Sunday. It was probably the breakfast burritos that finally did it.

nooksack falls (1)Nooksack Falls, falling.

mt bakerMt. Baker, named by Oregon Territory politicians in order to curry favor with the then-powerful International Brotherhood of Pastry Chefs.

mt shuksanAnd then if you turn around you see Mt. Shuksan, which, if one didn’t drive all the way to the top of the road, one might be inclined to think was Mt. Baker.

mt baker isolationThen if you turn *back* around, you see Mt. Baker again, only this time it’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Beware Mt. Baker.

path to table mountainThe flat thing at back-left is Table Mountain. This path does not actually go there.

I feel bad that my oldest brother and his family left Saturday night and thus never got to see the pure-in-heart version of the area and instead went away believing that the North Cascades are this place you go to where you sit around houses and play Butt Man all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that it’s not entirely accurate.

bkd

Rafting the Skagit River Is Different from Rafting the Tuolumne (Day 35)

August 19th, 2009 2 comments

For example:

  • It was 55 degrees on the Skagit (vs. 103 at Yosemite).
  • The Skagit is all glacial melt. Like, in the morning it part of a glacier and a couple hours later you’re rafting on it. So the water was going to be cold regardless of air temperature.
  • On the Tuolumne I was worried about getting wet because it would increase the intensity of the sun on my skin. On the Skagit I was worried about getting wet because of hypothermia.
  • The Skagit has three rapids. Like, *three*.
  • No helmets!
  • You don’t really have to paddle ever, or turn, or know what “high-side” means.
  • The rafts don’t have toe-holds for the guys up front.
  • The most dangerous risk on the Skagit is, truly, getting whacked with a paddle by the person next to you during a boat-to-boat water fight.
  • The water on the Skagit is light green.
  • The river banks are covered with trees.
  • You really don’t *need* a water-proof case for your camera, so long as you got a dry pocket somewhere.
  • Five-year-olds can go on it, no problem.
  • Well, except for hypothermia, no problem.

Relevant photos:

skagit river raftingSpeaking of waterproof cases — I really should’ve taken my camera out of mine.

skagit river greenAnd the color palette is a little different on the Skagit.

skagit river alyssaMore than enough manpower to get through *these* rough waters.

skagit river raftsRafts, forelorn.

I appreciated our guide telling us that, yes, he was also freezing cold. And I was a little disappointed there were no animatronic hippos on the ride.

bkd

Because I Said I’d Post Something for Every Day of the Trip (Day 34)

August 19th, 2009 No comments

Otherwise, there’s not much to talk about for Day 34 aside from some truck trauma (“it’ll be another two weeks and $2,000+”!) that resulted in me skipping the Important Hike so I could borrow my bro’s rental car (thanks again) and drive down the hill to where I could get some cell and internet service and thereby improve the situation slightly.

OTOH, we did work on this puzzle for good parts of the day:

jackson hole puzzleIt’s a trail map of the Jackson Hole ski resort for some reason.

The puzzle was a group effort of every adult inhabitant of Cabin 47.

The greater family also enjoyed a rousing game of scum (aka “butt-man” and any of a number of other names), in which I firmly established myself as the second-best player. IMHO. As such, I’m considering joining the professional tour.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Raingolf! (Day 33)

August 18th, 2009 1 comment

The best thing about the family reunion was how crappy the weather was. Made everything much more memorable. As the family discussed at length throughout the four days of festivities, mutual suffering breeds cameraderie like nobody’s business.

raingolf shelterIf you look closely enough, you can actually see the huddled golfers bonding!

  • Doesn’t usually rain very hard in Washington, but it did on Thursday.
  • Took us 3.5 hours to finish nine holes.
  • My waterproof jacket was spectacular.
  • My golf game was less spectacular.

And in case posts about abbreviated golf rounds have you wondering, my current hope is that I get back on the road on Saturday. Supposedly they’ll have my truck back to me on Friday. It’s *in writing* they’ll have it done Friday. Man. OTOH, the golf round was part of the originally planned trip, so you were gonna get a post like this for Day 33 regardless. Deal.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Taking My Parents Out to Dinner for Their Anniversary (Day 32)

August 18th, 2009 No comments

Has the 48stateroadtrip shark-jumped? Probably. The major event on Day 32 was taking my parents out to dinner for their 50th anniversary. As exciting as that was as a participant, I don’t think it translates well into the blogosphere. But maybe, just maybe, if I were to go back in time and… no. There’s no chance.

anniversary dinnerI’d suggest something about my sister-in-law being paranoid for not wanting her face to show up on the blog, but then she’d probably have stored up some instance in which I did something paranoid, which would therefore make a hypocrite out of me. Again.

anniversary dinner boysThe boys’ side of the table. They’re not as odd as the photo makes them look — it’s mostly the lighting.

Ended up going to some Italian restaurant in Bellingham after our original plan of going to Abbotsford (Canada) was thwarted by a combination of my niece (purportedly) throwing away my sister-in-law’s passport and an eight-year period of unprecedented federal border paranoia that leaves us needing passports to visit the 51st state in the first place. As a result, sadly, no foie-gras.

  • The chicken parmesan was merely okay.
  • The lemonade required three packets of sugar before it was drinkable.
  • Everyone else seemed to have ordered much better than I did.
  • As for me, it was the first time I had to take ranitidine the whole trip long.
  • I sat at the head of the table — or maybe the foot.
  • Yes, this is the third straight food-related post.

Right. Shark-jumping.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Apparently There Are Salvadorans in Federal Way and They’ve Brought Food

August 16th, 2009 No comments

Edgy headline, I know.

Just BTW, on Monday after the Olympic Peninsula I dropped my brother off at the rental car place so he could, like, get a rental car. Right next door to it was a Salvadoran restaurant that was chock full of Salvadorans. Decided to give it a try. Edgy paragraph, yes: this is J-McG Yelp review hell-quality. Let me therefore continue.

IMG00004-20090810-1810Although, granted, the rice was a little bland. I mean, there were lima beans in it.

I ordered the Pollo Guisado, but they were out of it, so I ended up with Carne Guisado. Yes, with capital letters. It rawked. I’m not a conoisseur of Salvadoran food or anything, but I liked it a lot.

  • The beef was great.
  • Sauce was excellent.
  • I loved that the waitress didn’t seem to speak any English. If it was an act: well played.

Mi Chalateca, 336th and Pacific Highway, Federal Way, Wash. Go there now.

bkd

Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Great Hamburger #17: Red Mill in Seattle (Day 31)

August 16th, 2009 No comments

Finally back on the hamburger trail with #17 at Red Mill in Seattle. Per the GQ List requirement, I ordered the Double Bacon Cheeseburger, which was about twice as big as I was really interested in eating. And yet I persevered.

IMG00009-20090811-1658Comes with bacon bunny at no extra charge!

IMG00010-20090811-1658The lineup. See if you can find my mom’s elbow in the photo!

My main impression was that it was a really big burger, what with the two patties and all. Red Mill is famous for their secret sauce, which is sort of a barbecue+pepper thing. It’s distinctive. I liked the burger, it was unique. I don’t think I loved it, though. But the fries were good, I got plenty full, and the creamsicle shake afterward was downright special.

bkd

Sol Duc Falls and I, Breaker of Droughts (Day 30)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

Never been to the Sol Duc part of Olympic National Park before. Now I have. Was pretty, the waterfall was unusual, and the weather was rainy.  I kind of prefer the spelling of droughth with the h at the end. Should’ve used it in the title.

We camped out by the rain forest. Started raining during the night some time — which you sort of expect in a rain forest, I guess. Drove out of there and tried — nearly failed — to get breakfast in Forks. We were, though, able to verify that the town’s economy is still mostly Twilight-based. If only the author had visited before writing the books. So lame.

The hike up to Sol Duc falls was only 0.9 miles from the trailhead, well within tourist range, even with the rain. But on the plus side, it was the first time all trip I got to break out my rain gear, which is really good at keeping rain out. Which you’d think would be true of all rain gear, but alas.

hwy 101 in the rainHighway 101 at 12:11:16 on August 10th.

sol duc fallsSol Duc Falls, with impressive triple-cascade action!

sol duc falls bridgeYou know it’s a tourist when he’s carrying a golf umbrella onto the trail.

crescent lake cloudsAnd then the loch ness monster came and ate our car.

I guess they’d had a long droughth up here. And it’s not that hard for me to look back at my 106-degree Yosemite photos and think about the two averaging out.

bkd

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