This was the second time we have headed to the Grand Canyon. The first was in February of 1971. We had been married only a couple of weeks and had just settled into our new life in Las Vegas. I had just started my training in the F-111 at Nellis AFB. Long story, short… We booked a donkey trip down into the canyon. We hit heavy snow around Flagstaff. Almost ran out of gas. Slept in the car. But, we finally made it to the canyon. It was still snowing heavily. When we asked to cancel the donkey trip, a very surprised ranger said “Why cancel? The donkey trip never cancels because of snow.” We played our wimp card and got our money back and went skiing in Flagstaff.
The plan this November was to spend a week or longer at the canyon. But, on our second day…guess what
This time we didn’t need to wimp out. We were warm and cozy in the Airstream and stormy weather makes for some great photo ops.
The canyon is spectacular in every way…
When we left Quartzite we made a side trip on the way home. Despite it being in our backyard, we had never been to Joshua. One of our newer National Parks, Joshua is spectacular. It’s where the Mojave and Sonoran deserts meet. Where one begins and the other stops has be marked by their elevations and, thus the kinds of vegetation you’ll find in each of our great deserts. The Sonoran is a low desert and famous for the stately Saguaro Cactus. We spent our three days in the north end of the park defined by the high Mojave Desert.
The geologic history of the area has resulted in some of most spectacular rock formations you will find anywhere.
According to Wikipedia…”The rock formations of Joshua Tree National Park were formed more than 100 million years ago from the cooling of magma beneath the surface into monzogranite, with roughly rectangular joints. Groundwater then filtered through the joints to erode away the corners and edges to create rounded stones, and flash floods washed away covering ground to create piles of boulders. These prominent outcrops are known as inselbergs.”
The second unique personality the Park takes on happens in its world famous rainforest areas. There are only three true temporate rainforests in the world. New Zealand, Chile, and Olympic National Park. there are other rainforests, but only three classified as temperate.
The Hoh Rainforest is the most visited. The trip from our camp in Forks was short and easy…
Outside of the famous areas like Hoh, the rainforest personality was just as impactful. Just outside of Forks, along the coast, are several Indian reservations that you find areas that are also park of the Park. The trip from Forks took about 20 minutes.
We started the day with the goal to hike to Strawberry Falls at the end of Beach 3 (not a very clever naming system for the beaches in the Park). But the hike took us along amazing Rainforest trail.
And then there was this little guy working his way across the trail. It’s a Pacific Banana Slug. 6 inches long and very slimy…
We got to see only a small bit of San Juan Island when we went over to do some Orca watching. So, off we go to Anacortes from our camp in North Whidbey island to hop on the ferry for a circumnavigation of San Juan Island.
You land at Friday Harbor. Around the ferry terminal you have your choice of all the typical tourist shops. But, just after a few blocks you’re in another world. No traffic. Farms. Rolling hills. Wild flowers everywhere. Cottages. Views of the Puget Sound and its islands are around every corner.
First stop was to be Cattle point at the southern tip. But, we missed the turnoff (which we seem to do on a regular basis). As fortune would have it, as we drove a little further looking for a place to turn around, Coriena spots a lone eagle in the distance. Out comes the big lens…
Next stop…American Camp. In 1859, America and Great Britain got into a tissy over a dead pig and San Juan Island was where we nearly went to war. Brits in the north end and Americans in the south end. Today a few of the American Camp buildings still stand. Nothing much of the British Camp is left, except a couple of monuments.
We wish we had more time to ferry over to a couple of the other islands. But, that will have to wait. We’ll be back!