Monday, August 31, 2009

Yosemite and Devils Postpile

After we left the San Francisco area, we weren't sure when we'd have Internet again, but being as this is California we found the Internet in a little bagel shop in Mammoth Lakes. We drove from Los Gatos to Yosemite, but because of a "prescribed" forest fire that went from burning 90 acres to over 3,500 acres parts of the park were closed. The entire "Yosemite Valley" was closed to cars. Since we were heading across the Sierras we had to take the Tioga Pass road through the northern section of the park.

This meant we missed El Capitan and Half-Dome. But there was some really cool scenery along the road. We camped at White Wolf campground for one night and did a day-hike of Lembert Dome near Tuolumne Meadows the next day.

Then we headed toward Mammoth Lakes on and went to Devils Postpile National Monument for the night. The Postpile was pretty cool and this morning before stopping at this bagel shop we took hot spring showers.

Here's the slideshow of the two parks:

Now we're off to the Whitney Portal for our climb on Tuesday.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

San Francisco Part II

After visiting my friend Lisa in Marin county and touring the city of San Francisco, we next went to Berkeley for a stroll around the town and University of California campus. We loved the town (although I think the University of Washington campus is prettier) and loved to see all the people biking. Then we went to visit the Keynote Systems headquarters in San Mateo, the company who I'd worked for in Seattle for the past two years. Being that it was a Friday afternoon there weren't very many people around, but my former co-worker Herman was kind enough to tour me around a little.

Then we went to the charming town of Los Gatos to visit my high school friend Tim and his wife Nora. The town is really quaint and Tim and Nora were excellent hosts. We had a wonderful dinner and immensely enjoyed chatting and hanging out for the evening. They live on a wooded road right outside of Los Gatos and their house could have easily been found in Vermont.

Although we'll be seeing lots of different places on our trip, to me, it's more about the people. I'm not being very good about getting pictures of all the people we're staying with on the way, but I'm really enjoying visiting the people along the way.

We also decided on our first trip scheduling change. Originally we'd thought we'd take a trip to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California but after looking into the logistics of it we decided we're going to instead spend the next week in the Sierra mountains. We were already planning on climbing Mt. Whitney on Tuesday, but now instead of heading right back to the coast after the climb we're going to stay out there until after Labor Day when we'll then head to LA to visit another old friend.

So, we probably won't update the blog in the next week, but you can check our Spot page to know where we are. We'll update it at least once a day with our new location.

Friday, August 28, 2009

San Francisco

We are having a great time in San Francisco. We arrived Wednesday night after a long drive from Crater Lake National Park. We are staying with Asa's friend from college, Lisa and her boyfriend Svilen in San Rafael. They cooked us a wonderful dinner on our arrival and then we went for a nice walk around their town.

Yesterday we spent the day in the city. We drove across the Golden Gate Bridge and paid the $6.00 toll, only cringing a little. We went to Haight-Ashbury for a little walk and a cup of coffee. It was just about 11:00 and things were just beginning to open, good thing we slept in a bit. After that we drove along parts of the 49 Mile Scenic Drive and got to Twin Peaks where we had a great view of the whole city. It was here that we were able to see a tiny bit of fog creeping away from the Golden Gate Bridge. I didn't remember it being there when we were on the bridge.

We had a really delicious lunch at Herbivore in The Mission. Then we went to a used bookstore for some paperback bargains. We each found a cheap book to keep us busy.

Next we went over to Lombard Street. It was one of the places that everyone said we should see. It was very busy with cars and pedestrians (some of them actually walking on the narrow street to snap photos of their cars coming down) but we ended up driving down ourselves. The EST pulled through beautifully, though I made Asa stay in the car so no photo!

From here we parked and walked down to the Fisherman's Wharf. We saw the shops and the street performers. We saw just about everyone eating clam chowder bread bowls. It was a very fun atmosphere and very full of people enjoying the sunshine. The sea lions were sun bathing too!

After all of this time walking and sightseeing we headed back over the bridge to see Asa's friend Amber for dinner. They hadn't seen one another in many years and it was a really nice evening of sushi and reconnecting. It was a very full day, and I think we may have fallen in love with San Francisco a little bit.

Today we will be touring the East Bay and then staying with a high school friend of Asa's in Los Gatos. The sun is already shining so I am expecting it to be another wonderful day.

Here's the link for the rest of the photos, which we may add to as we take more today and tomorrow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Crater Lake

From Bend we traveled about two hours south to Crater Lake National Park. We went there two years ago on a big road trip we took visiting western National Parks. When we visited last time we camped backcountry along the Pacific Crest Trail away from the actual lake. This time we camped in one of the park's campgrounds for two nights.

We also took a boat tour of the caldera lake including a visit to Wizard Island. We had amazing weather, we climbed three peaks and had a very nice time visiting pretty much all parts of this great park. We left Crater Lake and traveled to San Francisco where we're staying in a few different places visiting friends before we head out to the Mt. Whitney area in preparation for our climb next Tuesday.

Here's a slideshow of our stay in Crater Lake:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Bend and South Sister

We left Idaho and traveled southwest to Bend, in central Oregon. It was a pretty drive through southeast Washington wine country, then along the Columbia River for a while until turning south to head into the high dessert of Oregon. Bend is at about 3,500 feet and is right at the edge of the Cascade mountains. We arranged to couchsurf in Bend, and being that it was going to be our first time "surfing" we had no idea what to expect. We felt we hit the jackpot when we pulled up to our host's house. It was right on a golf course and we had our own room and bathroom in a section of the house. Our host had two cute dogs and we had a great time staying with her.

While in Bend, we did a day hike of South Sister, third tallest mountain in Oregon at 10,358 feet, and the tallest of the "Three Sisters" mountains right outside of Bend. It can't believe how close Mt. Bachelor and the Sisters mountains are to Bend. After a thirty minute drive we were at the trailhead ready for our hike. The hike was pretty tough, 12.5 miles roundtrip with 5,000 feet of elevation gain. We made it to the top in just over 4 hours, and were back to our car in exactly eight hours total.

We made dinner at our couchsurfer host's house and went to bed satisfied and tired after a long day outside. Bend is a pretty nice town and with all the outdoor stuff so close to town I would love to visit another time.

Now we're off to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon and then San Francisco later in the week.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kamiah, ID

After backpacking in the Enchantments, we continued east a few hundred miles to Kamiah, Idaho. Jaimee's Aunt, Uncle and mom live there. They live along a river on a sort of farm with a large garden and 35 chickens! Jaimee's Aunt keeps these chickens as pets (although she does eat, sell or give away the eggs) and has several different breeds, including:


Polish Crested

Red and Black Sex Links

The chickens have a fancy coop which used to actually be a person's house:

(That's the neighbor's dog Ginger in the picture).

While in Idaho we also floated in the river to cool us down from the heat (it was in the high 90s) and we went to the Idaho County fair in Cottonwoods. It was a pretty small fair but we got to see some animals, watch some lambs get judged and had fresh curly fries. They "curled" entire potatoes and fried them fresh:

Maybe not the most healthy thing in the world, but I suppose, when in Idaho...

We also went on a hiking adventure where we climbed two peaks.

Overall, we had a very relaxing few days in Kamiah. We leave tomorrow for Bend, Oregon. We've arranged to stay with some couchsurfers there and on Sunday we plan on climbing South Sister, a 10,000 foot mountain in Central Oregon near Bend.

Peaks 14 and 15

While in Idaho I knew I wanted to climb some peaks as part of my 35 peak goal. I had a hard time figuring out where to hike because I wanted something fairly close and somewhat short since it gets up into the 90s every day and I didn't want to be hiking in hottest part of the day.

Eventually in looking at maps and doing research on-line I found a pair of peaks that fit the criteria.

We decided to climb Gospel Peak and Pyramid Peak. We left the house around 6AM and drove about 2 hours until we got to the base of Gospel Peak. The road was a crazy, winding super-steep drive that got us just below the peak.

There's no trail to the top - we just entered the woods and headed for the top. We got to the top in about half an hour.

Then we just proceeded down, across and back up the ridge to Pyramid:

It took us a little over an hour to reach Pyramid Peak:

Then we circled back down to the road and hiked back to car. Overall, it was a great morning hike and it was exciting to bag two peaks in one day. Here is a map of the area, click the link for a map of all my 35 peaks so far.

View 35 Peaks in a larger map

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle to the Enchantments

We are now officially on the road! We left Seattle on Saturday August 15 around 9:30AM. We said good-bye to our wonderful friends Greg & Laura, who had so graciously let us stay with them for the past two weeks, and after doing a few last-minute errands, we headed out for three days of backpacking in the Enchantments, near Leavenworth, WA.

Over the last two weeks we'd been saying our last good-byes to our favorite Seattle people and places. I have lived in Seattle since 1995 and will always love it.

We drove from Seattle to the Snow Lake trail head for our trip to the Enchantments. For those not familiar with this area, it's a Wilderness Area in central Washington encompassing several glacier lakes. We used upper Snow Lake as a base camp and spent two nights there with a day hike on the second day to Aasgard Pass. Here is a brief map of the area, showing the "zones" and rough geography of the area.

The hike to Snow Lake was about 7 miles with 4,000 feet of elevation gain, and the day hike to Aasgard Pass was roughly another 8 or 9 miles (one-way!) with 3,400 feet of elevation gain. It was a very tiring few days, but the scenery was amazing, including lots of mountain goats. I won't go so far as to say it's the most beautiful hiking in Washington, but it probably does rank right up there.

Here's slideshow of the trip. (Although I will say these pictures do not do the place justice. See pictures from my friends Kyle and Daniel who did the whole loop last year).

Now we are resting up from our hike at Jaimee's Aunt and Uncle (and Mom now too)'s house in Kamiah, ID. On tap for this week is floating down the river, and getting ready for our future WWOOFing by helping out on the "farm" around here. Jaimee's Aunt has 34 chickens and a huge garden.

Monday, August 10, 2009


All of my teacher friends are going back to work soon. They've been talking about it for a while now and I've been pretty happy about my new positions as "unemployed" and "traveler." We talk about the students, the schedules, the meetings. I've been totally content to reminisce and even wonder about the year to come with them. I am thrilled about my plans for the coming year. I am especially excited about the adventure that I'm about to begin with Asa!

And, until today, I've managed to stay out of the stores that remind me of the season.

One of my favorite times of year is Back To School Time. I've even been known to send greeting cards in celebration of this season. I've always felt excited about the classes I'll be taking (high school, college, and grad school) and the classes I'll be receiving (new students, older students, and support staff). I plan my outfit for Fall Picture Day. I even get myself so worked up that I have at least one Back To School Dream/Nightmare each August.

Today I ran into the department store to buy some yarn to finish a crocheting project for a friend that is having a baby. Right there at the entrance was a giant Back To School display of all of items that make the season so much fun. New markers, pens, book bags, glue sticks, notebooks, locks for lockers, lunch boxes...they were all there, right by the door. It totally shocked me. All of that stuff was there, and I didn't need any of it! I instantly got a bit sad and mushy. I walked up and down the rows of school materials, just seeing what was available for students and their teachers this year. It was this same shock in 1999 that prompted me to go to grad school. I loved Back to School and I still do.

I ended up buying a 50 cent notebook for my purse. I'll need it during our trip and it fits in the little sock monkey notebook jacket that I already have.

I'll be shopping for Back To School next Fall. Knowing that I have this wonderful trip to adventure through will help me wait. But, I do want to wish good luck to all of you Back To School shoppers!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Bon Voyage Party

We just got back from a wonderful party at Sadie, Steven and Angus's house in West Seattle. It was great to see all our friends (although we missed those that couldn't make it of course) and hear all the well wishes for our upcoming trip. We will miss all the friends we've made through the years in Seattle and we hope that we can all stay connected via this blog and through other virtual means. So, please leave comments and follow along with us on our adventure!

Here's a slideshow of pictures that Sadie took during the party:

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