Monthly Archives: June 2015

Dubrovnik & Kotor

Sailing into Kotor

Sailing into Kotor

If you cruise the Mediterranean and one of your stops is Venice, it is likely that you will also stop in Dubrovnik and Kotor. Both are located on the Adriatic across from Italy on the Dalmatian Coast and both are World Heritage Sites. They began their existence as Roman Settlements and have been ruled by the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, Yugoslavia and survived the violence of the Bosnia war before becoming independent in the 90’s  The majority of what you see here, the city walls and old town, were built during the time of Venetian rule. We visited both of these ports on a cruise a couple of years ago. Both Dubrovnik and Kotor have a pedestrian old town surrounded by high city walls with and gates.   Dubrovnik, Croatia is a beautiful city with a walled pedestrian old town of baroque buildings and marble streets. It is a great place to simply sit and watch the world go by with views of  red roofed stone buildings and the beautiful Adriatic. Continue reading »

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Olympic National Park

Ruby Beach from Overlook

Ruby Beach from Overlook

I had the pleasure of visiting the Olympic National Park this past Memorial Day weekend and thoroughly enjoyed it. It is about 3 hours from Seattle depending on whether you take the ferry or drive around the sound, the direction really depends on your destination in the park. While I was only there for several days, I was able to visit the four distinct regions of the Park, the coast/beach, the temperate rainforest, the old growth forest and the snow capped mountains. The Olympic National Park is over a million acres and was first named as a National Monument in 1909 and became a National Park in 1938.  At the center of the park are the Olympic Mountains which are covered by massive glaciers.  These mountains are not volcanic like Mount Ranier and Mount St Helens but are the product of the uplifting of the Juan De Fuca Plate subduction zone. Because of the proximity of the Pacific Ocean and the storms that roll through each winter, the west side of the mountains receive over 12 feet of rain each year, the most of any area in the Continental US (in comparison, Seattle only gets a little over 3 feet annually).

My first stop was Kalaloch in the Southwest section of the Park. There are cabins, a nice lodge, restaurant, convenience store  as well as a campground. It is also right on the ocean and  near Ruby Beach, one of my favorites. There is a nice lookout area from the parking lot at Ruby and it is a short hike down to the beach. There are sea stacks and drift logs and if you are there at low tide, plenty of tide pools to explore. I was hoping to have favorable conditions for some sunset pictures but a fog bank rolled in (which is common) so I settled for a nice dinner at the lodge and an early bedtime. Several days later, I was at Second Beach which is about an hour up the coast. This is another spectacular beach but the hike is a little tougher with lots of steps and you have to navigate the drift logs to get on and off the beach. Because of the holiday there were a lot of people here, many of whom were camping on the beach. Again, the weather didn’t exactly cooperate but at least there was decent visibility (just no sunset).

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

 

Second Beach

Second Beach

Another must stop is the Hoh Rain Forest where I spent a porton of two days. This is a temperate rain forest which only exist in a couple of places in the world. I  have been here before when it was pouring down rain but this time the rain forest was sunny and warm. While that is good for hiking in a t-shirt it is not the best for taking pictures. I like it best when it is misty, rainy, the light is fantastic, the colors are deep, and the forest  glistens.  To counteract the harsh daylight, I found some good shady locations where the light was soft and diffused. I spent most of my time on the Hall of Mosses, a loop trail through the forest of about a mile in length. In the rain forest there are “Epiphytes” which  are plants growing on other plants. Mosses, ferns, and lichens grow everywhere covering the ground, trees and anything that doesn’t move gets covered giving it a jungle like feel. Ancient trees which have fallen become another key in the cycle of life with new seedlings taking root and growing on the fallen trees. These “nurse logs” help the new growth as the decaying wood becomes the initial soil and nutrients. There are numerous examples of these nurse logs throughout the forest. Another area I visited was the Sol Duc Valley.  There are Hot Springs and a Resort/RV Park but to me the two attractions are the Salmon Cascades and Sol Duc Falls. The Salmon Cascades are a waterfall along the road to Sol Duc Falls that in late summer and fall you can witness salmon leaping to get upstream to fulfill their destiny. It is close to the road and there is an overlook and easy to get to, a must do if you are here at this time of year- it’s awesome.

Nurse log in the Rain Forest

Nurse log in the Rain Forest

On the trail to Sol Duc Falls

On the trail to Sol Duc Falls

Stream flowing into Sol Duc River

Stream flowing into Sol Duc River

 

Further upstream is Sol Duc Falls, a waterfall that is reached on a nice trail of about 3/4 mile. Equally impressive on the way there are the streams/creeks that flow through the moss covered rocks (just beautiful!). The trail to the falls is through an old growth forest and is a nice hike even without the falls. The last couple nights on the peninsula, I stayed in Port Angeles. This is a nice city on the Straits of Juan De Fuca with plenty of accommodations, good restaurants and convenient to the northern and central regions of the park. It is also the gateway to Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains.

Sunrise at Hurricane Ridge

Sunrise at Hurricane Ridge

Sunrise at Hurrican Ridge

Sunrise at Hurrican Ridge

The park visitor center at Hurricane Ridge is about 20 miles south of Port Angeles and  I went there on my last day to view the sunrise. The Sun gets up very early in the Pacific Northwest (5:15 AM on May 30th) and the best pictures are the half hour or so before the actual sunrise so it was an early day. Luckily, the Ridge was up above the clouds and the weather was less of a factor. Port Angeles is also nearby the Elwah Valley as well as Lake Crescent. I have been to this area a number of times, primarily to go offshore fishing at Neah Bay or flyfishing at several of the rivers along the coast. This was my first visit solely to take pictures and I feel like I have just scratched the surface. I intend to make this at least an annual event going forward . I have attached some images in the gallery under the tab My Northwest and thanks for visiting

george

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