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Monday, August 15, 2011

Olympic, Mount Rainier, San Juan Islands and the North Cascades

Lots of photos at the end of the post

It's hard to believe we've been on the road over a month already, but... when I consider what we've done, I am amazed at all the places we've been. Washington state has been wonderful, from Mt. Rainier to the Olympic Peninsula, San Juan Islands and finally the North Cascades, I have been pleasantly surprised by the diverse beauty of this region.

After leaving our comfy quarters in Shelton, we headed to Rainier hoping to check out Paradise and Sunrise and lucky for us, by the time we got to Sunrise Rainier came out to say hello... Like all of the parks we've been to thus far, Paradise was covered in snow and fog. The snow melt is about 2 months behind. Our hikes haven't been as long as I'd like and Whitney is looking like a no go, because of the lack of miles we've been putting in and no significant time at higher elevations. Although we are building our mileage up and we've done one 10,500' peak, we won't be ready for Whitney. We've added a backpacking trip in the Eastern Sierra's after Yosemite and are lengthening our stay in SF so that I can actually paint. I feel really good about that.

I need to get a better Pochade box or just let go of the idea of painting on site and stick with drawing on trails and painting at base camp. I may compromise and try to use my watercolor box instead. It's small and super lightweight and would still hold a 5x7 or 6x6 panel or larger if I carry something to store it in once I finish. I'm going to check out some options before I do that.

I could stay on the road indefinitely I think, if I had a bit more of a convenient set up. I know it's already going too fast.

What we've done so far and how it felt
Theodore Roosevelt: I have about 5 scenes here as well as several horse studies that I'd like to paint and one epic Bison crossing the river scene that I can't wait to do.

We didn't get a lot of hiking in here, just several short trails and a lot of driving, horseback riding was great, I wish we could do that in every park. The feral horses were my highlight. Another highlight was being in the visitors center and seeing my incredible teacher Matt Faulkner's book about Theodore Roosevelt.

also an incredible illustrator http://www.mattfaulkner.com/books.html
a side note about Matt, if your school brings in authors and illustrators to do programs for kids, Matts is incredible. He's a great story teller.

Glacier: I could paint hundreds of pictures here, the place is beautiful and has this energy about it that is so wild and untouched. I felt great there and could easily spend a summer painting it. I would love to see it in the winter too and I am already entertaining thoughts of a winter version of this trip, with warmer accommodations of course ;).

We were in Glacier for a week, I did get some drawing in at Many Glacier and some decent mileage hiking. The wildlife are so active that we only did one hike alone and that was to St. Mary's Falls, a heavily populated trail. We were turned back our first day hiking in Many Glacier by reports of Grizzly's on our trail and the ever present snow pack kept many trails that we intended to do off limits or significantly shortened. I just think it was the universe telling me we have to come back ;) We met some wonderful people here at Rising Sun campground. They had nightly Ranger programs that we attended as well.

Part of why I am so happy doing this trip in a tent is the people that we meet along the way.

Rainier: I know I will be starting with a scene from Sunset. A beautiful mountain as well, I am really grateful that the fog lifted long enough for us to get a good look at her.

We tried to see Rainier on our way from Glacier, no luck, all fog. We saw her from Olympia the day of Jen and Timmy's wedding, but of course, had other plans. When we returned after our stay in Olympia and Shelton were through, it was all fogged in, the snow pack still covered Paradise meadows and we thought we were out of luck until we reached the other side. As we headed toward Sunrise, the sky opened up and there she was. The light was right and after getting Conner's badge at the visitors center, we headed towards sunrise, even though our gas was terribly low.

When we reached the top and I had taken all the pictures I needed to, I didn't really care if we ran out of gas. I coasted down the mountain, conserving what I had until we got to the first town... gas station closed... okay... hmmm. I did get gas before we went into the park but at .80 more a gallon than back in civilization, I didn't fill up. I was questioning my decision at this point. Our drive from there was all down hill and we reached the next town before long, Enumclaw! To my delight, gas was cheap and views of Rainier were better than at Sunrise. I filled up and we sat to take pictures as the sun set. I was happy to find that the best place to do that was in front of a horse farm, more horses in my landscapes... :) that makes me happy. From here, Seattle to visit our buddy Ty... (an amazing artist) http://www.tylerjacobsonart.com Tyler took us to Pikes Place Market and the Space Needle. We also had lunch at the market in a restaurant that was in Sleepless in Seattle, Conner sat in Tom Hanks chair and I sat in Rob Reiners. Conner wanted to be sure he was in the most famous actors seat. It was great to see Tyler and Devon. Conner got in some video game time and we watched Goonies to prep for our trip to Astoria and Cannon Beach.

Olympic: Very diverse and beautiful, I have ocean scenes, snow covered meadow scenes, mountain scenes and river scenes. Not sure really where to start. Here we started with our cousins on a hike of Staircase Rapids and didn't return to the park until about a week later. At that time we hit the north side of the park driving up to Hurricane Ridge and then out to La Push (swinging by Forks so that we could see where they filmed Twilight.) First Beach in La Push was a great place to watch the sunset. On our way back to town, the GPS took us down a shortcut to Saltwater beach, that wasn't exactly a shortcut, but that's okay, we got to see a lot of wildlife on the tiny road it tried to send us down that ultimately dead ended. The next day we played in the tidal pools at Salt Water Creek... my first tide pools... I was amazed by the amount of creatures there. Star fish, anemone, muscles, and varieties of barnacles. Conner loved it, and the vegetation on the rocks and coloring they provided are something I want to capture. Port Townsend was a great little town, c and I pulled out my backpacking stove and had lunch in the sand... and tho we didn't get to spend much time there, I definitely want to go back. I could live there.

We ferried across to Whidbey Island from there on our way to Anacortes to visit our friend Maureen. For a terrific tour of the San Juan Islands, Anacortes and North Cascades. It was so hard to leave. You never know what unexpected treasures you'll find on the way when you do a trip like this.

San Juan Islands: A scene from the American Camp looking east will be my first here. We spent the day hiking with Maureen and Doug all over the island and Conner earned his badge just before closing at the British camp. He also saw a picture of a little girl with badges and patches all over her, something to shoot for. This area is beautiful and tho we didn't see any Orca's, we did see a golden eagle and bald eagle. We learned a little something about the British and American occupation of San Juan Island and all about the pig war... something to google if you get a chance.

North Cascades: My first painting of the trip will be from here, Goat Peak with it's cowboys on horseback is drawing me to paint that first, I can't wait, I'll post the studies when they're finished. The North Cascades are beautiful, untouched and also diverse. Depending on which side of the mountains you're on you can have a completely different experience. Our first hike up Goat Peak to check out the fire lookout was beautiful. We encountered a cavalry school training a group of special forces soldiers in horsemanship. Conner got to meet a bunch of them, pet some mules and meet the Fire Lookout Ranger and check out the tower. The regular guy, legendary Lightening Bill wasn't there but his part time relief was great answering all of our questions and showing us around. We hung around up there for a while... I drew and relaxed and Conner explored with Reenie. It was a great day. After we were done, we hunted for a sunny spot in the river to wash off the days dust. It was soooooooooo cold but really refreshing, I was the only one that couldn't manage to get all the way in.

The next day we hiked up to Heather Pass, we would have gone farther but the snow fields stopped us. We saw a hoary marmot, on the way up and 2 on the way down. The wildflowers were beautiful and the lakes were so colorful. More snowball fights and a unique snowman :) In the parking lot after the hike..... the mosquitoes we're ridiculous, man eaters!

After the Cascades we went back to Anacortes for an arts festival and to spend another day with our friends. It was very hard to leave....

next up, Oregon and Northern Cal. I'll post in a day or two

Photo albums
Theodore Roosevelt:




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