Dry Falls: World’s Largest Waterfall

As the name suggests, Dry Falls no longer carries water, but is the remnant of what was once the world’s largest (in water volume) waterfall known to have existed on earth, but that was during the Great Missoula Floods at the end of the last Ice Age.

Dry Falls: World's Largest Waterfall
Dry Falls: World’s Largest Waterfall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today the falls is a massive cirque of basalt: Dry Falls Lake. The site is designated a National Natural Landmark.

Viewing the 3.5 miles of sheer cliffs that drop 400 feet, it is easy to imagine the roar of water pouring over them. Niagara Falls by comparison, is one mile wide with a drop of 165 feet.

The falls were created following the catastrophic collapse of an enormous ice-dam holding back the waters of Glacier Lake Missoula. Water covering three thousand square miles of northwest Montana, about the volume of Lake Ontario, was locked behind this glacial dam until the rising lake penetrated, lifted, and then blew out the ice dam. This massive torrent known as the Missoula Flood ran wild through the Idaho panhandle, the Spokane River Valley, much of eastern Washington, and into Oregon, flooding the area that is now the city of Portland under 400 feet of water.

Reaching the Dry Falls area, this tremendous force swept away earth and rock from a precipice 15 miles south of the falls near Soap Lake, causing the falls to retreat to its present position, now known as Dry Falls. The falls is considered a spectacular example of “headward erosion”. If this is confusing, given the present topography, it also helps to know the falls are on an ancient course of the Columbia River. The river had been diverted this way by the encroaching glaciers. It returned to its present course as the ice retreated.

Dry Falls: World's Largest Waterfall
Dry Falls: World’s Largest Waterfall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today, the former waterfall overlooks a desert oasis filled with lakes and abundant wildlife. It is now dry as a bone but water is still present in the Sun Lakes, a haven for fishing, swimming, and boating in this otherwise arid desert landscape.

Dry water channels from the Banks Lake area slide south to the lip of the falls, and then the land falls away in great basaltic cliffs. What was once an ancient splash pool at the base of the falls is now a broad desert meadow dotted with lakes and ponds, swarming with birds and animals of all kinds, shapes, and sizes. This is a uniquely beautiful area to explore, both to delve into the geologic history of the area and to reach out and touch the native flora and fauna of the Washington desert.

Umatilla Rock towers like a giant fin in the middle of Grand Coulee in the basin below Dry Falls. This rock would have been an island in the midst of swirling waters during the great floods.

Today it offers a clear look at the multiple layers of geologic soils and rock that make up these lands. At the junction where the road splits (left to Dry Falls Lake, right to Camp Delany), head left along the gravel road at the southwestern base of Umatilla Rock. Stray off the road and hike cross-country through the open sage prairie and you might spot a few pheasant or quail. In the first mile or so, you’ll pass Perch Lake and climb a small rise for views of the lake basin.

Dry Falls: World's Largest Waterfall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Dry Falls: World’s Largest Waterfall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Camping is very popular in the park, which offers over 150 campsites for RVs and tents. There are also boat rentals in the summer.

The best views of Dry Falls are from the Vista House Overlook. The Dry Falls visitor centre features displays about the geology and natural history of the area and tells the story of this amazing geological phenomenon. From lava flows to the Ice Age floods, and from the Native American legacy to the modern discovery of how Dry Falls was created, the Dry Falls story is revealed to tens of thousands of visitors each year.

A gift shop in the visitor center has a wide selection of books, maps, guides, videos, postcards, film, and other merchandise about Dry Falls and the surrounding area.

Now, that is really climate change. Man made? I don’t think so!

Details

Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park

Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park is a 4,027-acre camping park with 73,640 feet of freshwater shoreline at the foot of Dry Falls. The Dry Falls Interpretive Center is located two miles north of the main park on Highway 17.

Dry Falls: World's Largest Waterfall
Dry Falls: World’s Largest Waterfall © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Location: 7 miles southwest of Coulee City in northeast Washington. It is a feature of Grand Coulee Canyon, which is itself part of the Channeled Scablands that cover three-quarters of eastern Washington.

Directions: South of US-2 onto WA-17, and drive to the visitor center which is in sight of the highway, on the east side.

Address: 34875 Park Lake Road NE, Coulee City, WA 99115

Phone: (509) 632-5583

Website: www.parks.wa.gov

Worth Pondering…

Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.

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Great Scenic Drives On National Wildlife Refuges

To really explore a national wildlife refuge, of course, you’ll want to get out of your vehicle. But when time is limited or you want to get the lay of the land before you set out on a trail, a scenic drive should be considered.

For all us ‘let’s-check-it-out-first’ types, here’s a sampling of some super national wildlife refuge drives to whet your appetite for further exploration.

4. J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, Florida

Aerial view of "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: USFWS/Susan White)
Aerial view of “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge (Credit: USFWS/Susan White)

The J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is located on the subtropical barrier island of Sanibel in the Gulf of Mexico. The refuge is part of the largest undeveloped mangrove ecosystem in the United States. It is world famous for its spectacular migratory bird populations.

The four-mile-long Wildlife Drive is presently closed for repaving with an anticipated reopening of October 1.

The Sanibel Island route winds through mangrove forest, cordgrass marsh, and hardwood hammocks, offering close-up views of wading birds, shorebirds, seabirds, waterfowl, and raptors. Bicycling is also popular on Wildlife Drive, part of the island’s system of multi-use trails.

In October the annual “Ding” Darling Days is a premier birding event. Organized by the Friends of the “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, “Ding” Darling Days is scheduled for October 20-26, 2013.

Wildlife to Observe: Roseate spoonbills, wood storks, reddish egrets, little blue herons, yellow-crowned night-herons, anhingas, white pelicans, red knots, marbled godwits, bald eagles, otters, bobcats, and alligators.

Phone: (239) 472-1100

Website: fws.gov/dingdarling

Friends of “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge: dingdarlingsociety.org

“Ding” Darling Days: dingdarlingsociety.org/dingdarlingdays

5. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington

river-s-tour1The 5,300-acre Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge contains a lush mosaic of wetlands, grasslands, riparian corridors, fir forests, and Oregon white oak woodlands.

On the shore of the Lower Columbia River, a 4.2-mile gravel loop road crosses fields, wetlands, sloughs, and forests—easily the refuge’s most popular visitor destination.

An auto tour provides a sense of the refuge landscape while making it easy to spy birds and other wildlife, especially at an observation blind. The River ‘S’ Discovery Auto Tour route is a one-way 4.2-mile loop on graveled road that is open every day to vehicles during daylight hours.

An Informative Audio Tour CD is available at the Visitor’s Station at the entrance to the Discovery Auto Tour Route and also at the refuge headquarters.

Organized by the Friends of the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Birdfest is scheduled for October 5-6, 2013.

Wildlife to Observe: Migrant bird species such as sandhill cranes, as well as resident bird species such as mallards, great blue herons, and red-tailed hawks. Coyote, raccoon, skunk, beaver, and river otter are occasionally seen.

Phone: (360) 887-4106

Website: fws.gov/ridgefieldrefuges/ridgefield

Friends of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge: ridgefieldfriends.org

Birdfest: ridgefieldfriends.org/birdfest

A wonderful bird is the pelican...  © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
A wonderful bird is the pelican… © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Please Note: This is Part 3 of a 4 Part Series on National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 1: Top 10 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Part 2: Super National Wildlife Refuge Drives

Part 4: Top 3 National Wildlife Refuges Scenic Drives

Worth Pondering…

A wonderful bird is the pelican
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week,
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

—Dixon Lanier Merritt

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Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies

If you are looking for an exciting vacation with beautiful views then consider exploring Forest Service lands in the Northern Rockies for beautiful landscapes, scenic byways, historic trails, and diverse wildlife.

For sheer beauty and allure, few regions match the Northern Rockies. Discover a convenient new way to research and plan absolutely incredible Rocky Mountain travel adventures—the Top 10 Scenic Drives in the Northern Rockies.

Beartooth All-American Road

The Beartooth Scenic Road has 10,000 mountain lakes, 20 peaks reaching more than 12,000 feet in elevation, and 12 national forest campgrounds. Witness the rare transition of lush forest ecosystem to alpine tundra in just a few miles on the highest elevation road in the Northern Rockies.

International Selkirk Loop All­-American Road

The public lands along the loop are home to the largest diversity of wildlife in the lower 48 states. Travel the Selkirk Range of the British Columbia, Idaho, and Washington Rocky Mountains to see stunning vistas, wildlife, year-round recreation, and colorful small towns.

Montana Scenic Loop

Holland Lake sits at the base of the Swan Mountains about 25 miles north of Seeley Lake, Mont., just minutes off the route of the Montana Scenic Loop. (Source: usda.gov)

At the heart of the 400-mile Montana Scenic Loop is the Bob Marshall Wilderness—flanked by the Great Bear Wilderness on the north and the Scapegoat Wilderness to the south. Enjoy striking vistas of awe-inspiring mountains, placid trout streams and abundant wildlife as they unfold along the Rocky Mountain Front, Glacier National Park, and the Flathead and Blackfoot River Basins.

Northwest Passage Scenic Byway All-American Road

Travel along U.S. Highway 12 along the Middle Fork of the Clearwater River and the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River—through the magnificent Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests culminating at the Lolo Pass Visitor Center. Explore the Idaho Rockies, including the land of the Nez Perce Indians, and trace the Lewis & Clark Expedition route across the Bitterroot Mountains and along the Wild and Scenic Clearwater and Lochsa rivers.

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Loop

The area is defined largely by the wide-ranging wildlife that inhabit the region, including grizzly bears, wolverines, wolves, and bull trout. Trace this stunning route through the Montana Rockies, featuring breathtaking scenery and Glacier National Park’s popular Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail

With eight national forests along this route in Montana and Idaho, visitors can experience a number of landmarks and attractions while tracing the same path over mountains and along rivers that the Lewis and Clark Expedition took on their way to the Pacific coast.

Nez Perce National Historic Trail

Drive the route of the Nez Perce National Historic Trail in the fall to come across this picturesque scene. (Source: usda.gov)

The journey of the Nez Perce from their homelands is one of the most fascinating and sorrowful events in U.S. history. Learn the story of the Nez Perce by following in the footsteps of the 1,170-mile flight through Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.

Details

Drive the Top 10

This website will help you learn about the region’s four All-American Roads, 19 national parks, and the scenic byways and historic trails connecting them.

Retrace the rugged path of Lewis & Clark through Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Tour the hot springs of the Kootenay Rockies. Navigate the prehistoric depths of Hells Canyon—North America’s deepest canyon. Or witness an awe-inspiring Old Faithful eruption, a timeless tradition at Yellowstone National Park.

Explore the countless natural wonders, historical sites, and cultural sites that make the Northern Rockies so legendary and inspiring.

Website: drivethetop10.com

Worth Pondering…

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can.
— John Muir

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50 of America’s Most Spectacular RV Trips

You might have seen it on a shelf and thought, “I should pick that up.”

The Breakers is the grandest of Newport’s summer “cottages” and a symbol of the Vanderbilt family’s social and financial preeminence in turn of the century America. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s the national bestseller, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Sometimes the best adventures are those in your own backyard.

Here, in alphabetical order, are 50 things to do or see in your RV before you die:

Mystic Seaport, Connecticut

Mystic Seaport: The Museum of America and the Sea includes three major components for visitors: a re-created 19th-century coastal village with historic ships, a working preservation shipyard, and formal exhibit galleries. It consists of more than 60 original historic buildings, most of them rare commercial structures moved to the 37 acres site and meticulously restored. Founded in 1929 Mystic Seaport also boasts four vessels that are designated National Historic Landmarks.

Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville is country music and all that goes with it—glittering rhinestones; cowboy hats; red, white, and blue leather boots; and songs with titles like Thank God I’m a Country Boy and On the Road Again, Country Roads and I Fall to Pieces.

Also known as “Athens of the South,” downtown Nashville is set around magnificent Greek revival architecture. But the Greek revival lost out to country music when radio station WSM began broadcasting the Grand Ole Opry, making Nashville “Music City, USA.” Downtown, the Ryman Auditorium is known as the “Mother Church of Country Music.” And just around the corner is the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

New Orleans, Louisiana

When most people think of New Orleans, images of beads and floats and Mardi Gras may come into mind. Others may think of great food, cool jazz, and fabulous architecture.

New Orleans is one of the most visually interesting cities in America and of significant historic importance.

The phrase “Laissez les bon temps rouler”—Let the good times roll—is exemplified by Bourbon Street’s non-stop party atmosphere. But for many visitors to New Orleans, it’s all about the food. Seasonings are the lifeblood of good New Orleans cooking.

Newport, Rhode Island

Driving around Newport you can’t help but gawp at the turn-of-the-20th-century mansions—Italianate palazzi, Tudor-style manors, faux French château, all set in elegant formal landscaping, with imposing gates or walls to keep out hoi polloi (for example, you).

It’s incredible to imagine the sort of wealth that built these homes, even more incredible to realize that these were just these families’ summer houses—offhandedly referred to as mere “cottages”.

If you tire of Newport’s spectacular coastal scenery, awe-inspiring architecture, there’s always shopping in thriving downtown Newport. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park’s true distinction lies in its stunning diversity. Few places on earth have so much of everything: human and natural history, unusual flora and fauna, utter wilderness, and spots for every kind of outdoor recreation.

The park divides neatly into three major areas—the glaciered mountains and high country of the interior; the lush rainforest of the west-facing valleys; and the rugged wilderness coastline. It’s a landscape that renders a quick visit nearly impossible.

The Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Wright Memorial Bridge is just three miles long, but by the time you’ve crossed it you realize that you’ve arrived in an entirely different place. The bridge spans the Currituck Sound, connecting mainland North Carolina to the 130-mile string of narrow barrier islands known as the Outer Banks.

Along the way are historic sites, quaint villages, a variety of recreational activities, breathtaking views, and acres of unspoiled beauty. Because the waterways and coast along The Outer Banks is in constant motion, its wide variety of climates, wildlife, and landscape are ever changing.

Please Note: This is Part 6 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.
So throw off the bowlines.
Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails.
Explore. Dream. Discover.

—Mark Twain

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50 Magnificent RV Trips

You might have seen it on a shelf and thought, “I should pick that up.”

Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Late afternoon shadows enhance the beauty of Joshua Tree. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

It’s the national bestseller, “1,000 Places to See Before You Die.”

Sometimes the best adventures are those in your own backyard.

Here, in alphabetical order, are 50 things to do or see in your RV before you die:

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park encompasses one of the most interesting and diverse patches of desert in the U.S. Its namesake species, the spiky, dramatically crooked Joshua tree, is also considered by many to be the defining characteristic of the Mojave Desert.

But this huge desert park actually lies at the meeting point of the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. The park’s eastern and southern areas, with sub 3,000-foot elevation and plants such as “jumping” cholla cactus and spidery ocotillo, is Sonoran in character; its western areas are higher, cooler, wetter, and quite densely forested with the park’s namesake tree.

Continue reading →

Las Vegas, Nevada

You only live once, so Vegas is a must. The Strip is fun, even for those who don’t like to throw away their money—err—I mean gamble. Scores of free shows and nightly programs drop the collective jaw of be-dazzled viewers. Nearly a hundred casinos light up the Nevada sky to woo penny pinchers and high rollers alike. Area tours, desert beauty and some of the country’s best golf courses make Vegas far more than just a gamer’s paradise.

Memphis, Tennessee

Put on your blue suede shoes and drop on in. Whether it is the strains of the Blues, the smell of old fashioned Southern barbecue, or the myriad sights that catch your eye, there is something unique about the city of Memphis.

There are approximately 600 cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Birthplace of rock ‘n roll and the blues, Memphis lays greater claim to shaping the music of the 20th century than any other city in the nation. Memphis is home to blues notables such as B.B. King and the late W.C. Handy, as well as rock ’n roll pioneer Elvis Presley.

No visit to Memphis would be complete without a visit to Graceland, the home of the late Elvis Presley, otherwise known as “The King.”

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

More than a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national park devoted to preserving the works of man — Mesa Verde. Here, approximately 1,400 years ago, the Pueblo Indians lived in what we now call cliff dwellings.

Although the majority of these domiciles are relatively small, the largest, known as the Cliff Palace, contained 150 rooms. The park has more than 4,000 known archaeological sites, with many open for ranger-guided tours.

Continue reading →

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona & Utah

Sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires rise majestically from the desert floor. Monument Valley offers the Western backdrop made famous in movies directed by John Ford.

An unpaved, and at times rough, road loops through the park. Several overlooks offer spectacular views of the wonders of Monument Valley.

Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Some of the most striking and recognizable landscapes of sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires in the entire Southwest are found in Monument Valley. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

One of the grandest—and most photographed—landmarks in the United States, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is a sprawling, sandy preserve that straddles the border of northeastern Arizona and southeastern Utah.

Continue reading →

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S. spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. The most popular destination for visitors to Mount Rainier is Paradise located on the south slope at approximately 5,400 feet.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial, South Dakota

South Dakota’s Black Hills provide the backdrop for Mount Rushmore, the world’s greatest mountain carving. These 60-foot high faces, 500 feet up, look out over a setting of pine, spruce, birch, and aspen in the clear western air.

The sculpture was carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore by Danish-American Gutzon Borglum and his son, Lincoln Borglum. This epic sculpture features the heads of four exalted American presidents (from left to right): George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.

Please Note: This is Part 5 of an 8-part series on 50 Places to RV Before You Die

Worth Pondering…

The West is color. Its colors are animal rather than vegetable, the colors of earth and sunlight and ripeness.

—Jessamyn West

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Fire Safety Tips for RVers & Campers

The sun has finally arrived, school is almost out, and many families starting to enjoy the outdoors on camping trips.

RV fires are one of the largest causes of recreational vehicle loss. Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy
RV fires are one of the largest causes of recreational vehicle loss. Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy

The office of the State Fire Marshal reminds citizens as they begin enjoying summer activities such as RVing and camping that fire safety needs to remain a top priority.

“Campers are reminded that fire safety needs to be a priority when vacationing in a recreational vehicle…,” says State Fire Marshal Charles M. Duffy in a press release issued by the office of the Washington State Fire Marshal.

The following fire safety tips are designed to help keep campers safe.

Install and maintain fire safety equipment:

  • Install and maintain a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide detector which are listed for use in a RV
  • Test alarm/detector regularly and replace batteries at least once a year or as needed
  • Install and maintain a fire extinguisher near exits
Mechanical or electrical failures cause roughly three-quarters of the highway vehicle fires. Image source: iStock

Create and practice an evacuation plan:

  • Develop and practice an evacuation plan that identifies every exit
  • Ensure every occupant is familiar with the operation of all latches of doors and windows

Cooking appliances should not be used in place of heating equipment:

  • Only use cooking applications for heating food—avoid the use of cooking appliances for heating
  • When using cooking appliances, properly ventilate the space by opening a window, using overhead vents, and/or an exhaust fan

Maintain clearance from heat sources:

  • Keep combustibles such as cushions, bedding, clothing, and paper away from heat sources
  • Since space is limited in RVs, take extra time to ensure adequate clearance is maintained

“When creating camping memories, don’t forget to be fire safe,” adds State Fire Marshal Duffy.

Details

Office of the State Fire Marshal
The Office of the State Fire Marshal is a Bureau of the Washington State Patrol, providing fire and life safety services to the citizens of Washington State including inspections of state licensed facilities, plan review of school construction projects, licensing of fire sprinkler contractors, and pyrotechnic operators, training Washington State’s firefighters, and collecting emergency response data.

Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT! Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy
Never re-enter a burning RV to retrieve anything—GET OUT & STAY OUT! Photo courtesy Mac the Fire Guy

Website: wsp.wa.gov/fire

Remember, safety is no accident!

Related Stories

Remember, Safety First, and Happy RVing!

Worth Pondering…

Speed was high

Weather was hot

Tires were thin

X marks the spot

BURMA SHAVE

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Whale Watching Great Fit for RVers

Life in a recreational vehicle can be full of adventure and new experiences.

The approaching spring season brings new opportunities for RVers to explore the natural world and create lasting memories.

Of the many activities available during spring, whale-watching season is a great opportunity to learn and experience something new.

Beginning mid-February, more than 18,000 grey whales leave breeding and calving sites off the coast of Baja, California and travel north to their summer feeding grounds in the Chukchi and Bering Seas. Traveling close to shore, grey whales can be spotted along the West Coast of the United States and Canada.

These giant mammals, which can reach 46 feet in length and weigh up to 36 tons, make one of the longest annual migrations in the world, traveling around 10,000 miles round trip. Inquisitive and friendly towards people, grey whales are known to spyhop, lobtail, and breach the surface.

The West Coast of the United States has a long history of whale watching. High points along the coastline offer many opportunities for land-based observations. Traveling along the famous Pacific Coast Highway gives RVers a good chance to spot whales while experiencing the beautiful landscapes of one of the most scenic routes in the U.S.

This legendary highway hugs most of the coastline from San Diego to northern Washington, providing a continuous avenue for RVers who want to stay close to the coast.

Charter companies also offer visitors a unique perspective of the whales from the air or water. With the ability to cover large areas in a limited time, air tours give visitors a good chance of seeing whales.

Boat tours offer the chance for an up-close and personal experience. Grey whales are curious and friendly, sometimes approaching boats and poking their heads out of the water.

Novice whale-watching RVers can also take advantage of the weeklong program offered by Whale Watching Spoken Here. This program provides trained volunteers at 26 proven whale-watching sites from northern California to southern Washington. Volunteers help spot whales and provide educational information.

This spring’s session will run March 24-31, 2012.

The annual migration of the grey whales provides an exciting and moving experience for veteran and novice whale watchers. With so many places to see these massive mammals, RVers will find whale watching an interesting and exciting spring activity and a perfect reason to take to the road.

While spotting whales can take practice, finding a great RV campground is easy. Encore and Thousand Trails RV Resorts offer premier RV resorts all along the West Coast, according to a news release. Each location offers unique amenities and activities, such as swimming pools, spas, fitness centers, lounges, sports courts, organized activities, Wi-Fi access, and more.

Below is a sampling of RV resorts on the West Coast:

  • Pacific Dunes Ranch RV Resort – 1205 Silver Spur Place., Oceano, CA 93445
  • Santa Cruz Ranch RV Park – 917 Disc Drive, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
  • San Francisco RV Resort – 700 Palmetto Ave., Pacifica, CA 94044
  • Rancho Oso RV Resort- 3750 Paradise Road, Santa Barbara, CA 93105
  • Morgan Hill RV Resort- 12895 Uvas Road, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
  • South Jetty RV Resort – 05010 S. Jetty Road, Florence, OR 97439
  • Whaler’s Rest RV Resort- 50 S.E. 123rd St., South Beach, OR 97366
  • Pacific City RV Resort – 30000 Sandlake Road, Cloverdale, OR 97112
  • Seaside RV Resort – 1703 12th Ave., Seaside, OR 97138
  • Long Beach RV Resort – 2215 Willow Road, Seaview, WA 98644
  • Oceana RV Resort – 2733 State Route 109, Ocean City, WA 98569

 

Details

Encore and Thousand Trails
Encore and Thousand Trails feature 173 RV Resorts across North America. Owned and operated by Equity LifeStyle Properties, Inc., Encore, Thousand Trails, and its affiliates offer RVers opportunities to enjoy the outdoors in top vacation destinations, complemented with resort style amenities.

Phone: (866) 730-0637

Website: rvonthego.com

Whale Watching Spoken Here

Visitors can spot migrating gray whales with the help of volunteers positioned at 26 sites along the Pacific Coast during the one-week Whale Watching Spoken Here programs held in March and December. This spring’s session will run March 24-31, 2012.

Whale Watching Spoken Here is coordinated by Oregon Parks and Recreation Department and offers volunteer interpreters at locations along the coast from Ilwaco, Washington to Crescent City, California.

Website: whalespoken.org

Worth Pondering…
Back in 1980, whale watching surpassed whaling as an industry. Now it’s worth about four times as much. Whale watching provides far, far more jobs to people than whaling ever did. Whale watching has become an ally in the fight to end whaling.”

—Paul Watson

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Upside-Down Winnebago Turns Heads

“No, the RV didn’t crash. No one was injured. And it’s not going to explode.”

1986 Winnebago Elandan stands upside-down at All Seasons RV Chelan Highway 97A, Wenatchee, Washington. (Credit: wenatcheeworld.com)

But the upside-down Winnebago at All Seasons RV in Wenatchee, Washington has received comments and queries like those from customers and passers-by for the last 12 months, according to Wenatchee World.

January is the one-year anniversary of the installation of the upside-down 32-foot 1986 Winnebago Elandan at the entrance to the RV dealership—which last year celebrated its 40th year in business.

Gene Halverson Jr., president and owner of the dealership with his parents, Gene Sr. and Pauline, said the idea for the axles-up motorhome came to him in his sleep one night. He had been trying to figure out an easy way to mark All Seasons’ location—something foolproof, something a person just couldn’t miss.

Several months earlier, he had received the Elandan back from a customer who couldn’t make the payments. So Halverson and employees stripped out and sold the motor, transmission, interior furnishings, and other parts to help pay off the RV’s outstanding credit. The result was what amounted to a perfect RV on the outside but an empty shell on the inside.

“I woke up in the middle of the night and thought, ‘Why not do something different?’” said Halverson. You mean like offer a free toaster with every sale? Or introduce a snappy radio jingle?

No, he thought, let’s flip a Winnebago on its back and install it roadside to make anyone passing by slow down and say wow.

Halverson and staff built a special rig that resembled a giant RV rotisserie to hold and lift the Winnebago Elandan at each end. Then slowly they rolled the motorhome over. The entire flip took nine minutes.

Gene Halverson Jr. President/Owner, All Seasons RV (Credit: allseasonsrvsales.com)

The upside-down Winnebago calls to lovers of old RVs and of weird things in general. It gets washed just like one of the normal RVs on the sales lot. And it’s the perfect place to string promotional banners (“You Will FLIP Over Our Deals!”) and Christmas lights.

“And it makes it a lot easier to describe to folks how to find us,” said Halverson.

In fact, when employees answer the phone, they say, “All Seasons RV—home of the upside-down Winnebago!”

“That always gets a caller’s attention,” said Halverson.

Details

All Seasons RV

All Seasons RV has been a family owned recreational vehicle business since 1971. They moved to Highway 97A “The Chelan Hwy” in 1974 and built a 4,800 square foot showroom and shop.

The dealership continued to grow and in 1998 added a new 14,700 square foot parts and service center.

All Seasons RV sells new Komfort and Surveyor by Forest River trailers, Leer truck canopies, and pre-owned RVs.

Open: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 8 a.m.-4 p.m.; Closed Sunday

Address: 4182 Chelan Highway 97A, Wenatchee, WA 98801

Phone: (509) 663-6551

Website: allseasonsrvsales.com

Worth Pondering…

I saw a peanut stand, heard a rubber band,
I saw a needle that winked its eye.
But I think I will have seen everything
When I see an Airstream fly.

—music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington, in Dumbo

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Mount Rainier National Park to Reopen

Mount Rainier National Park is reopening to the public tomorrow (January 7), following the tragic fatal shooting of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, according to a National Park Service (NPS) news release.

The park, which offers miles of wooded trails and spectacular vistas from which to see 14,410-foot Mount Rainier, draws between 1.5 million and 2 million visitors each year.

The park family is using the time to begin the recovery process in the aftermath of the horrific events leading up to and following the loss of Ranger Anderson. All services with the exception of snow play will be available this weekend.

Plans for a memorial service next week are underway with the date to be determined. The family is requesting donations to the Margaret Anderson Fund at Key Bank in lieu of flowers. Donations should be sent to:

KeyBank

P.O. Box 159

Eatonville, WA 98328

Checks should be made out to Margaret Anderson Donation Account.

Please direct all condolences, offers of assistance and inquiry e-mails to MountRainierInfo@gmail.com.

On the morning of January 1 Park Ranger Margaret Anderson set up a traffic block to intercept a vehicle that failed to stop at a chain-up checkpoint. The driver opened fire on Ranger Anderson, killing her, and then fled on foot into the woods.

Margaret Anderson, 34, worked at Mount Rainier for three years. She is survived by her husband Eric, also a ranger in the park, and two young children.

Mount Rainier National Park closed during the hunt for the gunman, with the park evacuating park visitors to get them out of potential danger. There were 125 visitors in lock down at the Paradise Visitor Center from Sunday noon until 3:30 a.m. Monday. They were escorted out of the park in small groups of five vehicles, escorted by law enforcement officers. There were also 25 visitors at the National Park Inn at Longmire who were evacuated out of the park. Visitors had been held at these locations for their own safety.

The intensive search came to an end on Monday, January 2. An aircraft spotted a body lying face down in the vicinity of Narada Falls. Searchers on the ground traversed challenging terrain to reach the subject and confirmed his identity as Benjamin Colton Barnes, the suspect in the shooting. A handgun and rifle were found nearby. Officials confirm that Barnes was found dead.

Flags fly at half-staff in honor of Mount Rainer National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson at a fire station. (Credit: AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

An autopsy showed he had hypothermia and drowned.

Barnes, a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran, was involved in a custody dispute in Tacoma in July, during which the toddler’s mother sought a temporary restraining order against him, according to court documents.

In an affidavit, the woman wrote that he was suicidal and possibly suffered from PTSD after deploying to Iraq from 2007 to 2008. She said he gets easily irritated, angry, and depressed and keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home.

Police say Barnes, had been involved in an earlier shooting at a party early on New Year’s Day in Skyway, south of Seattle.

An investigation into the incident is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with Park Rangers and Pierce County Sheriff’s Department assisting.

The NPS Western Incident Management Team is assisting the park with planning a memorial service for Ranger Anderson and with ongoing park needs.

The first rays of morning sun on Mount Rainier, as seen from Sunrise. (Credit: NPS)

Approximately 250 personnel were involved in search operations. Agencies participating in the search effort include Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tacoma Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Customs & Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Forest Service, Pierce County Fire Districts, Lewis County Sheriff’s Department, Enumclaw PD, Portland PD, Seattle PD, Snohomish PD, National Park Service rangers, and law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions as well. Resources included K-9 Units, armored vehicles, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft.

Worth Pondering…

Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.

—Maya Angelou

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Name Change Proposed for Ross Lake National Recreation Area

A name change, wilderness and wild and scenic river designation, and improved visitor services are all provided for in the National Park Service’s final general management plan/environmental impact statement on the Ross Lake National Recreation Area (NRA) in the state of Washington.

Ross Lake National Recreation Area (Credit: foders.com)

Ross Lake is one of three park units in the North Cascades National Park Complex.

The plan calls on Congress to change the name of the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, which is sandwiched by North Cascades National Park, to “North Cascades National Recreation Area.”

The plan is expected to guide management of the NRA for the next 15-20 years. While the proposed name change might, to some, be the most eye-catching aspect of the plan, it’s not the only substantive particular, National Parks Traveler recently reported.

Overall, the plan is designed and intended to enhance visitor services in the NRA and provide better connections with the backcountry in the surrounding national park. It also would make it easier, via an online system, for backcountry users to secure permits.

There are, of course, a lot more details in the plan. Details that touch on grizzly bear management units and how grizzly recovery can be encouraged in the area, on sport climbing in the NRA, provisions for moving to cleaner-burning boat engines on the NRA’s lakes, and a slight expansion of the Ross Lake Resort lodgings.

The plan was welcomed by the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), which said the document “provides better protection of natural and cultural resources, expands recreational and education opportunities for our children and grandchildren, raises the 118,000-acre recreation area’s public profile, and supports gateway businesses and local jobs.”

Ross Lake National Recreation Area (Credit: nps.gov/noca)

“Specifically, NPCA supports the National Park Service’s recommendation that Ross Lake National Recreation Area be changed to the North Cascades National Recreation Area,” said Sean Smith, the group’s policy director. “Changing the NRA’s name came at the request of individual park supporters, and will improve people’s connection to and recognition of the entire North Cascades complex.”

“The plan also converts nearly 4,000 acres of the Thunder Creek potential wilderness area to designated wilderness (as part of the Stephen Mather Wilderness Area). In addition, the new plan recommends 33 miles of park rivers, including Goodell, Newhalem, and Skagit, for Wild and Scenic designation, which would permanently prohibit dams on these river sections, and provide the highest level of water quality and access protections,” said Mr. Smith.

Did You Know?
North Cascades National Park Service Complex includes 684,000 acres near the crest of the Cascade Mountains from the Canadian border south to Lake Chelan.

Related Article

Details

North Cascades National Park Complex

View of Ross Lake from Highway 29. (Credit: Dana Joe/flickr.com)

Jagged peaks, deep valleys, cascading waterfalls, and over 300 glaciers adorn the North Cascades National Park Complex. Three park units in this mountainous region are managed as one and include North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake, and Lake Chelan National Recreation Areas. These complementary protected lands are united by a contiguous overlay of Stephen Mather Wilderness.

Address: 810 State Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284

Phone: (360) 854-7200

Website: nps.gov/noca

Worth Pondering…

Wilderness needs no defense, only more defenders.
—Edward Abbey

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