Olympic National Park

Today we went to Olympic National Park in Northwestern Washington. My Nana Marilee and Great Aunt Kristi went with us, Kristi and her family lives in the nearby city of Poulsbo. We drove up to Hurricane Ridge where we saw a ton of peaks that make up the National Park. I thought it was cool seeing McCartney Peak! My brother and I also had a snowball fight with the few feet of snow that was still there.

Later on we went to the Dungeness Spit National Wildlife Refuge. After a short walk to the shore we came to a lookout where we saw the lighthouse almost 6 miles out on the spot. A spit is a long narrow peninsula made up of primarily sand. When we walked out onto the spit we could smell the saltwater and we saw some seals swimming not too far from the shore. There was a ton of driftwood also lining the shore so we played on that also. On our way back to the parking lot we came upon a deer that was standing in the middle of the trail. The deer stared at us for about a minute before it decided to run away. I really liked going to the wildlife refuge and I found out that North Dakota has by far the most national wildlife refuges. (AT)

Tulips! and Mt. St. Helens / Mt. Rainier

I should be starting out with the 2 National Parks we visited today, but instead here are some amazing pictures of a tulip field we passed by today. Jesse saw the twinkle in my eye and stopped the truck, made a u-turn and drove right to the fields for my a-ha moment of the day/week/month/trip!

We actually started our day learning about the Mount St. Helen National Volcanic Monument and its infamous eruption in 1980. Jesse and I were just babies then so we don’t have any memory of it, but it was crazy to see the stories of what happened in the weeks leading up to the eruption and months/years afterward. We could see most of MSH today, but the top was clouded a bit.

We decided to check out Mt. Rainier because it was only about 90 miles away. On the way we saw tulips. Did I mention that they are my favorite?! Most of Mt. Rainier is closed due to snow still (it’s May 4th!) but we did see and get a feel for the park. Mt. Rainier itself was clouded, it only got clouded more and more as the day went on even though it was a nice sunny day! We did a quick hike to a waterfall and saw a couple more views before heading home. It sure looks like if we visited in the summer we could stay there all week. We love the tall trees and north woodsy feeling here! (MT)

Lewis and Clark and the Goonies

I’m a pretty cheap date, and most of my “wants” are just to have Jesse pull over to the side of the road for me to get out and get a picture. I really wanted to see the beach from the end of the movie Goonies, I have good memories of watching it as a kid, with my college roommates and with the boys in Bermuda a couple of years ago and I just wanted to see the cool rocks that were on the beach as well. That was in Cannon beach, and it was a pretty easy on/easy off stop. Except there was an amazing fabric store right next to where we parked. I went in for 10 minutes and told myself that if I didn’t get out of there quick, I was going to bust the bank. There would go my cheap date status!

We also drove right by Micky and Brandon’s house in Astoria. You know, where they find the map in the attic. Put a check mark on that as well. No luck in finding One Eyed Willie or the Fratelli’s but that’s ok, I don’t want them to find me either.

Along the drive, we start to notice that we’ll be passing a National Park – the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park-Fort Clatsop. Of course, we pull over, learn all about the Fort and get Woody his junior ranger badge and get our picture and walk to the Fort and then have car sandwiches and continue on our way.

We drove up the Columbia river to visit some extended family, and as we did there were container ships lined up 10-12 deep. The Columbia is a big shipping channel that leads to Portland and beyond. We’re not traveling to Portland on this trip, but I’d like to see their bay sometime!

We stopped to see Jesse’s Great Uncle Mark Tischer, that was fun to see the Tischer name again! Mark and another brother of Jesse’s Grandpa Reuben Tischer moved out to the Pacific Northwest after high school and stayed here, raised families and they all stayed out here because they loved it here! It was a nice visit, and that night, we had supper with a cousin of Jesse’s dad, Lee Tischer and his wife Diane. We were staying near Lee’s place and our campsite is directly on the Columbia River. Container ships pass less then 50 yards from our camper! Last night we looked out and saw a riverboat paddlewheeler, all decked out in lights and that was one of the coolest things ever. Not to be outdone, Woody got a captain to honk its horn at us today! Very exciting in Cathlamet, Washington! (MT)

Tillamook, Oregon

Geography lessons are taught on the road every day. For example, I did not know much about the Oregon coast. We drove Hwy 101 up the entire coast, from Cali to Washington. The coast is all protected as state land, and as such, there are so many state parks on the coast! Not all have campgrounds but many do. We’ve stayed at two, Humbug Mountain SP and Beverly Beach SP and both of those were very green and rainforest-like, with amazing beaches to check out. Gunner does his best work running on these huge beaches!

Our third campsite was in a Tillamook County park, on a beach with a huge jetty, just north of the town of Tillamook. Yes, that Tillamook that makes excellent cheese and ice cream! We knew a highlight would be checking out the cheese factory and it was! Squeaky cheese curds are our favorite! The lady behind me said she hated curds and I have literally never heard that phrase in my life! Like HOW?!?! The ice cream was a highlight of the week. We’ve not been known to pig out in public, but we did today. Each of us got 5 scoops of different flavors. It was amazing, no disappointments to be found. Moo.

We also stopped by the Pacific Oyster Company, where we saw real life oyster shucking in person. It was quite the operation! Andy has had oysters before and *shocker* he loves them, but this was Woody’s first time. They gave Andy a huge one and it went down easy. Woody the brave soul ate his carefully and said he enjoyed it but probably won’t be eating another one any time soon. Jesse and I have never had one, and probably never will. I mean, if we can’t even eat one here, when will we ever?!

We also stopped by the Tillamook Country Smoker beef jerky outlet, got some beef jerky, and then drove back the next morning to buy 2 cases of jerky. We apparently liked it that much.

To put a circle to all this food action, we stopped at the Pelican Brewing Company in Tillamook. Great root beers and good beers. And good company. And they’re dog friendly so even Gunner got something to drink.

I forgot to mention that in the morning, we saw a Coast Guard helicopter doing some training with a CG boat right at our campsite. That was a highlight for the boys. It’s fun to see the Coast Guard stations along the coast, some are beautiful old nautical buildings! (MT)

Evergreen Air & Space Museum

Today we got to go to the Evergreen Air Museum in McMinnville, home of the Spruce Goose. The “Spruce Goose,” also known as the Hughes H-4 Hercules is a massive wooden floatplane from World War Two. It only flew once for about thirty seconds but it’s pilot and designer Howard Hughes kept it in a climate controlled hanger for about 1 million dollars a year. It was large enough to carry 750 soldiers across the Atlantic.

Also in the museum we got to see an A-10 Warthog, A ME-262 jet fighter, and a SR-71 Blackbird. My brother and I got to fly some planes on a full motion simulator. I flew a P-51 mustang and my brother flew a red bull plane. Later, we got to listen to the checklists and radio chatter that precede a Titan missile launch.

Lastly we got to watch a video about a week multinational training exercise at Elgin Air Force Base. It depicted fighter pilots, Air battle managers, A-10 pilots, mechanics, and Pararescuemen. It started out with air to air battles. I really liked seeing how the ABM directed all of the airplanes from the fuselage of his. Then there were A-10s and bombers that took our targets on the ground. Next, there was a downed fighter pilot who had to evade enemy forces who were searching for him. Eventually a team of PJs were able to come in and rescue him. The last day was the culmination of exercise and they all trained with live munitions.

Overall I just had a really good day and I am happy that I visited this air museum. (AT)

Maureen’s edit: I don’t mind going to air museums with the boys, but once I found out we were in the Willamette Wine Valley I was on a day date with Gunner! We checked out Domain Drouhin in Dundee(my ddd!) and Duck Pond and Stoller near McMinville. It was a beautiful afternoon with lots of flowers and beautiful scenery and tasty pinots! (MT)