September 13, 2011

"Best Trip Ever" Part II -- Seattle to San Francisco

The first post (below) covered the trip heading north from Yosemite to Seattle. Now we'll take a look at the trip heading back to San Francisco.

But first -- an aside prompted by a piece in Sunday's New York Times by Nicholas Kristof about his family's backpacking this summer along the Pacific Crest Trail. Kristof says he's concerned "that Americans love their national parks, but they sometimes love video games more." The National Park Service reports that the number of recreational visits to our national parks was lower last year than a decade earlier. In 1979, the parks had 35% more backpacking campers than in 2010.

The Outdoor Foundation says that fewer youths are heading outdoors each year, adding that "the American childhood has rapidly moved indoors leading to epidemic levels of child obesity and inactivity."

Adults, as well as children,  need nature, Kristof says, "as a tonic, as a balancing force, as therapy," 
The wilderness trims our bravado and puts us in our place. Particularly in traumatic times like these, nature challenges us, revitalizes us, humbles us, exhilarates us and restores our souls.
I couldn't agree more. At age 82, I'm unfortunately not up to backpacking up and down mountain trails. But nevertheless the three weeks we spent driving through the Pacific Northwest was revitalizing.

San Juan Island
After our only urban stop -- the three days in Seattle -- we headed by car ferry for San Juan Island for a little whale watching:

The first part of our search was foggy but we finally got a good sighting:

And here's a whale that washed up on shore:

These llamas are not a native species but they are cute nevertheless:

San Juan's harbor and the car ferry:

Olympic Peninsula 
After ferrying back to the mainland, we headed out to the Olympic Peninsula, where the lavender was in full flower:

In the town of Dungeness, we watched the namesake crab being caught:

After a crab dinner, we watched the sun set into the Pacific:

The next morning back up into the mountains:

Then back down the mountain to yet another beautiful sight:

The peninsula has still more variety as we headed into the rain forest:

Heading South on Highway 1
Highway 1 has to be the most scenic highway in the U.S. Having traveled the highway from San Franciso to Sam Diego in spring, we had unresolved debate over which stretch was the most beautiful.

Here we are ready to defend against a Japanese invasion in World War II:

Miles and miles of beautiful  beaches . . . and no one in the water. One has only to stick a toe in the water to realize why.

More shoreline and more wildflowers:

Rogue River Jet Boat Ride
I mentioned in an earlier post that, for me, this ranked No. 1 in the list of the our best stops, closely beating out Mt. Rainier. This repeats some of the earlier posting, but so what.

Can you spot the American Eagle?

Good catch!

Come along for the ride:

Back Down Highway 1
I had been complaining that we hadn't had a good sighting of elk., when suddenly right by the highway...

Now into the Redwood Forest and through one of them:

Highway 1 continues with one view after another:

Last Stop -- Sonoma Valley, Osmosis Inn and then on to SF
Our last day on the road was driving through the Sonoma grape fields .

And we spent our final night being pampered at the Osmosis Spa in Occidental, CA, where I ended the day by sitting quietly in their meditation garden giving thanks for this terrific trip.

Then the next morning heading to San Francisco for our flight home:

I couldn't be happier:

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