Friday, April 19, 2019

Notre Dame de Paris ~ France

The tragic fire of April, 2019 which destroyed the Spire and other treasures of this incredible building is heartbreaking.  Here are photos of Notre Dame Cathedral taken on our visit in 2011.

                                    Notre-Dame de Paris means The Lady of Paris

                                                  The architectural details are amazing. 


          We took a boat ride down the River Seine and had another view of Notre Dame Cathedral                    which includes the spire that was lost in the fire..

I have similar photos but some information included in the blog I did after this visit, click here if you wish to read that.

Washington State in Springtime

We are now on the last days of our travels home and are in Washington State.  Mountains, plateaus, lakes and more sights to enjoy.

Fields of snow in Washington
Early Spring travels may include some snow scenes.  It is always more interesting when there are beautiful mountains to see plus some old barns and buildings, as well.  Blue sky and a little bit of sunshine and it couldn’t look better!  I think we are looking back at Mt. Hood in Oregon but am really not able to be sure.

Mt. Adams and Mt. Ranier
We have crossed over the Columbia River and are now following Hwy. 97.  We will stop at a rest area after the climb up cross over the plateau of the Yakima Indian Reservation.  The rest area has a viewpoint and signage that shows Mt. Adams at 3751 metres (12,307 ft.) and Mt. Ranier, 4392 metres (14,410 ft.).  That was quite a sight.

Visiting Leavenworth
A little gem of a town is Leavenworth, a Bavarian town that we had visited many years ago for an overnight stay when the whole town was lit up with Christmas lights.  I’ve never forgotten that, only wishing I’d had a digital camera in those days.  But it was worth having a drive through town to have a daytime look, lights still strung but our schedule didn’t allow for an overnight stay here.

Downtown Leavenworth
We’d taken a short detour off of Hwy 97 and followed Hwy 2 into Leavenworth in Chelan County on this sunny afternoon. This small town has a total area of 3.24 (1.25 sq. mi) with .05 sq. km (0.02 sq mi) in water.  A very small area with a lot of great sights to enjoy.

Great sights to see
The village was first built as a railway centre which relocated to Wenatchee in 1920 ans well as a timber community that began to fail in the ‘50’s.  Two Seattle businessmen who had purchased a family restaurant created the theme town idea and so it began.  The first building to convert was the hotel now called the Bavarian Hotel.

Wonderful storefronts
The Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum opened in 1995 and has over 5,000 nutcrackers from prehistoric days to now.   Leavenworth hosts an annual Octoberfest with several other celebrations throughout the year.  It is such a quaint village, so authentic and fun to see and closer than Europe.

Beebe Bridge over Columbia River
After an overnight stay in Wenatchee, we are again following Hwy 97 north and see Beebe Bridge and we are once again crossing over the Columbia River.  A peaceful sight but sure is nothing like it was the last time we were here in the autumn with lots of warm sunshine and colored leaves.

Such a peaceful scene and the hills reminding us of our hometown of Kamloops, BC.  Ironically, the further north we drove on this day, the less snow we were to see.  The Okanogan area of northern Washington did not have a lot of snow, and nor had we in the southern BC Okanagan area over winter.  Not sure why the spelling is different, but this is not a typo.

Welcome Home

We are now on home turf, and as much as we enjoy our travels, there is always a great feeling to be ‘home’ in BC.   This is the first day of spring and we arrived home with summer weather.  How nice was that?  Until next time!

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Columbia River Gorge ~ Oregon

Our travels home after a great winter down south takes just over three days.  We have travelled parts of this route many times and like to make some changes to see other parts of the country so we are doing just that today.  We’re crossing into Oregon today and making our way on I-5 over the Siskiyou Mountains from California.

Southern Oregon
As we follow I-5 north, the skies are overcast and not showing blue sky and sunshine as we normally expect so we aren’t seeing all the mountain tops which offer incredible sights when the weather is right.  There are plenty of nice sights to see, including the view of this lake south of Ashland.  One day we shall take the drive east of Ashland to see Crater Lake but that is dependent on weather conditions.

Teepee camping
There are several RV parks along this route but I hadn’t noticed the teepee’s before. They may be a new addition to this park but would make for a fun summer camping experience.  Looks like they’ve had to cover the top to keep out the rain so choosing the right time for visits would be important.

Daffodils in bloom
There were several places along the I-5 in Oregon that we were to see wild daffodils in bloom!  We were a bit earlier than normal this year, so were quite surprised to see these, not normally there on our way home, they’d usually be finished their bloom by then.

Columbia River Gorge
We had planned on enjoying the sights of the Columbia River Gorge on this trip home.  We’d not been this route, Hwy 84 before and were lucky to now have some blue sky and sunshine.  The Columbia River runs between the states of Oregon and Washington for about 130 km (80 mi.).  We can see the highway across the river in Washington on most of this trip.

There are several falls along this route but the one that offers the most is the Multnomah Falls.  We parked across the highway from the entrance and took some photos.  We did not take the hike in to Benson Bridge to get a better view as it was a chilly windy day and figured we were fine without the hike.

Columbia River Gorge views
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is part of the Cascade Mountain Range and is the largest "scenic area" in the U.S.  It varies from a rain forest to a desert and a sea level passage to alpine meadows. There are several historical museums along this highway that have stories to tell about the thousands of years of history including the Lewis and Clark expedition.

Barge traffic
The river is very wide in parts which offers the room for the big river traffic like this barge.  We did see two or three of them carrying different cargo.  There were once sternwheelers using the river for transportation, as was done in so many places.  There are interpretive centers at The Dalles and Stevenson.  Then came the time for hydroelectric dams.

The Dalles Lock & Dam
The Dalles dam is one of three dams located on the Columbia River Gorge and was completed in 1957.  It sits 309 km (192 mi) from the mouth of the Columbia River.  The power house is almost ½ mile long and has 22 generators, enough power to supply two cities the size of Portland, Ore.  The dam also offers flood control for the area.  There are train tours here so it would be a great way to learn about the dam.

Columbia River crossing

We’ve now seen the Columbia River Gorge.  We were too early to see any sign of spring greenery or growth but the sights were great in spite of that.  We now cross the Columbia River at The Dalles and follow Hwy 97 north through Washington State to carry on.  There are several sights to share from this beautiful state, too.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

California Highway Scenery

Lucerne Valley
We were heading north and with several routes to choose from, we decided to drive up to Yucca Valley then through the Lucerne Valley to get us on our way.  The day was warm and sunny and the quiet roads are easily traveled in this part of the state, which is lightly populated.

Painted Ladies Butterfly
Southern California had a very large migration of these orange butterflies, call the painted ladies and they were totally unavoidable as we drove.  Poor little fellas were covering every grill driving in southern California.  We’d not seen them in the swarms that others had seen but I’d seen many pass by our RV earlier in the month.  Scientists estimated there to be millions of them.  The season had offered plenty of rain that caused the plants to thrive therefore create these numbers.

Vintage Airstream
 I do not ever recall seeing an Airstream motorhome like this, such a vintage look to it.  I tried to find out when these were made but had no luck with that.  The closest I’d seen were pull behind trailers and there are more of them all the time, a very popular trailer, in early days, before it was even called RV’ing.  We left Hwy 247 at Barstow and followed Hwy 58 crossing the Mojave Desert.

Flowering hilltops
The Tehachapi is such a pretty valley to drive through, especially early morning with the mist hanging on the hills.  There are nine tunnels for the trains that follow this route, a very unusual route for trains.  A long train passes over itself going around the loop.  I’ve never timed that sight to be able to get a photo but have seen many trains follow the track.  It was definitely an engineering feat of its day, opening in 1876.  It was designated a California Historical Landmark in 1998.

Bakersfield, CA
It had been many years since we had followed Hwy 99 as it passed through so many smaller towns and that meant lots of stops and starts.  Just before we left to head north, we learned that the freeway now passed right by that and there were no stops so we decided we would take this different route and got onto that at Bakersfield.

Agriculture country
There are many agricultural sights to see on this route including several cattle farms, almond orchards as well as fruit orchards and also rice fields, like many sights on I-5.  The drought that had been happening for several years has been helped with the rain that has more recently happened and the fields and orchards look much happier than normal, even though it was still early in the season. 

Wild Turkeys
Wild turkeys are making a comeback in California after some over hunting years.  There are conservation efforts that have helped to make that happen.   They like forested areas with pastures and orchards nearby so this was a great neighborhood for them.
They like to roost high in trees as night to avoid predators as they have poor eyesight in the dark.

Fires in Shasta County
Sadly fires had done a lot of destruction in the hills as we now followed I-5.  The Shasta County area had a lot of charred trees that could be seen from the highway.  This fire was one of several in California that caused a lot of problems during the summer of 2018.

Lake Shasta 

There is often a difference in the level of Lake Shasta but it looks good this time.  Always a nice sight to see no matter the height, and not unusual to see some boaters out there fishing.

Click here if you wish to view some of the sights we saw on our travels home last year.  We took a different route for part of the way. 

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Winter in the Coachella Valley ~ California

Winter is different in this part of the country and brings sights that we would not see during winter months in the north.   The arid climate and countryside offers some beautiful sights and visitors for us to enjoy when we spend time in these areas. 

Desert blooms
Desert flowers have made their appearance but are a bit later than usual due to the cooler weather and the rain but that was helpful in creating even more blooms.  We visited Joshua Tree Park when the blooms were just beginning.  Late afternoon sun was coming quickly but gave us a chance to see some desert blooms before we left.

Cholla cactus blooming
I believe this is the Teddy Bear cholla but it is very similar to the Silver cholla so this could be either and is just showing buds.  The Teddy Bear grows to be about 5’ tall and is usually surrounded by a ring of discarded spines and flowers.  One does not want to touch one of these, they look fuzzy but they are not.  They adhere to anything and can be very difficult to remove due to the reverse barbs. 

Blooms and windmills
Lower altitudes and a few more weeks offer a bit more warmth to contribute to the bloom and these ones light up the field of windmills with yellow.  Snow can still be seen on the mountaintops of the San Jacinto Mountains and that adds to the charm of the scenery.  The Coachella Valley and local area has much to offer.

Winter months does mean fewer flowers to feed on until the spring does arrive so the hummingbirds that are here for the winter always appreciate finding a feeder.  They tend to be quite territorial so once they decide this is ‘their’ feeder, there are few visitors who won’t get chased away.

Cormorants are one of over 300 bird species that come to the Salton Sea, south of this area on their Pacific Flyway during these winter months.  They dive deep for their fish, which is plentiful in the deep Salton Sea.  I do not know what would bring them to this pond as if there are any fish in here, they’d be very small and I feared they might break their neck should they try to dive, the pond is not deep, lol, but no injuries claimed.  I have written information on the cormorant in an earlier post, click here if you wish to read more.

American White Pelican
Pelicans are another annual visitor to the Salton Sea but this is the first time I’ve seen one visit this pond.  A welcome sight he was and he’s been seen by others.  I think this pond is one of his stops while he tours around the valley.  Others have usually been seen in larger ponds.

Pelican fishes for food
The pelican swam around and scooped up whatever he fancied.  I don’t think he found much of a dinner but he swam the pond and was able to find something. Pelicans are one of the largest birds that do much soaring in their flight.

Decisions to make
I’m waiting to see him fly away, to see the big wing span and the black feathers he has.  It looks like he is thinking about doing that now,  he’s cleaned out the pond as best he could, so I wait patiently to see it happen and it did.

Pelican has left the pond

He wasn’t here for long but I did watch him fly away.  The wing span can be up to 45” wide and the black on the wings is not very visible until they fly.  He jumped from the edge of the pond, made a couple of bounces and then was making his way to his next stop.  There is much more info on a post I’d done on their visit to the Salton Sea.  Click here to see more.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Wintertime in Palm Springs, California

Unless you're a Snowbird, (a term used to describe the Canadian citizen who spends winters in warmer climates), you may not realize how wonderful a winter can be down in southern states.  We've been fortunate enough to have spent some time down there and enjoyed every moment.

Early morning sunrise
Most morning skies are clear but the ones with the clouds are sure to show us the beauty with the colors offered here.  Sunrise comes earlier than it does at home during these winter months.  This is the view from our patio.

the Fowl Family
More patio views, and we can watch the Fowl Family, with the combination of the Canada Geese and the ducks.  These are all coupled up and although they do not spend the whole winter here, they do spend lots of time enjoying the pond.

Afternoon naptime
There is some human traffic that passes by these ones but not close enough to disturb them and they seem to be enjoying their afternoon nap.  Mr. seems to be a bit further away from his Mrs. than normal, perhaps a small disagreement but all will be well after their nap.

Curious couple
This couple are one of only two or three couples that seem to spend most of their time here.  There are others who might stop by when they spot the pond but they do not stay.  The Fowl Family are not fed here so as not to encourage them to stay but they seem to manage on their own.

Resting hummingbird
Regular visitors to our patio are the hummingbirds.  They get very territorial and this little one is on a regular perch just watching to make sure no one else comes to eat at his station.

Enjoying her stop
It looks like a very big supply of sugar water compared to this little one but it does disappear
in time. A hummingbird will consume about one half of an ounce per day.

A visitor arrives
I love to see the egret arrive and do his daily walk around the pond.  He makes one or two circles around it as he searches for his food from the pond.

Fishing for dinner
The egret dips his beak into the water to get his food, whatever it may be and I was thrilled I was able to see his 'catch' as he flips it into his mouth.  Not easy to see but it is there if you look closely.

Cautiously approaching Fowl Family
The egret is part of the heron family and stands about 1 metre (39") tall.  We don't see more than one too often and never at our location but do remember seeing large flocks of them on travels over in Savannah, Georgia.  It was quite a sight to see as they perched overnight in the trees across the lake from our RV.

More food
The egret moves calmly and respectfully around the Fowl Family on these fishing trips. One last snack before the launch happens.

He will return tomorrow
A quiet and graceful flyover the pond as the visiting egret leaves us.  His stay is no more than about 20 minutes and likely just a stop of many.  While enjoying this, we also saw a flock of pelicans fly overhead, on their way to visit the larger pond in the RV park next door.

Incredible rainbow 
This is definitely not a view from our patio but a drive after some rain and this was such a delight to see!  Nature's beauty can be so exciting!  I may have taken too many photos of it but it just seemed to be a perfect rainbow that also highlighted the area beneath it!  The second rainbow can be seen, too.  We were able to see both ends of the rainbow but no pot of gold at either end.  Rewards were in being able to time our travel perfectly and see this sight.


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