Update 3: June 16, 2006

Lassen Volcanic National Park: May 15-18, 2006 (Location 8 on the Map)

Prior to leaving for Lassen Volcanic National Park, we knew the heart of the park was inaccessible due to snow. For that reason, plus the fact we happen to like having electricity and water hooked directly to the RV, we elected to stay in a KOA campground outside the park.

Upon arriving at the park, we initially drove as far as the Devastated Area via the northwest entrance where the road remained closed because of snow. We took a few pictures, and Justin built his first snowman. Unfortunately, the road closure meant many hiking trails were unavailable. We chose a simple hike around Manzanita Lake, which offered enviable views of Lassen Peak. After lunching beside the lake where a Stellar's Jay tried to beg Goldfish crackers from Justin (who, of course, did not comply), we ventured toward the south entrance as far as Little Hot Springs Area where, again, the road was closed. In the vein of the Grand Canyon visit in National Lampoon's Vacation, we briefly got out of the car, perused some thermal vents, then returned to camp.

Unfortunately, Justin fell ill the following day. Feverish and sick to his stomach, he remained in bed the entire day. The only up side for him was he was able to watch quite a few Wiggles episodes without a complaint from Mom and Dad.

We only identified one new bird here: a male and female Bufflehead.

For photos from Lassen Volcanic National Park, Click Here

Redwood National Park: May 18-21, 2006 (Location 9 on the Map)

When we arrived in the area of Redwood National Park, we camped at Patricks Point State Park along the coast. We spent the first day and a half running errands and stocking up on groceries in Trinidad and Eureka. We managed to hike down to the beach where we combed the sand for agate and stones of interest; we spotted whales off shore as well.

On our second full day, we ventured into the park. Beginning at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove, we took the mild one-mile hike through it. Justin walked about a half mile until rain fell and he rode on Jeff's shoulders the rest of the way. We continued onward and hiked three miles beginning at the South Fork trailhead. We ended the day with a drive (followed by a short hike) to Fern Canyon where the park ranger told us part of Jurassic Park was filmed.

If you have never been to Redwood National Park, you should definitely go. The wooded areas remain deeply canvassed by the coastal redwoods, curtained in ferns and moisture-rich plants all of which are covered in misty dew. Occasionally, slivers of light will slice through the forest. It is a peaceful and inspiring place with wonderful picture-taking opportunities.

New birds from this area: Surf Scoter, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow.

For photos from Redwood National Park, Click Here

Oregon: May 21 - June 12, 2006 (Locations 10 - 12 on the Map)

Supposedly, the Cascades in Oregon are beautiful. That’s what I remember from previous trips, anyway. Unfortunately, I was unable to verify it this time.

We started our Oregon visit with a stop at Crater Lake National Park. Like other parks in the Northwest, much of it was still closed due to a heavy winter snow pack. However, we were able to drive to the visitor’s center (we entered it through the alternate snow tunnel entrance), and the road was open up to one of the crater rim viewpoints. At the viewpoint, we had all of five minutes to squint through the fog and rain to see Crater Lake and Wizard Island before our view was completely obscured. As a result, we didn’t put any photos from this stop in the photo gallery, because the few we have aren’t very good. Still, what little we saw was beautiful, and we were at least able to check off another National Park.

Next, we stopped for a few days at a KOA in Sisters, which is near Bend in Central Oregon. Sisters is a small tourist town with (normally) incredible views of the Three Sisters peaks, Mount Bachelor, Three-Fingered Jack, and other Cascade peaks. Because of the continuing rain, we were at most able to see the bottom third of any of these, and on some days we couldn’t see even that. Regardless, we spent some time outside at the campground with Justin, playing in the playground and walking around the lake. We took a nice hike in a light drizzle along the Metolius River, spent some time in Sisters and Bend, and generally had a relaxing time. I even got in a day of skiing at Mount Bachelor before it closed for the season.

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