Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Camping: Icicle Creek, Leavenworth

Just got back from an overnight camping trip to Icicle Creek in Leavenworth...went with Julie's brother and his wife, Dave and Kathryn. We were originally intending to do a 3 day back-pack trip to Hannegan Peak but due to an unusually high amount of snow still on the upper slopes, we were forced to change plans (and save a valuable vacation day). Nevertheless, we had a blast! To see all the pictures I've posted, click here.

We car-camped and spent the night at a campground along the icicle creek area. We ate well and had a great evening, followed by a beautiful day hike to the Lake Colchuk area; (this is the beginning of the trail to the Enchantments). On the way home, Julie spotted a black bear off the side of the highway just hanging out!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Summer Hiking...

Before I move on to the next Australia post, I must take some time to blog about our recent hikes...in order, Alger Alp, Goat Mountain and Sauk Mountain. To skip the writing and go straight to the pictures, click here.

Alger Alp was a short and rather "boring" hike. It ascends to the top of a big hill in the town of Alger. Towards the top you do get a nice view of Baker and from the top you get a view West towards the islands; however, the hike is entirely on a logging road and once on top the Chukanuts partially block your view west. Perhaps we are "snobs" now but it's hard to do a hike like this when so many other, better hikes loom so close. Hikes like...

Goat Mountain: this is probably one of the toughest hikes we do as it is about 4 miles long and ascends about 3000 vertical feet (according to my handy altimeter). However, once on top the views are worth it as it offers about 250 degree panorama. The only downer to this hike is you do have about 2 1/2 miles of switchbacks through a forest before you get to the really good views. And once you read the next hike, you may not want to hike Goat Mtn...

Sauk Mtn. Julie and I did this hike with a couple of friends of ours, Dan and Bill. It takes a bit to get there (about 1 hour 20 minutes) but is worth the drive. This was our first hike off of highway 20 (North Cascades Hwy) and we were blown away. For those looking for "bang for your buck hikes" (read: short, but beautiful), this is your poster-child hike. The road to the trail-head is rather long (7.7 miles off of the hwy) but the reward is that the views start from the parking lot. The trail is only 2 miles long and ascends 1100' to the summit; very doable (although we wouldn't have felt comfortable without our trekking poles). The wildflowers and views begin from the parking lot and never let up. From the summit you have a 350 degree panorama (the only thing keeping it from being 360 degrees is the true summit of Sauk mtn, which requires some rock climbing skills to reach). This hike was a photographers dream; between the views of the mountains, wildflowers, marmots and then the sunset, I was in heaving...albeit longing for a wide-angle lens and a tripod (neither of which I packed).

At any rate, too many pictures to put them all here...so if you want to see the rest, CLICK HERE!

Friday, July 18, 2008

AUS day 3: Sugar World

Ok, I'm finally getting my days together...Day 3 is Saturday in my book and this is the day we went to Sugar World. As usual, I only put a few pictures here in the blog; if you want to see all the pictures from this day that I've uploaded, click here. First things first, though.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day and went down to the pier in the morning followed by a trip to Rusty's; the local Farmer's Market in Cairns. Rusty's was fun, although I'm sure I didn't enjoy it as some of those in our group. What I did find that I loved at Rusty's was some good Humbow, (although they call it something different).

(Julie, Nathan, Me and Andrew)

After Rusty's we packed up the van and headed to Sugar World; a water park with water slides. I must say; I've done water slides before but not quite like this. No, they weren't bigger or faster or scarier then what I've done in the past, but they were more painful. The first 4 times I went down the slides I got injured; a scrape here, a jammed finger there, a bruised elbow here...in fact, as of this writing on July 18th, I still have a very tender elbow thanks to the water slides. It did remind me how in America, probably as a result of everyone suing each other, we make everything perfectly "safe." At any rate, I survived thanks to a great tip from Scott and the rest of the day was a blast. (Lots more water-slide pictures here).

Monday, July 14, 2008

AUS day 2: Hartley's Crocodile Farm

This was one of my favorite days of the trip; highlights being the animals mainly, but also watching the boys as they watched the animals. We ended up spending the entire day out there starting with a show on a boat at 10:00 and ending with the Koala feeding at 4:30. Read on for my memories and a few pictures; to see all the pictures I've uploaded (29 from this day), click here.

The highlight, of course was the salt-water crocodiles. They are amazing creatures...and deadly. One of my memories was the "sound" they make when they snap their jaws shut. They had names for all the crocs; the biggest one being named "Spartacus" (or "Sparty," for short). They did a show (feeding) with all the crocs, (probably at least 30 in one big area) which was great. I heard, however, that after the official show ended the crocs really got active.

Other memories of our time there were lunch, where Julie tried her first taste of crocodile (very tough), the aviary which was filled with amazingly beautiful tropical birds and the casuary and watching him feed, (this is the bird with the big "horn" on it). The casuary swallows his food whole and you can actually watch it slide down his throat. The avaiary was amazing; especially the huge spider that met you as soon as you walked in the door.

However, all that said, there is probably one memory that outshines them all; "Tipsy," the baby Koala. Tipsy was located in a part of the park that also had kangaroos running around wild. We had seen Tipsy's Mom earlier in the day but not Tipsy. Something I didn't know; Koala's have pouches and actually spend their first 6 months after birth in their Mother's pouch. Tipsy had only been "out of the pouch" for 2 weeks; and I'm guessing, only comes out for a few minutes a day. At any rate, about 4:00, right before we were going to the other part of the park to watch the Koala feeding, Tipsy decided to make an appearance. Tipsy was probably the cutest thing I've seen in a long time and we were privileged to see "him/her."

We also learned that 10 of the 11 deadliest snakes in the world not only live in Australia, but live in Queensland (the state we were in). Made you think twice about going out for a "walk about." Don't forget to check out all the pictures I've uploaded from this day - (click here).


Saturday Julie and I had the chance to spend the day sailing and crabbing with my Uncle Steve and other family members. Needless to say, it was a perfect day. The crabbing was ok; (managed to pull in about 8-9 crabs total) but the company and the day was perfect...(we even caught 3 flounder and cooked them up). To see all the pictures from the day, click here. Make sure to click on the first picture below to see it full size.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Been Busy

Julie and I have been busy since we got back but have still found time to get out a bit. First: a shot from the 4th of July. To see all my 4th of July pictures, click here (had fun with timed exposures). Second; on Saturday Julie and I took a short walk/hike at a place called Squires Lake. We happened upon two owls and I was fortunate enough to get these pictures. Third: a shot of a sunset down at Bellingham Bay; and Fourth: a few pictures from our hike today on the Hanegan Pass Trail.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Aus day 0, 1: Night Mkt, hike, beach

Thus begins the blogging about our AUS trip - I will use these posts as a sort of "journal" as well. Also, the reader should note that although I will put a few pictures on these blog posts, many more pictures will be posted on my website. This hasn't happened yet, but I will let people know when they get posted.

Our trip over was interrupted by a missed connection and resulted in adding a 4th flight; which meant we arrived about 4:30 PM as opposed to 12:10 PM. The day we arrived I call day 0 as day 1, in my mind, was our first full day. Also, some other notes, there is a 17 hour time change. Our itinerary was SEA to LA (2 1/2), LA to Brisbane (15 hrs), Brisbane to Sydney (2 hrs), and Sydney to Cairns (2 hrs).

First impressions as we arrived? Nice weather! Warm, slightly humid, and very tropical. These first few days I had to keep reminding myself that we weren't in a 3rd world country, but were in fact in Australia. I'm not sure why; maybe because the last and only time I traveled to see Terri, Scott and the nephews was when we went all the way to Papua New Guinea.

At any rate, we checked into our room, threw some stuff down, piled in the van and headed downtown to the "Esplanade" and "Night Markets." We were so tired from the travel that about all I could do was shove down some dinner (a Kebab, which I love) and briefly wander the night market. The night market is an appropriately named market that is only open at night and filled with all sorts of touristy things.

Our first full day we spent going on a short hike which afforded a great view of Cairns, and spending the afternoon at the beach. The water was cool - you could be out in it for 45 minutes or so before you'd get cold. It is "winter" in Cairns as well so most of the time, the weather was mid to upper 70's with a little humidity...although it is also the "dry season" which meant the rain was minimal, and the rain forests were very dry. Enjoy the pictures!

(Moon over Cairns: taken from the Esplanade looking back towards the Market)

(Andrew enjoyed his chicken on the first night)

(Julie, Scott and the boys taking in the view at the top of our hike)

(downtown Cairns from the hike)

(cool lookin' yellow caterpillar of some kind)

(Kyle looking good)

(Julie and Kyle body surfing together)

(Andrew in full sprint)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I'm back from 2 weeks in AUS...stay tuned for more from this trip!