After our short trip to Canada with many visits at friends and relatives we take the ferry from Vancouver Island to Port Angeles. Our destination is the Olympic NP in the far North-Western region of the USA.
Border crossing is easy and after an excellent Italian dinner we start our journey the next morning. Weather is an important factor while visiting the Olympic National Park where most regions are in the rain forest. But we are lucky and can enjoy a clear blue sky. At Rialto beach we admire the wild coast with a vast quantity of drift wood and a few miles further down the road we stay a couple of days in the Indian reservation of La Push. The beach here is endlessly and one can walk for days from bay to bay.
Unfortunately the weather is changing, the sun is hidden behind a tight cloud cover and it gets really chilly. We leave the coast and drive deeper into the rainforest up to the Hoh river where we do some nice hikes and enjoy a campfire with other travelers in the evening. We stop at Quinault lake the next day where the weather and the water is so inviting that we must go for swimming on elast time before the summer ends.
We continue along the coast and sit out two stormy and rainy days at a parking lot of the casino in Ocean city. The spot is located on the beach with no cost and free internet access. At the mouth of the Columbia river we visit the Lewis & Clark interpretive center. The two pioneers discovered the first East-West connection in 1804 after a two years journey. A real pioneer work and the first exploitation of the West. We leave Washington state and come to Oregon where the coastline is more than 400 miles long. Due to the high demand of tourists every corner ist well covered with prohibitive signs and our favorite sign “no overnight camping” is at bargain offer. Therefore you can park at the beach until high tide.
Via Tillamook we drive to Newport and to the Yaquina point. The view of the ocean, the cliffs and the light house could also be from a Hitchcock movie. In downtown Newport we see a large number of seals hanging around the pier similar to pier 39 in San Francisco. The coast line is wild romantic and the Pacific shows its real rough side. The viewing points have sonorous names like devils churn, a roaring wave breaker, or the spouting horn where the water is pressed against the cliffs and pressed out of small holes which then looks like a spouter. Close to Florence we visit the Oregon dunes a beautiful dune landscape as we know it from the North-Sea in Europe.
We leave the coast and go inland up to the Crater lake. Due to recent snow fall the North entrance is closed and we must turn around and take the south entrance which is open year-round. We stay overnight in the National forest and drive into the park the next morning. Everything is covered with snow but the lake shows his full beauty and belongs to the most beautiful lakes in the USA. 7700 years ago a volcanic eruption has formed a lake with a diameter of 7 miles and a depth of 2000 feet. With no other inlet than snow and rain the water is one of the clearest in the world. Various viewing points offer different perspectives and in summer a 33 miles loop road leads around the lake.
On the interstate #5 we continue our journey further South and soon we cross the border to California without customs but with fruit control. After a lot of driving in the last days we need some rest and spend a couple of days at the Shastina lake before we move on to the Lassen Volcanic National Park. The whole region is formed from volcanism and the lava streams have formed countless small and large caverns and some are also open for the public.
Coming to the National park we first go to Butte Lake and make a nice hike up to Cinder Cone a volcanic ash cone. From top you have a fantastic view to the surrounding snow-covered mountains and to the painted dunes, a colored lava field.
The next morning, we drive to the other side of the Lassen NP. Everywhere you see volcanic activities and at many places it steams and bubbles similar to Yellowstone park but less spectacular. We make a long hike for several hours from Kings Creek to the Cold Boiling Lake and further on to Bumpass Hell. On our way out we also pass Sulfur Works.
We have beautiful weather and wo we decide to continue our tour on the country side and do the coast when we come from South next year in Spring. On our way to Pyramid Lake we drive mile over mile thru nothing and all of a sudden the road is closed due to a landslide. Also, it’s the beginning of Indian Reservation and a permit is required. The alternative is a 100 miles detour and so we ignore both and give it a try. Without problems we reach the lake and find a nice place for the night. At breakfast time the Sheriff comes along and asks for our permit and how we could get to this place on a closed road. He is not really amused but after a longer discussion he didn’t give us a fine.
We go on to Reno. In town is bike weekend under the slogan street vibrations and we can tell you this is really true. The noise is unbelievable and we cannot find this really enjoyable. We stroll thru downtown and have the world best Sushi lunch in one of the casinos before we look for a nice spot to sleep.
Actually, we would like to visit the old mining town Virginia City but it was also packed with bikers and so we go to Lake Tahoe first and spend some nice days at a campground direct on the lake till the bikers have left the area. After the weekend we drive once again to Virginia City which is quiet and less busy right now. The town had more than 30.000 inhabitants in the 70’s of the last century and was the largest city between San Francisco and Chicago. The boom was caused by the most productive gold and silver mines ever found. At this time there were more than 100 saloons and some are still in a very good shape and one can feel like in an old western movie.
Via Carson City we drive further South to Bridgeport where we visit the Travertine Hotsprings and take a bath in a beautiful surrounding. The next morning, we make a detour to the old Mining town Bodie. Not much is left from the gold rush boomtown of the 19th century but one gets a very good impression about the life at these times.
We continue on highway 395 South. The area is called Eastern Sierra and is full of highlights in a breathtaking landscape. We drive a dead-end road to the picturesque Virginia Lake and a loop road to Lundy lake. Back on the highway we soon reach Mono Lake who is the biggest crater lake worldwide with 150.000sqkm. The view from top to the lake is very impressive and we look for a nice overnight place on the lake shore.
In the morning we follow the Tioga Paas up to Yosemite NP. We have seen the park already twice but mainly the highlights in the valley. This time we want to explore the upper part on 2500m. We take a campground close to the park entrance. From there we can easily reach some nice trailheads and we make a 4 hours hike to Elizabeth Lake in the afternoon. In the morning we hike up to Lempert dome. From there we have a gorgeous view to the valley. On the next day we drive up to the Olmstead view point and to Temaya Lake before we drive the Tioga pass down again to the Eastern Sierra.
Back down we continue on 395 South and do the June lake loop which leads thru a colorful autumn forest. We stay overnight in the National Forest and just around the corner is the Obsidiam Dome, a huge lava area with bizarre basalt figures which are a left over from a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago. We move on to Mammoth Lake and from there drive a steep and windy road down to Devils Postpile.
In the morning we refill our fridge and make a stop at the Kenough Hotsprings. The sky is crystal clear and we like the little pools with water at bath tap temperature so that we decide to stay overnight at this lovely place. Then we climb up from 1300m to 3000m to the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest. Here you can find the oldest trees in the world with an age of nearly 5000 years. We do a nice 4-mile hike with fantastic views down to Death Valley and spend the night on a campground near-by.
Back on highway 395 we pass a war recreation center. After Pearl Harbour all Japanese on the West Coast were put under general suspicion and re-settled in various of these camps until the end of the 2nd world war. It took ages until Ronald Reagan in 1988 found words for excuses for the still living 65000 Japanese people of these days. A historical document which is not much known.
Then we visit Alabama Hills. Since 1920 uncounted Western Movies were filmed here and the museum in Lone Pine is a good source to learn a little bit about the history. We spend some days in this area and look for footsteps of Django unchained, Gladiator, Iron Man and other movie legends of the past. One last time we enjoy camp fire romantic under the stars in a gorgeous landscape.
Via Red Rock Canyon we drive to Santa Clarita where we can park our truck at the Melody Ranch of Andre and Renaud. This is the place where motion picture records the 2nd set of Westworld at the moment which starts on TV in spring 2018. We get a private tour and also see the movie museum with requisites of well-known movies and their top actors. If you want to know more about this place look here: Movie Ranch
Now we are 4 weeks on vacation in Germany to see the kids, family and friends. We are back on 19th of November and continue our trip. Until then have fun reading and watching the pictures and like us on Facebook.