Drove up Steptoe at dawn for a cloudless sunrise. Temperature at the top was hovering around freezing with a strong wind again, beautiful scene, nasty conditions to shoot in.
As always, just click on any image for a larger and sharper version.
The wind was rattling the tripod around so much, I finally retreated to the relative comfort of the Prius and shot from the window, angling the car into the wind to prevent as much camera shake as possible. Also had the heater turned up full blast as the temps at the top of Steptoe hovered around freezing.
Notice the new green sprouts coming in on parts of the field above. I really am tempted to hang around and see the fields turn from dull brown to bright green over the next few weeks, but I guess I have kind of made up my mind to continue on my way south.
Returned home around 10 and worked processing images and readying blog entries.
As the sun was setting I looked out my side window at the hillside east of the campground and saw some wonderful colors developing.
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After 51 days at this little piece of Heaven/Hell on Earth, today I leave the South Beach Campground in Olympic National Park. It was never my intent to take almost four months to circumnavigate Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, it just seemed to work out that way. The record heat inland, along with the strange allure of South Beach, combined to keep me on the cool side of things here on the beach much longer than I had planned.
As always, click on any image for a larger, sharper version.
My original plan, way back in mid-May was to spend a few weeks along the Hood Canal photographing bald eagles, then spend two more weeks hopping around the Olympic Peninsula in a counter clockwise path, staying just a couple nights in three or four spots, and then head east to photograph farmscapes around Palouse. But by mid June the temps inland were already soaring into the 90’s and held there throughout the summer, keeping me cooling my heels along the Pacific coast. I never dreamed I would spend seven weeks boon docking at South Beach.
There really is very little to do or see in the immediate area around the campground. Once you have driven into the rain forest and hiked a few trails and checked out the beaches along Route 101, there just isn’t all that much to explore here. The nearest towns for supplies are Forks, 37 miles north and Aberdeen, 67 miles to the south. Thus, it is kind of a mystery to me why I came to stay here so long. The constant roar of the Pacific right outside my window I guess would be the key component that mesmerized me, hypnotized me, got me to be able to ignore all the considerable negative aspects of this campground. Being able to just hop out the door and walk a nearly deserted beach with the dogs certainly was a very positive part of my stay here.
With a strong Verizon signal here, and no distractions or places to explore, I was able to settle in and spent a great deal of time on reestablishing my photography website, something I had not been able to bring myself to do the first year of my full-time travels. ( Check the site out by clicking on ” Galleries ” in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. I wouldn’t mind some feedback if you do so ! ) Here at South Beach, with no distractions, I was able to jump back into Dreamweaver and begin the long, tedious process of designing pages and then sizing and uploading hundreds of images, sometimes able to put in 8 or 9 hours a day doing so.
A happy coincidence that my last night at South Beach produced the first brilliant sunset of the entire summer. Virtually every sunset from my arrival in July all through the month of August was obscurred by the permanent fog bank over the Pacific. During the first week of September, as the inland temps started to decline a bit, the fog banks burned off in the afternoon and the sunsets were finally visible, but with perfectly clear skies, no clouds, they just weren’t that spectacular. Not so last night !
So on to Burlington, Washington
I left South Beach around 7 AM and headed south on Route 101 to Aberdeen, picked up Route 12 east to Route 8, then 101 until I hit Interstate 5 in Olympia. What a shock to the system after spending seven weeks in isolation on the Pacific coast, driving through the congestion of Olympia/Tacoma/Seattle to Mount Vernon. Except for the deplorable condition of I-5 through Seattle, the 5 hour trip was pretty easy with no significant traffic or construction obstacles. I arrived at the Riverbend RV Park in Mount Vernon around 1 PM and got checked in for two nights at a price of $27/night with my Good Sam discount.
Not a bad place to stay, an older park with tight spacing, full hookups, certainly no great atmosphere, being located right across the street from an enormous WalMart ( certainly convenient though ). I choose the park for it’s central location for exploring the area and it’s proximity to Burlington where I have an appointment to have my Winegard Satellite system replaced, yet again.
The last couple of evenings, we finally, after many weeks without, have had some sunsets here at South Beach. Ever since I have been here, there has been a permanent fog bank on the western horizon, of course, quite often, it has been much closer than the horizon. As a result, even when we have had pleasant, sunny days, and there have been many of those, the sun is blocked by the fog bank as it sets over the Pacific.
The past few mornings have seen less fog than usual also.
Taking advantage of the nice weather, the dogs and I have been walking a mile or so up or down the beach at low tide each day. Like most dogs, they have always had a ball exploring when on the beach. Jenny, now 14 years old, has always just flown all over the sand, racing in circles, and ranging far and wide exploring. Sam, 8 years old, has always just kind of followed her, usually having a little bit of a hard time just keeping up.
Sadly, I am noticing on our walks here, Jenny is getting to resemble her owner lately, no more racing around in circles, not ranging far off exploring, and more just quietly following a few steps behind my own slow steps, and almost seems relieved when we climb the hill back to the motorhome. Jenny is getting old.
Winegard Satellite System
Also getting quite old are my continual problems with my $2000 plus HDTV satellite system from Winegard. It failed yet again last Friday and after several calls to Winegard and four trips up on the roof to try various combinations of rerouting coax cable bypassing various satellite components, it was determined that the turret, the primary guts of the system, must be replaced, AGAIN! This is the third turret replacement in 7 months, along with 2 LNB unit replacements, as well as the replacement of the reflector and the LNB arm. All of this has been done under warranty, but my very serious concern is that my 2 year warranty expires in another 5 months, and at the rate of one system replacement every two months, once the warranty expires, I will not be able to afford to maintain this, obviously, seriously flawed system.
Not to mention the money wasted on my DirecTv monthly bill, when I have been unable to access DirecTv because of the failed system. In the past 7 months, I have been without access over 3 months to the tune of $450 thrown away while waiting Winegard replacement repairs. I now am scheduled for my next replacement up in Burlington, WA., on Sept. 17th.
Leaving South Beach
It looks like I will finally be leaving here next Monday or Tuesday, when the campground is closed for the year. I will be doing so, very reluctantly. Despite the cramped conditions, and many incidents with less than considerate neighbors, I have probably enjoyed this spot as much as anywhere I have ever stayed. It will be very difficult to realize that there will be no more sound of the crashing waves to go to sleep, and be awakened, by. That I will surely miss. No more long walks on an all but deserted beach.
Seems crazy, but I have this weird, semi-ominous feeling, like when I was a kid and summer vacation is over, or when I was working, the feeling you have when your vacation is over and you have to go back to work. I have that same feeling now, when, in reality, all I have to dread is that I am continuing my ” vacation “, just moving on to another new spot to explore. What a life! One of the things I have managed to accomplish during this long lull in moving about, is the re-establishing of my image website. It is still a long way from completed and it will take me a few more months to actually get all the images sized and up loaded, but the website is now accessible and you may check it out at mcqgallery or by clicking on the ” Galleries ” link in the navigation bar at the top of this blog page.if you like. I am still adding images daily and there is much, much more to come, but there is enough there as of now that I am making it public. I would appreciate any kind feedback from everyone.