Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Great Northwest

I am totally loving vacation! Southwest Washington in October is absolutely gorgeous; foggy, cool mornings mostly give way to clear, sunny afternoons that showcase colorful trees. Perfect for hiking and exploring outside.

Tuesday, Erica, Russ and I hiked Lava Canyon at the base of Mt. St. Helens. It was an awesome day, with beautiful scenery and excellent company! The hike had really steep sections with huge dropoffs to the river and crashing waterfalls below, ladders we had to climb up and down, and a 1/4-mile stone staircase trail to the top of a huge rock covered with greenery where we ate lunch! The first time Mt. St. Helens erupted 3500 years ago, lava carved a path through the valley. Then, the canyon that was made got covered up by forest. When Mt. St. Helens erupted again in 1980, a mudslide uncovered the canyon and people discovered it! Such a fun and various trip :).

Thursday, Mom, Russ and I hiked to June Lake, also at the base of Mt. St. Helens, for lunch. Then, we explored the lower cave of the Ape Caves in the same area!

Friday, Dad drove Russ and I to Astoria for lunch, and then on to Seaside for some cards (cribbage is the game of choice around here), lounging around, and a walk on the beach before heading back home.

I'm going to see my brother in Seattle and meet his girlfriend for the first time on Monday! I haven't seen him in a long time (probably since last Christmas), and that makes me sad. I'm so excited to catch up!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

home again!

I traveled home to Vancouver (technically La Center), Washington today! It feels SO good to be here and to relax a little bit. I have absolutely loved my last three weeks in Colorado with Russ!

We camped for two nights on the east side of Rocky Mountain National Park, where Elk are abundant and active! The male Elk ("Bulls") make a crazy, squeely, bugling sound at each other and to attract the females ("Cows"); it is quite a spectacle. The first night we camped there, a group of animals came right up to the road, vehicles and human audience and all.

We went on a hike the second day; one that led us past Nymph Lake and Dream Lake to reach Emerald Lake. It was much more populated than our previous hike to the other Emerald Lakes, but still awesome.

A group of Elk saw us out of the Park, and the Bull among them wasn't the least bit camera-shy!

Russ's Dad, Brad, has waited 23 years to have the opportunity to hunt for Elk in Moffat County, Colorado in a highly exclusive Game Management Unit. I do not claim to know anything about hunting, but what I know, I have learned in the past four days! This sector of Colorado is home to a huge population of large Bull Elk, and they were extremely active and vocal while we were in their territory. Before we left on this trip, I bought what's called a "Zero Gravity Lounger" so I would be comfortable reading books in camp all day while Russ, Brad and Brad's friend Les searched for animals in the woods.
It. Was. Awesome.
Camping was fun, spending time with Russ and his family was more fun, and I really enjoyed all the reading I got done, the sunsets I watched, and the fires I started all on my own.

I am only home for like two days! My roommate from Sophomore year at Purdue, Mel, is getting married on Saturday, and Sam is one of her bridesmaids. How could I possibly miss it??? I travel to Chicago on Wednesday, and I could not be more excited to see my friends!!!