Saturday, June 9, 2012

Bethel Ridge and Mt Rainier NP

Heidi and I decided to go camping.  We needed to get out of the house and I wanted to test out sleeping inside the Landcruiser.  I've got Washington Byways books with a bunch of drives in Washington state.  I picked out Bethel Ridge because I'd never been there before and it was supposed to have great views of Mt Rainier.

We left Monday morning stopping at Safeway for gas and Starbucks, Costco for the sleeping pads, and Cabelas for a hatchet.   Turning off Highway 12 at FS1500 we started up Bethel Ridge.  We made a stop at Tieton Pond on the way up to fish a little and rearrange the gear.  Tieton Pond was nothing like the Grand Tietons or anything.  Fishing was a bust because there were so many weeds in the lake.  It probably is mosquito heaven/ camper hell in the summer.

Driving further up we made the turn on the road marked "Microwave" and started to run into small patches of snow.  This road runs NE along Bethel Ridge.  In a particular shaddy spot I ran into a fairly large pile of snow.  Creeping up on it seemed solid.  I made a few passes advancing each time until I had a broken trail up to the crest of the pile and a little further.  Now I figured I could get some speed and break trail down the other side of the pile.  This is where the Landcruiser broke through the crust of ice and got really stuck.  I also lost my wedding ring in this snowpile.  Flew off my hand and I wasn't able to find it.

I started digging at about 4pm.  A few minutes I pursed reverse, but that was slightly uphill so I switched and went for the long dig straight out.  This would leave me trapped on the other side but there was a possible bypass, and at least I could find a flat stop to spend the night and rest before more digging in the morning.  Around 7pm I got unstuck.  Now clothes fully soaked I headed up the road to the top of the ridge and made camp.

Heidi and I had macaroni and cheese with a sausage.  Heidi would not sit with the blanket so I held her to keep warm.  We slept inside the Landcruiser on the sleeping pad I got at Costco.  It was about par with tent camping.  A few revisions and it should be awesome for car camping.   Heidi enjoyed the bed time routine and I felt like she was playing along, like this was some big pretend bedtime, but eventually she fell asleep.  I was too stressed about getting out to really sleep.  Also I parked at what I thought was level but it felt slightly head down.

In the morning we woke up and it was 30 deg and snowing.  Wind was probably about 30mph on the ridge.  It was freezing.  I threw everything in the vehicle.  Heidi got the coldest diaper change ever and we were on our way down at about 6am.  Getting to the pile it seemed much larger in the morning.  Knowing how much digging I did the day before I had a lot left.  I opted for the risky bypass.  It would start down some steep rocks, then threaded between a stump and a tree, then a small snowfield (flat though), then up a muddy track about 3ft tall.    I prepped by moving rocks on the rocky slop to clear any differential killers and filled in a hole or two to make the descent smoother, then I shoveled the snowfield to make sure I wouldn't get stuck there.  Then I took the bypass and made it through no problem.

Free now, we made a beeline for Whistling Jack's for some hot breakfast.  We just hung out, regrouping and warming up from 7:30 to 9:30.  Breakfast was amazing.  We headed out over Chinook Pass, Hwy 410 to Mt Rainer.  We headed up toward Paradise (park was free from that entrance for some reason)  and checked out the new visitor center.  Heidi was a hawk for spotting animals.  At Longmire we checked out the transportation exhibit and the old wooden bridge they've got.  There were a bunch of deer at Longmire which Heidi spotted.

After that we headed back to Aberdeen.  We were home by 3pm.  460 miles round trip.

Bed Photos:

Sunday, June 3, 2012


We have a new baby in the house.  Natalie was born last Thursday May 24th.  After a week Heidi is adjusted and makes sure to include Natalie in everything.

Spoon Falls

Back in April we went on a hike to spoon falls.

It's out past lake Wynochee.   I drove up until we found some snow.  I got the Landcruiser stuck, then dug it out, then we drove back down and started the hike.

The hike was kinda overgrown, short, and the river had taken over at the bottom.  Nice part was we could just walk through the river since we didn't have very far to go.  Heidi enjoyed it.  Lots of good rocks to throw into the river.  The falls itself was nice.  It would be a good swimming hole in the summer when it is much hotter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Garden Start

We planted our garden on April 22nd this year.  After last years mild success with a bunch of large pots we decided to enlarge our attempt this year.  At home depot I found a cheap kit for a cedar raised bed,  some garden mulch potting soil, some seed, some stackes, and some twine.  Total cost 50 bucks.

I picked out a sunny spot in the back yard.  Right in the middle.   Lined the box with black plastic.  Mixed the soil in all the old pots with the new soil and some from a hole I dug on the side of the house.  Filled all the old pots and the new raised beg.

Then we got to planting.  We went for some pretty safe stuff.  Based on last years alaska snap peas we planted a bunch of snow peas.   These are good for just eating out of the garden and they grow crazy fast.  Next we planted lemon cucumbers, regular cucumbers, and squash various types.   Lastly we moved the chives that were still going from last year and planted a bunch of kale.  The kale will be mostly used for super healthy smoothies.  I am not totally sold on this yet. 

After planting we had a massive slug attack.  I spread bait out and it should take care of them.  Fun fact: Slugs are snails without shells.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Arizona Trip

We took a trip to Arizona in March this year. 

We got to Arizona on Friday, but Heidi had been sick the previous week.  After the plane flight she got much worse with a fever.  We tried the regular stuff on Saturday with no improvement so we went to urgent care Sunday.  After urgent care, Julie and I went to see the NASCAR race in phoenix.  It was cool to see.
NASCAR race in Phoenix

Playing in the Pond Mini Golfing

We spent the next few days trying to get well.  On Tuesday we headed up to Sedona, still sick but improving.   Sedona had cool rock like Canyonlands but, they went and but a town in the middle of it.   There were a ton of hikes to do.  The first day we did Ruby mountain.

Ruby Mountain
Heidi is a little explorer.  Purple boots and her hat.
After a little taste of Sedona on Tuesday, we headed to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday.  Julie and never been there.  They have moved the parking lots further from the canyon so we hit up the visitor center and movie before walking to the canyon.  After the movie we started down a path and Julie kept asking where we were going.  I kept telling her we were going to the Grand Canyon.  Then you finally get through the trees and there it is.  Its just huge.  

Grand Canyon
Heidi didn't get to run around at most of the viewpoints.  Just 3 rails keeping you off the edge.

Back in Sedona on Thursday, we had originally planned on just 2 nights in Sedona, but with the weather and our health improving we decieded to stay another day.  First activity of the day was a hike up Fay Canyon.  It was a cool hike with a scramble up to an arch.  It was fun to have the whole arch to ourselves and get to go underneath and all over the place. 

Under the Arch on Fay Canyon Trail

Heidi though a hole in the rocks.

At this point we'd been driving past the Pink Jeep Tours all day long and we decided to rent a jeep and try out the trails for ourselves.   We got an orange 4dr named Chacha.  First trail went down to an old homestead by a river.  Which we crossed. 

Chacha the 4 door Jeep

River crossing in a rental car.

Heidi playing in the mud at the edge.
We are getting ready to move into the old homestead.  Just stacked rocks left.

Next we went on Soldiers Pass.  It was pretty short but had some fun obstacles, the 7 pools, and a big sink hole.  Lots of nice red rock to drive on.

7 Pools

One of the Pools, Heidi needed rocks to throw.
Working our way down, Heidi has to do all the walking now.
Devil's Sinkhole.

After Soldier Pass we went over to the Devil's Arch hike.  This one we had to drive a few miles on a really rough road we didn't want to take Grandma's car down.  Devil's arch is big and you can go out on top of it.  It had a nice bouce to it. 

Devil's Arch, A long one, lots of broken up rock, stetchier than most we've seen.
On the Arch, nice sunset starting.
Cool lighting when we were there.

In the morning we hit up Broken Arrow.  It's one of the tougher trails in the area.  The pink jeeps have worn ruts in everything so it wasn't very challenging.   

A little crack in the rocks.
Heidi woke up at the turn around point.
This is on submarine rock.  The scenery in Sedona was amazing.

After a quick drive of Schnebly Hill road we returned the jeep and did Cathederal Rock.  This hike was more of a scramble, with lots of people turning back before the top.  Julie did a great job climbing up.   We didn't let Heidi out at the top because of the big drop offs and it was so windy she probably would've fallen over.

Near the top, thats the trail on the right.
There were a couple of narrow spots all the wind funneled through.
Julie was probably the only pregnant woman to attept the hike that day or maybe ever.

Friday we headed back to Sedona for a few days before our flight home on Sunday.  We took a drive out to the Superstition Mountains and listened to an audio tape.  It is an interesting area.  Something about the lost dutchman mine.  Heidi got to do more rock crawling in the dry river next to the town of Tortilla Flats.  We also tried the cactus ice cream.  That was it.  It was a fun trip and I'm sure we'll be back.

Tortilla Flats, this is where the show took place.
The dry river to crawl in.
This is her new favorite hobby.
Photos on the last day with Grandma
Here we are ready to go.
Heidi thought this was funny. 

 Thats it for now.  Possibly a movie to follow.  I've got a lot of clips that need to be edited down.