After leaving yellowstone it was suddenly a ...

Trip Start Jul 23, 2002
Trip End Jul 23, 2003

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Saturday, September 7, 2002

After leaving Yellowstone it was suddenly a realisation that I only had a week left of travelling before I had to head to Uni. This meant we had to head back towards civilisation again - although there were a couple more parks to be visited along the way. First stop on the way towards Washington state was Craters of the Moon.

Craters of the Moon was another unexpected place with it's own unique beauty. We didn't know what to expect of the place, other than lava fields. It's not a boring place with just bare lava fields stretching away in the distance as far as the eye can see, there's life gradually getting a foothold on the lava fields and transforming them from black rock into areas full of life again. It's definitely not a fast process but plants seem to grow in any place they can, and often where you wonder how they manage to survive there.

There's also some very interesting place names, such as Devil's Orchard (a place that Nomed liked to visit, actually he liked the whole park). We looked at some of the volcanic cones and with one of them you look in there and just think there's something wrong with this picture. I mean you have a volcanic cone, in the middle of summer and at the bottom of it there is snow - now that is not something I expected to see. We climbed to the top of a cinder cone (another one of those climbs where you think you are about at the top only to see that the top is even further up) and picked up some of the rock only to be surprised by how light it was and by all the colours that is in a rock that appears to be all black. But when you hold a broken surface up in the sun there's blues, greens, purples, etc in it.

We also went into some of the caves and had a look around. They certianly aren't quite the limestone caves I'm used to. Lots of sharp volcanic rocks scattered all over the floors of the caves which you have to scramble over (and which aren't overly kind to your shoes, hands, etc). But when you shine your torch up to the roof you see all these bright sparkling areas in the rock. After looking through the four caves it was time to leave the park and head west towards Oregon to find another campsite to spend the night in.

After some more driving we arrived in Portland and then quickly crossed the border and were in Washington. The afternoon was spent sitting alongside the Columbia river while Steve did some work. It was also time to rebook my tickets because I was still on the west coast and needed to be in Toronto a few days later (didn't take long for the plans I made a few months ago to be disregarded!) It also meant that I changed my ideas of what I'd be doing in December, but I had a feeling that would happen anyway. Anyway whatever happens will be an experience.

Next stop was Mount St Helens - yet more volcanoes, so Nomed was pretty happy. We went to the Johnson Ridge Visitor Centre which is the next ridge over from Mt St Helens itself and directly in the path of the explosion when it happened. Mt St Helens doesn't look that far away until the rangers happen to mention that it's five miles across the valley, and the hole you can see blown in the side of the mountain is a lot bigger than it looks from there. Listening to the ranger talks and watching the video gives you an idea of just how much power there is in the explosion. A lot more powerful than what we humans have done. And it taught volcanologists a lot about volcanoes which they didn't know before. Yet another very interesting place to visit.

Mt St Helens was the last national/state park stop for the states after which we were back into more populated areas and the more major cities for the last few days. After a drive past Steve's house over here, it was up towards the Canadian border for a couple of days in Vancouver. Australia is so far from any other country that it is strange to just drive down the road and be suddenly in another country. But anyway, it was just a quick visit to have a bit of a look around.

We managed to take many a wrong road in Vancouver and so getting around took a bit longer than it should have. There are lots and lots of one way streets in the city which means you have to know where you are going, otherwise you get lost. We ended up in Stanley Park for a while and went for a wander around the park area (which is a huge area - as big, if not bigger than the main city centre). There's several beaches on the park edges, a kids water amusement area (which was very popular with the kids), totem poles, statues, wooded walking trails, snack bars, ponds, overlooks, art displays and sales and a lot more. Definitely a nice place to get out of the hustle bustle of the city for a while. Even got to see a racoon, and some black squirrels (which are very common around the University Campus in Guelph).

We also went across the water to North Vancouver and had a look at Lynn Canyon with it's suspension bridge over the river (not as big as Capalino, but free which is always good when you don't have Canadian money on you!) That night was the first time since the beginning of the trip that we had a proper meal in a restaurant (salad bar doesn't count!) so it was very enjoyable. We ended up in Gastown which is a nice area to wander through and have a look through the little shops.

While in Vancouver we also checked out the Museum of Anthropology which had displays from the native people of the area, as well as some research material from around the world. An interesting place if you want to learn a bit about the First Nations culture. Granville Island was the other main place we visited with it's fresh produce markets, art galleries, shops, boat docks, kids entertainment and more. Another fun place to visit and explore.

Then it was back to the states with a day to see a bit of Seattle, pick up my new tickets and pack up everything ready to leave. After six weeks of travelling and camping, my clothes have seen better days so we found an outlet mall and picked up a few things - nice and cheap even with the exchange rate! We also wandered around Pike's market and that is an area you can spend a lot of time walking around and still not see everything as there are lots of different levels and small alcoves and off shots which contain even more stalls and shops.

I needed to get my ticket reissued so I got to spend at least another two hours waiting around an airport without having a flight to catch or anyone to meet. Not the most fun I've had in the world. The girl on the desk got to do something new though as in 11 years of working there she'd never had to handwrite a ticket and she got to do it with mine as 26 sections was more than the computer could cope with. Think it took her a long time too as after waiting an hour and a half she was only haldway through writing it. Ah, the joys of air travel.

Anyway, Sunday night saw the end of my holiday through the states and marked the start of the study part of the trip. It has been a fantastic journey and I've really enjoyed the chance to see so much and to just have fun camping and exploring without having to stick to a routine or meet deadlines etc. Definitely a nice break from the routine of study and work. It's been great having a travelling companion for a while, especially someone who is from the states and for whom not everything is new (and of course the other travelling companions Paddles and Nomed, although they didn't always pull their weight!)

I'm not sure what the next part of the travels will bring, but one thing I do know is that it will be totally different from the last part. I thing that's true with the whole trip though, each place and activity is so different and has such different things to offer in terms of people to meet, places to see and things to learn. It's certainly going to be a steep learning curve, but I'm looking forward to it (and it's hard to believe that I'm already almost 7 weeks through it).

I'm looking forward to actually seeing some of the photos but we haven't got any developed yet (hence why there is none with the log so far). Steve has the majority of the films so it's going to be a while before he gets back to the eastern side of the country and they get developed. All I know is that it is going to be a big pile of photos by the end of the year to sort through.

Anyway, I'll leave it there for now. I'm at Uni at the moment (and for the next three months) so there's not going to be as much travelling happening for a little while. But I'm sure it's not going to be boring here - living in residence is an experience in itself!

Love Wendy, Paddles and Nomed
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