Tag Archives: Hoh Rain Forest

Of course it’s raining!

Yesterday was so fair and mild we lapsed into expecting more of the same for today, even through last night’s persistent drizzle.   The area gets between 100 and 150 inches of rainfall annually, so odds on it should rain at least a couple of times in our week here.

The rain started yesterday late afternoon and didn’t let up until almost 2pm today.  Now, after 4pm, rain is cranking up again.  Nothing torrential, just a fine continuous drizzle into the trees above.  We’ll get a huge droplet every few minutes from the branches, PLOMP on the skylight.

We set our alarm clock again last night, thinking we would arise early today and make it to Rialto Beach for morning low tide.  The rain was especially noisy at alarm time so we cancelled plans and rolled over to enjoy another hour of sleep we probably didn’t need.

Last night’s Ranger program was artfully presented by Ian, another NPS Interpretive Ranger.  He served in the Marines (“another form of camping”, he said) and has served as seasonal NPS staff five years.

We didn’t ask but might guess he teaches during the non-summer months.  His presentation on Olympic National Park (ONP) geology was dynamic, professional, and engaging.

Ian described the difference between three other ranges and the Olympic Mountains (only the Olympics are non-volcanic).  He explained the Olympic Mountains are home to 266 glaciers compared to 322 glaciers in the Cascade Mountains.  And pointed out Mt Rainier, with only 26 glaciers, has more glacial mass than does all the combined glaciers in the Cascades.

He demonstrated to us the plate tectonics involved in pushing up the Olympics and forming the Pacific coast, as well as examining links between geology and Native American lore.  Stories almost 3 centuries old are scientifically supported by geologic evidence found in Washington.

We enjoyed Ian’s talk and are glad he had a large turnout.  The rain had intensified just before his scheduled program and so we started departing for our dry home.  But we encountered several couples on their way into the amphitheatre and decided, “what the heck, we can weather it too.”

Our rain jackets and hoods kept our shirts and fleeces dry.  We should have worn rain pants or carried some sort of tarp.  Hey, an umbrella would’ve worked just fine.

This morning our clothes and jackets were dry and everything outside is soggy and puddly.  We have one small bundle of firewood remaining and aren’t likely to try burning it this afternoon.  Just not worth it when it’s still raining and we don’t have a rainfly (the awning faces away from the fire ring).

Perhaps the best question we fielded at our full-timing seminars this summer was about moisture control in the Airstream.  Moisture is easy to generate and trap in a trailer.  And it isn’t easy to remove, ‘specially when humidity is in the 90s.

Our answer to the person in the seminar was, try to prevent moisture build-up.  We are careful to exhaust air from the trailer anytime we are showering or boiling water.  The catalytic heater, the stove, or the oven all demand continuous fresh air and, at least, gravity venting.

The fresh air is REQUIRED for replacing depleted oxygen.  And fresh air helps support an air current to exhaust additional moisture from cooking or showering.  Have you ever entered someone’s camper when they have been heating with a portable catalytic heater without venting?

Even if out-of-doors is really moist, when I step into their camper it feels like a sauna to me.  Propane, when burned in a direct-fire like a catalytic heater, releases a lot of water into the air.  If we don’t vent it, it collects inside the camper.

If humidity is high enough then air cannot hold moisture in suspension and you see condensing moisture, the wetness on surfaces like the windows and sometimes walls.  The relationship between humidity and air temperature is aptly described as dewpoint, which describes at what temperature the water will condense.

Condensing moisture in our camper can create dripping water down the windows and even into the walls.  If we wet inside the walls our insulation will get wet and we have no ready means to remove that moisture.  Result?  High likelihood of mold formation within 72 hours or less.

Our best approach is to prevent moisture accumulations in our Airstream.  Rain or shine and unless we are running the air conditioner (not often this summer) we always keep a window open and the rear roof vent open a few inches.  Our Maxxair Fanmate allows us to keep the rear Fantastic Fan open continuously when we’re parked.  It completely covers and overhangs the Fantastic Fan so rain, even heavy downpours, rarely causes the Fantastic Fan to trip its automatic rain closing cycle.

Today our windows’ inside surfaces have been lightly fogged at times.  The indoor air feels damp — no, it IS damp.  But we’re dry and warm, batteries are good, heat is on.  No campfire, no plans to cook out tonight.  A walk outside after dinner and we’ll be in for the night.  We’re already packed up for our 200 mile trip tomorrow to Ocean Park, Washington.

We wouldn’t have been surprised to have fewer nice days than we have.  But isn’t it lucky the weather has been so fair some of the time, so we had good lighting for yesterday’s marine life pictures?

Of course it rains a lot here.   It feels right to find rain in and around a rain forest.  The Hoh Rain Forest was wet and wonderful.  The sunny morning at 2nd Beach was a nice surprise.  Another time we can visit Rialto Beach and 3rd Beach.

Mora Campground in the ONP is a keeper.  The rate (this year) is only $12 per night.  The comfort stations sport flush toilets (although no showers).  The sites are nicely spaced and are uniformly well-graded and pretty.  And there’s a dump station.  We’re close enough to LaPush and Forks, far enough from any highways, close to three rivers and four beaches.

This has been a great visit and again we leave ourselves something to come back for.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

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Yes, it did rain today in Hoh Rain Forest

Rain shells?  check

Rain pants? check

Waterproof boots? check

Rain hats? check

raining while we walk Spruce Trail

Okay, we’re ready for the rain forest.  September isn’t nearly the rainiest month,  January holds the honor with 60 inches.  September only averages approx 20 inches of rainfall.  Accordingly, it rained on us throughout our several hour visit today.  And on our way down the twenty-mile paved road back to Highway 101.

Hoh River, carrying glacial melt several thousand feet down

The road in and out closely follows Hoh River, the waterway bringing down glacial snowmelt all summer from a couple of thousand feet high above.  The river bed is rock-strewn and full of glacial-ground rock silt, a distinct gray mud where you expect to see brown.

these spruces get to 300 feet tall?

Along the way is a small pull-out with parking to view the large Sitka spruce.  How about huge?  It is 12.5 feet across at chest height, over 270 feet tall, and 550 years old.  This isn’t the only big tree in Hoh rain forest, but it is one of the biggest.  Other trees, they say, grow to 300 feet tall, while the average height for spruce in Hoh is 220 feet.

We walked the three shortest trails for a combined few miles.  The fourth trail is 17.5 miles each way so we saved it for another day.  Oh, and the elevation change is 3,500 feet, climbing upward toward Mt Olympus.  We saw a lot of overnight backpackers exiting and entering the trail, so we let them have it to themselves.

phone booth at the visitors center sports a growing roof

Everything grows here, and it grows anywhere it wants and with relish.  This is the coziest phone booth we’ve seen.  It reminded Jim of houses he and his family saw in Norway many years ago, but it seems like they had cultivated theirs with insulating soil on the roof.  This phone booth just provides a damp surface for stuff to start, and it takes off.

Hoh Rain Forest's maple grove

The Hall of Moss Trail was aptly named.  It is higher above the river than the Spruce Trail and supports more mature forest.  One area is the maple grove.  The mosses like the strong maples because more mosses can ride on the limbs without downing the tree.

nurse log enabled a colonnade of trees

Opportunistic growing things attach to anything in the rain forest.  Nurse logs are as important here as anywhere, but the effect seems more dramatic in Hoh because the logs are so long and so encouraging to great starts.  There’s no question whether a bunch of trees will take root, but only which ones will win.  The first ones to set their roots down past the nurse log and into soil are the winners.  Hundreds of years later the nurse log moulders away and the piggyback riders, mature trees now, stand above the ground.

Moss above, algae and lilies below, everything grows here

Ephipytes, or air plants, don’t rob their host of water or nutrients but gather what they need from the air.  And so it is with these Club mosses hanging from the limbs.  They might become heavy enough to pull down a limb or tree, but they otherwise are just hanging out.  And sometimes they hang out in the prettiest places.

Club moss drapes from the limbs

We weren’t sure we would get to visit Hoh Rain Forest, and are glad we did.  Even if it rained almost the entire time.  It did stop while we sat at the picnic table and ate lunch.  We wouldn’t have been surprised nor would we have minded if the rain continued unabated — the rain is what makes it a rain forest.

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

How we found Twilight at Forks

Plomp, plomp, tick, tick tick, tick, plomp.  Rain sprinkles down from the trees, high above, with small drops sounding like individual loud ticks.  Then a couple of tom-tom drum beats sound, as a drops hit the skylight above our living room.

We packed up camp the night before leaving Sol Duc, expecting rain after midnight.  Rain drops on our Airstream’s roof woke us at 12:40 a.m.  Pretty sharp forecasters, these NOAA guys.  It seemed to sprinkle, off and on, all night and by 9:00 this morning had almost stopped.  Nice to hitch up without a lot of rain.

Hitching the trailer took minutes, we’d already moved the hitch head to the truck’s receiver before going to bed.  This morning we only backed the truck to the trailer until the ball hit the back of our Quickbite coupler and the coupler automatically snapped shut and locked.

No one’s offered a way to automatically connect the 7-way power plug, the safety chains, and the breakaway cable.  Bluetooth might someday work for the 7-way, but there’s just no good substitute for the heavy-duty connection of a big pair of safety chains.  Who wants to look back and see their trailer crossing lanes by itself?

Our drive was very short, no more than 55 miles between Sol Duc Hot Springs and Mora campground near La Push (originally La Bouche, French for the mouth, apparently referring to the river’s mouth at the ocean).  Mora campground is in the Olympic National Park, is well distant from highways, and full of tall trees.

We’re fifty yards from a comfort station, just right for keeping our black waste tank empty for days and days.  We have no hookups for the trailer and no appreciable solar exposure for the photovoltaic panels.  We’re only paying $12 per night, approx 1/3 what we paid at Sol Duc for water and electric.  And both campgrounds charge an additional $5 if we empty our tanks at the dump station.

Nice campsite at Mora in ONP

Part of our setup included connecting (but not starting or running) our generator to the trailer.  We love not using it.  The campground is nearly vacant today.  it’s the end of Labor Day weekend and besides, not everyone wants to camp in the park on a rainy day.

Why spoil the majestic solitude and quiet of this old forest with our noisy generator if we can conserve our batteries for essential uses for at least three days?  We’ll use the generator to recharge the laptops when we need to, but are happy to avoid running it.

Daily high temperature at Mora are 55 degrees, and we’re sitting at 71 in the Airstream after running our Wave6 catalytic heater a little over two hours.  Two weeks ago we met a veteran Airstreamer, a Boeing retired engineer, who claims he could never use or recommend a catalytic heater after having opened a trailer’s door and finding four people dead inside from anoxia.

We didn’t ask, but perhaps could have asked, him if he practiced and believed in good engineering practice.  Surely he would have answered, “yes”.  The only safe way to use any heater inside a home or RV is to follow manufacturer’s recommendations.  And monitoring for any malfunction of the heater is necessary and, we think, requires we only burn this heater when we’re alert and awake.  Naptime or bedtime?  Off goes the heater, completely off.

A direct-fired heater (as opposed to the RV furnace, which is separated combustion heat exchanger) like a catalytic requires, the manufacturer points out, a minimum of 24 square inches of free air intake (a low window at one end of the trailer) and 24 square inches of free air outlet (a roof vent or high window at the opposite end of the trailer).

Jim continues, at low but persistent measure, campaigning for a floor intake vent installed under the catalytic heater’s location or under the Airstream’s L-sofa with a low transfer vent louver to direct the air into the cabin.  How cool would this be, not requiring any window opening?

And the cabin would always have a nice amount of free ventilation from the coolest point outside (under the trailer). Oh well, back to reality — the gravity floor vent is a fun project idea but not something we agree on, for now.  We have a few other projects already agreed upon and just awaiting certain resources (time, money, tools, sources for materials).

The rainy days incline us to play board games (no, not bored games, we really like these), catch up on our current cache of magazine subscriptions, drink pots of tea, and nap a little.  And we’re walking daily, rain or shine.  We’ve explored Rialto Beach, La Push, Forks, and Bogachiel State Park.  Hoh Rain Forest we’ve saved for Saturday, rain or not.  Rain is good, in good measure.

not Bella's truck, but same model

The Olympic Peninsula Visitors Guide we picked up locally features a lot of stuff about some book and television series named Twilight.  Upon our drive into Forks we were less surprised, then, to find stores and signs everywhere with Twilight advertising on them.

Lumber has long been the product from Forks and finally they have another and more unique one, they are home to Bella, Edward, and Jacob.  Our good  timing allows us to be in Forks the very weekend they are celebrating Stephenie Meyer Day, in honor of all she’s done to excite the local economy.

We bought three bundles of firewood yesterday.  Maybe we’ll stay at Mora this weekend, avoid as many vampires as we can.  I’m going outside now to build a big bright campfire.  We hope it works!

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

August means GREAT weather in Seattle area

We had a great stay in Vancouver, B.C., last month, staying two weeks in Burnaby Cariboo RV Park (BCRV).  I mentioned before BCRV is a full-featured RV Park (although it lacks tennis courts, darn it).  It is, by far, our preference of the two major advertised Vancouver RV parks.   Our reasons might not be valid for other people, but after trying Capilano RV and BCRV two years each, we’ll stick with BCRV for quiet, privacy of sites, indoor pool, comfortable lounge.

Whidbey Island has several RV parks and at least two state parks with camping.  We later learned there is also a very reasonable city park with camping in Oak Harbor we might try next time.  Oak Harbor is a nice little navy base town with all the urban things you need but perhaps not some you want.  It suited us very well and is 6 miles from Deception Pass and Quarry Pond State Parks.

Cornet Bay is very pretty from all sides

Our intended campground was Deception Pass  on Whidbey Island, an absolutely gorgeous area.  But without reservations it wasn’t going to happen.  Schools hadn’t resumed session yet and the weather was almost perfect for campers so the campgrounds were peaking.  Serendipitously we somehow thought to ask, “is overflow camping available?”  And it is, across Washington route 20.

Quarry Pond campground formerly was privately owned.  The state purchased it, maintains it, is mapping it, and apparently will add it to their campgrounds on the reservations system.  Too bad — we might not have found anywhere to camp without this first-come, first-served campground.

It’s a very dusty campground and isn’t cheap.  The roads are gravel and despite the 15mph speed limit the high amount of camper traffic generates a tremendous thickness of dust on the camper and truck.  On the other hand, the showers are free and hot as long as you keep pressing the 1-minute button.

We spent a day in Anacortes walking throughout the small business district and spending the most time in West Marine and bought nothing (they’ll start charging us when they realize this is our entertainment).  Anacortes is a pretty town with the ferry to the San Juan islands and other points and a tremendous marina.

A few days we ran errands in Oak Harbor, catching wifi and enjoying coffee at Honeymoon Bay Roasting Company’s shop near Safeway.  Their wifi hotspot is great, staff are friendly, the coffee is super and maybe the scones are too, most days.

Jim ate something bad or caught a bug, we tired of the dust, and had walked enough in both campgrounds and enjoyed the views from the gorgeous bridge over the mouth of Cornet Bay.  Less dust (and a happier Jim) might have allowed us to stay longer, but we were looking forward to visiting the South Puget Sound area.

Washington Land Yacht Harbor (WLYH) has 165 rv spaces in their terraport and charges only $15 per night for WBCCI members.  Golly, a little more than half the price at the state park and we have neither the traffic nor the dust.  We don’t have showers, but we do have very good wifi for free at WLYH.  And we’re close to Lacey and Olympia, nice and nicer, and we’re 25 miles from Tacoma.

Jim’s cousin lives in Des Moines, WA, and agreed to meet us halfway in Tacoma for dinner last Friday.  We killed time browsing at Tacoma Mall before visiting the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Sturdy Gurdy) and meeting Jan for dinner.

Tacoma Mall was dandy.  We spent too little time in REI, one of our favorite all-time stores.  REI has all the stuff we wish we used and don’t need unless we start hiking and backpacking a whole lot.  We have what we need now, and would have to wear it out before we can justify replacing any of it.  So we bought nothing at REI.

We were short-time at REI partly because we had something else on our minds — the Apple Store at the mall.  And there we spent the most time, broken only by bathroom breaks, a shared pizza slice for lunch, and right back to exploring Apple stuff.

It was fascinating for us.  We had never touched an iPad, never really paid much attention to Macbooks, and didn’t know a thing about the equipment or the accessories.  Pretty neat to go in and see every color of iPod Nano, turn them off and on, listen to them with NICE headphones, browse stuff on the wifi-connected iPads, and even try out the Macs.  We absorbed all we could in a few hours and know very little more now.

4th longest suspension bridge in the USA

And we were off to visit the Tacoma Narrows bridge before dinner.   Did you know how tricky these Washington folks are?  They let you drive across the Sound on the bridge for free.  And you can’t come back unless you pay.  No warning signs that we noticed, you just get to the other side and here’s a big old toll station.  Gotta pay for it somehow, especially when you the first one lasts only four months before it crashes into the Sound.  Very very expensive.

The failed bridge was known as “Galloping Gertie” for her behavior during windy days.   The designers and citizens were unprepared for this bouncy bridge where, apparently, you would lose sight of the car in front of you as the bridge oscillated wildly up and down throughout its length.  But didn’t last long before it crashed into the Sound on November 7, 1941.

Washington State paid off the replacement bridge a decade ago and are still paying for the second (east-bound) bridge.  We’re glad to help with our $4, it was worth it for the drive over and back.

Dinner was at Steamer’s, a nice local restaurant on the Sound’s edge.  We sat outside a while watching boats and birds before time to go inside and stake out a table.  They have several microbrews on tap and a nice, if limited, menu.  We all did well on our choices.   Jim’s oysters were not superb but were good.  Debbie’s tempura-fried halibut was very yummy, and the views were almost as good.

The grand prize winning sculpture included this

We lucked out in Olympia Sunday afternoon and caught their annual Sand in the City festival.  Olympia’s pretty nice anyway, and we caught the well-attended Hands On Children’s Museum special event attracting thousands of people.  Parking is free, weather happened to be perfect on Sunday, and the sand sculptures were as good as you expect from these traveling sand sculptors.

The event crowd helps the adjacent farmer’s market, maybe a little too much for us.  We didn’t think of the timing and completely missed out on cherries and berries, and the bakers had put away their bread.  Their till was filled hours ago, thank you very much.  So we plopped down in front of Dancing Goats espresso bar for a cup of very very strong coffee and a borrowed Sunday paper.   The perfect cap to an afternoon of walking around the plaza.

We’ve refilled propane tanks, torqued the wheels, changed the truck’s oil and filter, had the warranty service on the windshield washer heater (who even knew we had one?), had our hair cut today, washed and waxed the truck, and re-mounted the 7-way plug under the bumper to better clear the mudflaps.

Our mail caught up with us, Debbie received her birthday cards and we’re good for a couple of weeks before we’ll have read all the periodicals.  We landed six of seven packages we ordered, including HF antenna parts, a CD, our mail, the MAC and two software packages for it.  This has been a productive stop for us, just right for refilling all those things you need when you’re full-timing.

We leave tomorrow morning, 9/2, for Olympic National Park.  This has been on our radar a long time and we’re glad to finally get a chance to visit and stay.  Two years ago we enjoyed a week in Port Angeles.  The Methodist Church is really sweet, the ferry trip to, and visit in, Victoria is fabulous, and we had a really nice time.

But we missed seeing the Hoh Rain Forest.  Now’s our chance!  We’re spending, depending upon the weather (and then our tolerance for whatever it presents), between a week and ten days on the Olympic  Peninsula.  We think we’ll find wifi somewhere up there and you’ll hear from us soon.  If we don’t write before Sept 13, we didn’t find connectivity.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr