Tag Archives: Ranger program

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


2nd Beach Discoveries

We explored Olympic National Park’s 2nd Beach, near LaPush, Wa, this morning with Hope, the NPS Interpretive Ranger.  She really knows her stuff, having majored in Environmental Sciences with concentrations in marine biology and invertebrates.  We don’t know what all that means, just barely can spell it.  But Hope had a name and a story for all the things she picked up or we pointed out in the tidal pools.

Yesterday evening a NPS Ranger stopped her car outside our RV and walked over.  We thought, “Oh great, we’re going to discuss the firewood or the generator or maybe cougar precautions.”  But her purpose was to invite us to the 8 p.m. Ranger program at the amphitheatre, the topic would be kelp beds, tidal pools, sea grasses, and other things.

Bundled up warmly against the evening chill, we walked 1/4 mile to the amphitheatre, plopped our Crazy Creeks on a big fir bench and chatted with Hope as the other six people arrived.  Promptly at 8 p.m., Hope started the program, discussing marine life in the local tidal pools.

She used projected pictures and many plastic bags with examples of the black turban snail, or whelks (spirally), little barnacles completely out of their shell, and many other small critters.  Hope said the program ran over its time but we weren’t noticing.  She then announced a guided hike to 2nd Beach starting at 8 a.m.  Ouch!

Consistently sunless and cool mornings have kept us cozying in bed until after 8 each morning this week.  We set the alarm clock for a little before 7, and awoke to the brightest morning so far.  Or maybe they’ve all been this bright at 8?  We wouldn’t know.

2nd Beach through the trees

An eight-mile drive brought us quickly to parking at the trailhead for 2nd Beach and we hiked down with a few others following Hope.  Our group hit the beach by 8:20, a little before the 9 a.m. low tide.  Hope led us toward a large group of rocks and pools, stopping a few times to pick up green things.

Sea Palm with a couple of mussels at its attachment

We neither one pick up many things when we’re walking on the beach.  Which sea creatures have venom at this end or that end or on these tentacles, and what if this isn’t even a sea creature but some kind of excrement?  You just never know, you know what I mean?

Feather boa kelp

Today we picked up bull kelp, feather boa kelp, demised starfish, and four or five other things we already forgot the names of (next time, we’re taking a notepad).  Hope did a great job of explaining how these things live and eat and why we find them on the beach during low tide.

mussels at top, then barnacles, and sea stars munching their way up

Did you know the pecking order between starfish, barnacles, and mussels on large rocks?  The sea stars stake out the lower third, and eat on whatever else parked there, mostly barnacles and kelp perhaps.  You might see in this picture the three somewhat distinct layers?  The barnacles are on the bottom 2/3, but the lower ones are on the menu for sea stars.  The mussels seemed adept at climbing highest to avoid bumping into sea stars.

colorful sea stars and anemone await the incoming tide

We had fun finding so many colors in these tidal pools.  Sea stars and anemone and kelp were the showiest, with sea stars alone showing red, purple, and orange individuals.  All this is easy to spot at 2nd Beach during low tide.

sea stars and giant green anemone compete for real estate on rock side

A couple of hours had gone quickly and Hope turned us out on our own.  We walked to a few more large rocks then walked the length of the beach, finding a few more interesting tidal pools with very cool giant anemone.  The anemone is the above picture are closed up, waiting for the tide to roll in.  The anemone in the lower picture is open for business, tentacles all accepting any food that happens within touch.

pretty giant green anemone

We’ve spent a lot of times at beaches on the Atlantic and in the Gulf of Mexico over the years.  And haven’t seen anything like this before.  Our exposure to Pacific beaches is very limited, and we had no idea this kind of thing goes on.  We have an entirely new appreciation of life in the tidal pools.  Good thing we went to last night’s program.  Now we’re curious what tonight’s Ranger program will be.

See you down the road!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr