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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Victoria 

We left Campbell River this morning in a drizzle and headed for Victoria. The trip was uneventful except for a moment when we crested a hill and saw the Olympic Mountains in the sun.

Our campground in Victoria is very nice, even if it’s between the highway and a railroad track. It is full of people, mostly older, with Alberta and Manitoba license plates. I guess this is Florida for them.

After unhitching we drove into Victoria, took some pictures in the park of ducks and a squirrel who climbed up your pant leg if you held food in your hand for too long, visited the museum of natural history museum, and saw an IMAX picture about bugs. When we left the museum we were surprised to see the parliament building was outlined in lights.

Dinner was soy beans, pop corn, ham, and red pepper. Hmmmm.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Largest explosion in history 

Another overcast day. After lunch with Parker and Jan Alford we headed to the museum in Campbell River. Besides seeing lots of Northwest Native American Art and learning about logging in this area, we viewed a movie about Ripple Rock. Ripple Rock was a large submerged mountain in the middle of the channel between the mainland and Vancouver Island. In 1958, after mining a tunnel under the rock from a nearby island and drilling two shafts up into the two crowns of the underwater mountains, explosives were set, and in the largest non-atomic explosion in history, the underwater mountain was gone. The channel is now between 40 and 100 feet in that area.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Salmon, Salmon, Salmon 

I got up this morning on Vancouver Island; it was raining really hard. Our friend Parker Alford took us to the salmon processing factory. Before we could go into the factory, we had to put on lab coats, hair nets, plastic boots to cover our shoes, and gloves – Dad had to wear a beard net. At the factory they took fish that have been farmed and put them in big tanks. They drained the blood. Then the fish slid down a tray to people who gut them – with one slit they open the stomach and pull out the guts. The next person scoops out a vein and washes the fish inside. From there the fish go into a cooling tank. Then they are weighed on a ramp; on the next ramp a paddle sorts them into metal boxes. Then a lady opens the metal box and the fish drop into a Styrofoam shipping box. After a box is filled, she pushes it onto another ramp and another person adds ice and a lid. Finally another machine straps it shut and it is put on a shipping pallet.

The workers can each gut more than 16 fish per minute. Every two days a semi-load of fish guts is carted away. I still like salmon.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Seattle to Vancouver Island 

This morning we got up early and packed up our trailer. We drove for 3 hours to the ferry. We were going to ride across on a boat. I was kind of scared that the boat would tip over or something. When we got there my worries went away. It was the biggest boat I had ever seen. We saw semi’s pulling in.

We parked our car and went up to explore. The ferry had a little restaurant. We got some food and we paid with Canadian money. I think that the money is really pretty. It is actually colorful.

Emily and I got out one of our games and played it at the front of the boat. It was awesome. It took about 2 hours to get across. Parker Alford, one of the people who we are visiting here in Courtaney, said that they want to build a bridge between the mainland and Vancouver Island. I just don’t see how they could if it took us 2 hours in a boat going about 20 miles/hour!

We had a great time on the ferry. My dad says that we are going to be riding on a bigger one on the way back. I don’t see how there could be one that is bigger!!!!!!

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Rain in Seattle 

More rain. Yesterday (Friday) started out gray, then it turned grayer. David went into the U of Washington physics department while Amanda, Emily, and I explored the Burke Museum on the campus. What a great set of exhibits! The exhibit about how Washington State was formed was especially appropriate for Amanda’s science study. I was most attracted to the exhibits of Northwest Native American art. I am drawn to the bold design and clean lines. Oddly, Emily was most interested in the exhibit on how different cultures celebrate death. The mummy was a big hit.

Today Jabran, Tina, and Khalila joined us for lunch at our trailer, then we went to see their house. Khalila is adorable, and Jabran and Tina have made a lovely home for her. Amanda and Emily would like to remain here so they can babysit.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

Salem to Seattle 

On our trip north from Salem to Seattle we took at right hand turn east into the Columbia River Gorge. We stopped at Multnomah Falls. It is a 620 foot fall in two parts. It is the second highest year-round waterfall in the nation. There was still a lot of snow around from the New Year's storm. A lot had melted because of the spray of the waterfall.

On the way back west to I-5 we stopped at a lookout. The wind was so strong I could hardly walk. The wind is strong because cold air funnels down into the gorge from the mountains. The wind is strong there all year long. The gorge is weathered basalt which has been cut away over many years by the Columbia River.

As we crossed into Washington we could see Mount St. Helens off to the right. We stopped at the information center and learned a lot about the eruption on May 18, 1980. The pictures were spectacular. We went into an underground model of a volcano which showed us what a volcano looks like underground and how it works. There was a display which showed, using tree rings, previous eruptions. While a lot of people thought of Mount St Helens as being dormant, there had been eruptions as recently at 150 years ago. There just weren't many people around in Oregon at that time to be bothered by it. Oregon was settled between about 1830 and 1860.

We arrived after dark in Seattle.


Tuesday, January 20, 2004

The Oregon Coast 

Today we got up at 7:00 and waited for Emily to get out of the shower. We wanted to get out early to get to the coast. We had heard from my Uncle Chip that the coast is beautiful. We finally got on the road at about 8:30.

The coast sure was beautiful. We went to a little harbor first and there weren’t many waves. The water was so clear that if you looked you could see the bottom 20 feet down! When the small waves were out for a second, Emily and I ran out onto a log. Then the tide came up while we were standing on it!!!! We had to make flying leaps to get back to the beach.

We stopped at many other beaches. Most of them were really big.

Chip had recommended to us to go to Depoe Bay. It was really small and had a bunch of boats in it. There was one guy saying that a whale watching boat was leaving in 5 minutes so we decided to go. At first I was scared because there were huge waves, but then I got used to it. We saw one whale stick his head all the way out of the water, but mostly we only saw their spouts of water. We were so close though! The captain said that one year a whale got so close that it touched the boat!!! We didn’t get that close but I kept looking under the boat to see if there was one under it!

We finally headed off but first we went to one last beach. This one was really flat. Most beaches slant a lot, but this one was so flat that when the tide went down you had to walk for like 5 minutes just to get out to where the water was. And of course the tide was down. As we walked down we say marks on the sand to show that the water had been up all the way to the shore during high tide!! It was an awesome day!


Monday, January 19, 2004

California to Oregon 

We left Livermore on Saturday, January 17 and headed north to Oregon. Our last few days in Livermore were spent studying, doing laundry, and hiking around Del Valle. I suspect that if we lived in Livermore we would be among those people who seldom make it into the city. We loved the hiking and biking in the area.

The trip north was fabulous -- snow topped mountain and even a little sun. Nice enough to make a 12-year-old look up from her book and exclaim, "Oh, my gosh. Where are we!"

We arrived in Salem last night, in the rain. Yes, there is more rain and more rain.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Monterey aquarium 

Today at 6:30 we got up and drove to Monterey, California. There we went to the aquarium. It was big and amazing. I don’t think that I have ever seen so many fish at one time in my life. There were whole 2-story tanks filled with different kinds. There was also little fish-tank sized tanks with only 1 kind of fish or other sea animal. When we first got there we saw the octopi. I think that they are very shy because they were always stuffed behind a rock. They were huge though, and it was almost scary!

As we walked through we saw many types of fish, little and big. Most of them were grey and ugly. We saw a big tank (2-stories) that had some small sharks in it. Even though they are small I still think that they are scary. We even saw a small hammerhead shark! The shark room or whatever, where they put all of the sharks was closed until April, which was a little bit disappointing.

The best part of the whole day was the jelly fish. There were jelly fish the size of your leg and jelly fish just a little bit bigger than a speck of dust. My favorites were the moon jellies. They looked like little umbrellas that pushed themselves up. Most of them were really small, like specks of dust.

There was one place where you could touch starfish. There was another where you could see coral fish that were brightly colored. Another great exhibit was the penguins. They come from South Africa and we got to see them eat. They swallow the fish whole, bones and all, then when they go back into the water they pee and it looks like a white cloud. My sister asked the guy answering questions how they could swallow the whole fish and he said that the penguins digestive system was really fine so they could grind up the bones and didn’t have to poop, a lot less cleaning up.

We also got to see the otters fed. They are really cute the way they float on their backs. When they were fed they grabbed the fish and floated around a while until they finally went under and ate it. They were soooooooooo cute!!!!!!!!!!!

Our trip to the aquarium ended with a long trip back to Livermore which I fell asleep on. Another very exciting day.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Yosemite 

Andrew and Jen joined us for a weekend at Yosemite. Drove up yesterday (Saturday), spent the night outside the park in a motel, and then went in again on Sunday.

Yesterday we lunched in 60-degree weather at stream side before we reached the park. Then after ogling the big rocks, we hiked in a foot of snow for an hour or so.

Today we got up “early” and hiked the loop around Mirror Lake. Lots of people in snowshoes and skies have made the same trek so there is a well- beaten trail. L completed the day.

Not much wildlife on the trail in the woods though plenty of footprints, however, in the valley we saw deer and coyote. All were too tame from their interactions with people.

A ride home on Route 120 (incredible scenes as we went up over 6000 feet from the valley floor) with a stop for a good Mexican meal completed the day.

Friday, January 09, 2004

San Francisco  

Today we went to San Francisco and did all of the touristy stuff. First we went in on the BART, which stands for “Bay Area Rapid Transit”. That pretty much means that there is a train that goes all over the bay area. We drove to the closest boarding station to our trailer and parked our car in the mid-day parking area. In the mid-day parking area you are only allowed to park after 10 but the other parking lot was full. We parked in the mid-day parking even though it was 9:45. I was sure that we would get a ticket, but we didn’t.

The BART was awesome. Well, actually it is pretty much a regular train. I don’t remember being on a train with people on it in forever so it was pretty cool to me. There was this lady that was sitting across from us; she was laughing at me the whole time. I think that she must ride a train every day.

Once we got to the city we rode the cable car to the cable car museum. For any of you who don’t know, a cable car is a type of trolley that was invented in about the 1800’s. It works with no electricity. The trolley grabs on to this cable that runs under the road to move. When it wants to stop it just lets go. It was invented in San Francisco because of all of the hills. The hills make it so that a regular trolley can’t go. They don’t work on hills.

We went to China Town for lunch. We decided on the place to eat because there was a plethora of people in the restaurant. Mom said that if the place was busy then that meant that it would be good. Well, it was pretty good. Emily and my mom had gotten their dishes but I was just sitting there. We couldn’t get a hold of the waiter who didn’t speak much English. Finally when he came to bring us the bill, we said to him that we hadn’t gotten my dish and he ran back to get it. So Emily and Mom had already finished their lunch, and I had to gulp mine down so that we could get moving.

Then when we came out it had started raining. For the rest of the afternoon be walked around town without an umbrella, soaking wet. We got to see Lombard Street, the crookedest street in the world, and we got to ride more cable cars. It was a really fun day except for the rain.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Visiting Andrew and Jen in Woodside CA 

Last night I spent the night with Amanda at Jen and Andrew’s house. They rent a small house that used to be a garage, but now it looks quite homey. It is in a red wood forest at the top of a mountain. From their patio you can see the whole San Francisco Bay lit up at night.

Today I went to Half-Moon Bay, a beach south of San Francisco. I found a lot of sea glass. Sea glass is broken glass which has been tossed around by the ocean and becomes smooth.

Andrew helped me do a science experiment. We separated oxygen and hydrogen from water. We used electricity, wires, and two pencils. The negative side of the battery bubbled hydrogen.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Free Day 

We all went our separate ways today. The girls spent the night with Andrew and Jen and will not be home until tomorrow.

I did a bit of shopping, got my hair cut, and caught up with bills and paperwork. Then I went for a terrific walk. I took a loop trail up the hill. On the south east side, the hill is wet and dense with pine and live oak. After the crest, it’s dry and covered with scrubby trees. The wild life is amazing: Flocks of quail, wild turkeys, and pheasants; lots of birds and deer; and a multitude of ground squirrels scooting around. On the lake there are heron, ducks, and fish hawks.

I am surprised that more people don’t come out here in the winter months. I guess they find the 50-degree weather daunting.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Peace and tranquility 

Del Valle Recreation Area is empty of visitors, but full of birds and plants, even flowers. The lake is empty for the winter. We haven’t figured out yet whether they open the dam at this time, or whether it’s just a natural fluctuation. I doubt the latter, however, since we have been having record breaking rains.

From the size of the parking lots near the beach, we assume that during the warmer months this place must be packed. The camping sites are large and separated (not that that matters to us – the only other camper is the ranger’s family).

Today David went to work at Livermore, Amanda, Emily, and I studied math and science, did a little grocery shopping, and went for a nice bike ride along the lake. There are hiking trails everywhere so we hope to take a walk tomorrow.

Sunday, January 04, 2004

We move to Livermore 

Today we left Pacifica and leaded south and East to Livermore (about 1-1/2 hours).

We are now located deep in a valley at Del Valle State Park. It’s beautiful and almost empty. Because of the hills, we have poor cell phone reception, so you may not hear much from us in the next two weeks. David will collect and send email from the lab so we will get it, but there will be a delay.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Sunny! 

Finally we got a nice sunny day!

We went to Point Reyes (2 hours away). On the way there we went across the Golden Gate Bridge. We stopped at an overlook so we could look at the bridge which does look golden. I stood next to this big pipe which had 27,572 little wires about as big as half your pinky. Those are the wires that hold up the bridge. I looked through a telescope and saw Alcatraz Island which is a small island that has an abandoned jail on it which is now a museum.

When we arrived at Point Reyes, we got on a bus. It took us close to the lighthouse, but we still had to walk a mile and 386 steps down to the lighthouse. On our way out to the lighthouse, a ranger let us use his telescope to look at the elephant seals resting in the sun on the beach way down below.

I went inside to see the lighthouse. When I came out, everyone was excited because they had seen a whale. At this time of year, gray whales migrate north and people come out to spot them. Because Point Reyes sticks out so far into the water, the whales come very close to it as they travel north. I saw at least three.

On the ride home we stopped again at the Golden Gate Bridge. By now it was dark and the bridge was lit up as was San Francisco. It was really pretty.

Friday, January 02, 2004

China town in San Francisco 

Today we went to China town before going to my cousin, Rick’s, birthday party at a Chinese restaurant! He was turning 34! There were shops all up and down the street with intricate little figures and other Chinese stuff. Probably the best part of all was buying these little popper things. We got 5 boxes for a dollar and bought 15 boxes! When you drop them on the ground, they explode and make a sound like a gunshot! I went through 2 bags of them as we went down the street, throwing them at people’s feet. Nobody even flinched though because they have poppers in every store. All down the street you could hear tiny explosions.

We went to Louis’ for dinner, and it was really good! When we walked in there was a tank of live fish, live lobsters, and live crabs. There was a crab pushed against the glass and he was staring at me while we were waiting for a table! It was quite scary.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Raining 

Today I woke up and it was pouring outside! The wind was blowing really really hard and it was raining in bursts. I heard thunder but when I looked out the window I saw no lightning! As I listened I realized that it was the waves crashing against the shore. Here in Pacifica we are right along the Pacific Ocean! Sometimes it can be really scary! Yesterday, my sister and I went down to the beach to see what the water was like! It was really cold! The Pacific Ocean is much deeper than the Atlantic or other oceans so it is much colder! Well, that day Emily and I rolled up our pants and went into the water as far as we dared. It was very cold! The water was also really strong and when we stood there it felt like it was pulling us in. We both decided that since no one else was around to save us, we would not go in so far that we would have to roll up our pants another notch! Well, all of a sudden this wave crashed into us when we weren't ready as we were up to our waist in water! We ran out and didn't go back in! I'm still not really scared of the water though and we went back today at a different beach. The air was much colder and so was the water but Emily and I rolled up our pants and went in! Nothing exciting happened this time except that we got really cold. There were these daring surfers out in wet suits! The waves were like 6 feet high! If I knew how to surf I would be doing it right then!
So far our visit by the Pacific is great!

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