Marymere Falls Near Crescent Lake

marymere-fallsThe last waterfall we visited while on our trip to Discovery Bay was Marymere Falls.  It’s located in Clallum County in the north central part of the peninsula just to the south of Crescent Lake and about 20 miles west of Port Angeles.  The trail head is next to the Storm King Ranger Station.

The trail is a round trip of about one and a half miles.  It begins by taking you through a large culvert-like tunnel under the highway, then winds through a clean and well maintained path through the rainforest.  the scenery is exotic and vivid green.  I’ve heard that some describe it as like being in a Lord of the Rings setting.  That might be an accurate description.

The first part of the hike is fairly flat and level.  Along the way, you’ll notice an abundance of ferns and some rather large trees.  You’ll come to two rustic bridges.  The first crosses Barnes Creek, and the second is immediately following the first and it takes you across Falls Creek.  Immediately following the the second bridge, you’ll start climbing stairs and ascending up about 200 feet to a moss covered ravine.

marymere-falls-travel-groupAlong the way, the trail splits into a loop that will take you to two different view points for the waterfall.  If you take the left fork, you will first enjoy the lower view point which is directly across from the base of the falls and looking up to the top.  The upper view point provides you with a vantage point that is near the center-top of the 100 plus foot waterfall.

big-treeMy mom and dad, who are in their late 70’s/early 80’s were traveling with us and were able to make the hike all the way to the lower viewing area.  They elected not to continue the climb to the upper viewing area.  Because the last part of the hike was mostly uphill with lots of stairs, I wasn’t sure that they would continue all the way in to where they could see the falls, but they were troopers – very tired troopers, but they made it.

barnes-creekI can’t begin to describe the feelings and enjoyment that I get from experiencing the beauty of the outdoors that God created for us.  All I can say is that the experience is well worth the short distance to travel and the easy walk to these falls.


Worldmark Discovery Bay – Port Townsend, WA

Our upstairs unit at Discovery Bay
Our upstairs unit at Discovery Bay

Our 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom unit in the Worldmark by Wyndham Discovery Bay resort in Port Townsend, Washington is the largest unit of any Worldmark resorts that I’ve ever visited.  The kitchen dwarfs the one in our own home.  The dining room and living room are spacious.  The massive master bedroom suite fills the upstairs area and includes a jetted tub.

We enjoy the view from our deck that faces the bay, although our unit is located on the upper level behind the front row of buildings, so our view is slightly  impeded.

View from our car that is parked at the base of the stairs to our unit.
View from our car that is parked at the base of the stairs to our unit.

This may have been my first resort registration where they didn’t put on the hard sell to get me into an “owner education” meeting.  Normally we are promised a $75 gift card and free breakfast for sitting through a 45 minute group educational presentation with no sales pressure.  That always becomes a 2 hour one on one hard sell.  It was refreshing to not have to endure that this time.

The biggest disappointment of this stay was finding out that they don’t give out free coffee any longer.  You start your stay with enough coffee for one pot of regular and one pot of decaf.  I don’t know about other guests, but that isn’t nearly enough for us and our group.  They said that was a new practice for the company since February, but we stayed at another resort this past March and had all the coffee we needed.

Note – We stayed in the Worldmark resort in McCall, Idaho immediately after our stay at Discovery Bay.  McCall was still giving away free coffee but stated that on the following Monday, they were going to begin charging for it.

Many times when we stay at a Worldmark resort, our number one desire is for rest and relaxation, and we spend much of our time watching movies and playing games in our unit, or swimming and hot tubbing in the resort facilities.  Ironically, given that this is the finest unit that we have been in, we didn’t spend much time at the resort. This trip was all about the outdoors.

On the way to the Discovery Bay resort on Sunday, we stopped by two waterfalls that are along Highway 101 – Vincent Creek Falls, and Rocky Brook Falls, which are part of the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail.

On Monday, we visited Forks and La Push to enjoy some “Twlight” trivia and photograph Bella’s 63 Chevrolet Pickup.  While in La Push, we hiked in to Third Beach and stopped to photograph Strawberry Bay Falls, another waterfall on the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail.

Tuesday, we went to the Dungeness Spit to walk out onto the longest spit in North America.  After a brief stay there, we drove up to Hurricane Ridge.  At Hurricane Ridge, we found a picnic table and ate lunch while watching the numerous deer wandering around amongst the trails that were peppered with visitors photographing the deer from distances as near as a few feet.  Obviously, the deer are very comfortable being around the human population and know that they are safe in this area.

Before returning to our condo that afternoon, we made one final waterfall visit.  This was to the Marymere Falls near Crescent Lake.  Of all the waterfalls we visited on this trip, this was probably my favorite with Rocky Brook Falls coming in as a close second.

We would love to have driven around to Lake Quinault and several other of the many waterfalls in the region, but that will have to be another trip.  We were only here for three nights on this outing, and there is way too much to see in only a few days.

We will definitely be back, and next time, probably for a full week.  There is enough to do around here to make it worth spending that much time.  The only thing that we’ll do different next time is to bring our own coffee.

Rocky Brook Falls on the Olympic Peninsula

Rocky Brook Falls on the Olympic PeninsulaAfter leaving Vincent Falls, we continued north on Highway 101 for about another 30 miles to Dosewallips Road, where we left the highway to find Rocky Brook Falls.

Before we turned off to visit Rocky Brook Falls, we made a failed attempt to locate Hamma Hamma Falls using roadsigns and our best guess, since we hadn’t acquired clear directions before the trip, and our GPS didn’t seem to know anything about the waterfall.  I guess that was all right, because we really didn’t have enough time to visit more than two of the four waterfalls that we were knew of along this stretch of 101, so as soon as we realized we weren’t going to easily find Hamma Hamma Falls, we moved on.

Unlike Hamma Hamma Falls, our GPS was well aware of Rocky Brook Falls and we were able to drive directly to the trail head.  I should mention that the Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail website gives clear directions for finding this waterfall, as well as all the others that we were interested in visiting.  We just hadn’t spent enough time planning for our adventure as we should have.

For as nice a waterfall as Rocky Brook Falls is, there were surprisingly few visitors.  When we arrived at the trailhead, we found that it was just a wide spot in the road with room for about a dozen cars to pull off and park.  It was only about half full, so we knew that we wouldn’t encounter hoards of other people at this one.

Rocky Brook along the trail to Rocky Brook FallsIt was a short, easy walk along a well groomed trail to get to the falls.  We especially hoped to find waterfalls like this that were easily accessible for my parents who were with us on this trip.  They get around pretty well, but long and rugged trails would definitely hold them back.

Signage along the way warns that water levels can change rapidly, so visitors should be aware of sudden stream flow changes.  One old roughly made and obscure sign didn’t leave me with a seriously threatened feeling.  I have to believe that if there were serious danger, the point would have been made much more boldly.  We watched out, nonetheless.

There weren’t many people at the falls while we were there, but the few that were there were sure a disruptive bunch.  Some were swimming and they had strewn out towels, backpacks, and clothing over the rocks at the base of the falls.  For those of us who were there to get some photographs of the falls, it sure made things challenging.  We had to maneuver ourselves to places where the people and all the junk were outside of the picture frame.  We managed a few decent shots.

It’s estimated that this waterfall is about 150 feet tall.  I wouldn’t call it “spectacular”, but very nice.  It is a nice retreat for a hot summer day.  Because it is so easy to get to, I can’t think of a reason to skip it if you have a little time and plan to be in the area.


Vincent Creek Falls and the High Steel Bridge

Vincent Creek FallsWhile traveling to Discovery Bay with my Parents, we decided to check on a couple waterfalls that were along the way.  There were four of them between Shelton and Port Townsend that we had identified and we had hoped to visit at least 2 or 3 of them.  I hadn’t done a significant amount of research on any of these falls, but I had downloaded a brochure from before we left on the trip.

The first one we stopped at was Vincent Creek Falls.  When we searched for Vincent Creek Falls on our GPS, we found no applicable result, but then we searched for High Steel Bridge and got a hit.

About 9 miles north of Shelton, we turned onto Skokomish Valley Road and drove west for about another 10 miles before making a right turn onto Govey Road.  This road took us into the middle of nowhere.  I know we were in the middle of nowhere, because the road name turned into a number.  Govey Road become NF-23, and soon after that, we turned onto NF-3240 before parking on a wide spot in the road and walking out onto the High Steel Bridge.

under-the-high-steel-bridgeThe High Steel Bridge spans across a deep but narrow Skokomish River valley.  From the bridge, you can see the river about 420 feet below.  After walking about half way across the bridge, I looked back over my left shoulder and saw the narrow Vincent Creek Falls dropping about 125 feet over the side of the chasm and then winds down into the Skokomish River.

The word is that the falls are most spectacular in the spring and early summer.  We were here in July, and so the water was not running very heavy.  Even so, the height of the waterfall and the views from the High Steel Bridge made this trip very worthwhile.

Franklin Falls on Denny Creek

Leslie standing and watching the falls

We had to go to Seattle anyway, and had added plans to stop by Snoqualmie Falls along the way.  Why not see if there are any other waterfalls nearby?

Leslie standing and watching the fallsThat’s what we did, and we found Franklin Falls.  It’s on Denny Creek, several miles east of North Bend and just west of the Snoqualmie Pass summit.  The freeway is split through that area, and has created a wide expanse of forest in between.  Part of Denny Creek flows through that expanse.  I’ve driven by there hundreds of times, and never even though about what all might be hiding in there.

We learned that there are forest roads through there that will take you to campgrounds and trail-heads.  When we spoke with forest rangers in Cle Elum before we continued on to Snoqualmie Pass, they weren’t sure we would be able to access the trail-head due to the snow. Making time to stop by there was taking a chance, but we encountered no snow on the forest roads as we drove past the Denny Creek campground and parked at the Franklin Falls trail-head.

Click on the gallery photo below to see a slideshow of some of the pictures we took during our hike.

Kathy tested the water temperature of this recently melted mountain snowpack.

The trail turned out to be a fairly easy one-mile hike. The biggest challenges were a few short areas of remaining snow-pack covering the trail. There were also a couple sections of moderately steep grades. I think anyone, but the most feeble could easily make this hike, and small children may become weary and disinterested, but it wasn’t a great challenge.

I noticed that there is a place a couple hundred yards from the falls, where the trail winds very near the forest road. If you can find that spot on the road, the hike becomes extremely short and easy. That may be the best bet for families with very young children.

It was a little surprising that we had a good media connection on our cell phones and I was able to text with my Dad and Mom and upload images to Facebook while we were hiking.  Dad really likes to stay informed on what us kids are all doing, especially when it’s something exciting, like hiking in the mountains to find beautiful waterfalls.

This turned out to be a beautiful waterfall adventure.  Being an easy one-mile hike, we were in and out of there in a little over an hour.  The trail followed Denny Creek, and we passed a number of smaller creeks that empty into Denny creek, as well as other waterfalls that drop in from the other side of the creek from the trail.

We noticed a number of patches of these pretty yellow trumpet looking flowers.  I texted a picture to my Mom to see if she could identify it.  She recognized the flower, but couldn’t remember what they were called.  Later, we saw a sign at the Snoqualmie Falls trail-head that had a picture of these flowers.  We learned that they are called “Skunk Cabbage”.

If you are ever on your way over Snoqualmie Pass, and have an hour or so to spared, I highly recommend stopping to hike in to see the beautiful Franklin Falls.  Just take the Denny Creek exit and follow the signs to the Denny Creek campground and Franklin Falls.

Have you ever been to Franklin Falls?  Have you been to, or are you aware of any other nice waterfalls near Franklin Falls, or the Snoqualmie Pass summit?  Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour Kickoff – FAIL

Entiat River March 2014

In March of this year, we took a trip to Chelan, Washington.  It was, sort of, a last minute plan to just get away for a few days.  We happened to find an opening for a room at one of our Worldmark resorts, there, so we jumped at the chance to stay there.  That resort has traditionally been full and difficult to book without advance planning.

Entiat River Waterfalls

Because we wanted to kick off our Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour, I did a little research to find some waterfalls close by.  I learned that the Entiat River was a haven for a number of beautiful falls.  We weren’t certain of the condition of the roads that high in the mountains, and had some doubts, but we were going to be there anyway, so I didn’t call ahead to the ranger station, or get an additional information about the conditions.

As everything turned out, we could only travel about 20 miles up the river before finding the road to be blocked by snow to further travel.  Unfortunately, the waterfalls we were planning to see are all between the 20 mile mark and the 38 mile mark.  Any further travel would have required snowshoes, cross-country skis, or snowmobiles and a sno-park pass.  We had none of the above.

After a short visit with a local resident who was out for a walk with her children, we turned around and drove back toward Chelan….but not without taking a few photos along the way.

Entiat River
Entiat River
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Along the way back, we stopped at a little grocery store/restaurant  near a little town called Ardenvoir to get a bite to eat.  I had read from someone that it was a good little local place to eat, and thought I should check it out.

Just like everything else on this trip, it was bad timing.  The restaurant was closed, though the door was open.  We went inside and found the owner visiting with a friend while doing some maintenance work.  They barely seemed to notice we were there.

When I caught their attention and asked if they were going to be open for lunch, he said, “Not really.  I wasn’t planning to turn the grill on today, but if you really want to eat here, I guess I can.  It will take awhile for it to heat up.”

I said, “Thank you very much, but you don’t need to do that.  We’ll just move on.”

…and move on, we did.  But we will definitely be back this summer.

The REAL Kickoff of the 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour – Palouse Falls

Spring has got to be the best time to visit Palouse Falls. The water is flowing at its heaviest and vivid green accents the hills around the area. Any other time of the year the entire area would be blanketed in a drab brown.

I’ve seen photos of this waterfall in the wintertime, also. With the frost and ice encrusted walls of the cliffs that surround the waterfall, it’s an entirely different portrait – also very beautiful. Either way, Palouse Falls is among the prettiest waterfalls in the pacific northwest.

Waterfall Tour Kickoff

We set out for our one-day journey on a Saturday morning in early May. This is the “real” kickoff for our 2014 Pacific Northwest Waterfall Tour.  We tried to get things started in March, but found it to be a little early for the chosen destination.

This day, we followed highway 24 east from Yakima, over the Vernita bridge, and continued east on highway 26 to the falls. Normally, I would consider that route to be long, desolate, and boring, but Leslie and I were accompanied by our son’s girlfriend. The pleasant conversation along the way made the 2 1/2 hour drive from our home in Yakima seem very short and quick.

We quickly found a place to park, jumped out of the car, and immediately began to snap photos of the grand waterfall. I’m so thankful for digital photography, but could use better battery life with my Samsung Galaxy S4 camera/phone for occasions such as this.

Images of Palouse Falls

This is a spectacular waterfall with a large volume of water plummeting nearly 200 feet into the bowl of the coulee. It is surrounded by interesting rock formations and varying levels of plateaus. My only interest in geology is purely for the aesthetic value, but I have no doubts that a geology hobbyist would have a heyday here.

palouse falls wide
palouse falls wide
View of Palouse Falls from the far end of the state park.
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Hiking Around Palouse Falls

After a short walk to the south end of the park for some quick snapshots from the viewpoint, we proceeded north from the main picnic and camping area of the park on the trails to the top of the waterfall.

I would describe the trail as being only moderately difficult. It does require caution in places, and I wouldn’t advise anyone with small children or individuals in weaker health conditions or with balance problems to attempt this trail.

After the decent down a rocky slide to the Palouse River above the waterfall, we meandered our way between the river and a rock wall until we arrived at the rock spires they call the “Mohawk” and the precipice overlooking the falls.

My wife and my son’s girlfriend arrived shortly before I did, and when I got there, they had shuffled down to the edge of the precipice for a photo op. I have to admit being more than just a little nervous with them exposing themselves to such a precarious position. The footing isn’t entirely stable and there is nothing below them but certain death with any miss-step.

Though there were several people following a path around the inside of the bowl and down into the bottom of the falls, we elected not to take that trip. Under advise from multiple hikers and bloggers, I felt that the danger was more than I wished to face.

From here, we returned to the car and moved on down the road to find a place for lunch.  I heard there was a decent little place at a KOA campground in King’s Ferry.  Maybe we’ll check that out.

Adventure in Nicaragua

Volcano Boarding

My son, Austin, is attending a university in Costa Rica for a semester. While there, he and his friend, Ben, took a short break for a little side trip to Nicaragua.

I was a little nervous about it when he told us what he was planning. I’m so living in the 80’s still. I remember when Nicaragua was a place that was saturated with rebellion, political unrest, and guerrilla warfare. I guess it’s nothing like that anymore. It has become a very safe place to travel, and a favorite destination for American tourists.

I was pleased that Austin and Ben returned to their homes in Costa Rica safely. They had lots of stories to tell. Better yet, Austin showed us their story. Watch the video below.

They traveled by bus, slept in hostels, played on the beach, went volcano boarding, and released baby sea turtles into the ocean. They visited Managua, Leon, San Juan del Sur, and Playa Hermosa. In all, they had 5 days along the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and Austin proudly admitted that he spent less than $300 (of my money) during the trip.

It sounds like the trip of a lifetime to me. I’m glad Austin had the opportunity to experience it.  I would have loved to share the experience.

Worldmark Indio – Indio, CA

Worldmark Resort in Indio, CA

Worldmark Resort in Indio, CAWhile in Indio, CA, I received a text message from my dad, letting me know that the high temperatures back home in Central Washington state are beginning to move upwards toward 40 degrees.  Whew!  Heat wave!  I took pleasure in returning a text to let them know that the cold temperatures at night don’t get down much below 50 degrees here.

We are absolutely loved our stay at the Worldmark resort in Indio, California.  Surrounded by The Golf Club at Terra Lago and wintertime temperatures in the mid 70’s, this is  paradise.

The Resort

The  Worldmark resort in Indio might be one of the finest of all the Worldmark properties that we’ve stayed at.  Our room was quite spacious, relative to those of other resorts.  The quality of furnishings and the upkeep of the room was very similar to all others.  In my opinion, Worldmark rooms are good, but not superior.  That’s not a complaint.  Keep in mind that an ownership with most of their competitors is far more expensive, so one would expect much finer accommodations.

The resort facilities at Indio are amazing.  We spent the whole week at the resort, and barely left the grounds.  They have so much to do.

My young adult son and a friend of his were with us for this trip.  They played tennis, basketball, billiards, and ping pong every day.  All of us swam in the pool, relaxed in one of four spas, and floated the lazy river.

It’s a good thing that they offered so much for us to do and we were so content to mostly relax and play at our resort.  As it turns out, there wasn’t a whole lot nearby for us to do that we were interested in getting out for.  We did get out and about a couple times, though.

Things to do near Indio

Cabot's Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs, CAOne of the significant reasons we elected to visit Indio, is that my in-laws live in nearby Desert Hot Springs during the winter months.  Naturally, we spent some time with them during our vacation.  I’m not suggesting that visiting my wife’s folks would be a highlight for anyone else, but if you are ever near Desert Hot Springs, you may wish to visit a cute little attraction called Cabot’s Pueblo Museum.

This museum is the homestead of an early settler in the region.  His home, outbuilding and landscaping is fashioned almost entirely from recycled materials and/or natural resources that he scavenged from around the area.  Learning about Cabot Yerxa and about the development of the city of Desert Hot Springs was fascinating.

I don’t know that I would recommend driving all the way from Indio just to see this attraction, but if you are in Desert Hot Springs, it’s certainly worth taking a little time to walk the grounds of the homestead.  We didn’t spend the money, or take the time, to go inside the buildings, but there was plenty to see without doing that.  If we weren’t so consumed with pinching pennies on this trip,  I’m sure we would have enjoyed taking the indoor tour.

Joshua Tree National ParkOn one of our other days during the week, my wife and I (without the boys) took a drive to Joshua Tree National Park.  I think the boys were interested in going with us, but on the day that we decided to make this excursion, they had already scheduled time on the tennis courts at the resort and had made arrangements to play some doubles with some other guests.

As it was, we only allotted ourselves about 4 hours to spend at the national park, including drive time, which was about a half hour each way.  That’s just not near enough time to do it justice.  I could have spent a couple days there, and not seen all that I wanted to see.

You have to be a nature lover to fully appreciate the beauty of this region.  Our timing wasn’t the best, since they haven’t had much moisture, so the colors were a little drab.  There were lots of earth tones, you might say.  But, the varieties of plants and the earth and rock formations that surrounded us were amazing.  We didn’t even make it to the most popular part of the park, as we entered through the Cottonwood entrance on the south and we didn’t have enough time to drive through to the northern parts of the park.

Later that same evening, we went to Palm Springs for their Village Fest.  Imagine a farmers market with 150 booths on one city street lined up about half a mile.

Outside of that, we just sat around at the resort, relaxed, and enjoyed the perfect weather.  That’s what I call a vacation.

Big Sur – Julia Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls

Waterfall at Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur

Waterfall at Pfeiffer Beach in Big SurI was speaking with a business acquaintance and mentioned to him that I was planning to scour the northwest for all the best waterfalls in the region.  I told him that I am going to ride my Goldwing around my region to find all the most spectacular falls in my area.

He asked if I had ever seen the waterfall at Big Sur.  I had not.

This photo is one he emailed to me to show me what it was like.  He took the photo during a recent visit to the park.

I did some quick searching online and found that this is McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur to the south of Monterrey, California.

Based on the photo, I think it is a beautiful location.  Reviews from other people who have visited the beach are considerably positive.  It sounds like there are lots of interesting rock formations that some of the older kids like to climb around on.  There is some purple sand that people find very interesting.  Also, many people come in around sunset to take pictures of the sunset over the rocks.

I would definitely like to visit this area.  I have it on my bucket list to ride my motorcycle down the Pacific Coast from the northwest corner of Washington state, all the way to the southern point of the California coast.  I expect that we will stop here for a bit while we are on that trip.

Have you been here, before?  What can you tell us about this area?  Are the reviews from other visitors accurate?

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