Sunday, July 5, 2015

Road Trip

I recently did my first "great American road trip" (or at least my version of it) and drove from Oklahoma out to the Pacific Northwest, to visit Oregon (and then extended it on to include Washington).

We were pushed for space due to using my wife's small 4-dr sedan (as my Subaru is having some issues) so was not able to take a very large amount of camera gear. In fact it was a very minimalist setup of my D2x body (and charger), Tokina 12-24 f/4, Rogue ExpoDisc and a cleaning kit. I also had my little Sony WX350.

As I was doing the bulk of the driving, I didn't take very many road/road-side photos; so it wasn't until we got to Oregon that I got a chance to break out a camera and take some photos. We spent 3 days in Portland, staying in a tiny house hotel and exploring the area.

After our 3 days it was time to decide on what to do next. We still had over 1 week of vacation to go and on a whim decided to head north and check out Washington. Originally we were considering checking out Seattle but instead chose to follow the 101 and head towards the Olympic Peninsula.

For the next 3 nights we stayed in a KOA campsite near Port Angeles. We didn't get to explore the area as much as we would have liked but Port Angeles is a great place and we plan on returning, sometime to spend more time and explore it fully. The small matter of pets not being allowed on the park trails limited our options some, as we had our two dogs with us.

A handheld pano of Port Angeles' waterfront
Being mindful of time, as we had to insure we got back to Oklahoma on time, we decided to move on after the 3 days were up. Our next destination was Neah Bay as we wanted to check out Cape Flattery and Tatoosh Island. All I can say is "WOW", it is more than worth the hike out to the cape for the views you are presented with. Here are a few photos taken with both my cameras of the cape and island.

View to the west of the cape, with a fog bank heading to shore
Blanketed by fog
More foggy views
This was just to the north-east side of the cape, before the fog bank came ashore
A view of Tatoosh Island (and lighthouse) while blanketed by fog
Here is a closer shot of the lighthouse on Tatoosh Island
A handheld pano of Tatoosh Island, from Cape Flattery
From here we handed (generally) south and camped overnight at the Mora campground near Forks. It was amazing to be amongst so many old and tall trees - and also to have no sound but the wind in through the trees and local wildlife; and the occasional noisy campground neighbor. I had to take a photo of where we camped as the large trees behind our tent were something to see.

Our campsite at Mora
Waking up in the shadow of those trees was something to experience - it was also our 15th anniversary, which just added to the occasion.

As we were fairly close (and it was in the general direction we were headed) we took a detour to check out the Hoh Rainforest. All I can say here is I can see why Mick Dodge loves the place so much; great guy too, as we found out when we bumped into him at the ranger station. What a bonus for our anniversary - and yes, we got a photo with him! I actually didn't take photos while there as I was too in awe of the natural beauty. A photographer could spend years documenting the rain forest and I knew in our brief visit I would barely do it justice.

Next stop was Ruby Beach, as we wanted to visit the Pacific Ocean and dip our toes - and let our two dogs dip their paws. We had a bit more in the way of fog over the water but it was still amazing to step out onto the beach and experience the ocean.

A handheld pano looking out onto Ruby Beach and the Pacific Ocean
Jax and Amber avoiding the Pacific as the waves unsettled them
And yes we did all dip our toes and it was COLD! It definitely woke us up and both Jax and Amber made every effort to avoid the waves from there on out.

From here we headed to another KOA campground for the night and as we found out later, we were not too far from Mount St. Helens.

Can anyone guess what we decided to do for our last day in Washington? Yeah, we drove up to the ranger station overlooking Mount St. Helens and the views were amazing. If you're in the area it is well worth the drive to go and visit.

Mount St. Helens
Handheld pano of Mount St. Helens
To say I will return to Washington is an understatement as I absolutely loved the place and next time I will have a much more comprehensive photo setup with me - including a Nodal Ninja pano head for my Nikon. One of my goals is to make some HDR and Giga-Pixel panos of Mount St. Helens, and of Cape Flattery/Tatoosh Island.