Bolivia – a country that exceeded my expectations

La Paz, Potosí and Chuquisaca
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – vicuña and rock formations
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – salt lake and volcanic features
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – Laguna Colorada, flamingos and rocks
Potosí and Chuquisaca area – flamingo, salt lakes and railway track that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid rode!
Uyuni Salt Flats
Uyuni Salt Flats early morning
Uyuni Salt Flats and salt hotel
Uyuni Salt Flats and train graveyard
5,000 perfectly preserved dinosaur footprints in the Cal Orck’o cliff

 

Quad bike trip to ‘crater’ viewpoint

Gadventures 11 day  Bolivia Discovery tour

 

 

Portland to Seattle via Columbia River Gorge

20 June 2014

Bridal Veil Falls
On the way to Bridal Veil Falls we spotted people parking on the side of the road and we started to get puzzled as to whether this was the parking, we decided to drive onwards and eventually found the official car park much further on, so I suspect the people parking on the road were hikers.  We didn’t have too much time so we were glad to have driven on to the official car park.  Judging by the number of signs about car thieves it obviously has a history of car break ins. We weren’t there too long and had everything hidden in the boot/trunk of the car and were fine.  It is quite a way down to the falls but worth it to see them, the hike back up to the carpark was a bit of an effort, but didn’t take too long.
 
Multnomah Falls and Mount St Helens
Parking for Multnomah Falls seems to operate on a one out, one in basis, so keep your eyes open for people leaving or heading back to their cars.  Again we didn’t have too much time so only did the short walk up to the bridge and no further.  There is a restaurant and snack vendors there for something to eat.
 
The bottom right picture is Mount St Helens taken from the Mount St Helens visitor centre.  We managed to get there just in time to catch the last video which shows footage of the eruption in 1980.  It is worth stopping at to read the displays and watching the short film.  

 

 

 

Bend to Portland

18 June 2014

 
 
The Three Sisters Mountains, Mount Hood, clear rivers, dense forests…I love this sort of scenery.  There is something really special about seeing snow capped mountains and in Oregon there is certainly no shortage of them.  Given that this was a day where we didn’t have anything specific to go and see and it was just a day for getting us from Bend to Portland, it turned out to be an enjoyable day anyway…soaking up the views and stopping to take in the panoramic views.
 
 
 

Newberry National Volcanic Monument

17 June 2014

Our interest in volcanoes and volcanic features was sparked during our trip to Hawaii in 2013. There is something so fascinating to me that all these different structures and textures can all be created by the Earth cracking or bursting open.

Exploring the Newberry National Volcanic Monument, which covers a huge area (many miles!) gives a great opportunity to see the different ways in which the surface of the land can be changed dramatically by volcanic activity.

The Lava Cast Forest
This is accessed by driving down a very, very long, dusty and bumpy road that seemed to go on forever. When we parked up we were wondering if the long drive was worth what we were about to see. The answer was obviously yes or I wouldn’t bother writing about it 🙂

You will see from the collage of photos just a snapshot of some of the features, from trees that have grown with twisted bark because they have maybe only one tap root that has managed to get through the lava to find water, so the bark twists to distribute that water. Also in the collage is a ponderosa pine tree which is fire resistant, miles of lava that flooded the area, holes in the ground which look man made but were where trees grew, the lava flow came and the trees burnt away leaving a cast in the ground. There are loads of these holes and they are different sizes and depths.

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The Obsidian Flow
Okay so I don’t know whether it is because I am a lover of glass but I found the obsidian flow captivating. As we climbed part of the flow the sun came out and it was as if we were walking on a hill made of black glass. There was even a section that was in the shape of a love heart.

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Lava Butte
This is another feature that we stopped at. I find it really interesting the different colours and the different textures that spew from the ground and this lava butte had really red/russet tones.

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Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

16-17 June 2014

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I first heard of Crater Lake National Park when I was reading ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed. She was walking the Pacific Crest Trail on her own and the trail runs past the lake. It sounded pretty amazing from her description, so I googled it and started reading up about it. With Allistar and I already now being really interested in anything volcano related, following our trip to Hawaii, it got me thinking…’how can we tie in a visit to Crater Lake and do the Pacific Coast Highway in one holiday. After a few weeks, or maybe months, of planning I had our circular route defined. I am posting these entries out of sync so I will post another entry with our route.

Back to Crater Lake….wow!!! The size, the colour, the snow ledges, the mountain views in the distance are all just amazing. The colour of the lake when the sunshines doesn’t look like your typical blue. I have seen Lake Taupo in New Zealand which is also a filled in volcano but because Crater Lake doesn’t have any rivers or streams that feed it and it has just been filled with melted ice and snow it is very clean and clear. Unfortunately we were too early in the season to be able to do a boat trip, which was disappointing but we did manage to upgrade to a room at the Lodge with a lake view. We had been booked in a cabin in Mazama Village, at the time of booking Crater Lake Lodge was fully booked. However, we stopped and asked if there were any cancellations and we were lucky that there was. We had to pay for the room and then they returned our money for our original booking to our credit card later.

There are walks you can take and if open you can drive around the rim. The northern most part of the rim drive was closed but we did all the road we could and kept stopping to take photos. I took sooooo many photos it is crazy but it is just so amazing to see.

In the Lodge, we listened to one of the Rangers give a talk about the building of the Lodge. He was very enthusiastic and told us that many years ago they put fish in the lake and now they are trying to get rid of them, so they allow fishing without a permit so long as you take your catch with you or you use artificial bait. We drank cocktails and had a nice dinner in the restaurant in the evening. When we woke up there was very fine snow falling but later the sun came out again. This was a real treat and made a nice change from the motels that we have been staying at. Not cheap but worth it for a great night/couple of days.

I have included in the collage of photos one of the panoramic shots that has 2 shots of Allistar plus a third image of his head.

Note added later: Cheryl’s book ‘Wild’ is now a movie and I was lucky enough to see an advanced screening at the Inverness Film Festival a few months before general release. There are a few scenes where you can see Reese Witherspoon sitting looking out across Crater Lake and I felt like shouting “I’ve been there” lo

Isle of Staffa

Staffa collection

 

We visited the Isle of Mull for the August Bank Holiday weekend.  We stayed in the Pennyghael Hotel, http://www.pennyghaelholidays.co.uk/ , which is under new management and they have a lot of work to do on the hotel rooms to tidy them up (lick of paint, new carpet and replacing some wood in the bathroom etc).  Our room had a good view out to the Loch and there is allegedly an otter that plays opposite, but we seemed to keep missing it.

We took a boat trip to the Isles of Staffa and Iona, on the Iolaire Iona boat.  The water was pretty calm, the main guy who I suspect is the owner came round and talked to each couple on the boat and pointed out different Isles and we could even see the top of Ben Nevis, which is on the mainland.  We really were lucky with the weather.  We got off for a walkabout on Staffa, walked along to Fingal’s Cave and it is interesting to be stepping on these hexagonal basalt formations that were created millions of years earlier.  They are pretty uneven and although I was holding on to the handrail I still managed to twist my ankle, so walking boots would have been a better idea than trainers.  Allistar explored the top whilst I sat and took some photos.  the boat then took us to Iona and we had a wander around the Isle and had lunch in the St Columba Hotel garden looking out across the sea to other islands and Mull.  We went in the Abbey on Iona and had the audio talks, I sat and listened to most of the options in one spot to rest my ankle, but did manage to make it around and see everything as well.

Other activities we did included an eagle watch with the forestry commission/RSPB which would have been better if the eagles had not just fledged the nest a few weeks earlier.   There are white-tailed sea eagles and golden eagles on Mull and we saw the sea eagles, although they were tiny specs even through our binoculars, so would have been good if they had flown a bit nearer to us.  Next time to Mull we will go when the chicks are still in the nest.

Whilst on Mull we also went to The Ninth Wave restaurant in Fionnphort, where we had lobster, which is the first time for me.  We also went to Cafe Fish in Tobermory where I had a smoked fish platter.  The seafood on Mull is a must but I think if we went for a week it would end up being fish overload, but for a mini break it is hard to resist all the seafood.

On our journey back home we stopped at the base of Ben Nevis and had a burger in the Ben Nevis Inn.  As we were sitting eating we kept seeing people coming in all sweaty and hot from their climb.  Loads of different nationalities in there, we enjoyed our food and there is a nice atmosphere in there, fuelled by the sense of achievement of those who had done the climb which was infectious.