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09/03 – 09/07 Wisconsin – Home soon

Our last stop on vacation is Washburn checking out Brian and Becky’s surroundings. They are loving their new “home area”. Brian made a fabulous meal for us on the grill.

Today we went for a walk along the lake shore of Washburn and saw an odd sailboat sunk near the shore. We also checked out Brian’s boat. In the evening we went to Big Top Chautauqua. It is a big old blue and white tent that reminds you of the old circus tents between Washburn and Bayfield. They have musical entertainment and several others shows about early life of the area. It has been entertaining thousands of people a year since 1986, that’s 35 years of great shows. Riding with the Wind was show we saw about the early days of the Bayfield area and we really enjoyed a great show!

Saturday Brian took us out in the boat to tour Chequamegan Bay and do a little big water fishing. We then bought dinner supplies at the IGA and he came to our site and made a tasty steak dinner on our grill. He loves to grill but his apartment isn’t too easy for that right now so he is taking advantage of our campsite to fulfill his grill cooking.

Sunday we drove the highway 13 loop enjoying the small burgs that lie along the Lake Superior shores and all the fun places they like to visit. We watched 3 windsurfers enjoying the wind and the waves. It was surprising how far out they could travel in such a short time.

We finished the day in Bayfield seeing the house they have purchased and will be moving into before October 1st. Becky also drove us by her school before enjoying a meal on the deck of Pier Plaza Restaurant, great food and beautiful scenery on the harbor.

We got up at 5:00 this morning and Brian picked us up and we headed out on the boat again. We were surprised that being Labor Day and the end of summer there were not more boats out on the bay today. Becky did a lot of driving today while Brian showed Tom the big water techniques of fishing. We had beautiful clouds in the morning and one of them even looked like an angel that we decided was watching out for us on our voyage. There are some small sea caves along the shore and we even got to see kids jumping off the rock ledges that lay along the shore.

In the afternoon we all took a snooze since we got up so early to go fishing. Brian brought the fixings for Chicken on the grill for dinner in the late afternoon. He sure does make great meals.

There was a big trawler boat out in the bay that we were wondering what it was. One of the people at the picnic shelter where we were sitting knew it was a Research vessel from NOAA. It had been in Cleveland Ohio to be repaired and was just returning to Ashland for research duty.

We slept in the last morning of our trip. We got up, ate a small breakfast and readied Luny Bin for the final leg of our trip – HOME! We stopped to say goodbye to Brian and headed South!

Home again, home again, jiggity jig! (My dad always said that after we got home from a drive or trip!)

We had a wonderful “Westward Ho” trip. I can’t believe all we saw and everything we did this summer as well as all the wonderful friends both old and new we met. We were gone 120 days, drove 9608 miles, and slept in 16 states. It will be good to sit back and relax – well not right away – we now have to unpack and clean Luny Bin the next couple days as well as spending a lot of time near the washer and dryer getting everything cleaned that we took along.

We will probably be heading to our cabin near Boulder Junction WI the end of next week or so. Fall colors in Wisconsin are beautiful and it is the perfect place to enjoy them. It is a bit early for fall colors now but they will be coming on soon.

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08/29 – 09/02 Minnesota

We are camped tonight at Buffalo River State Park near Glyndon, Minnesota. It is a small prairie campground that is quite pretty and very quiet. After dinner we hiked down by the river, a slow meandering river that flows into the Red River and on to Hudson Bay. As we walked we saw a doe with 2 small fawns. We have really seen a lot of fawns and most of them twins on our trip. We had a quiet birthday celebration for me and I’m ready for a new year of adventures.

Our next place to camp would be at Itasca State Park near park Rapids MN. It is the oldest state park in Minnesota established in 1891. The headwater of the Mississippi River only 12 feet wide is located on Lake Itasca. Here it begins its 2,552 mile flow through the center of the US before hitting the Gulf of Mexico. We stayed 2 nights on a site with a view of the lake. We visited both the visitor centers, attended a ranger program about the headwaters and walked across the mighty Mississippi River. One of the visitor centers had 4 quilts depicting that area and history. We toured the Wegman homestead and store site that had been measured and rebuilt as an exact replica. The museum was a building used for education when it was first built in 1929. In 1905 the Douglas Lodge, was constructed. It is the oldest building in the state park system and is still a destination of travelers to the park today. There is also a beautiful cruise boat that you can take a 2 hour cruise on Itasca Lake. It was built in 1948 and a gorgeous 2 story boat.

We had wanted to have my birthday dinner in the dining hall but they are only open from 11-5, so guest can’t even get breakfast or dinner there. Our next choice for dinner was Knob and Kettle, drove there and it was also closed so we drove to Lobo’s Bar and Grill. The food was really good and it appeared to be a new building and filled with lots of taxidermy on the walls. Buffalo, bobcat, lynxs, elk, deer, fish as well as a wolf that was a tribute to a famous wolf (but not the actual Lobo) of the area that no one could catch or kill, Lobo. That is where the name of the bar came from. On the way home we were treated to a beautiful sunset.

Last night we camped at Jay Cook State Park. It was established in 1915 through donated land from St Louis River Power Company. It is situated along the St. Louis River, the largest tributary flowing into Lake Superior.

Jay Cook State Park swinging bridge has been replaced because of floods. This is the 5th bridge built here so far. All the buildings and original bridge were build by the CCC.

It is amazing how much the CCC program did for our country. There is hardly a park we were in this summer that was not built or improved by that program. We need it again! So many of the State and National parks are in need of so much work, we should reinstate this program to help them. Many of the campgrounds have had a place to do your dishes if you want to carry them over there. We loved the sign at this campground.

We saw our first TCTeardrop of the trip here. We know that there are many of them sold out west and was always on the lookout fir them. We loved our TC Teardrop and camped in it for 10 years but Luny Bin is sure more comfortable for us older folks.

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08/28 – 08/29 Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park

We drove part way across North Dakota. It was our 14th state to visit this trip.

Because we chose to hike this morning we did not get as far as we had hoped. We are camped at Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park outside of Mandan ND. It sits on the banks of the Missouri River. It was established in 1907, and the oldest state park in North Dakota. The park was full so Tom and I were parked in the horse stable section of the park. We were the only ones there and it was so quiet and peaceful, with no loud noises from the big crowd in the campground. It was raining this evening so we made dinner and ate inside. After dinner I went outside to look around and saw a beautiful rainbow and was able to get an awesome photo with Luny Bin.

The rain let up around 8:00 and after that we could hear a drumming that would stop and start as though it might have been Native American drumming for their ceremonial dances. No one we asked at the park seemed to know what it might have been. Sunday we woke to a beautiful sunrise and were able to sit outside for breakfast. As I walked over to the bathroom I even scared up a big pheasant and could hear lots of cattle in the fields behind us.

After putting everything away and Tom filled the Luny Bin with DEF we drove over to the visitor center and spent some time inside looking at the exhibits. The building was constructed in 1936 by the CCC, it was nice to see the tribute to their efforts. One section gave the history of the Mandan Indians if the area and the part was about the CCC and the army post.

We then walked over to the 6 earthlodges that have been restored at the On-A-Slant Mandan Indian Village. It is estimated to have included about 75 earthlodges and perhaps 1,000 residents, the village existed for over 200 years before a 1781 smallpox epidemic wiped out the village. You can still see many of the rings from the earthlodges that no longer exist.

A military post named Fort Abraham Lincoln was established at the site in 1872 and the home of the seventh Calvary that fought in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. There are many reconstructed buildings on the parade ground as well as one that is still used as the camp commissary as well as the home of Lt Col. George and Libby Custer’s.

Leaving there we drove by the North Dakota Military Cemetery. Seeing all those same headstones in straight rows anyway you look is quite moving.

We traveled highway 94, a long drive across the rest of North Dakota. I was surprised at all the huge bodies of water we saw. There were a lot of egrets and pelicans as we passed them.

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08/23 – 08/28 Montana Travels and Theodore Roosevelt National Park

We camped near Helena Montana at a small 15 site Cromwell Dixon National Forest campground. We like those they are really cheap for us old folks, $7.50, can’t beat that. After dinner we took a walk around the campground and then sat and enjoyed the view. In the evening we had a gorgeous sunset and orange sky for over an hour. It was in the 40’s when we went to bed so we knew it was going to be a cold night. we were treated to a morning’s entertainment of a big bull moose.

The headwaters of the Missouri River starts a bit north of Three Forks, Montana. That river runs through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska where I grew up before flowing all the way to the Mississippi River. Along our drive we followed the Musselshell River. On the way we saw lots of antelope, turkey, and some cranes. We also saw 4 big bucks with big antlers hanging out together – I think that is rare. As we drove through the end of highway 12 it reminded me of the sand hills of Nebraska.

We camped on the Yellowstone River at Forsyth Montana last night. Peaceful and pretty, saw pelicans and a heron but no pictures, darn. Apparently there are 2 kinds of sturgeon that you can catch here, one endangered, the other you can keep but you better know the difference as it is a hefty fine if you are wrong. We would follow the Yellowstone, getting wider and bigger, the rest of our travels through Montana. The Yellowstone flows into the Missouri River in the edge of North Dakota. I love the bluffs and fields we see as we travel near a river, I’m sure because it reminds me of some of my favorite times on the Missouri River in Nebraska. The landscape of eastern Montana reminds me of the Badlands of South Dakota and the sky was so dramatic as we drove.

We secured a site at the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

There is a 14 mile drive out to Oxbow Overlook where the river takes a major curve in it’s route. River Bend Overlook is a stone shelter built by the CCC in the 30’s that gives you a gorgeous view of the Little Missouri River.

The cannonball concretions pullout is a rare example of sand that has been cemented by river minerals over time. The really do look like old cannonballs of varies sizes.

There were threats of rain as we drove the scenic drive so we did not do any hiking and most of the hikes are classed as difficult because of the topography and their lengths. Because of the rain threats we enjoyed a new backpack Elk Pasta dish we had bought. It was really quite good and we were surprised how much elk it actually had in it. A couple from the twin Cites stopped to talk about our camper, they have the same year Roadtrek and it looks just like ours sitting across the Park but theirs is an E-trek, which means it has no propane on board and everything runs on diesel, electricity or solar. It was fun to visit with them and compare notes on our twin looking campers.

It rained overnight and in the morning we were entertained by 2 Longhorn Steers roaming the campground. The park maintains a small herd as a tribute to the Badlands Cattle industry of the past.

We did 2 hikes in the north unit before traveling to the South unit this morning. One of the hikes went through a cool canyon that reminded us of a slot canyon. We saw a few Buffalo on the way out of the park but not as many as we had seen the first time we were in this park.

In the south unit we found a nice campsite next to the river and then traveled the 32 mile scenic road through the park. There is a road closure on part of the loop so it is shorter and is an out and back drive. We saw 8 wild horses, prairie dogs and 1 lone Buffalo as well as beautiful scenery.

We did 4-5 short hikes at the pullouts and returned to have a nice peaceful evening at our site. We got up and enjoyed our coffee on the banks of the Little Mo. We did stop to look at Teddy Roosevelt’s Elk Ranch home that has been moved to the South unit visitor center and also watch an informational video about the National Park.

We then headed to the Painted Desert, our final section of the park. We did a hike into the colorful section of the park and then were able to hike the other direction to see few Buffalo before heading toward the east. On our way out we saw another group of wild horses but the large herd of Buffalo we had seen a day ago had moved on.

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08/21 – 08/23 Spokane and Athol

We left the Steamboat Rock area and traveled towards Spokane we could not believe the difference in topography that we were seeing. There were many fruit orchards as well as fruit processing plants before leading into craggy hills and then beautiful wheat fields. Some of the wheat fields were cut but many of the farmers were either cutting or bailing their fields.

When we arrived in Spokane we found the Riverside State Park which is right in the city limits of Spokane. Getting there was a little scary as we had to drive through a big homeless section of town. We were surprised it was right along a big busy golf course.

After securing our site we drove to REI to look for hiking boots for both if us. My nine year old boots cracked and Tom’s are starting to separate in the front. Maybe we did too much hiking this trip. We were both lucky and found the ones we liked, now we just had to find a place to store them on the way home. We then headed downtown to the Riverfront. It was the home of the 1974 Worlds Fair. The Great Northern Clocktower is a Historical landmark that was built in 1902. The park’s 1909 Looff Carrousel is on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of America’s well preserved hand-carved wooden carrousels. It features 54 horses, 1 giraffe, 1 tiger, and 2 Chinese dragon chairs and a brass ring to catch. It still is in working order and for $3.00 you can have a music ride.

We walked over to the Spokane Falls where it creates a gorge through the city. You can walk down the staircase walkway or ride the purple tram cars that give you a ride over the falls. The trams were not running the day we were there, they appeared to be repairing it.

There are 3 statues crafted by a member of the Colville Tribes to remind visitors of Spokane’s indigenous heritage. Along the park walkway there is a tribute to “The Joy of Running Together” for enjoyment.

We had read about an award winning restaurant and also as it recommended by several people do we called “The Wild Sage Bistro” and we’re able to get in for dinner if we took an early reservation so we arrived at 4:15 and shared a delicious black lentil soup and a halibut dinner. The rhubarb ginger cocktail was also yummy. After dinner we returned to the campground to a heavy rain. We thought we were having trouble with the camper electricity but saw others checking their electric posts, apparently the entire park was without electricity and it stayed off for several hours before being repaired.

In the morning we are our breakfast on the banks of the Spokane River. There were beautiful reflections on the water and lovely music from the singing of the birds. There is a historic bridge that carries you across the river that was built by the CCC.

We had a mattress to return to Sportsman Warehouse since we had changed our sleeping arrangements to twin beds. We called Ted and Donna Dowell McKee, a couple we had met at Robinson Lake the last time we were in Idaho. They were thrilled to hear from us and we were lucky they lived so close to our homeword route. They have made a campsite for family and friends so we “Camped” there for 2 nights.

After a delicious dinner of smoked trout and an evening of catching up on the past 5 years we returned to the camper for a short nights sleep. Tom and Ted had made plans to leave at 5:00 am to go fishing for trout at Round Lake. The guys came home with 8 nice trout and Ted gave Tom another lesson in cleaning them since it had been 5 years ago that Tom had to clean a trout. Donna and I did a little tour of the state park and marina while the guys were gone.

Ted is a real artist and gave us a tour of his art work in the basement. He makes puzzle out of wood, I tried my hand at the car and the fish. They were harder than I thought they would be. His granddaughter plays the violin and he made a violin puzzle for her, I would have loved to see that. After another night of visiting and enjoying Donna’s garden produce. She sent tomatoes with us and we enjoyed them fir several meals, they are so much better than the store bought produce. We left early in the morning to head East toward home. .

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08/19 – 08/20 Heading East

Today we left Whidbey Island and drove through Fidalgo Island headed East. That means we are on our way toward home but it is still a long way before we get there.

We stopped in Leavenworth, a town that transformed itself into a Bavarian town. We had lunch on the banks of the Wenatchee River then toured the downtown with all the bavarian-looking buildings. Most of the buildings had lovely murals pained on them. It was hard to capture the all the quaint beauty of the town. The town made a conscious effort to revive the dying logging town hoping to bring it back to life and tourism did just that.

Leaving Leavenworth we drove to Daroga State Park. It used to be a fruit orchard/ranch in 1928. It was relocated because of the Rocky Reach Dam. The campground is on the banks of the Columbia River allowing its guest to enjoy all the water sports imaginable. As we traveled through the area we were seeing fruit orchards growing cherries, peaches, nectarines and apples for miles. We had a quiet night and morning. There was an osprey nest on the edge of the campground and we were able to watch them coming and going, I think there was a baby they were feeding but we could not see that.

We took highway 2 and 155 to get to Grand Coulee Dam. The topography on those roads was very interesting. You saw huge bluffs and desert “scablands” on both sides of the road. I have never heard that term for land before. There were also golden wheat fields that many farmers were stacking bails of straw. It was a very interesting ride.

Steamboat Rock State Park is south of Coulee Dam and is named for the huge basalt rock butte that stands 800 feet above Banks Lake. We were able to get a nice campsite that over looked the Columbia River and a view of the Steamboat rock formation. There are hiking trails in the park but they have suspended their use because of the high fire danger. While we were in the area there was a wildfire less than 50 miles away, which left our view very smokey again. We seemed to be in the path of many wild fires this trip. We did hear that they opened highway 20 through the North Cascades but we did not want to back track or take any more chances with smoke hazard so we will have to see them a different trip. Our view on the river side was much like looking across the Lewis and Clark Lake on the Missouri River. Big chalk cliffs and beautiful waters.

We drove to Grand Coulee Dam to see it and the visitor center. The dam is 1 mile long and 550 feet high. They started building it in 1937 and June 1, 1942 the first water flowed through the dam. It is the largest dam in the US and produces more electricity than any other dam in the world. It presently supplies electricity to 11 states and Canada, at one time that count was 17 states. The electric towers are huge and we kept seeing them for hundreds of miles. The CCC helped build the dam and the supplies to take care of them was huge. Even just one breakfast was huge, I sure would not have wanted to prepare those meals.

The electric towers are huge and we kept seeing them for hundreds of miles
My 3 favorite states even had water added
Now that is a lot of cooking

In the evening we took a walk around the campground, which most of it is brand new, our fire ring had not even been used yet. It rained over night and as we left we were driving in the rain. When we left the park we saw turkey, quail, deer, and herons.

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08/15 – 08/17 Port Townsend and Whidbey Island

We have left Olympic National Park. We drove to Port Townsend and got the last campsite at Fort Worden, one of three military forts in this triangular bay. It is part of the “Triangle of Fire” used to protect Puget Sound from invading ships. After securing our site we drove into town and toured the historic buildings and waterfront. The buildings are so cool and some very unique shops and historical sites to enjoy.

We enjoyed a quiet evening and in the morning we were having fun watching a young deer that was not afraid of people. We were able to book another night so that we could catch the ferry to Whidbey Island.

Our second day we drove around the fort taking in the military history and out to the Point Wilson Lighthouse.

We then drove into town to the marina as well as some of the native historical sites and the famous post office/customs office. The architecture of the PO was amazing, not sure how they built such beautiful buildings back then without all our modern tools and machines.

We enjoyed a spaghetti dinner made in the instant pot since we had electricity, it was so simple and tasted good. We watched a movie using the tv and DVD player in the camper for the first time, that was a fun treat. We got up before 6:00 am to catch the ferry to Whidbey Island. We were the first one in line and walked over to grab a coffee and egg sandwich at the coffee shop and sat on the wharf watching the beautiful sun shining on the buildings and sailboats waiting for the ferry to load. A crew team went rowing by, I couldn’t believe how fast they could tow by. There were cool anemones growing on the dock at the ferry . They looked like they were lit up like lights in the water.

The ferry crossing is only a 30 minute ride but views of the area are breathtaking. Near the ferry landing is Fort Casey State Park, another one of the “Triangular of fire” forts built in 1890’s. It is home to the regions first lighthouse, Admiralty Head Lighthouse. It is one of the most beautiful lighthouses I have seen and was really impressed as it has been restored by high school students in the area. The Park is also starting to restore and repair the battery and old cannons. It looked really good where it was repainted.

After leaving the ferry we drove south to the end of the island. Whidbey is the longest island in the US. It is 53 miles long and we drove 1/2 of it today. We really liked the town of Langley. Lots of nice shops with an emphasis on art and the walkway down by the ocean was so pleasant. We sat there and enjoyed a Mackinac Island maple chocolate stout beer.

Our first night we camped at Rhododendrom County Park half way from both ends. We bought Penn Cove Mussels today and made them for dinner. Apparently, they are quite famous and are sent to restaurants all over the US.

They were easy to make and tasted so good. What a mild night, we sat out and enjoyed the peace and quiet – well until the military aircraft started flying over quite often, we wondered why so many? Talking to someone later the naval air station were doing training runs to learn to shoot down enemy missiles. They are stationed outside of Deception Bay so when we camped there they were even more of them and they were even louder.

Our second day on the island we stopped at Coupeville, a small community where Front Street hasn’t changed much in a hundred years. The wharf is small with a quaint visitor center where many star fish in the shallow water surrounding it and inside they had actual bones of a gray whale, stellar seal and dolphin.

We then drove to Deception Pass at the far north end of the island and camped at the state park there. We hiked to the Deception bridge. It is quite famous towering over the cliffs and raging sea. The bridge is 17 stories high and covers the span of water from Whidbey to Fidalgo island. They were working on restoring some of it, but we were still able to cross it on the pedestrian walkway. We saw many kayakers paddling under the bridge and playing in the current. While we were walking across the bridge there was a red coast guard boat that appeared to be doing a rescue of a wayward kayaker. We walked down to the beach to get a better view of the entire span of the bridge. Gaspard was so amazed with how big that bridge. He wished he knew how they could build such a big bridge over that The bridge was constructed in 1934 by CCC workers at a value of $420,000 – that is equivalent in today’s purchasing power of about $8,556,810.45, an increase of $8,136,810.45 over 87 years. This means that today’s prices are 20.37 times higher than prices in 1934.

When we returned to our camper there were a lot of blackberries in our campsite, so I picked enough to make a blackberry crisp in my outback oven. It sure tasted good for dessert as well as a base with granola for breakfast the next morning. I picked a second bowl to take along with us for snacking during our drive. They were so yummy!

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08/09 – 08/14 Lake Crescent, Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge

Monday we got up very early and headed for Forks to get a few things we forgot Saturday. We sent a message to Corey wishing him happy birthday and called Dave Zuege to wish him happy birthday. We also called Sarah to find out about their vacation to South Carolina and let her know we are OK and moving on.

We then continued on to Lake Crescent and were lucky enough to get a site over looking the lake at Fairholme. The lake is 625 ft deep, which makes it a favorite for divers as well as boating, kayaking and paddle boarding. After securing our site we drove the 101 highway all along the lake going into the Lake Crescent Lodge, a historic resort built in 1915, which is part of the National Park. The lodge was really quaint and the small cabins all appeared to have field stone fireplaces. The million dollar view from the sunroom and porch made you want to sit there and relax all day. We moved on to the Log Cabin Resort across the Lake but is an extension of the Lake Cresent lodge with small log cabins for rent and a campground. We ate our lunch here on the banks of Lake Crescent looking out into the layered hills I love so much. We ate a pleasant dinner and retired early since we got up so early this morning.

The Olympic Discovery Trail runs throughout the Olympic peninsula that can be hiked or biked for 130 miles from Port Angeles to La Push along old railroad beds. The Spruce Railroad Trail hugs the shoreline of Lake Crescent. On Tuesday we rode a 15 mile section of the trail. You are riding through old growth trees but seeing lots of new planting along the trail. It was just finished in 2020 and is so beautiful to ride along. There are many spots that have an unobstructed view of the lake and the mountains behind it. We rode through 2 tunnels and hiked around Devil’s Punch Bowl. The water there is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom of the lake. There were several people swimming in the bowl and a couple was just starting to snorkel when we hiked by there. We ate our lunch sitting on an iron beam across the lake from the historic lodge.

We made salmon for dinner and had a great visit with Laura and Dale from Bellingham and also Ollia who could not find a campsite and asked if she might put up her tent on a corner of ours. She was born in Russia and came to the US when she was 12 years old. She lives in Seattle right now and loves to hike and experience new adventures. What a pleasant young woman. Dale and Lauravreally liked hearing the story of Gaspard and his travels.

Wednesday we are headed to Hurricane Ridge. We found a camp site at Heart of the Hills. It was quite hot today and we were not that early so we stopped at the visitor center and then drove into Port Angeles. We stopped at a couple shoe stores to look at hiking boots, it is going to be hard to find small boots for me. We also stopped at a small quilt shop and I actually bought some fabric for some outdoor wall hangings. We drove out on Eniz Hook, which is the spit of Port Angeles. At the end of the spit is the Coast Guard Station. As you drive out there you are going by the marina and driving through a paper mill so I thought we were in the wrong place at first. Out on the spit you could see Mt Baker, shadows of the San Jaun Islands and a hint of Vancouver Island and on the other side of the bay you were seeing the entire town. Usually these sites are seen but the smoke in the area made it very difficult.

We returned to our campsite and enjoyed a nice dinner and quiet evening.

On Thursday we hiked up Hurricane Ridge in smoke from Canada and the Northern Cascades. We were told that there have been wind gust over 70 mph, hence it’s name, Hurricane Ridge. We hiked 4.64 miles up and back down at an elevation incline of 700 ft. It made for some heavy breathing and an elevated blood pressure.

We saw Pacific (sooty) grouse in the grass protecting their clutch of babies, we saw 2 babies. There was a large bird flying overhead and after talking to the rangers we are sure it was a juvenile bald Eagle. At the top you have a 360 degrees panoramic view of the mountains as well as the ocean if it is not smoky or foggy. We could barely see Mount Olympus. There were lovely wild flowers but not the abundance that we saw in Mount Rainier. On the way down there was a deer near the trail and at the end of our hike we even saw a juvenile bear. As we stopped to take pictures we sure hoped there was no mother bear near by.

We ate a lunch in the shade of the visitor center and then watched the Life in Change movie about ONP. We returned to our campsite to cook pacific rockfish we had purchased at the market. Our camping neighbor, Romeo brought over Kentucky Bourbon in exchange for ice I was making in our ice machine plugged into an outlet in the bathroom, that was close to our site. Emilita brought over a traditional Philippine dish to share with us. They were so anxious to visit and share. We got an education about Bourbon and got to drink some expensive alcohol we would never buy. They were a fun couple to talk to. He came to the US at the age of 17 from the Philippines and she came at 21. They have a Mercedes cargo van that he is converting, it is fun to see all the ways that people customize their vans to meet the needs they find important.

Friday we drove to Sequim to hike the Dungeness spit but I have to be honest, we were disappointed as it was covered with logs and really smelly ocean plants that the tide throws up on the beach. It sure was not as pretty as all the literature talks about. We saw no wildlife but did have a nice lunch break inside a log leanto.

On the way back we stopped at Lavender Connection. A 5 1/2 acre farm that specializes in Lavender along with an old barn converted to a store to sell their products. The owner explained the essential oil distillation process but of course I was lost when trying to understand all of it. The plants were so pretty and it smelled great walking through the rows. They grow 40 different kinds of lavender, I didn’t know there were that many different kinds. We also found a campground site for Saturday night with electricity at Rainbow RV park. We don’t really like RV parks but it was the only place we could find a site and they had electricity and a shower, one of the cleanest we have seen on this trip.

Saturday we drove into Sequim and visited a quilt shop, farmers market, and the Purple Haze Lavender farm. The second lavender farm has been in business for 24 years. The store was filled with lavender products and I even had white chocolate lavender ice cream. Yummy! They have gorgeous flowers besides the lavender and also exotic chickens and a Peacock. Besides the store there is an old distillery that they use to extract the essential oils from the lavender. I was so peaceful just sitting in their purple chairs and soaking in all the beauty and smells of the many flowers. I bought some culinary lavender and some herb Provence and I’m planning some fun new recipes when we get home. Many people were cutting (U- pick) lavender for small bouquets and wrapping them to take home. They also have a lovely old farm house that they rent out, it was so pretty with all the flowers surrounding the large front porch.

We returned to our campsite to a bit of rain in the evening. Our camping neighbor brought us a lavender bouquet she had picked- that was so kind of her. It makes Luny Bin smell so good.

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08/04 – 08/09 Olympic National Park and day trips

We left Rainbow Falls before 7:00 and headed toward ONP. We stopped in Aberdeen WA to resupply and at the Safeway store we were even lucky enough the find green propane tanks, they have been nonexistent on most of the trip. We continued on our route and were amazed at all the clear cut sections of forest we saw. I hope they do something with the piles and piles of dead wood that is scattered all along these clear cut, it was really ugly. We hoped to get a camping spot at Lake Quinault with 2 national forest campgrounds but we had no luck. The lake is a beautiful blue color and we had heard from other what a gorgeous place to stay. The campsites actually were not that pretty but playing in the lake was what everyone was doing.

We traveled further and got a spot on the Ocean at South Beach. It is only a large parking lot with grass loops but it was at least a place to park for the night. It was very windy and cold so we made a pulled pork dinner inside and used our new table setup that worked well for us. After dinner we took a walk around the loops to see if there might be any open sites for another day but talking to the hosts we may be able to get into Kalaloch (sounds like claylock) campground if we get up early and stand in line in the morning. We retired to read about all wonderful places we can visit in ONP.

We got up bright and early to head over to Kalaloch to see if we could get a site. The rangers are not there until 9:45 so we drove through the campground to check out the sites and then made a picnic breakfast near the ranger registration center. We were the second in line and we were in luck again. We got a nice site for 4 nights which will carry us through the weekend. That seems to be the hardest time to find one so if we are able to we get one from Thursday through Sunday.

In 1909 the Olympic area was designated a national monument and in 1938 it became a national park. Today it is also listed as a World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve encompassing 923,000 acres filled with any outdoors activities you can imagine. It is the only temperate rain forest in the lower 48 states. It is home to eight American Indian tribes that continue to keep their native traditions alive.

We had rained most of the night, not hard but constant. Today we left camp a bit before 7:30 to drive to the Hoh Rain Forest that is 39 miles from Kalaloch. We were lucky as there were no lines backed up to get into the park and we only had to wait for a couple red lights where the road was either washed out or a new bridge was being put in. We were able to find a rv parking spot and readied for our hike in the rain.

The Hoh Rainforest is on the west side of the ONP. It receives on average 140 inches of rain a year and an additional 30 inches in mist and fog. Today we are hiking in the rain, which I guess is fitting for a rainforest.

There are several hikes you can do around the Hoh. We did the Spruce Nature Trail first that takes you through a Sitka spruce, red alder and cottonwood forest then out to the Hoh River. The trees are massive in this area and there are some “all in a row” trees that have grown on top of what they call “nurselogs”. A big tree falls in the woods and begins to rot, then other trees seed themselves on top of the rotting tree. We saw evidence of this is several places in this forested area as well as other hikes we have done this trip.

There was one tree that fell along the path we walked that was over 190 feet long and that was only part of it. In the rainforest Sitka spruce average 220 feet high and some even reach 300 feet. They are a close second to the huge redwoods in California. I need to do a study of trees as I can not look at the needles or leaves and know what kind a tree I’m looking at and would really like to know that. We also hiked the “Hall of Mosses” trail. Gaspard loved seeing it and was amazed how much and how long that grey stringy moss can grow in the woods. Apparently it helps feed the trees the moisture that it needs to survive. There are longer hikes out to the meadows and glacier but we did not think we were up for an 18 mile one way trek. The Hoh Visitor Center is also located here and gives you exhibits and information, about the area as well as a small gift shop.

Roosevelt Elk are the largest of all the elk populations and live in the Hoh Area. This park has the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk with a present count of about 400. We were lucky enough to see a group of 10 or so on our drive in but they darted into the woods as soon as we saw them. We did get a quick picture but it was as the last 2 left the road. A great shot of their butts, don’t you think?

There are several neat aluminum displays of Roosevelt Elk near the parking lots at the Hoh and also Port Angeles visitor centers that were done by Artist Joseph Rossano entitled “Conservation From Here”. The elk are named after Theodore Roosevelt, who besides being our twenty sixth President he was an avid conservationist in setting aside lands that are protected to this day through his forward thinking. The ONP was first set aside as a refuge for the elk before becoming a national monument in 1909 and a national Park in 1938. Many parks and monuments are here for you to visit and enjoy today because of Roosevelt’s protective efforts.

The Hoh is so busy that if you don’t get there very early you will be sitting in line at the entrance to be let in as one car leaves another can enter. When we left the park there were 132 vehicles sitting in line trying to enter the park at 1:30. I’m sure glad we got up there by 8:30 so we could park and enjoy our day hiking instead of sitting in that long line.

There are several species of animals and plants that are found only in this Park.

Mount Olympus is 7,980 feet tall but not visible from must of the park like Rainier was.

There are several small businesses on the road before entering the park boundaries. One of them is an old family owned business that you can purchase clothing, sporting goods or snacks and even rent equipment for a rafting trip down the Hoh River. The Hoh River is 50 miles long from the glaciers of Olympusvtonthe Pacific Ocean. The outfitters will drop you off at the river and pick you up at a take out spot for a fee of course. Four young men were preparing to taking advantage of that service when we arrived. While we were at the store Gaspard enjoyed the company of several local residents of the area.

There are black bear in this area also. There was a mother with 2 Cubs that had been frequenting the Peak 6 store but several days before we arrived a speeding driver passing through killed one of the cubs. It is surprising how fast people are driving on these narrow curvy roads. We are always having people pass us and honking because we drive below the speed limit with our rig. In Oregon and Washington you see lots of road pullouts as it is illegal to drive with more than 5 cars behind you. With that being said the roads are so curvy that you don’t always know how many are behind you or can’t find a safe spot to pull off in time.

On our way back we drove into Ruby Beach and hiked along the ocean. It was very busy but we were able to find a parking spot that we fit in. As you walk down to the beach you are hiking through a tunnel of trees and shrubs. This beach is covered in smooth rocks from the constant washing from the ocean. There are also huge sea stacks just off the coast and at low tide you can walk among them and see sea creatures hiding, waiting for the tide to come in to cover and protect them again. There are 7 beach entrances along the 101 road near our campground. Friday people on the beach were even lucky enough to see 4 whales swimming off shore, we were not one of the lucky ones. We are hoping we get that lucky on Sunday as that is when we plan another beach hiking bay.

Friday night and Saturday it was raining so we drove into the town of Forks to see the museum and a large outfitter store. The town does not have much else to see other than those and a few places to eat. We stopped at the city park where a large group of Adventure Trek participants had just come off the trail after a 4 day backpacking trip. Most of them were sophomores in high school and were from all over the US. They were setting out their gear to clean and dry it out. They had 2 nights of rain while they were gone. I was surprised how many of them still had big smiles on their faces but it was lunch time so that probably helped.

We visited the Forks Timber Museum before we left town. It is a tribute to the pioneers and loggers of the area. I have never seen such large chainsaws, there was even a 10 ft 2 man chainsaw that looked very heavy and awkward. There is also a replica of a fire tower that you can walk out to from the upstairs. Hanging from the ceiling there is a huge dug-out canoe thought to be from the Quileute Native tribe that was found in the underbrush of the area. They were surprised it survived as well as it did. Outside there were huge logging machines and a beautifully restored 1931 convertible car. The museum was well worth the $3.00 entry fee. We stopped at the library for wifi to download a few Blacklist and Virgin River shows on our ipads for rainy nights. The evening was rainy so we cooked inside and sat at our dry inside table. A real plus after so many years of rainy meals with the teardrop.

Forks is also noted as the setting for Stephenie Meyer’s vampire novels, the Twilight Series

Sunday we got up and had pancakes for breakfast. We then went down to the ocean walked the beach. It was low tide when we started so we got to see lots of creatures and shells as well as an Eagle, many seagulls and even a heron. We enjoyed a timely shower and then readied the camper to move on Monday morning. Drying out our muddy outside mat was not fun. It is really pretty and keeps lots of dirt out of Luny Bin but not sure it is worth the mess if it is really rainy.

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07/25-08/4 Mount Rainier and Rainbow Falls

Mount Rainier is the tallest peak in the Cascade Range. The National Park was established in 1899 and is the fifth oldest of them all. The mountain is 14,410 feet high and each year approximately 10,000 people try to climb it but only half of them succeed. Native people in Washington call the mountain Takhoma meaning white capped mountain.

As we drove toward the park we were worried about a camping spot as online all the sites showed reserved. We stopped at the first campground we saw and there were a couple sites available but much further out than we wanted to be so we continued on. At Ohanapecosh Campground we were in luck, we had 5 sites to choose from and took a very quiet loop and a nice site. In looking, their sites are very worn and a bit rough. Many of the sites in our loop are closed for tree hazards so that meant we had fewer close neighbors, hence the very quiet loop. We enjoyed a great shrimp dinner at our campsite and a relaxing evening. There is a fire ban in Oregon and Washington so there are no campfires in any of the parks. It is sad to see how many acres are actually burning right now and how hard the firemen are having to work to get them under control. Tom had a rough night so we decided to take a very easy day at our campsite. We had a nice french toast breakfast and sat back and enjoyed our view of the old growth trees in our loop. Early in the afternoon we unloaded our bikes and did a bike ride through all the loops of the campground. There are almost 200 sites here so there are lots of interesting campers and tents to look at.

The Ohanapecosh River runs through the campground so some of the sites have scenic overlooks of the river. The water is a very interesting blue green color and several families were down playing in the water. It must not be real cold as they were swimming and wading a long time.

We made a rockfish dinner and then got prepared to leave tomorrow for White River Campground near Sunrise, we hope we can get into it so we can do several hikes there.

Tuesday we got up really early and were gone from our campsite before 7:30. We were headed to White River Campground and loved that there was hardly any traffic on the road. We drove through the campground and saw a gentleman who was packing up so we were able to get that spectacular site with a view of the Emmons Glacier from the campsite, it couldn’t get any better.

After he left and we were settled we quickly got our backpacks filled and headed toward the emmons glacier for a 3+ mile hike through the forest and up the trail to an open spans with a wonderful view of the glacier even bigger than from our camper. The Emmons Glacier is the largest glacier in the lower 48. The hike there is literally all up hill but did not seem to bad. We passed several waterfalls and lots of pretty wildflowers as we hiked and crossed the rushing White River on a wooden walking bridge. We took along a lunch and sat at the end of the maintained trail and ate it, we were mesmerized by the size and beauty of the glacier and the snow melting into long waterfalls. The hike back was much quicker as it was all downhill. If you continue on the path where the Emmons Moraine Trail turns off you will be on the Glacier Basin Trail, this is where some of the climbers backpack and camp before their assent of the mountain.

When we got back to our campsite Tom realized that he had lost a set of keys to the camper. He search all his clothes for the day as well as his backpack, no luck. He walked down to the ranger station but it was closed so we would have to wait until tomorrow to find out if anyone turned them in.

Before dinner we moved our picnic table so we had a view of the glacier and river, I don’t think we ever want to leave this beautiful campground, many people have told us that we have the best site and view. Our neighbor told us years ago they would see elk and bear across the river from our site, sure wish that were the case now. After dinner we took a short walk around the campground before turning in for the night. Over night the outside temperature got down to 49 degrees and the inside was only 59. It has been a long time since we have had temps that low.

Wednesday morning we had a great fruit and granola breakfast. We walked down to the ranger station to see if our keys had been turned in. As we walked we met the ranger and just as we started to ask if he had seen our keys I could see them hanging on his belt loop, we were so lucky. Someone had found them on the road and hung them on the bulletin board. We returned to the camper and packed our backpacks to head to Sunrise Lodge and visitor center. The parking lot was packed and because of our length we had to park almost a 1/2 mile down the road on a pullout. Hiking to the visitor center we found both buildings closed but rangers were out and about to help people navigate the hiking trails.

We chose the Frozen Lake trail that runs along the Sourdough Ridge to the west and then continues on to the lake. The trail was pretty steep to begin with but did get a little better closer to the lake. It is actually the water source for Sunrise so there were signs and roped off areas so people could not get near the lake. We took along a lunch to enjoy by the lake. Gaspard thought the view from the lake was great but a bit disappointed that we did not see any mountain goats or marmots along the way. We were told that people were seeing a herd of about 50 goats wandering in the area but of course no luck for us.

On our way down we took the sunrise trail so we completed large loop. Besides all the beautiful mountains and crags the wildflowers were in full bloom so the hills and meadows were just lovely. There was only one stop on the way down that we had to take extra precautions as we were hiking through a snow field and the path was very slippery. The lady in front of us went down in her butt and hands and slide the entire slope. We were very careful and walked in the deeper snow and took off the feet of our poles so the spikes would hold in the snow. The final part of the hike was finished on a service road, but was fun to hike as we talked to the park service employees and volunteers that were repairing the trails in the area. We also hiked a bit of the road with some of the church campers across the road from us. They are a Mormon church group from the tri-cities in Washington, 13 youth and 5 adult sponsors. We had a fun time interacting with them the whole week. They really worked those boys hard hiking each day and they were well behaved in the evening but that was probably because they were exhausted. As we hired back out to Luny Bin we were parked next yo a cool camper. We love seeing the many different campers that travel but one in particular really caught our eye, a traveling nurses camoervwas so unique.

When we got back from our hike Tom was cleaning off our boots and found that both the soles of my boots had cracked all the way through. I guess even Ecco boots can’t withstand serious hiking after 9 years of trails. We did hike over some pretty rocky areas today and earlier in our trip. He had some gorilla black glue so applied that, let it dry the rest of the day and then applied some trusty duct tape, now that fixes everything doesn’t it? After a good dinner we sat back and enjoyed our fabulous view.

Thursday morning we left at 6:30 to drive up to Paradise to hike. It is a 1 hour and 20 minutes drive there and we were told that it gets very busy and we wanted to get a good parking spot so we did not have to walk a long ways before we started our actual hike. We had only shared a muffin on the way there so we went to the lodge to look around, it was too early for the gift shop but we bought breakfast sandwiches and ate them on their beautiful deck before our hike.

There were rangers on the trail to help guide you in the right direction and make sure you knew all the creatures you needed to look our for on your hike.

As you started out on the paved trail you were greeted with flowers and signs telling you their names and then a short staircase down to Marnie Falls. We chose the Skyline Ridge Trail which was hiking uphill until we actually were above tree line. The trail was absolutely gorgeous as we hiked along creeks and waterfalls with the wildflowers in full bloom. There was every color of flowers imaginable and we got some beautiful pictures of them as well as some with Mount Rainier in back of them.

We stopped close to the top and sat on a cool rock bench. Several of the hikers had ask if it was the monument so I got up and sure enough it was. We and Gaspard was so excited to sit down and rest that we didn’t realize it was a Monument we just thought it was a beautiful rock bench to rest on. It was a tribute to General Hazard Stevens and P.B Von Trump who made the first assent of the mountain on August 17, 1870.

We had to climb over several small snow fields and some were pretty slippery and a bit scary in places. Instead of climbing over a very long and dangerous snow field we decided to come down the Golden Gate Trail.

There were several waterfalls along this trail and we even saw marmots and a rare sighting of a ptarmigan hiding in the flowers. We were able to get some great photos of it as it was so close to the trail. I had heard an odd sound and then spotted it, can’t figure out why it did not take off flying. It was so close to the trail that I think it was too stressed out to fly. There was a really cool old cabin that looked like it was built of rocks by the CCC but we never found out the story behind it.

Friday we had a rest day. We did laundry, sat and enjoyed our beautiful view and walked around the entire campground. This campground also had many sites that were closed because of hazards. I guess last year not a lot of maintenance got done because of covid and they have not been able to keep up with everything this year. They would sure have a lot more campers in the parks if they could get those sites all cleared. In the afternoon we sat by the river and visited with 2 camp neighbors. Both of them are traveling full time Shashana in a van and Pete in a cool Tiger Adventure four wheel drive camper. It is so fun to hear other people’s camping stories and share stories of where to go and what to see. They had been in several places we were headed and Pete wants to head east on routes we have already seen. We enjoyed a late dinner and even watch an episode of Virgin River I had downloaded on the iPad.

Each night I would get up to see the moon, stars and Rainier. I was rewarded on of the night with perfect conditions.

Getting up early also provided some great shots of Rainier.

Saturday we left around 7:00 to hike again up at Sunrise. That is a 10 mile drive from the campground but it takes over 1/2 hour to get there as it is a very curvy and steep drive. This time we hiked the Silver Tree trail. It is an area that was burned years ago so lots of trees are dead or laying on the ground but they have weathered a very pretty silver from the sun. It is also a very different view as you are walking away from the mountain instead of up toward the glacier. The wildflowers were abundant on the side hills so we had fun taking photos of the flowers and silver trees together.

We made a picnic brunch and walked up to the picnic area to enjoy it. There are lots of tables with beautiful trees and many different wildflowers planted and so quiet as there was only 1 other table in use.

The store/gift shop was open so we browsed in there for a bit before heading out for a second hike. After returning for our gear we were surprised it started to rain. We got out our rain gear and decided to do the nature trail but found out it was very steep and did not want to go that far in the rain. Instead we drove back down to Sunrise Point and hiked some of the Cascade lakes trail, only 2 miles away and it was not raining there. After returning to our campsite it continued to rain there so for dinner we made chili in the Luny Bin and ate it inside, a real treat after being used to eating under a tarp in the rain with our old teardrop. This was the first day that the mountain was fogged in, we have been lucky with clear skies and beautiful views of the glaciers everyday.

Sunday

The mountain was even more cloudy today but found out it is probably smoke from the wildfires, you can even smell it in the air today. That may also have been part of the cloud cover yesterday. We planned to hike a section of the Wonderland Trail today. This trail is a 93 mile loop around the mountain. It is a trail that many through hikers like to tackle and we saw many of them coming through the campground each day we were there. Before heading out for our hike we saw a group of 7 men and 1 woman that were heading out to summit the mountain. They were the first group of mountain climbers we had seen as they were saying that right now not many were summiting the mountain because of extra hazards of lots of snow melt from extreme heat this year. Gaspard had wanted to tag along but then found out they would not be back before we left, they would take 4 days to go up and back down the mountain. At 14,410 feet high it seems like it should take longer than that.

We were going to hike right from our campsite across the bridge that we could see other people on each day while camped here we found out that had been washed out by the spring thaw but had been replaced the week before we arrived. As it turned out you could cross the bridge but then still had to ford part of the river so we turned around and drove out onto the park road and hiked a different section that took us to Frying Pan Creek and back. There are 5 major areas in the park and we visited and hiked in 3 of them. This park is massive and beauty everywhere you looked.

Rock art on the banks of White River.

When we returned Tom worked on setting up his medications and I baked brownies in our outback oven. We had invited Pete, our camp neighbor for spaghetti dinner so brownie dessert would be a great treat for all of us. I love using the outback oven and have not done a lot of baking so far this trip. Green propane tanks have been at a premium price and hard to find so we have tried to conserve fuel when possible. Tom and Pete exchanged route notes , Pete had already been to Olympic National Park (ONP) where we are headed and he wanted info about traveling highway 2 across the top of the US and also the Maritime provinces in Canada where we have spent quite a bit of time. Both men learned a lot for their respective travels. Shashana is another camp neighbor that we ran into 3 different time in a matter of 1 week of camping so Gaspard had fun getting to know her and she also gave us some pointers about ONP.

Tomorrow we are leaving this wonderful campsite and hope we can find one equally nice in ONP. We will probably camp in a state park before we reach Olympic just so we can get our batteries charged up as they have been running low and can’t quite figure out why.

We had new neighbors with several small children playing with scooters. One of the little bots was not even 3 yet and loved the bright comired one which was not his. Dad had a hard time getting him to even go to bed that night. They were from Afghanistan and talked to them about their new life here, interesting to get their take of the withdrawal of troops. He was a translator for our troops that were there.

When we left this morning our campsite was filled before we drove out, the young couple carried their tent down the road and staked it in . dad drove their camper right in after we drove out. They were so excited to get that premium site and now like us were going to stay extra nights.

We were worried about our batteries with not having plugged in for quite some time they had really depleted. We stopped at 2 different rv shops to see if someone could look at them. No one could take a look at them as they are booked out into September and don’t allow time in their schedules for walk-ins. Apparently our solar panel is not meant to keep up for that many days and we are not sure our second alternator is charging correctly to charge going down the road. We will need to check on that but camper repair businesses are not willing to see walk-in business even if you are traveling through. We were pretty disappointed their solution was to find somewhere to plug in and see what happens. We headed to the first state park we could find, Rainbow Falls 18 miles outside of Chehalis. We were lucky and found a nice site that had electricity and water so we can get our camper back in running order.

We decided to rearrange our trunk and space under our bed. So before dinner we unpacked both spaces and laid it all out so we could see what we had. Yes, we have rearranged several times this trip, maybe we will get it right before we get home. After a simple dinner we cleaned up and then began the repacking of our camper. Looks like it may work better but we will have to see. We were pretty tired after a long day and headed to bed to relax and read about Olympic National Park.

Tuesday we decided to stay one more day to give the batteries a chance to fully charge but we had to move to a different site as someone had already booked our site online. We were surprised that the batteries did not charge more overnight. We spent the day doing a bit of cleaning in the camper and reading more about Olympic Park. We had burritos for dinner and enjoyed a quiet evening. We turned in early as we want to get an early start in the morning.