Tuesday 25 April 2017

Orcas Island: MTB and hiking

Camping trip to check out the mountain biking on Orcas. You can only ride the trails there in the shoulder season before they get too busy with hikers in the summer.

Theme song: Paint It Black by Ramin Djwadi. Pretty much the whole Westworld soundtrack really.

Ferry from Ana Cortes to Orcas

Stupidly pretty views from Mt. Constitution. Mt. Baker centre stage

Hard to see in the photo, but from this one viewpoint you could see Rainier, Baker, and Vancouver.

Beautiful campsite, Moran State Park "South End".

The next day it was back up to Mt. Constitution with the bike, ready to shred.

The riding was amazing. Really nice singletrack with stupendous views, beautiful lakes, and pretty much zero people. Now in my top 10 all time favourite rides. The only other person I saw was E who was hiking the same trails, and the people with a truck who gave me a shuttle to the top for a second lap :)

Cascade Falls
The next day we headed out to Obstruction Pass State Park for a short hike. There's a hike-in campsite here that would be do-able with the kids.

Sunday 9 April 2017

Las Vegas: MTB, Red Rocks, Mt. Charleston

We had to get out from under Seattle's winter clouds again, Hawaii was not nearly enough. So we looked around for places that weren't too far, weren't too expensive, and were warm and sunny. Vegas was easily the best option, but I hate the Vegas casino strip so this was going to be a very different trip to the one most people make.

Theme song: Cocoon by Milky Chance.

Fortunately Vegas has an amazing array of natural scenery to offer. First up, Red Rock Canyon. We did the Calico Tanks walk, which was really beautiful and the kids had a lot of fun rock scrambling to the top.

So much rock scrambling

Looking out of the canyon from the center point

The kids were very much done hiking for the day, so E and I took turns to walk the lost creek trail while they slept in the car.

Obligatory Bellagio visit

The next day we went to great playground (exploration peak park). We'd promised the kids swimming and the pool at our condo wasn't ready: it was green :( There actually weren't that many pools open at all. We finally settled on the M Resort and Spa Casino which had a heated pool that was decently priced, open to non-guests, and was really nice. Would do it again.

The next day was mountain biking for me. Rented a full suspension bike from Mcghies Bike Outpost in Blue Diamond, which sits at the foot of many miles of really amazing desert singletrack. The bike shop was great, and even let me leave my post-ride beer in their fridge.

The riding is top notch, I had an absolute ball, and rode about 37km. Weather was good, although could have done with less wind.

Great singletrack with beautiful canyon scenery

This Joshua tree used to have a really big branch you needed to duck under.

The next day we went to the acquarium at Mandalay Bay. It was decent, but not amazing. I was enthralled for quite some time watching a huge octopus move around though.

On our final day we drove up to Mt. Charleston. At the (very new and beautiful) visitors centre they were desperate for kids to do their young ranger program, so we did. Afterwards we hiked up Fletcher Canyon, which was a really great walk. In the final section the canyon walls close in tightly, and there was still a bit of snow to navigate around.

Saturday 1 April 2017

Cherry Blossoms at University of Washington

Spring is finally here. The cherry blossoms at UW are really impressive, and this year was apparently a particularly good one.

The Suzallo Library is a spectacular building. The stairwell outside this room was full of people getting wedding photos done.

The Quad. Blossoms and a huge crowd