To plan a trip one must pick a destination, decide what
cities and attractions you will visit and mix in some butterflies. This began
our decision to visit the western side of the state of Washington and the
National Parks in that area during the last two weeks of August. We have found
this time period to be less crowded and the weather is still very enjoyable.
From there we just kept adding on and this resulted in a very memorable
After experiencing the many places of interest in Seattle, we set a
course north to Bellingham and spent a whole day on a whale cruise through the
San Juan Islands. We were rewarded with the sightings of orca and minke whales,
porpoises, harbor seals, bald eagles and various sea birds.
Then we headed into Canada to catch the ferry to visit Victoria, British
Columbia. Among the attractions we visited, there was the world famous Butchart
Gardens. Unfortunately, the sun was not shining, but it was the best garden
ever to grace our vision. We were in awe of all the hard labor required to
create and maintain the beautiful gardens.
Nearby are the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. Rare and exotic butterflies
enjoy a lush, tropical indoor rain forest. We observed at least four entire
life cycles, which included the eggs, caterpillars and pupa states. There were
caterpillars that had the appearance of bird droppings and the giant atlas
moth's green spined caterpillar happened to be munching away in a tree. What we
most enjoyed was the guided tour that pointed out each stage of the butterfly
or moth's life cycle.
Our next stop was at Crystal Gardens. It is an unusual conservatory of
many tropical plants containing exhibits of endangered exotic animals and a
seasonal area provided for free-flying butterflies. Morphos and the palio
species caterpillars were among those to enjoy the habitat. The garden's main
focus is on the preservation and conservation of endangered species of tropical
birds and animals.
We stopped at a few more sights in Victoria before we, luckily, caught
the last ferry to Port Angeles that day. We were rewarded with a stunning
The next day was dedicated to Olympia National Park. This was too short
of a time and we really crammed it in and had a very long day. First, we headed
up to Hurricane Ridge at 5,200 feet. What a view of the snow capped mountains!
A snowplow was parked nearby since this region may receive snow every day of
the year, and in 1996, they had 405". Wow! There is a trail there that is
three miles long and sorry to say we didn't have the time to wander along the
entire trail. We hiked for about a half-hour and came upon a field of alpine
flowers and the last thing we expected - butterflies. I didn't have my field
book to identify them, but we saw a tiny blue, a yellow, a skipper, and a
fritillary - even managed to get one picture without trampling on the flowers.
Down the mountain we went and stopped at various places through the rest of
Olympia and one of the few rain forests in the United States. Another pretty
sight was Ruby beach with its sea stacks and catching it as the sun was
The next days were spent stopping along the way visiting various
attractions that included Mount Rainier, Mount Saint Helen's, Columbia River
Basin, and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. Mount Rainier also had alpine
meadows, but the weather did not cooperate and shortly after we stopped at the
lodge in Paradise, we had fog, lightening and rain and some trees had toppled
and blocked some roads for a brief time. It just shows you that the weather can
be very unpredictable at times. Mount Saint Helen's is an awesome sight with
some of the new visitors' centers just opening. You can get within five miles
of the collapsed crater at Johnson Ridge Observatory. Columbia River Basin is a
beautiful drive meandering along the Washington and Oregon borders and along
the road. It is sprinkled with waterfalls. Crater Lake is a former volcano and
has the bluest water one can see and the deepest lake in the United States.
Luckily, we had enough time to take the boat ride inside the caldron, which was
very enjoyable, but beware. There is a very steep trail to get down to the
boat. Now we can say we have been inside of a volcano.
So little time and so much to see providing us with many memories.
Hm-m-m, we may see a return trip sometime in our future.