Saturday, August 31, 2013

WAWeekend: Chelan ~ The Land of Lakes

We visit  Lake Chelan, that 55-mile long glacier-fed lake stretching from the North Cascade Mountains to the small town down lake of the same name, often. It’s The Scout’s hometown. Like thousands of others who visit each year we marvel at the beauty of the lake. . .postcard perfect from any angle.

Carnival to San Jose 027
Lake Chelan and the North Cascade Mountains

We’ve become complacent with the views of that lake – lazy, one might say -- and have not gotten out to enjoy the other lakes that dot the nearby Central Washington State countryside.

ChelanToppPort2010 046
Vineyard and orchards border Lake Chelan, WA
But a couple weeks ago we set off to visit a couple of those other lakes. . .did you even know there are other lakes? There are – and not that far from Lake Chelan’s shore!

ChelanBuceriasN2013 065

We headed inland from Manson, the small town at the road’s end on the lake’s northern shore. A narrow, paved road led us through vineyards and orchards, past farms and homes. Willow trees, like those in the left center of this photo, soon gave way to pine trees and the pavement gave way to a somewhat dusty dirt surface.

ChelanBuceriasN2013 067

ChelanBuceriasN2013 073
Then a mere five miles north of Manson we arrived at Antilon Lake, a secluded 96-acre reservoir with a campground,  bike/hiking trails and a Sno-Park for winter fun. From the lake there are views of Fourth of July Mountain.

ChelanBuceriasN2013 069
Antilon Lake

We had the place to ourselves on this mid-weekday afternoon. The only sound was of the wind stirring the branches; the crunch of pine needles under our feet.

PicMonkey Collage

Returning to Manson we stopped three miles out of town at the sprawling Wapato Lake.  This lake, covers 216 surface acres with a maximum depth of 68 feet, and has two campgrounds on its western shore. Fishermen might hook small-mouth bass, crappie, bluegill and rainbow trout at this lake.

ChelanBuceriasN2013 079
Wapato Lake
There’s a boat launch at the small Roses Lake tucked just a mile away amid orchards and vineyards in the hills north of Manson. Anglers will find crappie, trout, catfish and large-mouth bass here.  This is a popular winter ice fishing spot as well.

If You Go:

Driving from Seattle: Depending on road construction and weather, the drive will take between three and four hours.

Flying: The nearest airport is Pangborn in Wenatchee, about 40 miles away and is served by Horizon/Alaska from Sea-Tac, near Seattle.


Antilon Lake Location: 5 Miles North of Manson on Grade Creek Rd. No water, fire rings or picnic tables are provided. Fishermen will find brown trout here.
Wapato Lake Location: 3 Miles North of Manson on Wapato Lake Rd.
Roses Lake Location: 1 Mile North of Manson on Roses Ave.

For fishing license information visit Washington State’s link:

That’s it for WAWeekend – make the most of yours and we’ll see you back here next week. Thanks for stopping by today! Check out Noel Morata's TravelPhotoDiscovery on Monday - this post will be appearing there.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Crete’s Gorgeous Samaria Gorge

Sometimes our travels take us to the end before the beginning.

Such was the case with Crete’s Samaria Gorge. Our first views of the Gorge were of  its end, at Agia Roumeli, a small village on Crete’s southern coast. 

Sfakia2Amster2013 157
Approaching Agia Roumeli, Crete, from the Libyan Sea

Sfakia2Amster2013 162Since our first visit to Crete five years ago, we’ve:
*vowed to hike the Gorge, and
* visit this small town -- with a population of less than 150 people - that welcomes hikers as they emerge from the Gorge's 18 km  (11.8 mile) route.

The gorge, by the way,  is said to be the longest  in Europe.

Sfakia2Amster2013 164
Streets are lined with cafes in Agia Roumeli
Last spring, while not accomplishing that hiking goal, we did have an introduction to both. We took a small Greek ferry across a portion of the Libyan Sea, traveling from Loutro, the village to its east where we were staying, to Agia Roumeli. (Part one of our adventure appeared last week, click this link to read it.)

Sfakia2Amster2013 193

Much to our surprise, Agia Roumeli, with paved roads and sidewalks that lead visitors to a large selection of restaurants and tourist accommodations, is more spread out than Loutro.

(And until we arrived in Agia Roumeli,we hadn’t seen ads for fish pedicures since we’d left the big city, Heraklion, on Crete’s northern coast a week before.)

And the Gorgeous Gorge. . .

Guidebooks say the Samaria (sah-mah-rih-ah) Gorge is carpeted with spring wild flowers and is home to a number of endangered species, including the Kri-Kri, a wild Cretan goat. 

Sfakia2Amster2013 202
Samaria Gorge from Agia Roumeli
It became a national park in 1962.  Overnight camping isn’t allowed though so trekkers need to make the trip in a single day. (an estimated 350,000 from around the world do just that each hiking season).

Sfakia2Amster2013 170
The Scout sets out to see the Gorge
Technically the Gorge ends at the 12.5 km marker, just before the now-abandoned village of Old Agia Roumeli.  The new town is at the water’s edge. So, we set out for the old town on an oleander-lined road that took us to the remains of that village and a bit further into the gorge.

The 1.2 km stretch we walked is described as ‘uninteresting’ in Lonely Planet’s guidebook. 

‘Uninteresting’ ?!?!  That must mean the gorge is pretty spectacular or the reviewer was tuckered out by the time he/she got to this leg of the hike.

We heartily disagree with that description! Here are just four reasons why:

Sfakia2Amster2013 174
This beautifully maintained church and cemetery we passed along the way

Sfakia2Amster2013 177
One of the many buildings that make up the abandoned Old Town

Sfakia2Amster2013 182
This minuscule chapel built into the rock wall high above us

Sfakia2Amster2013 189
And scenes like this along the way
So taken were we with this area that we are already planning our next visit to include a night or two  in Agia Roumeli and perhaps we’ll not only arrive via the Gorge, but have enough energy to climb the cliff behind the town and explore the remains of its Turkish fortress.

Sfakia2Amster2013 196
Remains of the Turkish fortress that towers over Agia Roumeli Crete 

If You Go:

There are excursions to Samaria Gorge from every sizable town in Crete.

* The full one way hikes leave from Omalos to the north (not pictured on the map) and end in Agia Roumeli; shorter round-trip hikes loop from Agia Roumeli taking you the narrowest part of the Gorge, its Iron Gates. 
* Locals have said it is more fun to hike the gorge on your own and not keep pace with an organized group. Note: It also means you are on your own for transportation arrangements to and from the gorge.
* Starting before 8 a.m. will help beat the bus-loads of hikers that have purchased the package hikes.
* The gorge opens late in the spring. It had been open only a couple of days when we visited in early May 2013. So, if hiking the Gorge is in your plans, make sure it is open.

Thanks to Lonely Planet for the map above.

That’s it for this week’s Travel Photo Thursday, but to continue your armchair travels head to Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Travel Tip Tuesday: The Importance of 'Trip Advisors'

A few years ago a travel agent friend of my mine – after reading one of my posts -- simply screeched, “How COULD you recommend people read TripAdvisor?!?!  That is nothing but people’s opinions!”

VeniceSanJuanIsl 262
Alderbrook Resort and Spa proudly displays its TripAdvisor rating 
No, I thought, it is travelers opinions – many of them so current they’ve been posted within days of their stay and our research.

With TripAdvisor, however, the key phrase is ADVISOR. We use the site to help us make a decision; it doesn’t make the decision for us.

PicMonkey Collage
Hotel Electra Palace - Athens   The pool, our room and our balcony were stellar!

Take the Athen’s Hotel Electra Palace where we spent our last night in Greece, for example.  We booked it while on the road, just a few days before our arrival because of the great -- for a big city – rate of $204USD.

But we didn’t book until we’d checked maps to make sure of its location and TripAdvisor. (We found a 1,000+ reviews of which more than half were ‘excellent’ and another 300+ were ‘very good’.). And those contributing ‘Trip Advisors’ didn’t steer us wrong! We will definitely stay there again.

In the last few years we’ve noted not only a growing reliance by fellow travelers on the website, but a similar reliance by restaurants and guest accommodations on all user-review sites, such as TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Google Reviews

Have you seen the “Find us on TripAdvisor” or “If you liked (your stay, your meal) please write about your experience on TripAdvisor,” notices as you’ve traveled? Stickers on doors and windows, certificates on display?

Pelop2013 294

The growing importance of web sites was illustrated well at this restaurant in Heraklion, Crete.  While it was eye-catching and made us laugh. . .we didn’t eat there because we had another favorite place just down the street.
Sfakia2Amster2013 259

Sfakia2Amster2013 260Another restaurant outside Plakias, on Crete’s southern coast, also boasted of its Trip Advisor recommendations, but we’d decided to eat there long before we noticed this sign.

(You can probably tell by the looks of this vegetarian meze plate why we chose to eat there!)

When planning a trip what resources to you use? Have a favorite 'go to' source you want to recommend? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

WAWeekend: “Gold!” ~ and the Rush was on!

Seattle had a real ‘rush’ following the arrival in July 1897 of the  SS Portland. The ship was carrying  68 miners and nearly two tons of gold. The Klondike Gold Rush was about to begin and it would have a significant impact on The Emerald City:

seattlept2 021

In fact it was that discovery more than a century ago that put Seattle on the map as a Gateway to the Klondike; marking its beginning as the Pacific Northwest regional trade center it is today.

Huskies 006

At the time, Seattle’s Chamber of Commerce promoted the city as the ‘only place’ to outfit for the gold fields.
seattlept2 020

More than 100,000 people would seek their fortunes as result of that discovery near where the Klondike and Yukon rivers meet. And large numbers of them set forth from Seattle, taking either overland or water routes as shown on the map below:

seattlept2 017

I had never paid much attention to the Gold Rush nor its impact locally until I made a discovery of my own:
The Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park* in Seattle’s Pioneer Square

(*It is not Museum – although housed on two floors of the historic Cadillac Building, it sure looks more like one than it does a park).

This haven of history is an easy two block walk north of Century Link field, home of the Seattle Seahawks or King St. Station, the city’s Amtrak hub (its clock tower is visible in the cityscape photo above).

Huskies 004

I’ve visited the historic park three times in recent years and each time discovered something I’d missed on previous visits in its audio and visual displays or in the life size models of a store, cabin and a mining operation.

seattlept2 030

seattlept2 028

seattlept2 032

I can assure you that a visit to the Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park is a gold mine of an experience – and the best part, admission is free!

If You Go:

Map picture

Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park
319 2nd Ave. S., Seattle, WA 98104
Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily. Closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving Day and Dec. 25

It is a great place for kids – stop by the Ranger’s desk and get one of the activity sheet they have for the wee ones.

Parking is limited on the street, but there are several nearby lots. Bus stops, the train station and local ferries are within walking distance.

Thanks much for spending time with us this weekend. See you back here next week, until then,  ‘Happy Travels!’

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Crete: A Tiny ‘Ferry” Tale About A Sunday Sail

The Place: The Libyan Sea. . .
The Backdrop: . . .blue sky . . .blue sea. . .
The Time: . . .a laid-back Sunday afternoon. . .

That’s the setting for this week’s Greek ‘ferry’ tale - the tale of a trip from one of the tiniest villages on the southern coast of Crete to another tiniest of villages . . .

Sfakia2Amster2013 151

Both of the villages we traveled between in this ‘ferry’ tale are accessible by boat or on foot. We opted for the easier option and traveled on the sea.

The Libyan Sea, as a matter of fact, is the sea on which we sailed. It is the rather exotic sounding  portion of the Mediterranean Sea, that lies north of the African coast (eastern Libya and western Egypt) and the southern coast of Crete.

It is the same sea that St. Paul is believed to have sailed (landing somewhere in between the two villages – a place still marked by a small chapel and spring.)

Sfakia2Amster2013 063

Our trip between two tiny villages was aboard one of the tiniest of Greek ferries, the Neptune.

We left Loutro on a warm spring Sunday afternoon. It was that time just after mid-day when the intensity of the heat has slowed the pace to near standstill. The only things stirring are the ferries that serve the villages and those who, like us, were waiting to board them.

Sfakia2Amster2013 149

On this small ferry we shared deck space with the supplies and every seat guaranteed a non-obstructed view.

Sfakia2Amster2013 155

Our journey of an hour and a half took us along a section of Crete’s rugged, uninhabited southern coast.

Sfakia2Amster2013 154

Sfakia2Amster2013 207

It also allowed us to look back on a route we’ve walked so many times that links Loutro to Phoenix, an even smaller hamlet on the coast. How interesting it was to see our pathway from the sea and the little chapel where we’ve so often stopped to rest – a quiet place disturbed only by the sound of distant goat bells.

Sfakia2Amster2013 204

For miles the coastline entertained us with its peaks and valleys and then off in the distance we caught a glimpse of our destination:

Sfakia2Amster2013 200

We docked next to the larger ferry that alternates with our small boat, serving the small towns on this route and we set out to explore.  Where had we landed?

Sfakia2Amster2013 163

Well, you’ll just have to come back next Thursday and we’ll give you a walking tour of Agia Roumeli and part of Crete’s famous Samaria Gorge.

If You Go: 

Loutro and Agia Roumeli are on Crete's southwestern coast.  We traveled by car to Hora Sfakia, parking there and catching the ferry to explore these villages.

Map picture

That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday, so head over to Budget Travelers Sandbox for a bit more armchair travel! If you’ve not signed up to receive our posts regularly or haven’t added your photo to the Google friend section (both on the right hand column) we hope you’ll do so today. Happy Travels ~

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Silly Souvenirs: Something to Crow About

Pelop2013 084We don’t buy many souvenirs that can’t be consumed within a few weeks or months of our return. Honey and spices are among our favorites because they tuck so well into the suitcase and are flavorful reminders of good times and tastes we have had during our travels.

From a practical standpoint, when you spend a good deal of the year traveling, as we do, the last thing you need is more ‘souvenir stuff’ to collect dust in your absence.

So I can’t explain when I became focused on ceramic roosters; the kind that are often used to decorate European kitchens. It was somewhere between Italy and Portugal or possibly, France that I decided in order to look more European, our kitchen ‘needed’ a colorful ceramic cock!

The Rooster’s ‘Tale '’

kirklandprt2 003
Portuguese tile
Before you label me quite feather-brained, let me tell you a bit about the rooster in Europe. 

Take Portugal for instance. . .

As the legend goes about the Galo de Barcelos, a man accused of stealing was sentenced to death by a judge who was about to dine on a roasted rooster. The convicted man told the judge that the rooster on his plate would rise and crow to validate his innocence. And sure enough, as he was placed on the gallows, that rooster raised up and began crowing – and spared his life!

To this day, the rooster represents faith, luck and justice in Portugal. And roosters like those in the photos above and below are found in every tourist shop!

kirklandprt2 004

And then there is Italy. . . .where the story is told that back in 1516 a crowing rooster in the middle of the night is credited with waking the powerful Medici family and foiling an assassination attack on them. As a result, Guiliano Medici ordered the creation of a ceramic rooster pitcher and they were given to the peasants for good luck. The rooster continues to symbolize blessings, prosperity and well-being.

Back to ‘my’ rooster quest . . . those  beautifully sculpted Italian ceramic roosters don’t fit in our small travel suitcases and I am not birdbrained enough to carry one back in my lap on a 10-hour flight from Europe. 

Meet “Dooley” – our kitchen rooster:

Sometimes things are just meant to be.  At a recent auction that our animal-loving friends at Dooley’s Dog House in Kirkland had organized for homeless animals, I found my rooster. 

While he isn’t quite the sleek, tall, good-looking Italian ceramic version I had in mind, my somewhat reasonable (okay. . .$15 bid) secured his homecoming at our house. (I did note no one else seemed interested in bidding on him, let alone taking him home)

kirklandprt2 001

kirklandprt2 002While he isn’t a suave Italian specimen, he is turns out to be one talented cock!

He’s actually a cookie jar – one of a collection of whimsical jars made by a long-ago company AMC in New York – and he crows - every time you open the jar!) 

And by coming home with me, he’s already provided some good fortune  for some homeless animals out there. . .

So what about the souvenirs you buy? What are your favorite things to bring home? Practical or silly?  Tell us about it in the comments below or shoot us an email.  Hope to see you back here on Travel Photo Thursday!
And stop by The Tablescraper for some Sunday reading at "Seasonal Sundays" - you'll find some posts by us and many, many other entertaining writers!

Until then, hope your travels are something to crow about (sorry, I couldn’t resist)!!!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...