Henry W. Coe State Park in the spring

We are blessed with mild weather in the Bay Area, but we all know when the winter ends and the spring begins. It is hard to miss it because you can see it: the mountains are turning into gardens with overwhelming green grass and colorful flowers. 

Now spring is officially here! Days without rain are precious. Andrea is on the road to enjoy fresh air and explore wild flowers in the Henry W. Coe State Park. 
Henry W. Coe SP is only one hour drive from the Bay Area.  It contains over 89,000 acres, making it the largest state park in Northern California. There is only one way to go in and out of the main park entrance. The paved road ends here so even it is relatively close to the populated Silicon Valley, it really feels like a very remote wilderness. Many visitors are backpack campers. According to the park ranger, you won't see anybody if you camp out in the park wilderness...

After paying $8 for parking at the visitor center, we begin our hike on a trail along the green hillsides. This is the perfect time of the year to see spectacular wildflowers in bloom. How many do you recognize in these pictures? We will give you the answers at the end of this post!

Nature is the best playground for kids. Everything seems interesting to them and they become little adventurers.

A short hike on the Corral trail, we went through the woods and followed flowing creeks to meadows, with spooky trees!

Andrea found some "treasure". She carefully put them into her hat and plan to bring them home... 😂

It was such a pleasant day trip! If Andrea could also learn something, it will be perfect. After we got back home, we did research on the names of the flowers we saw today. We all learned!

These little flowers seem fragile. They only bloom shortly during the rainy season. But when they do, they together change the view of the landscape! This is the power of life.  

So how many Norcal flowers did you recognize?

1. California Milkmaids; 2. Johnny Jump Up/Yellow Pansy;
3. Tufted Poppy;   4. Shootingstar    5. Red Maids;
6. Grand Houndstongue; 7. Bird's-Eye Speedwell;
8.Lupine; 9. Cow Parsley

Happy New Year~~

Wish everyone a happy new year!
Here we come, 2017~~

Shutter: 12" | Aperture: f/4 | GPS: 39.233474, -119.936559

Spring Break in Oregon

In the Bay Area, people are wearing short sleeves already. Andrea packs up her coat and jacket, ready for a trip to a place still waking up from the frozen winter.  We have been waiting for this trip for a long time. It is the paradise for outdoor lovers. Oregon, here we come!
Great Meadow Sno-Park | Brown Mountain | GPS: 42.396252, -122.196004

Andrea loves traveling by train! This will be another On-the-Road story finished by Amtrak.

The schedule of Amtrak from the San Francisco Bay Area to Oregon is one of the best. Taking off 10:04 PM from Emeryville and arriving at Klamath Falls at 8:07AM the second day, no time was wasted at all. Get on the train after dinner, you will be breathing the fresh air in Oregon the second morning! Klamath Falls is the closest station to the Crater Lake National Park.

Quiet night at the Emeryville Amtrak Station. Great things are waiting down the road

Even though the room of the sleeping car is not spacious, sleeping in it is like sleeping in a cradle. The second morning, we are fresh and sharp!

Emeryville to Klamath Falls is part of the Amtrak Coast Starlight line, which starts from Los Angeles and ends at Seattle. On the train, we see the beautiful landscapes of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway (http://www.volcaniclegacybyway.org/), stretching from the Northern California Lassen Volcanic National Park to the Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

Lucky to see the volcanic lenticular clouds when passing by Mt. Shasta

After 10-hour train ride, we arrive at Klamath Falls. The station is simply a small building next to the rail tracks. After we pick up the rental car from the airport (15 min taxi ride), we head north to Chiloquin.

Chiloquin is a quiet ranch town. We will stay in a log house in the Lonesome Duck ranch for the next 4 nights (www.lonesomeduck.com). 

Chiloquin is 40 minutes away from the south entrance of the Crater Lake National Park. The surrounding waters are popular fishing sites. 

The first sunset in Oregon, we take a walk along the Sprague River in the backyard of the ranch house. Andrea is having a lot of fun exploring this new world with her friend. The lighting and actions at this moment are just right for firing the camera shutter. 

Being so close to Crater Lake, the deepest lake in America, we can not wait to visit. However, in the winter, the lake is not always visible. You may check the park's web cam for visibility before visiting (https://www.nps.gov/crla/index.htm). Our first trip have no visibility to the lake. But the drive is very pleasant.  

GPS: 42.701106, -121.988955
GPS: 42.529724, -121.927459

GPS: 42.668930, -121.979732 | Mt Scott
On the way to Crater Lake South Entrance
Can't see the lake, we build a snowman. It is never boring in the snow!

In the second trip to the lake, we finally see the stunning deep sapphire blue, contrasting with the white snow and mountains. The sRGB JPG on a computer monitor screen is just not good enough. The only way to fully experience this grandeur is to be here in person. 

When you feel too cold outside, the Rim Village Cafe provides a warm and cozy place to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, Andrea's favorite winter drink!  
Even in the late March, the outdoor restroom still looks like this. It must feel chilly doing business in it...

Back to the ranch, things are calm. Children happily gathered around the window to see the random snowfall. When the sun is out, we enjoyed the outdoor. The ranch in the morning is the best. Everything is waking up, fresh and bright. The birds tweets and the white horse comes out to greet us. Here is a wonderland for Andrea. 

After the breakfast, a new day of adventure begins. 

We visit the Klamath Hatchery (46161 Hwy. 62 Chiloquin, OR). It is a great place for family. The hatchery hatches 3 millions fishes every year release to the nearby rivers. Andrea is excited to see so many fishes!

Chiloquin is part of the fabulous Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway. One landmark around Chiloquin is Mt. McLoughlin. It is a beautiful snow mountain with a perfect cone shape. We noticed her from the distance in our first day of visit. Attracted by the beauty, we always try to find her when we are out. But she has been playing hide and seek with us behind the thick clouds and mountains. Even when we were very close to her, she remains completely invisible. She is mysterious. 
Mt. McLoughlin from the distance. We will take a closer look next time

Even though we can not see Mt. McLoughlin close up, we find good playgrounds on the trip to Mt. McLoughlin. 
Great Meadow Sno-Park | Brown Mountain | GPS: 42.396252, -122.196004

We race and sled in the Sno-Park. West of the Sno-Park is the Lake of the Woods. Calm lake decorated with float woods in interesting shapes.
Lake of the Woods | GPS: 42.377960, -122.209930

The next two days, we drive around with no specific plan. You don't really need a plan to explore the Oregon nature because it is beautiful everywhere...  

The Lonesome Duck property manager, Marshall, is a retired ornithologist. He recommended us to visit the Lower Klamath Refuge, which is part of the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuges (www.fws.gov/klamathbasinrefuges/). We did not expect too much. It is near the Klamath Falls Amtrak station so we just plan to stop by before the train arrives. What a place! It feels surreal here: a vast wetland with thousands of birds! Watching the birds and geese so close is awesome, watching them fly out of water all at once is fascinating! The girls are so excited and they sure know how to scare the birds out of the water. We love to watch the children interact with our nature in such a direct and close way.

We onboard the 10PM train to head back home. What a trip! We can't get enough of the amazing Oregon this time, and we will continue our journey next time!