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Delvo
2008-Aug-31, 03:38 AM
An area I'd love to see (and am considering moving to in a few years) is North America's mountainous coastal region from southern Alaska through western British Columbia and into western Washington, where the cool-weather rain-forests grow.

Due to the classes I'm taking now and the internship I'll be starting in January, the only sufficient window of opportunity I'm sure I'll have for a much of a vacation is this December. I'm an American living in one of the contiguous 48 states, so the simplest, easiest, and cheapest destinations for me are probably going to be in the 48 contiguous American states.

Combine those, and you get a vacation in December, most likely to Washington. But that's when it gets cold there, so most of the obvious things for a visitor to do for the rest of the year, such as camping and hiking, will probably be closed, and I don't have the gear for that in really cold weather anyway (unless we're talking about short hikes going right back to my own car within a few hours, as opposed to multi-day backpack treks).

I thought of getting ski lessons. But all I can do to find a ski school is search the internet. Are there any ways you know of to pick one over the others, or any specific ones you'd recommend? And, not being a serious skier already, I don't have my own skis, poles, or suit. Would I need to buy them, or would the ski school have that stuff? And how much time does learning to ski really take? (For that matter, are lessons really even needed, or a ripoff? And if not, then can the gear be rented, for people who don't own it?)

What else can you think of to do during a trip to a wintry place in winter?

(Of course, indoor activities would also be good. I just didn't talk about them yet because they wouldn't necessarily be related to the location or to the reasons why I want to see that location.)

novaderrik
2008-Aug-31, 03:49 AM
doesn't anyone just go on vacation to relax any more?
plop a folding chair next to a lake next to a small campfire somewhere and listen to the sounds of nature while sipping the beverage of your choice..

Delvo
2008-Aug-31, 04:03 AM
plop a folding chair next to a lake next to a small campfire somewhere and listen to the sounds of nature while sipping the beverage of your choice..Actually, replace that lake and campfire with hills and a forest and put the chair on the deck or porch of a cabin or inside it by a window (especially since it is winter in Washington), and I'd love it. It already reminds of some fond memories I have of certain places I've been before. But such places are extremely hard to find, especially if you live far away from them. I'll almost certainly have no place to stay but hotels, and just sitting around in a place like that isn't different enough from sitting around at home.

Gillianren
2008-Aug-31, 05:55 PM
Well, I'd certainly be willing to give you the Grand Tour of Olympia, which is actually kind of a neat place.

Seattle's got some good stuff, and Tacoma's got one or two things of interest. (Heck, if you decide to visit our state history museum, I'd go along for that, too, as I've never made it there!) I don't know much about skiing, as I physically can't, and not just from not learning how. I know of a neat little bed-and-breakfast here in town, but I don't know how the amenities on Mount Rainier hold through the winter; I think they close a lot of them, but I'm not sure.

novaderrik
2008-Aug-31, 07:18 PM
Actually, replace that lake and campfire with hills and a forest and put the chair on the deck or porch of a cabin or inside it by a window (especially since it is winter in Washington), and I'd love it. It already reminds of some fond memories I have of certain places I've been before. But such places are extremely hard to find, especially if you live far away from them. I'll almost certainly have no place to stay but hotels, and just sitting around in a place like that isn't different enough from sitting around at home.
if we can sit outside next to a fire in the dead of winter in MN, then you can do it in Washington. might need an umbrella, tho, i think....

dhd40
2008-Aug-31, 09:06 PM
An area I'd love to see (and am considering moving to in a few years) is North America's mountainous coastal region from southern Alaska through western British Columbia and into western Washington, where the cool-weather rain-forests grow.
(snip)
I thought of getting ski lessons. But all I can do to find a ski school is search the internet. Are there any ways you know of to pick one over the others, or any specific ones you'd recommend?
I visited (and can recommend) Whistler

http://www.whistlerblackcomb.com/index.htm

but donŽt know which ski school to pick there. From my experiences in Europe I would say it doesnŽt matter very much which one you pick.



And, not being a serious skier already, I don't have my own skis, poles, or suit. Would I need to buy them, or would the ski school have that stuff?

The link to Whistler has a button "rentals&lessons". IŽm pretty sure youŽll find all the information there. Normally, you can rent skis, ski poles, skiboots, but not suits.


And how much time does learning to ski really take? (For that matter, are lessons really even needed, or a ripoff? And if not, then can the gear be rented, for people who don't own it?)

If youŽve never done it before you will need a 5-day-lesson. After this you will be able to coast down a hill (donŽt chose the steepest ones, try to coast <c :))


What else can you think of to do during a trip to a wintry place in winter?

Walking through wintry boreal forests is a one and only experience

Gillianren
2008-Aug-31, 10:44 PM
We've got very special forests up here, too--about the only temperate rain forest in the Northern Hemisphere is right here. That's worth a wander through, even in December.

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-01, 03:28 AM
It's not all that cold out here in the winter -- you might want wet weather gear more than cold-weather gear unless you're really going into the mountains. I've lived in the area 40 years and never seen 10 degrees F or below. It snows once or twice a winter.

Visiting the Northwest coast in the winter can be quite enjoyable, though not in the sun-on-the-beach sort of way. Storms, surf, and all that. And as Gillian has mentioned, lots of interesting cities and towns to visit. Port Townsend, for one. Not near as crowded in the winter. (It was a zoo today!)

Delvo
2008-Sep-01, 03:55 AM
It's not all that cold out here in the winter... I've lived in the area 40 years and never seen 10 degrees F or below. It snows once or twice a winter.What part of the state are you in? My cousin told me about watching a football game in Seattle, which I thought wasn't even a very high altitude, under MUCH colder conditions than that. Where we grew up, temperatures below 0 happen several times every year, and he reported discovering in Seattle a whole new type of PAIN from the excessive cold that we never got in our home town.

mugaliens
2008-Sep-01, 09:12 AM
I thought of getting ski lessons. But all I can do to find a ski school is search the internet.

Yep - I'm a skier (since seven). Skied most of Colorado.

Every ski resort holds ski lessons. Call the resort to get quotes on a package deal, which includes lift tickets, equipment rental, and ski lessons. Then work the same or better through a travel agent, including lodging and possibly transportation. These days, equipment for rent at most decent resorts is pretty good stuff.

Normally, a single lesson is good enough to get you going on the bunny slope. After that, you'll need to practice several days and perhaps take another lesson before tackling anything more difficult.

Most people will take a morning lesson and schedule a private afternoon lesson. In between, they go to the bunny slope and practice their turns and stops.

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-01, 01:25 PM
What part of the state are you in? My cousin told me about watching a football game in Seattle, which I thought wasn't even a very high altitude, under MUCH colder conditions than that. Where we grew up, temperatures below 0 happen several times every year, and he reported discovering in Seattle a whole new type of PAIN from the excessive cold that we never got in our home town.

Within a 50 mile radius of Seattle, which is at sea level. The sea is one reason for the mild climate of course -- the water stays in the 50 degree F range pretty much year round.

I sincerely doubt the "much colder" conditions. Not that it can't feel like that when you're wet and the wind blows.

I don't want to put anyone off from visiting. While it rains often here, it very rarely rains very hard -- we get less annual rainfall than much of the midwest. You get used to it. And there's lots to see and do here.

Gillianren
2008-Sep-01, 05:49 PM
Oh, yeah, Port Townsend's lovely, but I agree about the zoo part. (We were there a couple of weeks ago instead of going to faire.)

Western Washington is the cool, rainy part of the state. If you cross the Cascades into Eastern Washington, the weather's a bit more severe.

Tobin Dax
2008-Sep-01, 05:52 PM
Listen to Treb and Gillian. It doesn't get all that cold in western WA in the winter. (In western OR, it usually barely snows in the December and January. In November, it's in the 40's and rainy.)

Going to see Seattle/Olympia/the Olympic Penninsula in November is a good time to do it. It's a little cold, but not close to freezing. There's a little rain and definitely overcast skies, but that's part of the scenery.

Yes, I'm biased. Still, the wallpaper on my cellphone is a picture of the Pacific and the Oregon coast taken last January. It was overcast and 50 degrees F or so, a beautiful day on the coast. That's the way to experience it. :)

Gillianren
2008-Sep-01, 06:20 PM
Well, of course you should listen to Treb and Gillian! We know what we're talking about!

He and I live in one of the loveliest places I've ever seen, and I think it's lovely year 'round. Then again, I like rain and mist and such.

dethfire
2008-Sep-01, 07:09 PM
doesn't anyone just go on vacation to relax any more?
plop a folding chair next to a lake next to a small campfire somewhere and listen to the sounds of nature while sipping the beverage of your choice..

yes, my kind of vacation. RELAX

aurora
2008-Sep-01, 11:26 PM
If you are going to see the rain forest (Hoh visitor center in Olympic National Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoh_Rain_Forest), or Lake Quinault (http://www.visitlakequinault.com/) or Kalaloch (http://www.visitkalaloch.com/)) the best time to do it is in the winter, when it is raining. Otherwise, it just isn't the same.

In BC, it's a long ways from the coast (British Columbia is HUGE) but the hot springs at Fairmont (http://www.fairmonthotsprings.com/) and the ones at Radium (http://www.britishcolumbia.com/regions/towns/?townID=3511) are both very nice indeed.

novaderrik
2008-Sep-02, 05:20 AM
yes, my kind of vacation. RELAX
and at the very least leave the cell phone/PDA/laptop in the car and do your own version of the Corona commercials where they are just laying in a hammock on a beach somewhere..

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-02, 01:30 PM
and at the very least leave the cell phone/PDA/laptop in the car and do your own version of the Corona commercials where they are just laying in a hammock on a beach somewhere..

Not OUR beaches in the winter, thank you very much! On the other hand, in appropriate clothing, a brisk walk on those beaches can be invigorating.

Delvo
2008-Sep-02, 03:07 PM
If you are going to see the rain forest (Hoh visitor center in Olympic National Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoh_Rain_Forest), or Lake Quinault (http://www.visitlakequinault.com/) or Kalaloch (http://www.visitkalaloch.com/)) the best time to do it is in the winter, when it is raining. Otherwise, it just isn't the same.Yes, of course. :) The rain and clouds and fog are the main things that attract me to that area. Those Corona commercials with people roasting in the blazing sun without a cloud in sight (or a hill, for that matter, and no forests within view of the camera, although there might be some behind) are my vision of HELL.

If it rains there in winter (at least at low elevations), as opposed to getting ice and snow, then that's both good news and bad news to me. It's bad because part of why I want to relocate (once I finish my degree and get a new career going) is not just for mountains and tall dark evergreen trees and the rain, fog, and clouds, but also for more ice and snow. For that, I guess I'll have to aim farther north along the coast, or aim much farther east to the area east of the Great Lakes, unless there are towns in Washington at the higher elevations where there's more ice and snow (but every one I know of seems to be located as low as possible instead). But it's good because it means they probably don't close off the hiking areas as I thought they might. (And that's a cheaper thing to spend my time on than skiing, anyway.) And what to do for this vacation is the more immediate concern, since any relocation I do won't happen for a few years.

Torsten
2008-Sep-02, 04:27 PM
If you do decide to travel to southern Alaska, chances are it will be via ferry (http://www.dot.state.ak.us/amhs/) from Prince Rupert, BC, which in turn means you'd travel through my little community in central BC (unless you choose to travel by vessel from Washington).

Anyway, if you have any lingering interests in forestry, I can show you some stuff around here.

aurora
2008-Sep-02, 04:39 PM
If it rains there in winter (at least at low elevations), as opposed to getting ice and snow, then that's both good news and bad news to me.

Both Washington State and British Columbia have a marine climate (cool temps year around, wet winters, dry summers, infrequent snow at low elevations) west of the Cascades, and a drier more temperature-extreme climate east of the mountains. The mountains have the most snow, of course.

The largest cities (Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver BC) are all at near sea level. But there are lots of smaller towns in the higher elevations.

Gillianren
2008-Sep-02, 05:06 PM
The largest cities (Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver BC) are all at near sea level. But there are lots of smaller towns in the higher elevations.

Exactly what I was going to say. The Cascades are full of little towns that get snowed in every winter. Or, of course, you can live in one of the bigger cities (you know, the ones with jobs) and go up to the snow on weekends and vacations. After all, we have glaciers here, you know.

geonuc
2008-Sep-02, 06:53 PM
After all, we have glaciers here, you know.
Still?

aurora
2008-Sep-02, 09:09 PM
Still?

For a few more years, anyway.

redshifter
2008-Sep-02, 09:47 PM
Still?


My wife and I drove up to Sunrise (the NE corner of Mt. Ranier Nat. park) and got glances of the Emmons glacier on Mt. Rainier between the snow flurries.

Not sure how long it's supposed to stick around though.

Tobin Dax
2008-Sep-02, 10:10 PM
My wife and I drove up to Sunrise (the NE corner of Mt. Ranier Nat. park) and got glances of the Emmons glacier on Mt. Rainier between the snow flurries.

Not sure how long it's supposed to stick around though.
Sure, make me jealous. I'm just happy that I got to see Mt. St. Helens on the horizon (in silhouette after sunrise) driving to the Portland airport a couple weeks ago.

redshifter
2008-Sep-02, 10:44 PM
Sure, make me jealous. I'm just happy that I got to see Mt. St. Helens on the horizon (in silhouette after sunrise) driving to the Portland airport a couple weeks ago.


If you ever get out this way again, a trip to the Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is highly recommended, as is Mt. Rainier Nat. Park.

Delvo
2008-Sep-02, 11:10 PM
For a few more years, anyway.Last time I checked, the global-warming predictions for the western coastal region didn't include temperature change, but did involve possible slight increase in precipitation. Where it gets warmer is the middle and the East.

Gillianren
2008-Sep-02, 11:12 PM
Actually, I see glaciers pretty much every time I go anywhere. Mount Rainier is visible from a lot of places in town, including the freeway overpass about 3/4 of a mile from my apartment.

Tinaa
2008-Sep-02, 11:31 PM
Yep - I'm a skier (since seven). Skied most of Colorado.

Every ski resort holds ski lessons. Call the resort to get quotes on a package deal, which includes lift tickets, equipment rental, and ski lessons. Then work the same or better through a travel agent, including lodging and possibly transportation. These days, equipment for rent at most decent resorts is pretty good stuff.

Normally, a single lesson is good enough to get you going on the bunny slope. After that, you'll need to practice several days and perhaps take another lesson before tackling anything more difficult.

Most people will take a morning lesson and schedule a private afternoon lesson. In between, they go to the bunny slope and practice their turns and stops.

Go skiing! I've been to several places in Colorado and Most of the places in NM. Skiing is great fun. You can meet some pretty cool people on the lifts.

As Mugs said, all the resorts offer ski lessons. You'll have a good time.

Tobin Dax
2008-Sep-03, 01:28 AM
Go skiing! I've been to several places in Colorado and Most of the places in NM. Skiing is great fun. You can meet some pretty cool people on the lifts.

As Mugs said, all the resorts offer ski lessons. You'll have a good time.

He can also ski on Mt. Hood. Probably Mt. Rainier, as well. :)

redshifter
2008-Sep-03, 06:06 PM
The snow out here isn't as good as the snow in the Rockies for skiing I've heard. The snow out here in the NW is wet and sloppy most of the time, though I think it's better at higher elevations. IIRC dry and fluffy is better for skiing.

No downhill skiing resorts on Mt. Rainier, though there is lots of X country I believe. There is a resort near Mt. Rainier though - Crystal Mt.

jj_0001
2008-Sep-03, 07:06 PM
Well, as yet another "Eastsider" (that means east of Lake Washington, i.e. on the Bellevue/Redmond side of the lake, not the Seattle side), I will have to say that the coldest I ever saw here was 17 F, and the warmest was just up to 90. The climate is very moderate in both directions, hot and cold.

It is 'rainy' but the winter "rain" is more like "fizz".

The Olympic peninsula is very abandoned and very beautiful. There is a gotcha, if you get up the slopes a bit, you will get snowed on like no tomorrow, even though it's likely to be all rain at the ocean.

If you're taking a vacation in December here, I'd hit Ruby Beach, Hoh rain forest, the beaches on the north and west sides of the peninsula, and so on.

If you head into the Olympics or Cascades, be prepared to do serious, expert winter camping. Once you get up a 1000 feet or so, it's going to be ***winter***. Not that cold, but you will get weather.

For skiing, Stevens Pass is where to go, in my book. Snoqualmie Pass usually has ok snow conditions, but the other 99,453,123 people who are there would agree with you. People have told me Crystal is good, but I haven't made it there yet.

You could always go to Juneau :).

Most of the places to stay will be closed. I think "Granny's Cafe" (and associated motel) will be open, I've used them off-season before.

redshifter
2008-Sep-03, 07:16 PM
I've seen 98-99 and I think Sea-Tac airport actually hit 100 a few years ago for the first time, but I totally agree; the climate out (on the west side of the state anyways) here is very moderate. Rainy/drizzly more than I would like, but moderate.

teddyv
2008-Sep-03, 07:30 PM
Another BC'er here.

Definitely recommend Whistler-Blackcomb if you like the resort style destination. December would still be bit early for the best snow - Jan and Feb are better. Vancouver also has 3 local mountains with skiing (Cypress Bowl, Grouse Mtn, and Seymour Mtn). Again, December might be a bit early for really good conditions.

Tobin Dax
2008-Sep-03, 11:04 PM
I've seen 98-99 and I think Sea-Tac airport actually hit 100 a few years ago for the first time, but I totally agree; the climate out (on the west side of the state anyways) here is very moderate. Rainy/drizzly more than I would like, but moderate.

My father, mother, friend, and friend's brother each told me separately that it hit 101 degrees in Salem, OR, a couple weeks ago. That means that this doesn't happen very often out there.

redshifter
2008-Sep-04, 08:00 PM
My father, mother, friend, and friend's brother each told me separately that it hit 101 degrees in Salem, OR, a couple weeks ago. That means that this doesn't happen very often out there.


No it doesn't, though the Willamette valley does get 10 or so degrees hotter than the Seattle area in summer.

eric_marsh
2008-Sep-04, 08:05 PM
I don't know if you are up to sleeping in a coach car or not but you can get a super deal on the Amtrak America Pass (last time I looked anyway) and see the whole country for almost nothing.

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-05, 04:23 AM
Oh, yeah, Port Townsend's lovely, but I agree about the zoo part. (We were there a couple of weeks ago instead of going to faire.)

Western Washington is the cool, rainy part of the state. If you cross the Cascades into Eastern Washington, the weather's a bit more severe.

If you think PT was busy a couple of weeks ago, try this weekend. Wooden Boat Festival. If you're not actually going to the festival, you really don't want to visit then.

MAPNUT
2008-Sep-05, 02:24 PM
There's more information about skiing than you can absorb on sites like Epicski.com. I highly recommend it; a sport that gives you thrills year after year and gets you out in the winter. Seattle is a good base for skiing; there's plenty of snow in the Cascades above 3,000 feet and a lot of resorts. The snow is said to be heavier and wetter than in the Rockies, but they do pack it and groom it. The suggestion of Stevens Pass is probably a good one; Snoqualmie Pass and Crystal are reputed to get crowds. (I'm an Eastern skier, just repeating what I hear.) If you ski mid-week though, Crystal will probably not be crowded, and it's Washington's biggest ski mountain.

For a first-timer, it would be good if you can make a skiing friend to show you the ropes. I agree that one or two lessons may be enough to get you started. (The quality is variable.)You can be enjoying making decent runs with controlled turns by the second day. On the first day, expect to fall down a lot and don't get discouraged.

redshifter
2008-Sep-05, 07:22 PM
Great weather here this weekend, my wife and I are driving over the north Cascades with a trip to N. Cascades National Park and staying overnight in Winthrop. We'll head back over Stevens Pass on Sunday. Should be a very scenic trip. I haven't been over the N. Cascade hwy in about 30 years, so it'll be new to me.

Delvo
2008-Sep-06, 03:27 AM
The discovery that a bunch of the low-altitude Washington State Parks are open all year, complete with a list of their scheduled openings & closings or lack thereof that I found online, settled this for me. I'll drive up to see the high-altitude scenery for a bit, but skip the skiing; most of my outdoor time will be spent hiking somewhere in the area of Puget Sound. (Why is it called that, BTW?) Now I'm on to the phase of planning in more detail: choosing which specific parks to aim for, price-checking and ordering plane & train tickets and rental car, maybe finding an old "lodge"-type hotel in the mountains instead of a conventional one and/or a cabin to rent inside a park instead of having to drive there from a hotel outside the park...

Gillianren
2008-Sep-06, 05:07 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Puget_sound, is what I found.

I really hope you enjoy your trip, whether you get here to Olympia or not.

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-06, 02:37 PM
The discovery that a bunch of the low-altitude Washington State Parks are open all year, complete with a list of their scheduled openings & closings or lack thereof that I found online, settled this for me. I'll drive up to see the high-altitude scenery for a bit, but skip the skiing; most of my outdoor time will be spent hiking somewhere in the area of Puget Sound. (Why is it called that, BTW?) Now I'm on to the phase of planning in more detail: choosing which specific parks to aim for, price-checking and ordering plane & train tickets and rental car, maybe finding an old "lodge"-type hotel in the mountains instead of a conventional one and/or a cabin to rent inside a park instead of having to drive there from a hotel outside the park...

Note that many state parks are pretty busy all year round as well. You may need reservations if you plan to camp, especially on the weekend. Most state parks do not have accommodations other than camping, although Fort Worden, in Port Townsend, rents out the old officers' quarters.

And enjoy!

aurora
2008-Sep-07, 03:40 AM
I really like the state parks in Washington and Oregon that rent yurts. The nice thing is that it is pouring rain when you arrive, your camp is already set up you just move your pack into the yurt.

redshifter
2008-Sep-08, 05:58 PM
Note that many state parks are pretty busy all year round as well. You may need reservations if you plan to camp, especially on the weekend. Most state parks do not have accommodations other than camping, although Fort Worden, in Port Townsend, rents out the old officers' quarters.

And enjoy!

It's likely you will need reservations, some of the more popular parks/campsites will require reservations months in advance. At least that's been my experience.

I've spent time at Fort Warden, beautiful views from the bluff there overlooking Puget Sound (provided the weather cooperates of course).

Trebuchet
2008-Sep-09, 04:46 AM
Nitpick: That's Ft. Worden. Named for the original captain of USS Monitor; an Army post named for a Naval hero. Also used for much of the filming of An Officer and a Gentleman.