Our previous post “Carousel Museum” concerned a short side trip from an overnight motel excursion. This post is about a little R&R trip that we started the day after we got back from that 2 day 600 mile round trip. We headed out with Bertha in tow this time on a shorter and more relaxed excursion of about 155 miles each way and to celebrate our anniversary.
We left Sequim while it was still grey with light fog and drove south on Hwy 101 with wonderful views of Hoods Canal while the day proceeded to get bright and cheerful. We stayed on the back roads as much as was practical and enjoyed the small towns and farms through the windshield. When we arrived the roar of the ocean and beautiful blue sky greeted us so that we looked forward to quiet walks on the sand. There were very few people at this time of year so we had very little “busy-people” noise.
We did lazy day tourist things for a week and thoroughly enjoyed it. On our very last beach walk we found sand dollars. I have left out my usual incessant commentary to preserve the mood of our little respite.
It has been a long while since I have posted but we have been busy in a relaxed-retired sort of way. We never did find a house/shop/property that we liked so we decided to build. First we purchased one acre of land between Sequim and Port Angeles, Washington. It took a lot of looking but I think we made good choice. What do you think? You can see the Olympics over the top of our neighbors house.
We started with a soil test for the septic system, then settled on a plan for the house, followed by a layout to fit everything on the lot, and then refined the house plan including a complete redesign of the kitchen, utility room, and master suite, plus some misc. changes here and there, and finally selection of colors, appliances, and materials. The shop design will be easy. A simple metal pole barn will do fine. Soon we will have a home again but as of now we do not have a production schedule. The well has been ordered and hopefully will be drilled next week. There should not be any problems but it does have to be in and providing potable water before we can obtain building permits for the septic, house and shop. Hence no schedule just a rough time-table.
When we arrived we spent the month of May at The Rainbow’s End RV Park just east of Sequim. It is a pretty and a well-kept park with very pleasant managers. Unfortunately it is right on a very busy section of highway 101 and consequently very noisy. Though the park is fairly nicely landscaped it does have a parking-lot atmosphere. We stayed one month here and moved on.
We moved to the John Wayne Marina RV Park where it is very quiet. Oh what a relief!! The picture at head of this post is of Sequim Bay as viewed from the park. The highway is up over the hill and barely audible. We are in our 3rd site here and will move to another site in the park on September 1st. We are so pleased with our current site we wonder if we made the right decision. The new site will have a very nice marine view but will be less protected from the wind.
Just a few of the things we have seen here during our short stay:
I found this lovely home at the mouth of the Elwah river overlooking The Strait of Juan de Fuca. Great location!
A lot of controversy about this vessel but no matter where you stand on the issues she is impressively huge. Those are ocean cargo ships in view behind her.
What a view and just across the road from the park!
We hiked up to the falls and had a picnic on the lake with Elaine’s brother and some of his family. What a fun day!
We went to the Lavender Festival and Elaine made a new friend. What can I say?
And here I am out sitting in a field of lavender, ostracized without cause.
We are just beginning to explore this awesome place. I am sure it will take up much of our non-traveling time to really get to know the area.
We got away for a weekend and traveled to Kalama Washington for a family reunion with some of Elaine’s clan which we enjoyed very much. We stayed at the Columbia Riverfront RV Park and took time to do a little sight-seeing on the south side of Mount St Helens.
An evening view of the Columbia River from the park.
An interesting lava tube cave on Mount St Helens.
It was chilly in the cave and I wasn’t dressed for the shift of temperature from 90 something to 42 so I didn’t spend much time exploring the 1-1/2 mile cave!
We also managed to make one trip over to Spokane to see kids and grands:
We enjoyed watching our grandson Tyler playing baseball.
Saw dance recital with granddaughter Delaney and also saw granddaughter Paige showing off her color guard skills but unfortunately grampa wasn’t clever enough with the camera to get any good pictures.
It was fun seeing everyone and sharing a few meals. Now that we are residing in Washington it will be much easier to see the family regularly.
In 2 to 3 months our real work will begin as we will be moving in. In the mean time we plan to try to do a little R&R so we will be ready.
We had planned to make the Florence Oregon area our new home but sometimes the best laid plans …
Alas, I am getting ahead of myself which I often do. In any case an update is long overdue.
We spent the remainder of February at the Elks RV Park just north of town. It has made a great vacation spot for us before and this time it made a great base of operations for house hunting.
We spent the month of March here at Woakink Lake RV which is a very nice park just a few miles south of Florence that backs up to the famous Oregon Dunes Recreation Area. We did a lot of house hunting, took a few very pleasant drives into the valley, and went to a wood-turning symposium (see previous post) . None of the properties jumped up and said “buy me” which was disappointing and then it was time to take a break and honor our commitment to host at Tugman State Park south of Reedsport, OR near Lakeside, OR.
We spent the month of April working at Tugman where we had good time and met a number of great people. We did some house hunting but mostly just worked and relaxed.
Lake Creek Falls, and a return trip to Shore Acres were on our agenda along with a few other side trips. We had pretty much given up on the Florence area and now had to decide what to do. We considered a number of options and finally decided to make a trip up to Port Angeles, WA, an area we had always enjoyed in the past that has a great rural feel, plenty of local shopping, is on the water and is only an hour or so from the big city for those major shopping trips. We liked what we found and one trip became two so at the end of our tenure we traveled to the Sequim / Port Angles area to start looking again.
We broke the 400 mile trip into two days which allowed time to spend a nice afternoon at Champoeg Oregon State Park. The grounds were covered with blooming wild roses and the park store/museum was a delight. Tomorrow we will be at Rainbows End RV and it will be time to get back into searching mode.
It isn’t the destination, it is the trip.
Your Random Rover,
As I sit here composing a note about our departure I realize that I have not mentioned anything about what we have been doing in the last several months. Wanderlust is a serious disease (See John Steinbeck “Travels With Charlie”) that cannot be cured, not even senility will do the trick. In any case, we got back to Sierra Vista in the end of September (2014) and by the end of October had pretty much made up our minds that we were going to move our base of operations to the Oregon coast. Of course moving is a lot more work than either of us remembered (we did remember that it is a lot of work) but still we did decided to do it ourselves. Come on: We both have well over half a century of experience with more than a couple of moves in our history, literally tons of things that can’t be left behind and we decide to move 1500 miles and do it ourselves??? Oh well, a couple of trips with a heavily loaded cargo trailer and all of our things are now in storage in Florence, Oregon.
We started by purchasing Harry:
and he proved to be an appropriately sized and very capable trailer. We loaded him up first with all the things that we could live without for a long while and took them to a self storage place in Florence where we unpacked 4 or 5 days of packing in one day. We did a little house hunting and then returned to Sierra Vista for stage two. The second trip was a repeat of the first with the advantage being that Harry is still packed and now sitting in a storage yard in Florence patiently waiting for his owners to buy or build a place to unpack him. We drove back to Arizona without a trailer tagging along which was a real pleasure after 4,500 hurry up and get it done miles with a huge appendage behind us. On these two working trips we found 3 great California eateries, Jucy’s River Cafe in Needles, Los Domingos in Barstow, and Fisherman’s Restaurant in Crescent City, the rest of our meals tended to be less than memorable. Only one motel stands out pleasantly in our memory and that was The Park Motel, in Florence, where we stayed for both trips with Harry. It is quaint, “fiftyish”, clean and well run. A lot of work packing, and a lot of driving and the deed is done. The little bit of sanity that we had left we misplaced somewhere along the way. We don’t miss it, and in fact we are beginning to believe that it is quite overrated as an asset.
We took care of all the details with the last being signing all the papers needed to sell our home. It is now February the 10th and we are on the road. Our first day out took us to Gila Bend. A fairly short drive, 207 miles, but we feel we have time and deserve a bit of R&R. Elaine is driving her van while my job is chauffeuring Bertha which makes the days a little longer because we are both driving full-time. At any rate we had beautiful weather and light traffic. It is great to be on the road with our own little house and not having to eat out all the time.
From Gila Bend we traveled 305 miles (our longest planned run) to the Boulder City Elks Lodge where we will spend a day just bumming around or in other words actively doing naught. The drive was easy. Phoenix traffic wasn’t even bad. Between Wickenburg and Wickieup on US93 the Joshua trees were budding out so soon they will be wearing their spring millinery, the Palo Verde were at their most verdant green but without leaves or flowers yet, and the sky was brilliant, clear, and blue. A beautiful day. On this stop in Boulder City we enjoyed a very good breakfast at Coffee Cup. Definitely a must do stop!
About 243 miles to Tonopah, NV where we stayed at the Joy Land RV Park. The drive seemed really long, possibly because the scenery on highway 95 is, to me, less than inspirational. After we got set up we went into town where we did find a nice used book store on the main street. The good news today (2/13/15) is that we got word that the closing on the house sale completed as scheduled which officially makes us homeless and grants us the privilege of being itinerant non-laborers. The picture of our site makes this seem like a nice RV park. Let me make it clear it isn’t. We did stay and did not have any problems however the sites and facilities are extremely run down and the park is in a neighborhood that I would have to say appears undesirable.
From Tonopah to Minden Nevada (235 miles) today’s drive was much more scenic than yesterday’s was. Unfortunately since we are both driving we have limited chances to take pictures but we have been blessed with delightful weather and some of America’s best scenery all the way. As you can see this is one of those “parking lot” RV parks but it really is nice with awesome views, clean facilities, and lots of shopping and sightseeing nearby. On our “extra” day here we found a yarn store that Elaine liked, the Nevada State Historical Museum (Do take the time for this one.), and some necessary and some not so necessary shopping. I think we should return to Carson City sometime to do more exploring.
Now this is definitely a parking lot RV park, but as you can see it is a very nice one. We are only here for one night and headed to the coast tomorrow. 🙂 We traveled 267 miles today. The day started with a beautiful morning run up to a 7,700 + foot mountain pass on California highway 89. It was icy cold but the roads were clear, the streams sparkling, the trees green, the sky blue and the traffic light. Back down the mountains on California 50 through Sacramento north on Interstate 5 past miles of fruit orchards in bloom (beautiful and fragrant) and then almost to US 101 on California 20 and 29 which took us up and down through mountains and valleys of early spring luxuriance to the rv park in Lakeport. We look forward to being done with all this but really have nothing to complain about. Lovely weather, easy drives without mishap, and the health and stamina to do what want to. Tomorrow will be our last planned stop.
Only 187 miles today! We are in Eureka, CA for a day before heading on to Florence, OR. Started out with a little fog which lifted by mid morning. It was overcast all day and the prognosis is more of the same for the next few days. We spent our day here shopping old town where Elaine found some ear rings, and a knitting book and Gordon found a novel. We headed back home to Bertha for a little “do nothing” time so we would be rested for the last leg. Elaine had already made our dinner in the crock-pot so Bertha smelled wonderful on our return.
A long day on the road, 285 miles, we had originally thought we would spend a night in Brookings, but decided to just be done with the traveling part and push on through. We started out with an overcast sky and fog but the closer we got to Oregon the more sunlight and blue sky we saw. The drive by now is very familiar and with bits of early spring colors showing, yellow daffodils and other flowers that go by too fast to identify while driving, the crashing white waves on the rocks, it is absolutely splendid. I know that I just wanted to say YIPPEE!! and honk the horn when I crossed the border into Oregon and Elaine said she did too. We are here safe and sound and will begin house hunting in earnest tomorrow.
We know now that we can leave Oregon anytime but Oregon will never leave us.
Before I even start this segment I should mention that much is left out from these accounts, some deliberately as I want to keep things upbeat and none of the misadventures/problems that have been left out are really worthy of note, some because as I blunder on from day-to-day what I see and feel does not seem interesting until I have forgotten the details that might elucidate those insights, some because I do not have the ability to set them to words, and of course some because I did not take any pictures.
From Florence Oregon we did a very easy day of about 80 miles south on US Hwy 101 to Bullards Beach State Park.
We enjoyed this surprisingly secluded site in the middle of this very popular Oregon State Park just north of Bandon. We had trees and bushes all around us and could barely see our neighbors. Glorious weather followed us again. After settling in we drove out to walk the beach and get a picture of the Bandon Lighthouse close up.
Guarding the entrance to the Coquille river this lighthouse is preserved but no longer used. Standing on the north Jetty we see the edge of Bandon and the south jetty in the background. We chose to eat in during our entire stay here and spent some time perusing many of Bandon’s tourist shops and looking at Charleston Harbor.
We got to Brookings (another 80 mile drive) on a pleasant sunshiny day but then the fog set in and lasted until it was time to move on. We didn’t let that dampen our spirits or slow down exploration. After we got settled in we walked to town and purchased a few necessities at the local super-center and then went over to the lodge for a very good prime rib dinner.
The next day found us walking Harris Beach which is one of those places where nature speaks loudly. These big crashing waves can be heard long before they can be seen and are normal on a calm day.
Just a few mile up the Chetco river there is this lovely US Forest Service trail that follows a creek for a way and then through the northernmost stand of redwoods.
Just a few miles down the road the beach at McVay Rock provides a stark contrast.
I also touched base with a wood working kindred spirit that I met last year. We did a little catching up and sharing sawdust experiences and promised to keep in touch as we are both interested in turning and CNC machinery. The last day here we drove down to Crescent City, Ca to check out the town and the local farmers market. On the way we chanced upon a small pow wow where we some really nice Indian craft work.
It had to happen sometime. We did the big 180 and started heading south. Not that we are in any hurry to get back it just had to happen at some point. So here we go. We traveled from Banff, AB through Radium Hot Springs to Cranbrook, BC.
It was a relatively short driving day so we had time to do a little exploring in town where we found an excellent chocolate shop and a wonderful bookstore that had every magazine you could imagine. We bought more than we should have, but opportunities for good food and reading material should not be passed by lightly.
We stopped at the Spokane Elks for a few nights to see the families and we had a great time. The first day back stateside was spent shopping, getting haircuts, and picking up all the stuff we had left in John’s care. (Things we couldn’t take across the border.) Of course John and Miss fed us lunch and Gordon does not pass up free meals especially when the food and company are great. We were able to spend an afternoon and evening at son John’s Lake place and Laura was able to come up with Delaney. On another night we were able to get together again with everyone at the lodge for “Taco Night” and they had a band so we got in a little dancing too. I had forgotten that John and Missy had their wedding reception at the lodge so there was also a bit of reminiscing.
On the way down to the Tri-Cities area to see some old friends we stopped for break and lunch in a quaint small town named Connell, Washington where Gordon succumbed to a game with some locals. I’m telling you that the raven was cheating. He must have been. If Elaine hadn’t drug me away I’d have lost everything and we would be standing at a rest area holding up a cardboard sign.
This COE park was beautiful!! We spent a couple of nights here and were able to do a lot of catching up and getting re-acquainted with the Krudwigs, great folks we had not seen for at least 20 years.
Elaine was driving on this stretch of the Columbia Gorge so Gordon was able to get this “through the windshield” picture on our way from Charbonneau to Salem. As you can see it was a picture perfect day. (pun intended) All to soon it was my turn to drive us through Portland.
We have made good use of the Elk’s hospitality on this trip and plan to do more. If you are an Elk, the lodges can be a special treat on your travels. We spent a couple of nights here catching our breath / relaxing and were able to enjoy steak night at the lodge. We also shopped at the Salem Farmer’s Market. Very, very nice – bought some fruit and bread, and met some fine craftspersons. Took the short drive up to Silverton to take in a little of the Willamette Valley farm country.
The park is the best. As you can see the spaces are spacious. The hosts are helpful and the Pacific ocean is just a few minutes away.
Now we are on the Oregon coast! Elaine and I always miss the ocean and so are pulled in this westerly direction until we can hear the surf, smell the ocean breeze, and see the sunlight sparkle on water and sand. The weather has been as great as it has been for most of this trip so we were able to do lots of just looking around and revisiting old haunts from Yachats to Winchester Bay. We saw some friends that we met last year, ate lots of fresh seafood, and pretended we were on vacation.
Tomorrow we will move on to Bullards Beach State Park just north of Bandon, OR.
We found both of the tours we took while in Banff to be very worthwhile. The tour guides were great. We were able to see much more than would have had we just driven around with a guidebook and map. It was easy to just get on the bus and ride while someone else did all the work. Most important though, was that the parking lots at almost all the stops were full. We saw people parking along the road and walking over a mile in some cases just to get to where we got off the bus!!
We took a short hike up to this outstanding waterfall.
Our driver and guide took our picture. I think he did a great job.
Every bit as beautiful as all the postcards make it out to be!! We sat along this shore and ate a picnic lunch we had gotten at the Lake Louise Hotel deli. Can you imagine a nicer place for lunch?
I don’t know if he was more interested in us or our lunch, but in any case we weren’t sharing. He sat so perfectly still for his portrait that he looks like a statue.
A short but very steep trail led us up to this outstanding view. It was much easier returning to the bus than going up.
I have left out some interesting stops on the tour only because I was unable to get telling photos. But this 836 foot falls made a fitting end. We were tired when we got back and had not done any of the work. It was all fun.
We drove ourselves to the Gondola and as it was early morning we had plenty of room to park. What a fantastic ride up to some unbelievable views.
Banff was an unforgettable stopover on our travels.
“Here’s to us that are here, to you that are there, and the rest of us everywhere.”
Banff, Alberta is as far north as we are going on this trip and it was worth every mile/kilometer of driving that it took to get here.
This absolute grandeur served as our greeting after a trying day of driving which included Calgary, AB where some of the drivers seem not to have grasped the concepts of civilized driving and obviously believe that they are immortal.
Tunnel Mountain Trailer Court is a beautiful campground that I would highly recommend. The sites are open with easy pull-through access, have trees for shade, and, especially in the 800 row, have wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. The campground is a very short drive from the town of Banff and city bus service is also available. It served us very well as a base for seeing all the sights.
We took 2 tours while we were here. The first was a half day that included the highlights in and around the town.
This view of downtown Banff is from the Park headquarters which has beautiful gardens. We did some tourist type shopping in Banff and in the neighboring city of Canmore including two farmer’s markets/craft fairs and found lots of fun shops with interesting wares. We bought a few things including a small indian dream catcher for Bertha.
From the view of Banff above I turned 180 degrees to take this picture. This is only a few of the many flower beds at the park headquarters. Elaine and I toured most of them on another day. If you come to Banff this is a must see stop that we did not see mentioned anywhere. Maybe because it is free.
I took enough pictures to bore most people so I am only publishing a small sample.
On the Banff tour we also went to see Lake Minnewanka
and the Banff Hoodoos.
I will post our second guided tour (lakes and waterfalls) and our trip on the Banff Gondola in separate installments as this is getting quite long.
Try to see your world with a child’s sense of wondrous novelty,
Originally called Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam is a marvel.
I had put touring this dam on my bucket list many years ago and finally took the time on this trip. As an added bonus the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Bridge is a sight to behold just past the spillway. Both are engineering marvels that have huge economic impact. The scale of Hoover Dam and the bridge are awesome. The amount of electricity generated and the amount of arable land created by the dam is awesome. The bridge provides a much improved traffic route for both goods and people traveling to and from Las Vegas.
Built before WWII the size of this dam and its impoundment required new construction methods such as installing cooling pipes so that the concrete could cure properly and building it with huge Lego like blocks. Four and one half million cubic yards of concrete, 726 feet tall, and 1,244 feet long it is immense.
This concrete and steel composite arch bridge spans the 1060 ft gorge 900 ft above the Colorado river. Though not quite the longest or tallest bridge it is certainly impressive. Check out the web or better yet visit Hoover Dam yourself to find out even more. You won’t be sorry.
We are both getting antsy as the appointed roll out time draws near. We have an exciting summer planned with large portion of our time being near our Spokane family. Should be great fun seeing them all especially watching our grands performing sports and dance. For months we have been planning and discussing. For weeks we have been getting ready. So much to do. Doctors, dentists, prescriptions, reduce the frozen food supply, finish up the modifications we decided on, make repairs on the homestead, clean out the garden, pack food, clothes, computers, camera, tools and the DVR, and finally check the check lists and do whatever we forgot. We’ve had lots of practice shutting down the homestead and setting up shop in Bertha so I know we will get it all done.
As part of a project to reduce electrical load while boon-docking that included replacing all the existing halogen and incandescent 12 volt lamps with LED’s I added a string of lights to Bertha’s underside because I thought they would look pretty cool and I had heard that they would deter rodents. I wired them into the existing step light circuit so that one switch turn it all on/off. I also added a 12 volt dusk to dawn control so that I can just leave it on all the time unless I really feel the need to conserve. All the lights together only draw 0.71 amps! (The original step light drew twice that much power all by itself.) The rest of the project included moving the two basement lights from the wall to overhead and re-wiring the front compartment light so that it is now controlled with the switch for the hitch light. Now I can see when I have left the light on (because the hitch light is also on) and I can turn the light on without reaching into that dark space.
Shopping at Camping World we saw a spice rack that we thought might work. The long and short of it was that it did not utilize the space well and I did not think it would last considering the load we would be putting on it. So I made these two racks using the clips from the kits we had purchased. They are supported by full extension pull out drawer guides in an under-mount orientation with simple wood tracks at the top. 56 herbs and spices in a very small space! That is probably more seasonings than we really need but with two cooks each of whom have their “gotta haves” it takes a few more.
When we bought Bertha she had this very strange open space next to the desk that we never did figure out a good use for so we ordered a drawer front and I made a drawer to fit the hole. Now it looks like it belongs and is useful.
We added a few more places to keep items handy but out-of-the-way. There are now some hanging bins behind the sink, places to put magazines and books for night-time reading right over the bed, and some shoe “cubbies” at the foot of the bed.
In the basement and front storage I mounted wire baskets, and more hooks and clips to help keep most of the paraphernalia accessible.
After much thought we moved the table slightly. It won’t be as convenient when we have dinner guests but will give us more room and a better view most of the time.
I was not happy with the stock over the air antenna on Bertha. It seemed like we could not get as much broadcast TV as our neighbors were getting so I replaced it with a King Controls “Jack”. It is an exact fit on the existing Antenna Tec “Signal Commander” mast. Very easy and the new antenna is certainly efficacious!