Seaside & LaConner

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I guess you may have noticed that I have not written a post in quite a while.  Since mid May when we arrived home from our circle (modified circle) of the USA, I have not written.  We have been hanging out at home resting and recovering from that trip.  We learned a few things about ourselves as regards traveling.  !. Three months is just at the upper limit of our sanity while living in a 68 sf home on wheels.  2. Walmart is not a very good option for a place to spend the night.  Not that we are not grateful for their hospitality, but it does not feel really safe.  3. If an RV park is $11 an night, chances are we do not want to stay there.  If that makes us snobs, so be it, but we saw some parks that made Walmart’s parking lot look like the Waldorf Astoria.

We decided a trip in the Northwest was due, so we headed out from home on Tuesday Oct 16th about noon. We drove to Seaside, Oregon because my sister Dee and her husband Roger were staying there on a vacation from Kentucky.  We went to their hotel room and drank some wine and watched the presidential debate.  Now I promised a long time ago that I would try to refrain from political comments on this blog, so I won’t tell you how great I think our president did.

After the debate we walked a few blocks down to a little bar and restaurant called Dundee’s.  It was very pleasant and the fish and chips was excellent.  Lucy was not crazy about the clam chowder, but all in all we had a good meal and a great conversation.  We walked back to the hotel and Roger drove us back to our RV park.  Altogether a pleasant afternoon and evening.

I woke up early on Wed the 17th and did a very small job before Lucy got up.  Our original plan was to go to the Olympic Peninsula and walk out to the end of the trail at Cape Flattery.  You may recall that we wanted to do that at the beginning and/or the end of our Circling the USA trip, but it did not work out either time.  It looks like we will have to wait till next summer for that adventure.  As it turned out we needed to be in a bit more populated area so that we could find a place to get some work done on the van.  We have a few minor problems, which together, become quite annoying.  1. Our gas furnace will not start up and heat.  This is not a major problem in itself because we have a heat pump that we can use when we are at a park with electrical power, but it limits our options of places we can stay. 2. We are experiencing some battery problems which we need to resolve for the same reason.  Without a good battery we can only stay at places with electrical hookups.  3. We have a little alarm which detects LP gas leaks.  Lately it has been sounding off, usually at 3:00 am, without any obvious reason.  There does not appear to be a leak.  We need to get this checked out. It is a very annoying alarm sound and we want to be certain that there is not a leak which we have not detected by other means.  So we took off and drove a good part of the day to get to a place called LaConner WA where we will be staying 3 days while we work on getting the van back up to par. We arrived after dark and parked for the night.

So we are in a park near LaConner WA, and we have an appointment at an RV service center at 8:30 am tomorrow.  We drove to a place called Burlington WA where we found a place to work on the van. Burlington is only about a 20 minute drive from our location.  We got back to our RV park early afternoon in time to take a stroll on the rocky beach about 30 feet from the back window of the van.  What a beautiful place this is! We are backed up to a rocky beach on the Puget Sound.  Looking out over the water we can see a small island quite close and then the coast of Whidbey Island in the distance.  I hope the pictures can show the extreme beauty of this place.  We walked about half mile or so up the beach and then back.  LaKishsa ran back and forth as we walked and appeared to be having a wonderful time.  It was not raining, but there was the usual drizzle for this time of year in this part of the country.  It was not at all unpleasant as you might think in these conditions.  The temp was probably in the mid 60’s and as we walked we were very comfortable.  If there was any discomfort, it was far outweighed by the beauty of the surroundings and so we did not notice.

This is our back yard

Harvey and LaKisha romping on the beach

The perfect setting for a glass of Riesling

A view from the rear window

It is dark now and we are inside enjoying a nice diner along with an adult beverage, while we listen to a light rain patter on the roof.  This seems the perfect conditions to curl up with a snifter of brandy and a good book.  And so I think I will.  Good night.

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Running For Home

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Well we got up this morning with no agenda except to get home as soon as possible.  So we drove north and west out of Wisconsin and into Minnesota.  We drove about 500 miles and stopped at a KOA near Minneapolis.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

During the night it stormed with lightning, thunder, wind, and rain.  It was severe and when we got up this morning we had to do the outside chores in puddles.  Today we drove all the way to Bismarck North Dakota and found another KOA.  Both Minnesota and North Dakota are beautiful rolling green farm country. It is quite cold here and we are thankful for the electrical hook-up.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today we tried to get an early start.  We wanted to get well into Montana.  We ended up driving more than 600 miles and stayed in a Walmart parking lot in Butte.  Montana started out looking much like North Dakota, but gradually changed, first to prairie, then to high desert, then to mountains.  We began hearing reports of snow and other bad weather to the north so we made the decision to take a little more southerly route from Butte.   

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We left Butte this morning at 9:00 am.  The desire to be home is growing stronger and stronger.  When we left, Lucy said, maybe just tongue in cheek, ”take me home”.  I was not sure it was possible, but I accepted the challenge.  We bought sandwiches and snacks and beverages before we left in an effort to limit the necessity to stop.  We drove south into Idaho, hit highway 20 out of Idaho Falls, drove across Idaho and into Oregon.  We actually made it to Burns, OR just before dark. We got takeout at a surprisingly good Chinese restaurant, ate quickly and took off again.  It was at this point that I knew it was very possible for us to get home tonight.  We had crossed the Rocky Mountains, but we still had a mountain range to cross. Because of our route, the Rockies were relatively easy, but the Cascades may be a different story.  The main pass after Sisters OR was okay.  It got cold up there, but the roads were clear and dry and mostly deserted.  When we got past the main pass we were relieved and thought the worst was behind us.  From there to home, there are a couple of highway options.  You can stay on 20 and that is a little shorter, but having taken that route often, we decided that highway 22 to Salem would be better.  It is a better road and not as narrow and winding.  So we took 22 even though it is about 30 miles farther.  Now I don’t know how highway 20 faired through the winter, but 22 did not do well.  It was very rough, there was still snow along the sides, it looked wet in places and the temp was below freezing.  A little scary in the middle of the night.  We finally got home about 3:00 am Sunday morning after an 18 hour drive.  We were very happy to be in our home bed in our real bedroom, in our stationary home.  The home that did not rock when I turned over in bed.

I hope none of you are disappointed when you see that the map does not represent a true perimeter route.  After we rest a month or so we plan to begin taking some shorter trips to explore our home state of Oregon.  When we are satisfied that we have thoroughly traveled and seen Oregon, we will begin to branch out to Washington, Idaho, Utah, and others.

So this is the official end of our adventure we called Circling The USA.  We were on the road for 133 days.  We saw 35 states, stayed in Walmart parking lots for 31 nights, stayed with relatives and friends 13 nights, casino parking lots for 18 nights, RV parks for 69 nights.  We found diesel fuel costs from $3.73 to $4.49 per gallon.  We drove a total of 16,280 miles, spent $4,036 on fuel, and $2,336 on RV parks. We met numerous interesting people from a variety of cultures, made a few new friends and had hundreds of unique experiences, which will be forever etched onto our memories.

Stay tuned for other smaller journeys.

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Traveling & Visiting & Traveling & Visiting & Traveling Some More

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

After our morning chores this morning we headed for Plymouth MI, near Detroit to visit some friends we met at South Padre Island in Texas.  We had a lot of traveling planned for the day so we just stayed a couple of hours and visited while LaKisha and Tater played non-stop.  Tater is a small lab mix who lives with our friends.  Her and Lakisha hit it off immediately in Texas and again today. 

Worn Out At Last

They both looked very sad when we left.

After that we drove across Michigan and then south to Indiana, west and north to Chicago and through Chicago

The Sears Tower With Its Head In The Clouds

to Beloit Wisconsin There we had dinner with a friend from Oregon who had moved here.  His name is Dan and he once worked as an electrician with the firm for which Lucy worked twenty years.  We had a very enjoyable dinner at a place called Road Dawg. It was okay.  Lucy had salmon and Dan I had a steak. Lucy liked her salmon, my steak was adequate. There was much catching up and there were a couple of adult beverages around.  A good time was had by all.

Dan left for home in a town called Lake Geneva, Lucy and I headed for the Walmart Arms right down the block to end a busy  but pleasant day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

As we were leaving town this morning I noticed a white Ford pickup that seemed to be following us.  It brought back memories of the thousands of white pickups, driven by border patrol agents which we encountered in Arizona.  I don’t think they were following us, but there were so many that it seemed like we were being dogged. When I pulled up into a parking lot, the truck pulled up next to us and it was Dan.  He had been working and saw the van and wanted to say goodbye again.  We left Beloit WI this morning with a goal to get to Minnesota and a KOA early enough to get hooked up and do laundry before American Idol comes on.  I also had a little job to finish.  Well we got here and hooked up the van.  Lucy got the laundry started while I worked on my project.  There was a little glitch, though, American Idol starts an hour earlier here.  So we watched and worked and watched and worked.

The drive on both days was pretty long and tiring.  The countryside was beautiful rolling farm land.  Dairy farms dominated with big red or white barns and large hay fields.  Also lots of trees and rivers and lakes.  Lakes: I read that Wisconsin has 15,000 lakes.  I think we saw 14,999 of them today.  There are lakes everywhere.  Big lakes, medium lakes, small lakes, tiny lakes, wow that is a lot of lakes.

I have decided to write a book.  I already have the title selected.  It will be called, “Seeing American Through a Haze of Yellow Bug Innards”.  I already have lots of photos to include.

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Niagara Falls

Monday, April 30, 2012

We got up this morning pretty excited about seeing the falls.  Neither of us has ever been here.  But we were also anxious to get out of this RV park.  We almost never call ahead and make reservation because we want to see the park before we commit.  In this case we were going to get in late and we wanted to be certain of a space.  We also reasoned that any park that close to the falls and calling itself Niagara Falls Campground had to be okay. It is even on Niagara Falls Blvd.  So against our better judgement, we reserved.  We needn’t have worried about reserving a space.  We were one of about four or five other RV’s.  When we backed into our space it was nearly dark.  I went around the back to start setting up when I realized that the rear of the van was almost in a marsh.  It was close enough that I had to pull the van forward a few feet so I could walk behind it without wading through black, stagnant water.  If it was not so cold there would probably be millions of mosquitos.  So I hooked us up and we went to bed.  This morning when I went out to unhook, the water was again up to the back of the van.  It had not rained in the night, so I can’t tell you where the additional water came from.  So I did what I could, then moved the van again to finish.  For this we paid $45.

We were hungry and this was our day to have breakfast out so we went in search of a restaurant on the road to the falls.  Imagine our delight when we saw a place about a mile down the road called Mom’s Restaurant, also on Niagara Falls Blvd.  Now my Mom was a great cook and so was Lucy’s Mom, so again we reasoned that it had to be a great place.  I have only one more thing to say about this restaurant. If my Mom had cooked like this, my Dad and all of us kids would have banned her from the kitchen. Nuf said?

So we drove on to the falls.  As we entered the area of the state park, we were ushered into a parking lot and paid $10 to park.  It was a $5 parking lot, but we require two spaces for the van.  Just as we were about to get out and walk to the park it began to rain.  Oh well, we have an umbrella and my jacket has a hood.  When we paid for our parking space, the young man handed us a card and told us to present it in the souvenir shop to claim our free gift and map.  We entered and saw a man behind a counter in the center of this giant shop full of t-shirts and trinkets and such.  As we approached the counter, the man, who was on his cell phone, looked at us like we were interrupting a delicate surgical procedure.  We showed him our card.  He put the phone against his chest and said ”we have tours” as he pushed a refrigerator magnet and a paper map toward us and turned away to continue his conversation.  We took our spoils, walked out the door and down the block to the state park.  It was at this point that our day began to change for the better.

The rain nearly stopped except for a few drops now and then.  The temp was cool, but not cold.  Perfect weather for a walk. Almost Oregon-esque.

Lucy made a new friend

As we neared the visitors center we began to hear the roar of the falls and our anticipation began to build.  The visitor center was a very nice building with an information counter and some pleasant ladies to answer questions.  The only question we had was, ”how do we get to the falls?” Down the elevator and out the back door, a short walk down a path as the roar grew louder.  And there it was.  Now I have seen many pictures of Niagara Falls and they are beautiful.  But they do not communicate the experience of seeing this wonder in person.  The beauty is breathtaking in itself, but when you combine that with the roar, the spray and the awesome violent power of that water as it falls to the rocks and water below, well I don’t know how else to describe it. You just have to see it.

After that we drove across the rest of New York along the south shore of Lake Erie, a bit of Pennsylvania, a larger bit of Ohio and into Michigan.  We are meeting friends in the morning for coffee before we head toward another rendezvous in Wisconsin.  A couple of busy days and then a pretty straight and quick trip back to Oregon.  

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