Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

We're always a little nervous heading out to liberate Scoopy from her storage. We're never quite sure how she's fared during our time away from her. We hadn't seen her in six weeks, since our trip to Cape Disappointment, so this is about the longest we've gone without checking on her.

Packing up was a serious challenge for us this time, since we now have to fit everything into our teeny tiny Toadie Hopper instead of the big ass Ace Yukon. We didn't pare down our stuff, and we still had to stop for groceries. In the end, the pumpkin pie had to go on Steven's lap, but other than that, we somehow managed to get it all there.

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Packed to the gills! Toadie Hopper struggled with our load.

The first thing we noticed when we saw Scoopy was that she was sitting very low. The airbags had slowly deflated, but this was to be expected given the length of time she had been sitting. A quick visual check all around showed the tires were fine. It was 39 degrees inside Scoopy, but she fired right up. Then we started the generator and turned on the heat. So far, so good. The Pressure Pro let us know that three tires needed a bit of air, so I drove Scoopy out of her spot and into the large parking area to give Steven some working room.

Toadie Hopper does not yet have the base plate necessary to be attached to Scoopy, but I parked her behind anyway so I could see what we will eventually look like when we travel. Toadie Hopper looks so little behind Scoopy! This trip, she'll be staying behind at the storage facility. I got her secured in the spot while Steven finished airing up the tires.

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Teeny Tiny Toadie Hopper looks like a little popcorn snack to Scoopy!

Just before Noon, we were on our way. We didn't have far to go, about an hour's drive to Lake Pleasant RV Park in Bothell. We have a beautiful back-in spot right on the little lake. At first I was disappointed, because the view out the front isn't much, but then I noticed the great view out of the side windows, and I was happy.

As soon as Steven got the electricity hooked up, I began my inside set up routine. I put out the big slide, and that was as far as we got before everything went to hell. The entire process of setting up inside and out usually takes just a few minutes, but today, it took nearly an hour and a half.

As soon as Steven tried to hook up the water and sewer, he noticed water was flowing in places where it shouldn't, like onto the ground. Turns out that hard plastic does not fare well in cold weather. Our attachment, the one we just bought prior to my trip with the girls, was cracked in a zillion places. Oh dear. We had no back up. Or so we thought.

Turns out in the recesses of the bay, there sat a cheapie attachment and the accompanying cheapie hoses. It was something we've never used, but we were about to give it whirl. It worked! Whew! We finished setting up and turned our attention to the preparation of our Thanksgiving dinner.

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Backup hose. McGyver would have been proud!

Zoe, Zac and Tara arrived at our campsite and we shared our first Thanksgiving together in Scoopy. On the menu was grilled tenderloin, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, salad and rolls. Zoe made her famous pudding cake and we had pumpkin pie. It was quite delicious. The kids headed out soon after dinner, as both Zoe and Tara work in retail and were scheduled for Black Friday. Zoe worked overnight from 11:30pm to 4:30 am and Tara is working an eight hour shift on Friday. At least they are well-fed. Zac has a leisurely day off.

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Scoopy is thankful for a nice level site.                              The pretty view from behind our rig.

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Lake Pleasant is teeming with familiar waterfowl. Brought back memories of Pine Lake.

Steven and I will be at Lake Pleasant until Sunday. Our goal this trip is to prepare a detailed list of remodel projects and small fixes. We're turning Scoopy over to a shop as soon as we get some bids and make our final decisions on what we want to get done. We're not sure exactly what the remodel will entail, but we plan to have fun putting together our wish list!

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Best part about the holidays? Pie for breakfast the next day!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Born to be Wild

Cape Disappointment is known for its beautiful beaches and ocean views but the coastal weather usually leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe that's the disappointment part. We were fully prepared to spend our time there in the wind and rain. For the two weeks leading up to our trip, we kept a close eye on the weather. Sunny skies were predicted which was a little hard to believe in the middle of autumn in Washington. This time, however, weather.com got it right. Yay!

We had been here before in Alfred Hitchpop and we remembered the beautiful beach by the campsite very well. In fact, we were parked in the very loop we had camped in years ago. And come to think of it, we had good weather then, too. The kids romped in the surf and we cooked outside. Maybe the key to good weather at Cape Disappointment is US! Hmmmm... food for thought!

For this trip our friends Glenn and Kris would be joining us. They arrived from Portland early Friday morning. Steven had already been up since the crack of dawn shooting a moonset on the beach but was now lounging in his favorite chair when they knocked on the door. They had reserved a Yurt that was in another loop, but it was just across the road from our spot. After they settled in, we took a long stroll on the beach to the cliffs by a lighthouse and then spent the rest of the day exploring the area. Given that all of our camping trips in Scoopy so far have been without a car, it was a treat to have actual transportation to visit nearby areas. We enjoyed our day and low-key dinner, and made big plans for Saturday.

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Steven’s self portrait with setting moon                            Kris and Linda enjoying the sea air

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Glenn takes a snapshot of a couple of hot chicks             Ah, the sea. The sound of the waves is just so calming

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Glenn Lacey: Intrepid Photographer            Steven in his element (photo by Glenn)

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Glenn and Kris enjoy the sunset on Benson Beach

In search of fog and a dramatic sunrise, we made plans to head out at dawn. With two photographers among us, both with new fancy cameras, there was no way we were going to miss the sunrise. We weren't disappointed (no pun intended), it was spectacular, rising above the spot where the mighty Columbia meets the Pacific Ocean. We were in awe.

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Kris and Linda take in the breathtaking sunrise             Pelicans fly over Linda near Benson Beach at sunrise

After a warming breakfast, we headed into the town of Long Beach. The plan was to rent mopeds and head out along the 28 mile long beach. Once we secured our scooters, we were given a Scooter 101 lesson by the owner of the rental place and then made our way to the world's longest drivable beach. Well that idea was all fine and dandy until we actually got to the beach. It was high tide and the drivable beach was nowhere to be found because it was now covered by the incoming waves. It would be hours before the tide would recede, so we headed back to the rental place, turned in our scooters and planned to return in the late afternoon.

We drove around and continued to explore the area before heading back into Long Beach for a late lunch. After we poked around a few shops in the downtown area, we headed back to collect our mopeds. This time, the beach was exposed and drivable and we had a blast weaving in and out of the waves and the folks who had arrived to dig for clams.We went quite a long distance on the beach and were amazed at the crowds of people there were clamming. My guess is that there were thousands of folks out there, but it never seemed crowded at all.If you have the opportunity to ride scooters along the beach - any beach - don't pass it up. This was definitely a highlight of our trip. We put together a little 30-second video of our wild ride here.

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Born to be wild. Don’t mess with this gang!

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Thousands of people in search of clams on Long Beach

We stopped on our way home to snag a photo of the sunset then returned to Scoopy for a fun evening of food, wine and a blazing campfire.

I must tell you that when Steven and Glenn get together, there is usually talk of some kind of horror scene that needs to be staged. This time, they decided to set up a Halloween-themed photograph involving two "well-oiled" ladies and some dude in a creepy mask. Kris and I were enlisted to play the well-oiled chicks (although there wasn't any real acting needed, if you know what I mean), while Glenn donned a plastic face mask to provide the horror. The shot required Kris and me to be inside Scoopy having a great old time while viewers of the photo would catch a glimpse of the masked dude outside the window.  The mask outside bit required Glenn to jump up high enough to be seen through the window. He looked like some crazed mental asylum escapee who had just found a trampoline. Kris and I were actually laughing at Glenn, though we did manage to look oblivious to his presence. Although the photograph is creepy, the making of it was hilarious.

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Linda gets in the Halloween spirit  the photo shoot           The final photograph. Notice the creepy dude in the background

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

More Lessons Learned

Every time we take a trip in Scoopy, we learn something, either by necessity, or simply by honing our process. On this trip, our seventh since adopting Scoopy last May, we changed things up a bit and it made a huge difference in our planning and process of getting underway. And, it solved an issue we were not happy with. 

Being foodies, we typically pack way too much food. Nonetheless, we love to cook while we're camping and we like to have options. On prior trips, we would shop a day or two before our trip, then pack it up the night before in coolers and cooling bags so that we could get an early start. This was quite time-consuming and since Scoopy's refrigerator needs time to get cold, our food sat in these containers for longer than we wanted. By the time we got it all in the fridge, everything was usually damp from the ice and anything frozen was nearly thawed.

It dawned on us that there is a very nice Safeway just down the road from Scoopy's storage facility. Duh. So this time, as we prepared to spend four days at Cape Disappointment near Ilwaco, WA, we did not pack up a single food item. We brought an empty cooler and bags and found everything we needed at Safeway.

We also have found the best time for us to exercise Scoopy's' generator is right when we get underway. We can run it under a full load as the fridge starts to cool and we can heat or cool Scoopy as we are on our way. Perfect!

The learning by necessity part came when our Pressure Pro alerted us to the fact that the outside rear passenger side tire was low. Steven got right on it and put some air in until the Pressure Pro was satisfied. Next, he had a latch to a bay give him some trouble, so he fixed that, too.

We also noticed a very, very minor leak, which he also fixed. I have to give him credit, he's really working hard to learn and he's not afraid to dive in and give his all. He's doing a great job!

We had an uneventful trip to Cape Disappointment and that's a good thing. We started out in cloudy weather, but as soon as we hit Highway 101, it was blue skies all the way. We got a great site, number 56, which is in my favorite kind of arrangement, a spoke. I backed right in and before long we were hooked up and heading to the beach. It was just a spectacular day.

We settled in and did some food prep. Our friends Kris and Glenn were due to arrive early on Friday morning, so we wanted to get stuff done so that we had plenty of time to to be out and about.

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Friend and barista Jennie started us off right     Steven learned to quiet the screaming Pressure Pro

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We headed to the beach soon after arriving                      Tons of jellyfish were washed up on the beach

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We expressed our feelings in the sand                     Without this visual “art”, finding our way would be difficult

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Thankfully, this dude stayed outside!                                Our wonderful campsite at Cape Disappointment

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Signs everywhere said “Don’t Pick the                    Beach art at sunset
Mushrooms!” Many were the size of our heads!

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Lighthouse at sunset

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Camping with my Posse

This camping trip with my posse was four years in the making. The last time we went there were five of us crammed into Alfred Hitchpop. It was a tight squeeze, but we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We stayed at the Salt Creek campground on the cliffs overlooking the Straight of Juan de Fuca, and had a blast hiking Hurricane Ridge, walking in the surf at Rialto Beach, drinking wine at the Lake Crescent Lodge and of course we had to hunt vampires in Forks. We had such an enjoyable time we vowed to do it again, and soon. We agreed on Cannon Beach in 2010.

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Blast from the past – the posse at Salt Creek in 2009       After hiking Hurricane Ridge. 2009

That never happened. Fast forward to 2013, I posted a notice on Facebook announcing our purchase of Scoopy and within days, Cannon Beach was back on! Of course, at the time I agreed to host the gals, I had no idea what was actually involved in traveling and handling the hookups by myself. I just assumed I could do it. It was only after actually taking possession of Scoopy that I began to question my sanity. 

Much like last time, I had my doubts we would actually pull this off. So I just waited, semi-hoping everyone would back out. I was not going to be the one to cancel the trip, but if they did, well then I wouldn't have to learn how to do the hookups or worry about driving without my navigator. But, my posse did not back out, so I made plans to learn everything I needed to know to make sure our trip was as stress free as possible.

The weekend before our departure, Steven and I drove out to Puyallup where Scoopy is stored so that he could give me lessons on hooking up. I agreed to learn the electricity and water, but I was not interested in hooking up the black tank. This had less to do with the actual chore than it did with the issues we've been having. Scoopy's fragile system was not made for four. So we all agreed to limited use of Scoopy's potty, though showers and washing dishes were fine.

As I was doing my first ever practice run attaching the hoses to Scoopy, Steven instructed me to pull the gray water lever. "Is anything going to come out?", I asked. He said, "No." He was wrong. A small amount of old dishwater flowed out onto the ground. It was then we noticed a piece of the plastic that attaches the part to the clear elbow joint was laying on the ground. Oh dear. Off we went to Camping World for replacement part and were promptly informed it was a "special order". Another store probably had them by the gross ton, but we were out of time and out of options. The only way to get that part was to purchase the entire starter system. So we did. Now I felt fully prepared to handle the hookups. 

Things were looking up. Until they weren't. The day before departure, Steven checked the weather in Cannon Beach. Well, there is nothing like the remnants of a fierce Japanese storm bearing down on the West Coast to make us reconsider our destination. I sent the posse an email asking if they were okay just leaving it in our hands and we'd find another place to go. Preferably east. They were all on board.  

Within a couple of hours, we had new reservations at the Wenatchee River RV Park in Monitor, WA, about 15 miles from Leavenworth. It turned out to be a spectacular choice. 

Emma, Nora and Cherolyn arrived at my house by 6:30 a.m. on Friday and off we went to liberate Scoopy and hit the road. Cherolyn had volunteered to be my navigator. Much to my relief, she took her job very seriously. She had maps and routes and printed copies of all the rest stops, she was very prepared - only it was for the route to Cannon Beach. Our last minute change had left her scrambling, and she still managed to bring along maps and exit information. Since it was a route I was pretty familiar with, we decided to wing it on the rest stops. Still, she did a fantastic job as navigator.

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Everyone is up and ready to go at 6:30am!

Check-in time was at 1:00 p.m. which left us plenty of time to make a detour into Leavenworth for lunch. We rolled into our campground just before 2:00 p.m. We had a back-in site, which I nailed thanks to my three assistants and I had us hooked up in no time. 

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Lunch at with Emma, Cherolyn and Nora                Leavenworth  

Emma and Nora took off while Cherolyn and I finished setting up. When they returned, they were stunned at how much more room we had once the slides were deployed. They were all quite impressed with Scoopy, and I think I've converted Emma into an RVer. She really loved the whole idea of "camping" in an RV. 

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My awesome back in job (with posse help)              All comfy & cozy in Scoopy.

Funny enough, Alfred Hitchpop is actually designed to sleep more people than Scoopy. But Cherolyn brought along a fantastic bed that was self-inflating and we unfolded the sofa into a bed, so in the end, we all had a comfy spot for sleeping. We had loads of walking around and sitting room. I don't think any of us ever felt cramped. 

Of course, Nora is currently or has in the past, been a trainer to all of us at the Pine Lake Club. And when we invite a trainer along, you know there has to be some exercise involved, even in spite of the many groans and protests. The weather cooperated just enough that we had plenty of dry spells for long walks and there was even a little indoor gym in which we pretended to workout. (Some of us just weren't that enthusiastic about working out while on vacation!)

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I love the “spoke” arrangement in campgrounds.   Heading out on one of our walks.

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We had some sunshine!!                                          The posse at the Wenatchee River.

On one of our walks, Cherolyn and Nora discovered a bone that looked suspiciously human. Since she was a doctor before she became a mother, we all deferred to Cherolyn's opinion and it was she who called the Sheriff's Department. Before long the four of us were traipsing along the trail with the county sheriff pointing out the suspicious artifact. He took photos of it and then slipped on some gloves to collect it. We will probably never know what becomes of this investigation, so we feel free to make up our own ending. We came up with some doozies.

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See something? Say something. Found a bone.     Seasonal RVers let us harvest their veggies. Yummy!
Called the Sheriff.

Nora had pre-prepared most of our meals and we certainly did not go hungry. With plenty of food and wine, we spent lots of time catching up, telling stories and laughing together. It was a wonderful trip that was personally enriching and good for the soul. A recharging of sorts. 

Just before our departure for home, we decided that we would not retrace our route over Blewett Pass, but would instead take the long way home. This gave us a fabulous opportunity to have lunch overlooking the mighty Columbia River. To me, this is what it's all about. 

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Lunch by the Mighty Columbia River.                     You never know where you will find a comfy spot to rest.

Thank you, Emma, Nora and Cherolyn for a fabulous trip. Virginia, Susan - we really missed you guys.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Sleeping Lady

I was greatly relieved once I realized I would not have to take out a stop sign in order to get parked in our site, but when I heard the words "back-in", my relief was short-lived. I mean, I would have had to back OUT of site number ten when we left, but the idea of having to back in first was just scary. Steven was instructed to go inside to pay, and once he was gone, the camp host informed me I should drive on to our site. I sheepishly admitted to him that I have very little experience with backing in, and he assured me I would be just fine. In fact, two camp hosts were already making their way to help me. With fear and trepidation, I left Steven behind and headed down the loop.

Sure enough, the two camp hosts were there to help. They guided me forward, then back, and I did exactly as they instructed. I had no choice but to trust them implicitly. Because there were no rigs parked on either side of our site, I felt like I had a little more wiggle room, and in the end, I backed right in with no problems. Whew. This backing in business is still a scary proposition, because Steven and I have only really done it once together, and that was when we were putting Scoopy in storage. I have no doubt we could eventually get it done, but it might not be pretty. I guess as long as there is no damage, who cares about pretty, right?

Steven's encounter with the office lady was not quite as successful. She was quite abrasive which is consistent with what a number of people have said in reviews of this park on www.rvparkreviews.com. 

Once we were all set up, Steven went out to clean the windshield and put on Scoopy's screens. I have a love/hate relationship with these covers. If they are on when it rains, it looks as though we're parked in a muddy river. If the sun is shining directly on them, it looks like we're caught in the middle of a haboob. On the other hand, they certainly keep the inside from heating up, and when the sun is not directly on them, I can see out just fine, but no one can see inside. I will just have to deal with the downsides, because I love the whole "I-can-see-you-but-you-can't-see-me" thing.

"Honey, where's the front door gone?" Steven cleans bug guts of the windshield.

Scoopy, basking in the evening sun in campsite #38. Backed in and covers on.

The next morning Steven was up and out before sunrise. He went down to the river to get some early morning shots. As usual, I slept in. 

Birds take flight as the moon sets and the sun begins to rise over Icicle River.

Creative rock sculpture down by Icicle River.

Steven sat out on a large rock in the river to watch the sunrise.

When he returned, we headed out for a walk to "Sleeping Lady", a place we thought was just a restaurant located next to the campground. We weren't planning to eat there, but just take a walk and check it out. "Sleeping Lady" is not a restaurant at all. As we walked further into the grounds, Steven commented, "This is like a Star Trek episode where they beam down into an alien village settlement."

There were very few people about and, on one side of the trail, a guy was just laying on the ground out cold in his sleeping bag. The first building we came to was small, but it had large windows. The only thing inside was a baby grand piano. We came upon several more buildings, all about the size of a large outhouse. Most had nothing in them but black music stands. The path went on and on. It twisted and turned and had several offshoots. With few signs, we had no idea where to go. We followed one guy around a long loop to a bathroom and ended up right back to where we had been. The buildings, which finally began to resemble cabins, all had names from nature, usually a bird. When we saw the sign for "Rookery" we thought we had stumbled upon a heron habitat, but no, it was just another cabin.

One of the many structures along the trail at Sleeping Lady.

We rounded a corner to find the office, the Kingfisher restaurant and bar, along with several other impressive structures, the most jaw-dropping of which was a huge Dale Chihuly icicle installation. It was spectacular.

Dale Chihuly's icicle installation

Another view of the icicle installation.


Spectacular views of Icicle River as seen from Sleeping Lady

After a bit of googling, we discovered that Sleeping Lady is a "mountain resort" with a fascinating history. The word that kept popping into my head as we explored was "organic". Every facility is nestled in with the aspen and pine trees as though it had been there forever. It is an incredibly peaceful place. I am glad that our discovery unfolded as it did, because we were just in awe. If we had just driven in through the front entrance, it probably wouldn't have had nearly the same impact. You can read more about the history of Sleeping Lady here.

Given that Scoopy is still without a car of her own, we are necessarily limited in our local travels. It was a real treat to find something so different and worthy of exploration right next door.