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!

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.

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.