Monday, August 25, 2014

Salt Creek – A Perfect 10

Somewhere between all the shredding, sorting, graduating, estate-selling, retiring and downsizing, we actually had the wherewithal to mail in a reservation request form to secure a spot at Salt Creek Recreation Area just west of Port Angeles. This was to be our first real "fulltimers" experience, since Bellingham was really all about the kids. At the time, we knew the dates we chose were kind of a crapshoot - anything could go wrong and derail our plans. But we gave it our best guess, chose the site we wanted and sent it off via snail mail. A week later we received the confirmation reply. We were giddy with excitement!

Of course, we had that unplanned trip on Whidbey Island the previous week, so by the time we finally got to Salt Creek, we already had a week of real-life fulltiming under our belts, including repairs.  Nonetheless, for us, Salt Creek was a significant milestone. We've been here many times before, camping with our kids in Alfred Hitchpop. I even camped here with my posse - our girls only trip where we made a complete spectacle of ourselves during our arrival and setup. 

On the drive from the ferry in Port Townsend, the first familiar markers we look for are the signs on the road leading to the Dungeness Spit. There is a place there that sells wiener pigs and the road to Dungeness is named Kitchen-Dick Road. This is such a well-known juxtaposition of signage, there used to be a band named Kitchen Dick and the Wiener Pigs. We always like to see what form of vandalism has befallen the road sign - usually someone has scratched out the letter "K".

Sadly, on this trip, both signs were nowhere to be found. Maybe the guy selling the pigs retired and the county tired of replacing the sign. Who knows.

We continued our trip on through Port Angeles toward Salt Creek. Once we made the turn off Highway 101 onto Highway 112, we kept our eye out for the bread man, Ken. He is usually found in a wide turnout on the road, manning his little trailer loaded with pure yumminess. Fruit pies, cinnamon or apple breads, cookies of all flavors and - my favorite - the stogie - a long, rolled pastry full of cinnamon. Delicious! Ken bakes all this goodness using palm shortening instead of butter and organic evaporated cane juice instead of white sugar, but whatever he uses, it's pure bliss. He's been doing this for over 30 years - and he's been in this same spot for 28 or so, much longer than we've been coming to Salt Creek - so yeah, we've been customers of his for many years. Ken says he gets repeat customers from all over and I don't doubt it.

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Ken, our local friendly bread/pie man.               We cannot pass his stand without stopping.

Our snack swag. It’s a serious addiction!

The entrance into Salt Creek isn't far from the bread man and once you arrive at the gate, if the fog has burned off and the sun is out, the panoramic view of the campground on the bluffs of the Strait of Juan de Fuca is stunning. Upon our arrival, we were not disappointed. We've had the best weather on our trip so far, and Salt Creek was no different. We were so happy to be back in our favorite campground!

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It’s always beautiful at Salt Creek!                      Scoopy is no stranger here, but it’s her first time with us.

Salt Creek is isolated, yet it is a great basecamp for visiting so many awesome places. On this visit, we went back to Dungeness Spit, Sequim, Rialto Beach, and Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.

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We made morning walks a routine while in Salt Creek and you can see why!

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Scenes from nearby Tongue Point, just a few minutes walk from our campsite.

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Wild trees at Tongue Point.        Our kids used to call this old bunker “Narnia”

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Steven all ready to go at Salt Creek.                  Linda down by the tide pools by our campsite.

We watched the tankers and cruise ships from Scoopy.

It isn't a perfect campground. There's little connectivity, unless you want to pay roaming charges to connect to the Canadian cell towers. There is water and electric only, no sewer, but there is a dump station. Lots and lots of locals come here, and they love, love, love their campfires. They build them all day, every day. In fact, this place is like Baconville in the mornings, the smell wafts from every direction. (But hey, what's not to love about that??) Honestly, none of these things bothered us. In fact, we camped right next to a girl's soccer team, more than a dozen 16-year olds. And they were perfect neighbors.

We also met Eric and Dee from Michigan, who camped across from us in the tent area. They were there with their two kids, Jake and Adelaide. Turns out it was Eric's birthday, so they invited us over to celebrate. We had no gift, but we supplied Eric with a few shots of Cuervo and in return, we got lemon pie. Win-win! Thanks, guys!

Steven and I have been discussing how we will review Salt Creek on To me, it's a 10. I love being there, it is beautiful and peaceful. He thinks we need to mark it down for not having FHU and WIFI. All I know, and Steven agrees with me, this is one of our very favorite places and we will be back every chance we get.

Hurricane Ridge

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The colors are so beautiful on Hurricane Ridge. Kinda feels like we were in Switzerland!

Like a scene out of The Sound of Music!

Lake Crescent

Moody morning on Lake Crescent

Dungeness Spit

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Deadwood on Dungeness Beach                             Yes, he really is loving this new life!

Rialto Beach

Rialto Beach – always dramatic

Other Stuff

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Bald eagle spotted near Dungeness                             The Chicken almost got a sister!!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Boatload of Worry for Nuthin’

After a wonderful week on Whidbey Island, it was time to pack up and head to our most favorite campground ever - Salt Creek Recreation Area a few miles outside Port Angeles. As the crow flies, this is just down the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Dan and Sherrie's place, but getting there requires reservations and steely nerves - at least for us RVing newbies. We were loading up on the ferry for the trip to Port Townsend. Eeeek. If you've ever been on a ferry, you know how they pack vehicles in like sardines. I prayed we wouldn't lose a mirror on this voyage.

Rather than packing up the day of departure, we started that chore a day early for this trip. Plus we had a repair to make. If you'll recall, our steps were left flapping in the wind due to a link that sheared right in half upon our arrival last week. We found the part on amazon - apparently this is a somewhat common issue with RV steps. Steven wanted to make sure he had the time to work on that. He did, and it involved a lot of cursing. He did get the steps working again (YAY!) but they won't retract all the way (BOO!). He just tied them up with some rope and that was going to have to have to do us for the time being.

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Steven’s new calling as handyman, with handy dandy toolbox and stylin’ Northwest footwear

Our reservations were at 11:00 a.m. and we left nothing to chance. We arrived just before 10:00 a.m. and were second in line for our ferry. The cool thing about this is that we just got up out of our seats and made ourselves some breakfast. I still can't wrap my head around being able to do that - it's just so awesome.

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Please don’t hurt Scoopy!

It was good that I was able to keep my mind off loading Scoopy onto the ferry. I had every confidence I could do it, but that didn't mean it wouldn't be nerve-wracking. We decided not to unhook Toadie Hopper and drive onto the ferry separately even though it would have been slightly less expensive. Our total length was 54' 2", which seems really long, but at least if I freaked out, Steven would be with me.

As it turned out, my fears were unfounded. We just drove onto that thing like we owned it. We were the first to go on and rather than cramming us into one skinny lane, the ferry dudes guided us right down the middle of two lanes - right to the front! OMG! Best view ever! We just stayed inside Scoopy during the entire half-hour voyage. No reason to get out when you've got everything you need right where you are.

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Scoopy as amphibian.                                       Arriving at Port Townsend after a great ferry ride!

We had an easy drive to Salt Creek where we had a long pull-through with a gorgeous view of the strait out nearly every window. We've been in a few different spots in this park and have fond memories staying here in Alfred Hitchpop, but this was our first time in Scoopy. It was good to be back.

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Okay, it wasn’t completely easy on the way to Salt Creek. We had to deal with thick fog and cyclists.

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Finally at Salt Creek!!                                             Scoopy is all decked out with gorgeous view.

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Salt Creek is always a tough act to follow.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Perfect Day

We spent our first full day on Whidbey Island in the company of good friends and that was just what we needed to help us forget the trials and tribulations of our stressful travel day from Bellingham.

We've known Dan and Sherrie for years, they were living across the cove from us when we moved to Pine Lake in 2000. We built our lake house a couple of years after they built their dream home, which means they had done all the research and we just copied them. We put in the same very cool tilt-and-turn doors and windows and used their interior designer to help choose our paint colors. Our house styles were completely different, but there were some similarities in the details.

A few years ago they built a gorgeous vacation home on Whidbey Island with views that go on forever. Positioned on a bluff overlooking the Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca directly ahead to the west, the Olympic Mountains to the south and the San Juan Islands to the north, the view was jaw-dropping. It was here that we spent much of our day, lounging on the terrace, enjoying good food and wine and lots of laughter.

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Dan and Sherrie’s house on Whidbey Island             Linda and Sherrie out  for a walk with the dogs

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Dan and Sherrie’s beautiful home, featuring a spectacular kitchen with gorgeous views!

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Dan and Steven enjoying the good life                    Hey Steven, can we fit this chair in Scoopy?

Earlier in the day, we went to Coupeville for the art festival and farmer's market. Sadly, we discovered that the the farmers got the boot to make room for all the festival attendees, and there were about a billion of them roaming around the main street in Coupeville. We decided we needed nourishment before tackling the crowd and made our way to a local place called "Ciao". Never mind that it was only 11:30 in the morning and the restaurant was not yet open for the day. We made ourselves comfortable at an outside table while Sherrie sweet talked the owner into supplying us with wine. 

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Art Fair and tall ship in Coupeville. No end to the entertainment here!

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Linda shows off her new hat with Sherrie                 Color and sun by the water in Coupeville

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Dan, the intrepid explorer and photographer enjoys the breathtaking views

Dan and Sherrie's neighbors, Teresa and Steve, joined us for dinner. We all sat on the terrace, stuffing ourselves with seafood and bread and more wine. As the sun started to set, we wrapped ourselves in blankets to stay warm.

Teresa and Steve are in the market for an RV for a bit of snowbirding when the weather on Whidbey turns blustery. We all tried to convince Dan and Sherrie they need one, too. I can't even wrap my head around how fun that would be!

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Dan’s amazing seafood dish                                     Steve and Teresa on the party deck

The sun sets on a wonderful day

Having just begun our fulltiming adventures, we will no doubt have many more perfect days. But you just can't beat time spent with warm and welcoming friends.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to the Future

When we initially made plans to stay in Bellingham to help Zoe and Zac settle in, we had planned to hang around for two weeks. haha, that didn't last long. We finally came to our senses once we realized we could do all we needed to do in one week and that the kids didn't really need us. In fact, Zoe is heading to Disneyland and Zac is still spending his weekends working in Sammamish. What the heck were we hanging around for?

So with an unplanned week on our hands, we could go anywhere we wanted (as long as there was a space for us, not a given in Washington state high season). So we decided it would be fun, and quite appropriate, for us to return to the very campground where three years ago, we first met Laurie and Odel and stepped foot inside Scoopy.  At the time, we had no idea what our future held, much less that we'd own Scoopy and be fulltimers ourselves. Three years ago, fulltiming was still a dream and not one that we could imagine becoming a reality any time soon. 

But here we are ensconced in Staysail RV Park in Oak Harbor, WA one space over from where Scoopy was parked last time she was here and where we first laid eyes on her. As we remembered it, there was a beautiful view out Scoopy's front window. And from where I sit, there is. A beautiful view of the bay. Not so much for Steven. This year, it seems the Parks & Recreation department decided to do major renovations in the park and there is a huge construction site and a massive pile of gravel out the front window to the left. I don't see it because my space is on the sofa, but Steven is positioned such that he looks right out over it. He doesn't even care.

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Linda’s view from her perch                                    Steven’s spectacular construction view

We had a very productive week in Bellingham but we were quite ready to get on the road again. As it turns out, we had a pretty long travel day considering we drove a whopping 49 miles. It took us nearly two hours to go less than a quarter of a mile when we pulled out of the park.

We needed to fill both vehicles before traveling and as luck would have it, we could easily navigate in and out of the station just across the street. We also decided to hook Toadie Hopper to Scoopy in the large truck parking area. All went according to plan until we realized our Pressure Pro was screaming at us. Something was not right with the inside back tire on the driver's side AND the front driver's side on Toadie. That one, at least, wasn't screaming at us, but wouldn't even register. Hmmmmm.

Steven tightened up the one on Toadie. BING! It registered and all was well. Not so with Scoopy's tire. He did this and that, switched it out with another to see if we got the same results. Nothing changed. We decided the tire needed air, not an easy process to get to the onboard air compressor when everything first needs to be unloaded from the bay. Nonetheless, Steven was determined. Then I saw him in the mirror, and he was filling the wrong tire! He thought the problem was on the passenger side, and that's where he had done all that testing. A quick tighten on the correct tire and we were good to go!

Anyhoo, we spent a ton of time figuring that out, but we finally pulled out close to 11:00 a.m. We came to the stop light just outside the station and sat waiting for the left turn arrow when suddenly, Scoopy died. I don't mean died forever, I just mean her engine stopped. It scared the begeezers out of me. It's happened before a couple of times, but only when we were sitting still, idling. This was in traffic! A whole different ballgame.

But, as usual, she started right up and off we went. Then, as soon as we got on I-5, we heard a terrible noise, one that we have become intimately familiar with. We had forgotten to close the outside cooktop vent. Man, that thing can make some serious noise! We finally stopped at a rest stop and got that taken care of.

The rest of our trip was somewhat uneventful, if a little butt-cramping on the skinny road over Deception Pass bridge and into Oak Harbor. We made it, though, and had an easy time getting into our space at Staysail. At some point during our setup, Steven came in to get something and went back out and as he closed the door, I heard a sound I haven't heard before and it did not sound good. After a bit of investigation, we found that our automatic steps are no longer automatic. In fact, they are not anything. They are just kind of hanging out, flapping in the wind. We have started a new list called Immediate Repairs.

Lastly, we have not been able to get our Direct TV to connect. We don't even care. We are just happy as clams to be here and we're just going to deal with whatever comes our way.

Tomorrow we are going to spend the day with our wonderful friends Dan and Sherrie. They were our neighbors on Pine Lake and they built a vacation home in Coupeville. We're going to an art show and visit the farmer's market, eat mussels and hang out at their place. How perfect is that?

We had a very productive week in Bellingham and even squeezed in an enjoyable day trip to Vancover, Canada with fellow fulltimers Bill Joyce and Diane Melde. Last night, we said our goodbyes to Zoe and Zac when they came and had dinner with us. We will miss them terribly. Christmas seems like it's forever from now. In the meantime, we've got lots of traveling to do, so we're going to get to it!

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We love visiting Vancouver. Such a beautiful photogenic city!

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Vancouver skyline                                                  Port Mann Bridge, connecting Coquitlam to Surrey in BC

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Bill Joyce and Diane Melde                                    Zoe at work in Vanity

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Zoe strikes a pose with her momma                       Behind every son is his momma