Saturday, August 22, 2015

Catching Up

Our return to the Pacific Northwest this summer was planned before we ever hit the road. Our daughter Zoe was graduating from Western Washington University in Bellingham and that was our main destination in June. Afterward, we thought we might head east, but those plans never even got off the ground. After attending the Escapades Rally in Tucson last March, we made the decision to have solar installed on Scoopy's roof. We decided on AM Solar in Eugene, OR, even though their first available appointment wasn't until August 10th.

That meant we would meander in the Pacific Northwest until mid-August, re-visiting our favorite places as we did last year on our maiden voyage. We had a great summer overall, but we were soooo ready to move on. Our solar install was a great success, which I will document in another blog, and we are finally on the move. Currently, we are happily ensconced in the New Frontier RV Park in Winnemucca, NV. It's a great place to write an epic blog post - a looooong overdue "Catch Up" entry. When last we left you, we were about to depart for Bakers Hole Campground in West Yellowstone, MT, and that was a while ago. So, grab a cup of coffee, or a refreshing beverage - this is gonna take a while.

West Yellowstone, Montana

Bakers Hole is a first-come, first-served campground about three miles outside of West Yellowstone and its primo location to the park makes it a popular place. We snagged a great space and stayed a week while visiting Yellowstone several times. On the morning of our scheduled departure day, Steven opened the shades and found a sea of white. Unbeknownst to us, it had snowed overnight. We decided to stay put and make another trip into the park. It was a beautiful drive.

Our site at Bakers Hole was secluded and peaceful

What we woke up to on our (rescheduled) departure day

The snow totally transformed Yellowstone National Park

This raven in the snow was looking for a happy meal of his own

Twin Falls, Idaho

We really enjoyed our campsite at Rock Creek, a place overrun by cute little marmots. We also had a lovely day of sightseeing in Twin Falls, but ultimately we spent most of our time trying to reestablish our banking cards. Oddly, both our credit and debit cards were flagged for suspicious activity, then closed and new cards sent out.

We went into Wells Fargo to get a temporary debit card replacement and some cash. I rarely carry cash, but for some reason I decided I needed some, so Steven gave me $200 of the $300 he had just pulled out. About an hour later, while shopping at the mall, my purse was stolen! Goodbye $200 and new debit card. Goodbye favorite (unregistered) Seahawks Starbucks card with $50 on it and favorite shade of red lipstick. Goodbye wads of old receipts and gum wrappers. All in all, the thief walked away with $250 and no working credit cards. I learned a long time ago never to put keys in my purse, so they were in my pocket! Off we went back to Wells Fargo to start the process all over again!

The actual falls in Twin Falls were really impressive

Our site at Rock Creek

Marmots were everywhere!

Joseph, Oregon

We had originally planned to spend a month roaming around eastern Oregon, but that changed significantly when we decided to stay longer in the Teton Valley. The one destination we kept on the itinerary was Joseph, and we are so glad we did. Our campsite was located right in town, walking distance from the restaurants, grocery stores and shops. The scenery was stunning. Snow-covered mountains, lush green fields, grazing livestock, rushing streams and eye-popping red barns. One of the best ways to see it was "riding the rails" on a unique cycling contraption built for use on decommissioned railroad tracks. What a blast! Needless to say, Steven was in photographic heaven, and of course put together a beautiful piece of his favorite sights in the area. Be sure and click the Adobe Slate link below to see his gorgeous photos and get his take on this amazing area.

Nearby Lake Willowa in Joseph

One of Steven's favorite places to visit near our campground

Having a blast on our cycling contraption thingy!

You can see more of Steven's photographs of Joseph by clicking on the image below

Wenatchee, Washington

See that cute little pop up? That's Alfred Hitchpop, our beloved tent trailer in which we traveled far and wide before adopting Scoopy. He now belongs to our friends Rich and Emma who, along with their kids Jonny and Holly, are enjoying their own adventures with Alfred. It was great to catch up with them in Wenatchee at the Confluence State Park.

Alfred Hitchpop and Scoopy finally together!

Camping with the Smith family in Wenatchee

Issaquah, Washington

Steven and I were not terribly excited about returning to our old stompin' grounds on the eastside of Seattle. We felt like we had just left, and it was too soon to return. Also, we were there for annual medical and dental appointments, and there's nothing exciting about that! As it turns out, we had a great time connecting with our friends and visiting favorite places. Though we were only there eight days, we got to see tons of people we love, and we are very grateful for the time we spent together. You guys are all awesome. :)

It's always good to see my posse!

Posse Potluck at Blue Sky RV Park

Carillon Point in Kirkland with friends Amy and Patrick

Drinks, food and good company with Amy and Patrick

Fun at the Ballard Farmers Market with Ken and Lisa

Visiting Theron and Tracey at their Bellevue condo

Catching up with Jennie

A visit with our friends (and Rico C. Suave!) at All Critters

Bellingham, Washington

This is the momentous occasion that brought us back to the Pacific Northwest just 10 months after we hit the road, our daughter Zoe's graduation from Western Washington University. Our entire family, including Zoe's dad Ron and her boyfriend Dan (who also graduated from WWU!) were on hand to celebrate. It was a glorious celebration and we are extremely proud of Zoe!

Congratulations, Zoe!

Celebrating Zoe's graduation with all the family

Anacortes, WA

 and San Juan Island

Fidalgo Bay RV Park in Anacortes has long been one of my favorite campgrounds. It's freakishly expensive, but for a splurge every now and again, it's worth it. There's just something about being right on the water that is so enjoyable. It's fairly close to our friends Dan and Sherrie who live part time in their home on Whidbey Island, and close enough to Bellingham for Zac to join us on his day off. There are also cute park models for rent, so our friends Kris and Glenn drove up from Portland for a couple of days.

The seven of us planned a trip to San Juan Island for a day of mopeding around and it was nearly a complete disaster. Zac left his drivers license at the campground (necessary for renting a moped!), so he had to zoom back to get it before our 9:00 am ferry departed. He arrived back at the port just in time to see us pull away from the dock. Next ferry: 11:00 am.

When we got to "Susie's Mopeds" in Friday Harbor, for various reasons, Sherrie, Steven and Kris did not pass the test required for renting an individual moped. Dan, Glenn and I were good to go. Steven and Kris shared a two person "Scoot Coupe", and Sherrie found a great place in town to read a book and drink wine. (She is such a good sport, I love her so much.) Finally, off we went on our excursion.

We had about an hour and a half before we needed to be back to meet Zac's ferry and get him hooked up with his moped. Naturally, we took a wrong turn, got seriously delayed in a road construction area and missed his arrival. When we finally returned to Friday Harbor and found Zac, he had passed his moped test and was raring to go.

Although the day was a complete cluster in the morning, by the afternoon, we were picnicking at Lime Kiln park and zooming all around the island. It really was loads of fun!

Also, you'll notice in the photo below that Scoopy has finally gotten her own flags. Now she and Toadie can both show their Seahawks Spirit together!  

We loved the water views at Fidalgo Bay!

Proudly flying our Seahawks flags even in the off season!

A fabulous day with Kris & Glenn at Dan & Sherrie's home on Whidbey Island.

Picknicking at Lime Kiln on San Juan Island

Steven and Kris are stylin' in their Scoot Coupe

Waiting for the return ferry at Friday Harbor after a great day

Salt Creek Recreation Area (Joyce, WA)

As we have documented on numerous occasions, Salt Creek is one of our all-time favorite places to stay. Our visits are usually on the heels of having caught up with tasks we needed to accomplish and some pretty heavy socializing. For this reason, we look at it as a time to recharge our batteries. For me, that's hanging out in Scoopy and the park, enjoying the wonderful views of the Strait of Juan De Fuca. For Steven, it means grabbing his camera and going exploring. His favorite places this time 'round, aside from Salt Creek itself, were Lake Crescent and the Hoh Rain Forest. 

One of the many gorgeous sunsets at Salt Creek

The beach at Tongue Point near Salt Creek

Beautiful reflections on Crescent Lake

Creepy ancient trees at the Hoh Rain Forest

More creepiness at the Hoh Rain Forest

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria was a last minute addition to the itinerary. We had originally planned to boondock at a casino in Washington, but frankly, it was hotter than we expected and camping without aircons was not my idea of fun. So we scrambled and got reservations at the Lewis and Clarke Golf & RV Park. This was especially surprising considering our reservations included the Fourth of July holiday.

We've been to Astoria a few times before, but mostly it was just driving through to get to Cannon Beach or further south. We've never stayed here before. Each time, we'd pass by the Columbia River Maritime Museum with the amazing U.S. Coast Guard display (photo below) and vowed to visit. What an amazing place with loads of displays and informative videos. It deserves a return visit in the future, because as usual, it is dense with more information that we could take in. Very enjoyable!

One of the fantastic displays at the Columbia River Maritime Museum

The wreck of the Peter Iredale at Fort Stevens State Park

Cape Disappointment, Washington

We re-entered Washington to spend two days at Cape Disappointment, another favorite campground. Friends Gordon & Juanita and Bill & Diane were also in the area, and we all got together for a walk on the beach and a lovely dinner in town. As always, it's good to meet up with friends on the road.

Tidal pools on Benson Beach in Cape Disappointment

A visit to Long Beach, WA to see friends Gordon, Juanita, Bill and Diane

Steven enjoys the sunset on Benson Beach

Puyallup, Washington

The best part about killing time waiting on an appointment is the spontaneous meet ups with friends who also happen to be in the area. So it was with Rod & Deb Kendall, and we happily made our way to the Washington State Fairgrounds in Puyallup to see them. Coincidentally, we arrived on the first anniversary of Scoopy's final liberation from her Puyallup storage facility as we moved in and prepared to launch on our fulltiming journey. In a million years I would have never guessed we'd be back in Puyallup on this day, but we've learned that the best laid plans are written in Jell-o.

At the local farmers market with Deb and Rod

Taidnapam State Park 

and Mount Rainier, Washington

Although it took us several days to figure out how to pronounce Taidnapam and despite the fact that we were just barely able to eek out a tiny cell signal from our Wilson booster, this campground was a great place to completely unwind. We chose it because of its close proximity to Mount Rainier National Park. On our first full day there, I decided to take a well-earned break from reality while Steven spent the day at Rainier NP.

It's always a crap shoot whether or not Rainier will be visible. In fact, it's an on-going joke among Seattleites that it's usually a big event when "the mountain is out". On this day, however, Steven returned with his head hung low and a sad tale to tell. Overcast skies kept even a fleeting glimpse of Rainier at bay. To compound matters, the visitor center was having power issues and most of the interactive displays were off. Even the gift store was operating under a few generator-operated light bulbs.

The next day, Steven and I decided to go together and take another stab at seeing the illusive rock. The gods were smiling on us this time and, although she was only visible for a short while, we did get to see Rainier's peak and grab some photos. Even the visitor's center was back up and running. What a difference a day makes!

While at our campsite, we had a daily visitor. The bird in the photo below basically hung out on our windshield wiper and mirrors and sang all day. That was all well and good but we did not appreciate the fact that he also did his business all over the front of our rig. It got so bad, we had to put plastic bags around the side mirrors to discourage that kind of behavior. Who knew such a little bird could make such a mess??

Beautiful sunset just outside Taidnapam State Park

Amazing mountain views at Mount Rainier National Park

The mountain is out!

Our little friend was full of (berry-colored) sh*t

Sherwood, Oregon

When we hit the road last year, we had three kids in college. It was a given that at some point one of them would need us, and we were always prepared to park and fly at a moment's notice. And so it was with Tara (See San Diego entry below). We cancelled reservations we had made in two Oregon state parks and started looking for a place where I could hunker down while Steven flew to San Diego for nearly three weeks. At the time, we were set up at the Elks Lodge in Kelso, WA, but I wanted to move closer to our friends in Portland, just in case. 

As is typical in the PWN, every commercial campground was booked solid, other than a day or two here and there. Not wanting to move Scoopy to another campground by myself (something I had never done before!) we finally decided to take a ride and go see the Elks Lodge in Sherwood. Since they are first-come, first-served, we wanted to talk to the host and make sure there was room for me. 

There was, so we settled in for a couple of days before Steven flew to San Diego. Once on my own, I met my neighbors and really began to feel comfortable at the Sherwood Elks. Then came the heat wave, and OMG. Our Progressive electrical management system shut down power to the rig the second the voltage dropped below a safe level, which was pretty much all day. It was 104 degrees outside and all around me aircons were blowing and going. I decided to bypass the EMS and plug in directly (yes, I know). I ran inside to see the voltage sitting at 96 volts, barely registering on the meter. Holy crap! I flew back outside to unplug and that's the way it was for the next eleven days. I kept all my shades down and front curtain drawn and lived in the dark. For a few hours when the heat became unbearable, I ran the generator and both aircons. Ahhhhhh.

I must give full props to Lynda, the camphost, and to the Lodge powers that be. They had an electrician come out to see if there was anything that could be done to increase the voltage. There wasn't, so I decided I would have to move on my own after all. Another heatwave was on the way and I was concerned for Scoopy's safety and my comfort. I moved to Pheasant Ridge RV Park in Wilsonville, just a few miles away. And yes, I hooked everything up all by myself!! (Except Toadie and the Direct TV dish. Glenn helped me bring those over to the new campground. Thanks Glenn!)

In spite of all this, the Sherwood Elks remains my favorite Lodge to date. I had a great view, but mostly I had great neighbors who took it upon themselves to help me when needed and check in on me throughout my stay. If I had to be on my own, I could not have found a better place. I was also quite fortunate to be just a few miles from our friends Kris & Glenn, who's company I enjoyed on several occasions. 

This little 12v fan saved me when things really heated up.

My view from behind Scoopy at the Elks Lodge. Beautiful.

San Diego, California

Tara moved to San Diego last summer and it was the first time she ventured out by herself. Living in a new state and starting college, not to mention all of the responsibilities of adult life, got to be a little overwhelming for our fledgling. While I babysat Scoopy in Sherwood, Steven flew to California to help her out. It was a nice mixture of productivity and quality dad/daughter time.

Sharing a coke with Tara in San Diego

See Steven's Adobe Slate story about San Diego by clicking the image below:

Coburg, Oregon

After Steven's return from California, we began our trek to Eugene with a stop in Coburg. We returned to Armitage Park, the go-to place for many whose rigs are scheduled for annual maintenance at Cummins Northwest. Scoopy's odometer was about to hit 140,000 so this was the time the techs had to go through our closet to reach part of the engine. Since everything had to come out, we figured this was as good a time as any to clean and purge. And we didn't stop there, we also cleared out the bays. Once again, the folks at Cummins gave Scoopy a clean bill of health. One issue the techs did find was that the engine hatch door was dangling by a thread. If we had taken off down the highway, it would have likely broken loose and bounced off Toadie. We had no idea and kind of dodged a bullet on that one.

Laying it all out at Armitage Park. It was good to purge!

And Finally... Steven pulled together his favorite shots from our visit to Washington and collected them in yet another Slate story that you can see by clicking on the image below:

Congratulations, you have reached the end of our story in a big fat nutshell :) It was a huge catchup for us and we are vowing to keep up on our blogging from here on out.

As always, we enjoy reading your comments. Operators are standing by!