Monday, August 31, 2015

Along the Lazy River and Go Hawks!

A quick 30 mile drive northeast of the state park took us to Snoqualmie River Campground and RV Park in Fall City, WA. 

There are not a lot of choices to stay in close proximity to Seattle, and nearly all of them were booked through Labor Day. I reached out to a local-turned-full-timer, Linda Davies, for help in finding a good spot for us to spend two weeks.

Linda had mentioned "climbing stairs to plug in" so I was interested to see these sites. Apparently the park floods every year and the elevated electrical boxes solve an obvious problem.

Solving the flooding problem
In addition, only five sites away from the river have sewer hookups for the same reason. There is both a dump site on grounds, and a honey wagon service available. The flooding covers the park in silt making for a lot of dust as well. Rain arriving later in our stay was very welcome!

One of our very favorite TV shows is Treehouse Masters on Animal Planet. The show's host is Pete Nelson who also owns Treehouse Point in Fall City. We had hoped to take a tour but they were booked until mid-September, and the entrance is gated with privacy signs.


When I contacted a local massage therapist for an appointment she gave me two choices for location, and one of them was Treehouse Point! Serendipity indeed.

While I only saw one of the treehouses, it was still fun to be "there". It is a beautiful location, very natural, all about the trees. And yes, the massage was wonderful.

With the campground situated at the convergence of the Snoqualmie and Raging rivers I was hoping it would be a good fishing spot as well having decent access to the city.

Bill was able to get out in the river a few times (while I slept in), and caught his first "fish on a fly". Yay! So sweet to have easy access at last :-)

We took several day trips to the neighboring towns, surprised to see how big a few of them are. North Bend, Carnation, Issaquah, Sammamish, Fall City - it's hard to get "used to" the blend of rural and urban in this area. Finding a Home Depot and Best Buy among the tall trees and green meadows is definitely different for a couple from SoCal. We love it.

For the first time since our launch we've spent a few lazy days in the campground. Riding the trikes and getting Tessa familiar with her trailer, getting our Direct TV set up (football!), reading, taking's been pretty sweet along the river.

I did find the nicest Laundromat I've ever seen in the little town of Carnation, a few miles from the campground.

They should all look like this

And we met our first RVillage folks here. Allison and Tom are a wonderful couple who return to the area for two months each summer, having lived here before going fulltime with their little dog Bode. We visited for a while one morning while Tessa and Bode had a grand time chasing each other around their site. Like us, they have already made plans to enjoy "being in the shadow" of the full solar eclipse in 2017, and it was great fun to talk to someone else who even knows about it! No, I didn't remember to get a picture :-(

In addition to being Jeff's home and having an airport, Seattle also has something on our bucket list.

As we travel the country we plan to visit every NFL stadium, and the Seahawks' Century Link Field was our first stop!

Standing on the field
Signed by all the season ticket holders and taken to the Super Bowl, now just outside the locker room
Press Room

Instant Replay Booth - couldn't believe the security restrictions applied to this piece of the game

Tour-mates where the TV broadcasters announce the games

Just six figures a year for this largest suite

Big and bright

I really liked this display from all the high schools in Washington
Standing below the "12th Man" flag pole

Several weeks ago everything was completed for Tessa's service dog certification. She has been in a few restaurants and stores, but this was her first tour. She was a champ, no problem at all.

Tour Dog
We really enjoyed the tour, seeing the "behind the scenes" parts of the stadium, and learning some of the history of the location. We were less impressed with the many references to what it all costs, but overall it was a fun experience. Looking forward to the next 30 stadiums!

After the tour we picked Jeff up and headed back to the campground so we could make the quick trip to the airport on Saturday morning.

Visiting the new grandson deserves its own post :-)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Getting Stuff Done in the City After a Disappointing Geyser Visit

When we bought the motorhome we didn't know the couch folded out. With industrial-strength Velcro holding the back cushions in place, and heat ducts in the base, it never "felt" like it was "moveable".

While staying in Astoria, one of our phone charger cords got stuck in the back of the couch arm. Thought we were going to have to just cut it off and leave the other piece in there, it was really jammed tight. Instead, I kept trying to figure it out, and when I got the flashlight down in there I could see the bedframe. Wow!

Got the cord finally, and that night we figured out the bed as well. With a full size inflatable mattress and built-in blower/sucker it looked not only comfortable but easy to set up.

Jeff was our first test subject and gave the bed high marks.  I continue to look for other hidden treasures.....

Following a yummy breakfast of pancakes and homemade peach compote we all loaded in the Jeep to take Jeff back to the city.

On the way we stopped at Flaming Geyser State Park. Because who wouldn't want to see that?!

Not what we envisioned
Now that you've seen the "flaming geyser" you understand why I lead with the inflatable bed.

Okay, it's a very pretty park along the Green River, and the history is somewhat interesting except that I don't remember anything except man-made and methane. After all we've seen so far I was disappointed that this is what we got to share with Jeff :-(

He did enjoy being out of the city and spending some time at the river in the forest.

Couldn't decide if it was training camp or a spa

Green River near Maple Valley, WA

Bill and Jeff

Back in the city we headed to the Capitol Hill area where Jeff works. With the recent "relocation" of the homeless from more affluent areas, the park and streets are sad reminders that protecting the environment is not our only battle in this country.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at 8oz Burger where I actually did have a burger - so good I never paused for a photo of the food!

They offer more than burgers at 8oz Burger
Like much of this area of the city, Jeff's Starbucks is in an old building with high ceilings, brick walls and wood beams. The large curved-wood entrance doors are beautiful.

One of only a few Starbucks in Seattle........
Love the reused fluorescent tubes as light shades
Dropped Jeff off at his apartment in Madison Park (dang kid lives right ON Lake Washington) and remembered I hadn't downloaded new books on my Kindle. With no internet at the site, this was critical!  Felt pretty stupid when Jeff came out a while later, headed to meet some friends, and we were still sitting in the driveway. Old people.....
Thursday was our go-to-Tacoma day for Camping World and Bass Pro Shop. On the way we stopped in Eunumclaw (love this little town) for breakfast at The Kitchen. A tiny spot downtown, the food and service are great, and they make a wonderful cup of coffee!
I swear there were other people there when I took this
Camping World was nearly a bust with zero help available in the service department without making an appointment. Bill did find the do-hicky he needed for the water hookup on the rig, but the store felt weird and I had no desire to look for anything else.
Bass Pro Shop however was a big hit. Both visually and on the checkbook. If you've been in one you know that they are more than a store. From the salmon aquarium to the display of local fauna overhead, to the plethora of sporting equipment, to the large restaurant, it was very impressive.

Fish envy

Bill was able to find everything he needed to complete his fishing set up. For now. You're never really "done".

I really like this area southeast of the city, which is a good thing as we moved less than 30 miles to our next stop where we'll stay put for a couple weeks.

So great to spend time with this guy

Monday, August 24, 2015

Freeways Are Weird and Family is Best

With the exception of our detour to Schafer SP in Elma, WA, we have been on or "just-off-of" Hwy 101 since June 9. From Ventura, CA to Astoria, OR, and then from Shelton, WA to La Push, WA, and back to Port Ludlow, Hwy 101 has been our "route" since we launched.

There is so much to see on the highway that is mostly two-lanes north of Ukiah, CA. I don't think we could have chosen a more beautiful stretch of road for our first :-) We will fill in the missing 120 or so miles between Astoria and La Push on our next west coast trip.

On Monday we crossed that big floating bridge over the Hood Canal (looks and feels just like a solid bridge), and began heading southeast into the metropolis that is the Tacoma/Seattle area. After two months of small roads, it was both relaxing and weird to have all that "room" to drive! Even in traffic it was so different to not look for a place to pull over so that traffic could pass.

It was also a quick 100 mile drive to Kanaskat-Palmer State Park, just east of Tacoma. Well it was quick until the closed bridge. On the little two-lane road. With no place to turn around with the Jeep. A mile from the campground. With no cell or internet service.

Oh well, the lack of detour signs can't mean there's no other way to get there :-)

While there had been Closed signs leading here, they also said local traffic was allowed, and we didn't know the bridge was before the park entrance.

Fortunately Bill still had the map app open on his phone so he could access roads in the area. Comparing this to the small note below the big sign at the bridge he was sure he could get us to the other side.

He unhooked the Jeep and with a quick three-point turn in the rig, we were both headed back the way we came. The re-route took us through a beautiful small valley of red barns and horse pasture with Mt Rainier keeping watch to the south. One of those sweet places we might have missed if it weren't for the serendipity of a closed bridge. And 20 minutes later we pulled into the park.

Kanaskat-Palmer is in the forest next to the Green River Gorge. Most sites are large with good privacy and about 18 have 30 amp electric. If some branches brushing on your AC units is an issue then you won't want to stay here, but going slow it was fine for us. Site #39 would be the best option for solar panels and maybe satellite.

Restrooms are clean, showers are free with lots of hot water and strong water pressure. There aren't many in the park so I did have to wait. Reservations made and paid online, register upon arrival either with the volunteer or at the pay station. Easy access dump station. Water spigots throughout each of two loops. Five yurts available as well.

Nice backyard

Appreciating the canopy on a 90 degree afternoon
Expecting Ezra to arrive around the 23rd of this month, we planned to be in the Seattle area. Not only close to an airport so grandma can fly back for a visit, but close to Uncle Jeff so he can join me.

Ezra's early arrival meant having to make a couple changes, but Jeff's work schedule wasn't as flexible. It meant waiting two weeks to make the trip, but we were still able to pick Jeff up for a visit on Tuesday. It was so great to see him after almost six months - my youngest :-)

His birthday was Monday. He didn't get cake either. Just sayin'.

Jeff's been here for almost two years, but hasn't seen much of the state so I thought a trip up to the Anacortes area would be fun. Not thinking about also returning to the state park in the big city traffic, it turned into much more time in the car than planned.

Still, Anacortes is another beautiful spot, views of the San Juan Islands are something else we have never seen, and we enjoyed a delicious lunch at the marina, getting caught up with our "not-in-SoCal" son. He's the only one of six :-)

Anacortes, WA
We made it back home with both Jeff and several Amazon boxes that had been delivered to his apartment.

Including a couple surprise fishing goodies for Bill's birthday. Wife points back in the black.

And a Tessa trailer for behind the trikes. She was less impressed with her surprise. She'll get used to it.

It was so fun to have Jeff stay with us (our first house guest)!

Reading in the forest
He's really here!
You think I'm riding in that thing?
Although we've caught up with the summer heat and some of the Northwest's smokey skies, we enjoy a couple more days at the state park. Next post :-)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Our Last Weekend on the OlyPen

Can you use local terms when you've only been in an area for a month? I think so. And besides OlyPen is such a cool word (Olympic Peninsula).

Although some specific stops were planned ahead, much of what we did "up here" was decided after we arrived. Like our time in Port Ludlow which turned out to be one of our favorites.

With no expectations of success, Saturday morning we decided to check out two more lakes.

Lake Anderson is a very pretty little spot with a Day Use Area, horse trails, and poisonous algae.

Even more effective than No Trespassing
One of three lakes in the area monitored for toxic blue-green algae, Lake Anderson had been closed for two weeks when we arrived.

The last spot was Teal Lake. Not knowing what sign would greet us here, we were very happy to see

We'd love to, thank you
A public lake, maintained and well-loved by the local fly-fishing club, Teal Lake is beautiful. With only about 50 yards of shore access, and a nice, small dock, the lake is in a very natural and quiet setting. We had it all to ourselves for a couple hours.

The perfect spot for Bill to practice fly-fishing (he's just bought the rod and other goodies), and me to play with the camera. And Tessa to soak her face in all the rain-wet bushes!

The previous day's rain gave me a chance to try some different close-ups.


Bill got a few bites and all was right with the world again :-)

I forgot to get ferry tickets for Sunday, and with the Jefferson County Fair over the weekend, it was fully booked for the whole day :-(  We'll have to do Whidbey Island next time.

Instead we took in more of Port Townsend, including the large boat yard. Something else we've never done, hadn't planned to do, and thoroughly enjoyed.

The variety was amazing. Most of the ones we could get close to were being worked on, but there were dozens more that looked like they had been there a long time. They were all very large and we could see ourselves on a different kind of adventure. Maybe with a crew.

Port Townsend has some of the most beautiful old buildings, and I especially loved the big clock tower.  We found our waterfront spot for lunch and headed back home.

We ended our stay in Port Ludlow at Ludlow Falls. Just 200 yards behind our site, the small, multi-level falls run year-round due to the heavy moss that soaks up and releases the water along the creek above. A very beautiful place.

We love this area, and with the banana-belt weather conditions could see ourselves landing here someday. But for now it's off to see and do more that we've not seen and done before!