Saturday, July 31, 2021

Plan C - Back on Highway 2

 July 20-25, 2021
Cashmere - Wilbur, Washington

Our turn around route takes us back through Marysville, Washington, for the sixth time in two weeks - probably don't ever need to return :-)

I didn't realize that when we took Washington Highway 2 last time we missed the section between I-5 and Cashmere, driving I-90 and Hwy 97 to Cashmere instead. As part of the Cascade Scenic Loop, this is definitely the better way to go! Our Tuesday drive is beautiful, including miles along the Wenatchee River. The skies are still blue with a little heat haze. 

Cashmere is a beautiful small town surrounded by fruit orchards and smooth beige hills (looking just like a cashmere coat). Takes a bit to reprogram my brain to recognize brown after months of so much green!

This route takes us through the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth where all the businesses are decked out in similar architecture and signage. Lots of tourists enjoying the sunny day.

We once again stay at the Chelan County Expo Center with 50 AMP FHUs on level grass sites. Essentially we're back in a big open field. 

Good dog TV here.

One of our days we check out Icicle River RV Park (crowded with small sites), and discover a beautiful drive into the surrounding mountains. A well-maintained road with several campgrounds for tents and small trailers follows the river through a deep canyon. 

Friday we're back on Hwy 2 for two hours through miles and miles of serene wheat fields. We can definitely stretch our eyes in these wide open spaces.  Sadly we've also caught up with the smoke :-( By the time we pass Dry Falls visibility is seriously impacted.

Wilbur, Washington, has two RV parks and we try a different one this time after experiencing a very weird utility set up last time.
Country Lane RV Park is on the highway (the back-in sites are actually just a couple feet from the road) with 30 AMP FHUs on level dirt and dry grass sites. Our pull-through has open skies which gets pretty hot although we're happy to have satellite. 

Along with the heat, the smoke gets worse over the three days we're here. A couple drives with the AC on take us into some interesting places.

Fort Spokane Visitor Center is still closed.

Most of the grounds are vacant now.

The trails are so dry they crackle.

Amber pine cones dot the ground.

Scary dry.

The fort eventually became a school for local tribes. Teaching them to farm the area is credited for the large agricultural community that now defines the area.

Smoke along the Columbia River

Vintage structures next to a very busy boat launch in Lincoln, Washington,

The RV park has "room service" from their little cafe which we enjoy one evening. It's one of two eateries in the little town! 

I love the many shades of gold in the surrounding area. There seems to be new building and developing in the little towns, it's encouraging.

On Monday we head for the big city and visits with great friends, getting a short reprieve from the thick smoke. 

Saturday, July 24, 2021

All Hitched Up Then Turned Around

 July 14 - 19, 2021
Puyallup-Concrete, Washington

Wednesday morning we reluctantly return south from Port Townsend, driving separately, to the heat and bustle of the big city. It's the last "must-do" thing before we can continue our planned travels. And getting the new Blue Ox towing system installed is definitely something we must do!

I know we have a few friends who always drive separately to accommodate a run-around car in addition to their truck to pull a 5er. It's something they planned and it's part of their life style. For us, it's not ideal so we're looking forward to towing Dakota. 

When we get to Sumner I'm wishing I had my navigator as the GPS changes it's "mind" in the middle of an intersection, which means I've just missed the right turn. After climbing a hill through town I find a vacant lot for a U-turn, but when I arrive at the address for Infinity Coach I'm sure it's the wrong place. Two small driveways on either side of a small industrial building with packed parking lots. Bill confirms to me by phone that it's the right place so I use the Cummins lot next door to turn back. When he spoke to their office the same morning they said there was room to park the rig while we dropped off Dakota. Pulling into the parking lot I'm still convinced this can't be right!

Photo taken from the exit, just a tad snug.

They have to reposition multiple rigs everyday. 

Bill does the paperwork for the hitch install, and even I'm surprised I can maneuver the rig out of this lot with only one short back-up required. Whew! Glad to be out of there.

Washington State Fair RV Park in Puyallup (poo-yal-up) is the only place I find with vacancy for the three nights we need. No extensions as they have a large exhibition coming on Saturday. As is often the case with large fairgrounds, the website gives the administration address so the park is not where we go. Fortunately the person who took my reservation did mention the Orange Gate and having my navigator back onboard, we eventually find the entrance. 

Our camp host Amy meets us, and after I learn her life story both in Washington and California, she leads us to our level grass site with 50 amp FHUs. She comes back later to say she'll give me a ride if I need the grocery store - very nice! While I did some shopping at our last stop, we'd already planned for dinner delivery a couple nights. 

A first for me, I plan to take an Uber for Tessa's grooming appointment the next day. Both the food delivery and Uber drivers find us and we confirm that at least in the city we can survive a few days without the Jeep. Unfortunately it means we miss seeing our friends in Olympia and having another visit with my cousin, but we'll be back to the Olympic Peninsula. 

I spend the two hours of Tessa's appointment enjoying Sushi which Bill doesn't eat, and wandering through a couple nearby stores. 

It's been too long!

Infinity gives us a scare when they call Wednesday afternoon to see if we can pick up Dakota and do the rig install on Monday. Uh no, we have no transportation and nowhere to park the rig for the weekend. It's a big relief when Bill calls them Thursday afternoon and they confirm they'll be ready for us Friday as planned. Disaster averted.

We spend most of Friday exploring the area (with Dakota's new, barely visible hitch plate and braking system). Back at the lot we're treated to one of their rig re-positioning dances which is very impressive in that tight space. All hooked up, a brief tutorial, everything works fine, and we're back at our site before 5 PM for one last night.

Puyallup's historic downtown is clean and cute and doing a bustling business. 
While in Port Townsend Bill discovered our 50 amp plug needs replacing. We pick up the new one at General Delivery (something new for us, and we've used it three times this summer) before we left and he installs it during our "downtime" at this stop. So when we pull out on Saturday morning we're feeling especially good about finally having the hitch and updating the plug.

And we're excited about visiting the first new place since we headed out in April. Hwy 20 through the Northern Cascades here we come!!

Passing once more through Marysville where we've already been four times to make the Jeep purchase, we laugh that at least we won't have to come through again!

Famous last words......

Concrete, Washington, is the first stop on Plan B, made when Plan A in Canada fell through due to extended border closures. The last 30 miles along the Skagit River are stunning, and we're even more excited about the next 10 days in this area.  

Concrete-Gandy Creek KOA is tucked in the trees with level dirt sites. We have 30 AMP FHUs and shade that blocks our satellite. The weather is perfect and we spend three days with all the windows open to the smell of pines and the sound of wind in the trees. 

Decent front yard view for a full campground. 

We're not in Montana yet, but the skies are bigger up here too!

Sunday we are treated to jaw-dropping (literally, several times, mouth opened wide with Wows) natural beauty along the Cascades Scenic Loop (this part of Hwy 20). Tiny pit-stop towns, glaciers, huge mountains, glacier-flour river and lakes, trickling waterfalls, healthy forests, and brilliant blue skies, it's glorious.

Skagit River


Breath-taking Diablo Lake 

Newhalem is just living quarters for the workers at the hydroelectric plant and no services but a national park store, but it does have this cool vintage locomotive.

Most falls are dry, but a few drop along side the highway.

Enjoying the cool spray of a drive-through waterfall.

Colonial Peak to the right
I've been watching the fire/smoke in the area, and when Hwy 20 is still closed ahead of us because the fire is 10 feet from the road, I start once again looking at rerouting. Plan C means one of two routes we've already taken east, Interstate 90 or Hwy 2. 

When the road closure continues, and extends east, I cancel two reservations, and after many phone calls find openings to cover them. So we're not only back on a previous route, but also staying where we've stayed before. While not ideal, I can't complain knowing that our inconvenience is nothing compared to the thousands and thousands of acres destroyed and the loss of property and income suffered by others.

For such a small town, Concrete has two very good eateries. Lone Star serves amazing burgers, and 5Bees has a unique and fresh menu. 

Just as small as the town are the two state parks. Rockport is closed to camping, and is rapidly being reclaimed by the forest. Rasar has small sites for tents and 20' trailers, some with water and electric. The river is nearby but it doesn't look like any of the sites have access. Both have forest hiking trails.

Primordial feeling forest at Rockport SP

Concrete got its name from the downtown businesses all built of concrete to avoid destruction from fire.

We're bummed to turn around and return to Interstate 5 yet again, but will be pleasantly surprised by a beautiful Tuesday drive.

Like his older brother Ezra, Elliott is becoming a master of expressions. Cracks me up!