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

Glaciers



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!





25 comments:

  1. The North Cascades are a favorite of ours. The fires are so devastating and the losses caused will be decades to replace. We've been in the smoke of the Tamarack and Dixie fires now for a week, but in no danger. But it is a reminder of how dry the forests have become.
    Ezra is going to have a fun with his younger brother.

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    1. There's already so many burned acres, it's sad to think of even more. Washington is scary dry this year. Those boys love making each other laugh :-)

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  2. Rerouting and changing reservations are such a troublesome bother, but the rewards are plentiful…like gorgeous scenery, small towns named Concrete, and folks that offer to help! Gorgeous photos Jodee…keep them coming!

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    1. It's true we've had some of our best adventures when having to reroute. And we can always come back and see what we've missed!!

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  3. Glad you are both back in the same rig again! Your photos are beautiful--thanks for taking us along! The smoke in our area is awful--no mountains in sight!

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    1. Watching that fire and smoke map is very depressing for all of Montana :-(

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  4. Beautiful pictures! I laughed at Elliot.

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    1. Thanks Linda. That boy is already a crack-up!

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  5. Last minute change of plans are becoming more and more common these days. It keeps the mind young, I hear.... Beautiful pictures along the way though. I'm glad you finally got the Jeep to follow you without a driver, it's much nicer that way! See you soon!

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    1. I have to say I'm happier changing plans when we're already on the road! Can't wait to see you guys :-))

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  6. I am amazed at your flexibility and dumbfounded at your ability to maneuver that big rig. I can drive mine but I can't maneuver it like that in and out of places you shouldn't be. So glad you were able to find the substitute places to stay out here in the East I've been trying to find something for the 5 days over Labor Day and there is absolutely nothing anywhere near anywhere I'm going to be. Well done with all the last minute changes.

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    1. This was the first place I was convinced I wouldn't be able to get out of - so it was especially great when I could. I bet you could get in and out of places you think you can't :-) Hope you find your needed spot for the holiday. Hopefully we won't have to change that reservation too!!

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  7. Jiggling with the Jello, glad you found some backups.

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    1. Me too! Even though they were repeat stops, I was so happy to find openings.

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  8. So glad you and your navigator are back together again! :-) I can't imagine driving separately, that would take a lot of the fun out of traveling. Your photos of the Cascades are beautiful, so glad you were able to drive the scenic loop and to get that iconic photo of Lake Diablo. Elliot is darling...his expressions are hilarious!

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    1. The Cascades blew my mind and I can't wait to see the rest of that northern route in the future. Elliott is growing up so dang fast, and definitely able to communicate what he's thinking :-)))

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  9. So glad all worked out to get the Jeep following behind by itself. Traveling separate was never for us. Good to have your navigator back. I guess summer travel plans will be in jello when traveling in the west with all the wildfires. Sure doesn't seem to be getting any better but just the opposite. We are planning to head to Joseph, OR and then the Cascades late spring next year. Sure hope the wildfires are calmer next year. Sounds like you are doing a good job with plan changing every day. One thing that is always comforting now, for me, I know we can always come back to BC if things get take a wrong turn. When we were fulltime without a sticks and bricks it was a different story. Your Northeren Cascade photos have me all excited. Be safe out there. Enjoy your new plans.

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    1. I think doing this area in the spring and early summer, then heading south down the coast is really the better plan these days. There seems to always be fires here this time of year :-( Having that base in Tombstone does give us a sense of security for the "just in case" of life.

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  10. The Northern Cascades look beautiful! We haven’t been above the I-90 corridor in Washington and it looks like we need to. Those darned NW fires are even bringing down the air quality here in Michigan. Elliott is adorable!

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    1. The last time we were in upstate NY the smoke from CA fires was visible in the upper atmosphere so I know it affects so many places! Both Hwy and 2 and 20 are great drives - usually.

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  11. Gotta live those little “bumps” along the way! I love your pics of the Cascades area! We got “bumped” from that part of our trip a couple years back. Look forward to getting back up there. Your grandson us adorable!

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    1. I think we have to reconsider our late summer routes based on the yearly smoke :-( Elliott is pretty dang cute!

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  12. The Cascades are breathtaking so hope you get to return. My hat is off to you for being the best reservation planner (A-Z) I know. Elliot is looking just as cute as Ezra.

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    1. It's a good thing I enjoy the planning as much as I do :-)))

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  13. We used to stay at Rockport State Park, the trees are amazing, as in large...Huge...Then as the latest actions from our state park leaders, they closed it instead of upgrading it..
    Of course our park rates are getting close to California's...Oh well...
    There is a swell county campground close by with access to the river.
    The campground in Newhalem is pretty sweet...Plenty of sites, no hook-ups, but a dump at the entrance; next to the river.

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