Saturday, July 22, 2017

Why We Go to This Big City

July 16-21, 2017
Issaquah, Washington

Sunday's drive is our first Interstate-only since May. As expected, the traffic gets worse the closer we get to Seattle. 

Sunday morning, let's all go to Seattle!
So it's a slow drive until we get to I-90 heading east, but it's an overall easy trip to the pretty town of Issaquah.

We navigate some (more) road construction before pulling into Issaquah Village RV Park, another no- frills-but-close-to-everything spot for a week. It wasn't my first choice, or second, or third.....but it's clean and level with FHUs, 50 AMP and well maintained. Although our neighbors are quiet, with I-90 just 100 yards from our space I can't say the park is quiet. 

The priority for this stop is seeing Jeff, my youngest, and our number four son. It's been a year since he flew out to Denver to see us on the road.

As soon as we get set up we're back out the door and into the city to see him :-)

We are all happy to see him!

The kids.
Jeff directs us to a great eatery on Capitol Hill - Skillet, and then we take a drive (always an adventure in this busy city of steep and narrow streets) to Woodland Park along the water. It's so good to see him and get caught up with his life.

Monday we're out to find a fishing spot - first stop Beaver Lake. 

It's pretty, has nice green space for picnics, but the only public fishing access has zero place to fish.  We continue on.

Beaver Lake

Cute old cabin back in the woods by the lake.

I love wood boats, and this one across the lake is a beauty.
When we were in the area two years ago I fell in love with the little town of Enumclaw. Nice historic downtown with cute houses surrounding it, beautiful views of Mt Rainier (hard to miss it from anywhere "up here"), plus a great little diner.

The mountain is out!
Unfortunately Kitchen (little diner) closes at 2 and we're too late. Kelly's Mercantile across the street has exceptional organic and fresh local fare, giving us a perfect Plan B.

Not a fishing spot (unless you have a long, long, long fishing line), but on the way back we stop at the single-lane Green River Gorge Bridge. We squeeze into the one narrow spot where we can get out and walk the bridge. Given my "dislike" of high places, I'm pleased with the appropriate railings along the sides. All bridges and view points should require these :-))))


Preservation and conservation began in the late 1960's.

The State now owns and protects 80% of the 14 mile river gorge.

Barely visible falls higher up the walls.

Close to the river, these falls are loud and beautiful.

"Holy Spark Plug Rock"
The history of the river is similar to so many - developers and conservationists continuously battle for it's shores. A resort along the gorge closed in the 1980's due to liability concerns and public access was cut off. A few residents live there year round. Down river some private property is developed along the gorge. There are no hiking trails for humans or horses, and no interpretive centers are planned. So far, conservationists are winning, which means the river is winning - let's hope that continues.

A final stop to takes us to another public fishing location with nowhere to fish....but the flowers are pretty :-) Sorry honey....

Lake Number 12 - seriously.

A few pink lillies on a lake full of white blooms.

Bugs' summer paradise.

They grow those fuzzy pink sweaters here.....

Tuesday is a lazy day - I never get out of my PJs :-)

Jeff takes Wednesday off and we meet him at the theater to see the new Spiderman movie. My first time seeing a movie on the second floor - big city stuff! Not only is the movie very fun and very funny, but the large reclining leather seats with swing out tables are wonderful. The popcorn could be better.. 

Late lunch at the Cheesecake Factory across the street (we've already paid the parking ransom), and then we drop Jeff off to interview for what he hopes will be his new abode.

Although our healthcare plan only covers us for emergencies and urgent care outside of California, we are fortunate to have both dental and vision coverage we can use anywhere in the country. It's time for our annual eye exams and Thursday we have appointments here in Issaquah. Thanks to Linda for the great recommendation!

All week I've been looking forward to Friday so Jeff can come spend a couple days at our house!

We meet at his work, Victrola Coffee Roastery, where he and the crew are doing a "cupping". We're lucky to join this weekly staff event. They do free cuppings with the public on Wednesdays so if you're in the's like coffee college in 30 minutes!

Each selection is tasted three times. If you normally drink decaf like I do, taste small spoonfuls - whew!!

Five selections, tasting for flavor, mouth-feel and acidity.
The tasting process is simple, but the information gathered, and the conclusions made, are complicated and fascinating. It's especially fun doing it with the crew - thanks Jeff for including us!

Brunch at the Issaquah Cafe and then a quiet afternoon back at our place. Nothing better than hanging out with your kid! 

We round out the night with chili, brews and a movie. Saturday we're off to visit a couple of our favorite places in this beautiful area.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Unexpected Pleasure of New Friends

August 12-15, 2017
Olympia, Washington

Bill's cousin was living in Olympia when I included the city in our route. When we found out she moved I remembered that a nice couple we met in Colorado also spend their summers here (they're on the road the rest of the year) so I kept our reservations. I figured we could see a little of a new area, and have a fun meet up with Michael and Rebecca.

Our Wednesday drive takes us into Washington, following Hwy 101 to Hwy 8, and a few miles on I-5. We arrive at Land Yacht RV Park mid-day where we back into our spot in the gravel parking lot. Spaces are defined by white lines and there is just enough room for the house and the Jeep - just. This was originally an Airstream-only park, pre-slides. The sewer connection is uphill so we don't bother, there's a dump and we're only here four nights. 30 AMP and good water pressure. Park WiFi doesn't connect, plenty of sky for satellite. It's a quiet park, close to town, and our friends' park is five-minutes away.

Rebecca invites us to their place and then dinner at their son's pub on Thursday evening. At cousin Penny's recommendation we check out nearby Boston Harbor during the day.

What a wonderful place!! Nothing more than a little marina and store/patio, and the cutest homes with beautiful gardens.

Music jams here on the weekends too :-)

Small boats in a small marina.

The dock needs a little work - could be a sobriety test?

The sweetest cottage with views of the harbor. I love it!

Garden art.

Many of the gardens are terraces, giving you more to look at.

Not the roof of a house - its the whole house.

This big ship stands out among more traditional homes.

In, not out, got it!
In the afternoon we make the quick drive to Lost Lake RV Resort, a beautiful - really beautiful - private park with a variety of covered and uncovered spaces, and park models. Although some have sadly removed trees, it is still a lush forest.

Rebecca meets us at the gate and she and Brutus lead us back to their home.

Hard to see, but Brutus is keeping an eye on us from the back.

         Piper's parents live here!!

I fail to get pics of their lovely covered deck - it is a comfortable and inviting place. We're already thinking we could land here some day :-) They give us a walking tour of the park and surrounds, and on the way to eat we drive to the little lake. It's beautiful. Lucky Rebecca also has her art studio above the lodge overlooking the lake - she is very talented!

We enjoy dinner and brews at West Side Tavern, a wonderful "dive" bar that their son manages. Because we're with Brutus, we have reserved seating! Everything is delicious, we'll be back!

When you know the right people dogs!

Our host.
We've only met these folks for a short visit along the Arkansas River in Colorado, and Rebecca and I are Facebook friends. After our time at their place, and over yummy eats and drinks, we know these are really great people whose company we enjoy - a lot :-) Before going home, they take us to the gallery where Rebecca's work is displayed. Splash is a lovely place showcasing 17 local artists with a diversity of mediums. 

Wish I had the space - Rebecca's pieces are gorgeous.

Bill's favorite.
Rebecca suggests she pick me up on Friday for the Olympia Market and I'm in! The market is Thursday - Sunday all summer, and includes fresh produce, prepared foods, baked goods, artisan wares, and other cool stuff. After we pick up a few tasty bits, we enjoy lunch outdoors on the harbor at the Budd Bay Cafe. A couple more quick stops and we're back at our house. 

So many textures, smells and colors.

Soap, not candy ;-)

Lovely lavender.

Rainbow Chard

Our lunch view.
We've all had such a good time together, and their invitation to join them for dinner at their place means we get to have some more!

After enjoying our meal on the large covered deck, we relax around a nice fire pit with views of the Olympias through the trees. The more time we spend here, the more we like the idea of something similar in the future.

Saturday we get some needed errands run and other boring adult stuff. Then one more get together with our new friends at Dirty Dave's Pizza where we somehow find even more to talk about :-)) Hugs and good-byes-for-now.

Michael, Brutus and Rebecca - thanks for such a great time!!
We didn't know what to expect of Olympia, had no plans for anything in particular to do. What a nice surprise to spend time with a couple who we have a lot in common with, and whose company we enjoy so much. Tessa and Brutus were happy to share their space with each other, just hanging out with their peeps. Olympia is also a wonderful city - progressive, diverse, eco-conscious, college-town, lots of water, that mountain!, and just weird enough for us to really like.  

Next up, we're off to the Seattle area to see our only "doesn't live in Southern California" son!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Top of Oregon at the End of the Columbia

July 8-12, 2017
Astoria, Oregon

Surrounded by the Columbia and Young Rivers, Astoria is a beautiful little port town with an artsy yet sophisticated feel. This is our second visit, and once again I didn't give us enough time to see everything.

When I couldn't get reservations at Ft Stevens State Park for our four night stay, I was happy to return to the Lewis and Clark RV Park and Golf. The 9-hole course provides beautiful open views from the front-in sites. Although we don't golf, we really like this park. Gravel roads and sites, level with 50 amp FHUs, fast park WiFi, propane for sale, friendly staff and perfectly maintained grounds. The bullfrogs serenade every night.

Another sweet view.
Sunday we spend some time along the water at Ft Stevens SP, but don't visit the fort this trip. While the site of the Peter Iredale shipwreck is crowded on this Sunday afternoon, we find few others at the Wildlife Viewing Bunker. 

Abandoned on the Clatsop Spit in 1906 where she ran aground attempting to reach the Columbia River in a severe storm.

A very popular location.
Clouds roll in over the Columbia River.

A quiet beach along the river. 

The Columbia meets the Pacific around this corner.

A single singer joins us along the shore.

Wildlife Viewing Bunker - looking very bunkerish - but the grass is so high there is no visibility from inside.

Past the bunker the path meanders through tall grasses.

The path narrows as the grass gets taller.

Tumbled splinters from nearby decaying docks become a spongey walkway along the beach. 
Astoria watches huge ships from all over the world pass by on the Columbia River. It looks somewhat like a parking lot from shore.

Near the RV park I enjoy another eagle sighting. I don't think I could ever tire of seeing these beauties.

So majestic.
Monday we again make a day trip recommended by friends Laurel and Eric. Across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, we turn west to Cape Disappointment to visit the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center. It is a wonderful center, and well worth the $10 per person and $5 parking. A short quarter mile trail up the hill takes us to a beautiful viewpoint and the museum dedicated to telling the full story of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. 

I always think of their exploration just being the two of them with Sacajawea. Instead, there was a large group of 33-50, including Clark's slave, York. 

The center does a wonderful job of "walking you through" the nearly 4000 miles of their journey. From manufactured boats, to Indian ponies, to canoes they dug out themselves, to walking, we travel with them to a cold and inhospitable Dismal Nitch on November 15, 1805. There is a lot of information on the areas they crossed and what and who they saw. Try This options at each exhibit are well done and enhance the education in a fun way. We try most of them!

When it came time to return east they had an historic discussion on which route to begin. Historic in that both York and Sacajawea were included in the decision. I like that :-)

A personal panel for us - last summer we were at these head waters in Three Forks, Montana :-))))

I am unsuccessful in loading more than one layer of cargo in the dug-out canoe :-(

The first collection of books to cross the continent, the captain's collection was carried by the expedition's men, including three portages of the Columbia and one at the Great Falls of the Missouri.

In addition to the books, large trays of hundreds of new flora were carried by the expedition. Information that would fill new books in the future.

Difficult to get an inclusive photo, this exhibition explained in several ways how they fed themselves. The menus differed depending on the game and plants of each area. The squares on the board show how far away they could shoot certain game, and how many people each could feed. The modified abacus allows you to count how many of your expedition you could feed from a day's hunting. 

In addition to the horses, the expedition traded for other useful items including baskets and leather bags. This is a Chinook Spruce Root and Beargrass basket.

One of only a few original pieces from the expedition, this hatchet head was carried by Sgt. Patrick Gass.

Planning to return along much of the original route, the men buried caches of supplies for use on the way back. All were found and used  - all without GPS or metal detectors :-)))

The center provides amazing views of the cape from the second floor,

and the outdoor platform.

This beautiful First Order Fresnel Lens served as the Cape Disappointment Light from 1856 to 1898, then moved to the North Head Lighthouse where it served until 1935. It was displayed outside until it's last move to the Center in 1975.

Turning the ceiling into art.

Cape Disappointment Light reflected in the panes of her old lens.

Not the pessimist one might think.

Automated in 1974, her light still guides ships.

In need of some TLC - a tourist gives a hug to help out.
From the center we drove to Oysterville to pick up yummy smoked salmon and oysters - another spot-on recommendation from our friends!

The clearing skies enhance the beauty of this little place on the Willaby Bay.

A stop for lunch and a long drive on the beach in Long Beach rounds out our day. Once past the busy" entrance" area, we have a nice stretch of beach to ourselves.

There's a lot to see in this area, and one of the places we didn't see last time is the Astoria Column

Completed in 1926 by artist Attilio Pusterla, the column depicts three historic events of the area: the end of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, Captain Robert Gray's discovery of the Columbia River, and the arrival of the ship Tonquin. Painted in a spiral, the mural would be 500 feet long if flat.

You can climb to the top of the 126 foot column. Not me, but you can!

The technique is called sgraffito.

Lovely detail.

Replica of native boats used by the Expedition on the Columbia River.

A few weeks ago we were at Saddle Mountain, visible to the southeast.

Wonderful views of the Astoria-Megler Bridge.
The River Walk is busy along the pretty harbor. We enjoy a tasty lunch at Baked Alaska before heading home.

Yummy field greens and the best Calamari I've had in ages.
I can't believe our time in Oregon is over for now. We'll be back late next month to witness the Solar Eclipse, staying in the shadow. But Wednesday we move on to Olympia, Washington, where we'll meet up with another traveling couple.