Updated on September 4, 1998.
We awoke to the sound of a light rain on Thursday morning. At least it was cooler. As we were finishing prep of the trailer for travel, one of the TTN staff came by to put a cover over our electric outlet. The power consumption from the air conditioners on all the big rigs was overloading the main breakers, and the section had fryed a breaker the night before.
Alice had prepared a rigup checklist, and it was a good help. We found a couple of things that needed to be added, so it will be better when we rigup the next time.
We pulled out about 8:30am and headed out to Highway 2. The rain had mostly stopped, though there were light sprinkles from time to time. We climbed on good road up to Stevens Pass, an altitude of 4025 feet. Then we started down into 7 miles of 6% grade. It was continuous, and I was really wishing we had already installed the exhaust brake system on the truck, but at least we made it safely.
Just after we mostly leveled out we came to "the detour". We turned hard right on to a narrow, one-lane, paved and patched, twisty, narrow, twisty, narrow road. The speed limit was 25mph, but we did not try to push it. There were a couple of cars behind us, but they did not seem to mind our going slow. We even caught up to a string of cars, lead by a truck, that was going slower than we were.
This detour continued for at least 7 miles. The scenery was beautiful, if you like tree trunks and rock walls. The GPS has so much tree cover, it could not figure out where we were. I hoped there was no stupid so-and-so coming up the wrong way. There was no way we could see such a person before we hit him with all the curves and underbrush.
Finally we made it back onto the main highway. The drive from there on through the Cascades gave us some spectacular views. Finally, we made it back to the flat lands. We turned north on I-5 near Everett and drove another 50 miles to just north of the town of Mount Vernon. We turned off on Daark Lane and quickly found ourselves in the parking lot for the Harrah's casino. The road continued through the lot and a mile later we arrived at the gate for the Mount Vernon Thousand Trails Resort.
We were meeting Cousin Jim at the preserve, and he was supposed to have left a message telling us where he was camped -- no message was found. So after checking in, we started driving through the camp (about 250 sites) looking for a truck and trailer we had never seen. Amazingly, we found Jim and his wife Carol on the first pass, and they directed us to an open site near them.
Mt Vernon TTN is a beautiful preserve, to this point the most beautiful we have seen in the TTN system. Many of the campsites are wide and deep, so there was plenty of room for the trailer and truck. We even had a line of sight through the trees to set up the satellite antenna for the TV.
On Friday, we drove over to La Conner TTN preserve and looked it over. It is quite nice and sits next to the waters of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The campsites are not so large, but it will be a great place to visit next year. Lunch at the Farmer Joes.
We visited Rosario park and walked out to an island looking at the bridge over Deception Pass. The wildflowers were beautiful. The climb was steep, and for a time we were not sure all us 60+ year olds could make it. But we did and the views were delightful.
After crossing a spit we reached the small island and walked over its spine to view the bridge. You cannot tell from the photo, but there had been an accident along the road and the bridge was full of cars and trucks. They were not moving. However, under the bridge the water was flowing quite rapidly and boats were having to rev up to go against the tide.
There was a tide pool at the end of the island. I explored it and found a tree trunk hanging in the rocks. It made an interesting view of the bridge from water level. After walking back to the truck, we found we could not travel on down Widbey Island because of the traffic accident, so we returned to Mount Vernon TTN.
There was a Harrah's Casino near the entrance to the preserve. We went with Jim and Carol for supper and had their special prime rib dinner. What was best was all you could eat boiled shrimp, so Alice and I loaded up on that. We spent the rest of the weekend lazing around in the shade and shooting the breeze with Jim and Carol. I really worked on Jim to get on the Internet -- maybe he will do it -- so we can stay in touch. It was quite fun and pleasant.
Our relatives left on Monday. We went to Burlinton to pick up our General Delivery mail. It is always nice to hear from home and all those advertizers who have something to send to us.
We also visited Safeway, Walmart, OfficeMax, and Petco. We ate at the Cranberry Restaurant in Mount Vernon -- we do not recommend it. At OfficeMax I found a CD of pinball games for $30, so I bought it. That has taken up far too much time since then, but I do have a high score of 50 million!
We ended going three nights to Harrahs for their buffet. I came away a winner each night -- an amazing run of luck. I paid for dinner, and if I quit now I will be ahead. There are now a lot of casinos around. I hear that even California is about to be invaded.
Mostly we just took life easy at Mount Vernon. I got on Internet at the lodge several times, but did not have the energy to do much updating of the web site -- just too nice. The large campsites and pleasant weather did much to make our stay very nice. The only thing that shattered the calm was the weekend car races just behind the resort. But that only took about 5 hours on Saturday night.
On Sunday morning we stowed things in the rig and headed over to Sequim on the Olympic Penninsula. The shortest route was to drive out State Highway 20 to Widbey Island, then south to the ferry at Keystone.
There was not so much traffic when we started. We made good time as we drove along WA20. This time we drove across the bridge at Deception Pass and viewed the island where we had visited a few days before. Widbey island is long and thin, and mostly flat. It is a lot of farmland, and we saw many beautiful fields. The Co-Pilot directed us off the highway to a shortcut to the ferry. We found the end of the queue to the ferry when we were still 3/4 mile from the gate.
It took almost an hour to make it to the gate. We opened the door to the trailer, and Alice walked the dog and started fixing lunch as I drove forward in increments of 75 to 150 feet every five to ten minutes. Since we were retired folks, we were not all stressed out about the wait like some of those around us.
I checked the length of the truck and trailer and determined it totaled just less than 50 feet. When I reached the gate, I admitted to Alice being in the trailer (a passenger) and told the gate attendant she was not 65 years of age (no senior discount). He took my word for everything, so it cost us $40.25 for the ferry ride. We moved into lane 2 and settled down for lunch. Rumor was we might get on the 1:30pm ferry. As luck had it, we were next to last on the boat at 1:30.
The ferry carried us across the entrance of Puget Sound to Port Townsend. The boat ride was very pleasant, and we saw the San Juan Islands in the distance. Port Townsend looked quaint as we approached it. We waited patiently for the cars around us to clear so we could move. It does get tight inside the ferry with a big rig.
It was only another 25 miles to Sequim on WA20 and US101. The road was two lane but good. We drove two miles through Sequim and finally found the West Side Inn and RV Park. It was nothing exciting but it was sufficient, and it was close to Eric's RV Performance Store.
As we were unhooking, our neighbors drove in and told us about the Salmon BBQ being held down the road by the Rotary Club. We hopped back in the truck and headed for it. We ate enough salmon to be cured of the fish for a couple of weeks.
Returning back to the trailer, we shopped at Safeway and settled down for the evening, marveling in the weather.
Monday morning we went by Eric's and agreed to have the truck back to them by around 2pm. That gave us time to take the drive to the Dungeness Spit. We missed the spit on the first pass and ate lunch at the 3 Crabs Restaurant -- good crab louie but a bit pricey.
Then we drove back up to the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge. We walked the half mile to the base of the spit, down the hill, and out onto the shore. There we took pictures of the spit and its contents. We were a little late getting the truck back to Eric's
Tuesday we waited for the truck and watched the stock market -- exciting roller coaster rides. About 3 o'clock we went over and the truck was ready. We got an explanation on Pac Brake and tranny cooler controls and shelled out a wad of money. Hope the market goes back up soon.
Back at the trailer we started preparing for moving the next day.
Wednesday morning we were up and finished prepping the trailer for travel. Alice called the Evergreen CoHo SKP park in Chimacum and found there were two places with hookups available if we hurried. So we got in gear and moved out.
The truck drove well with the new equipment -- of course the drive was not much of a push. We arrived at the Evergreen CoHo Resort sooner than we expected and set up on a fine graveled site. The park is beautiful. It is a SKP coop and we are considering getting on the list. The current wait is 5 to 7 years, but by that time we might want to settle for a while in one place.
Wednesday afternoon we loafed and again watched the stock market go up and down. I did some writing. As you can see, I have a very pleasant place to do all this. We also walked around. As we walked around the park we noticed Misty was very lethargic.
Thursday morning we took Misty to the vet even though she was springy again. The vet waid she was the picture of good health for a 12 year old dog. The vet thought she may have tweaked her back and was just expressing her pain. He gave us some Rimadyl, and it seemed to really perk her up.
The SKP Coop has no available phone lines, so we drove into Port Townsend to the Internet Cafe and collected email. It took us a while to find the place since our Co-Pilot did not recognize the difference between East and West Sims street in Port Townsend. On West Sims where we first stopped was an Espresso place with one of the biggest cats I have seen. He must have weighed 30+ pounds. He is over 15 years old.
After collecting email and returning to watch the stock market close, we drove to Silverdale to get new glasses; then Bremerton to the WalMart to pick up perscriptions. We had supper at the Golden Grill Mongolian BBQ. It was definitely not as good as in Sacramento.
On Friday we went back to Sequim to do some blood work for the doctor back home. After eating at the Oak Table (which is a real treat -- but expensive), we headed up the road at Port Angeles to Hurricane Ridge. The weather was delightful, so we had a beautiful view of the Olympics and the wild flowers along the way.
Alice had taken a course at the Life on Wheels Conference on photography, but she was still cutting the legs off of sea gulls and putting flowers on the side of the pictures. So we decided she should get some practice. Here are some of the shots we took while traveling up to Hurricane Ridge.
This is Sam as taken by Alice. She did cut off a part of my feet, but at least it does not look too bad, more like I am standing in a bunch of grass.
These are some of the flowers and plants we saw on the mountainsides.
The bloom is mostly over at this time of the year, but there were still some spectacular flowers. This is a glacier atop the Olympics. All in all it was a scenic time and the weather was very good to us. There were only a few clouds.
Saturday was spent mostly in camp. It started to rain a little, and then over night it rained a lot. Sunday morning we went to do laundry at the center just as it started to rain again -- luckily it took about an hour and a half to finish the laundry and the rain was just ending when we finished. There was enough rain during that time to wash out a couple of the utility roads here in the SKP park, so the volunteers were back out Sunday afternoon fixing them up.
Monday was another day in camp, mostly working on updates for the web page and getting emails together ready to go. Tuesday we went to Port Townsend and did Internet business, then drove down to Silverdale to pick up Alice's new glasses. Both days were cloudy and cool.
Wednesday morning was sunny. We got up late and finished prepping the trailer for travel to Chehalis. Before leaving the Evergreen CoHo SKP park in Chimacum we joined the list of those waiting to lease a space in the park.
We drove over to US101 and took that road down to I-5 in Olympia, about 85 miles. US101 was a nice, scenic road, but it did wind a bit and the bridges were quite narrow. The road goes along side Hood Canal for much of the drive. The truck drove well, and the gauges helped me understand how the truck was responding. However, I was concerned when the transmission temperature never edged more than a hair above 150. When I called Eric's, they said it should have run higher, so I will take it back to Sequim for a check. In addition, when I started up the hill at Chehalis I found I could not shift into 1st gear, so they will also check if they affected the linkage.
Chehalis TTN is about 10 miles east of I-5 in a very pleasant farming and forest region. When you enter you start up hill. The camping sites are along the ridge of the hill. We found a nice spot in Section H, but no sewer hookup available; we will use the honey-wagon service. The site we chose was selected in part because there were several satellite dishes nearby that showed a signal was accessible. I took a picture of the dish forest to show what one goes through to get TV is some areas. It was a matter of finding a hole in the trees to see the sky holding the satellite.
Early Thursday morning we headed for Sequim and a drive around the Olympic Penninsula. Retracing our path over US101, we arrived at Eric's RV about 10:15am. Buster took the keys and said it would be about 30 miuntes. In less than 15 the truck was back. They had adjusted the shift linkage so 1st gear was available and determined that the tranny temperature was working okay; the tranny just runs cool with the new cooler.
We headed on over to Port Angeles, and then took WA12 to follow the shoreline. The road was quite windy and lumpy, so we just took it easy. At various points we had access to the beach. Rejoining US101, we headed south. Lunch was at a hamburger stand in Forks (not recommended), then we stopped at Ruby beach for a brief rest. The sea spires were quite spectacular, and Misty thoroughly enjoyed running on the beach. When we finally returned to the rig, we found we had driven over 420 miles for the day.
Friday we drove into Napavine to pick up our mail at the post office, then shopped for groceries. We finally had a good Safeway to do our shopping in the town of Chehalis and planned steak, salmon, and porkchop meals for the coming nights. The next morning we attended the Manager's Meeting and caught up on all the news about TTN. They are becoming organized on providing Internet access, but plan to ask for donations to cover the cost of the phone line. Sunday we had breakfast at the Family Lodge and washed clothes.
Misty developed some digestive problems on Saturday, so Tuesday we took her to the vet. He felt she had picked up a bug somewhere, and the problem was not the pain medicine we had been giving her. His advice to clear her diarrhea was to not feed her for 36 hours, then go to a diet of steamed rice and chicken. He also gave her some antibiotics. She recovered nicely.
A fellow camper strongly recommended we try the RibEye restaurant just up I-5 from Napavine at exit 72. We did, and the results were good. Then on Thursday we drove up to Tacoma to Camping World where we bought a couple more chairs -- that completes our list of items needed for the rig!! We had the truck lubbed at WalMart in Centralia and could find nothing else to buy!! Amazingly, it appears we have run out of things on the list that we need; provisioning of our home on wheels is now complete.
Friday and Saturday were days around the rig and visiting with neighbors. A fellow camper gave me a hint on where the best blackberries were, so I have been having extra fruit directly off the vine. If you pick them when they are soft and mushy, they are quite sweet.
I did get back to do some writing on the novel; I just need to get more excited about earthquakes and write more. Sunday was breakfast and washing at the Family Lodge again. We made reservations at Palm Springs TTN for a couple of weeks over New Years. Monday morning we head for Ranier TTN, all of 55 miles away. The pace of this life is pastoral to say the least.
I will put our trip to Ranier TTN into the September log. See you there.