September, 2009
                                                                                                                            return to our "home page"
                                                                                                                            return to "What we've been doing....."
 
Our first stop in September...Holiday Park in Kelowna, BC
and the second....Cultus Lake TT near Chilliwack, BC
and the third...La Conner TT, La Conner, WA

Having traveled 2700 miles in August, we made up for that in September...turning over only 567 miles this month.  Our goal was to see some of the most western destinations , and we've been enjoying doing that.

We'd had a great time in Kelowna, British Columbia during our short stay.  However, our itinerary still had a long list of places we planned to visit, so on September 1st we had our final visit with our friends Don and Bev McGovern and Peter and Cathy Nichita.  They had treated us to some special meals and fun times in their lovely city.     On September 2nd we drove on to the southwest British Columbia community of Cultus Lake.  We settled in for a six night stay at the Thousand Trails Preserve south of Chilliwack.  The park is in a wonderful area for family activities and was pretty crowded over the long holiday weekend.  We used the preserve as our base for visiting several places that we'd read about.  First, we did part of the "Chilliwack Circle Farm Tour."  This took us to some interesting operations around the countryside and it was fun to see them "up close and personal."  Our favorites were learning about and tasting the different kinds of honey at the Chilliwack River Valley Natural Honey Company and bringing home some of the tasty fresh goats milk Feta cheese from the Happy Days Dairy-Heavenly Cheese operation.  We passed acres of berries, grains, flowers and vegetables as we circled the city.  Chilliwack is known for its sweet corn and we agree that it's pretty tasty after having dinner of corn-on-the-cob that we were told had been picked only an hour before.

Venturing out a little farther than Chilliwack another day, we drove east to the town of Hope.  This little town has a collection of sculptures all along the main business section.  The unusual thing about the sculptures is that they are all carved from wood using a chain saw.  Hope is where the movie "Rambo-First Blood" was filmed and we passed several of the movie scenes on our drive through town.  (An odd side story is that when we arrived home later that day and turned on the TV, "First Blood" was just beginning on one of the movie channels!)  A short distance away we visited the Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park which is home to the Othello-Quinette Tunnels.   The tunnels were built through solid granite walls along the Coquihalla River by the Kettle Valley Railroad between 1911 and 1916 as part of the rail system.  Washouts and rock slides plagued the railroad for years and it was finally closed down in 1959.  Visitors can now walk along the old rail bed, through the tunnels and only imagine what it must have been like to be on the construction crew in the steep gorge above the roaring river.  Heading back towards home we stopped later that day at the Bridal Veil Falls.  Taking a short hike in another Provincial Park we came to the beautiful 200 ft. high falls that are the 6th highest in Canada.
 
 

We found this fella along the street in the town of Hope. BC
Rambo fought a battle at this bridge along the Coquihalla River.
One of the Othello-Quinette Tunnels blasted through the granite with a short bridge across the river to the next tunnel.
In later years, the tunnels were reinforced with timbers.
Fortunately, this was the only grizzly we spotted at the Bridal Veil Falls Provincial Park.
Bridal Veil Falls near Hope, BC are almost 200 ft. high.

As we've mentioned before, one of the best things about traveling around as full-time RVers is the people we meet...and then meet with again someplace else.  So it was, when we were in the Chilliwack area, that we got together with some tennis buddies from Palm Creek, Marg and Gar Wildeman, who live in Fort Langley.  They kindly invited us to brunch at their lovely home and then gave us a wonderful guided tour of their community.  We think they know everyone in town!  Marg and Gar also took us out to White Rock, a small town right on the water looking out to Washington's San Juan Islands.  We enjoyed a walk out on the pier and watched fishermen and big boats.  Back at the house, we shared a pizza and talked some more before we headed back to the RV.  The rest of the holiday weekend it rained and rained some more...so we stuck "close to home" at the RV park and got caught up on household chores.  We must truly be "snowbirds" because we had no interest in following some of our fellow RVers out to the golf course in the 55* drizzle, even if it was only $16 a day to play.
 
 

Our buddies from Palm Creek, Fort Langley BC residents, Gar and Marg Wildeman
The former train depot in Fort Langley is now a museum and art gallery.
The pier at White Rock, BC provides a nice walk and a great view of the US.
With a piece of fresh chicken and a hunk of freshly caught fish, this crab trap is ready to be lowered into the water.

With the holiday behind us (but, isn't every day a holiday for full-timers??) we turned south and re-entered the USA at Sumas, Washington and found our way to the Thousand Trails Preserve near La Conner.   This park is situated in a thick forest with secluded sites and once again, gave us a base to visit several places in the area.  Our first "venture out" was a visit with more Palm Creek friends...Tom's former bridge partner, Barb, and her husband Maurice whose summer place is on a canal near the town of Stanwood.  We shared some of their catch of crab and salmon for a happy hour on their deck.  Then, several days later we met Barb and Maurice at the big orange bridge in La Conner so they could take us out on the water in their boat.
 
 

More Palm Creek buddies, Maurice and Barb brought their boat up to La Conner to take us for a ride.
The public launch in La Conner was easy to find and not at all crowded.
There was, however, a fair amount of boat traffic on the Swinomish Channel past the town of La Conner.
It was a perfect day for a ride in Skagit Bay and out towards the San Juan Islands...
...with snow-capped Mt. Baker in view a good part of the time
We docked for lunch at the La Conner Pub before the end of a fantastic afternoon on the water.

On the night of September 9 we had just finished dinner when we became aware of a loud drum beating.  We went for a walk to investigate the non-stop drumming and on the lawn at the edge of the bay we discovered a group of about a dozen natives - in full paint and costume - gathered around a campfire (in a raised/enclosed metal fire ring) and dancing with tremendous precision and energy.  The dancing and drumming continued almost non-stop for about an hour.  Unfortunately it was sunset, and with my little camera I was unable to get any good photos.  We asked the Thousand Trails ranger what was going on and she said she had no idea.  It seems that the TT preserve is on Indian land and the natives can't be denied access to the park.  For the past several weeks a large encampment of natives had been out on a spit of land in front of the preserve fishing - with traffic coming and going all day long.  My only thought was that there was some ceremony associated with the superstitions surrounding the date - 09/09/09.  What ever the reason, it was an impressive ceremony as they concluded the dancing with singing and offerings to the sky in each direction of the compass.  We perhaps could have found out more, but the small group of campers that had gathered on the lodge patio respected the Natives' privacy by not running down to the water and asking questions.

Our land-based venture-outs included a driving trip to Anacortes and around the Fidalgo Island to Deception Pass State Park , a drive to check out another Thousand Trails Preserve near the town of Bow, Washington just to see what it looked like, and of course to find a Walmart and a few other stores in the town of Mount Vernon.  We had a peaceful week at La Conner, a little time to watch the US Open and Ohio State football, and time to "chill out" a little before resuming some tourist activities.
 
 

It was especially relaxing to walk along the beach at the La Conner Thousand Trails at low tide.
A view of Skagit Bay from along the beach at the preserve.

Starting on Monday, September 14, we began our "casino circle tour" of the Seattle area.  Casinos are often known for allowing free RV parking, and doing a little research we came up with several that would bring us close to some of the Seattle tourist attractions.  The casinos are usually on Indian land and the Seattle area is home to many different tribes. Our first stop was at the Tulalip Casino Resort near Marysville, WA.  The RV parking was very nicely landscaped, with wide spaces and long pull-throughs and a 7-day stay allowed.  We stayed for three nights in one of the 50 or so spaces along with many other rigs.  From this vantage point we spent one day next door at the Seattle Premium Outlets doing some shopping and another day we drove a little further south to Mukilteo for a tour of the "Future of Flight Aviation Center" and the Boeing Aircraft Assembly Plant.  Wow, what a facility!  According to the Guinness Book of Records, the assembly building (where no photos are allowed!) is the largest building on earth, by volume (472 million cubic feet).  Each of the six doors are larger than a football field, there are 2.3 miles of pedestrian tunnels under the factory floor, a 39 mile network of tracks for the 26 overhead cranes, 1300 bicycles and several hundred golf cars for employee transportation inside the plant and 30,000 employees working 24/7.  The factory has its own fire and police departments, medical facility, power and water treatment plants and restaurants serving 17,000 meals a day.  You have to be an employee with over 25 years of service to get a parking place anywhere near the door!  From overhead observation platforms we saw many 747s, 777s, and the new 787 aircraft in various stages of construction...the thousands and thousands of pieces and parts all coming together.   It takes about 16 weeks to build one plane.  In the "Future of Flight" center many aircraft components were displayed so that we could get 'up close and personal' with a jet engine, a tail section, a section of fuselage, a cockpit, etc.                             In the suburb of Redmond, we stopped in to see the Microsoft Visitor Center.  Here was a display of all the electronic toys that Microsoft has helped to develop and a historical timeline of the "old" and "new" versions of many of them.  Its hard to believe that we carried around a foot-long, five pound video camera attached by a cord to the giant power deck in a shoulder bag - and then played back the tape in another big, heavy tape deck.  The sleek new miniature versions of all the electronics are quite impressive.  Of course, there were computers to play with and all were loaded with the new Windows 7 operating system which will be out on October 22.  Sadly, there were no free samples or souvenirs at either Boeing or Microsoft!
 
 

The Boeing Assembly building in Mukilteo, WA.  Each of those blue doors is the size of a football field.
Two "Dreamlifter" aircraft were especially built and modified to pick up and deliver parts for the new 787s under construction.
This jet engine could suck the air out of the building in just seconds.

Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, WA was our next stop.  Again, the price was right, but it wasn't quite as nice as the last stop.  This location, though, gave us fleeting views of Mt. Rainier and put us close to some more Palm Creek buddies, Trish and Darwin Tranholt, who we caught just in time, as they were planning to leave for Palm Creek within a week or so.  From Auburn we made the trip to downtown Seattle where we visited the Seattle Center area that was built for the World's Fair in 1962 with the Space Needle as its centerpiece.  Now there are many museums, gardens, exhibits and events in the area...some of which we had visited when we lived in this area 41 years ago while Tom was stationed at Fort Lewis and in subsequent years visiting family in the area.  On this trip we decided to tour the "Experience Music Project" and the "Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame" which are housed at separate ends of a very unusual building designed by Frank O. Gehry.  In the music end we viewed exhibits of the history of American popular music, the evolution of the guitar in rock and roll, and the careers of famous Northwest musicians - most noticeably Jimi Hendrix.  There is also a "sound lab" with booths where you can play all sorts of instruments and if you are with a group of people, you can play together and record your efforts on a CD or in another area on video.  At the science fiction end of the museum we relived the development of science fiction stories, books, film, television and related toys and music.  In the "Hall of Fame" we found many familiar authors and filmmakers.   And, of course, it wouldn't have been complete without a display of all our favorite robots, monsters and aliens from the stories.  Its interesting that some of the "outlandish" ideas from the early 20th century are now a reality!                  We caught a little flavor of the Pike Street Market and the Seattle harbor as we circled the very busy downtown streets on a rainy Saturday afternoon.  Not finding any convenient parking in the drizzly weather we "people watched," checked out the various storefronts and cafes, and the piers from our spots in stopped traffic.
 
 

Our tennis buddies from Palm Creek, Trish and Darwin Tranholt, live in Sumner, WA and treated us to lunch during our visit.
We recognized quite a few of the members in the Science Fiction Hall of Fame
He wasn't in the Hall of Fame, but R2D2 is an old favorite.
The building housing the Science Fiction Museum and the Experience Music Project looks like a big pile of rolling metal...quite unusual.
The lobby centerpiece of the Experience Music Project is this two-story high collection of musical instruments.
This guitar was used by Jimi Hendrix when he played his legendary version of the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock in 1969.
The Space Needle was built for the Seattle World's Fair in 1962.

In 1968, Tom was stationed in the Army at Fort Lewis, just south of Tacoma, Washington.  Being nearby, we took the opportunity for a little "nostalgia tour."  We had planned to stop at another casino for an overnight stay, but discovered a fairly new Cabela's store off I-5 in Lacey, WA.  After getting settled there on a Sunday afternoon, we stopped in to the Main Gate Visitor Center at Fort Lewis and obtained a pass.  Our first stop was at the Fort Lewis Museum where we viewed exhibits honoring the military presence in the northwest going back to the 1800s and in particular there were exhibits of the various brigades stationed at Fort Lewis through today.  The museum was originally built as a hotel in 1918 and is now in the National Register of Historic Places...and in 1968 we lived in the Fort Lewis Hotel for several weeks while we waited to be assigned to on base housing. Continuing our drive through the base, we had to admit that we certainly didn't remember our way around.  Obviously, there were many buildings that weren't there 41 years ago but we did find the office complex where Tom worked and we also found our home..a two-story townhouse type that is still in use.  The school where I taught is long-gone!  It was fun to go back in time for a little while.
 
 

The old Main Gate at Fort Lewis, Washington stands at the Visitor Center right next to the new Main Gate.
From the outside, the Fort Lewis Inn looks much the same as when we stayed there 41 years ago.
Enclosures around the front doors have been added to the townhouse units we lived in, but otherwise, they look the same as when we were residents at Fort Lewis. 

After our visit to Fort Lewis, we continued west a short distance to Elma, WA for a two-night stay at the Travel Inn RV Resort.  After several weeks with no sewer hookup were were happy to have the opportunity to settle in with water and sewer and 50amp electricity (just in time - as the 90* temps made using the A/C quite nice!).  With our housework chores all caught up we moved even further west (not much "west" left at this point) to an RV park in Raymond, WA to be near our Palm Creek neighbors, Dick and Alice Wells, in South Bend.  In Raymond, the RV park was actually in the lot of a boat builder, Pedigree Catamarans.  They are currently working on two large cats out in the yard...boy what a difference from the Hobie Cat 16' we once owned!  The RV spaces in their lot are for the convenience of their workers, friends and relatives and people who happen to notice the place as they pass by.  Thanks go to Dick and Alice for knowing about the convenient place for us.
 

More Palm Creek buddies...our hosts in South Bend and Raymond, WA, Alice and Dick Wells
For a cool $1.8 million we could have this catamaran instead of the Dutch Star

From our spot in Raymond/South Bend, Dick and Alice were great tour hosts.  Over several days we enjoyed a visit and meal at their home and they made certain that we got to experience the harbor, the Gray's Head Lighthouse, a winery and the cranberry bogs at Westport, WA.  We went to lunch at the Tokeland Hotel that had been built in 1885 and is still in operation.  We took a tour of the rooms upstairs, but didn't see the ghost that is said to live there.  Mount St. Helen was on the "must see" list and the four of us made the trip to see the spot where the volcano erupted 29 years ago.  Much of the forest surrounding the blast zone has regrown, but obviously is not as tall as the nearby acres of older growth.  The Weyerhauser company salvaged much of the wood and has replanted thousands of trees, but the actual mountain top remains barren and rock covered.  We stopped at several visitor centers which each had a different focus on the events of that tragic day when 57 people were unable to escape the wrath of mother nature.  It was great having some "locals" describe the events and the changes over the years from their point of view.
 
 

Part of the fishing fleet in the harbor at Westport, WA
Harvest time in the cranberry bogs is just beginning near Westport, WA
Grays Harbor Lighthouse,  is 107 ft. tall, built in 1898 and still in use.
The Pacific County Courthouse in South Bend features a stained glass dome on the roof and in the courtrooms.
Mount St. Helens lava dome continues to be an awesome sight 29 years after its eruption.

Moving on down Route 101, our next stop was the "Long Beach" Thousand Trails Preserve near Seaview, WA.  Our site here was just over the dunes from the Pacific Ocean along the Long Beach Peninsula.  Although we couldn't see the water from our site, we could see and feel the "sea spray" and the clouds rolling in from the ocean.  The weather turned much cooler and more rainy once we arrived on September 27, allowing us to see the weather "in action."  The peninsula is 25 miles long with cars allowed to drive the white sand beach during the "off season."  We declined the drive on the sand, but did drive the car out several access points for a view.  We also drove the length of the peninsula enjoying stops at the Leadbetter State Park and the Willipa Wildlife Refuge at the north end, the Oysterville Sea Farms Cannery and homes from the 1850's in Oysterville, seeing the tourist village and shops in Long Beach and then at the south end of the peninsula learning more about the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Interpretive Center at Cape Disappointment State Park.  This is where the two and a half year journey from the east ended in 1805.  Also at the state park are two lighthouses, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse built in 1856, the oldest in Washington, and the North Head Lighthouse built in 1898.
 
 

The beach near our site at Thousand Trails
The Oysterville Sea Farms cannery processes lots of clams, oysters, and crab this area is famous for.  We opted for the chocolate covered cranberries, however.
The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse built in 1856 is the oldest lighthouse in WA.
The North Head Lighthouse was built in 1898.

Another day trip from the Long Beach Thousand Trails park took us south into Astoria, Oregon, crossing the Columbia River on the Astoria Bridge.  We arrived in Astoria along with two cruise ships full of tourists, but easily found our way up the 164 steps to the top of the Astoria Column.  The column was built in 1925 by the president of the Great Northern Railroad as one of twelve monuments between here and St. Paul, MN.  This one honors the explorers and settlers critical in the development of the Pacific Coast and the route getting here from the east.  A few miles south of Astoria we visited Fort Stevens and Fort Clatsop.  Fort Stevens was a military facility protecting the Columbia River in the Civil War and remained an active fort until 1947.  During World War II, it was the site of defensive gun batteries and in 1942, the site of the only enemy bombardment on the mainland US. (There was no damage and no injuries and the US did not return fire.) At Fort Clatsop we continued to learn about Lewis and Clark's arrival at the Pacific Ocean and the explorations they made along the coast meeting various Indian tribes and learning about the cultures and the land of these people.  Lewis and Clark used their new knowledge of the area to establish a winter fort here before returning to the east to report their findings to President Thomas Jefferson who had sent them west three years previous.  Its amazing to think about how Lewis and Clark planned and executed their expedition and what decisions they had to make and the struggles they overcame on their way to the Pacific.
 
 

The Astoria Column, made of concrete and standing 125 ft. is decorated with murals of early explorers. 
From the top of the column you can view the Astoria Bridge over the Columbia River as well as part of the town of Astoria.
In another direction on the tower it is possible to see the Lewis and Clark River on the right and the Youngs River on the left as they meet just before joining the Columbia.
The bunkers and gun batteries overlooking the Columbia River and the Pacific Ocean at Fort Stevens were in use from the Civil War through World War II.
Fort Clatsop housed the Lewis and Clark Expedition during their first winter at the Pacific Ocean shore.

Our last outing for September was back to the town of Long Beach.  While running some errands, we stopped to see the World's Largest Frying Pan and Marsh's Free Museum.  The frying pan was built for the local Chamber of Commerce in 1941 to promote the area's clam and oyster business.  The museum claims it is in the category of Wall Drug in South Dakota and South of the Border in South Carolina.  What it is to us is a giant gift shop with a collection of weird antiques and really odd items.  Whatever - it gave us a chuckle on which to end the month.
 

We wonder how big the stove would be to use the big frying pan.
A statue of the alligator man who resides inside is on the roof.  We also saw lots of nickel "peep show" machines and a two headed pig.  The museum bills itself as a "world-class side show."

 

There weren't many miles covered in September, but we certainly have seen and done a lot.  Washington definitely lives up to its name, "The Evergreen State."
We're looking forward to continuing our journey
down the west coast of Oregon and into California in October.