Monday, October 12, 2015

'River flowing from a canyon...'

Some days none of your plans come to fruition......not your time of departure.....not your destination......nothing.......and do you know what?  It doesn't really matter....being open to changes, unexpected, or otherwise, is what adds richness, and texture to this experience.  I think being open to change causes you to be more see many more possibilities.

Originally we had thought we would get as far as the little town of Wenatchee located on State Highway 2 along the Wenatchee River.....Wenatchee is a word from the Yakima Indians carrying the meaning displayed in the title of this post.  Many years ago we drove State Highway 2 from Spokane all the way to I-5 in Everett, WA, but that was before we retired.......we were intent in making it in one day to Mt. Vernon, WA and just pounded out the miles, which was our style back then.  I do not remember much of that drive......this is such a beautiful region of Washington and should be taken in smallish doses.  

A few days before our departure we had planned to go as far as Monitor, WA and maybe stay at a local county park called Wenatchee River County Park, but I decided to call the park and check on the availability for two nights beginning Saturday.....I was advised there was none, so suddenly our plans were in flux.  The next thing that changed was the weather, which delayed our departure from Coupeville until Sunday.  Then we were almost an hour late in departing Coupeville Sunday.

As we left Coupeville in our review mirror there were several things weighing on my mind.....

1) Going back to our brief stay at AM Solar (I haven't told this story yet) when Cody advised me he saw ATF dripping on the pavement as I backed into the shop to have our solar panels installed....of course my mind goes to a dark place where I imagine the worst case scenario.......having to pay big bucks to repair, or replace our initial diagnoses, however, was that the ATF filter was leaking, so I tightened it about 1/4 turn, which mostly stopped the dripping, but not completely.  While we were in Vancouver I drove down to the local Napa Auto store and bought a new filter plus four quarts of the correct ATF for my Allison transmission (I had added two quarts while I was at Valley River Center after determining we were down two quarts).  While at Coupeville I changed the filters out, and hoped that would stop the leak, but I was still unsure my fix had solved the problem as we left Coupeville.

2) Getting stuck in the parking lot at Valley River Center, getting out of that successfully, and then missing my turn on to the Interstate and having to turn around in a small parking lot.

3) My horrible mistake backing the coach into the drainage ditch in Coupeville, which came close to causing major damage to the coach......the exhaust was barely off the ground just avoiding being crushed, the city water plumbing was just an inch away from being crushed, the oil pan for the Detroit Diesel was just a few inches from the pavement, and both the transmission ATF filter and oil filters had about 2 inches clearance......all could easily been damaged resulting in some major expenses, etc.

So, as we are cruising northward on State Highway 20 towards Deception Pass and ultimately I-5 these thoughts are going through my self confidence is a little shaken, and I'm still hoping the replacement of the transmission ATF filter has solved my leaking problem.  TLE could tell I was a little pensive so she spent her time being positive, and encouraging me to take my about 10 miles down I-5 we stopped at a Rest Area so I could take a break, check the transmission filter for leaking, and check our oil level in the 6V92.......the ATF level on the dipstick was unchanged, and there was no leaking evident below the transmission ATF filter....YAY!  I did add two quarts of oil, but that is the first time since South Lake Tahoe, and almost 1,300 miles.  So, as we continued south on I-5 my disposition was improving dramatically.

After we left I-5 to head eastward on Highway 2 and began our climb along the Skykomish River towards Steven Pass at 3,700' elevation the scenery began to distract me from my worries, and we settled in to a delightful drive taking our time........

On HWY 2 moving towards Stevens Pass

Skykomish River

Eventually we crested Stevens Pass and began our long descent down the eastern slope of the Cascades towards Leavenworth we followed the contours of the beautiful Wenatchee River.......

Wenatchee River

About 34 miles from Monitor, WA we stopped at a Rest Area to take a 'potty break'.....I decided to call the Wenatchee River County Park once again to see if they had any availability and they did!  On top of that they accept Passport America meaning our daily cost is one half of the normal $30/night fee.....we arrived at the county park just before 1500 hours, were assigned the last pull through site.

Wenatchee River County Park - courtesy internet

I was able to watch the last quarter of the New England Patriots vs. Dallas Cowboys, and then the evening match pitting the San Francisco 49ers vs. New York Giants, and also the MLB playoff game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Rangers.

I know I have said this before, but I have to say it once again......I am blessed with a wonderful partner in TLE......she knows me well, and does such a wonderful job of supporting me during our travels, and keeping me positive.  I realized the day I was leaving the Valley River Center, without her help, how much I depend on her, and how different this experience would be without her there in the passenger seat.

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Real Saturday

When last I left off we had decided to hang at our Coupeville location through Sunday to avoid driving in the wind and rain, which was the forecast.  To be fair, it did rain Saturday, and there was wind on occasion, but nothing approaching the actual forecast for our area.  Nonetheless, all things being equal we're glad we stayed put.  However, I am thinking of discarding the two weather services I use ( and NOAA) and employing something similar to John's Weather Forecasting Stone (see below).  I can't imagine how this method of forecasting the weather would be any less accurate than my current sources......

.....seriously, though, we do rely heavily on the recognized weather forecasting agencies whether we are stationary, or on the is just that sometimes their guess at what to expect is so inaccurate that it brings a smile to my mouth.

Since we had planned to remain stationary, and out of the weather I spent most of the day watching college football, some baseball and some soccer.   My Dodgers managed to come from behind to down the NY Mets 5-2 with some timely hitting.  The U.S. National Soccer team lost in overtime to Mexico 3-2 in the Rose Bowl.....we did not play well, and appeared to be on defense about 80% of the time.

After living the past almost 6 weeks along the Pacific Coastline it will seem weird to wake up Monday morning hundreds of miles inland from the ocean, but the adventure must continue.......thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Relax, she said....

A great place to hang for 5 days

Since we left Cape Blanco on September 30th we have been changing our view on a regular basis.....sometimes that kind of wears us both down, so when Friday rolled around I was ready to take it easy.  I've gotten pretty good over the past 4 years at not having to be busy accomplishing something every single day......some days it is okay to just sit and relax, so that is what I did.  There were 4 baseball playoff games on TV Friday and I watched parts of all four in between much deserved naps.  My Dodgers joined the list of all the home teams so far in this year's playoffs.....they lost their home game much for home field advantage!

Where we are until Sunday is one of our favorite places to revisit over and over......we have been here virtually every year to visit our friends Bob and Karen since the early 2000's.  They have several acres of land here overlooking Penn Cove, and Bob has a lot of cool 'guy stuff' including a John Deere front loader/backhoe tractor that he attempted to teach me how to operate many years ago.  TLE memorialized that attempt in a short actually got over 15,000 views on YouTube.

Circa 2007

We had originally planned to leave Coupeville Saturday but a big storm with wind is due in Saturday, and I really prefer not to drive our behemoth in the rain and wind, so with the Sunday forecast showing sunny, non-windy skies we opted to remain until then.

Sorry I'm so shallow today.....not much to report....sometimes that is just life.......

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, October 9, 2015


After saying our until next times to Gary and Karen around 0815 we headed down to get in line at the ferry terminal....we had already paid our round trip fare, but there are no reservations for leaving Lopez Island......kinds of reminds me of the phrase from 'Hotel California'......." can check in, but you can never leave..." order to assure ourselves one of the limited spots on the 0935 ferry we had to arrive one hour in advance, which we did.  Arriving one hour ahead put us 3 vehicles from the end of the, that was close.

Washington State provides ferry service, at a charge, all around the Puget Sound area.  The Washington State Department Of Transportation operates the ferry system, and it is very, very well run.  We have ridden their ferries as passengers, with bicycles, in our car, and in our Newell more times than I can count.  The ferries are always, always on time (from our experience).....they are clean, well maintained, very comfortable, and the employees are friendly/courteous to a fault.  Our 0935 ferry arrived at 0920 (on time) and we were loaded and on our way back to Anacortes by 0934.

While TLE remained in the car to read, I went up to the lounge area to set up my laptop to  write yesterday's blog entry.  The ferry ride takes just 40 minutes from Lopez Island, but it seemed like I barely started typing when there was a PA announcement advising we were arriving at the Anacortes terminal.

We took our time returning to Coupeville with a stop at an outdoor produce stand to pick up some produce, another stop at Home Depot, a stop at the local supermarket, then a stop in the tiny downtown area of Coupeville for an early lunch.  We had no idea where we were going to eat, but TLE found an interesting place called 'Mosquito Fleet Chili' which gets four stars from Yelp on 75 reviews, and that rating is well earned.  I had the namesake entree, and TLE had their soup of the day.....Clam Chowder.  It was a cold, heavily overcast day so our entrees with piping hot java really hit the spot.....

The look of contentment....

Wonderful, rustic, robust, fresh food!

We were home by 1300, took time to unpack, then we both took a long nap.....that was pretty much our day with the exception that evening of me watching, simultaneously, the baseball playoff game between the Houston Astros and the Kansas City Royals and the NFL game between the Indianapolis Colts and the Houston Texans.

Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Lopez Interlude

Wednesday began just as Tuesday had ended with rain most of the day, and more never ending discussions about 'cabbages and kings', as my father used to say.  Sometimes there is just this amazing connection between people, and our visit to Gary and Karen's home on Lopez Island was just simply that.....amazing.

We spent most of the morning talking not just about our shared 'history', but everything under the sun.....Gary is a 'ghost writer' for a national financial publication, hosts a local jazz radio show at Lopez Island's sole radio station (KLOI, 102.9) two days a week , he is a musician (sax and clarinet) and loves sports.......he is a baseball statistical savant.  When it comes to history (sports, or otherwise) he can rattle off names, dates and places as if he were plugged into the internet.  Karen is a long time quilter and is a past president of the Quilters Hall of Fame, and is also nationally recognized as a 'quilt historian', and writes articles on a regular basis for four various quilt blogs and an occasional magazine article.  She has an extensive quilt collection.....there is a separate building on their property that houses her collection affectionately referred to as the 'Quilt Cabin'....these (pictures below taken inside the 'quilt cabin') are some of the many quilts she owns....

 TLE and Karen checking out Karen's quilt collection

Suddenly it was 1230 and the morning hours had just melted away.....around 1300 we got in their mini van and took a brief tour of Lopez Island, then headed to what passes for their 'downtown' area to have a late lunch at a new restaurant called 'Haven' to continue our conversation and enjoy some wonderfully prepared and presented food which Gary and I chased with a pint of Black Raven Trickster IPA (Black Raven Brewing) comes in at 6.9 ABV, and is one the best IPA's I have had.

We were home by 1600 at which time I took a much needed nap, then reconvened in their living room to watch the one game playoff between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates, which was won by the Cubs 4-0 (complete game shutout pitched by Jake Arrieta, 4 hits allowed, 11 K's)....I watched baseball while Karen and TLE sustained the never ending conversation.  Gary excused himself for a few hours to attend a weekly Bridge game, but was home before 2200 and the conversation continued on until well after 2300......

Karen and Gary on the right.....

Our time on Lopez just flew by, and we are so very happy we decided to take them up on their offer last February to visit when we came through the area again.......thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Island Hopping

Part of the reason for coming back to Whidbey Island was to visit our friends in Coupeville (Bob and Karen) and part of the reason was to visit friends (Gary and Karen) who live on Lopez Island (of the San Juan Islands fame).....I know, I was thinking the same thing.....we have a number of friends going by the name of Karen.  So, we had barely gotten set up on Bob and Karen's property when we headed north in the VW to pickup the ferry in Anacortes, WA that would deposit us on the shores of Lopez Island.  It was suggested by Karen (of Gary and Karen fame) that we make a reservation as the ferry can get quite full at times, so we had done this about a week ago.

The drive up from Coupeville to Anacortes takes about an hour and our ferry departure time was 1235 so we left Coupeville at 1100.  The drive was uneventful, and traffic was pretty light so we arrived at the ferry just as planned......slightly after 1200....I love it when a plan comes together.   As you may, or may not know, there are numerous islands in the San Juan chain, and Lopez Island is the first stop for the ferry as it makes its way to Friday Harbor.  When you buy a ticket to Lopez it is, unless you specify otherwise, a round trip ticket.....our price, which included a 'small' car discount was just $39 round trip.
 On the ferry....time for coffee

Gary and Karen returned to Lopez Island about 8 years ago after they inherited his parent's home, and have been living there since.  We connected with them at TLE's college reunion last February and were invited, if we found ourselves in the area, to come out to the island and spend a couple of there is the back story.

Originally we had planned to just take our bikes on the ferry and ride to Gary and Karen's home, but then the forecast was indicating rain later that night, and all day Wednesday, so what was the point?  Our decision to leave our bikes at home and drive the car was a good one as it began raining Tuesday night, and continues today as I write.

Karen had planned to take TLE and I on a tour of the island Tuesday afternoon, but as one might imagine we spent the entire afternoon talking non-stop.  Around 5 we headed into town for dinner at one of their favorite local restaurants.....The Galley gets four stars on 38 reviews, and we would have to agree.  Again we sat eating and talking for a couple of hours.  The restaurant is located on Fisherman Bay Road with a great view of the western sky, which meant we were able to take in a beautiful sunset, of which I neglected to take a picture as the battery on my cell phone had run down.

We spent the evening after we returned to their home watching the end of the Astro vs. Yankee one game playoff, then watched a documentary of Paul McCartney making a jazz album at Capitol Records entitled "Kisses on the Bottom" which was totally fascinating.

We were off to bed by 2200 with smiles on our faces......thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

High and low

We decided Monday morning prior to leaving Vancouver that instead of driving north on I-5 past Seattle to the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry to Whidbey Island we would take a different, for us, route leaving I-5 at Olympia, WA and taking US HWY 101 north to HWY 20 and the Port Townsend Ferry where we could make a reservation and guaranty, if we got there on time, we would arrive on Whidbey Island early in the afternoon.  Initially we thought we would try for the 1215 hour ferry, but TLE suggested we go for the 1315 hour ferry, giving us an extra hour in case of some unforeseen prescient is my woman?

Our goal was to roll the wheels by 0800, and we were merging on the I-5 at 0758....not bad.  Unfortunately, just as we were settling into the day's drive the police cars with lights flashing, along with ambulances, and fire trucks began passing us at high rates of speed going north.  Within a few miles traffic came to a grinding hault....I mean stopped with engines off.......there had been a bad multi truck accident on the North Fork of the Lewis River bridge.......this unforeseen event delayed us 54 minutes, and there went our 1 hour buffer.j....we could afford no further delays.

Big truck accident on I-5 bridge over North Fork of Lewis River
The driver of the box truck was airlifted to the fatalities

Traffic stopped at 0817 and we began to move again at 0913.......check in time for the 1315 hour ferry was 1245, so we still had 3.5 hours to cover the still remaining 183 miles before that time......the last 43 miles on a windy, twisty, very narrow, slow two lane highway, which included two construction zones.....we arrived at the ferry at precisely 1241, paid our fare and just drove to our waiting spot pictured below.....we were first in line, which meant we would be first off (after the walkers, bikers, and one motorcycle).  The one way cost was $79, which included a senior discount.  How we safely covered that 183 miles in that amount of time I have no idea......that was the 'high' of the day.

This is our second time taking the Newell and trailer on this ferry, but the first time taking it from Port Townsend to Coupeville (Whidbey Island).  The surprising thing was the 1315 hour boat is the smaller of the two ferries that connect Port Townsend with Coupeville, and I was concerned that might be a problem as we had taken the large on the first time and it was pretty it turned out they allowed us to straddle two lanes making our ingress and egress quite easy.....the large Kenworth to our left also straddled two lanes.....normally they park vehicles 3 abreast.

We arrived at our college friends' home (Bob and Karen) near Coupeville about 1415 hours......I had decided in advance to back down the short dead end street and drop the trailer in front of one of their houses, then drive back to the intersection and turn the coach around to drive it down to the lower level behind the main house.  We backed the trailer down the street and successfully dropped it, then I drove back down to the intersection to turn the coach I began to back around the corner to complete my three point turn I saw that the left rear dualies were going to cross the grass, but it just looked like a small dip in my mirrors, so I proceeded.....suddenly I felt the left rear plunge into the ditch driving the hitch into the pavement, and effectively I was stuck....I could not go forward, and backwards.  I still cannot believe I did that......I immediately called AAA, and within 30 minutes I received a call from Simmons Towing down in Clinton (about 30 miles distant) who asked a number of questions to be sure he could get me out with his tow truck......the really big tow trucks come out of Everett, WA which is about a two hour drive each way.  Based on my answers he felt he could do it.  He arrived about 1600 hours, and decided to winch me out from the street to the left of the coach in the picture below.....he felt trying to pull me out going uphill would be more than his truck could do, and I agreed.  

While I was waiting for the tow truck I installed the two large two large tow hooks I carry for just such an emergency as this, and Monday I was so glad I have them.....

 On this day I needed both would not have worked with one

Gary, the tow truck operator, hooked up a winch cable to each hook, and told me to crank the front tires all the way to the right and when he gave me the signal to give it a little 'gas' first nothing happened, but then he gave me the signal to give it gas, and we began to inch forward, and within a few seconds I was back on the street.

Without this wheel chock Gary put behind one of his tow truck wheels I don't think we would have been can see how it dug into the asphalt as the truck was being pulled backwards trying to extricate us from my mistake......

Out of the ditch!

Within a couple of minutes Gary was on his way, and I was driving down to the lower level of Bob and Karen's property to park the coach and set up for our 6 day stay.....

A few years ago I installed one of my 30 amp boxes in Bob's barn, so this will be the second time we have been able to use that box during our stay on his property.

I returned to the scene of the 'low' for yesterday to take these picture to add a little perspective to the the scene.......

 This picture does not really show how deep this ditch is about 24" to the bottom

Where the trailer is in relationship to coach while we are here in Coupeville....

By the time we were settled it was getting dark, so we called it a day and had dinner, and then watched a couple of our regular programs.  

Things could have turned out way worse than they did......if the hitch had not hit the asphalt and dug in there probably would have been damage to my city water plumbing, the exhaust, the oil pan, oil filter, it was none of these things hit the ground because of the hitch......but it was only by a couple of inches.....the hitch saved my bacon.

Thanks for stopping by!