grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Sunday, August 31, 2008

27-30AUG08 - Birch Bay, WA

We forgot to mention in our last BLOG entry that we purchased a new toad, a 2008 GMC Canyon. If you remember from our 19MAY08 BLOG entry, we wasted three days north of Houston trying to purchase the very same vehicle. Cousin Paul Peters believes he has some expertise in negotiating good deals on vehicles; so Dan asked Paul to see what he could do? Paul located the vehicle we wanted with more options than we had specified and for the price we were willing to pay in Texas. Unfortunately the sales tax is double in Washington vs Texas. So now even though we are homeless, we have four vehicles – the RV, the new toad, the old toad and a MB in Texas!

On Wednesday we departed the Peters residence to spend Labor Day Weekend at Birch Bay State Park. This State Park was the site of many group gatherings of the Kiesel family (Dan’s mom sister), the Peters family (Dan’s mom brother) and the Ryan family. On average there were eight to ten kids at these gatherings; it’s a wonder that there was only one broken bone during that entire time. Birch Bay is a shallow body of water very near the Canadian border. Being shallow it is an excellent place to be during the extreme low tides that occur on average once a month. During these low tides you easily get your limits of clams and oysters, and you can even wade out in the sea grass and catch Dungeness crabs.

Upon arrival we found the campsite of cousin Jennifer (nee Peters) and husband Mike Hayes. Turns out they have a very nice boat capable of holding eight people. And because of this we would be setting crab pots with bait to catch our crabs. So after setting up camp, eight of us piled into the boat to set sixteen crab pots. State regulations allow each licensed person in the boat to set two pots per day and to harvest five mail crabs per day. We’re talking the potential of 40 crabs per day!!! The routine consisted of baiting the pot with a turkey leg, attaching appropriate line with buoy and dropping it over the side. State regulations further state that your name and phone number must be on the buoy, so if you are legally crabbing (and we were) there should only be two buoys in the water with your name.

The next morning during the low tide eight of us went back out to check the pots; while others went to the beach to collect clams and oysters. We did very well catching crabs in the pots but did not get 40. Why? Because it turns out there are many people who come out in their boats and pull other people pots and steal the crabs! We know this happened to us because the bait would be completely gone and no crabs in the pot; or there would be twenty crabs in the pot but they would all be females. In one case the jerks damaged the pot because they didn’t know how to get it open. In spite of this, we still brought back 30. Meanwhile back at the beach Corrie and others were collecting large amounts of clams and oysters.

Back at the state park we commenced cleaning the crabs, and prepping the clams and oysters for cooking. Mike was in charge of boiling the crab, and Corrie boiled up the clams in wine, garlic and other aromatics. Turns out Mike is big fan of Cajun spices, so he boiled half the crabs with Cajun spices and the other half in salted water. Mike also learned the Cajun trick of throwing your corn and potatoes in the boil so they pick up the spices. Dan showed Mike that if he took the cheapest button mushrooms and threw them in the boil, you get a real taste sensation. Some people complained that the mushrooms were too spicy, but they were first thing to go. In addition, we barbequed the oysters over charcoal with grated cheese and bread crumbs. Throw in fresh corn, potato salad and other side dishes, and this was not going to be a low cal weekend.

Over the next couple of days more relatives (including Paul & Shannon Peters) and friends showed up, which meant more licensed crabbers who could add to our quota. Poor Mike being the owner of the boat had to make every run. Dan volunteered on every run but one to be deckhand and only got “bitten” twice by crabs while emptying the pots. Thieves continued to be a problem, but we still did very well. Corrie made one boat run but felt pretty queasy so she stuck to digging for clams on the beach. After two straight days of crab and clams, it was decided that Friday would be a meat day. Dan slow smoked a pork shoulder and made his mustard BBQ sauce. Others prepared sausages, hamburgers, hotdogs and steaks, along with local fresh veggies and big salads. Dan’s mustard sauce was a big hit and he had to give the recipe to Mike & Jennifer.

On Saturday Mike made one last crab run and all the gear was collected and broken down; and the boat was hauled onto its trailer and washed down. In addition to those of us who were camping on site, several of Mike’s relatives and Aunt Jan Peters along with Jim Peters drove up just for the day. That night was the crab feed to end all crab feeds, along with clams and numerous side dishes. And it turns out that it was Spenser Peters’ birthday and we had birthday cake. An excellent time was had by all!

Early Sunday morning with our bellies still full we headed back to the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. We were leaving before the end of Labor Day weekend because we had to meet someone who was supposed to help us on our property starting Sunday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

11-26AUG08 - Everett, WA

For the last two weeks we have continued to work on our property and Dan has continued to volunteer in building an addition to the Heritage Museum at the Monroe Evergreen Fairgrounds. We did find time to finish riding the Centennial Bike Trail that we have described in previous BLOG entries.

During this time we took delivery of the 1950s Ferguson tractor. We purchased the tractor from Abe Wiens. Turns out Abe was the Ferguson tractor dealer for decades in Monroe. Although he is retired, Abe still fixes the older tractors and occasionally sells them when he has too many. We immediately began using it to move dirt around the property.

We did find time for a field trip to Seattle. As many know Seattle is the home of Starbucks coffee, and there are Espresso vendors every fifty feet in the city. In fact the coffee market is so saturated in the Seattle area, that some have resorted to “sex” to boost their sales. Some have hit on the idea of young female employees in bikinis (or even pasties) in their drive through coffee shacks. These establishments have names like Java Jigglers or Coffee Cowgirls. Naturally some citizens are not too happy with this and the court cases have started.

Our first stop in Seattle was Uwajimaya Asian Market. Uwajimaya started in the International District of Seattle selling Japanese and Chinese products and groceries to the large Japanese and Chinese population. They have since expanded to include items from Korea, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, etc. We find shopping at Uwajimaya is like being in Asia without the twelve hour flight.

We then headed to the top of Queen Anne hill to check out Dan’s maternal grandmother’s house (Grandma Monie). From the top of Queen Anne we headed down to the neighborhood called Fremont. Fremont has always had more than its fair share of free spirits (some would say kooks). Fremont’s motto is De Liberta Quirks (freedom to be peculiar). In addition in 1991 it was discovered that the center of the universe was located in Fremont. This discovery resulted in the following advice:

"Entering the Republic of Fremont, the center of the Universe, set your watch back five minutes." "Entering the Republic of Fremont, the center of the Universe, set your watch forward five minutes." "Entering the Republic of Fremont, the center of the Universe, throw away your watch."

Fremont has many unique pieces of art throughout the neighborhood. Some of the most photographed are a mock-up of Russian ICBM, Lenin statue from USSR, troll under bridge eating VW and six concrete people waiting for the bus at a actual bus stop. The six people at the bus stop are constantly dressed and decorated by the locals to reflect current events or holidays.

The newest statue is of JP Patches and one of his sidekicks, Gertrude. During the 60s, 70s and into the 80s JP was on TV each day after school. Thousands of Seattle children were official Patches Pals and learned how to be good citizens by following Patches Pal rules.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

01-10AUG08 - Everett, WA

After Dan’s return from his two business trips it was time to do something productive in addition to helping out at the Peters place, like seriously working on our property outside of Sultan, WA. The first thing Dan did, was rent a very powerful walk behind mower commonly called a “billy goat”. This machine has two large rear drive wheels and is capable of mowing down brush and trees up to two inches diameter. The “billy goat” is also capable of giving you one hell of a backache! After two days of this fun, Dan had successfully held back the black berries and the salmon berries for another year. Our constant battle with blackberry bushes reminds us of that 1962 horror film – Day of the Triffids. In the movie rapidly growing and spreading poisonous plants are threatening to wipe out humans. Luckily, the day is saved when it is discovered that common salt water kills the Triffids. Unfortunately, no one has discovered an easy, non-poisonous, way to kill blackberries.

On one of our return trips from the property we stopped at the Reptile Zoo home of the “Old School BBQ”, located between Sultan and Monroe. Dan was all for checking out the Reptile Zoo, but Corrie was only willing to try the BBQ. Turns out Old School BBQ is a displaced Texan who has converted on school bus into a BBQ kitchen and another bus into the seating area. Excellent BBQ, check it out if you are every traveling on US 2 in WA (and let Dan know how the Reptile Zoo is).

During this time our friends and fellow RV’ers EJ & Sharon Herbert from Houma, LA, were passing through western Washington, and literally parked at a RV park right next door. So we headed over for a relaxing evening of conservation, drinks and snacks.

In addition to all the hard manual labor on our property, Dan decided to volunteer at Snohomish Heritage Museum we discussed in our BLOG entry for 26-30JUN08. Turns out that Jerry Senner the Executive Director for the Museum, wanted to add a twenty foot by forty foot extension to the building. Having little money the Museum was counting on volunteers to build the extension, and they wanted done in three weeks.

While volunteering at the Museum Dan learned about an upcoming Antique Tractor Show, which was going to feature Mexican Dancing Horses. We had a pleasant time at the Tractor Show. It was interesting to note the enormous size of the first tractors and their extremely low horsepower. Today’s common gas mower has more horsepower than the first steam powered tractors. While at the Tractor Show Corrie located a 1950s Ferguson Tractor with front end loader for sale to use on our property.