grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Friday, July 31, 2009

20-30JUL09 - Monroe, WA

A couple of days after leaving Steve & Bonnie’s we saw them again to celebrate Steve’s birthday, Wednesday, 22JUL, at Snoqualmie Casino. We had lunch at the Casino’s excellent luncheon buffet and did our usual “light weight” gambling. Not sure how the birthday boy did, but Dan won $40 on his usual nickel video poker machines.

If you have been following this BLOG for the past few months, you know that the Seattle area has been enjoying some fantastic weather (ie warm days and no rain). Well enough is enough! We need rain, and the area has experienced record 100 plus degree heat! On the hottest days we headed over to cousin Paul & Shannon’s for BBQ’ing and dip in their pool. We even checked out swimming in the Skykomish River located right here in downtown Monroe, but found the banks were steep and full of garbage.
In spite of the heat Dan decided to replace the house batteries since they were eight years old and appeared to getting very weak (ie couldn’t hold a charge). Even though he started early in the morning, it was still hot and dirty work.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

17-19JUL09 - Yakima & Kittitas, WA

As soon as we got on I-5 North, Dan realized that the engine was not running right. Basically the engine had no “oomph” and was only making sixty per cent of rated power. As long as we were on the flat part of the interstate we could maintain speed, but any little hill would cause us to slow down almost to a crawl. We were heading to visit Dan’s cousin Steve Kiesel and wife Bonnie in Kittitas, WA, and this meant going over White Pass on US 12. And even though we had no engine alarms, and the engine wasn’t overheating, we almost didn’t make it over the pass. And because of our constantly watching the gauges and computer monitor, we couldn't enjoy the great views of Mt Rainer & Mt St Helens. We decided to stay in Yakima, rather than pushing on to the Kiesel’s; and Dan made an appointment with the local Cummins Diesel dealer for first thing Monday morning.

The next day, Saturday, we headed to Bonnie and Steve’s in our Toad. (For more on Bonnie & Steve, see below BLOG internet link.) Halfway there Steve called Dan on the cell phone to tell him to check the air hoses to the Charge Air Cooler. Since we were halfway to their house, we couldn’t do this without turning around. We continued on and upon our arrival Steve jumped in the Toad, and Dan and he drove back to the RV in Yakima. Turns out the air hoses to the Charge Air Cooler were okay, but another 1-1/4 inch air hose had a very visible tear in it. A quick trip to NAPA to buy the closest equivalent hose (in this case a Honda Accord radiator hose), and the problem was solved!

After moving the RV to Bonnie & Steve’s, we accompanied Steve & Bonnie to a big party for the “Gold Buckle” donators who had contributed to the Ellensburg Rodeo. It was a great “rodeo” evening featuring a country & western fashion show, great BBQ, open bar, and excellent music by the band “Countryfied”. Dan was trying to discretely take a picture of the band, when they suddenly stopped playing and ran to the front of the stage to pose for Dan. Needless to say, Dan was embarrassed to suddenly be the center of attention.
The next day, Sunday, we all seemed to have many different, little, errands to take care of. But that evening Steve BBQ’d deer steaks, and even some oysters (real Puget Sound oysters, not Rocky Mountain oysters) and even grilled some fresh corn over a wood fire. Luckily Dan brought his shucking knife from Louisiana, so he was able to open and clean the remaining oysters for future use. Early Monday morning Steve took Dan into the surrounding mountains to scout out elk herds. Turns out Steve is a Master Hunter for Washington State, and he is THE point of contact for all hunters and any rancher having problems with elk destroying their crops. The upside of this is Steve has fresh elk meat every year; the downside is many, many, early morning reconnaissance missions. So after three hours bouncing around in a 67 Jeep Commander it was time to call it an end to a great weekend and head back to Monroe, WA.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

14-16JUL09 - Woodland, WA (entering the digital TV age)

On Tuesday the 14th, we gave up our “jobs” as Camp Host and departed Monroe, WA, enroute Woodland, WA. We had an appointment starting on the 15th at Dave & LJs RV Interior to install our new flat screen high def TVs (Dave & LJ are brothers who took over the business from their parents). We had tried to find someone locally to do the work but since it involved extensive remodeling of the front overhead cabinets, most RV businesses wouldn’t do it.

Unfortunately Dave & LJs do not have hookups for RVs remaining overnight; so we found a great RV park located on the banks of the Columbia River, where we could watch large oceangoing ships transiting to Portland, OR. That meant that every morning we delivered the RV to their facility in the morning and then had to “entertain ourselves” for about eight hours while they worked on the RV. Then we returned around 1530 to retrieve the RV and head back to the RV park. Not the most efficient operation. After our arrival at the RV park Tuesday night we headed to a local burger chain called Burgerville. They are only located in Washington and Oregon and have very good, freshly ground, burgers.

First thing Wednesday morning we delivered the RV to Dave and LJ and took off for parts unknown to kill time. Obviously having Gumbo the one eyed jack complicated things. While driving down a very scenic country road we came across a “water powered” Grist Mill next to a wooden bridge. While Dan was parking the toad Corrie walked right past two older gentlemen and headed inside to view the exhibits. Dan being a little more observant happened to notice a sign that said the Mill was closed and open only on weekends. Turns out the gentlemen were waiting for a private tour that had paid for exclusive use of the Mill. Dan apologized for Corrie and was told not to worry and enjoy the Grist Mill (sometimes timing is everything?).

From the Mill we took one of the scenic drives on the south side of Mount St Helens (remember the big bang in 1980?). Although you cannot see the devastation from the blast on the NW side of the volcano, the drive is still spectacular; with many beautiful lakes and even views of a lahar, and we found time to stop in the very, very, small village of Cougar for lunch.

The next day we again dropped the RV off and then headed to Portland, OR, to kill time. Corrie is not sure how Dan did it, but we ended up in what could be called the “low rent” part of town (ie strip clubs, dive bars, etc). We then proceeded to have a nice walking tour of China town and “old town” Portland. We soon discovered an unique Portland institution – it seems that in a few locations Portland has allowed mobile food trucks/kitchens to permanently park and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. We had discovered one of four such locations where we found food trucks with Mexican, Thai, Cajun, Austrian, Vietnamese, Chinese, etc, food for purchase. Then we continued to Tom McCall Waterfront Park hoping it was cooler than the average high eighties temperatures we were experiencing. Then it was back to Dave & LJs to pick up the RV and once again head back to the RV park.

Thankfully on Friday morning they wrapped-upped the TV installation and cabinet modifications and we hit the road.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

01-13JUL09 - Monroe, WA

Now that we are camp hosts here at the Fairgrounds RV Camp it means one of us should be here at all times (even though there is hardly any business). In spite of being “tied down” we did manage to visit a few of Dan’s relatives. First was an evening get together at cousin Steve Ruttner’s and wife Jainene’s house, along with Steve’s brother (aka another cousin) Rick Lee and wife Sharon. See below BLOG link for previous details. Steve & Jainene have a lovely older home on the side of Queen Anne hill in Seattle with a view of Elliot Bay and the Olympic Mountains to the west. The neighborhood appears very friendly, with people dropping by just to visit (especially if there is an open bottle of wine involved). Steve prepared an excellent build your own burrito buffet and we (mostly Dan, Steve & Rick) reminisced about childhood adventures at Grandma Jean’s & Grandpa Fred’s on Capitol Hill in Seattle, or at the forty acre farm in Redmond.

We also found time for dinner with Dan’s Aunt Madeline Harris along with her daughter (aka another cousin), Sheila Morris. See below BLOG link for previous details. Madeline has a beautiful backyard full of flowers, veggies and fruits. In fact, Sheila and Corrie spent sometime picking loads of fresh raspberries. We had a delicious meal prepared by Madeline, and then the reminiscing started. We had brought two old photo albums (they appear to be mid to late 1940s era) from Dan’s sister Sharon’s in Texas, that belonged to Dan’s mom. We spent hours going through the photo albums and many of Madeline’s photos. Eventually Corrie had to kick Dan in the leg to remind him that it was getting late and we still had 45 minute drive home to the RV.

Also during this time period was Fourth of July at the Fairgrounds, and we had a front row seat for the fireworks (as always Gumbo’s favorite). And Dan had a business trip to New Orleans, where he got to spend two evenings with our daughter Rebecca and son-in-law, Raymond.