grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Sunday, August 30, 2009

29/30AUG09 - Penticton, BC (canada - eh?!?)

We wanted to stay overnight north of Penticton, BC, Canada, but when we called for RV reservations we learned there was no room because of the Ironman race that weekend! So we pulled into the first RV camp in Penticton and decided to stay for two nights. Turns out that the 28th annual Canadian Ironman race was in Penticton and there was about 3000 entrants! Why we could find a RV spot in Penticton, but not north, we still don’t understand? For those don’t know about the Ironman, this is a race that was started by a couple of Navy Seals in Hawaii in 1978, that felt a marathon wasn’t tough enough! You start with a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile biking portion and finish with a full marathon! The race starts at 0600 and the world class athletes will be done in less than 12 hours!

That evening we walked around Penticton and you could see signs of the race that was to be held the next day, Sunday, everywhere. Many shops were offering discounts to contestants, and you could see many very fit people in spandex doing light running or biking in preparation. And the balconies of one of the best hotels had very expensive race bikes on almost everyone of them. We also noted in the bike starting area many individuals drawing and writing encouraging messages with chalk on the street.

Sunday morning we went sight seeing outside of town to avoid the congestion created by the race. We found a park called Giant Head Park and drove up a very narrow road, which we believed was oneway, to check out the views from the top. As we prepared to depart, Dan realized there was no other way out then the way up? He asked some locals about this and they told him the road up was the road down and just hope you did NOT meet anyone on the sections truly one lane wide!

Upon our return to Penticton we found a Pub right on the race route and decided to have lunch on the balcony and watch the event. While looking for a parking spot we even saw the top three male contestants who were well into the marathon portion while everyone else was just starting the biking! At the Pub there were a group of individuals (4 girls & 2 guys) called the Portland Ironheads. We are not sure but they appeared to be race “groupies” dressed up in bright spandex, Viking helmets, tutus, funny wigs, etc, and encouraging the contestants with cow bells, horns, and megaphones. In fact, it appears that constant support of all the contestants is part of the fun of being a spectator? There were small and large groups of spectators throughout town equipped with cow bells, clappers, and/or horns yelling every racer onward (on one corner was a very good “bongo” drum group playing for the racers). Some family members and friends even had special t-shirts for their racer. That night the local TV station was still broadcasting the race live sixteen hours into the event.

Trivia – Who are the Vees? And what world championship did they win in 1955 (think big red machine)?

Friday, August 28, 2009

28AUG09 - Winthrop, WA

Rather than driving straight north on I-5 to Vancouver, BC, we decided to take the Highway 20 through the North Cascades National Park. This highway is also known as the North Cascades Highway; and although a north Cascades route was approved in 1895 (that’s right – 1895), it wasn’t completed until 1972. It transverses some of the most rugged terrain in the Cascades. In fact, the highway is closed six months of the year due to snow. The forest on the wet west side is totally different (tightly packed pine trees, with little open areas) than the much dryer east side (loosely bunched Douglas Firs, with lots of rocky open areas). It is a very scenic drive for those not in a hurry. And we actually saw two sets of Sasquatch (ie Big Foot) foot prints across the road!

This area on the western side of the Cascades receives some of the highest snow falls in the continental USA, and is home to the highest number of glaciers in the USA, outside of Alaska. We stopped at the National Park information center to view the exhibits and watch a film about the still unexplored wilderness areas of the North Cascades. For those into serious hiking you can access the Pacific Coast Trail here, the trail extends from just inside Canada to the Mexican border.

We decided to spend the night in Winthrop, WA. Winthrop used to be at the end of the western portion of the highway before it was completed. The citizens realized that when the highway was completed, many potential tourists might just drive straight through town if there was not a reason to stop. So they decided to “remodel” their town as an “old west” town. In our opinion it is OK; but Leavenworth, WA, previously discussed in this BLOG did a better job with their “Bavarian” theme. Winthrop is home to the oldest saloon in WA, Three Fingered Jacks. But Dan feels any place that advertises Family Fun with pizza and ice cream, is no longer a true saloon!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

26/27AUG09 - Mount Vernon, WA

Wednesday morning, 26AUG, we departed enroute British Columbia, Canada, but first we needed to stop at Valley Freightliner in Mount Vernon, WA, for routine maintenance on the RV. Unfortunately the routine maintenance would take two days and we would have to be out of the RV most of the two days.

So on the 1st day we took off to explore La Conner & Mount Vernon, WA. La Conner was a hippy haven in the late 60s, early 70s; and is now home to many accomplished artists. In fact there was a walking tour of outdoor art spread throughout the down town.

After lunch at the La Conner Brewing we headed to Mount Vernon, the Tulip capital of the USA for more

On the 2nd day we explored Anacortes, WA. An interesting thing in Anacortes is that the city garbage cans are giant replicas of canned salmon that was canned by local canneries before the collapse of the fishery. After two full days in the shop, we picked up our RV and checked into the nearest RV park to spend the night before heading towards Canada.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

23-25AUG09 - Monroe, WA

After a great four days at Birch Bay it was back to Evergreen State Fairgrounds. We spent two days there locking up our property and getting six new tires on the RV. Not to whine or anything, but one tire on an RV usually equals four tires on a compact car!

On our last in day in Monroe, 25 Aug, we hooked up with Dan’s brother Shawn & his significant other, Cindy, one last time before leaving town; even meeting Shawn’s well behaved (not!) dog - Char. Since it was Shawn’s birthday he was expecting a free dinner! Not to disappoint him we took him to the restaurant of his choice and had an excellent evening out before hitting the road the next day.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

19-22AUG09 - Birch Bay, WA

Wednesday, 19AUG, we headed to Birch Bay State Park, just south of the Canadian border, to meet up with Dan’s cousin Jennifer & husband, Mike, and hopefully catch our limit of Dungeness crabs. For more on the state park, crabbing, and Mike & Jennifer, check out our BLOG from last year:

Unfortunately we couldn’t get into the state park and had to settle for a commercial park two miles down the road. Once we had set up camp, we headed to the park to meet up with Mike & Jennifer, and cousin Paul & wife, Shannon; along with a few other relatives, and friends of Mike.

The next morning we met at the beach to decide on the days activities. Due to logistical problems Mike was not able to get his boat to Birch Bay. That meant we could not set crab traps to catch our crab (by far the easiest way to catch them) like we did last year. This meant wading in chest deep water and trying to scoop them up as the crabs ran for their lives. Dan has never had any luck at this, so he opted for clamming and oystering. Corrie opted for wading. Needless to saying the clams and oysters harvested far out numbered crabs caught (4 total)! Anyway we had enough crab for an appetizer, and Corrie got her steamed clam fix.

Friday most of us skipped the beach while Dan BBQ’d a pork shoulder for pulled pork sandwiches. Saturday Mike got access to small boat and was able to set four crab traps. Using this boat we were able to provide enough crab for a “crab feed” Saturday evening. Mike did his usual outstanding job at boiling the crabs with Cajun spices, along with potatoes, corn, mushrooms & garlic. And many side dishes provided by more relatives and friends who just happened to show-up in time for the crab feed.

After the great crab feed it was decided to play Texas Hold’em Poker. Even though Corrie has never played poker she joined in, leading to the inevitable question – what’s it mean when there all the same suit? Or – what does three of kind beat? Although beginner’s luck helped her many times, she finished out of the money. Dan came in second and broke even. Some of the diehards started another game of Hold’em, but we headed back to our bed to be well rested for the drive back on Sunday morning.

Monday, August 24, 2009

04-18AUG09 - Monroe, WA (bears oh my! - part deux)

Tuesday, 04AUG, the last full day for the kids to be with us, we voted on what to do their last day of their visit. Tubing at “camp Morris” in Leavenworth, WA, won out over everything else. So Tuesday morning we headed back to Leavenworth & camp Morris. This time Sheila rounded up free inner tubes, unfortunately there was not one for Gumbo the one eyed Jack. So he had to ride with one of us the whole time. We also bought a waterproof camera; unfortunately it didn't have a zoom. See below BOLG entry for our first tubing trip in Leavenworth.

This time we put our inner tubes in at the Icicle River vs the Wenatchee. We immediately discovered there is a reason why it is called the Icicle!!! But once we got used to the coldness of the river, we had a great three hour float with Sheila and her daughter Tessa. We even saw close up views of the wildlife, including deer, Canadian geese, bald eagle and coyote. And we even saw a very big black bear on the banks of the river trying to get into the river, thank goodness for barbwire. Dan and Rebecca had gone all their lives without running across bears in the wild, and now they have seen two in three days! Since the disposable camera didn't have a zoom, we couldn't get a picture of the bear.

Sadly, Wednesday morning it was off to SeaTac airport to get the kids to their airplane and say bye-bye. It was a fast and adventure packed five days, but seemed like only one day. We don’t know about the kids, but we will need three or five days of sleep to recover.
For the followers of this BLOG nothing much has happened on our property other than our water well appears to be finally done. It is FAR deeper than we ever imagined, and it smells like sulfur and tastes like iron.
Also during this time period Dan took a business trip to San Francisco. While there he looked-up Jim & Shirley Garrett. They are friends of ours from when we lived in Virginia, and we used to visit them with the kids in the spring when they lived in Hawaii. It was a great but short evening telling sea stories and looking at pictures on each others computers! Dan also found an unique restaurant/bar called Eddie Rickenbackers. Supposedly the owner, Norman Hobday, created the first “fern bar” called Henry Africa’s back in 1970 in San Francisco. Unfortunately the owner was not hanging out on his couch sucking oxygen like he normally does.