grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

21-31AUG10 - Birch Bay, WA

Saturday, 21AUG, we departed the Evergreen State Fairgrounds enroute Birch Bay State Park, with an overnight stop at Angel of the Winds. Sunday morning our intention was to drive Chuckanut Drive (aka State Highway 11) originally part of the Pacific Highway, supposedly one of the most scenic drives in USA. Unfortunately the road was “temporarily” closed to vehicles over 9 tons, so we had to make a u-turn & head back to I-5 North. As is the case with most State Parks in Washington, Birch Bay is not easiest for modern RVs to navigate. After a couple of attempts we finally got into our campsite, when a Park Ranger asks us to temporarily move the RV for maintenance on our campsite. After moving & three more attempts at parking we finally set up camp, & then it was off to the beach for a beautiful sunset.

Monday morning Dan now being “on a mission”, decided to drive Chuckanut Drive in the Toad. We started at the north end in the small town of Fairhaven (founded in 1853 by Dirty Dan Harris). We discovered a nice scenic town, with many restored buildings & decided to have an early lunch al fresco before commencing our drive. The town was counting on the Great Northern RR terminating in Fairhaven, & the town commenced a building boom in the 1890s in anticipation. At the last minute, the RR went to Seattle & the Fairhaven building boom crashed.

Turns out that Chuckanut Drive is a beautiful & great drive; but we are definitely glad we didn’t do it in the RV. Late that afternoon Dan’s cousin Jennifer & husband, Mike Hayes, arrived & we began making plans to catch massive amounts of crabs. As shown in the two below BLOG entries, Mike & Jennifer are the two key players in what is turning into an annual event for us. Sadly the area is experiencing “red tide” & there will be no clamming or gathering of oysters this year.

Tuesday Dan BBQ’d some pork country ribs & beef country ribs, while Mike & his friend Scott got Mike’s boat & crab gear ready for the next day. Later in the day Mike decided to teach his daughter, Keely, how to play cribbage. To insure an even playing field, Dan decided to coach Keely. In spite of his assistance, Keely managed to win her first cribbage game.

Wednesday morning, 25AUG, we launched our boat & finally get to set our two “new” crab pots. That afternoon we checked our pots & found five keepers. Even though the water was very calm, we have come to realization that our boat & motor are not the best combination for crabbing.

Thursday morning we decided not to set pots & headed into Bellingham, WA, to do some shopping. That afternoon we set our pots & almost swamped the boat; we will definitely be looking into a different arrangement if we continue to set our own pots. Later that day Dan had to help a friend of Mike’s, Jim Holmer, with his boat in some very rough water. After Dan dried off, we were treated to some great seafood clam chowder cooked by Mike & fresh blackberry cobbler for dinner.

Friday morning Dan headed out with Holmer & they got 23 crabs! That evening Mike & Jennifer boiled the last three days crab catch along with corn, potatoes, onions & mushrooms (everyone’s favorite). As usual Mike flavored his boil with good old Zataran’s Cajun spices. Over the last two days many of Mike’s relatives & friends had also set up camp in the State Park & it was one big crowd enjoying some excellent crab boil!

Saturday morning Dan once again headed out with Holmer & discovered someone stole our crabs; but we still got 14 in Holmer’s pots. In the afternoon we visited the Semiahmoo County Park & the A.P.A. Museum. The Museum is dedicated to the Alaskan Packers Association (A.P.A.) which was formed in 1893 to control the price of canned Alaskan salmon (can you say OPEC). The APA was extremely politically powerful until sometime after WWI, & eventually disappeared in 1982. It was a small, but fascinating museum. Two interesting bits of trivia we learned was that the APA was the largest “tall ship” fleet in the world (aka the Star Fleet) in the early 1900s; & responsible for the success of the Iron Butcher (aka the definitely politically incorrect - Iron Chink, & supposedly the patent name!).

From there we drove completely around the bay over to Blaine, WA, to check out the town & the Peace Arch State Park. If you stay on the interstate (ie I-5) you will definitely know before you reach the Canada/USA border; but in Blaine you can easily walk into Canada without even knowing it, even in this post 11SEP world. Anyway, the Peace Arch is located on the border; one half is a British Columbia Provincial Park & the other half is a Washington State Park. For some reason Corrie refused to step across into the Canada side, maybe because she is a known fish smuggler & might not get back into the USA (see our BLOG of for complete details of her criminal past). Anyway, the Peace Arch is centered in a beautiful International Park (PS - the Canadian side is much prettier than the USA side) & you can freely wonder from country to country as you watch the traffic back-ups of those in cars waiting to cross the border.

Trivia – what two countries have a treaty that says no forts & no troops on their border?

From the Peace Arch it was back to Birch Bay State Park for a last gathering of everyone around a fire on the beach to watch the sunset. While we sat around the fire waiting for the sunset we were treated to live music from half of a group called the Alley Kattz. The Kattz were started by “Kitty” Miller & “Cool Katt” Edwards, friends of Mike & Jennifer’s. So after a week of beautiful weather, great company (family & friends) & more fresh crab than eatable; we were treated to live music, great food & another fantastic sunset on the beach. As the cliché goes – it doesn’t get any better than this!!!

After a great time with family & friends, along with great weather, it was back to Angel of the Winds Casino for a couple of days while we tried to resolve a “water issue” on our property. As we have discussed previously in our BLOG we have an Arsenic level that is perfectly acceptable throughout the rest of WA state (& the USA) but is not in our county. So at the additional cost of $1200 (not including installation) we have had a treatment system designed to hopefully address this none issue.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

08-20AUG10 - Monroe, WA

We took a few days of relaxing to recover from kids visit, then the Seattle area was hit by several days of 90 degree weather. So on Saturday, 14AUG, it was off to cousin Paul Peters’ & wife, Shannon, to enjoy the pool & a small family get together. Paul’s brother John & Michelle were there with their five kids. Paul BBQ’d some nice steaks & fresh corn, & the day was finished with angel food cake with fresh strawberries.

17AUG we took off in the Toad to check out potential crabbing spots at Mukeltio & on Camano Island. In Mukeltio we discovered a very nice waterfront park located by the Washington State ferry terminal; & enjoyed a fried clam lunch from that Seattle institution - Ivars Seafood Bar (or as Corrie insists on saying - McIvars). After talking to the locals we were directed to Utsalady cove on Camano Island for crabbing.

So Wednesday morning we loaded the Toad up with the boat, the motor, & two brand new crabpots with associated gear, & headed back to Utsalady to place the crabpots. The boat worked alright except it had a small leak on the transom & the engine continually died. Having set our pots we headed back to the RV, where Dan eventually fixed the outboard engine. Thursday morning we headed back to Camano Island only to discover that our crabpots had been stolen ($150 down the drain)!!! Turns out this is a very common occurrence, especially if “they” think you are not a local.
Friday we bought “lunch to go” from Dick’s & took it with us on a visit to Dan’s Aunt Madeline. Dick’s is the home of “Instant Service” not “Fast Food”, & only offers burgers, fries, shakes & sodas. They started in 1954 & the only change to menu since then was the addition of double paddy deluxe cheeseburger in 1971. The original owners made a conscious decision not to expand outside of the Seattle area. Dick’s has good burger & fries always at a better price than the national chains; they may not be the “best” burger, but they are Seattle’s favorite year in & year out. We than took our burgers & fries to Aunt Madeline’s for a enjoyable lunch on the deck & a great visit (see below BLOG link for our last visit with Dan’s aunt).

Monday, August 16, 2010

01-07AUG10 - Various, WA (if its tuesday, it must be tubing)

As we did last year, we flew our kids, Rebecca & Joe, out to join us for one week. (see our BLOG entries from 31JUL09 to 05AUG09, for complete details & photos of last year's whirlwind visit) They landed at 1330 on Saturday, 31JUL; & we immediately headed straight to Alki Beach in West Seattle. Alki was the spot picked by the first non Native Americans, the Denny party, to settle on the shores of Elliot Bay in 1851. They soon learned that the other side of Elliot Bay (ie the east side) offered easier living & soon abandoned Alki for what is now Seattle. We had a great lunch at Spud (not Spuds), the oldest “fast food” restaurant in Seattle (celebrating 75 yrs). After walking on the beach, people watching, & locating the original spot of Seattle’s founding; it was off to Fishermen’s Terminal in Ballard.

Fishermen’s Terminal is the homeport of most of the crab boats seen on the TV show “Deadliest Catch”. Even though none of the crab boats were in, it is still a nice area to visit including the Fishermen’s memorial to those lost at sea. While there we bought fresh clams for tomorrow’s dinner. Then it was off to the neighborhood of Fremont (center of the Universe). Rather than bore you with more details on Fremont, just check out our BLOG for 19JUN. Oh yeah, this year rather than trying to stuff four people into the RV at night, we rented a pop-up trailer for the kids to sleep in (let's say the kids were less than excited).

The next day, 01AUG, it was off to the Iron Goat Trail to hike. The trail uses the remnants of a Great Northern Railway line abandoned in 1929. The nice thing about railroad lines are that they were usually limited to a grade of 100 vertical feet per mile, making for a pretty nice hike. But first we had a late brunch at the Sultan Bakery. After a few hours of easy hiking we then headed by car to the new Iron Goat Trail Interpretive Center where Corrie decided to rest while Dan & the kids headed straight up 750 feet in one mile to hike another section of the trail. The Interpretative Center is dedicated to the 1910 Wellington Avalanche, the largest railroad disaster in USA history (see below internet link). After a full day of hiking it was back to the RV for a great al fresco clam dinner.Trivia - How did the old steam trains climb 2000 feet in 6 miles?

Then Dan, Rebecca & Joe headed into Seattle for more sightseeing. First stop was the boathouses on Lake Union, followed by checking out Queen Anne Hill, & last stop was Seattle Center site of 1962 World’s Fair. The Century 21 Exposition (also known as the Seattle World's Fair) was a World's Fair held April 21, 1962, to October 21, 1962, in Seattle, Washington. Nearly ten million people attended the fair. At the time Seattle was the smallest city to host a World’s Fair; & unlike some other World's Fairs of its era, Century 21 ran a profit.
As planned, the exposition left behind a fairground and numerous public buildings and public works; some credit it with revitalizing Seattle's economic and cultural life. The fair saw the construction of the Space Needle and the Alweg monorail, as well as several sports venues and performing arts buildings (most of which have since been replaced or heavily remodeled). The site, slightly expanded since the fair, is now called Seattle Center. Another notable Seattle Center building, the Experience Music Project & Science Fiction Museum, was deliberately designed to fit in with the fairground atmosphere, but was built nearly 40 years later. Unlike most Fairs (or even Olympics) that were touted as revitalizing a part of the hosting city; Seattle’s World’s Fair did just that & is in continuous use to this day! Last stop was the top of the Space Needle for great views & a great sunset.
Trivia – How far above ground level is the Space Needle’s center of gravity (hint – you are probably taller than the center of gravity)?

Monday morning it was off to Leavenworth, WA, to go tubing on the Wenatchee River like last year (see below BLOG link). Although cousin Sheila & daughter Tess Morris could not join us because they are trekking in Nepal, we were joined by Mike Morris. Because of the late snow melt & recent rains the river was higher & faster than last year. This resulted in a scary & close call for Corrie, but all turned out ok. After tubing it was off to Mike’s for a home cooked meal & relaxing visit.

On Tuesday, 03AUG, we arrived back at Bonnie & Steve Kiesel’s in Kittitas, WA. Immediately after setting up camp it was off to the Yakima River for more tubing. This river was also moving faster then “normal”, but there were no close calls. In fact this float was much longer than on the Wenatchee, & we spent almost three hours on the river. (like last year no one wanted to risk their digital camera while rafting, so there are no photos) Back at the ranch we were treated to a BBQ dinner of fresh salmon & halibut!

Early Wednesday morning (& we mean early) Steve & Joe took off in the Jeepster hunting for elk. While they were seeking big game Dan smoked a pork roast for dinner, & Rebecca & Corrie went shopping in Ellensburg. That afternoon there was spirited tournament of “ladder ball”, followed by sightseeing at the Wild Horse Wind Farm (see below internet links for info on the wind farm). We were joined by Steve & Bonnie’s son, Kenneth, for another excellent dinner. After dinner Bonnie broke out a family album containing the family history of the Kiesel family & Peters family (Steve’s mom’s family& Dan's mom).

Before heading out of Kittitas Thursday AM, Steve & Joe took-off one more time hunting elk. After their return we then headed to Wenatchee Confluence State Park located in an industrial part of Wenatchee, WA. Although located in an industrial park, it is a beautiful state park where the mighty Columbia & Wenatchee Rivers come together. After setting up camp we headed to the beach to just relax & enjoy the sun. After dinner, we started a campfire & made S’mores.

Friday, 06AUG, we had to return to our RV spot at Evergreen State Fairgrounds because we have to return the pop-up trailer. After Dan & Joe returned the trailer they headed to our property to clear brush, while the ladies did laundry. Saturday was not only the kid’s departure date, but Dan’s birthday. For some reason his birthday cards all seem to be based on being too old and/or too many candles on the cake? On the way to the airport we stopped for breakfast at the Pancake Chef, one of those classic diners in business for over 50 years (but still not as old as Dan). At the airport we learned Rebecca & Joe’s first flight was late & would cause them to miss their connection! Thankfully they were able to rebook through a different city & make it home by 3AM!It was a great, but hectic, time; & we will probably need two weeks to recover!!!


Chuck and Anneke's RV travels said...
The pop up looks like a good idea. Looks like you had a lot of fun!
12 August, 2010 20:24

Corrie, Dan and Gumbo Ryan said...
definitely made life easier, rather than have four adults trying to sleep in our "smaller" RV. even though rented from US Navy, still not cheap ($45/day)! still catching our wind after a whirlwind week!! - corrie & dan
12 August, 2010 20:52