Monday, August 31, 2009

The Indians Win

Ellie 055 Our excitement this morning was more of a hassle than exciting.  I was going to toast an English muffin for breakfast.  Our toaster oven has been with us quite a few years now, it was actually in our storage unit which we cleaned out last year.  Yes, we had no toasted English muffin for breakfast today!  The trusty old toaster oven decided to completely quit.  We had already been looking at new ones, because we were noticing this one was taking longer and longer to heat up.  So, we added a stop at Wal-Mart to our plans today.

The general plan was to go into Sequim for lunch, followed by a visit to the 7 Cedars Indian Casino a few miles east of there.  Dortha and Deb talked on the phone and made a plan to meet at the Mexican restaurant where we ate lunch the day we got here.  We left a little early to go by the Wal-Mart store.  They had the model of toaster oven we’d looked at so we just went ahead and picked it up.

The guys thought they saw an rv parts and accessories store in Sequim, and we drove up and down the main street before we finally found it.  They didn’t have much, but we looked around anyway.

Then it was time to meet Rod and Deb for a delicious Mexican lunch.  After lunch we headed off to the casino.  But today, I guess they needed my money to pay Deb‘s and Dortha’s winnings, so I came home with a little less than I started out with.  Especially after the expense of the toaster oven!

Here are a few more pictures from the last week.

Another view of Hurricane Ridge-

Ellie 054 Happy Jasmine -

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Busy Mr. BoJangles -

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And a lovely path through the woods:

Ellie 027 Another wonderful day!

Slow Sunday

Ellie 024 Actually, it’s been a slow weekend.  Yesterday, our big accomplishment was to visit Deb and Rod in Port Angeles for a fabulous meal.  On the way over, we stopped at a small fresh-farm market called Sunny Farms.  It’s a place where they have some organics, great meat, fish and beautiful fresh produce.  We picked up corn on the cob for our dinner contribution, and Dortha got a few things to round out the menu.

We also made a stop at a winery and had a little tasting.  We used restraint in our purchases and only came away with 4 bottles.

Once again, it was a fun visit with good friends.

Today, Jim decided we needed to make more salsa, so we actually got out and went to the grocery store before noon.  Not far from here, in Port Hadlock, there’s a local grocery called QFC, which is associated with Krogers (we knew it as King Soopers back in Colorado).  Again, there were some wonderful fresh veggies for the salsa.  This batch turned out especially good, with a great balance of heat and flavor.  We ended up canning 13 pints.  Dortha is a big fan of Jim’s salsa, so I suspect this batch won’t last too long!

I also met with a woman who lives here in the park who is willing to walk the dogs a couple of times one day this week while we take a long day trip.  She has lived here for about 20 years, she came here with her husband when the park was brand new, so she knows all the history of the place.  What a sweet person, and so willing to help out.

Dortha made “ice box soup” for dinner, and it turned out delicious.  In case you’re not familiar with this dish, or call it something else, that’s what we make when it’s time to clean out the fridge of the recent leftovers.  Thanks, Dortha, great soup! 

I continued researching routes and parks on our upcoming travels.  We have a few reservations made, but still need to come to a decision on a few more.  Maybe tomorrow.

Since I did not take pictures yesterday or today, the ones I’m sharing are from recent days.

Crossing the street in downtown Port Townsend:

Jim 007 Another look at Cape Flattery:

Ellie 070_1 Tomorrow could be busier!

Friday, August 28, 2009

We’ve Been Busy Tourists

All of a sudden, it’s Friday, and I haven’t posted since Monday.  I have some catching up to do!

On Tuesday, we had a day off from sightseeing after our long day on Monday.  We needed to make a Walmart run, and the closest Superwalmart is in the town of Poulsbo, about 25 miles from here, so that was our big event for the day.

Wednesday, the 4 of us headed into Port Townsend so Dortha and I could attend our Weight Watchers meeting in the morning.  We met 3 other women from the SKP park there, so it was really enjoyable.  After the meeting, yes, it was time to go out to eat.  This time, we opted for breakfast at a restaurant recommended by one of the women we met at the meeting.  It turned out to be a great choice!

After breakfast, we made a stop at a marine supply store so Mark could purchase a couple of chairs that were on sale.  Then we visited Fort Worden State Park.  Several people had mentioned it to us, so it was definitely on our list of places to visit.  It was a beautiful day, and we could see Mt. Baker across the channel:

Jim 005 There is a campground there, but when we’d checked availability, there weren’t any sites available.  I can understand why, it’s a great location, and of course, there is a lighthouse!

Jim 035

Deb and Rod came over to have dinner Wednesday evening, which consisted of grilled brats, fresh corn on the cob, potato salad, zucchini and a wonderful strawberry pie.  We had a good visit with them.

That brings us up to Thursday.  We got a slow start to the day, but then decided to find a couple of waterfalls in Olympic National Park.  We have a printout of quite a few waterfalls, and these two were within a reasonable distance, so we headed out a little before noon.  We made a stop in Port Angeles to go to the park visitor center.  Dortha and I have been wanting to get park Passports to keep track of the parks we visit, so we each got one. 

Deb and Rod met us for lunch at a local hamburger stand they frequent, another good choice.  I had a salad, which was really good, especially for being from a take-out burger stand.  After lunch, Rod went to fill up his truck, then he dropped it off at home and we all got into the jeep for a trip to the waterfalls.

The first stop was at Lake Crescent:

Ellie 004 Our next stop was at the ranger station located at the trailhead to Marymear Falls.  We started off on the trail, which began with a tunnel under the roadway:

Ellie 014 What a beautiful and interesting trail!  This tree looks more like a creature from “The Hobbit” than a tree:

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There are some very tall trees:

Tall Tree

And some very big trees!

Jim 021 After just 3/4 of a mile, we came to the falls:

Jim 041 At this time of the year, the falls are not really very dramatic, but still pretty.

We made our way back to the jeep, and headed towards our next stop, Madison Falls:

Jim 065We drove along the Elwah River until there was no more road, but we did find another beautiful lake:

Ellie 085And then it was time to get back home, since Dortha had a laundry appointment at 8:00.  What a fabulous day!

Today was another slow start, we seem to be enjoying  our slow mornings very much!  Our laundry appointment was this morning, so we did need to get up and gather the clothes together for Jim to take over to the laundry room.  But soon that was done, and we decided to make a run to the mall in Silverdale, about 25 miles from here.  We made stops at all the major department stores before we went to an early dinner at Olive Garden.  A quick stop at Costco completed the shopping day and we got home a little while ago.

The other thing that has been keeping us busy this week is planning and researching our next few stops along the road. There are some grand adventures coming up, but of course, it takes some planning, and lots of research into the best places to stay along the way.  However, we’re not quite finished with this awesome place, so stay tuned for continuing adventures!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Visiting With Friends, and The FAR Northwest Corner

Yesterday was a kind of catch-up day after our city day.  We puttered around the  motor home, doing some routine maintenance, more cleaning and polishing.  We also took a break to visit a local farmer’s market for some fresh produce, followed by a stop at a nearby grocery.  Then, Dortha got a call from Deb and Rod, wondering what we all were up to.  Rod has been working on getting his mom’s house over in Port Angeles ready to put on the market, so they’ve been staying in the driveway there for a few months now.  It was time for them to take a break, so they came over to visit.  We had a fine little happy hour and then decided to drive over to Sequim to the casino for dinner and a little slot machine play.  It was fun to see them again, we’ll be getting together again before we all leave this area.  Jim, Dortha, and I all came home with a little more money than we started with, Mark left a little there, and I’m not sure about Deb and Rod, they were still at the Keno machines when we left!

As long as we were this far up in the Northwest, we figured we might as well go to the end of the road, so to speak.  So, today, we gathered up a picnic lunch and piled all of us, dogs included, into Mark and Dortha’s Jeep for a drive.

Cape Flattery is about 100 miles northwest from Chimacum.  It is the most northwestern point of land in the lower 48, and is where the Strait of San Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific Ocean.  We left about 9:00 and wound our way along the twisty-turny road for about 3 hours.

Jim 006 We came to this intersection, one of these days we will visit the little town of Forks, the setting for the popular books and movie, “Twilight”. 

Jim 003

But today, we went the other direction.  We got stopped by some road construction, and I was able to get a good picture of the dense woods along the road:

Ellie 009 Eventually, we came to the trail :

Jim 027 Jim 034 Jim 035 Surrounded by these interesting, huge, old trees:

Jim 036Soon, we got through the woods and found ourselves truly in the far Northwest:

Jim 040  Complete with a lighthouse!  This is the Cape Flattery Light:

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Jim 060

While we were at the observation platform, we could see several different bird species.  A woman mentioned she thought one of them was a a tufted puffin.  I got some pictures to try to identify it once we got home.  The pictures didn’t turn out well enough to post (fuzzy!), but good enough to identify that it was a tufted puffin.

None of us wanted to leave this awesome place, but we knew there was a long drive to get back home, so one more look:Jim 061

And we were headed back through the woods:

Ellie 082

On the way home, we saw a bald eagle fly by!  Jim was the only one with a fast enough reflex to get a picture, but it turned out really fuzzy.  What a treat to see, though, picture or not.

We made a stop in Port Angeles to scout the ferry landing for a trip over to Victoria, BC while we’re here.  As long as we were there, we stopped for dinner at a local restaurant. 

It was a long drive, but oh, so worth it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Trip to the City

After a day of work yesterday, today was a day for playing.  We studied the ferry schedules and researched the places we wanted to experience in Seattle.  With the alarm set for “dark-thirty” we got up and headed out to make the 9:35 ferry to Seattle from Bainbridge Island, about an hour’s drive from here.

Mark parked the Jeep at the ferry terminal and we boarded for the 30 minute crossing.  Our first stop was a place on my wish list – breakfast of coffee and donuts at Lola, a restaurant that was featured on an episode of “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”. on the Food Channel.   The donuts are made to order, they come out in a paper bag, warm and fresh.  They’re little square pastries, rolled in cinnamon sugar and served with jam and vanilla mascarpone.  Ok, so that craving was satisfied, then it was time to head for the famous Pike Place Market!

Ellie, Olympus 054 Dortha and I took our time looking for treasures along the way:

Jim 030 And found a lot of fresh veggies:

Jim 040 

Jim 032

There were people wall-to-wall!

Jim 038 Looking at all the food and navigating through the crowds gave us all an appetite, so we found some chowder for lunch:

Ellie, Olympus 068Mark wanted to try a local favorite, Tully’s coffee, so after lunch and a little more looking around Pike Market, we found our way to the coffee shop where we each got a pound of  Tully’s coffee beans.  Dortha and I had spotted a cosmetics store that carries the brand of make-up that we both use, so we then made our way there and got stocked up on the items we each needed.

Gee, one more place we remembered from the Food Channel – a chocolate store, Fran’s.  We used a lot of restraint there and only got a couple of pieces of chocolate to taste.

Finally, it was time to head back to the dock to catch our ferry back across Puget Sound:

Jim 057 Another fun day in the beautiful Northwest!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Whale of a Time

Today was a continuation of Mark’s birthday celebration.  We thought a lot about a gift for our friend, and finally realized a whale watching tour might be the thing.

We arrived at the Puget Sound Express a little after 9:00 this morning, after trying a couple of times to navigate through the construction zones in Port Townsend:

Ellie 003 We were still early, so we got to look around a little before boarding our boat.  I think Mark was hoping this wouldn’t be our only Orca spotting for the day:

Ellie 005The captain was checking things out and getting ready for his passengers:

Jim 001  And his passengers were waiting patiently to get on boardJim 005 Finally, we got the boarding ok and the four of us plus about 19 or 20 other hopeful whale watchers got settled for our journey across the Strait of San Juan de Fuca to the San Juan Islands, where the whales are known to hang out.

There are 3 pods, or families, totaling around 87 individual orcas that are residents of the waters around the San Juan Islands.   They feed on salmon – lots of it!  Occasionally, transients will come through this area.  Evidently, these are more aggressive than the residents and will  more often attack other animals, including other whale species in the area.  Orcas, or killer whales as they are commonly called, are not actually whales, they are the largest of the porpoise family.

Several different companies provide whale watching tours, so there are always quite a few boats around, and they communicate with each other so everyone gets a chance to see them.

Today, the water was especially choppy due to a large ebb tide, so we had a pretty rough ride out to the area where the orcas had been spotted.  It took about an hour and a half to catch up to them, but we did find them.  We found out that in choppy water, and with a requirement to stay 1/4 mile out from shore and 100 yards away from the whales, getting pictures of them was not going to be an easy task.  Oh, and they don’t stay out of the water very long at a time!  Jim was really wishing for that 400mm lens today, but I’m not convinced that would have helped the situation much. 

The whales stayed very close to the shore, swimming along in calm waters, evidently catching salmon:

Jim 020 The white  area just below the dorsal fin is different on each individual whale, so they can be identified.

Jim 031This male was following along not too far behind the boat, good thing he didn’t think we were salmon:

Jim 024

I’ve been known to get a little queasy under certain conditions, and unfortunately, the extreme “standing waves” we experienced while stopped to watch the whales got to me, and I spent a little time not feeling too good.  Once we got underway back to Port Townsend, I was ok.  Mark also had a few moments, but Jim and Dortha weathered the rough seas just fine.

Once we got back to dry land, of course the next thing on the agenda was a late lunch.  No, not Mexican this time!  We all had fish and chips at the Bayview Inn.  It was delicious.

What an amazing experience today!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday, Mark!

Today is a day we’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and especially every time we’ve been to a national park this summer! Mark has been wanting to get his “old guys” parks pass, and today was the day.  So, we wish him many wonderful visits in the future to all the beautiful national parks and other facilities this pass will get him into!  We are happy that we could share this fun day with you, and feel blessed to be able to travel and enjoy the beauty of this great country with you and Dortha.

Mark, in the visitor’s center of Olympic National Park, getting his America the Beautiful pass:

Jim 005

Now, on to the adventure of the day.  When we last posted, we were tucked away in a noisy parking lot next to I-5 in Tacoma.  We were up pretty early and got ready to head up to the Olympic Peninsula, and, hopefully, a space in the Escapees Evergreen Coho park in Chimacum.  The first thing that happened on the road was that the traffic separated us from our leader.  Good thing I had programmed our route and researched all the intricacies of I-5 and our turn-off, we really needed that navigation at rush hour this morning.  It took us about 45 miles to catch up with Mark and Dortha:

Ellie 017

But, that was the only glitch in our day, it just got better and better!  When we got to the park:

Ellie 104

we went in to the office and started the process of finding out if they had spaces for us for 2 or 3 weeks.  (A new person was working in the office, today was her first day on the job).  Yes, but only one was open at the moment, one of us would have to wait until later today when the current occupants left.  We got that part figured out and continued on with the check in.  When it came time to decide how long we were staying, the manager reminded the new person that we could only pay a week at a time.  Then, the manager asked if we might want to take one of the lease sites that are available for 30 days.  When we got into the details of the arrangement, we realized it is a pretty good deal - $275 for the month, plus electric, and we get 50 amp electric service along with our sewer and water.  Plus, we get a nice site with landscaping and plenty of space, as opposed to a gravel parking spot with 30 amp electric, water and sewer.   Well, duh.  So we signed up!  Even if we don’t stay a whole month, it’s well worth it.

We’re across the street from each other, and we are nestled in next to the rose garden:

Ellie 018

Ellie 033

Soon we had our basic set up done and were ready to head off to find some lunch and do a little exploring.  We had lunch at:

Ellie 038

– yes – a Mexican restaurant in Sequim (say Sqwim), and then headed over to Port Angeles to get Mark his parks pass.

Here are some pictures from our awesome drive up Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park.  Just when you think this country can’t get any more awe-inspiring than the last place we saw, here’s what happens!

Ellie 059 Jim 015 Tomorrow, we are going on a really special adventure – wait till you find out what it is!