Carting the Kayak

We had a quiet afternoon on Wednesday indoors to beat the heat. On Wednesday evening, Donna made a new-to-us dish for dinner. She pounded boneless, skinless chicken breasts, then topped them with a mixture of spinach, garlic, onion, feta and spices, rolled up the meat around stuffing and browned it. It was excellent served with a side of orzo topped with fresh tomato and kalamata olives cooked in the pan with the chicken.

Chicken

Chicken stuffed with spinach and feta

Thursday morning I inflated the Sea Eagle kayak with the foot pump. We strapped the kayak onto the cart and pulled it down to the river. The kayak was easy to pull with the new cart.

Kayak strapped to cart

Kayak strapped to cart

We pulled the kayak out of the Crescent Bar RV Resort through the emergency exit and walked down the road to a trail that led to a small beach on the Columbia River.

Trail to beach

Trail to beach

It was about half a mile from our site to the beach. The cart worked well and even rolled through the sand without a problem.

Donna with the kayak where we launched

Donna with the kayak where we launched

After removing the kayak from the cart, I pulled the pins and took off the wheels. The cart folded and easily fit in the rear space of the kayak. We don’t have to worry about leaving the cart on the beach when we go out on the water.

Although we didn’t have the wind gusts we’ve been experiencing over the past few days, there was a fair breeze blowing across the river from the west. The river flows slowly south through Crescent Bar – right to left in the photo. The wind created a chop coming across the river.

Wind chop on the water

Wind chop on the water

We paddled upstream to get a feel for how hard it would be to go against the current. The wind was more of an issue than the current was. It’s a fairly big body of water here. I was surprised at how shallow it was for the first 20 feet or so from the shore. I’ve seen power boats here so maybe it’s not quite as shallow as it looks through the clear water.

There weren’t any boats or jet skis out this early. We hit the water around 10:30am and the day was already heating up. We paddled upstream and found a boat anchored in a small cove. There was a big house on shore with a beautifully landscaped property. We assumed the boat belonged to the homeowner. No one was aboard and I wondered how they got from shore to the anchorage or anchorage to shore.

When we turned around to head back to the beach where we launched, we found that coming down river was harder than we expected. The wind-driven chop pushed the rear of our kayak, turning us to starboard. We kept heading out into the channel instead of hugging the shoreline. It took a lot of corrections to keep us on track.

While we were out on the river, a couple of F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets passed overhead. They were practicing low-level flight maneuvers and banked 90 degrees as they roared past us. This area is a designated as a low-altitude military training corridor. In certain areas of the country, the military can conduct low-altitude flight (below 10,000 feet above ground level) without regard to the 250-knot speed limit imposed on regular air traffic below 10,000 feet AGL.

We headed back to the RV park around 11:45am. On the way back, we met a couple that saw us go out. They were kayakers too and wanted see where we launched from. We gave them directions to the beach.

In the afternoon, we made a run to Quincy on the Spyder. I dropped Donna off at the Akins grocery store and rode over to the post office. I had a package there from the RV Water Filter Store. This was the first time I had something delivered to the Post Office addressed to General Delivery. I’ve heard that general delivery works well if you are in an area with a smaller post office. The Quincy Post Office qualifies as small. The clerk was friendly and she retrieved my package right away. Big city post offices seem to have issues with keeping track of general delivery mail. I was hoping that our regular mail from our service in South Dakota would be there, but it hadn’t arrived. I’ll have to go back there this morning to get it.

Yesterday the temperature reached the upper 90s. Today the forecast calls for a high of 102 degrees. I’ll make the run to town before noon to avoid the worst of the heat. It looks like this afternoon will be a good day to read another book and maybe take a dip in the swimming pool.

Tomorrow I’ll take Donna to Pangborn airport in East Wenatchee to pick up a rental car. She’ll drive the rental car over Cascade Mountains to meet her sister Sheila in Issaquah where she is running a marathon on Sunday. Donna will spend the night with Sheila at her hotel, then she and her nephew Connor will meet up with Sheila at the finish line.

Donna will come back Sunday evening. We plan to head out of Crescent Bar on Monday and go to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho.

Hot Time in Crescent Bar

The heat wave is on here at Crescent Bar. Monday’s high was 96 degrees in nearby Quincy, Washington. We haven’t hit the river with the kayak yet – we intended to on Monday, but I started the morning playing pickleball with TJ, Lance and Boni. By the time we left the court, I was hot and too tired to inflate the kayak and take it to the launch point on the river.

I spent the rest of the day reading in the air-conditioned coach while Donna worked on her organizing tips newsletter. We agreed that we would take the kayak out on Tuesday.

On Monday night, the wind kicked up. I slept poorly as the wind was noisy and rocked the coach at times. In the morning, the wind gusts continued so we put off kayaking again. In the afternoon, Donna and I rode the Spyder to Quincy for groceries. We decided to check out another grocery store. We shopped at Akins the first time we went to town. This time, we hit the IGA store called El Mercado one block south of Akins. This store caters to the hispanic population and had some specialty meats, spices and vegetables. It also had standard fare at reasonable prices. We like the store, and we’ll probably go back there again, but Akins has a better selection of craft beers.

It was another hot afternoon with the temperature in the upper 90s. Donna took the grass-fed lamb chops we bought from the rancher in Portland out of the freezer. She rubbed them with a paste of olive oil, fresh rosemary and thyme, garlic, salt, pepper and lemon zest. I grilled them on the Weber Q.

Lamb chops with rib bone

Lamb chops with rib bone

Donna served it with green beans and lemon rice with chopped parsley.

Lamb chop with green beans and rice

Lamb chop with green beans and rice

I paired the lamb chop with IPA from Red Hook Brewing – one of Seattle’s oldest craft brewers, making good beer since 1981.

Red Hook Longhammer IPA

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA

After another windy night, we were up early this morning. We walked over to Lance and Boni’s site at 7:30am. TJ joined us there and we all piled into Lance and Boni’s SUV and headed to East Wenatchee to a park with pickleball courts. The park was about 20 miles from here and had six new pickleball courts. TJ’s wife Julie is away on a business trip to Las Vegas so she wasn’t with us.

Pickleball courts in East Wenatchee

Pickleball courts in East Wenatchee

We played for more than three hours. We met several people at the park  – we always meet the nicest people playing pickleball. Once again, it’s hot out and I’m whipped. The forecast calls for a high of 97 today, 99 tomorrow and 100 degrees on Friday!

I dumped and flushed our holding tanks – today is the seventh day without dumping or making any real conservation effort so the gray tank was full. I think I’ll stay indoors this afternoon and start in on another book.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

Watercraft in the RV Park

Most RV parks we stay in tend to fill up on the weekend and empty out on Sunday afternoon. This is true here at Crescent Bar RV Resort. People began showing up on Friday afternoon and the park was near full capacity by Saturday morning. But it’s a little different here.

A number of the sites were occupied by tents or small slide-in campers on pickup trucks. The reason for this was the number of people arriving towing a boat or trailer full of personal watercraft. The section of the Columbia River at Crescent Bar is also called Wanapum Lake and it’s a popular recreational area for watercraft.

Our neighbors to the west of our site pulled in late Friday evening with a pontoon boat. They have a travel trailer on their site. They pay an annual fee to have the site full-time. They come here every weekend in the summer, making a drive of more than three hours from Edmonds, Washington, north of Seattle over Snoqualmie Pass after work on Fridays and returning to their home on Sunday afternoon.

Our neighbor's pontoon boat

Our neighbor’s pontoon boat

On the other side of our site is another annual park resident with a ski boat. He stores his boat in a yard a couple of miles away from the park. On weekends they drive here on Friday, bring the boat to their site and spend Saturday and Sunday on the river. They arrived Friday around 9pm. After boating Sunday morning, they spent a few hours cleaning the boat before they took it to the storage yard and headed back to western Washington. Whew!

Our neighbors ski boat

Our neighbor’s ski boat

Many people here follow a similar plan for the weekend. Others pitch a tent so they can spend the day on the river and party at night.

Tent and boat

Tent and boat

Camper and jet skis

Camper and jet skis

Another annual site with a boat

Another annual site with a boat – jet ski in the background

The site across from us had a few tents and canopies set up. They arrived with a group pulling trailers loaded with jet skis. Everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunny weather and recreational opportunities. This morning, many of the sites are empty and most of the boaters are gone until next weekend.

We’ll get the kayak down to the river now that it’s a little less hectic on the water. On Friday afternoon, Donna ordered a cart for the kayak from Amazon. One of the hassles we face with our inflatable kayak is getting it to the water. With the cart it will be much easier. Donna ordered it through her Amazon Prime account with free two-day delivery. It showed a Sunday delivery, which I thought was probably wrong – but the site did say that Sunday delivery was available in this area.

The cart arrived Saturday morning – less than 24 hours after she ordered it. How do they do that? Assembly was breeze. All I had to do was remove the retaining pins from the axles, install the wheels and re-insert the pins. Job done!

Donna prepared her mojo marinade recipe Sunday afternoon and used it on a pork tenderloin. I grilled the tenderloin while Donna prepared the sides – green lemon rice and summer squash sauteed with red onion.

Grilled pork tenderloin

Grilled pork tenderloin

Served with Orzo salad with spinach and feta and sauteed zucchini and red onion

Served with green lemon rice and summer squash sauteed with red onion

It was a tasty and nutritious meal. We enjoyed the dinner at our picnic table. It went well with an Apocalypse IPA from 10 Barrel Brewing.

Al fresco dinner

Al fresco dinner

The temperature reached 90 degrees in the afternoon, but by dinner time it was comfortable outside in the shade of our canopy. The forecast for the rest of the week calls for daily highs in the upper 90s. I think we’ll be hitting the beaches.

 

*Just so you know, if you follow one of my links to Amazon and decide to make a purchase, you pay the same price as usual and  I’ll earn a few pennies for the referral. It’ll go into the beer fund. Thanks!

 

 

Crescent Bar Beach

Friday morning Donna and I went to the pickleball court at 10am. We warmed up with Julie then when TJ, Lance and Boni arrived, we rotated through several games. We haven’t played since we were in Bend, Oregon over a month ago. Of course the rust showed and we weren’t at the top of our game.

Later we explored the area on the Spyder. We found a public beach with ample free parking about a mile and a half from the RV park on Crescent Bar Road (map). Then we rode to Quincy, the nearest town about nine miles east of the RV park. Donna bought a planter pot and potting soil for the heirloom cherry tomato plant she was given by a vendor at the farmers’ market in Camas. She meant to re-pot the plant right away but somehow never got around to it. I think the plant may be stunted, but it perked up right away once it was re-potted.

On Friday night, we joined TJ, Julie, Lance and Boni for dinner at their sites. They have adjoining sites and two picnic tables between their rigs. Lance and TJ grilled burgers and we brought boneless, skinless chicken thighs that Donna marinated in olive oil and spices. It was nice having dinner company and conversation – and Lance grilled the chicken for us!

Saturday was our third anniversary of full-time life on the road. Although we’d been sleeping in our coach in our driveway for a week after we sold all of our furniture, July 23rd was the day we closed the door on our sticks-and-bricks home and drove away. In the morning, I made a beer run to Quincy and dropped Donna off at the White Trail Produce Market on the way there. She shopped while I went to the store and also filled the Spyder’s gas tank. I picked her up on the way back. She found good buys on produce and also found a bottle of California red wine called Happy Camper!

After lunch, we loaded gear in the Spyder and rode to the beach. I inflated two floaties with the foot pump we use for the Sea Eagle kayak and we floated on the river. The beach is on the east side of the Crescent Bar peninsula where an island is formed by a narrow branch off the Columbia River – see map link above. This part of the Columbia River is also known as Wanapum Lake.

Beach at branch off Columbia River

Beach at branch off Columbia River

There’s a sandy beach and a backdrop of dramatic basalt cliffs. We floated around as the wind and current slowly pulled us south.

Donna on her floatie

Donna on her floatie

A storage lot for boats and RVs by the beach had an interesting bus parked in it. I don’t know the story behind it, but it looked like fun.

Crescent Bar bus?

Crescent Bar bus?

We stopped for a cold one at the Sand Trap Bar and Grill before we headed home. Donna prepared a wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon for dinner. She spiced it with lemon and dill and I cooked it on the Weber Q.

Grilled salmon

Grilled salmon

The weather was beautiful yesterday – clear blue skies and the high temperature was in the mid-80s. It’s 72 degrees outside as I type this at 9am. We can expect the high for the day to be near 90 and a warming trend is supposed to hit the area this week. Temperatures are forecast to exceed 90 degrees every day for the coming week.

Can’t Hold a Site

Yesterday was a travel day so I didn’t post. On Wednesday, Donna rode her bike from Pine Near RV Park in Winthrop down the Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road to Twisp and back – about a 20-mile ride. The road doesn’t have any shoulder but the traffic is so light it was okay. The weather was nice – around 80 degrees and sunny. I wanted to check out the campgrounds at Pearrygin Lake State Park, so I took ride on the Spyder.

The state park has two campgrounds right on the lake. The road takes you to the west campground first. I stopped there and was surprised at how small the lake looked. I thought it was much larger as people water ski on it.

Pearrygin Lake at west campground

Pearrygin Lake at west campground

Most of the campsites here appeared to be dry camping areas although I saw a few with electric and water. I rode over to the east campground. As I descended from the road down to the lake level campground, I saw the lake was larger than it appeared from the west campground.

View of west Pearrygin Lake

View of west Pearrygin Lake from above east campground

A portion of east Pearrygin Lake

A portion of east Pearrygin Lake

The lake extends well to the east of the east campground. The east campground had a mix of sites and I saw some with full hook-ups. There were a few big rigs there. The website says there are 76 standard sites – dry camping – and a few with electricity and water and 50 sites with full hook-ups.

That evening, we walked to downtown Winthrop and had drinks and dinner at Copper Glance. This is a bar that features a wide variety of top-shelf liquor and an eclectic menu. I enjoyed a martini made with Chopin potato vodka while Donna sipped a Gose beer. Donna ordered an Asian cabbage salad that was excellent and followed it up with chicken satay skewers. I had the Reuben sandwich with house-made sauerkraut and dressing. It was tasty.

Thursday morning we were ready for the road by 10am. Rather than go through the busy Main Street in Winthrop, I followed Donna’s bike route on the eastside road to Twisp. We hit WA20 there and followed it to WA153. This route took us south along the Methow River. The traffic was light and it was easy going except for two bridges that were single-lane due to road work. We hit US97 at Pateros and followed it south along the Columbia River. The source of the Columbia is in the Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada. It flows through Washington then forms the border between Washington and Oregon before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The Klamath and the Columbia are the only rivers east of the Cascade Mountains to flow directly into the Pacific Ocean.

We reached our destination, Crescent Bar RV Resort, on the east bank of the Columbia River (map) at 12:45 PM. I’d already booked our reservation through the Thousand Trails website. While we were waiting to check in, our friend TJ Muller was pulling out of the park in his truck. He stopped to say hi. Then his wife Julie and our friends Lance and Boni pulled up and welcomed us to the park. They were on their way to the post office in Quincy. Lance and Boni suggested we check out site 43. They said it was a long back-in site that would fit our rig. Thousand Trails RV Parks are usually first-come first-served for site selection. You can book a number of days in advance, but it doesn’t allow you to hold a specific site. The host checking us in told us how to get to site 43 and said she thought it was our best choice.

There were a number of other sites that could fit or length, but they were 30 amp electric service. We wanted a 50 amp site. The forecast calls for temperatures in the 90s during our stay so we want to be able to run both roof air conditioners.

When we pulled up to site 43 we saw a sign that said it was reserved for a group. What? The host not only told us to go to 43, she handed us a sheet of paper with a list of park rules. Rule #18 said no sites could be held or reserved. I called the welcome center and asked what the deal was. The woman said she would check into it. We made a couple of laps of the park – the only other 50 amp site that was large enough was closed due to a problem with the electrical panel.

Eventually the woman from the welcome center and the park manager arrived at site 43. They removed the sign and said the reserved sign wasn’t authorized and we were free to take the site. We backed in and set up.

Set up in site 43

Set up in site 43

On either side of site 43 are sites that are privately owned. Thousand Trails sells a portion of their sites for private use. Apparently the two owners of these sites often invite friends to spend the weekend with them and try to block site 43 for their friends. It may get interesting when they show up.

The park is right on the bank of the river. We took a walk in the evening and checked it out. Donna had already walked down once and saw a beach area. She also stopped at the club house and met the owners of an Alpine Coach two sites down from us – Dewey and Doris from Nebraska.

Columbia River view from the RV park

Columbia River view from the RV park

Basalt cliffs south of the park

Basalt cliffs south of the park

We walked back to our site along a paved path. Sometimes I have to wonder who planned the park’s layout. The path led us to steps that ended in the back of someone’s site! Walking through an occupied site is poor etiquette, but other than backtracking to the beginning of the  path, there wasn’t any way out.

Path leads to the rear of a camp site

Path leads to the rear of a camp site

Back at the coach, Donna prepared panko-crusted fresh rock fish filets we picked up at the IGA in Winthrop. One of the filets formed the outline of a fish.

Fish shaped rock fish filet

Fish shaped rock fish filet

The pan-fried fish was delicious served with steamed broccoli.

Pan-fried panko-crusted rock fish

Pan-fried panko-crusted rock fish

This morning we plan to play pickleball with TJ, Julie, Lance and Boni. We haven’t played since we last saw them in Bend, Oregon.

 

Twisp and Winthrop

We went out and explored on the Spyder Tuesday. Donna walked to the Winthrop post office, then I rode the Spyder and met her at the IGA store. We rode south on Highway 20 about 10 miles to Twisp – the next town from Winthrop. Although there are about 2,000 people living in the valley around Winthrop, the population of the actual town is about 400. Twisp is similar in size with about 400 people in the town.

Last year in August, when the Okanogan Complex wildfire threatened the area with more than 300,000 acres burning, both Winthrop and Twisp were evacuated. Luckily both towns were spared. However, three firefighters lost their lives battling the blazing forest.

We stopped at the Twisp River Pub and Brewery located on the Twisp River on the corner of Main Street on the north end of town. We didn’t know it was closed due to fire damage – unrelated to the Okanogan Complex fire. Law enforcement officials have deemed the cause of the fire to be arson, which heavily damaged the place last February.

We took a walk through town – which only covers a few blocks – and looked at restaurant menus. We decided to have lunch at a Mexican place called La Fonda Lopez. It turned out to be a great choice. Donna said her chicken fajitas plate was the best ever.

Donna's fajitas plate

Donna’s fajitas plate

On the way back, we took a detour at Twin Lakes Road. I wanted to check out the rodeo grounds and see if anything was going on. We stayed there over Labor Day our first year on the road and had fun with the rodeo participants camped on the grounds. The place was empty now and the gate was locked. Apparently it doesn’t get much use other than the rodeos on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends.

We made another stop at the IGA store and Donna bought fresh Manila clams farm-raised in Washington. Donna wanted to walk off some of her lunch calories so I rode back to Pine Near RV Park and she joined me there after a while. We decided to pull out of Winthrop on Thursday and move south past Wenatchee to the Thousand Trails park at Crescent Bar. I booked us there through the end of the month.

Later, we walked into town and headed to the Old Schoolhouse Brewery for a cold one around 4pm. We had great weather all day but heard thunder booming across the valley before we left. I covered the Spyder just in case while we took our chances of getting caught out in a thunder shower. I mentioned yesterday how spacious our site is – I took another photo as we were leaving.

Roomy site at Pine Near RV park

Roomy site at Pine Near RV park

Winthrop is a fun town – it’s old western themed and touristy but still has its charm.

Winthrop buildings

Winthrop buildings

Donna outside the Old Schoolhouse Brewery

Donna outside the Old Schoolhouse Brewery

We sat out on the patio behind the brewery on the bank of the Chewuch River and enjoyed the view. I had just ordered a second pint of Ruud Awakening IPA when we felt a few raindrops. Donna and I retreated to the covered area on the upper deck. Two people claimed our riverside seats immediately and didn’t mind the rain drops.

People ignoring the rain drops as two guys claim our table on the left

People ignoring the rain drops as two guys claim our table on the left

We had a few raindrops falling as we walked home. We made it indoors before the real rain started. It rained well into the night with only a few breaks. Today’s forecast calls for a mostly sunny day with the temperature reaching the low 80s. Donna’s planning to ride her bicycle to Twisp and back on a quiet side road.

Over the North Cascades

We ended our 15 days of moochdocking in Alana’s driveway Monday morning. Alana didn’t have to work until 8:30am, so we had a chance to spend half an hour together before she left. It’s hard to say goodbye when we know it’ll be a year before we have the chance to spend time together again.

We had everything secured before 10 am. I fired up the coach and pulled it into the street to load the Spyder. Gabi hopped on the back of the Spyder for a short ride as I backed it in. We had the Spyder strapped down and hit the road at 10am. I headed south past the Arlington airport and made a loop on I-5 to hit the dump station at the mile post 207 rest area. Washington provides free RV dump stations at many of the rest areas.

Then we drove up WA530 through Darrington and Rockport to the North Cascades Highway – WA20. This is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountains in Washington. The road closes in mid-November and usually doesn’t open again until mid-April. They get so much snow in the north Cascades, it’s impossible to keep the road clear.

We’ve crossed the North Cascades Highway twice before in our motorhome, but always from east to west. It’s much different going west to east. The road climbs and zig-zags through sharp 30-35 mph curves. These sharp curves take momentum away and it’s a constant struggle to accelerate up to 45-50 mph before you hit another sharp curve. The traffic was light but I still made use of a few turnouts to let cars get by me. There was also a bicycle tour group riding over the mountains – the bike lane is narrow in places making it a little scary. I always strive for a minimum of three feet of clearance between the coach and any cyclist.

In Arlington, our elevation was under 500 feet above sea level. After we drove east of Ross Lake, we crossed Rainy Pass at an elevation of 4,875 feet. After a short descent we were climbing again and topped out at Washington Pass at 5,477 feet above sea level. Highway 20 has long, steep grades on the east side of the mountains. I controlled our downhill speed with the two-stage Jake brake utilizing engine compression and only had to stab the regular service brakes a few times for curves in the road.

We reached our destination at Winthrop, Washington and pulled into the Pine Near RV Park (map) just before 2pm. We were checked-in quickly and led to site 14 – our favorite. This site is on the west end of the park and has a large, open grassy area. I think it’s the most spacious site we’ve ever had. Outside our door, we have more than 50 feet of lawn with a few trees. On the driver’s side of the coach we have a lane of grass about 25 wide before site 15 begins.

Roomy site 14

Roomy site 14

I was surprised to find heavy cloud cover in Winthrop. Usually the wet weather stays on the west side as the Cascade Mountains block the clouds. A few raindrops fell after we were set up. Donna whipped up a pot of steak and black bean chili – it was good comfort food on a cloudy evening. We watched TV and kicked back after our day of travel.

We have clear skies this morning and the forecast calls for afternoon temperatures to reach the mid-70s. The fly in the ointment is the possibility of a thunder shower later in the day. I think we’ll take the Spyder out and ride to Twisp – about 10 miles from here. I also want to check out the rodeo grounds to see if anything is going on this weekend.

Celebration of Life

Our stay in Alana’s driveway extended longer than we thought it would. The time flew by much too quickly none the less.

It was great spending time together, playing Uno games with Gabi and Lainey and enjoying meals together. At the same time, life went on for all of us as Alana and Lainey had work schedules, I worked on the coach and Donna had a couple of media interviews. Unfortunately we weren’t able to meet up with many of the people we wanted to visit in the area this time. We’ll be back again though.

Dining al fresco with the girls

Dining al fresco with the girls

On Saturday evening, Donna made her famous crab cakes for dinner. They were delicious as always. We stayed up later than we should have – Alana had to work an early shift over the weekend, leaving the house before 6am.

Crab cake on a paper plate

Crab cake with roasted sweet potatoes

Lainey got up early Sunday morning to drive Alana to work. She did this so we could have Alana’s car for the day.

Donna and I drove Alana’s car down to Edmonds for the Celebration of Life Memorial Service for our friend Bob Schmitt. Bob was a retired fireman – a Battalion Chief in the Edmonds fire department. There was a procession of fire department vehicles carrying family and close friends through town, stopping at a fallen firefighters memorial before leaving them at the Holy Rosary Church hall.

Fire department procession

Fire department procession

The memorial service began with the fire department honor guard placing a large photograph of Bob at the front of the hall and presenting an American flag that flew over his firehouse to his wife Sini.

7_16fd1

His eulogy was written by two of his sons and delivered by a member of the Snohomish County District One fire department. All three of his sons then spoke about their father. We all lifted a glass and toasted to his memory.

It was a celebration of life for a man that embraced each day and life to the fullest. It was a sad day as well. The sudden passing of Bob Schmitt left me with an empty feeling inside.  I haven’t had much motivation to blog about our daily life knowing that the bright light this man brought to each day has been snuffed out.

Sini, Bob and Donna - Cave Creek, AZ February 2015

Sini, Bob and Donna – Cave Creek, AZ February 2015

This morning I need to finish packing the trailer and making the coach ready for travel. We’ll hit the free dump station at the I-5 rest area at mile post 207, then drive over the North Cascades Highway (WA20) to Winthrop. We have three nights booked there followed by six weeks of unknown destinations.

Washington Family Days

Time to catch up – the days are getting away from me. On Tuesday afternoon, Donna and I borrowed Alana’s car and drove to Edmonds. We went to visit with our friend, Sini Schmitt. Sini’s husband Bob passed away suddenly a few weeks ago while vacationing in the British Virgin Islands.

We’d never been to their house before. Sini gave us a tour then we sat and talked out on the patio. Their house is on Olympic View Drive and it has a view across the sound through the strait past Whidbey Island.

View over Sini's house from their guest house

View over Sini’s house from their guest house

Sini seems to be holding up well. One of her sons was there when we arrived and she’s been busy preparing a memorial service and celebration of life for Bob. They had already decided to sell the house and were planning to take off in their motorhome. She would like to continue traveling one way or another. We talked a little about their RV and what she should do – keep it or sell it and maybe get a smaller one. I was at a loss. I don’t know how to act in these situations and I can only imagine the void left by Bob’s sudden passing.

On Wednesday, Alana got off work early. She, Donna and Gabi went to Camano Island to pick up some homemade body lotion from a school teacher they met at the Arlington Street Fair over the weekend. She grows lavender and calendula and other plants that she uses to make her soaps.

Homemade soaps curing

Homemade soaps curing

Calendula used in soap

Calendula used in soap

Then they went English Boom County Park to hike and play on the beach.

Alana and Gabi hiking

Alana and Gabi

Gabi with her new hula hoop

Gabi with her new hula hoop

I stayed behind and ran a few errands. I bought another drinking water hose to fill our fresh water tank. We’re low on fresh water and the hose bib is too far away for the 50 feet of hose I have. An extra drinking water hose is a good thing to have on hand anyway. I also bought a couple of quarts of motor oil to change the oil in Alana’s lawn mower before we leave.

When we were at Towerpoint in Mesa, Arizona, a member of the Northwest Chapter of the Alpine Coach Association organized a pizza party for Alpine Coach owners. There were three Alpine Coaches in the Towerpoint RV Resort, but Alpine Owners from other parks nearby were also invited. We met Bob and Jeanne Scown and she and Donna really hit it off. When we told them we planned to be in Arlington, Washington in July they told us to contact them as they live nearby and have an RV property on Lake McMurray – about 12 miles north of Arlington.

Donna contacted Jeanne and we made plans to visit with them on Thursday. We all piled into Alana’s car and drove to their place. They have property right on the lake. It’s sub-divided between four owners with RVs. They have electrical hook-ups and cable TV. They’ve owned the property for 49 years and have come to it in various RVs in the summertime. Now they have a 2007 Alpine Coach.

We sat on the grass outside their coach and talked while Lainey enjoyed the sun and Gabi went in the lake on our inflatable floatie.

Bob and Jeanne's Alpine Coach on their lakefront property.

Bob and Jeanne’s Alpine Coach on their lakefront property.

View of Lake McMurray from their dock

View of Lake McMurray from their dock

It’s always fun to reconnect with friends we’ve met on the road. Meeting Bob and Jeanne in Arizona and then visiting their property in Washington is one of the perks of our nomadic lifestyle.

We’ve had a few days of nice weather, but the skies are overcast this morning. Hopefully it’ll clear up this afternoon. I plan to fill our freshwater tank and do the oil change on Alana’s mower. We’ll pull out of here on Monday – our next stop is in Winthrop, Washington. We stayed there two years ago and I made reservations at the same park there again.

I also booked three months in San Diego beginning October 13th. So now we know where we’ll be for the first half of the winter.

Success at Last

In yesterday’s post I said I was giving up – throwing in the towel – in my attempt to remove the lower left front shock bolt. I made several phone calls looking for a mobile mechanic that could come to the coach with a large impact driver and air compressor. No luck. One guy returned my call and said he would do it if he was in the area, but he’s away on vacation until the end of the month. Another guy told me it would cost nearly $200 by the time I paid their standard minimum fees.

My daughter Alana said her neighbor does automotive work on the side and she was sure he had air-operated tools. The problem with that was getting the coach to his house to access his air compressor. Then I had an idea. I’ve had a large air compressor all along – the coach has an onboard air compressor driven by the Cummins ISL diesel engine. This compressor supplies air to reservoirs for the air suspension. It has a quick release connector for auxiliary air in the service bay at the right rear of the coach. All I needed was a hose long enough to reach from there to the left front and an air-operated impact driver.

Alana called her neighbor who invited us to come over to see what they might lend us. He wasn’t home but his wife showed us the tools. He had an Ingersoll-Rand 1/2″ impact gun and a 50-foot length of hose on his compressor. She told me I could take the hose and impact gun to see if it would work. The Ingersoll-Rand tool delivers more than 400 foot-pounds of force versus the cordless electric impact driver’s 330 foot-pounds.

The coupler on his hose didn’t match the quick connect on the coach, but I had a coupler and it was easy to change it. Fifty feet of hose was plenty to reach the front shock. I fired up the engine and ran it at high idle – 1,000 rpm. The compressor quickly built air pressure and I went to work. With the socket over the 28mm nut, I hit the trigger on the impact gun. BRRRRP. No movement. I hit it again. BRRRRP. No movement and it seemed like the impact gun was slowing down. Maybe the coach compressor didn’t flow enough air for full power. I waited for the pressure to build to the maximum and tried again. BRRR-ZING! The nut was free. Success at last!

The recalcitrant bolt

The recalcitrant bolt

Ten minutes later I had the new shock mounted. Then I put the original coupler back on his hose and returned the tools. Job done.

I think Ozark the cat will be happy once she realizes I won’t be banging away with an impact driver under the coach anymore. It gets loud!

No more noise Ozark

No more noise, Ozark

Later, the sun broke through the cloud cover. Alana prepared a vegan meal for our dinner. I’m a carnivore and I favor man-food like meat and bacon. But I was willing to give it a go. She made black bean burgers that were spicy and quite good. We also had french fried potatoes and sweet potatoes that I grilled and steamed green beans and artichokes.

Lainey, Alana, Gabi and DOnna

Lainey, Alana, Gabi and Donna

With the daily rain showers and constant threat of rain, the Spyder has been relegated to the garage. The weather forecast calls for improvement over the rest of the week, but it’s still overcast this morning. Maybe we can get out on the Spyder to see some sights later this week.

Spyder stored in Alana's garage

Spyder stored in Alana’s garage

Alana is working today in the ER at Providence Hospital in Everett. She left us her car so we can visit our friend, Sini Schmitt, this afternoon. Other than that, I have no plans for the day and no unfinished chores.