Category Archives: Washington

There and Back Again – Part One

I didn’t have an opportunity to post to this blog since last Friday – I think it’s the longest lapse in three and a half years of blogging. I’ll catch up over a couple of installments.

On Saturday morning, my alarm had me up at 5:40am. Donna fixed breakfast for me while I went through my things to see what I might have forgotten. I’d scheduled an Uber ride to the airport and the driver showed up on time at 6:25am.

I used to go to the airport frequently during my working life. When we lived in Michigan I would usually arrive at the airport well ahead of my flight time and sit in the Delta lounge. I had Platinum Medallion status due to frequent travel. I don’t have any frequent flyer benefits anymore since I haven’t been in an airport since May of 2013. I haven’t missed it either.

It took about 25 minutes to get through the TSA security farce. I had liquids such as eyeglass cleaner and flonase in a clear plastic ziplock bag as required but I forgot to take it out of my carry-on bag. No problem, my bag went through the X-ray device and no one noticed.

The Boeing 737-900 jet was nearly full, only a couple of the 181 seats were unoccupied. My row was full – luckily I had an aisle seat. There were two young guys in the seats next to me. They had ear buds and were busy with their laptops or smartphones for the entire flight. This was fine with me as I had a book to read on my Kindle. The only words I uttered on the two-and-a-half hour flight were “orange juice, please” when the flight attendant asked me if I wanted something to drink.

My daughter, Alana, picked me up at the airport along with my granddaughter, Gabi. Of course it was raining in Seattle. Gabi had just come from a volleyball match – she’s in fifth grade and is developing into quite a volleyball competitor. We were all hungry and stopped in Lynnwood at a Thai restaurant for lunch. Then we went to Alana’s house in Arlington to relax and visit for a while. My other granddaughter, Lainey, came home around 2pm and joined us. Lainey is 17 years old and was at work when I arrived.

Alana and me

Alana and me

Gabi, me and Lainey

Gabi, me and Lainey

Around 4pm, Alana drove me to Edmonds to meet up with Sini. Sini has been staying at her friend’s home since she sold her house. Her motorhome was parked in the yard at Alan and Julie’s place. After introductions to everyone, I started a pre-flight check on Sini’s National Tradewinds motorhome.

First, I looked at the date codes on the tires. The tires looked fine and they were about five years old. I checked the tire pressures and also the fluid levels. I familiarized myself with the cockpit layout and controls. Then I looked at the Roadmaster Falcon tow bar and thumbed through the manual for it. We decided to do a dry run and hook up her Saturn SUV tow vehicle (toad). The Saturn was new to Sini and the tow bar had just been installed on her coach by Poulsbo RV.

The tow bar has a quick link attachment that’s easy to lock in place. Then there are safety break-away cables, an electrical connector and an air line to activate the brakes.

Roadmaster Falcon tow bar

Roadmaster Falcon tow bar

Electrical and air line connectors

Electrical and air line connectors

Hitch at rear of coach

Hitch at rear of coach

We had a problem. The electrical connection wasn’t working – we didn’t have taillights or turn signals for the toad. The brakes have an actuator on the driver’s floorboard that applies the brake with a plunger attached to the brake pedal. When the brakes on the coach are applied, air pressure is sent to the actuator. This means the brakes are applied as if you had your foot on the brake pedal and the brakes lights are operated by the usual car system. We had brake lights, which I figured was the most important component.

Roadmaster brake actuator

Roadmaster brake actuator

It was about 5pm on Saturday afternoon, so a call to Poulsbo RV to see if they would look at the electrical connector they installed didn’t yield any results. The turn signals and taillights at the back of the coach are mounted high enough to be seen over the Saturn toad. We called it good enough since we didn’t intend to drive after dark.

Alana said her goodbye for now – we’ll be back up there in June for Lainey’s high school graduation. Sini ordered pizza and we settled in to Alan and Julie’s family room to watch college football. I was tired from the early start and flight. Sini told me she would pick up her friend, Linda, in the morning and they would be back at the house by 8am. I went to bed in a spare bedroom and crashed out before 10pm.

On Sunday morning I was up early and showered. I put my things in the coach and we packed a few final things Sini had in Alan’s garage. Alan backed the coach out of the yard through the RV gate into the driveway. We hooked up the toad and were ready to roll. I did another walk around and checked everything over. I pulled out of the driveway and drove a short distance down the street before stopping to give the tow bar and car a final check. All was good and we were on the road!

As I drove, Sini sat in the co-pilot’s seat and Linda was in the back. I started in with driving lessons for Sini right away. As I maneuvered the coach through turns, I told Sini what I was doing and why. I explained how driving a coach with the steer wheels behind the driver’s seat is different than driving a car with the steer wheels well in front of you. I gave her tips such as using your body as a benchmark for initiating turns. I wait until my hips are past my turning point before I start to turn in. For example, when making a right turn, I drive straight into the intersection until my butt is past the curb on the right, then I crank the steering wheel to make a tight turn. This positions the wheels to properly execute the turn without cutting the corner and clipping the curb.

The toad was easier to maneuver through turns than my cargo trailer. But, you cannot reverse with a tow vehicle. It’s important to always know how you are going to exit any place before you enter – things like parking lots or fuel stations need to be reconnoitered and a plan made before you pull in.

The plan was for me to drive through the busy metro areas of Seattle, Olympia and Portland. I would talk about what I was doing, watching and thinking about while driving. Sini could take the wheel once we got past Portland. We had a few rain drops but overall the weather was fine for driving.

When we stopped at the Pilot/Flying J Travel Center for fuel past Portland, Sini made sandwiches for lunch. We carried on and I drove since we didn’t want to sit and eat – we wanted to cover more miles. Sini wasn’t keen on eating and driving on her first stint. We were pushing a bit to get to the Seven Feathers Casino before dark for our first leg of the journey.

Sini brought up the Chargers game on an NFL app she has on her iPhone. She read the play-by-play description to me so I could follow an exciting win for the Chargers. We pulled into the lot at Seven Feathers right at sunset. I had driven 400 miles for our first leg of the trip. Sini would start driving on Monday. To be continued…

Coeur D’Alene Elks Lodge

Donna sent me a text message Sunday afternoon saying she was stuck in traffic on I-90 due to an accident, but thought she would make it to Wenatchee by 3:30pm. I rode the Spyder to Pangborn airport in East Wenatchee to meet her at the rental car return and arrived at 3:20pm. Ten minutes later I saw Donna drive into the parking lot.

I grilled salmon patties and Donna served them over a mixed green salad for dinner. We had a quiet night and planned to be on the road around 9am on Monday morning.

I was out of bed by 7am and put away the windshield cover and packed the grill. After breakfast, we did our usual routine making the coach road ready – I worked outside while Donna prepped the interior. Ozark the cat has been a little funny on travel days lately. The last two times she saw us preparing to move, she hid under the sofa and wouldn’t come out until we were rolling down the road.

I don’t like operating the slides with the cat out – it would be horrible if she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. If I know for sure she’s under the sofa, it’s safe to retract the slides. This time she just laid in front of the refrigerator and watched us get ready to roll. She didn’t complain when Donna put her in her crate.

I pulled out of our site and then loaded the Spyder in the trailer. We drove out of Crescent Bar RV Resort at 9:30am.  Crescent Bar RV Resort is on the bank of the Columbia River and is at an elevation of just under 700 feet above sea level. The road out of the RV park immediately climbs up a steep, twisty grade and gains a few hundred feet of elevation. From there we drove east on WA28 to Quincy, then south on WA281 to George, Washington where we hit I-90 east.

The traffic was fairly light and we cruised at a steady 60mph. We stopped after we crossed into Idaho at the Pilot/Flying J travel center in Post Falls and filled up with 80 gallons of fuel. I added a full ounce of Biobor JF to the tank before pumping, guessing that we would need about 80 gallons and that’s exactly how much it took. With the Pilot/Flying J RV Card discount, we paid $2.58/gallon.

Speaking of expenses, July turned out to be our least expensive month for campground fees ever. Moochdocking in my daughter Alana’s driveway for 15 days had much to do with that. But we also took advantage of our Thousand Trails membership. We had six days remaining on our “free” four weeks which I amortized at $19/day to cover our membership fee and paid $20 for five additional days. Our total campground cost for July was $279 – that’s just nine dollars per day. I think I spent that much on beer!

Our destination was the Elks Lodge #1254 in Coeur D’Alene. They don’t take reservations – it’s first-come first-served. As we pulled in, I saw several RVs behind the lodge and wondered if we would get a site. It turned out they had 30 sites with 50amp electrical service and freshwater hookups and only a dozen or so RVs there. We have a fairly large pull-through site, but we had to drop the trailer in the back of the park.

Our pull-through site at the Coeur D'Alene Elks Lodge

Our pull-through site at the Coeur D’Alene Elks Lodge

In the photo you can see Donna’s tomato planter in front of the coach. The heirloom cherry tomato plant a vendor gave her at the Camas farmers’ market has really taken off. I’m guessing we’ll have fresh cherry tomatoes before the end of the month.

I had to walk to the end of the park to retrieve the ladder from the trailer so I could put the windshield cover on. That’s one of the reasons I don’t like to drop the trailer – it’s inconvenient when we need something that’s stored in the trailer. Another reason is security. I have two locks on the tongue so it would be very difficult to hook up and tow our trailer away like those Dirty, Rotten Thieves did in San Diego. The doors also have padlocks on them.

One thing I’ve noticed on the 20-foot-long slab-sided trailer is the effect of thermal expansion on the aluminum skin. The side facing the sun heats up and the aluminum siding expands. The skin is screwed into the steel frame and can’t move, so the expansion of the aluminum skin results in a wavy surface. Once it cools down, the aluminum contracts and the side is smooth and tight again.

Wavy trailer siding in the sun

Wavy trailer siding in the sun

We paid for three nights here at the Elks Lodge at a cost of $20/night. With 50 amp electrical service and the need for air conditioning, I think this is a bargain. The temperature hit the mid-80s yesterday with clear skies and we expect more of the same over the next few days. The elevation here is around 2,200 feet above sea level.

Today Donna has an appointment with a hair stylist that cut her hair when we were here two years ago. As always, that’s one of her biggest challenges – finding a good stylist who knows how to cut curly hair. We need to plan our next stop – I’m thinking we’ll head south on US95 toward Boise. All I know for sure is that we need to be in Colorado Springs by the end of the month to crew for the Heart’s A’Fire hot air balloon at the Labor Day Lift-Off balloon festival.

Red Apple Flyers

Friday evening I grilled an old favorite – bacon wrapped filet mignon. Donna made a green salad, potato salad, corn on the cob and sauteed onions and mushrooms to go with it. It was hot and windy outside, so we dined indoors. The afternoon high temperature was 102 degrees!

There's a bacon wrapped filet mignon under those mushrooms and onions

There’s a bacon wrapped filet mignon under those mushrooms and onions

Saturday morning we rode the Spyder to Pangborn Airport in East Wenatchee – about 22 miles from here. Our destination was the Hertz Rental Car counter. Donna rented a car so she could drive to Issaquah, east of Seattle to meet her sister Sheila. Sheila is running a marathon race today, Donna’s there with her nephew, Connor. She’ll come home tonight.

We took Batterman Road to the airport. A few miles before we reached Pangborn I saw a sign for the Red Apple Flyers’ field. The Red Apple Flyers are a radio controlled model airplane club. I remembered flying at their field about 16 years ago. After I dropped Donna off, I followed the sign to their field.

There was a gate at the entry and you needed a code to enter. I saw people inside. After a minute or two a guy waved at me, then he went into the clubhouse and opened the gate remotely. I pulled in and parked.

I looked at one of the nicest model airplane fields I’ve ever seen. I think it could be one of the best in the country. I didn’t remember it being anything like this when I flew here. I came to the Red Apple Flyers field a decade and a half ago to compete in a scale aerobatics contest. At that time I was a two-time International Miniature Aerobatics Club (IMAC) National Champion. The Red Apple Flyers hosted an IMAC contest. I came down with flu symptoms that weekend and didn’t fly especially well – I think I took second place. At any rate, I didn’t recognize the place.

I talked to a couple of guys and one of them gave me a tour of the place. He introduced me to a long-time club member – one of the founding members. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember his name. He told me why I didn’t recognize the place. It wasn’t the same field I flew at.

The club originally formed over 40 years ago when 10 guys got together and bought 10 acres of land to develop a place to fly their model airplanes. They cleared the land, leveled it and planted grass. Later, as the club grew, they added 10 more acres of land.

Meanwhile, Waste Management Corporation (WM) built a landfill nearby. Six or seven years ago, WM wanted the Red Apple Flyers property to expand their operation. They approached the club officers with an offer to relocate the field. The club officers knew WM needed their land and was willing to do what it took to get it, so they dreamed big. They struck a deal for WM to lease them 22 acres of land about a mile away from the original site, for $1/year. WM would clear the land, level it, put in irrigation and grass, a paved runway and parking area and build them a clubhouse. The agreement signed off by WM and they came through.

Red Apple Flyers work tables, pilot stations and paved runway

Red Apple Flyers work tables, pilot stations and paved runway

Red Apple Flyers clubhouse with raised observation deck on the right

Red Apple Flyers clubhouse with raised observation deck on the right

The clubhouse is equipped with a full kitchen, meeting room and separate men’s and women’s rest rooms.

Paved parking and storage buildings

Paved parking and storage buildings

They have 14 RV sites with electricity and water hook-ups.

RV sites

RV sites

Their agreement includes a clause that allows Red Apple Flyers to purchase the property if WM ceases operation in the area for $1. Meanwhile, WM sponsors the club with a substantial annual maintenance donation. These guys hit the jackpot!

I hung around for an hour looking at model aircraft and talking to the guys.

Large scale WWII Spitfire

Large scale WWII Spitfire

Another large scale warbird

Another large scale warbird

When I came back to Crescent Bar, I didn’t go directly to the RV resort. I went past it to check out where the pizza place was – it’s called Tower Pizza and it’s across the street from the public beach access of the Crescent Bar Recreation Area. It was another warm day and the beach was absolutely packed with people!

I walked over to the bridge over the cut where water diverts to the east off of the Columbia River. This was where Donna and I put our floaties in the water last week. College age kids ignored the “No Jumping or Diving” sign and where jumping off of the bridge. People in the water below would give the all-clear signal before they jumped so they could avoid hitting a boat or jet ski coming through under the bridge.

A kid diving from the bridge

A kid diving from the bridge

Crowded beach at Crescent Bar Recreation Area

Crowded beach at Crescent Bar Recreation Area

Later I went back to Tower Pizza and placed an order to go. I sat and sipped an IPA while I waited for the pizza. The waitress told me it might take 30 minutes. After about 30 minutes, another waitress asked me if I needed anything – I told her I was good, just waiting for my order. About 10 minutes later the second waitress came by again and asked me my name.

She went into the kitchen, than came back and told me there wasn’t an order for Mike, and asked what I ordered. I told her it didn’t really matter because I wasn’t going to wait another 40 minutes. She said there were a couple of orders without names and she wanted to see if one of them was mine. I told what I ordered and she went back to the kitchen.

She came back again and asked if I would wait six minutes. I told her I would and she offered me another IPA while I waited – no charge. I figured it would be more than six minutes, so why not take a free beer. It was interesting. The first waitress was on break and apparently didn’t turn my order in before she left. The original pizza order was expected to take 30 minutes. Now that they discovered the problem, they were able to make my pizza-to-go in six minutes. I didn’t even finish my glass of beer before it was ready. They didn’t charge me for either of the beers I drank and I was on my way.

Today will be a little cooler with the high temperature in the upper 80s. I’ll get started on preparations to hit the road tomorrow. I need to pack the kayak, check tire pressures and so on. I’ll pick up Donna at the rental agency later this afternoon. We’ll head out of here tomorrow morning and drive to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho next.

 

 

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.