We had a great stay in Vancouver, B.C., last month, staying two weeks in Burnaby Cariboo RV Park (BCRV). I mentioned before BCRV is a full-featured RV Park (although it lacks tennis courts, darn it). It is, by far, our preference of the two major advertised Vancouver RV parks. Our reasons might not be valid for other people, but after trying Capilano RV and BCRV two years each, we’ll stick with BCRV for quiet, privacy of sites, indoor pool, comfortable lounge.
Whidbey Island has several RV parks and at least two state parks with camping. We later learned there is also a very reasonable city park with camping in Oak Harbor we might try next time. Oak Harbor is a nice little navy base town with all the urban things you need but perhaps not some you want. It suited us very well and is 6 miles from Deception Pass and Quarry Pond State Parks.
Our intended campground was Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, an absolutely gorgeous area. But without reservations it wasn’t going to happen. Schools hadn’t resumed session yet and the weather was almost perfect for campers so the campgrounds were peaking. Serendipitously we somehow thought to ask, “is overflow camping available?” And it is, across Washington route 20.
Quarry Pond campground formerly was privately owned. The state purchased it, maintains it, is mapping it, and apparently will add it to their campgrounds on the reservations system. Too bad — we might not have found anywhere to camp without this first-come, first-served campground.
It’s a very dusty campground and isn’t cheap. The roads are gravel and despite the 15mph speed limit the high amount of camper traffic generates a tremendous thickness of dust on the camper and truck. On the other hand, the showers are free and hot as long as you keep pressing the 1-minute button.
We spent a day in Anacortes walking throughout the small business district and spending the most time in West Marine and bought nothing (they’ll start charging us when they realize this is our entertainment). Anacortes is a pretty town with the ferry to the San Juan islands and other points and a tremendous marina.
A few days we ran errands in Oak Harbor, catching wifi and enjoying coffee at Honeymoon Bay Roasting Company’s shop near Safeway. Their wifi hotspot is great, staff are friendly, the coffee is super and maybe the scones are too, most days.
Jim ate something bad or caught a bug, we tired of the dust, and had walked enough in both campgrounds and enjoyed the views from the gorgeous bridge over the mouth of Cornet Bay. Less dust (and a happier Jim) might have allowed us to stay longer, but we were looking forward to visiting the South Puget Sound area.
Washington Land Yacht Harbor (WLYH) has 165 rv spaces in their terraport and charges only $15 per night for WBCCI members. Golly, a little more than half the price at the state park and we have neither the traffic nor the dust. We don’t have showers, but we do have very good wifi for free at WLYH. And we’re close to Lacey and Olympia, nice and nicer, and we’re 25 miles from Tacoma.
Jim’s cousin lives in Des Moines, WA, and agreed to meet us halfway in Tacoma for dinner last Friday. We killed time browsing at Tacoma Mall before visiting the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Sturdy Gurdy) and meeting Jan for dinner.
Tacoma Mall was dandy. We spent too little time in REI, one of our favorite all-time stores. REI has all the stuff we wish we used and don’t need unless we start hiking and backpacking a whole lot. We have what we need now, and would have to wear it out before we can justify replacing any of it. So we bought nothing at REI.
We were short-time at REI partly because we had something else on our minds — the Apple Store at the mall. And there we spent the most time, broken only by bathroom breaks, a shared pizza slice for lunch, and right back to exploring Apple stuff.
It was fascinating for us. We had never touched an iPad, never really paid much attention to Macbooks, and didn’t know a thing about the equipment or the accessories. Pretty neat to go in and see every color of iPod Nano, turn them off and on, listen to them with NICE headphones, browse stuff on the wifi-connected iPads, and even try out the Macs. We absorbed all we could in a few hours and know very little more now.
And we were off to visit the Tacoma Narrows bridge before dinner. Did you know how tricky these Washington folks are? They let you drive across the Sound on the bridge for free. And you can’t come back unless you pay. No warning signs that we noticed, you just get to the other side and here’s a big old toll station. Gotta pay for it somehow, especially when you the first one lasts only four months before it crashes into the Sound. Very very expensive.
The failed bridge was known as “Galloping Gertie” for her behavior during windy days. The designers and citizens were unprepared for this bouncy bridge where, apparently, you would lose sight of the car in front of you as the bridge oscillated wildly up and down throughout its length. But didn’t last long before it crashed into the Sound on November 7, 1941.
Washington State paid off the replacement bridge a decade ago and are still paying for the second (east-bound) bridge. We’re glad to help with our $4, it was worth it for the drive over and back.
Dinner was at Steamer’s, a nice local restaurant on the Sound’s edge. We sat outside a while watching boats and birds before time to go inside and stake out a table. They have several microbrews on tap and a nice, if limited, menu. We all did well on our choices. Jim’s oysters were not superb but were good. Debbie’s tempura-fried halibut was very yummy, and the views were almost as good.
We lucked out in Olympia Sunday afternoon and caught their annual Sand in the City festival. Olympia’s pretty nice anyway, and we caught the well-attended Hands On Children’s Museum special event attracting thousands of people. Parking is free, weather happened to be perfect on Sunday, and the sand sculptures were as good as you expect from these traveling sand sculptors.
The event crowd helps the adjacent farmer’s market, maybe a little too much for us. We didn’t think of the timing and completely missed out on cherries and berries, and the bakers had put away their bread. Their till was filled hours ago, thank you very much. So we plopped down in front of Dancing Goats espresso bar for a cup of very very strong coffee and a borrowed Sunday paper. The perfect cap to an afternoon of walking around the plaza.
We’ve refilled propane tanks, torqued the wheels, changed the truck’s oil and filter, had the warranty service on the windshield washer heater (who even knew we had one?), had our hair cut today, washed and waxed the truck, and re-mounted the 7-way plug under the bumper to better clear the mudflaps.
Our mail caught up with us, Debbie received her birthday cards and we’re good for a couple of weeks before we’ll have read all the periodicals. We landed six of seven packages we ordered, including HF antenna parts, a CD, our mail, the MAC and two software packages for it. This has been a productive stop for us, just right for refilling all those things you need when you’re full-timing.
We leave tomorrow morning, 9/2, for Olympic National Park. This has been on our radar a long time and we’re glad to finally get a chance to visit and stay. Two years ago we enjoyed a week in Port Angeles. The Methodist Church is really sweet, the ferry trip to, and visit in, Victoria is fabulous, and we had a really nice time.
But we missed seeing the Hoh Rain Forest. Now’s our chance! We’re spending, depending upon the weather (and then our tolerance for whatever it presents), between a week and ten days on the Olympic Peninsula. We think we’ll find wifi somewhere up there and you’ll hear from us soon. If we don’t write before Sept 13, we didn’t find connectivity.
See you down the road!