Tag Archives: fulltiming

What’s a weekend without wifi?

Sitting outside the RV before sun-up this morning.  Chilly, around 50 degrees and no wind.  The sky is brightening but no sunlight hitting the trees high all ‘round us.

Strong steady whishing noise from through the trees south and west of our RV, must be Sol Duc River.  The river isn’t large or deep, but has that nice whitewater rushing water sound.  Debbie says this one sounds like white noise.

Before leaving bed, grabbed a camera to capture this view from the pillow through our bedroom window.  The nice part of camping in the forest or a field almost anywhere — leave the shades open at night.

Our window view up from the bed pillow

No streetlights burning brightly in, just pitch black everywhere.  It helps we’re under a new moon and amongst densely-packed tall trees.  Clear skies, unlike most times last week in Lacey, if we look straight up in this small clearing.

We drove 101 north from Olympia along Hood Canal (not a canal at all, but the sole glacier-formed fjord in continental USA, 600 feet deep and huge) through a series of small towns.  Much of this we recognized from our visit two years ago with a WBCCI caravan, National Landmarks West.

Lake Crescent on Olympic Peninsula

Through Port Angeles we drove and onward alongside Lake Crescent, a large and deep glacier-formed beautiful blue lake ringed with tree-covered slopes.  We were surprised not a single sailboat was on the lake despite steady winds across the water (We read later, personal watercraft not allowed on this lake). The day is a little cool – are they awaiting a warmer day?

The road from 101 into Olympic National Park evoked memories of Natchez Trace in Tennessee, a paved long and narrow road through the forest.  But this road to Sol Duc Resort Campground is through old growth Douglas firs, every other one seems six feet and greater diameter.

The 1912 Sol Duc Resort was pretty grand

More than 95 years ago was built a four-story resort at these Sol Duc hot springs.  The picture of the resort evokes thoughts of the grand destination lodges built by the American and Canadian rail line companies in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.  But this one lasted only four years before it burned to the ground.

Sol Duc has two campgrounds, the National Park one and the “Resort” one.  The latter has 20 sites and electricity and water hookups but no comfort stations or toilets.  The former has 82 sites, no hookups but vault toilets.  The national park one has paved roads and sites.  The resort is dirt and rocks.

We’re in the Resort campground.  For the $32 per night price we were expecting to be a little wowed.  Far from it, though — this is a gravel parking lot with railroad ties defining camping spaces between 13 and 18 feet wide.  And the utilities post sits at the back edge, each serving two sites.

Space is tight, sites are not deep enough to park the truck lengthwise in front of the trailer and aren’t wide enough to park the truck crosswise.  We moved our truck this morning to provide a departing camper necessary clearance.

The Resort is a small two-story lodge building, pools, and collection of small KOA-style cabins situated on the other side of the river, 300 yards from our campsite.  Three 25’ diameter wading pools are the hot springs.  And a 60’ long unheated swimming pool attracted no adults during our brief reconnoitering.

Sol Duc Resort Lodge 2010

The “lodge” houses offices, a gift shop, a small camping store with beer, charcoal lighter, firewood, marshmallows (the things you wish you hadn’t forgotten).  And there’s a restaurant.  But no wifi, no lounge area to hang out.  We’re a lot surprised an area calling itself a resort lacks these.

Lest you think we’ve lost sight of who and where we are, we’re not complaining about the accommodations.  We only are commenting.  Television holds no attraction for us, wifi and phone service are conveniences we’re fine without.  Well, sort of fine, we think.  But how will we spend our time?

We’re in a designated wilderness area and need to take full advantage of the benefits.  This is an incredibly gorgeous national park.  We’re glad we’re here.  Numerous hiking trails provide us opportunities for seeing more of the old growth forest, and the river’s falls, and some nearby lakes.  We’ve met nice folks.  And it IS dark and quiet at night, as we said.

Let’s go hiking!  The resort provides a trails map indicating several hikes and mileages.  Our first day out we don’t need a long hike, maybe a couple or three miles.  We chose one listed as 0.8 miles each way.  It doesn’t say, and we didn’t check, the starting location.  It would have been a good idea.

How big are these old Douglas Firs?

The trail is Sol Duc Falls trail from one side, and is named Lovers Lane loop from the other end at the resort.  It’s a very nice walk up one side of the river to the Sol Duc River falls and back the other side of the river through old growth forest.  On closer inspection, after our hike, the map shows distances for each trail from the trail’s respective trailhead.  Makes sense, but means you either drive to the trailhead or add the walking distance from campsite to trailhead.

Sol Duc Falls

Our hike was six miles, more than we bargained for our first day out but still a nice walk in the woods.  Second day we hiked the ancient grove nature trail, less than a mile-long loop.  It is beautiful and we would have enjoyed another mile or two of it.  Still, we deserve a long soak in the hot springs, right?  We paid $12 per adult for all the soaking we can take in a day

One pool is pretty warm at 104 degrees, one is less so, and one is barely warm.  We spent over an hour in the warmest pool, kneeling on the bottom so water was up to our necks.  The pool was so crowded, at 4:30 in the afternoon, we felt like sardines packed in a tin.  A movement back or left or right and we bumped into someone.

Hot springs pools at Sol Duc resort

And four of five of the someones were non-English speaking.  We thought we recognized Russian, German, and Japanese, but we weren’t certain.  We heard almost no English amongst the over one hundred people crammed into this warm pool.  Fortunately, 5:00 rolled around and enough people trickled out to make more room in the pool.

Our third day we hiked to Mink Lake, a 5.2 mile round trip with 1,500 feet elevation gain.  We passed through stands of very tall Douglas firs and were amazed at the great piles of fallen trees we frequently saw from the trail.  The hike up to Mink Lake took a little longer than the return trip for only one reason:  blueberries.

We stopped ten minutes on our way up to pick and eat blueberries.  Most were not fully ripened but we each ate a half-cup of pretty good berries.  We couldn’t have denied it either — our hands were deeply stained from some of the ripe berries.

Mink Lake seemed small, maybe an acre or two at most.  An old backpacker’s shelter and fire ring provide one of several designated campsites for backpackers.  Blueberry bushes abound on the lake’s south shore and the berries are larger and in clusters instead of singles like we found on the trail.

Mink Lake in ONP

We donned our fleeces and sat in the very cool afternoon long enough to share a snack bar.  Sunlight was fading and air temperature, which hadn’t exceeded 60 degrees, was falling.  So we packed up and hiked back down to our silver home at Sol Duc Resort.

Absent any wifi, we spent more time reading, hiking, and writing.  We’re craving connectivity, but appreciating the calm and un-busy nature of our days here.  This has been a nice visit in a very nice forest.   Maybe the resort has it figured out after all?

Today, Labor Day, it’s pouring down rain in Forks, 15 miles west of Sol Duc.  We’re in the Thriftway Outfitters/Grocery/Bakery, adjacent to the Dew Drop Inn (yep, another one).  Every other storefront in Forks includes either a store name or a feature with “Twilight”.  We had no idea whatsoever, never heard of Twilight series before.  Different layers of life — even frequent wifi doesn’t reveal all. . .

Jim and Debbie
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©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr


Vancouver walking

It may not always be perfect, but Vancouver has really nice weather this week. We arrived Wednesday after another rainy driving day through Whistler. And like last year we find this a super place to visit. It takes a couple of days to get used to driving in this huge city (metro Vancouver 2006 census was 2.2 million). We drive across the city’s center every day and return late evening from Kelsey’s and Stephen’s house.

Touring Van Dusen Gardens

Touring Van Dusen Gardens

We walk a lot here. Yesterday we walked the Van Dusen Garden for hours. The day was wonderful for this and the two brides having evening weddings in the Garden were fortunate for the weather. The garden was sited 35 years ago upon the former golf course grounds of Shaughnessy Heights Golf Club, and the Golf Club moved west. The Van Dusen Garden is a delight and we all enjoyed the afternoon.

High rise residences and offices

High rise residences and offices

View of bay from Robson St

View of bay from Robson St

Today we walked from Dusnmuir Street, in front of BC Hydro headquarters over to Robson St then northwest along Robson Street almost to Stanley Park. This is such a big city, chock full of high rise residence buildings and office buildings. Here and there you can catch a glimpse of the bay, or you look up and see nothing but tall buildings reaching up to the sky.

Enjoying Capers Organic Food Fair

Enjoying Capers Organic Food Fair

We might have walked longer but encountered the Organic Food Fair at the West End Capers Store at Robson St and Nicola. Great food odors had weakened us all along Robson, as we walked past Greek, Mexican, Italian, Viet, Chinese, Japanese, and other nationalities restaurants. When we stumbled upon the Organic Food Fair we found samples of yogurts, fruit and nut bars, organic corn chips, matcha tea, and vegetables. And for one loony each (a Canadian dollar) we purchased huge ears of cooked corn. This took care of lunch and used up some of our walking time.

We hustled fifteen blocks back up the hill to our truck to find our parking meter out of time. A nice drive through Strathcona neighborhood skirted downtown and back home to Kelsey’s and Stephen’s house. Everyone settled down for quiet time to read, nap, or write a little. Debbie was first to spring alive and cooked us supper, a wonderful shrimp and grits recipe she has enjoyed cooking many years.

Jim and Debbie
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©2009 Dreamstreamr

Camp des loups or Tk’emlups; it’s Kamloops to us

Sep 7 2009
We departed yesterday from Canyon Springs between Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks, B.C. Overcast skies, temperatures started out 9 C (48 F). A short drive to city of Revelstoke, stopped for gas and Tim Horton’s coffee and muffins. And caught an ark full of rain the entire gas stop. Boy do they ever need rain around here. Media have announced continued forest fires this side of our day’s destination, Kamloops. We hope the firefighters have the blessing of rain there too.

CPRs Last Spike

CPRs Last Spike

Next we enjoyed an impromptu stop at Craigellachie. We won’t offer a pronounciation — we’ve been offered two already. Significantly though, this is the site of the pounding of the last spike joining CPRs 2,000 mile transcontinental railway November 7, 1885. There is a monument, a view of the current version of the last spike valiantly trying to stay in the tie (you know someone must have made off with the first dozen or more), a little shop, and flush toilets.

The latter we have begun to appreciate more as the BC Provincial Parks have been lacking only in this. Although we have a flush toilet in the RV, we are in the midst of a dry camping six day run. No dumping, no taking on water. We have done up to four or maybe five days, but not six. So we’re using theirs, not ours. Do you know what will go first, fresh, rinse, or black water tanks? We’ll bring this up again in a couple of days.

Our driving weather was clear the remainder of the morning and warmed nicely to almost 18 C (64 F). We found Kamloops alongside the CPR rail line, right smack on Highway #1, and turned north then back east 20 km (12 mi) to Paul Lake Provincial Park. British Columbia did a fine job building up sites on loops terraced up the steep hillside. The roads are terraced, the sites are perched above and below the road for each loop. Each site is nearly level, well-drained, and only a little tight to back into.

near-desert Kamloops area

near-desert Kamloops area

Kamloops is an interesting place in Thompson Valley west of the Rockies. The area was long inhabited by the Secwepemc (Shuswap) Indians and invaded in the early 1800s by trappers and fur trading companies. Currently Kamloops is a transportation hub and home to several large industries including pulp, veneer, and plywood, cement, mining, and Thompson Rivers University. The University has ten thousand students and is the largest employer in Kamloops. But the area is semi-arid, and apparently receives less than .3 meters or 12 inches rainfall annually. So lots of sagebrush, cacti, and rattlesnakes, things we didn’t expect in supernatural British Columbia.

Lees-ure Lite Excel tent trailer

Lees-ure Lite Excel tent trailer

This morning, as we prepared for a day trip to Kamloops a tiny Lees-ure Lite Excel trailer pulled by a Mazda Matrix pulled in and parked just around the hill from us. Not just little, it is tiny. The total weight is 470 pounds, the tongue weight is 23 pounds. Our RV weighs almost 7,000 pounds and the tongue weight is 1,000 pounds. On the other hand, we have 180 sf, they have 38 sf.

They walked over and spoke, we learned he is an active ham in Kamloops. VE7ODS, Dave Sutherland, and Marg from Kamloops pull the little tent trailer. They drive up to Paul Lake PP to escape the heat — Paul Lake is 5 C (9 F) degrees cooler in the summer than Kamloops. We invited them to join us to chat after supper this evening, then we left for town.

The First Nations museum was closed — Labour Day holiday? — so we drove around Kamloops briefly then parked to walk about. The only things we found open were the coffee shops, drug stores, and groceries. Perfect! Our three priorities for today.

While Debbie shopped groceries, Jim caught up on email and updated our websitea little. Back to the RV, repackaging food for storage and fit into our compartments.

Dave and Marg visited a little while after dinner and entertained us with stories of how Dave came to Canada from Scotland, his call to the pulpit, their meeting each other, and traveling together with various modes of RV and tent. We enjoyed getting to know each other and will look forward to hearing from them again soon.

We played Rummikub until midnight, Debbie adding another victorious night to her scorecard against Jim. Poor Jim. But he does keep going back for another drubbing, so he deserves it.

Tomorrow morning we drive to Squamish, between Whistler and Vancouver, to Alice Lake Provincial Park. See you there!

Jim and Debbie
visit our website
locate us here

©2009 Dreamstreamr