Tag Archives: Lacey

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
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

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August means GREAT weather in Seattle area

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.

Cornet Bay is very pretty from all sides

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.

4th longest suspension bridge in the USA

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.

The grand prize winning sculpture included this

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!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr

What’s a good excuse for not writing?

We have excuses, really good ones. But who really cares? Bottom line, we enjoy sharing our full-timing life, what we’re up to, and we’re in an incredibly neat part of the U.S., and we’re neither writing about it nor will we be able to catch it up. It becomes lost like other chapters in our odyssey. We imagine, sometimes, we can pick one of those lost episodes and share it anytime later. Hope so.

This is at least the second time this year we have completely lost communication, slacked off, stopped answering email and stopped writing. No, make it three times. We had the post-holiday recovery in January. We crashed the Dell laptop in April – not exactly slacking off but a holiday from writing, yes. And we’re in the greater Seattle area and haven’t had much impulse to write.

Conditions require labels and mine has one. Jim ate a bad scone or something in Oak Harbor while we were staying in Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island a couple of weeks ago. Didn’t quite lose his lunch but spent two days in bed, suffered from severe stomach cramps three days, and felt poisoned. Lost his energy, lost muscle tone, stayed achey all over for days, and started reading spy and suspense novels. Bunches of them.

Yesterday Jim felt, for the first time, like his stomach has returned to normalcy. Not any certain size, but holding onto food and liquid without any cramping. He had, before the assault, spent every morning early outside with a cup of Matcha tea and a book. And on every other morning he followed a run with an hour of exercises.

He’s back to getting up early and reading for a little while, and want to start again with the exercise regimen. Jim felt good enough to wash and wax the truck (it looks so great!). And with the writing? Jim spent almost twenty hours in the past ten days learning MS Publisher and experimenting with a newsletter for the RV Service Net/WBCCI Amateur Radio Club. And it takes all the keyboard time anyone can stand in a day.

The newsletter is on ice for a couple of weeks. He’ll take a fresh look at it when we get to Ocean Park, WA, after September 12. Until then, we’re essentially without commitments. Or excuses. Well, almost. Today is Debbie’s birthday. Happy Birthday,

Today it has rained all day. Started sometime after midnight, a fine pouring rain started pattering on the roof. Sixteen hours later, it continues off and on. Mostly on. And the wind is buffeting our trailer hard. We’re in the middle of a 50 by 150 yards gravel parking area for itinerants like ourselves.

Washington Land Yacht Harbor is a WBCCI Club’s residential park. Almost all the 194 sites are built up with park models or mobile homes. A few others appear to have had a structure that has collapsed or been torn down. Unlike some parks we’ve visited, this one doesn’t have a mixture of RVs and residences. The owners have space for their RV on their large lot, or they can maintain their RV in the large storage field.

The available spaces for visitors to WLYH are in the “Terraport”, a pair of large gravel parking lots separated by Harmony Hall. The parking lots have three-way hook-ups for each site and the sites are lined with spray paint on the gravel. The physical layout works fine, the wifi (which I’m using now) works well, and Harmony Hall is very nice with large meeting and performance area, card playing room, pool table/ping pong room, kitchen, and library.

The park is large enough to afford great walking or we can exit to Steilacoom Rd’s walk/bike path or into nearby neighborhoods. WLYH is located conveniently close to Lacey’s Post Office, laundries, restaurants, grocers, and gas stations. There’s a Best Buy and Home Depot and SuperCuts and Cabelas. What else do we need? Oh yeah — a nice bakery next door to the Post Office. That’s a great idea!

We’ve met nice folks in the Terraport and a few during our walks, a few more during last Saturday’s Coffee and Rolls in Harmony Hall. And Washington State is NICE! The weather is mild, the coffee is strong (and delicious), the greenery is as green as North Carolina’s, and south Puget Sound is just a really nice area.

Our sightseeing generated some pictures we’ll share tomorrow. We visited Tacoma (Apple Store; Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the sturdy one; and Steamer’s, a seafood restaurant by the Sound) and spent a day in Lacey for the Sand Sculpture festival last weekend. Fun sights, good eats, great coffee, and fine weather.

Jim’s big birthday present is a new Macbook, arrived just yesterday evening. Our Dell’s crash in April left us without means to update our iPod’s music and podcasts. The iPod’s content, from the Dell, worked fine on the iPod but we could not update it or modify it. When the Dell crashed, the source for all the songs on the iPod disappeared.

While we own the real source, the compact discs (CDs) for all the music, we don’t travel with them. The eighty-five or so CDs are locked up in our storage unit on the East Coast. You know, you can’t take it all with you. And we back-up our data from the laptops, right? We thought so. But found out some things weren’t getting to the portable hard drives. Yep, the music wasn’t backed up.

Ask any Mac user what kind of computer to use and what will they tell you? A bunch of fanatics, these Apple advocates are. Jim’s brother, our children, many of our friends, 3/4 of the people we see in coffee shops (Bozeman, MT; Vancouver, B.C.; and Seattle area), and all the people we’ve met in WLYH so far are Mac users. There’s no other computer for these folks. Something in the water they drank?

We finally succumbed to this Mac thing and bought the Macbook. This is remarkable for a few reasons. We have both been using exclusively IBM-compatibles/Windows machines since they became available at work (mid-80’s). And first cost for the Macs is twice a Windows laptop’s cost.

Why is this worthwhile? For starters, the battery is rated at more than twice as long per charge. The Mac restarts instantly when you open the case. The applications are very slick and integrated, and do NOT crash. Composing and publishing documents is native to Apple’s entire history, and happens to comprise most of what we do.

The iPod thing helped the decision too — how many hours would it take Jim to re-load all the music from the CDs? Multiply 85 CDs X 15 minutes and it is over 20 hours. How long did it take to get all the music onto the Macbook? Twenty or thirty minutes to download SENUTI, register it, and run it with iTunes.

ITunes is all about moving music files from computer to the iPod, and definitely not the reverse. SENUTI is the reverse. If you use the free download you can move up to 1,000 files from the iPod to a computer and use the program for 30 days. We chose to register our copy ($18 USD) to allow unlimited files count and time.

We have over 2,800 songs on our little 4th generation 20gb iPod and enjoy using it to play our favorite music through our home’s sound system. And we can listen to podcasts through our truck’s stereo on driving days. We’re back in business with iTunes and the iPod, thanks to SENUTI.

Unfortunately we lost the playlists from our old iTunes setup. But we have all the songs, organized correctly by album and with genre and artists information complete. And we have the opportunity to reorganize our playlists, not a bad thing.

We’re learning how to navigate the slightly different keyboard shortcuts on the Macbook. This blog is solely from the Macbook, a minor victory already. We have no idea how the photo management will work out, and need this for tomorrow’s sightseeing blog here. Or we can revert to the still-functional Dell laptop.

The Windows machines fill a niche, even for switchers like us. We have an unknown (for now) number of applications not available to Macbook’s operating system (unless we load Parallels or another utility to allow running Windows on the Mac). We’ll keep the Dell running as long as we can for amateur radio apps and whatever else we need it for.

It’s time we get ready for our dinner downtown somewhere for Debbie’s birthday. I’ve rambled (a lot) but had a lot of ground to cover. Conspicuously, I’ve scarcely covered where we’ve been and what we’ve done since leaving Vancouver, B.C. over two weeks ago. That’s a good story for tomorrow, and we’ll make no excuses for not writing then.

See you tomorrow!

Jim and Debbie
locate us here
visit our website

©2007-2010 Dreamstreamr