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  • Exploring Skagit County

    Yesterday, September 22, Karen and I joined her cousins Jeff and Becky Hilen on a sightseeing trip north of Camano Island. We drove from the beach house through Stanwood, WA and took the back roads in farm country to Fir Island and eventually to the town of La Connor, WA. La Connor is a picturesque small town between the Skagit River and the Swinomish Indian Reservation across the Swinomish Slough. La Conner history and heritage goes back thousands of years, the land on the delta near the mouth of the Skagit River has been home to the Swinomish Tribe. Since the early 1860’s it has also been home to La Conner, Skagit County’s oldest community. Today many original buildings have been restored and now house retail shops, restaurants and museums. The town of La Conner and the Rainbow Bridge are listed on state and national historic registries; if you’re a history buff, La Conner’s Walking Tour of Historic Landmarks map is a great way to learn more about the early days of La Conner, as is a visit to the Skagit County Historical Museum. We enjoyed lunch in town and walk around doing the tourism thing. From La Conner we headed back to Camano Island with a stop at the Snow Goose farm stand for some fresh corn on the cob and an immodest scoop of ice cream on a waffle cone.

  • Fresh Seafood Adventure

    On Saturday afternoon, September 17, Karen and I traveled with her cousin's Jeff and Annie to the Taylor Shellfish Farm north of Camano Island on Samish Bay. We enjoy the scenic trip along Chuckanut Drive to the Samish Bay Farm and Shellfish Market. After ordered a tray of freshly shucked oysters and White Shrimp we were seated in the picnic area and enjoy the local atmosphere while we waited for this delicious Puget Sound snack. Before leaving we decided to pick up 4 pounds of Manila clams for dinner and headed home. The Taylor family has been growing shellfish for over 100 years. If you're traveling to the Puget Sound area anywhere near Bellingham, Washington and love fresh shellfish you'll need to check out this hidden gem.

  • Trinity takes a Ferry Ride

    On Saturday, September 10th we hooked the truck back up to Trinity and departed Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park in Chimacum and drove to Port Townsend to board the ferry. The ferry ride from Port Townsend to Coupeville on Whidbey Island took 30 minutes. The fare for our fifth-wheel, truck and two passengers was $98.00 and saved us the trouble of traveling two additional hours by road through the Seattle traffic. After arriving at the Coupeville ferry terminal we only had an hour and half drive to Camano Island. Earlier this year we stayed on the property next to Karen's cousins beach house for two weeks in July. During that trip we had so much fun visiting the Washington relatives and enjoying the weather around the Puget Sound we planned to return in September. We are staying for another two weeks and plan on playing golf, eating out and exploring the local sights.

  • Exploring the Upper Puget Sound Peninsula

    So with a week in Chimacum, Washington as our base we took day trips and ran errands in the area. Our first journey took us to Port Townsend where we did a reconnaissance of the town's services, marina, and ferry terminal. We ended that day with dinner and headed home. The week was spent exploring Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow and Indian Island. Fort Flagler State Park is a public recreation area that occupies the site of Fort Flagler, a former United States Army fort at the northern end of Marrowstone Island in Washington. The state park occupies 1,451 acres at the entrance to Admiralty Inlet and the Marrowstone Point Lighthouse lying adjacent. Port Townsend is visible to the northwest, the cranes at the Navy base on Indian Island to the west, and Whidbey Island to the east across Admiralty Inlet. Flagler Road (SR 116) terminates at the park entrance. Fort Flagler was a Coast Artillery fort that along with Fort Worden and Fort Casey once guarding Admiralty Inlet, the nautical entrance to Puget Sound as part of a "Triangle of Fire" defensive plan. Later we traveled to Discovery Bay and eventually Sequim, Washington to take care of some cell phone and internet service issues with Verizon and AT&T. We ended the week with a trip south to Silverdale to shop at the Costco. On our way back we took a side trip to Port Gamble before crossing the Hood Canal bridge back to Chimacum. Port Gamble is on the Kitsap Peninsula situated on the shores of scenic Hood Canal. The 120-acre National Historic Landmark complete with picturesque, turn-of-the-century buildings filled with shops, an historic church, breathtaking views, expansive grounds and New England style houses on maple and elm tree-lined streets. The sawmill that William Talbot and Andrew Pope founded on Gamble Bay in 1853 remained in operation until Dec. 1995. It was the longest continually operating mill in the United States at that time. Now, the mill is gone, but the little town that grew up around it gives visitors a chance to see how early lumbering communities looked and functioned. Fewer than 1,000 settlers lived on the Sound in 1853, and most of them were busy felling enormous trees, or working in mills that sawed the logs into lumber for the San Francisco market. Their mills were built close to the water for easy transport, and their towns were built on the bluffs above. Their communities closely resembled the New England town of Machias, Maine where the founders had been born. Steepled churches and gabled clapboard houses with steep roofs and picket fences were common, but these simple buildings were soon replaced with more updated and stylish structures when the rail tied the region to the East in the 1880’s. Change moved slowly in Port Gamble because it was a company town. Some early buildings remained in use, and Pope & Talbot continued to construct many structures in a modified New England style.

  • A Week in Chimacum

    While we were in Camp Rilea we met a fellow RVer who told us about an Escapees RV Club co-op in Washington. After doing a search of the Escapees website we learned about Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park in Chimacum, Washington. We called and made reservations for 4 days to check out the facilities and learn more about this unique RV park. Chimacum is located in Washington State on the Olympic Peninsula near the historic Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend, Washington. As a proud member of the Escapee RV Club system, Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park is a cooperative 55+ RV community consisting of friendly folks who enjoy participating and living in this RV park. They offer both permanent memberships for qualified Escapee members and also short-term rental lots. X marks our site in the park. ABOUT ESCAPEES “SKP” or “Skip” is a commonly used nickname for Escapees. (Just say S-K-P fast and it sounds like Escapees.) But there is more to SKP than just the sound of the letters. SKP means: Service, Knowledge and Parking and also Special Kind of People Members have taken the idea of caring and sharing to heart from the very beginning. They say the park is run by volunteers and it's true! The many Evergreen Coho SKP RV Park Committees are responsible to the park and its membership to provide the best possible environment to fulfill the Articles of Incorporation which state that this nonprofit corporation is established to maintain and operate “a recreational vehicle park and to provide facilities and activities for enhancing the fellowship, recreational and social endeavors of its members and guests.” We were so impressed with this park we decided to increase our stay to a week and had a great time using this park as our base to explore the surrounding communities. We visited some wonderful state parks and historical sites, played golf, visited a local church and just relaxed with the friendly members of this community.

  • Continuing North to Washington

    We crossed the mighty Columbia River in Astoria, Oregon into Washington on September 02, 2022 and headed to a Harvest Host for the night stay at the Willapa Bay Heritage Farm. Willapa Bay Heritage Farm is in Long Beach, Washington and is owned by Farmer Deb. The farm is 9 acres in size with 225 chickens, 10 goats, 1475 rhubarb plants, 75,000 daffodils, and 28 fruit trees. The farm can handle up to four RV's per night. We arrived first, so we got the choice view by the bay. Later, we were joined by two other couples. We enjoyed goat cheese, crackers and wine at happy hour with our fellow guests. Before leaving the next morning we met our hostess and purchased a dozen fresh eggs. This was a great stopping venue before continuing north. We proceeded north on U.S. Highway 101 through Hoodsport, Lilliwarp and Quilcene to our next stop in Chimacum, Washington.

  • Why Gumby?

    Many of you may have noticed that on occasion we include in our travels a little figure of a character called "Gumby". I soon realized that many followers, especially the younger ones, have no idea who Gumby is and why he is featured in some of our photos along the way. First of all, who is Gumby? Gumby was the claymation creation of Art Clokey in the early 1950s after he finished film school at the University of Southern California (USC). Gumby, and his side kick Pokey, a pony, were stop-motion-animated clay figures in a children's show gentle enough for very young viewers, but weird enough for teens and adults. I remember watching the show on television during the sixties. Karen and I, early in our traveling adventures, decided to purchase a small figure from Amazon and he sits on our truck dashboard as a reminder the term "Semper Gumby" to help us navigate through challenging situations and circumstances. I first heard the term from our son Erik while he served in the United States Marine Corps. Later, I again heard the term used by my shipmates in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary. Semper Gumby is an unofficial dog Latin motto meaning "Always Flexible", used by all of the branched of the US military. It is a play on the motto Semper Fidelis (which means "Always Faithful"), the official USMC motto. It is also a play on Semper fortis which means "Always strong", and the official motto of the US Coast Guard, Semper Paratus, meaning "Always Ready." (The real Latin phrase meaning "Always Flexible" would be Semper Flexibilis.) While the first use of Semper Gumby is often assigned to Captain Jay Farmer of HMM-264 in 1984 who actually flew with a Gumby character toy mounted on the standby compass on the instrument panel of his CH-46E nicknamed "Airwolf", the term was in use in 1977/78 in 1st Battalion, 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton. While popular belief has it that the term was first referenced by the 1st Sgt TOW Co. 3rd Tank Battalion 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade (Task Force Ripper) prior to deployment of Operation Desert Shield from MCAGCC 29 Palms, Ca. on August 15, 1990. "Marines, My platoon commander in Nam used to tell us 'Semper Gumby, Always Flexible'." So when things get weird or stressful, we say, "Semper Gumby" to help us manage a challenging situation. It helps.

  • A stay at Fort Stevens, Oregon

    After checking out the area over three days we decided to try and get a RV site in the park. Well, with the upcoming Labor Day weekend I knew our chances this late in the reservation process would limit our options. However, the good Lord smiled and we were able to get one night, Thursday September 1 in the campground so I booked it. Our site in "J" loop is a pull-thorough with water and electricity. The price was a bit steep at $52 ($44 for non-residence plus $8 reservation fee) but I really wanted to try it out. Thursday morning at 10 AM we checked out of Camp Rilea and headed to the parking lot for Battery Russell to wait until check-in time at 4 PM. We parked the RV and took our bike off the rack to do some further exploring. The park has an extensive system of bike trails so we took the route to the historical military museum to the north where on June 21, 1942, the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-25 shells the U.S. Army's Fort Stevens coastal defenses on the Oregon side of the mouth of the Columbia River. The Japanese are retaliating for the U.S. bombing of Japan the prior April. The U.S. batteries do not return fire and there is no serious damage. After our tour of the facilities we returned to the RV, hooked up our bikes and drove to our campsite to set up. We were able to get in early after the 1 PM check out time and had some lunch before heading to the beach. We rode our bikes one mile to the beach with our beach chairs strapped to our backs. Tomorrow we leave for Washington state. We have a reservation at a Harvest Host with Farmer Deb Howard at Willapa Bay Heritage Farm, 15720 Sandridge Rd, Long Beach, WA.

  • Sentinel of the Mighty Columbia River

    Tuesday, August 30 we explored the area around Warrenton, Hammond and Astoria, Oregon. This included the massive Fort Stevens State Park south of the mouth of the Columbia River. One of the nation’s largest public campgrounds, Fort Stevens marks the site of a military installation once used to guard the mouth of the Columbia River. The fort saw service for 84 years, from the Civil War to World War II. Today, Fort Stevens is a 4,300-acre park offering a variety of recreation adventures, including camping, beach-combing, a freshwater lake, trails, wildlife viewing, and a historic shipwreck. The RV facilities are the largest I've seen to date and includes: 174 full-hookup sites (36 pull-through), 302 electrical sites with water (11 pull-through), 6 tent sites, 9 walk-in tent sites with parking nearby, 15 yurts (7 pet-friendly), 11 deluxe cabins (5 pet-friendly). Amazing! Our first stops inside the park was to the wreck of the British bark, Peter Iredale, one of the largest and finest sailing ships of her day. She ran aground on Clatsop Beach October 25, 1906 and was stranded but all crew members were safely evacuated. The iron and steel vessel has been one of the local sights ever since. From there we drove to the south jetty at the entrance of the Columbia River. Salmon season had started and the boats around the mouth were thick as mosquitos. All day long we heard the larger vessel traffic alerting the small fleet of boats with 5 blasts of their horns. In international maritime language the sound signal of five short blasts means “I am not sure of your intentions and am concerned we are going to collide”. From the jetty we travelled to one of the many military historical sites at Fort Stevens. Battery Russell is one of nine batteries at Fort Stevens and was active for forty years, from 1904 to 1944. Fort Stevens itself was in service for 84 years, from the Civil War through to WWII. It’s named after Major General David Russell who fought in the Civil War. The battery once protected the mouth of the Columbia River. Together with Fort Columbia and Fort Canby in Washington, the three forts created the Triangle of Fire. This defense made it difficult for enemy boats to sneak undetected up the Columbia River. On Wednesday, August 31, 2022 we took a trip over to Astoria, Oregon for a seafood lunch and a visit to the Columbia River Maritime Museum. The museum features the unique characteristic of this body of water. Since 1792 approximately 2000 vessels, including over 200 large ships, have sunk at the Columbia River Bar. More than 700 people have lost their lives to the sea. These dangers have earned this area the title “Graveyard of the Pacific”. Mariners agree that the combination of high seas, a mighty river, land shallow, and shifting sand bars make the Columbia River bar one of the most dangerous bar crossings in the world. The highlight for me was the full size exhibit of a United States Coast Guard 33 Foot Motor Life Boat rescuing a man in the waters off the mouth of the Columbia River bar. This is the same area where the USCG trains "coasties" as Coxswains (helmsmen) to operate in these challenging and dangers conditions.

  • Lewis and Clark Slept Here

    Monday, August, 29 we arrived after a 90 minute transit to our next home for three days up the picturesque Oregon coast to Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Center in Warrenton, Oregon. This State of Oregon military installation has been serving the Pacific Northwest for the last 90 years. Comprising of 2,000 acres, it offers both military and civilian users training options because of its location and facilities. Encompassing broad dune and woodland areas, firing ranges, barracks, and other facilities, plus a broad ocean front. The RV sites are authorized for use by the following: Active Duty, National Guard, Reservists, Retired Military, 0-100% DAV (my eligibility status), Purple Heart Recipients, Former POW, Veteran Caregivers, DoD Civilians. After checking in at the billeting office we found our site #8 sandwiched between another fifth wheel and the parking stanchion protecting the roof of the bath house. Karen carefully and skillfully guided my backing maneuver into the space. Our Walkie Talkies have proved to be the best communication device for navigating these tricky parking scenarios. After getting set up we rode our electric bikes around the camp to get a better "lay of the land". We finished the first day with a trip to Fort Clatsop, some errand running and a quick tour of downtown Astoria, Oregon. Fort Clatsop was the encampment of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in the Oregon Country near the mouth of the Columbia River during the winter of 1805–1806. Located along the Lewis and Clark River at the north end of the Clatsop Plains approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) southwest of Astoria, the fort was the last encampment of the Corps of Discovery, before embarking on their return trip east to St. Louis. The site is now protected as part of the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park, part of which was formerly known as Fort Clatsop National Memorial until 2004. The original Fort Clatsop decayed in the wet climate of the region but was reconstructed for the sesquicentennial in 1955 from sketches in the journals of William Clark. The replica lasted for fifty years, but was severely damaged by fire in early October 2005, weeks before Fort Clatsop's bicentennial. A new replica, more rustic and rough-hewn, was built by about 700 volunteers in 2006; it opened with a dedication ceremony that took place on December 9. The site is currently operated by the National Park Service.

  • A Cheesy Place to Land-Tillamook, OR

    August 26 through 29 finds us at the Tillamook Bay RV Park near the air museum and airport south of town. This is a dry camping site with plenty of room between neighboring RV rigs. Our solar system allows us to charge the batteries during the day so we don't need the generator for our power needs. Day 1: Friday night we did a recon and drove north to downtown Tillamook past the famous creamery to Garibaldi on the north end of Tillamook Bay for dinner. I had fish and chips, Karen had a Bay Shrimp salad at Kelley's Place at the Smokestack. This cash only and no minors allowed bar & grill on the water was busy. The food was good but the place was noisy. Day 2: Saturday started with a trip to the downtown Tillamook farmer's market for some veggies and cherries. Next it was onto the famous Tillamook creamery for the self-guided tour and some cheese samples. It was too early for lunch so we headed to Cape Meares State Park to see the lighthouse. The Cape Meares Lighthouse used a 1-ton hand-ground, Crystal Fresnel lens! It's only one of two French eight-sided lights in the United States - the other is in Hawaii. One of the unusual oddities was the Octopus Tree. The forces that shaped this unique Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) have been debated for many years. Whether natural events or possibly Native Americans were the cause remains a mystery. The tree measures more than 46 feet in circumference and has no central trunk. Instead, limbs extend horizontally from the base as much as 16 feet before turning upward. It is 105 feet tall and is estimated to be 250 to 300 years old. From there we drove to Netarts on the bay for lunch, followed by a drive south to check out the Cape Lookout State Park venue. Day 3: Sunday started with church. We attended the Tillamook Christian Church service at 9 AM followed by a trip to Safeway for groceries and some lunch items. After lunch I enjoyed a nap and Karen read her book. Our afternoon sightseeing was to the mood Air Museum across the airfield from our RV location. This was originally the Tillamook Naval United States Navel Air Station Tillamook operated from 1942 to 1946. This station was built for Navy airship used for reconnaissance and convoy escort duty during the second world war.

  • Oregon Bound...Part Two

    From Loon Lake we traveled to Hwy 80 by way of Wentworth Springs Road to state highways 193 and 49. Everything was okay until we got to the downgrade to the north fork of the American River gorge! A ten percent grade, winding and narrow with traffic; a real white knuckle driving experience but we managed to get through to Auburn then Hwy 65 on to Linda, CA. We wanted to stop and see our friends David and Noel Nephew. After spending the night it was on to Hwy 5 passed Lake Shasta, Mt. Shasta, Yreka and over the border into Oregon. We arrived at the Southern Oregon RV Park in Central Point on Monday August 22 for two days. Karen and I both worked remotely while at this location. After three weeks of electrical problems with one daisy-chained 110v circuit, I was able to troubleshoot the problem and fix it myself. One more point for this old "MacGyver" figuring out this rig's 110v electrical system nuance. From Central Point, OR we headed north to Sutherlin, OR then west on Hwy 138 and Hwy 38 to the coastal town of Reedsport and north to the Three Rivers Casino in Florence, OR. First night was free and they gave Karen and I $10 each to gamble in the casino. Guess how long that lasted? Later we drove to Wil and Raychell Sumner's new home for a delicious dinner and a visit. Wil and I served in the same Coast Guard Auxiliary Flotilla in Petaluma before he and Raychell moved up to Oregon last October 2021. They have a beautiful new home on a lake and Wil has two Coast Guard stations he is involved with in the area. Tonight, August 25 we are staying at the Tillicum Beach campground on the coast in the Siuslaw National Forest. The campsite was first come, first serve and we got into a pull-through close enough we can hear the ocean as I write this post. Tomorrow we travel to Port Tillamook Bay RV Park about two and a half hours away. Home of the Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Tillamook Air Museum. The museum is located at a former US Navy Air Station and housed in a former blimp hangar, known as "Hangar B", which is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world!