Monday, July 27, 2009

Inside Passage!

Mackenzie was recently surfing Craigslist and found a posting from a Port Angeles couple looking for companions to cruise the Inside Passage with them from their home to Ketchikan on their 60-foot boat. We were intrigued enough to schedule a meeting with them last week as we passed through Port Angeles on our new RV check-out tour, but labor pains related to their newly arriving grandchild interfered. We did, however, get to tour their boat while there, as we mentioned in the earlier post. (We mysteriously left out why.) We joined them last night at Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor to meet each other and discuss the possibility. They’ve been doing this for 15 years on their 37-foot boat, and last year bought this 60-foot boat in Alaska and brought it back to Port Angeles. He has his Coast Guard Skipper’s license, is a licensed diesel mechanic and a general jack-of-all-trades, and she’s a teacher. He’s retired from many careers, including an Alaskan fishing guide for many summers. Their boat, “Gold Rush”, is a 1981 fiberglass Enterprise. The plan is we’ll drive to Port Angeles next Sunday, August 2. We’ll go through Canadian customs at South Pender Island, stop for provisions on Salt Spring Island then head north. We plan to take 9 days to cruise the distance with about 5 hours of cruising daily. Along the way we’ll fish for salmon and halibut, stop at hot springs for a soak, kayak (we’re taking our kayaks with us), and drop crab and shrimp pots to catch our own dinner. We’ll make reservations to fly home from Ketchikan Thursday morning, August 13th. Greg and Terry are nice folks with adventurous spirits and mellow personalities. We told them we’ll want a bit of time most days to read a book, take a nap, have some “separate” time, and they completely agree. We’ll post entries periodically while on this trip, as they tell us we should be able to find internet a few times along the way. So, off to the next big adventure!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Thank You Teddy (& the squire from Hyde Park)

In 1908, one hundred years ago, Theodore Roosevelt designated 1442 square miles of the Olympic Peninsula as a protected area. 30 years later Franklin Roosevelt upgraded the designation to that of a National Park. Teddy, during his Presidency, preserved enough land in national forests, parks, landmarks and other designations to cover all of the east coast states from Maine to Virginia, plus Vermont, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Land he preserved includes what would become the Grand Canyon, Olympic and Grand Teton national parks. We just returned from a tour of the periphery of the Olympic National Park, where the roads that allow us access to places have amazing names like “the Hoh”, Shi-Shi, Elwha, Sol Duc, Hurricane Ridge, Hama Hama, Duckabush, and Staircase. It’s clear that there aren’t the same opportunities to leave geographic legacies like this for our generation, but don’t you think that maybe there is something we could do that might have equally large benefits to future generations? Perhaps we should remind our elected officials that the current debate over climate change and “cap and trade” legislation could be thought of from this perspective?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Successful Shake-Down Trip

We spent Tuesday on the Washington coast, walking Rialto Beach in the morning with Bob taking photos and Cathryn collecting rocks along the way, then hiked out to Second Beach in the afternoon. Between our morning run and two beach walks, we did 10 miles today. It was cloudy and cooler than Monday, more typical of the beach. Wednesday we moved on to Heart O’ The Hills Campground just outside of Port Angeles, up the road toward Hurricane Ridge. Among other activities, we toured the 60’ motor vessel “Gold Rush”, pictured above. “Gold Rush” may play a role in an upcoming trip for us next week. Perhaps we’ll write more on this later. Thursday we moved to Staircase campground near Hoodsport on lower Hood Canal. We were joined by our friend and neighbor Hobie Denny in his VW Westphalia. Hobie led us on a lovely 5-mile hike along the Skokomish River. Following dinner together outside, we sat around a campfire, talked and had wine, altogether a beautiful day. Friday morning we packed up and headed home, having completed our shake-down cruise. All in all, a very success venture. We’re happy with our choice of the Arctic Fox and were able to try out most of its’ systems (we never had power hook-ups on this trip, so microwave, oven and air conditioner will have to be tested some other time). But the solar panel did a great job of keeping our batteries charged even in cloudy weather without our having to skimp on using inside lights and various small appliances. We even successfully completed a first trip to a “dump station”, an activity we approached with much trepidation. It actually was neither difficult nor distasteful, although we don’t think we’ll ever fight over who gets the privilege of completing this task.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Our first Camp

Our First Camp We pulled into Mora Campground around 2:30 and picked a pull-through site with lots of privacy. The process of setting up went very well; it’s actually quite a bit easier and quicker than the Chalet was. We spent the afternoon walking on the beach at the town of La Push 5 miles away. The air temp was 67 degrees, 15 degrees cooler than further inland. However, to our surprise the sun was actually out on the Washington coast, which is almost unheard of! We had a nice dinner then sat by the fire reading books and having a glass of wine, then retired to bed. Happy to report that we slept well in our new bed. This morning we went for a run, then came back and SHOWERED in our own bathroom, about which Cathryn is ecstatic! It’s only been 24 hours, but it feels like we’ve accomplished our goals in terms of our new accommodations. For those of you who suffered through all the Baja posts we made regarding the “mechanics of life”, we may be able to move on to other topics; we’ll sure try. But the three things that led us to sell the Chalet and move to the Artic Fox (a bathroom, a bed that is easier to get into and out of – especially for Cathryn who had to climb over Bob in the middle of the night at times – and a bed that is easy to make without having to completely re-make it daily) have clearly been completely satisfied with the Fox.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Shake Down Cruise

We left Olalla Monday morning to take a four-night Olympic Peninsula shake-down cruise in the new 5th wheel “Arctic Fox”. The plan is to spend two nights at Mora campground near Rialto Beach, one night on the Elwha near Port Angeles and the final night at Staircase near Hoodsport, all of which are in Olympic National Park. Monday we drove about 225 miles, and the 5th wheel handled very well, however we have verified that moving a “house” is not the key to good gas mileage! We got about 10 miles per gallon on this first leg. The brake controller for the trailer (the mechanism that applies braking to the trailer whenever the brake pedal in the pickup truck is applied) didn’t seem to be working properly, so Bob called the 1-800 phone number for Prodigy and a tech named Dan diagnosed the problem in about 2 minutes. Sumner RV had used the wrong wiring harness when they installed it. They had obviously also failed to test its proper operation! Dan was able to give us the name, address and telephone number of a Prodigy dealer in Port Angeles, about 10 blocks away from where we were parked next to the road when we made the call. We called them and they told us to come on in, and they would take a look, which we did just as we ended the phone call! About 10 minutes after we pulled into Mobuilt RV, the tech came out, moved a wire to the proper location, and off we went! Nice to have our first on-road problem so easily solved.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

We've Been Remiss

Since getting home at the end of March we've been remiss about keeping our Blog up to date. In part because we were not sure what, if anything, we wanted to do with it on an ongoing basis. We’ve decided to keep going with it, since it served a useful role easing the process of keeping our friends and family informed about our location and well-being last winter. Since we plan to be gone even longer this year, we think it can play that role on an ongoing basis. As a result we've decided to post a series of postdated entries that essentially bring the Blog up to date on some major happenings over the last three months, with emphasis on the things we've been doing to make next year's travels even better. We promise not to let anymore large gaps occur, although we do not intend to try for daily posts as we did while we were in Mexico. Until we leave in the fall we will probably only post “significant” events, since our daily lives, while pleasant enough, don’t deserve memorialization! Given the more periodic nature of our posts you may wish to take advantage the feature on the blog where you can sign up for email notifications of a new post. Bob also intends to make some changes to the blog and try out a few new things, so don’t be surprised if you see some features come and go over the next couple of months. If you know of any good sources of blog tutorials, let him know. The updates are posted in the normal blog fashion: latest first, so you have to go back to the April post to begin the update.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crab Season

We've been having a good crab season this year. This week we caught 7 on Thursday and 4 more on Saturday, including one big guy which was 8 1/2 inches across. We found a new site about half a mile north of us at Anderson Point that has been very productive. Thursday night we had a crab feed for 5 and are starting to freeze the leftovers. We feel so lucky to live where we do.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Our Arctic Fox is Delivered!

Last week we got a call from Sumner RV informing us our Arctic Fox is here! We'd been told when we ordered it that the delivery was scheduled by the manufacturer, Northwood of La Grande, Oregon, for August but that they often deliver early. But we never expected this early. On Wednesday we went to pick up the new 5th wheeler, and after a two-hour orientation, most of which we will probably not remember, we were ready to hit the road. On the way home we stopped at the YMCA in Gig Harbor, where they recently expanded the parking lot, so have lots of empty room to drive around, and spent half an hour practicing maneuvers and backing the trailer around corners. We then drove home to Prospect Point where we're going to store the trailer at our friend Hobie’s. It took us over an hour to get it into the parking spot which involved two 90-degree turns in short order. Without going into details, let’s just describe it as a “learning experience”for which our practice in a big empty lot did not prepare us for close quarter maneuvering. But we've dug out an old set of walky talky's to minimize the noise pollution we produce in these situations.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4 of July

We went to the Tacoma waterfront last night on George and Josi's boat for the fireworks. We had perfect weather for spending the evening on the water, and it was still 65 degrees when we got back to the dock at 11:30 PM. As you might imagine, the cruise back to Gig Harbor was a little wild with literally hundreds of boats moving in the dark at the same time - not all of them perhaps crewed by folks with all of their faculties. As you can see, the movement of the boat produced some interesting effects. Here is a link to the complete set of photo's .