Thursday, June 30, 2011

Chimacum, Washington

Chima-where? I keep wanting to say Chimichanga...I haven't had Mexican food in so long, I'm craving it. (Uh-oh! Not me!) E. doesn't care for Mexican food, but there sure are some great Mexican restaurants around! I might have to sneak off by myself for some "me" time if I hope to get any! We're in Chimacum, Washington...up near Puget Sound, about 45 miles north of Seattle...It's a tiny little town.
Olympic Mountains in the distance
After a long drive zig-zagging across the northern part of Washington on that crazy, curvy highway 101 which splits in two in the northern part of the state, we then headed east towards Chimacum. There were the usual bridges and wetlands scenery, and the lush forests we passed through. In Raymond, WA, we noticed that the whole town was decorated with what appeared to be various iron sculptures...those flat kind like the ones you see where a cowboy is leaning up against a fence? Only these were rust colored. They were all over town. If I hadn't been knitting, I might have captured some of them to show but I would look up at the last minute when Eldy would say, "Hey, there's another one!" We probably saw at least 10 throughout the town. We passed some unusual places--Eldon, Washington (Eldy's legal first name), and this park. Not sure I'd want to stay there!

Without any mishaps, we landed at our Escapees Park destination...Evergreen Coho....It's a beautiful park...only 22 sites with full hookup, the rest are resident sites. We got lucky and got here early before the 4th of July weekend when a lot of places and RV parks fill up. Great price, 109.00 for seven days. Eldy was tuckered out after driving the entire 4 1/2 hour drive, negotiating all those curves on that 101. (Sparky doesn't drive yet, but she's gonna one of these days!) Like from rest stop to rest stop. Although the sites for the drop in people are totally gravel, the rest of the park is absolutely beautiful. The grounds are spacious and green and well manicured, there are mini gardens all over the park.
This is one of the prettiest Escapee parks we have seen. No pool, though!
We're looking forward to exploring the area...we'll be hitting a visitor's center to collect brochures, books and deals for the area. Then Sparky sets to work planning a must see-must do list for the next few days, with Eldy's approval, of course! (You mean, I get to have a say in what we are going to do? Woo-hoo! What that REALLY means, folks, is Sparky's gonna pout if she doesn't get to do what's on her list! But usually I enjoy them, too) And there are some cool hikes in the Olympic National Forest. (Sparky, I thought you said you were all hiked out!)   I'm just getting my second wind, honey!  See you guys later! Where, I have no idea!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What's So Special About June 29?

Jeannie in Maine
It's our one year anniversary of full timing! We left Indiana last year on June 29 for Maine and here we are one year later on the opposite side of the country, in the state of Washington.

What have we learned this past year? I asked Eldy and he couldn't think of anything but that's because I put him on the spot, he needs time to think about loaded questions like that. forward to awhile later and here's what he said: "Well, I've learned to drive a diesel and some things about the maintenance involved, we've got some great apps to help us plan our travels now, and when you are life partners with an ADHD post menopausal woman, you learn to keep your mouth shut more times than not!" Well, that's not exactly what he said, he was teasing me about when I asked him what has he learned about living with with someone 24/7 in a tiny, small space on wheels.

What are our most memorable moments? Too many to count....We've driven amazing scenic drives, seen the beauty of the desert, had close encounters with alligators, climbed mountains, kayaked beautiful rivers, seen the local sights both historical and amusing, ridden a bobsled at the Olympic track, zipped down a zip line, tasted American cuisine all over the U.S., or as Eldy says, "eaten our way across America."
We've hiked to so many waterfalls we've lost count, met Santa, and done some silly things that we can laugh about now but weren't so funny at the time--like doing a full U-turn in front of a toll booth with motorhome and car in tow with a cop watching, pulled into a scenic vista with car attached only to realize that we didn't fit and the car was hanging out onto the highway, then we BACKED UP onto the highway. We've driven downtown congested Bar Harbor, Maine on July 4th weekend by accident with motorhome and car in tow...(Sparky, the LD/spatially challenged navigator screwed up), and we haven't shared the few time we've scratched the motorhome. Our perceptions of America have changed in good ways...Arkansas? Who'd want to go there? For the scenery! California?--traffic, smog, and overpopulated... But the smaller towns and beautiful wine country more than make up for it.. But when you see all this, (photos below) it more than makes up for the difficult times where we've gotten on each other's nerves or stressed because we didn't find a place in time before it got dark, you know, little stuff like that....
Jeannie and Santa in Arkansas
I had a great little slideshow of our favorite photos over the past year. It was in my draft, and then refused to work, then disappeared! RATS! So I'll put in a few of our favorites in collage form from lots of different states and if I can get to respond, I'll stick in the blog in the next day or two Bummer! It took me a long time to load those photos!

Thank you for everyone who reads us.....thank you for following us on our journey. We hope you will continue to find us interesting or funny or maybe just ordinary in our quest to see this beautiful country of ours and how we see our world in our motorhome. We count our blessings every single day that we can do this while we are healthy. We don't have a lot of money, but you really don't need a lot to live frugally while traveling and still be able to enjoy doing things wherever you go, we are proof of that. A retired factory worker and a retired school teacher, we're still learning about our world, traveling in our 40 foot Tiffin Phaeton. See you on the road for many more years to come, we hope!

Safe travels and best wishes to everyone in hopes that they can live the life of their dreams....

Jeannie and Eldy

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bye-Bye Cannon Beach

We've had some interesting crossing of paths with some of our fellow travelers. It's neat the way things work out sometimes....We met a couple at the Thousand Trails park in Seaside, LaVon and David Steinborn. We spent one night talking over a campfire and then, the next day, Eldy ran into them at the Indian Beach parking lot at Ecola State Park while he was sitting on top of a picnic bench at the overlook, waiting for me to arrive. David looks just like Santa, full white natural beard and all and darned if he doesn't play Santa every year at Christmas with his lovely wife, LaVon who is Mrs. Claus!
We went back to L'il Bayou to hear some nice dinner jazz music with the Swing Cats again and with the nice company of David and his wife. David was extremely helpful to Eldy in showing him some of the workings of our diesel coach, where to locate filters, and other great information. Thank you, David and LaVon....
David and LaVon Steinborn

We visited the Astoria Column minutes after Nick (of Nick's Blog and Gypsy Journal newspaper fame) and Greg White (Our RV Adventures) had left. We didn't know they were going to be there that day, we just missed them. They were staying at a park in Ilwaco, WA and had come down for the day. We had dinner with them at Angelina's Pizza, our favorite pizza place in Seaside on our last night here. Nick had some really funny stories to share which had us laughing so hard we had tears in our eyes. Great folks, great company!

Going to leave you with my favorite Cannon Beach photos....we'll see you on the road, heading for Chimacum, Washington, our next destination.....If you put your left hand down on the west coast of Washington, with your thumb pointing at Seattle, Chimacum is directly north of Seattle, just where the Puget Sound starts splitting Washington. The park is on highway 19. We're going to be inland just a little, but close to ferries to go to Seattle, close to Port Townsend, and other stuff. We'll be here a

Here's a little girl laughing and giggling as she chased the gulls away...She'd go running and screaming into a flock of them as they landed, then laugh merrily as they flew up in the air....

And a beach photo collection is never complete without a photo of a child trying to hop over the waves...

I think Cannon Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen.... and I know we will come back again some day. We've yet to visit many more places in this area, Oswalt State Park with some awesome hikes, Cape Disappointment in the southwest corner of Washington, the Spruce Goose in McMinnville (probably closer to a stay in Lincoln City than Seaside) and lots, lots more wonderful things to see and do in the area. That Cape Disappointment intrigues me. Somebody got to the area and said, "What??? No whales? No Native Americans to meet and greet us?" We'll have to get to the bottom of that! Hope you've enjoyed the visit with us....See you on the road!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Life With Sparky is Never Boring!

view on the Ecola Point Trail to Indian Beach
Well, frustrating maybe, but not boring! (Sparky is showing some definite signs of ADHD says E. Wait till you see what she did today.) Here's how today went. We decided to plan a hike at Ecola State Park. Sparky wanted to recreate an awesome hike she went on with her family members about six years ago. All she can remember is that the coast dropped off hundreds of feet below within inches of the hiking path, (well, ok, a few feet) and part of the hike involved tramping through HUMONGOUS old growth Sitka Spruce. After much deliberation and map checking and one false start on the Clatsop Loop Trail last week, (that was probably NOT the hike, Sparky said) it was narrowed down to a two mile hike one way that started at Ecola Point and ended up at Indian Beach. MAYBE that was the hike.....
First view at the start of the hike
Off they set....about 1/4 of the mile into the hike, Sparky noticed that the camera battery on the new, awesome Nikon 3100 was dying. Now, according to Sparky, there was a 1/4 bar showing on the camera, plenty of juice for several spectacular scenery shots. WRONG! When the Nikon battery dies, it dies NOW and the shutter locks so you can't take a photo. No extra battery in hand... (we're gonna get one soon!) The hike came to an abrupt stop because Sparky, being of stubborn German descent, decided she was not going without a camera to capture this special hike. So-o-o-o, Eldo rolls his eyes, says nothing, (wise man) and Sparky says, "I'll go back to the car and get the OTHER camera" which she usually has in her purse which USUALLY gets left in the car. She starts back down the hiking path, leaving Eldo at the first spectacular scenery shot, gets almost all the way to the parking lot and remembers, the purse is at home, there is no other camera. Back up the path she comes and announces, "I don't want to go on this hike without my camera. How about I leave you at the picnic wayside, drive home and get the Canon Powershot camera and come back?" Since Eldo has food in the knapsack, he's ok with that, although he is still rolling his eyes and still looking disgusted. But he says I told you, he's a wise man!
view of Haystack Rock  from Indian Beach picnic area
Sparky goes home, first on the winding, (single lane at some points) state park road, driving a little too fast around blind curves, the road out of the park is about three miles, then another eight miles back to the RV in Seaside, gets the camera, and sets off for Ecola State Park AGAIN, with a lead foot, determined to make it a fast trip. She doesn't want to keep her honey waiting any longer than necessary! She waves to the toll booth guard a second time coming in and gets back to Eldo in record time. The trip took about 45 minutes. Eldo is patiently waiting at the picnic wayside, most of the food gone, and we start off on the hike, again. It was a STEEP hike and very muddy. Sparky is losing brownie points minute by minute. She's going to have some SERIOUS making up to do for a hike gone not so great. BUT--the scenery WAS spectacular! And she says this WAS part of the original hike! (Well, thank God for THAT! exclaims E.)  Eldo and Sparky were pretty pooped by the time they got to 7/8 of the way to Indian Beach. Sparky comes up with THE MAKEUP plan....she'll hike BACK from the same way they came, to the parking lot, get the car, drive down to Indian Beach, and pick Eldo up. They discussed the plan, how it would go, and Eldo looked relieved as he doesn't like to hike BACK the same way he came...he prefers the loop trails--more interesting! Sparky sets off at a VERY fast pace, so fast she doesn't see the long green SNAKE with a lime green stripe directly under her foot as she rounds a corner on the trail. The foot comes down just about on the snake, Sparky screams, the snake screams (well, just in my imagination) and slithers out of the way of Sparky's foot! THERE WERE NO SIGNS ABOUT SNAKES IN THE PARK!! WHAT'S UP WITH THAT??!!  And what the heck are they doing out in a dense canopied forest in such cool weather? So Sparky picks up the pace even more in case there's another snake and makes it back to the parking lot in record time, while Eldo continues on to Indian Beach....(I do NOT like snakes! Even if they are just big garter snakes!)
demeanor pre-snake experience
Somehow, Sparky gets her usual spatial orientation confusion going,  (Somehow?? It's ALWAYS present!) Eldo, shush!  and proceeds to go all the way out of Ecola State Park, missing the left turn to Indian Beach at the toll booth which was LONG before exiting the park and ends up in Cannon Beach. Sparky turns around, goes back through the toll booth gate a fourth time-- the toll guy is looking puzzled at this point but waves her through, and she makes it down to Indian Beach. It's a good thing that the five dollar pass was good all day for any state park. Never mind that I went through the toll booth four times at the same park! Wasn't this scenery worth it? And Sparky is all hiked out....(woo-hoo! says E.)
part of the hiking path
P.S. Indian Beach is a great place to start or finish a hike, or just sit and watch all the surfers come out to play.....Here are some photos I took at Indian Beach after I rested up from my adventure today....
artist sketching Indian Beach

A kayaker getting ready to go play in the waves....

You gotta wax your board with special stuff so your feet DO stick to the board when you surf....This couple is making criss cross hatching patterns on their boards. And they weren't spring chickens, either! Well, then again, I'd guess they were in their forties, so that would be spring chickens to us!

These two young chicks were getting ready to go out in the surf....

I was very interested in the surfing and preparations going on as I got to surf a little bit in Hawaii on a special spring break trip way back in high school. I loved it even though I got severely burnt on the backs of my legs from my butt to the bottoms of my feet from paddling out to meet the waves. Or maybe it was because I did more paddling laying on the board than standing up! I do remember catching the waves, though!

It was quite a cloudy, hazy day today, but still a terrific day..we never did see the huge Sitka spruces I remembered, but I also remembered later that we hiked years ago all afternoon, so it must have been a continuation of the hike we did today and a much longer one at that. Close enough for me! (And me, too! says a relieved Eldy.) Our last day is tomorrow..we're going to miss the coast very much. But it's on to more adventures with Eldo and Sparky!

Plein Air Art Festival

There was an art festival this weekend, called the Plein Air Art Festival. Plein means "open", (in what language, I don't know), but it was the third annual open air art show set up all over town in Cannon Beach. We didn't get to see too much of it, as the streets of Cannon Beach were packed with traffic and it was difficult to find a parking space. So Eldy dropped me off and circled the outskirts of town so I could check it out a little. There is a shuttle service between Tolovana, either a little town or a nearby parking wayside/beach access, and Cannon Beach, but we didn't have the details to use it this time....That would be a great way to come into Cannon Beach on the weekends so you wouldn't have to fight the weekend crowds when something special is going on.

Cannon Beach is such a cool town...tons of shops nestled in alleyways and little boutiques everywhere catering to just about any interest. The usual nautical stuff, knick-knacks, kite shops, antique stores, a yarn shop, (Uh-oh! Did you say YARN SHOP? worries E.) Yes, and I've already been there three times on fact finding missions, dear! For you gals who knit, it's called Coastal Yarns and they have a website, too!

I stopped in a glassworks studio to watch a glassblower at work...He was making some garden glass flowers but hadn't gotten very far along in the process yet. They don't offer glass blowing classes at this store, as far as I know, but there is a place in Astoria where you can take a class to make your own glass paperweight. That's still on my bucket list of things I want to experience some time.

There were quite a few artists on the street set up with their easels. One was doing some torch work on metal and had quite a crowd around him. (top photo) I think the creative process is quite interesting to watch when it's another person doing the creative thing. I am creative in some ways, but I love to see people who are creating in mediums I've never tried--oil painting, metal work, and other things.....Then we headed down to Haystack Rock to see all the kites flying and an awesome kiteboarder who was extremely skilled at his craft. He did a big wave jump that was awesome! We were debating renting some beach cycles but decided to save it for another day.

All this beach walking and talking about riding beach bikes worked up our appetites so we ended up at the Shiloh Inn hotel dining room back in Seaside, which had a lovely view of the beach at Seaside...we could have sat outside, but sat with a bird's eye view of the beach inside without the stiff winds blowing at us. They had an appetizer--Gorgonzola potato wedges.....delicious! Eldy had fish and chips, I had a Kobe beef burger which was awesome. Kobe beef is sort of like organic beef, the way I understand it, raised a certain way from a certain strain of cattle from Japan called wagyu. It's very tender and flavorful.  A nice glass of wine for me, a beer for Eldy, and we said our thanks for a wonderful day in Seaside, Oregon....
view from Shiloh Inn dining room
The weather has been very pleasant, we're surprised...usually the weather is usually much more cloudy and rainy in June. Most of our days here have been a mix of clouds and sun. Temps are in the 60' it! Tomorrow, a hike, maybe, at Ecola State Park. We'll see you on the trails.....

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Seaside Aquarium

Seaside is a very small town with a big heart for summer tourists. They have a LOT to offer in the way of family activities, shopping and fabulous scenery, and an aquarium one of the things on the to-do list. Seaside Aquarium is one of the oldest aquariums in the west, started in 1937. It's also very small. When you walk in, it's a little dismaying to see how little space the seals have. They are in a narrow rectangular pool and the public stands right in front of a metal fence that hangs over them to feed them.  You basically throw the food through the fence holes. There is another pool for them that you can't see and that they use, but I couldn't help feeling how confined they were in such a small space for their play area. According to the aquarium, the seals choose to be in front of the public instead of being off in a different pool.

Admission is 7.00 for adults. According to the brochure, the seals have developed their own tricks and vocals to get you to feed them, they are not trained. The day I visited, they must have been full from a lot of visitors feeding them, as they weren't doing much of anything. (They are also regularly fed by the staff.) There were two baby seals that were adorable! You can feed the seals if you don't mind picking up the fish. Ew-w-w-w! Not me! I'm a wuss when it comes to handling fish, I have no idea why!

Another room holds many tanks of interesting sea creatures but the room is dark and dreary. Seaside Aquarium is really showing its age and needs a facelift. Despite all that, I still enjoyed seeing the seals and the octopus in an open tank. The brochure for the aquarium makes some convincing arguments for the successful breeding program they have there. They were the first aquarium in the world to successfully breed harbor seals in captivity and some of their seals are fourth generation captive born animals. The aquarium is inspected twice annually and they have a trained vet who makes monthly checkups.

I guess seeing all the creatures in the wild has made me a little sad now to see ones in captivity in a less than modern setting...but it's still a great place for school kids and others who don't get the opportunity to see things in the wild, like this ugly guy. I forgot what he is!

Well, instead of this ugly guy above, let's leave you with a photo of something better....Aw-w-w-w, too cute!

One more thing...We would like to welcome our newest follower, Ellie Great from the Land Down Under, Australia! Ellie is a film director who works with children to develop their creativitiy through her organization, Pleiades. She also writes novels....Awesome! Hope you enjoy hearing about our travels, Ellie!  We'll see you on the road...We're gonna go looking for some beautiful scenery tomorrow or maybe just check out the Cannon Beach stores....

Friday, June 24, 2011

164 Steps to Spectacular Scenery

Astoria has the coolest tower in town....a column built in 1926 with an observation deck on top, you just have to climb 164 steps up to the top and out through a door to get there. It's just like climbing a set of lighthouse steps. Been there, done that...(And you're gonna be sore tomorrow, reminds E.) I huffed and puffed my way to the top. And where's Eldo, you ask? Down at the bottom standing beside the third car from the left. (His knees aren't quite up to that).  And you can't be afraid of heights, because if you look down, you might get a little queasy in the stomach. There's not much room between you and one step off the side of the structure, with nothing but a thin railing. I was fine until I looked down...the trick is look OUT at the scenery, not down. (I could have told you that, Sparky!) There's not a lot of room for many people to be at the top, but today was a good day, just three or four people besides me ventured to the top to look out over the beautiful Columbia River valley...It only cost a dollar to park in the parking lot to go up and see the view..what a bargain! And there is this cool Chinook (?) canoe at the site as well as beautiful grounds around the tower.

An Italian immigrant artist, Attilo Pusterla used a bas-relief technique called sgraffito, an Italian Renaissance art form that combines paint and plaster carvings to decorate the outside of the column. There are 22 significant historical events that occurred in this region on the concrete column. 

Although Astoria is a small town of about 10,000, it is the "cradle" for America's claim to the Pacific Coast. Some of the events on the column are pictorial murals of: before the white people arrived, Captain Robert Gray arriving on the ship Columbia in 1792, the Lewis and Clark expedition crossing the mountains in 1805, Indians greeting the explorers, Fort Clatsop, the Astor Overland party leaving St. Louis in 1811, the coming of the railroad in the 1880's and more.....The column is a series of burnished brown carvings etched into the plaster, it's beautiful. It's a salute to Astoria's early explorers and early settlers, celebrating their role in the United States march to the Pacific Coast.

If you "unwound" all the artwork, it would be over 500 feet...It's on the top of Coxcomb Hill (600 feet up) in the town of Astoria and it's a beautiful drive to the top....The column itself is 125 feet tall. If you are not up to climbing the steps, it's still a beautiful historical monument to see on the outside. The views are fantastic!

After negotiating the steps to the top of the column, I decided we should go see an eagle sanctuary nearby Astoria. Out highway 101, which becomes highway 30, we headed east just a few miles outside of town to the Burnside Loop turnoff, take a left off the highway. There's a little wayside there, and a beautiful wetlands and observation deck to see eagles. That area is supposed to have a high concentration of bald eagles. We didn't see any! No nests or any magnificent birds...nothing even flying! Wrong time of day...Dawn or dusk is best, and low tide. We were there at high tide and the middle of the afternoon, we didn't see a thing but a beautiful wetlands. That's ok...we might go another day...

Astoria is a beautiful old harbor town..and the HILLS! They reminded us of San Francisco. There are some other cool things to see there--the Flavel House, an ornate Victorian museum....freighters,  a nice boardwalk for walking, a trolley car historical ride for a dollar or two, a great beer pub--Rogue Public House, on the Columbia River at Pier 39, just east of Astoria. It's got the best beer batter onion rings we've ever had and Kobe beef sliders (mini hamburgers with Wasabe mayonnaise--delicious!) We had delicious spring greens salads with craisins in them along with our mini burgers-- yum! 

Rogue is an Oregon brewery company that makes wonderful beer. I'm not a beer drinker, but Eldy has enjoyed the different varieties in the last couple of coastal towns where Rogue has a presence. They also have a different philosophy about brewing as you can see by the names they give their ales and beer....And the big Question of the day is, who would want to drink these oddly named beers? Plenty of folks, it turns out!

I'm not sure I'd want to drink this one on the left if it had beer in it, even if I WAS a beer drinker, which I'm not! Each day they bring you a different large "shot" glass sample of the beer of the day. This was our second time there, so Eldy's had "John Juniper" the first time (his favorite) and "Chipotle". Yes, there actually was a chipotle flavored beer on the list...More power to ya, guys! Bottoms up!
yellow snow ale and dead guy ale? No, thank you!