Sunset in PV

Sunset in PV

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 23 - 29, 2012 "Chillin' in Deer Park, WA"

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We got a late start on Monday morning, mainly because we both had a difficult time falling asleep on Sunday night. The 135 mile trip across I-90- was wind aided by a strong wind from the SW. While we enjoyed our stay at Suncrest in Moses Lake, we were more than pleasantly surprised when we arrived at Spokane RV and Golf Resort. (Click on any image to enlarge)

This is what we are forced to look at from the picture window in the front of the rig.

Tuesday morning we got energetic and washed and waxed the rig. While I washed the roof, CC cleaned inside. After that, we both tackled the outside, and managed to get it all done except for the south side. By that time the sun was shining on the surface, making waxing impossible. We’ll finish up early tomorrow morning before the sun alters our plans.

Wednesday after our “chore for the day” was completed, decided a road trip to Spokane was in order. We usually do the Information Center first, which provides us will useful information. The lady working there was very helpful, and gave us a map of the Riverpark area; so off we went. Finding parking was simple and cheap; $3 for 4 hours, very different from Seattle.

We had a nice walk along the Spokane River, through the park, and down to Spokane Falls. CC commented that we are now “Fall Snobs”, seeing so many in the last 3 months makes us critical of ones that are only so-so.

By now it was time for lunch, so we meandered over the few blocks to River Park Square, which is a coy way of describing a four story shopping mall. I am still confused as to just how CC can find these, having never been in the cities we have visited this Spring/Summer. As near as I can surmise, it’s similar to the radar navigation bats use; it’s invisible and eerily exists.

After lunch we followed “The Sculpture Walk” for awhile, and we amazed at some of the 22 pieces on display. This one by David Govedare (1984), entitled “The Joy of Running Together”, depicts runners of all kinds, as it celebrates Bloomsday, the largest timed running race in the world!

Harold Balazs created “Centennial” in 1978, which is an abstract aluminum sculpture that “floats” in the Spokane River.

It’s no pig, so rubbing its nose won’t bring good fortune, but this goat can eat small pieces of garbage with the aid of an internal vacuum digestive system. Now that’s what I call “Working Art”, and was created by Sister Paula Tunbull in 1974.

The Rotary Riverfront Fountain, by Harold Balazs and Bob Perron is interactive, which on this warm day the children seemed to enjoy. There are numerous free playgrounds and exhibits in the park, which I personally think is great that anyone and everyone can enjoy this carefully planned island.

Next stop, a short 25 mile drive east to Coeur D’Alene, ID. We stopped at the visitor’s center once again, and asked about some things to do in limited time, since it was late in the day. OK, on to the Boardwalk which encircles the marina, and the views of the lake are fantastic. IMHO, Lake Couer D’Alene is one of the most picturesque lakes in the US.

One would have a hard time believing we are in the midst of a struggling economy with all the toys in the marina. CC found a 2012 46 foot Regal cruiser that she liked; I had to remind her who she was married to.

By the time we made it to the end of the Boadwalk it was getting late, and as we discussed our dinner plans, CC guided me along. “How about this?” she quipped.

Again, I had to remind her. I sometimes think senility is settling upon her, especially at times like this. With that, we continued to the Equinox, and exited the “free” parking lot adjacent to the marina. I just love the sound of that word.

The remainder of the week, we did catch up on long overdue chores in and outside the rig. CC got caught up on the laundry, including the bedding. The washer in the rig is only big enough to wash one sheet at a time, so when she has the luxury of residential or commercial washers and dryers, she opts for that, as it saves a lot of time.

We are both Olympic junkies, so the balance of our indoor activities has been planned around them. (at least MOST of ‘em)  I thought the opening ceremony was well done, not as elaborate as China, but enjoyable and entertaining none the less. It doesn’t appear the financial crisis is worldwide, as there were 60,000 attendees to the opening ceremony that paid $5,000 per ticket to be present; total revenue for that one event, a mere $300 million.

Tomorrow we will move east to Kellogg, ID, and later in the week to Montana, where we will get to see the majestic Glacier National Park; might as well join us! Thanks for stopping by, until next time, take care and stay well………………... 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

July 15 - 22, 2012 "Snoqualmie to Moses Lake, WA"

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We spent the first two days at Snoqualmie River RV Park getting T2 put back the way T1 was. It seems like every time we opened up a new piece of software, it needed to be formatted to our preferences. So with that endeavor behind us, now we can do the usual WDYWTDT. Since it was Friday, I thought Pikes Place Market in Seattle might be a little less crowded than over the weekend, and so off we went. (As usual, click on any image to enlarge.)

I think I was wrong. This place is packed. After driving around for 30 minutes looking for a parking place, CC spotted a sign that read “$7 Parking”. By now, I just wanted to get out of the car; we’re burning daylight. Well, seems $7 is for 30 minutes, so we paid $14 for the hour, and went searching for “The Pig”.  A local legend states that rubbing the pig before you enter the market will bring you prosperity and good luck; rub away CC.

The market was so crowded we decided after an hour, to drive down to the piers and have lunch. As we approached the area, I noticed a Carnival Cruise Ship in port; well, that explains the crowds. After another 30 minites of looking for a place to park, we gave up that idea, and ventured to Ivar’s for lunch. I had the grilled salmon, while CC opted for the fish and prawns. They were both very good, but by now, we were both starving, so I’m sure anything would good.

After lunch it was off to the Space Needle, but as this day was evolving, the crowds were increasing, not decreasing. After another 30 minutes looking for a parking place, we gave up and instructed Nuvi to take us home. For those that haven’t encountered I-5 in this area, don’t know about the Express Lanes. Yep, you got it; in the wrong lane at the wrong time and you end up in Everett.

The following day we decided on something a little less adventurous. Snoqualmie Falls is only a few miles, so that is where our daily excursion started.

As we walked back to the Equinox, CC informed me of a nearby casino, which has a great $9.99 buffet for seniors with a club card. (I could tell she was getting itchy fingers, having not fondled a video poker machine in weeks?) After signing up for our club card and a reasonably good lunch buffet for $10.99 each, CC led me to the den of iniquity. I fought as hard as I could, but it was all in vain. She tugged $20 from my pocket, and said, “Wish me luck!”

Back at the rig it was now happy hour, and we talked about our next move to Moses Lake. And no, she wasn’t lucky. Tomorrow we will move 150 miles eastward.

After a leisurely 3 hour drive, even stopping for lunch along the way, we arrived at Sunset Resort RV Park around 2 pm. This park had mixed reviews, but my first impression was favorable; very clean and well maintained. It took us about an hour to check in and get set up, which happened to coincide with Happy Hour. (A little earlier than usual, but that’s OK on travel day.) After dinner we opted for the spa, and it felt great, having not had one since Hoodsport.

We decided on a day of R&R. CC wanted / needed to do laundry, and I had a few more bugs to work out of T2. Later in the day we went to Wally World for some provisioning. Back at the rig, we celebrated Happy Hour, had dinner and after that, another relaxing spa / hot tub. Now this I could get used to.

Today, we had Grand Coulee Dam in our sights, as it’s only 65 miles from the park. We got a late start, and arrived in Grand Coulee just in time for lunch. Feeling fully nourished, and up to the dam task at hand. First stop; the visitors center.

Upon entry into the visitors center, the girl working the desk asked, “Would you like a dam tour?”  I thought it odd, if she doesn't like her job, why doesn't she just quit, and get another one. But, what the heck, “Sure, we’ll take your dam tour”, I responded. “OK”, she said, “be up at the dam tour departure in about 25 minutes.”

Grand Coulee Dam is the longest dam in North America, 57 feet short of a mile, and was built to control floods, and to supply water for irrigation, via a pump back lake and canals, to the thousands of acres of farmlands in the Columbia River Basin. Below, a dam picture of CC looking over the edge at the rushing waters.

A few days before our visit, they had a very bad storm in the area, with winds in the 90 mph range. One of the dam cranes was blown to the end, and very nearly tumbled over. These cranes are huge, capable of lifting 4 million pounds.

Now, look closely below the crane to see the damage it did when it slid out of control, into the concrete wall.

I know what you’re thinking; that dam crane! And with that, our tour came to an end, but I’ll leave you with one final shot……’ve got it…………another dam picture.

Our time in Moses Lake is nearing an end. Tomorrow we will be moving just north of Spokane, to explore eastern Washington, and northern Idaho. Thanks for stopping by. Take care and stay well my friends………………….

Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 1 - 14, 2012 "Murphy and Victoria"

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Good news; we're off to Victoria, British Columbia for a few days. We've been staying the past week at Glen Ayr Hood Canal Waterfront Resort, and are driving the Equinox up the peninsula to Port Angeles. Tomorrow, we will take the 8:15 am ferry to Victoria, and spend the next 3 days exploring and doing "touristy" things.

Now the bad; that Irish lad Murphy paid us a visit during the wee hours, and the Toshiba laptop computer crashed this morning, and we're currently on the backup Dell. This thing is a "vintage" 2000'ish model and is slower than molasses, so the entire post, possibly along with any pictures we have taken, which were transferred to the hard drive, will need to be postponed for a few days, as I don't have the time now to repair his tomfoolery.

To be continued……………………….

Life was much simpler before the advent of computers, cell phones, iphones, ipads, and ipods. Last Saturday, when Murphy paid us an untimely visit, we were on our way to Victoria, and so we left putting the computer problem behind us. But upon returning from “vacation”, it was much like in our working years returning to work after a legitimate much needed vacation. It brought back memories of the stress related to that event, and had me in a tailspin. We now depend so much on our computer and GPS, I wonder how we ever got along without them;……. igiveup.

We moved from Hoodsport to Fall City, and after getting set up, found the nearest BestBuy to replace the deceased Toshiba. After nearly an hour of comparing models with a 17” screen, we walked out with another Toshiba; now referred to as T2. So, the good news we’re back to the future. Luckily I had backed up T1 on June 16, so after an additional day of reloading software and updating our e-mail accounts, we are now caught up to July 7, and today is the July 14.

OK, enough of that, now back to the past. Our stay at Hoodsport was very relaxing. The resort was right on the Hood Canal, and ironically the opening day of crab season coincided with our arrival. Naturally, everyone thought we were there as “crabbers”, and couldn’t understand that we weren’t. CC says I am sometimes crabby, but I’m not qualified or licensed to be a crabber. Unfortunately all the pictures we took at Hoodsport went down with T1, so just use your imagination ;-) ;-)

Last Saturday, July 7, we drove up Hwy 101 covering 90 miles in a little under two hours NW to Port Angeles and found a quaint little hotel for the night, as we would be catching the 8:15 am ferry to Victoria, BC the following morning. CC didn’t sleep well, and was up before 3 am. So by the time we boarded, we were both a little tired. (Click on any image to enlarge)

The trip on the MV Coho took about 90 minutes to cover the 18 miles, which gave CC some time to shop at the duty free onboard; she is NEVER to tired to shop. The fog lifted as we crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and as we entered the harbor, there were multiple planes ready to take off.

Victoria Harbor is relatively small and quaint, and the coastline is as varied as the architectural styles; from Victorian to Modern. Our first impression of the city and harbor was how clean and well maintained it was; very picturesque.

It’s a 20 – 25 minute trip by bus to the first stop, Butterfly Gardens. It was our lucky day, because today, and today only, they offered a comp ticket to these gardens with the purchase of tickets to Butchart Gardens, otherwise we probably wouldn’t have taken the time to see them.

Pretty? Yes. Lots of butterflies? Not so much, as we only saw 4 or 5 species. Would we have paid to see this? Probably not, but since it was free, (Normally $10 per person) it was worth the hour we spent there, and the pink flamingos standing in the Koi Pond were a surprise!

Now, today’s main event. Take the time to click on the link, and read a little bit of history about the gardens, and you will quickly understand why it is one of the most visited destinations in Canada. People come from around the world, and shell out $32 each, to see The ButchartGardens.

For those that didn’t take the time, you’ll never know what you’ve missed, so I’ll give a brief summation. The gardens cover 55 acres of a 150 acre depleted limestone mine, which was completely barren. 

But that was before Mrs.Butchart was inspired to reclaim the land with majestic gardens, such as The Sunken Garden……..

The Sunken Garden Lake……..

The Rose Garden (Everybody’s gotta have one, eh. Don’t ya think?)

The Butchart’s Garden Home

Butchart Cove Lookout

And finally the family pet, aptly named “Bucky”, whom they immortalized in bronze. Who said you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear? CC rubbing its nose for luck. What do ya think? Will she or won’t she get lucky tonight? Don’t ask me, I’m sworn to silence ;-) 

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? These Canadian gazillionaires are an eccentric bunch. Just wait until you see Craigdarroch Castle. Well, we have had a big day, so back on the bus to the hotel for some much needed rest and nourishment, and maybe an adult beverage (or two), if ya twist my arm, eh!

After breakfast and the usual WDYWTDT, we decided on the city “hop on-hop off” bus tour. At $22.50 each, we thought this would be a good option for seeing the city, considering the ticket was good for two days. The first bus leaves the Fairmont Empress at 10 am, so off we went. On arrival, an employee of Butchart Gardens was setting up a display on the lawn of the Fairmont Empress.

After we bought our bus tickets, which included the $13.75 admission to the castle, we boarded the double-decker bus and rode to our first stop, Craigdarroch Castle. The tour buses are not allowed up the narrow, steep street leading to the castle, so we walked the two blocks to the top of the hill.

If you would like to explore the story behind the castle, click on the link above. For those of you too lazy to do so, pictures is all you’ll get; no summation this time. OK, quit your whimpering, a brief summation. The castle was completed in 1890, a few months after the death of the owner, so he never lived in this magnificent 39 room, 20,000 square feet castle on the 28 acres. Mr. Dunsmuir reportedly spent $500,000 building the entire estate, when the average home price in Victoria was only $600. Can you say “OPULENT”?

By now you’ve figured out that Canada is a bi-lingual society. It’s the law, everything must be written in both English and French; menus, food labels, you name it, bi-lingual. Pictured below, the dining room.

View from the third story looking down to the second story spiral staircase landing.

The billiards room

The Tower

The breakfast room

The servants room

The back yard at Craigdarroch

By now it’s noon, and we’re both getting hungry, so back down the hill to catch the bus to Oak Bay Village. It is said this village is more British than Britain itself, so always on a quest to discover local cuisine, stumbled into The Penny Farthing.

By now, we have come to realize Victoria is not the place to visit if you’re on a tight budget; it’s on Vancouver Island, so everything has to be ferried in, naturally increasing the base cost. Upon the recommendation of our server, and for no other reason, I decided to try the Robert Service Stone Fired Scottish Ale on special today for only $6.50. 

Today was our lucky day because what we wanted, was actually the daily special; two for one fish (Cod) and chips $14.95. I really wanted the Halibut, but it wasn’t on special and at $21.95, lunch for two would have been $43.90 without the ale. OUCH! OK, Cod it shall be.

We walked back to the bus, and off we went to a tour of Oak Bay Marina. There were lots of nice boats, and a pregnant seal, due to give birth any day now. We watched as people fed her fish, hoping to witness the miracle of life, but it wasn’t our day. 

Back on the bus; next stop for us to explore is China Town. CC standing next to Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada, only 42” wide. It was made famous by Mel Gibson riding a motorcycle down it with Goldie Hawn, in the1990 action comedy Bird on a Wire.

By now, our dogs are barking, so we catch the double-decker back to the Fairmont Empress, and walk the 3 or 4 blocks back to our hotel. CC and I sat out on our deck, and enjoyed “happy hour” as we propped up our naked dogs, giving them some much needed rest and elevation. We decided to just get a frozen pizza and do dinner “in”, since we had the facilities to do so; luckily for us, there was a grocery store nearby.

The following day we just decided to walk around the downtown area, and explore on our own. Using Google Earth, we re-traced our steps, and covered nearly 7 miles while making some observations. Gas in Victoria is $5 per gallon and the cheapest frozen pizza we could find was $6.99; most were in the $10 range. A four ounce Yoplait yogurt is $1.73, and a single scoop waffle cone is $3.95.

We boarded the 3 pm ferry for the trip back to Port Angeles, and arrived back at the rig around 7 pm. It’s been a whirlwind “vacation”, and it felt good to be “home”. Tomorrow we depart for Fall City, WA, just SE of Seattle.

I’m sure you’re as tired reading this diatribe as I am writing it. But that’s what happen when you live this lifestyle. I’m hoping Murphy finds his was back across the pond, and stays there. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop by and check in on us. Until next time, take care and stay well……………………