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Friends And Founders 2022


One day while sitting in the office at the estate, I was going through my emails and noticed one from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. I get a lot of emails from them, but this one was different and it stood out from the others! I opened it and it was an invitation to the Friends and Founders Event for 2022! We had been talking about going back to the sanctuary for awhile and decided this would be a great thing to attend and also volunteer if possible. We chose the April 28-29th session and started prepping for the trip! We had tried to remember when was the last time we had gone down there, but knew it had been awhile. While packing, I decided to pack a couple of shirts I had bought on the last trip and there it was……the date…..2015!!! Wow, seven years ago, too long!!! The excitement began for our spiritual reset which is one of the things that happen to you when you make the visit. There’s nothing like the feeling you get when you drive into Kanab!! Kanab has grown quite a bit since we last visited. It once was a pretty quiet and sleepy town, but things have changed. There are a bunch of new restaurants and hotels that have sprung up since. One of the new hotels, and the one we stayed at, was the Roadhouse and Mercantile. It is owned and operated by the sanctuary so your room fees are helping support it! Not only is it pet friendly, but bringing dogs and cats from the sanctuary for sleepovers are highly encouraged. There is also a store there where you can purchase shirts, pants, pet accessories, and other items with the Best Friends logo. It was a pleasant hotel, and btw, you can do your laundry for free! When not at the sanctuary we drove around town looking at houses, RV parks, and enjoying the sites of the surrounding area. We ate at some new restaurants and also visited some of our old haunts that still remain! These are all great eateries:



Our first day there was a free day, the only one we would have. We decided to drive up to Zion National Park. It was a return trip for us, but it had been many years. We got on the park shuttle and headed into the park and picked one of the trails to hike. We hiked all the emerald pools, there are three. It was a gorgeous day and the temp was just right. We got back down and Debbie wanted to hike the angel’s landing trail until we got tired and then we would turn back. Of course that didn’t happen until we got to the top where the chain begins. I was gassed and had a painful blister on my toe. Luckily she had a band aid in the pack and I made a quick repair so I could make it back down. I wasn’t thrilled and you can see all the pictures in the photo album! Not a young buck anymore!!! The rest of the week was all involved with dog outings, an afternoon in Cat World, and attending the Friends and Founders events. We took two dogs on outings, Riff Raff and Satchel. Debbie loved Satchel and had I been ready for another dog, we would have taken him back with us like we did with Cordell. I’m just not ready for a pet just yet. One day we spent at cat World just hanging with some shy kitties and taking a couple on a stroll.


Our last two days were involved in the events. We hiked up to the Labyrinth and Gratitude Gardens, enjoyed a brunch with many of the founders of Best Friends, listened to their Roadmap to No Kill 2025, visited our pig and goat friends, went to the Blessing of the Animals in Angel’s Rest(Kleenex needed), toured Dogtown, watched a training session of a wild horse at Horse Haven, did a tour of the new Horse Haven and their clinic, toured the Best Friends Clinic, and went to the farewell reception. It was so fascinating and fun. We still learned a whole lot more about the sanctuary even though we have been there many times over the years. There was a lot of upgraded areas and to see the clinics and the new horse haven made it all the more special. We feel so confident when making our donations that our money is being used so wisely in the care of the animals. You can do a tour of the sanctuary right from your device by clicking here. Better yet, plan a vacation and visit for yourself and especially your kids. It is a magical place!!! We will be back real soon!


Go here to visit the full photo album of our trip!!!

Winter Trip 2021 – McCall – This Time With Friends

Beautiful Payette Lake

We have returned to McCall after skipping last year’s winter festivities due to the COVID crap! If you, dear reader, follow our travels and my political rantings, you’ll know that we make an annual trip between Christmas and New Years. Usually we make the trip by ourselves, but this year we had another couple join us, my long time friend Jeff and his lovely wife Jaime. We, of course, all stayed at the Shore Lodge in the usual lake side suites. Just as the whole year of 2021 went, the trip started off very bumpy! Just two days before we left, the Seattle area was hit with a major snow event and then sub freezing temperatures. Combine that with a severe shortage of flight and ground crew, we left six hours later than we were supposed to. Finally hooking up with our friends, getting luggage, and the rental car, it was dark when we finally hit the road from Boise!! It made for a slightly harrowing drive except for the fact that road crews in Idaho do an excellent job keeping the roads manageable in winter! The hotel itself is under going major renovations and our wing of rooms had been recently been finished. As a matter of fact, in our room, we were the very first guests to stay in the renovated room. You might think that would be fantastic, but we soon learned that there were still kinks to be worked out! We discovered, not soon enough, that one whole wall of electrical devices would turn off when we turned off the entry light switch. These included both tv’s, a wall heater, and our fridge. So after loading the fridge with some items and then finally turning the light out to hit the hay, we effectively turned off the fridge for the night! It was no big deal and they fixed t the next day. Later, the other heater(the main one for the room) stopped working and we had to have a space heater in the room for our last two days. Never a dull moment for the Givens’!

Don't leave a full bottle of champagne out in sub freezing temperatures!

Let me tell you, we have been to McCall quite a few times during the winter. Before the trip, we were keeping an eye out on the snow report. In the beginning we were getting a bit worried there would not be a very good snow pack. That would quickly change the week before we arrived and the snow began to come down heavily. By the time we arrived, there was gobs of white stuff on the ground. There would be no worries involving having enough to play in however, it was extremely cold. It was colder than anytime we had previously experienced while there. Notice the picture to the right. Jaime had set out a bottle of champagne on their deck overnight and that was the result!

Jeff and Jaime, being from California, and all of us not wanting to freeze our asses off, we really wanted to ski but held off each day hoping for better weather. It snowed practically every day and we kept checking the conditions at Brundage and Tamarack and they were only for the die hards that were young and crazy. That would not be us! Our other option to enjoy the snow and get a good workout to stave off all the food and booze we were partaking was to go snowshoeing! We did this twice and it was easy as the hotel had snowshoes to rent right there. First we headed out to our usual location at Bear Basin Trail Head. It is a great place to snowshoe and also cross county ski. There are many trails with fantastic views of the valley to the west and it is hilly, which really pumps up the cardio. We also did some snowshoeing at Ponderosa Park which Debbie and I have been to before, but not in winter. It was a great place to snowshoe also and was a bit flatter than Bear Basin. That was okay by us and there were plenty of trails to choose from and not far from town either! We never did make to the slopes. It was just too damn cold for us wimps!


One thing that we always do, was rent a couple of snowmobiles and hit the tracks. We always use Cheap Thrills Rentals and discovered they are under new ownership. The new owners were great and it was like nothing had changed but the faces. They supplied everything, suit, gloves, boots, helmets, and everything was clean and kept us very warm. We had to drive ourselves to the meet up in a big parking lot where all the sleds were. Then after a brief safety and operation spiel, we were off on our own! Well Jeff and Jaime had NEVER been on snowmobiles before and by looking at the picture to the right, you would be saying ooopsie, one of them had a boo boo! Nope, just 15 or so minutes on the trail, I decided to ride on a small snow drift, lost control, and ended up in a tree well. Luckily for me, that stopped me from going over a steep drop into the snowy abyss. After some wrangling with help from fellow snowmobilers and nothing damaged but my ego, we were on the road to the first stop at Burgdorf Hot Springs. Like Cheap Thrills, the place was now under new management and it was quite a disappointment. Before we were barely off our sleds, we were approached by a guy who asked us if we had reservations. Huh!!! We had never needed a reservation to stop by for coffee and explained that to him. Now, due to COVID of fucking course, we now had to have a reservation just to walk in the building. Well, we left, without coffee.


Once we left Burgdorf, we headed further up the road to
Warren which is an old mining town that is almost a ghost town. It does have a population of 7 in the winter and there is a landing strip at the old town to get supplies flown in. We love it up there and made our way into the Baum Shelter for a quick bite and beverage. For a place this far out in the woods and away from civilization, it had an extensive
menu and was very good. After hanging out and warming up we finally headed back down the road and went a little bit beyond where we were supposed to. It was a great day and we put in 78 miles of riding! We all had a great time even with my little “accident”!


On days we didn’t have real plans, we drove around showing Jeff and Jaime the area, taking them to all the spots we usually make the rounds to. It’s also good for us to see what has changed, how many new houses have sprung up, and what is for sale. We didn’t see many for sale signs around, but it could just be the time of year too. Some of those drives had to be cut short due to blinding snow storms that would spring up out of nowhere! We also dined out and drank at some places that Debbie and I had never tried before. We had a great dinner at Ragazza Di Largo one night. The food was fabulous and so were the drinks. One day after snowshoeing we hit the Toll Station Pizza which was also good. Another evening we were craving Mexican food and went down the street to Pueblo Lindo and the albondigas soup was excellent. Right across the street from the hotel sat Lardos Grill & Saloon, and all these visits to McCall and we had never set foot in the place. We loved the place and it was just our kind of bar!!! It will be a constant stop each time we go back!!! Our New Year’s Eve dinner was in the hotel at The Narrows. It was really good and afterwards, all we had to do was walk down the hall and celebrate the coming New Year and not worry about driving. Oh and before I forget, we also had a spa day where we all got massages and spent some time relaxing in the pools. It was a great time with some great friends that ended too quickly! For more photos of our trip, go over to our online photo album and have a look at the rest of the adventure!!


Lather…….rinse……repeat

Back To McCall

Every year we pick a place and go camping for a week with our great friends the Kelly’s! This year we went back to McCall, Idaho once again. We just can’t tear ourselves away from this place. Like ping pong, racquet, tennis, pickle balls we bounce back and forth to our favorite destination! This year since we started from the Olympic Peninsula, we decided to just drive to Cle Elum for the first night to keep from making the 10 plus hour trip in one day! This was in the middle of some of the worse fires in WA, OR, and CA history. The whole drive all the way to McCall was enveloped in smoke. As we crossed the Columbia River on I90, you couldn’t even see the river from the bridge. It was even smokey in our rigs while driving! It was a horrible drive, and the smoke stayed with us while in McCall almost the whole time we were there!

We arrived at our camping destination for the second at the McCall RV Resort. We love staying here, this is the nicest RV park we have ever stayed at! It is gorgeous, clean, good wifi, and the staff were very helpful with anything we needed. Another wonderfully awesome amenity was the indoor pool and hot tub which we used almost nightly after a really hard day of fun! We met some very cool people while soaking, the majority from California. Most of them were conservative Republicans escaping the crush of years of Democratic control. Some were moving to Idaho permanently. Only one couple who didn’t fit that bill were hearing our patriotic, American conversations and the wife leaned over to her husband and whispered, “Conservatives”. They were basically ignored. The lodge itself was grand and beautiful with a reading room area, fireplace, hot coffee available all day and free popcorn. There was a laundry facility with more than enough washers and dryers to handle any amount we generated.



Now before continuing, I will not be writing gobs of words here in this post that are just duplications of our last trip here with the Kelly’s. You can read about our first trip here and get the gist of the area and stuff. You can also access the trip’s photo gallery here, where all of the photos reside. Go have a look see! Yeah, I may be retired now and have plenty of time to write these blog posts, but I am getting lazy and many things have been said before so………..


Even though we had all been here before, we managed to fill our days with fun in the smokey sun. We biked all over town and out to Ponderosa State Park. This wonderful park sits right at the north edge of town and is gorgeous. It also has tent and RV camping which we had never investigated. Although we love staying where we always do, this is a fantastic alternative if we want to change things up on a future visit.

Another day we rented kayaks and paddled Payette Lake. We have toured the whole lake via car, but cruising around on a kayak gives you a whole different view of the shoreline. Some of the houses are amazing and as we checked later, prohibitively expensive! It seems as though the McCall area has been discovered as has the rest of Idaho! Residents of Washington, Oregon, and California are flooding the state in droves. Who can blame them as people are finally waking up in blue states and heading for the red ones! Oooops, I am getting political again!


There were a few disappointments during the trip, but it didn’t hamper our fun. One being the smoke, and the other being COVID. Most of the hot springs in the area were closed. Even the iconic Burgdorf Hot Springs was closed. It may have been COVID related, but the official reason was the loss of their long time managers. They are looking for replacements if you are interested in working in a very rustic setting. We, instead took a drive up to Warren! Debbie and I had been there twice on snowmobiles, but had never been up when the road was clear and it was warm. The Kelly’s had never been there either. They thought it was pretty cool too. We stopped in at the Baum Shelter for a quick bite and all of the town regulars were there. Some things just remain the same in this world of constant change. We did a lot of driving around checking out the areas and housing prices, <wink wink>. Here is a list of places we visited during this trip! I tried to put up a full list, but am sure I missed a couple.


Unknown Mountain Man

On another daily adventure we did a 8 mile hike through the Bear Valley Nordic Trail System. It is beautiful and there are many trails you can hike, some can be biked also. We had been there during a winter trip and snow shoed through the area. The views are incredible of Brundage Mountain and the valley west of McCall. One needs to take care of bikes that come screaming at you from blind curves and strange looking mountain men that come yelling out of the forest. The one pictured scared the crap out of us! Another day put us back on the lake, this time in a pontoon boat we rented from Mile High Marina! We spent almost 8 hours cruising, floating, and chillin in every bay, nook and cranny of the lake. We now know every portion of Lake Payette. Each visit we gain add to our knowledge base of McCall and it’s surroundings!


Ready For Some Boating!


Our original plans were to spend one week in McCall and then head up to the Sandpoint area of Idaho and spend our second week there. Due to the fires, smoke, and hazardous air quality up there, we decided to extend our stay in McCall and cancelled our reservations at our second destination. I’ll go ahead and link the second destination, the Blue Lake RV Resort, but we’ll never stay there. They would not refund our deposit even during these unprecedented times using the excuse that the resort is perfectly useable even under the hazardous conditions! It would have been interesting if one of us had a respiratory illness or other problem that would have been unhealthy for that person. Oh well, I suppose money is more important than the health of fellow humans. They’ll not get another dime from us ever!!! The trip was not without some equipment malfunctions. The Kelly’s trailer sprang a leak below the shower basin that Rich had to fix and one of our trailer tires developed a troubling bulge on the way there and we got a replacement while there. When we got back home, we had the other three replaced on the way! We also had a chance to make a stop and visit Alex, Mo, and Wimberley for an overnight. They were thrilled to see us and it was a nice visit. After two weeks, it was good to be home, but it was definitely another fun trip! And yet again, Debbie and I will be returning to McCall at the end of the year. One of these days we will end up moving there…….maybe!


GOOD TIMES WITH GOOD FRIENDS


MORE PICTURES HERE

McCall…….Again

Payette Lake

Yes, here we are again, the third trip to McCall in the last two years. Once again we stayed at the Shore Lodge in a gorgeous lake side suite just like last time. Also like last year, it was during the week of New Years and we did much of the same stuff we did last time. We were able to ski this time which we did two days in a row at Brundage Mountain! We also spent more time at the Old Idaho Penitentiary Rather than bore you with the details of another similar trip, you can refer here to last year’s trip and links, and I will list some highlights and provide more of a pictorial version on this one!


  • We were delayed getting to Boise by around three hours, thanks Delta Airlines.
  • Our rental car broke down and we had to fight with Alamo Rent A Car to get a replacement. We waited until 2am for the new one to arrive.
  • Debbie’s boots were “taken” from the ski resort changing room and never “returned”. Had to spend $200 for a pair of new ones.
  • This time we didn’t go snowshoeing, but instead ski’d two days in a row.
  • One of those days was New Year’s Eve and I was so beat neither of us saw the new decade ring in!
  • Unlike last year, this time we were able to book a massage and spa day at The Cove in the hotel!
  • And yes, we booked a room for next year!!






Summer Wrap Up

Lake Curlew

Time has slipped by me and I have realized that I am seriously behind posting on our blog. That being said, I decided to wrap up what’s been going on lately into one post. Debbie thought retirement would be boring but she has been going non stop in a whirlwind of activity. It has been a busy summer indeed for both of us!

First off back in June we went on our annual Givens/Kelly camping trip. This year took us to the Okanogan area of northeastern Washington. None of us had ever been there before and it was an absolutely beautiful place! Fortunately, our boy Cordell was able to go with us and this turned out to be his last camping trip. We hope he had fun! We stayed at the Black Beach Resort right on Lake Curlew. It was a clean, beautiful place and the owners were extremely nice and almost everything was on the honor system from the store. You just got what you needed and just put it on your bill. They had an ample supply of movies and bikes to rent for free. The nearest town was Republic, an old mining town. It was a cute little town nestled in the hills but seemed very depressed as mining had all but halted years ago. Every place we went to was for sale and I am not sure there will be any buyers. One day we rode into town on our bikes. It was around a nine mile ride on an old railroad grade that was supposed to be paved, but it turned out to be mostly soft gravel. Debbie’s bike was not really suited for it and she had a rough time most of the way. We wandered into a brewpub in town and enjoyed some libations to the point of not really wanting to ride back. There was a three person group near us and we had started talking with them. Luckily they had a pickup and gave us a ride back to our camp. They invited us over to their site just up the road and left. Not thinking we would show up, they were surprised when we did and were a totally different bunch at that point. Didn’t take us long to head back to our place.

Rich The Fisherman

Another day we rented a pontoon boat and tooled around the lake. It was by no means a speed boat, but that was okay, we were in no hurry! We boated from one end of the lake to the other and as with most days of our trip, got rained on. As a matter of fact, at one point we had to take refuge under a bridge because we didn’t want to get rained on or struck by lightning! Another day we rode all the way around the lake. This time we snagged a better bike for Debbie and she had a much better time. By the way, in July she got a brand new bike for her birthday! Whether it be by boat or bike we tended to gravitate to another RV resort up the lake and across from where we were called Fisherman’s Cove. It was a gorgeous resort with RV spots, remodeled cabins and was well cared for, and by the way for sale for $1.2mil at that time. Think we could scrape up that kind of dough? We would love to bring our rigs up there, but they only have a few spots and have to be reserved way in advance!

Hanging Out At Fisherman’s Cove

Another day trip took us up the road to the town of Curlew. This place was practically empty of people, stores, traffic. It was like it was a ghost town and very eerie! It was such a shame because the setting was stunning! What we did find was a very cute little church on a hill just barely big enough for twenty people to be in at one time. Another day we took a drive over the scenic highway over Sherman Pass and it hailed so much that it looked like snowed had covered the road. All in all it was a fun trip with great friends. Of course Uncle Rich and Aunt Pam got to spend time with our little boy one last time! For more pictures of the trip click here!

Cordell Enjoying A Ride on the Boat!

Recently we had our old Packer friends Kevin and Tori come up from AZ in their C Class RV and spend some time with us at our place in Sequim. We are fortunate to have water, power, and dump right outside the house for our RV guests! We packed in as much as we could in the few days they were here. We hit some golf balls, roamed the town, had dinner at Kokopelli Grill, drank a lot of wine, walked our hood, and just caught up with each other. They even managed to find a place to indulge in their pickleball passion. They have a dog named Dash, so we got a bit of dog fix which was nice. He is a good boy!

Right after the Hilltroms left, we had to shoot back to Snoqualmie, pack, load and hitch up the trailer and head off to our fourth Watershed Festival at the Gorge! It was per usual, three days of country music fun with the Kellys! Since we dry camp, the weather cooperated with us and we didn’t get baked too bad! Back from that, the whirlwind continued with Debbie blasting off back to Eastern Washington for her girls “Diva” weekend and me, as of writing this, sit in my house in Sequim enjoying some down time alone without my little buddy! Oh well, time will heal the wounds of his leaving, but the hole in our hearts will never be filled completely. Once Debbie returns, things will calm down for a bit and our focus will be on slowly exiting Snoqualmie and settling here for good! Until next time!

Return To McCall

Beautiful Payette Lake

Yes, here we are again! As I mentioned during my last post regarding our trip down in October, Deb and I decided to return again for the last week of the year! We camped in our trailer in October and saw Fall in McCall, and this time stayed in more luxurious surroundings in Winter! It was a magical winter wonderland and since it was the week after Christmas, we still were able to see the town decked out in holiday regalia! We stayed at the Shore Lodge in a gorgeous lake side suite.

The place was absolutely perfect for us! Amenities included, nice bar, two restaurants, small gym (yes we did work out), out door pool and hot tub, theater (we did not use), game room, and a spa. Unfortunately, the spa was booked the whole week we were there so we weren’t able to enjoy a massage or anything else. At night they would build a fire and you could go out and have s’mores with the ingredients provided by the hotel. And every night while the s’mores were cooking, raccoons were hiding in the darkness with little glowing eyes waiting to grab a morsel off the ground or out of the trash! Everything was clean and the staff were very friendly and helpful. As a matter of fact, people in Idaho were nice and happy in general! We love it there!!!!

The weather was beautiful for most of our stay. Mostly clear blue skies with the occasional snow flurry now and then and man was it cold! One overnight low went below zero…..brrrrrrrr. Now if you are familiar with McCall or Idaho in general, you would know there is plenty to do whether it is summer or winter! After we had settled in and had a look around, we started planning our activities for the week. Just six weeks earlier Debbie had knee surgery, so skiing was out of the question. But there was plenty else to keep us occupied.

So we got to it and one of our first things we did is rent snow shoes for half a day. We thought it would be enough and didn’t want to push Debbie’s knee! We asked about where the best place to go and headed to the suggested destination of the Bear Basin Trail Head. It was a great place to snow shoe but we also had to share trails with cross country skiers too and they had the advantage and their own trails that we had to stay off of. That was okay by as as there was plenty of trails and room for both! It was so cold, that both of our cell phone batteries died and we didn’t get a chance to take as many pictures as we would have liked. Luckily before they died, we met a couple of hikers and their dog and they managed to snap a few of us! The most disconcerting thing was that we didn’t know what time it was or couldn’t pull up a map of where we were. That made us turn back a bit earlier than we would have. The last thing we needed was to be out after the sun went down! We had a great time anyway and got plenty of cardio.

One thing that we just had to do, was rent a couple of snowmobiles and hit the tracks. I did a little research before we left to find the best place to rent them. We settled on Cheap Thrills Rentals and were really glad we did. We had brand new sleds and they supplied everything, suit, gloves, boots, helmets, and everything was clean and kept us very warm. We had to drive ourselves to the meet up in a big parking lot where all the sleds were. Then after a brief safety and operation spiel, we were off on our own! Now the only thing that we didn’t really like was that we had to stay on the road, so going off into snow fields wasn’t allowed. Now I get it and why they request it, but it was tempting to hit a nice flat looking clearing to go have some fun in! At any rate, we still had a blast! We road back up to Burgdorf Hot Springs where we had been back in October. We stopped there and had a cup of coffee and thought about going in the hot springs because we did bring our stuff. We decided we didn’t want to change, get wet, dry off, etc! We’d rather continue to ride.

Once we left Burgdorf, we headed further up the road to
Warren which is an old mining town that is almost a ghost town. It does have a population of 7 in the winter and there is a landing strip at the old town to get supplies flown in. It was very cool and we rode around exploring then went into the Baum Shelter for a quick bite and beverage. For a place this far out in the woods and away from civilization, it had an extensive menu and was very good. After hanging out and warming up we finally headed back down the road and went a little bit beyond where we were supposed to. It was a great day and we put just over 90 miles of riding!

Some days we spent driving around the local area looking at different spots around McCall and checking out properties of course and just getting a lay of the land. We also wanted to get more familiar with the town itself and of it’s surroundings. We found some really nice developments and some areas that were just meh. Sounds like we are looking for another place to buy right? Well you never know, we really love it out here. It could be another place to land in case Washington State goes sideways like it just might! We were also able to spend New Year’s Eve here too! The hotel had a big party which we attended. Had a great dinner, drinks, shared a table with strangers that became one night friends, and even did some dancing. It was a great way to end the year and ring in the new one.

We had to say good bye to McCall and drove down to Boise for the last night. We left mid morning to give us a bit of time to check in to our hotel and have some time to do a bit of exploring while we could. We just looked on WAZE and just started driving. We drove onto the campus of Boise State University and looked around. It is a very pretty campus and also drove to the stadium and checked out the blue field. We also saw the capitol building and were surprised at some of the mansions that were nearby in a very cool neighborhood. We then stumbled upon the Old Idaho Penitentiary which was awesome and spooky. We had gotten there too late to see much of the place and were only able to go into the women’s ward. It was not a comfy place to have to be into back in those days. It was such a bummer that we got there too late to see anymore, because it was so cool. Finally we hit a local restaurant that was recommended by some of our good Snoqualmie friends, the  Barbacoa Grill. OMG this place was huge, busy, and sooooooo good. They make the best guacamole fresh right there table side. The drinks were great and the food was awesome and the place was packed. The vacation was such a blast and went way too fast. We both were experiencing post vacation depression upon our return, but we had our little four legged buddy to cheer us up! In addition to the pictures I posted here, you can find many more in our online album, so go take a look!

Olympic Peninsula Vacation

Glamping!

What do the words hiking, camping, eating, drinking, laughing, public defecation, games, chillin’ have in common? Well, they are words involved with the annual camping trip with the Kelly’s……..yahoooooooo! That is exactly what happened and then some! The location of this annual epic event was in and near the Olympic National Park which, by coincidence, was near to our retirement spread. As a matter of fact, we made a quick pit stop on our way to the first camping spot! Being busy folks that we are, it was Deb and my first trip in the trailer this year and that sucks! Well anyway, it was late September and we got ourselves loaded up and headed for the first spot, Shadow Mountain RV Resort. During our visits to our house in Sequim, we had driven by this place a few times, but still had vague memories of it. We were all pleasantly surprised to find it a great place to stay. They had full hook ups, 30 & 50 amp electrical, a very well stocked general store that had a deli inside which created great breakfast sandwiches, by the way. The laundry and showers were spic an span and it was located just of highway 101 which made it easy to travel to some destinations we had in mind! Our first trip took us to Rialto Beach, which was a beautiful beach that one of Debbie’s friends had told her about! The weather was stunning that day and we got to take the four-legged lima bean with us too!

 

 

Another great trip and hike was to Cape Alava which started at Lake Ozette on the Ozette Trail. Rich and Pam had been out here many times before and did the whole triangle and also camped on the beach. We were only able to do the cape trail in and back because we just didn’t have time for the whole triangle because we had to leave Cordell back at the trailer since dogs were not allowed. But speaking of this, thanks to the kind generosity of two lady campers next to us were we even able to do this. We had met them and had a chat. They also had  a dog and became buddies with our Cordell. They kindly offered to take Cordell out for a potty break and a walkie while we were gone. As Cordell is now a senior guy, he would have never made it for as long as we were gone and would have made a little mess in the trailer. They saved our asses that day and allowed us to enjoy a great hike! It is a gorgeous place, just look below at the pictures!

During the third day of the trip, we had to pack it up and head to our second destination which was the Sol Duc Resort. Although the distance between the two was short, it took awhile due to the continued construction on the main highway, but it was soooooo worth it! Taken from the website: “Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is located 12 miles into the heart of Olympic National Park. Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort offers a unique, and relaxing experience. Discover the outdoor pure mineral water hot pools. Melt away tension while being surrounded by forested peaks and the sound of the Sol Duc River gently tripping over pebble and stone. You’ll be able to enjoy an outdoor lunch at Deli Cafe, take a short hike through majestic primeval old growth rain forest with the rhythm of Sol Duc Falls in the background.” The first thing you will notice is the smell, a pungent smell of rotten eggs or smelly gaseous farts. Pam and Debbie should be used to that being married to us boys! There is a very small store, a bar and restaurant. The RV sites are okay and sufficed for us. The one thing is there is no cell service or wifi of any kind, so you are definitely off the grid! The resort had three separate mineral pools, each with a different temperature. The best way to enjoy them is start with the coolest one and slowly pop into each of the warmer two. The warmest one hovered around 106 degrees and it was toasty! We met some interesting people working there, can we say……..eclectic! Had some very interesting conversations with a few and was intriguing how they got there and what they plan on doing in the future.

Along with time in soaking in the pools and having a few drinks in the bar, we once again hit the trails for some more hiking in nature’s wonderland. We headed out to Ruby Beach for another day of beach combing, looking at sea stuff, and enjoying the ocean spray. Once again, the weather was beautiful and the beach was dog friendly, so Cordell got to romp around to his pleasure. We also drove down to Kalaloch Lodge to explore and see if it might be a future destination to stay at! None of us had ever been there and it was in a wonderful setting and not that expensive for being right on the beach. Another hike we took was up the Sol Duc River and over Sol Duc Falls. It was deep in the woods and beautiful and you could cross the river and hook up with other trails, which we did. We took the Lovers lane Trail back along the south side of the river and back to the resort. It was on this trail that we had two exciting events. The first, a bear lumbered across the trail about 50 yards in front of us. It was a big one at an estimated 350-400 pounds. I was in front of the pack and since I was looking down, I didn’t see it until Rich called for me to stop and yelled bear! Guess who didn’t see it…….Debbie…..the minute she heard the word she turned a made haste to the back of the line and it was gone before she had a chance to turn around. The bear never even made notice that it even knew we were there. Then, just a few yards down from where we say the bear, was a raging wasp/hornets nest in an old stump right by the trail. Of course none of us even noticed until I got stung in the calf by one of the crazy bastards. Then we noticed it and were they ever pissed. We surmised that the bear might have stirred them up and one of them took it out on me! Once we got back, we went in the pools and ran into a guy that was on the trail too and got stung ten times! I guess I was lucky!

 

 

One final hike we took was on the Mink lake Trail up to, you guessed it, Mink Lake! This was the most beautiful of all the hikes we did and the toughest. Most of it is uphill on the way to the lake. We only saw one other couple the whole way and back! At the lake there is a wood shelter and we had a backpack lunch there before heading down. It was so quiet and peaceful but still no damn internet…heh heh! Actually didn’t want to leave it. The day before we left we had rain finally and it was a day spent chillin, going into the pools (twice), hanging out watching movies, one more evening in the bar and dinner at the restaurant, and games and drinks that night. So winding up, it was a fun trip. We figured we estimated around 28 miles of hiking, and during one of them, I had my usual gastric disturbance and lived up to my name of Volcano Joe, fouling a second national treasure!! Guess that prevented me from gaining more weight than I did. Heading back, we drove right by our Sequim house and was just going to continue on back to Snoqualmie so we would have another day to recover. Then on a second thought, we decided to go and just hang out there overnight and do our laundry and cleaning of the trailer there. So glad we did. It was like having one more day of vacation and the recently repaired hot tub was extremely enjoyable. Another vacation down, but there will be another camping outing in November on the coast in Grayland for Thanksgiving. We will be joining the Kelly’s for their annual holiday trip for the first time and will cross our fingers for the weather and take what comes! See ya!

 



THE PICS

 


Good times with good friends!

Glacier Park 2016

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The Gang of Eight, aka The Saltines, aka Crackers gathered once again with trailers in tow to convene in yet another national landmark! Traveling from varied parts of the western United States to gather together for friendship, carousing, and reconnecting with the beauty of Nature that surrounds us all! Our home camp was at North American RV Park in the small town of Coram, MT north of Kalispell. The RV park was very nice and very clean and the staff were friendly and helpful. They put us all together in the back of the campground (very strategic to other campers nearby, wink wink).

Our adventures started by visiting the city of Kalispell. Unfortunately, like many small towns we visit on a Sunday, most of the stores and shops were closed. That made the visit short and we headed up the road to Whitefish. It didn’t take us long to find a food and beverage establishment that was well suited to the gang. We headed over to Casey’s and went to their rooftop area. The food was great, but even better was their Mule drinks, oh my gawd!!! Those sent us on a quest to find the exact ginger beer they used for them. After our quest found the elixir, back to camp we went to concoct mules of our own!

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Ruger

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Ursie and Ruger

Yes we ate a lot and of course we drank a lot, but we did manage to get some hiking, sightseeing, and the obligatory shopping in while we were there. Glacier Park rivals Yellowstone in it’s beauty and we were very impressed. Our first foray into the backwoods territory was to travel up the Going-to-the-Sun-Road to Logan Pass. Bob, our travel advisor, had warned us before hand that the winds would be howling up top so we didn’t really prepare to do any serious hiking. We were enthralled with the scenery and a bit nervous with the narrow road. When we got to the pass, we stopped at the visitor center and had a look then decided to venture out into the wind and cold and hike a bit up the trail to Hidden Lake. Well, we just kept going all the way to the lake, wind and all. See, that’s just how we roll! During the week we did other hikes and saw other areas of the park. Another hike took us to Avalanche Lake along the Avalanche River. It was a magical place although very crowded. Had it not been for the car disabled passes our two old and decrepit men of the Saltines possess, we would not have found parking. There, in the parking lot, we tested our bear spray. It worked, especially when the breeze blew some of it back in our faces!!! Not so smart! We also took a trek around the park to the east and through the town of Browning in the heart of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, uhhhh ok, enough said. We entered the Many Glacier entrance to the trailhead of the Apikuni Falls and hiked that trail. There were some tough spots, but the reward was incredible!! Another hike was on the Lake Stanton Trail to Lake Stanton, a very quiet and secluded hike just as beautiful as any other. The Ruger dog came on that hike with us and just bounded with the youth of a pup. It was on this hike a few of us sustained minor injuries with Ursie taking a fall and getting cut up, and Debbie getting multiple sting bites from a crazed wasp. Luckily she is not allergic. Ruger gave us all a scare when he started acting lethargic at camp one day and refused to eat. He then threw up bile and started shaking. Rob and Ursie had to take him on an emergency vet visit. They found one that could take him in and he had an infection and fever. With some meds and rest, he was back too himself in no time!!

Glacier Park and Montana is abundant with wildlife, right??? Well it wasn’t on this trip for us. We hardly saw anything much in the way of animals. We caught glimpses of mountain goats, one was very close to us, a few deer in the far distance, many dead skunks on the roads, a couple of squirrels having a love moment, the sound of a moose or loons, and ONE bear. FB_IMG_1472342636646The bear was seen by Bob, Patti, Rob, and Ursie. We were in the second truck and when we pulled up, I opened the door to turn around to get a good picture or video perhaps, and Pam screamed as she does often, bear disappeared and photo is courtesy of Ursie……sigh!
The week sadly flew by and it was time to leave. We took a more scenic route back that just didn’t have us on I90 the whole time. We drove through never seen towns of Sand Point and Bonners Ferry, Idaho which we thought were gorgeous! I think they are both even prettier than Coeur D’Alene and that is saying quite a bit! Our last spot on the way home was at Sprague Lake Resort. It is just a tiny fishing campground on the lake run by a sweet German lady named Monica. It was crazy windy and the bugs were a bit overwhelming, but a quaint place for an overnight stop. We had our last hurrah and sadly returned to the reality of the working world!

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Our Last Night!

Thanks for reading our adventures and you can find all the photos in the photo gallery here! Until next time!!!

Wine, Women, and Smoke

Yep, that’s right, another camping vacation in the books and it was another fun one of course! This one took us to the wine country of Eastern Washington and into the foothills of the Blue Mountains of Northeast Oregon. Four couples and four trailers involved, us, Rich and Pam, Bob and Patty, and Rob and Ursie, otherwise known as “The Gang of Six”! The ride over was a white knuckled extravaganza due to high winds blowing and reduced visibility to to blowing dust and smokey skies. It was also a boys(Cordell and I) solo journey without Debbie. See got her calendars crossed and signed up for a half marathon in Vancouver, BC during the same weekend as the beginning of the vacation. It was all good and we arranged it so she could still go up, by herself, do the run and then fly into Walla Walla the second night and join in the vacation fun! So after the trailer blowing from side to side most of the way into Walla Walla, the boy and I made it to the first stop RV Resort Four Seasons safe and sound.

Now there is Bob McEvoy, one of the unluckiest and in the same note, luckiest guys we know! As I arrived and started backing in, there he stood blood all over his hands, arms, dripping down his clothes with his permanent grin plastered on his face. He looked like a scene from a horror movie. Seems their camping cat they rescued some time ago and may still be a bit feral, escaped from the truck when they pulled in. Afraid the cat might just take off for good, he and Patty made a mad rush after it. When Bob got his hands on the crazed feline, it went catnip crazy on his extremities. The result was a bloodied Bob but a captured cat! These injuries hampered him throughout the trip, requiring a trip to an urgent care then surgery back home as sever infection set it! It could only happen to him.

The second night, Debbie flew in from Vancouver, BC at the large international air hub that is Walla Walla Regional Airport and the following two days we spent indulging in the region’s many many wineries. Wine tasting all day, four women, many bottles purchased, well you might take an educated guess how the nights went. We found Walla Walla to be way more interesting than imagined. I don’t recall ever actually being in downtown Walla Walla although have driven by and near it many times. The downtown core is bustling with many cool shops, restaurants and many tasting rooms. One restaurant we stopped for lunch was the Red Monkey, a funky little place with some really good food, and you can see the tasting tour list we did at the end of the post. It was a very nice town, but would we live there…….naw!

The next half of the trip was just over the border into Oregon, taking a road from Milton-Freewater into a canyon along the south fork of the Walla Walla River to a campground called Harris Park. It was a nice clean place and we had it all to ourselves for the first two nights. They had a group camp section and that’s where we all gathered.

Camp Crazy!

Camp Crazy!

We really wanted to do some hiking and that we did. The only problem there was really only two good trails and one was closed due to the large number of rattlesnakes infesting the hillside around the trail. Debbie does NOT do snakes………of any kind! We ended up doing two days of hiking the same hike. That is kind of boring but on the second day we went a bit further and stumbled on a very cool cluster of cabins at the end of the trail. It probably could only be accessed on the other side of the range by ATVs or four wheelers. The place looked like an old homestead, but was being visited and kept up. We let our imaginations run wild. Our campground was totally off the grid, no cell or phone service was to be had. We actually had to look at and talk to each other the whole time we were there….imagine that! The closest town was Milton-Freewater about 12 miles back the way we came in. We had to go there to get ice and also had to hit their only laundromat to do some washing because our boy Cordell decided to blow bits into the bed one early morning. We have only one set of bedding in the trailer(make note to buy another). Now unlike Walla Walla, the town isn’t so….well…..bustling! It is actually kind of depressing, but one weird thing, there are statues of frogs all over town and Debbie was fascinated with them.

Debbie and the Frog!

Debbie and the Frog!

There are over 40 of them placed throughout the town and do you know why? Well you can read why here! The one gem we did discover was the El Sirloin Mexican Restaurant. They had a mexican food lunch buffet and it was very authentic and excellent. Do not pass it up if you ever find yourself in town. The only downside to the whole trip was the constant haze and smoke in the air. As you might have heard, Washington State has had one of it’s hottest and driest summers on record. That has not bode well for Eastern Washington and it’s fire season. It has been horrible with hundreds of thousands of acres burned and many homes lost! We were surrounded by fires while there and the hazy skies and the smell of smoke reminded us daily. As we slide into Fall please help us with your prayers for rain, we need it! There you have it, our fun vacation filled with wine, women, and smoke! I should add blood to the list! Happy trails until we write again!

WINERY TOUR LIST!

Woodward Canyon Winery
Lodmell Cellars
Three Rivers Winery
L’ Ecole No. 41
Sleight of Hands Cellars
Otis Kenyon
Cougar Crest Winery
Henry Earl Estates

Hawaii 2015

Yes it has been awhile since or last post and it has also been awhile since our last vacation, so here goes! Back to Hawaii we went, our second visit and my second birthday spent there! Our last time in Hawaii saw us in Maui, this time we tried the island of Kauai! It is gorgeous and of course we loved it! The first thing I did was bitch about the humidity…..but that is just me! We drove up to Princeville where our condo was located. We stayed at the Makai Beach Club Cottages which was part of our timeshare network! They were a bit older, but all remodeled and very accommodating and the staff was excellent!

Our first couple of days were spent getting food and supplies, figuring out what activities we wanted to schedule, and getting our bearings and exploring the island. We decided to drive all the way around to the island to the west side which we did and went all the way to the end of the road to Polihale State Park! Absolutely beautiful and the longest stretch of beach in Hawaii. Go there if you visit Kauai, but be prepared for a long drive down a very rough old dirt road. On the way back, we just looked and stopped at anything that interested us. We drove down into Poipu and wow!!!! That is a very cool place and is on the mark for a future stay! We strolled the beach and found our way to the beach bar at the Marriot Waiochai Beach Club. We could only stay for a couple of drinks as we had to head back and get our activity schedule, but we planned to return later in the week for a hang out on the beach there! The next day we went and got some snorkeling gear and hit the beaches of the north coast, Anini Beach and Hideaway Beach. It was fun, but the tide was low so the water was shallow and you had to be very careful not getting yourself banged up against the reefs! We then dropped back into the town of Hanalei Bay and hit one of the local restaurants for dinner. It was a great vacation so far!

Our first excursion was sooooo much fun! We did the kayaking trip up the Wailua River. We kayaked for awhile then hiked into the back country and ended up at a magical place called the Secret Falls! You can only get there by boat and hike, there are no roads! It was beautiful. I have videos on our YouTube Page, go check it out! We ate lunch in front of the falls then hiked back out and kayaked back down the river! Very fun trip! Another cool and very fun trip we did was a catamaran ride on the Na Pali coast. We saw some beautiful sights and went snorkeling at the Lehua rock, part of an extinct volcano cone. After, they served us lunch and we had an “exciting ride” back to the dock. We headed back to Poipu for another look around and came across The Spouting Horn, a blowhole that shoots water out of the rocky coast……beautiful! Our last organized excursion was a tubing trip through the old Lihue Plantation! This is an old sugar plantation that was in use in the 1800’s. You don a lighted helmet and tube through irrigation canals and tunnels that were hand dug by plantation workers in 1870. It was finished off by a picnic lunch next to a river in a serene park. Again, money well spent on another fun excursion.

Aside from excursions, we did A LOT of driving around the island. We saw the Kilauea Lighthouse, drove to the end of the north road at Ke’ e Beach, hit some of the many various roadside farmers markets, ate at some of the local eateries: Tiki Iniki, Kalypso, Bouchons, Olympic Cafe, caught some rays at a couple of different beaches, and spent the last day (my birthday, second one in Hawaii) sipping cocktails and eating a wonderful assortment of pupus at the St Regis Resort. What a gorgeous place. If we can ever afford it, we are staying there! We watched our last sunset as a duo played genuine Hawaiian music in the lounge, a very emotional point! So we have now been to Kauai and Maui and we have decided we like Kauai much better. It is just so beautiful there!

And so our wonderful Hawaiian vacation came to end and once again having to face reality, we loaded up and headed off to the airport! On the way, disaster almost struck. A construction truck made an abrupt stop on the road ahead of us. The car in front saw it, we saw it, but the guy behind me didn’t! There we are, two small cars watching what is going on in front of us and here comes an inattentive tard in a Toyota Tundra that can see over both of us barreling toward our rear end. I thought in the split seconds I had, that he was going to blast us and ruin the end of paradise. Last day, on the way to the airport, in a rental car, in a no fault state, and possibly injured, just great!!!! Luckily he came to a screeching halt just inches away from our bumper. I thought briefly about getting out and taking the phone he was probably looking at and shoving it up his rectum, but figured against it after swallowing my stomach that was in the back of my throat and regaining my composure! The best thing about coming back home, was seeing the excitement of our boy Cordell upon seeing us come through the door. Thanks for reading our post and pictures coming soon……Mahalo!

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