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Road Trip 2021 – Part 2

THE ROAD TRIP CONTINUES!

Arizona Prices!!!
CA Prices!!!

Well as all trips do, we had a hitch in the get along before leaving Newport Dunes. We sprung a leak in the plumbing around the hot water heater. It has proven to be very difficult to fix. I gave it a solid try before we left, but no bueno. We had a great drive up to Fort Mohave, Az. Took about 5ish hours on the bumpiest interstate yet! We definitely noticed the price of fuel dramatically drop when we crossed over into AZ from California! We arrived and were greeted with hugs and kisses from our friends Jeff and Jaime Simon and Mike and Cathy Richards. We haven’t seen any of these guys since last year (breakout of Covid-19) in Mexico. The guys put the trailer away (worked on the plumbing issue to no avail) and the drinks were flowing. We ordered pizza and spent the evening around the little gas fire in the driveway. The next day was mostly spent on buying parts and tools and calling around to find a mobile RV mechanic. Well despite calling multiple people…. that was a big fail, Mike and Cathy went house hunting and Jeff and I tried everything to fix the leak. After hours of working on it, we thought we had someone lined up to come out. Nope…. We decided to throw in the towel and go to Cocktails to have cocktails. Then on to a steakhouse for a yummy dinner. The next day was boating day! We headed out about noon (after another trip to Lowe’s). We put in the Colorado River and headed to Lake Havasu. Jeff and Jaime have an awesome boat and the sun was out! It was a beautiful day, just a little bit windy. The lake was rough as we crossed but so glad we went. We saw the London Bridge and stopped on a little beach for a light lunch. Debbie friended some ducks that hung around for treats. We stopped on our way back for a bit and had snacks and drinks on the lake. We decided it was time to head back and it seemed the lake was a bit rougher in the way back. But our skilled captain got us across safe and sound! It was such a great day! Thank you Jeff Simon and Jaime for your hospitality, we are so grateful to get to spend time with you. And thanks to Mike and Cathy Richards for driving up and making time to see us, we enjoyed spending time with you two also. We are now limping along with no hot water for now, showering in the RV Park showers and boiling water for dishes. We have a mechanic scheduled to meet up with us in Alamogordo. We headed out Thursday morning (after half expecting the repair guy to come by early that morning… nope) for Prescott Arizona.


After a great visit in Fort Mohave we headed out for Prescott Arizona. We had visited Prescott several years ago while doing research on places we wanted to consider for retirement. We loved it then, but we chose to stay in Washington. Still love it, such a beautiful place with such a cool vibe. We stayed at a nice RV Park (Point of Rocks)with lots of trees and big beautiful rocks all around. We did some shopping in the many shops on Whiskey Row and found some cool earrings for me. They ended up being my birthday present. We had dinner and drinks at The Palace Saloon which claims to be the oldest bar in Arizona. All of the staff wear period clothing also! We stayed only two nights in Prescott then off we went to Goodyear AZ to see our friends Tori and Kevin Hillstrom and Keith and Laurie Helker. We have known these people for many years and we all met each other in local Packer bars in the Seattle area. Just a few hours of driving and we arrived at Destiny RV in Goodyear which was just 15 min from where our friends live. The RV park was nice (each site has a citrus tree complete with oranges or lemons) with a surprisingly well outfitted gym! We spent the first afternoon getting set up and checking out the amenities. Our friends threw an amazing pool party at their beautiful home in our honor that night. We met some new people and really loved seeing some old friends we hadn’t seen in a while. We are so grateful to be able to spend time with everyone! We started the next day with doing laundry (yuck, but you gotta do the dull stuff every now and then too) and getting a great workout in! We met Tori and Kevin for dinner at a great restaurant (The Red Dog) right on the golf course. Then back to their house for a cocktail or two. Our stay was short, but we enjoyed every minute of catching up with friends and are so grateful for the time they spent with us. We packed up and left Arizona the next morning heading for New Mexico.


After such a short , but wonderful visit with friends, we left Goodyear Arizona a little later than planned (the RV office didn’t open until 9:00! Grrr… we had to wait to get a “key” refund, so dumb) to get on the road to New Mexico. We had a longer drive, nearly 7 hours, to get to Alamogordo. Boy, the drive felt so long and the landscape was ever changing! We had to wrangle with strong winds at times, I even caught some pictures of sizable dust devils along the way. We were so anxious to get to Alamogordo as this leg of the trip was all about family. I grew up in Alamogordo and some very special family still lives there. We haven’t been back for over 5 years and I was definitely feeling the pull of my heart strings as we crossed the border into NM. We drove through Las Cruces which is a beautiful city and then just over an hour to the RV Park. We stayed at the KOA, which was awesome. Super friendly staff, locally owned and very nice spaces. We got set up fairly late and had to take care of chores but made plans for breakfast at my Aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch’s house. We spent the day hanging out with them, reminiscing, driving around and catching up. We were joined by my cousin Lori when she got off work at her pool supply store. We could have talked all night, and almost did. The next day, my other cousin Laura, who recently moved back to Alamogordo, was so gracious to host a Cinco de Mayo dinner at her beautiful home. It was so special spending time with her and it was so important to reconnect as she recently and unexpectedly lost her husband. While our time was short in Alamogordo, it was full of love and tons of belly laughs! Debbie now knows where I get my sense of humor. Aunt Sharon and Uncle Butch stopped by the next morning to say goodbye with lots of hugs! We were sad to say goodbye so soon, but plan to come back sooner than later. We headed off for a much shorter drive up to Santa Fe. The drive to Santa Fe was beautiful as the high desert emerged with vibrant colors and commanding views. We checked into the RV Park which was the perfect location for buzzing around town. We loved Santa Fe! We had been there just for the day several years ago so we enjoyed having a few days to really explore. Due to COVID restrictions, some of the sights were closed or limited but we still had a great time. We shopped, went wine tasting and at the recommendation of some people we met had the BEST dinner at Tomasitas. Three days seemed to fly by! Next stop Colorado!!

See pictures of Santa Fe
and family pictures here!


Colorado! We departed from Santa Fe for the relatively short drive to Durango Colorado (4ish hours). The drive to Colorado was full of beautiful landscapes as the desert gave way to the more typical mountains of Colorado. We arrived at the Oasis RV Park and were thinking about our plans for the next few days. We had planned to stay 4 days to get in the sights we were absolutely wanting to see. As we were setting up in our site, we decided we really needed to stay 5 days to fit it all in. So we extended our stay, ordered dinner ( the RV Park offered handmade pizza delivered to our site!) and settled in with a couple of cocktails. We highly recommend Oasis RV Park of you’re ever in the Durango area. We had an early call to catch the train to Silverton the next morning and we’re delighted to find out the RV Park also offered made to order breakfast and coffee! We took advantage of breakfast and off we went to catch the train in old town Durango. The train was awesome, with sights you just can’t see any other way. The trip is somewhat shorter (4 hours round trip) in the spring with the terminus at Cascade versus Silverton due to snow still present in the mountains. We had lunch at the terminus before heading back to Durango. It was a gorgeous day and we decided to drive up to Silverton on our own to check it out. Silverton is an old silver mining town where it feels like time has stood still. It is quite a climb to get there where it’s nestled in the mountains at over 9,000 feet. The drive there and back was breathtaking! We headed back to old town Durango for a dinner out to celebrate Mother’s Day. It was fabulous. The next day was totally dedicated to touring Mesa Verde National Park. What an incredible site! It is huge and holds magnificent views. The Pueblo Indians settled there and lived in the area for over 700 years. The ancient ruins of their cliff houses and other dwellings still exist. We took sooo many pictures that I had to create yet another album here! We decided to include a challenging hike into the cliff to see the petroglyphs. It was rocky and steep, climbing over and down rocks with open cliffs on one side. But.. it was so worth it to see the amazing drawings in the cliff wall. It was a full day even though we couldn’t do any up close tours (covid closed all the up close tours of the cliff dwellings) but we had great views of them from a distance. Day four was reserved for driving up to Williams Creek Campground and Lake. It was really the primary reason we chose Durango as a stop. Williams Creek was a childhood camping destination for me and my family! The drive up was quite a distance with most of it on dirt roads. I couldn’t wait to get up there and see it again. It had been some 50 years since my grandparents took me and the family there. We packed a picnic and explored the beautiful spots with bubbling creeks, crystal blue skies and a beautiful reservoir. Even though it has been so many years since I had been there, not much has changed! I did find it sad to see our absolutely favorite spot to camp by the river was no longer there. It looked as thought at some point the river had altered course and the spot had to be closed. Still it brought back many cherished memories of days gone by with family members who are no longer with us. We drove from Williams Creek to Pagosa Springs to check it out. It’s a cute town, but has grown way too much and like all the towns we have visited on this trip, has been ruined by outsiders fleeing their states to come and drive up prices everywhere out here. It is very sad to see! We made our umpteenth trip to Wally World for supplies (we never seem to be able to get everything we need in one trip). The next day began our 3 day trek toward home. We drove through Colorado to Utah and stopped for the night in Brigham City. We were suffering a bit from trailer fatigue so decided to hotel it for the night. On to Idaho and Oregon the next day with an overnight stop in Pendleton, also at a hotel. We looked forward to our big bed, long showers, and just being home finally but are sad it’s coming to an end. We have seen so much and enjoyed seeing so many friends and family. We are so very grateful to everyone who took time to spend with us. We love you all! This trip has been epic- 28 days, 8 states, 5,127 miles and full of love, hugs and countless laughs! We are truly blessed. Can’t wait for the next adventure!

No camp site here anymore!!!

Road Trip 2021 – Part 1

AWAY WE GO!!!

So here we are, both retired and living quietly in a world constrained by the COVID “plandemic” for close to a year and a half. We have our routine from day to day, get up, spend some time on the computer, go to the gym, back home, do stuff around the house, make dinner or maybe go out, watch some tube and bed, get up and do it all over again. Every once in awhile we head back to Snoqualmie for appointments and see old friends. Now and then we have family or friends up for a visit or we visit them. Then one day, we looked at each other and said, “Let’s go on a road trip!” Thus began the planning months in advance. We had to decide where we were going to go, the route, booking RV spots, telling people we might want to see that we were coming, etc. We decided that this would be a friends and family visit/sightseeing trip. Debbie did a great job scouting out RV places, carefully checking reviews to make sure we were staying in decent places and it was awesome the job she did. The drive began with the first stop in Newport, Oregon and then on to Eureka, California. These two days are just stop overs on our way to Monterey, California where we will stay for a couple of days. Newport Oregon is a lovely place on the Oregon Coast and we have been there several times, so no need to sight see this time. We stayed at a nice RV park that is just a short walk to the Rogue Ales brewery and restaurant. We had to wait forever to get a table, but it was worth the wait ( we were so hangry! ). We packed up fairly early and headed out for our next stop Eureka, California. The drive was beautiful, with so many beautiful beach views and driving through the Redwoods is spectacular. The RV Park in Eureka was a little sketchy, nice people and super nice RV’s here but there is some sketchy stuff going on here so everything is locked up tight for the night and we will head out as early as possible for Monterey!

We left Eureka as early as possible and headed out for Monterey. Actually we are staying in Moss Landing which was “supposed” to be in the heart of Monterey, well not quite but it’s just fine. We took Hwy 101 which took us on a beautiful route. Through many Redwood forests and small towns. We ended up driving through wine country. Debbie wanted to stop and wine taste at the many wineries, but we had to stay on schedule to try to beat traffic. Next trip we are stopping and drinking. We thought we were going to go through Oakland, but Waze ended up rerouting us through San Francisco instead which afforded some beautiful views of the city but some dicey traffic for me. The drive, while a little hairy, was so gorgeous and we ended up arriving on time at the RV Park. We set up and headed out for a beach walk, it was beautiful. The next we lazed a bit and then headed for the gym for a workout and then on to Carmel for lunch and some window shopping . We fell head over heals in love with it and if we ever win the lottery we’ll be moving there! One ridiculous thing we had to endure while walking about in Carmel was the stupid mandatory mask wearing while OUTSIDE!!! Signs were posted everywhere that if you failed to do so, you would be fined $100. There are more sheep living in the town than there are on Clint’s ranch! We made our way to the Mission Ranch to have a glass of wine with Clint Eastwood (he owns it), haha we were told we just missed him. The rest of the day we spent on the 17 mile drive through Pebble Beach back to Monterey and Cannery Row. Had a light bite then back to the RV Park for the night. Such a fun couple of days here and then we headed for Santa Barbara!


My Old Buddy Rob Miotti and son
Salt

We really enjoyed our stay in Monterey and headed out around noon thinking we could avoid the commute traffic in the Santa Barbara area, we did hit some traffic but not as awful as we anticipated. Our drive was really nice with lots of beautiful scenery. Our route was down 101 which took us through lots of agricultural lands and by San Louis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Buellton which claims to be the home of split pea soup! Who knew!! We arrived at Ocean Mesa RV Resort (highly recommend this RV Park) in the early afternoon with sun and clear skies we quickly set up and headed out on a long walk in search of the laundry room and to explore the area. This park has a lot to offer including a pool and hot tub, very well stocked store, large sites and a restaurant within walking distance. We loved it. The next day we headed to Santa Barbara to visit the Santa Barbara Mission and later meet up with a good friend of Joe’s from many years ago. The Mission was beautiful and full of history. We took a lot of pictures at the mission and I created an album that you can go see here! Santa Barbara is a very nice city with a vibrant downtown full of shops and restaurants. Out of necessity with Covid everywhere has outside seating! Since it was Friday junior, it was pretty hoppin once it got dark. We were blessed to meet up with Rob Miotti and his son Robbie for the rest of the day. We stopped in to take a look at Salt Cave(a salt spa) and then in to Joe’s Cafe for a drink and light bite. We walked all over the downtown area and ended up at the best Mexican restaurant right across from the beach for dinner. Thank you Rob and Robbie for driving up to spend the day and evening with us! We really appreciate it and loved seeing you. After that adventure we departed for Newport Beach, California where we stayed at Newport Dunes Resort spend a few days visiting friends! So excited to see everyone ♥️


We left Santa Barbara around noon and headed down 101. The drive was mostly good with so many beautiful beach views. There are so many RV’s just parallel parked along the beach frontage roads, camping and surfing! It was incredible how many we saw! As we neared the LA area the traffic got thicker and much more crazy the closer we got. Thankfully I know the area from living in So Cal for many years in the 80’s. It’s unbelievable how many lanes the freeway’s have! Maybe almost as many as the Texas freeways, but far more congested. We arrived at the RV resort and were really pleased with the amenities and location, right in the heart of Newport Beach. This made it much easier to connect up with friends. We had dinner at SOL Mexican Cocina with our good friends Jeff and Jamie Simon the first night, super yummy Mexican food! We will be spending time with them again in Arizona. The next day we met up with a group of friends at my favorite Long Beach breakfast place, Schooner or Later. Back in my salesman days, this was one of my first accounts and made many early morning calls there selling them supplies. Sadly, the owners Denise and Denny weren’t there for me to surprise them. It was so great to spend time catching up! We spent the rest of the day with our friends Debbie and Tom Neforos hanging out in Long Beach grabbing beers at Murphy’s and later dinner at Simmzy’s . Many many beers were drank over the years at Murphy’s and the place hasn’t changed one bit since I left. Second street in Long Beach is definitely the place to be if you are young and single! Lots of bars, shops and restaurants. Another day we met up for brunch at The Tavern House with Debbie and Tom; and Maria and Jan; where spent time visiting and sadly said our goodbyes to our friends. We so much appreciated spending time with them and love them all dearly. We toured around Huntington Beach, Seal Beach and Long Beach for the rest of the day. We drove to many of my old haunts and a few old places where I used to live and did a lot of reminiscing and showing Debbie lots of memorable places. We were then on to our next destination to Fort Mohave, AZ to spend a few days with Jeff and Jamie! Stay tuned for the update coming in part two!

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

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!

Boat Pictures

Click the link below to see pictures of our poor boat:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/boatvirgins/sets/72157622294251953/

Some Links To Our Tradegy

http://www.pnwlocalnews.com/whidbey/wnt/news/57657252.html

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/57666752.html

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=3596&id=100000187214124&ref=nf

Our Boating Tragedy

First off, let me say that I am glad that both of us survived this latest adventure that we as a couple seem to be chocking up in our lives together. The omens that befell upon us as we began what was supposed to be a three day weekend of fun on our boat this Labor Day weekend, should have stopped us in our tracks, but didn’t. It actually turned onto four, as I got an unexpected day off on Friday after I begged for it. After a long, hot dry summer this year, the weather suddenly turned sour for the weekend, but we had no idea how bad it would be. As always, we checked the marine weather forecast on Thursday and saw that Saturday was going to be the worst day out of the three for boating weather and I was happy to get Friday off so we could get an early start on our long voyage to the San Juan Islands. There, we were supposed to hook up with with our good friends Larry, Lynette, Pam, and Rick. Larry and Lynette were taking their boat up and Pam and Rick were gong to be camping there at Snug Harbor Resort. Once we were all there, our other very good friends, Tori and Kevin who live on San Juan, were going to host us all at their home for a BBQ. We were looking forward to it immensely!!

Right out of home port, things went south. After fueling, we started our trek which would be about six hours to San Juan Island. Our main goal was to get there before dark and we were on track to make it. After just 45 minutes into it, we discovered we had radio problems. We could transmit and be heard, but couldn’t hear any replies. After some investigation, it was discovered we had a wire that was shorting out. It was workable and we continued, but in the process of finding that problem, we had pulled on a vaccum line that used to be connected to two gauges on our upper helm and were now connected together after one of the gauges failed. This was allowing air to get into our fuel line and our port engine started losing power occasionally before it would recover for awhile then lose power again. We decided to reluctantly turn back and go back to our dock. I made an attempt to fix the problem and thought I had achieved success. In the meantime we discovered Larry and Lynette had blown a hose on the way and started taking on water. They shut down the affected engine, called the Coast Guard for an escort, and headed back to their home port of Edmonds on one engine. Thanks to a very good mechanic, their repairs were underway. Now knowing we could not make San Juan before dark, we decided to head up to Edmonds and stay in their marina and would proceed Saturday morning provided the weather was acceptable. We headed out, things seemed good and we realized the power loss problem was not corrected. We were also experiencing it in both engines at this point. It wasn’t bad enough that we thought we might loose either one so we continued to Edmonds and arrived just as it was getting dark. I made the decision then, that if the problem could not be fixed, we would not continue. Early the following morning, Larry and I changed both fuel filters and did a very thorough wrapping with rescue tape of the vaccum line connection. We did a last minute listen of the NOAA marine forecast and it sounded a bit dicey especially at our destination where winds were expected to blow to 35 mph later that day. This is where I felt a gut feeling that I should have followed that we should not go, but we did.

Things were finally looking good. The weather wasn’t bad, seas were calm, both boats were fixed and running fantastic, it seemed all was on the upside. We headed up Saratoga Passage and were rounding the north part of Camano Island and into Skagit Bay when the weather turned and all hell broke loose. The wind had picked up and the waves had also. I radioed Larry and wondered if it was wise to continue. After some discussion, we decided to go through Deception Pass and see what the seas were like on the west side and make our decision then. It wasn’t but another fifteen minutes and the winds had increased twofold. Just as Deb and I realized this wasn’t a good idea, Larry had already turned around and we followed hoping to get over to Oak Harbor and into safe harbor. Once again we faced ever increasing winds and the wave swells were hitting at our port side at a good six feet. We had waves going over the bow and even over our upper helm which was making visibility difficult. We began to get scared and tried to compose ourselves to remain calm. It was all I could do to try and hit the waves at a 45 degree angle to the bow and keep Larry’s boat in sight. We had lost our navagational charts as our laptop was thrown off it’s perch and I had directed Debbie to shut it down and get it secured to prevent it from becoming damaged. I was going to just rely on visual navigation from here. We hadn’t realized it that Larry’s boat had hit something and they were radioing us to move to our port. Once again, the radio had stopped receiving! Soon after we heard a very loud bang that shuddered the boat and sent us sideways. I knew at that moment we were doomed! We immediately began to loose speed although the engines were still running at cruising RPM’s. I got on the radio to Larry that we had hit something but got no response. Even though it was not safe, I told Debbie to get down to the engine compartment to check if we were taking on water. She did and we were badly! I called a mayday on the radio and waited for a response and got none. I was being heard though and Larry was already communicating with the Coast Guard as they were down to one engine due to their hitting something and receiving damage. I decided to shut down the engines hoping that maybe we had blown a shaft or something and shutting down the engines would halt the water inflow. I turned the bilge pumps on and then checked the wiring on the radio and got it working. I then heard the haunting words from Debbie standing below knee deep in water in the cockpit that the boat was sinking and I had to get down and off the boat NOW! When I looked down and saw the whole stern of the boat below water I knew all was lost and jumped into the water!

A strange calm descended on both of us! Luckily both of us had life jackets on although I had never had time to secure mine so I was using mine as a float. While Debbie had been below, she had the where with all to grab my wallet and her Coach purse which she still clung to in the water. She hadn’t had tiome to zip it up and her wallet floated out and beyond reach. We swam as fast as we could away from the boat to prevent being caught in any type of swamping suction that might take us down with it. Both of us remained eerily calm and even cried as we saw our baby sinking beneath the water. Neither of us were scared for our lives at this point for reasons we will never know. The water was frigid, but neither of us were cold. Larry’s boat was getting further away from us, but we were somehow positive we were going to be rescued although the Coast Guard was nowhere in sight. Finally Larry dropped his dinghy and got over to us and hauled us into safety. We got his boat and us in the dinghy into the harbor where there was a multitude of people and fire aid waiting on the docks.

To put and end to this drawn out oratory, we came out of it safe but cold and bruised. Our boat and everything in it is gone. We lost two laptops, three cell phones, TV’s, VCR’s, tools, everything. All we had was the clothes on our backs, my wallet, our lives, very good friends Larry and Lynette who saved us and put us up on their boat, allot of very generous and caring boaters, sheriff, marina personnel, and vessel assist people who went out of their way to help us. We also want to thank Tori and Kevin Hillstrom who came down from San Juan with clothes and treats, and all of our friends in Snoqualmie and Facebook who were caring and were offering their help if needed. Posessions can be replaced, friends and good hearted people cannot. Now it’s time to begin the cleanup and salvage process. It will be an ugly and trying time. Bear with us and we love you all!

Another Vacation on the Boat

Well we just finished our second annual boating vacation (I presume it will be an annual event), and we had a great time. We went further from home in her than we have ever gone before. During most of the Spring we performed annual maintenance, changing oil and filters in both engines and the generator, checking fuel filters, belts, hoses, repaired a raw water impeller, checking the diesel furnace, replacing all the zincs, and even installed a new electric fresh water toilet. Work was also done to our dinghy. Due to the fact we have no davits and can’t hoist it up onto our larger boat, it sits in the water tied up to the rear of the big boat. It sat in the water through the winter until we finally found a trailer to haul it out on. By then the barnacles had created a crusty coating on the whole bottom. Nothing we could do on our own would bring it back to near new, so we had to take it to a boat detailer and had it scraped and bottom painted with anti fouling paint and it wasn’t cheap. Now we were ready for anything.

Our first stop of our cruising adventure was at Snug Harbor Resort on the west side of San Juan Island. It is a very quaint kind of rustic setting and very beautiful. Our good friends Larry & Lynette met us there on their boat. For some reason, even after all my docking experience thus so far, I looked like a rookie boater when I attempted to dock the boat! I had to end the first attempt and turn her around and I backed her in on the second. It was ugly and an embarrassment for me and even Debbie was appalled at the misadventure! I never repeated the travesty again! We settled in for some cocktails and then cruised our dinghys over to Roche Harbor for dinner. Another couple, the Hillstrom’s, met us there and we had a very enjoyable dinner together. They once lived near us in Snoqualmie and now live on San Juan Island enjoying the good life the island has to offer.

We then headed for our next destination which took us into Canada! We have never taken the boat to Canada before and it was an interesting venture going through customs. Larry & Lynette also went up with us. We were in Bedwell Harbor at the Poets Cove Resort and it was a beautiful place. We had to check in at the customs dock before we could get to our assigned slip. Only one person from each boat could go up to the customs office to check in and Debbie did that while I stayed with the boat. It was very windy there and many other boats were pulling in to check in also. Twice I had to catch the lines on boats pulling in next to Larry’s boat as the wind was shoving them right at it! Once we had cleared customs, then it was time to pull out and go to our slips! This was another docking adventure as I had to pull in right next to another boat and the wind was carrying me toward it as I came in. I had to try twice and it took six people on the dock and Larry on the guys boat to get me in without banging into him. I guess I did a pretty good job considering a boat tried seven times before me to get into the same slip and finally gave up. It was a white knuckle experience! We spent two nights there and had a great time. Larry & Lynette went home the morning of the second day and we were on own from there.

Next stop took us to the Ganges Harbor and the town of Ganges. It is the largest town in the Gulf Islands and was a fun place and a little crowded in the harbor when you come in. Not only do have the contingent of boaters going in and out, but multitudes of crab pots everywhere and sea planes landing and taking off all around you. As we pulled into the marina, Debbie heard someone calling her name from another boat. Just so happens, Debbie had worked with her in the past. Small world huh! Ganges is located on Salt Spring Island and we discovered a golf course near by, hmmmmmmmm……..imagine that! Although the weather turned gray and wet, we got on our bikes which we had brought along, and rode up to Salt Springs Country Club and played nine holes of golf. I always enjoy playing golf courses in different out of the way places. It was a pretty good course. Being that Ganges was an actual town unlike Poets Cove, we could shop and eat out and get stuff we needed for the boat and even managed to do a load of laundry. I think Debbie liked it the most!

Off we went to Sidney BC and got a slip in the Port of Sidney Marina. Now this was a nice marina! It was huge and much newer than the previous marinas. They had a nice shop, and laundry where you could watch TV or surf the net while you washed your clothes, and even showed movies at certain times. As a marina, this was my favorite. Sidney itself, seemed like any other town you’d find here in the States, but it was still nice. We didn’t have allot of time to do much here, dinner in a nice restaurant, took a night dinghy ride into the channel, a little shopping, etc. Then we headed back to the US.

Back to San Juan Island we went, this time heading into Friday Harbor. We have been to Friday Harbor before, but never in our own boat. It is a nice place and would be a great area to move to down the road. Tori again met us and we had a great visit. I listen to quite a few podcasts and one of them is called the Gastrocast hosted by Chef Neal Foley (the Podchef) He lives on Shaw Island which is right next to Friday Harbor. I had always wanted to visit the Podchef so I figured this would be a good time. I had contacted him ahead of time and we set up a meet on his farm. We took the dinghy over, including Tori to Shaw Island. He lives right by the water and has a dock we tied up to.  The Podchef and his family really live a different life than most. He raises most of the food they eat which includes vegetables, pigs, chickens, rabbits, milking cow, etc. He is also a trained chef and has worked in restaurants and privately and does catering today, blogs, does his podcast, and works the farm! He has a great family, a wife and four beautiful daughters (two sets of twins)! I find it funny that all that hard work he has to do and has no other male to help out, but I’m sure the girls do what they can. We toured his farm and he treated us to a wonderful lunch prepared from foods he raised on the farm. We had a great time and it was awesome to finally get to meet him!

After the visit we dinghy’d around to the north part of San Juan Island where Tori showed us their waterfront lot where they will build their future home. It is lovely and they will have great views. Hopefully they will have a mooring bouy that we could tie our boat up to. Next we did a drive around the island and visited Bert, their Corgi, and had dinner. It was a nice visit, but it was too bad Kevin was out of town and couldn’t be there. Our final leg of our trip took us back to Seattle for one last night before going back to our home dock in Tacoma. We went through beautiful Deception Pass where the tidal currents can get real strong and nasty. We went against a 6.6 knot current, but handled it just fine! The only hitch in our trip came just as we were about a half hour from Seattle when we looked back to check the dinghy and it was gone!!! The tow line had snapped! Using our binoculars, we located it about half a mile back just bobbing in the waves. We had to scramble back and get it somehow tied up to the boat because we were in the shipping lanes and two cargo ships were bearing down on us! They do not stop! We did manage to finally secure the dinghy so we could tow it to Seattle after many bumps, bangs, against the boat and Debbie’s arms (bruises to prove it). In Seattle we pulled into Bell Harbor Marina where Larry & Lynette were waiting. Just by chance, some friends that live near us in Snoqualmie, the Sheehans, were in Seattle so they came down also. We had a great time and went for dinner. Larry, Paul, and I had many Jaeger shots. I laughed so hard my sides ached. The next morning we went home and ended our cruising vacation. It was fun, exciting, adventurous, and full of happy times with my girl! You can find pictures and videos on the links to the right! Until next time!!

A Week On The Boat

That’s what we did on our recent vacation. It was a few weeks ago, during the end of June and through the 4th of July, but I have been busy and haven’t had a chance to post. We loaded up our bikes, food, plenty of beverages, and Simon the boat kitty and prepared for the voyage. Deb’s birthday was on the 6th, but she got her presents early so we could enjoy them while away. I got her a 22″ Samsung flat screen TV and a DVD/VCR player for the boat!!! The vacation didn’t start well as I discovered after arriving in Tacoma where we moor the boat that I had left my wallet on an ATM at the IGA Market back in Snoqualmiewhich was a 45 mile drive. So back we went to get it and back to Tacoma. I was furious at the waste of time and gas I had caused and Deb wasn’t happy either! She took it better than I did. Luck was with us though that one, someone found it and turned it in, and two, I discovered it gone before we had gone away on the boat!! 

The next day we took off in the boat towing our dinghy behind us and made our first stop at the Bremerton Marina. We took a video of the dinghy being towed and a little scenery as we cruised. The marina was nice as it has been recently been expanded and updated. We moored there for two days, rode our bikes, and dinghy ed over to Port Orchard. Now while Port Orchard is a nice little town, you feel like you are back in the 80’s. Everybody smokes and looks like they are stuck in an earlier time. They were having some kind of festival that day and we witnessed the longest parade in the world. I swear it lasted over two hours. We did have a terrible experience though. When coming into Bremerton, we had the VHF radio on monitoring channel 16 and heard a mayday come over the air. A man was calling for help saying he had just cut off his wife’s leg with the propeller of their boat. You could hear her screaming in the background. It was terrifying as we heard it unfold. Later he was saying she had lost consciousness and feared she would bleed to death. As we were docking, we heard the rescue boat come in and think we saw his boat jet in. We later did some internet search and found the story on the news and discovered she lived, but her leg could not be saved. Those moments are now etched in our minds. Maybe it might make us even more careful than we are. 

After Bremerton, we headed up to Brownsville Marina which is a little more rustic but still very nice. It almost feels like boat camping there. Again we took our bikes out for a very long ride that took us through Silverdale and up to Keyport where we stopped at Whiskey Creek Saloon for a couple of much needed beers. Of course that didn’t help the final leg of the ride. Just as we rode back on the dock and next to the boat, I heard a hissing sound and discovered a shell had pierced my rear tire. What timing for a flat, right by the boat at the end of the ride, thank the lucky stars!!! That ended the bike rides for the remainder of the vacation. We then cruised up to Poulsbo where we set anchor in the bay. We are getting pretty good at anchoring as we set all by ourselves. There we hooked up with our good friend Jane, Larry and Lynette, and Bob and Amy. we had three boats anchored and rafted together and had a big party on the 3rd. Poulsbo sets off their fireworks on the 3rd. It was a pretty good show and we had a damn good time!!! 

Larry and Lynette joined us in our final leg which was back to Bremerton. We had one bad hitch as we got ready to leave and tried to bring up our anchors. We were severely wrapped around Larry’s anchor and tried as we might, we couldn’t undo the tangled mess of chain. Bob had to cut Larry’s anchor to get us separated which was a real drag. Now he has to get a new one. We went back to Bremerton and watched the fireworks show there and that ended our vacation. It was much better than last year as we endured no mishaps and had no problems with our boat. Check out our pictures of our trip and we recorded a couple of podcasts on our Boatvirgins Podcast.

Back On The Water

Well after a long hiatus of boating due to repairs being made and things needing fixing, we have finally made our firstreal voyage of the season! We drove her up to Seattle for the Opening Day of Boating Season which was our first on our boat! It is a big deal up here in the Northwest and one big party! Our baby is looking real good also as we had her washed, waxed, and thoroughly detailed. We also had an engine problem which turned out to be a very stubborn air leakage into the fuel line which was finally solved by our mechanic from Breakwater Marina. We also bought a new dinghy which actually is what they call a tender. We got an 11 foot Boston Whaler with a 25 HP Mercury outboard on it. It is real cute and will last us forever. We got it delivered just the day before we were to head out to Seattle and can’t put it on our boat as it is too heavy for our existing davits, so we had to leave it in our slip. What we plan on doing is to tow it behind us when we go on trips and just leave it in the water behind our boat when we are in our slip. Debbie is learning how to tow and set up the lines to do it. We had a tow line rigged up for us and hope it gets delivered by next weekend so we can start practicing. Since gas and diesel is so expensive these days, we plan on doing just short trips in our boat and allot of dinghying to explore.

Being that is was our first long trip of the season and we’d had problems with our fuel, we were a bit nervous. We also were going to go through the Ballard Locks for the first time and we were going to do it alone on a very busy day. we ended up going through the small locks which are much easier and it went off without a hitch. Then we had to make our way through unfamiliar waters such as Lake Union and the Montlake Cut and there were allot of boats. We also had to find Larry and Lynette’s boat and anchor next to them. Everything worked out fine! We also realized we had a stern anchor too and set that out with help from Larry and a new friend Bob (and Amy)! It was a great time although the weather wasn’t that great until the day we left. The only hitch now is that our brand new inverter isn’t working correctly which I think might be the inverter battery. So we had to run or generator for electricity which is no big deal just noisy and uses fuel. Also I had a run in with some punk that wanted to tie up to us but wouldn’t let him because he and his pals were so ripped and didn’t know what they were doing. He threatened to come aboard to kick my ass but backed down after I got a little crazy with the fool. There always has to be a drunk dumb ass at every event it seems. Our trip back to Tacoma took us through the big locks and there were many boats going through too. It was a bit nerve wracking, but we did it without a hitch and got her back home with no problems. It was allot of fun and now it’s time for more boating!!! We took many pictures which you can see here and also Deb took a video of some sailboats doing some fancy maneuvering by going to our boating YouTube Page and watching it there. We also recorded a podcast of our adventure and you can hear it at our Boat Virgins Podcast Page show number 30. Until next time…..aloha!!!

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