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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!

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Retirement Phase II Completed

It is now final, phase II is in the books! What started in October, has now come to fruition and it hasn’t been easy. We received our keys to our Sequim house just days before Christmas and the long process of moving into two separate residences began New Year’s Eve weekend hauling our trailer and the first load up to the house. The trailer was to be used as a place to sleep since we didn’t have any furniture up there yet! While we were there, we experienced a nice winter storm that dropped a nice deep blanket of snow that (a)caused us to have to leave the trailer there(we needed to bring it back for a repair), and (b)got our truck stuck in it coming up the driveway. You can watch a video I took of it as it began here. It was much deeper in the morning. We eventually dug the truck out. We made the best out of what we had in the trailer, borrowing plates, cups, pots and pans, camping chairs we set up in the living room, New Year’s Eve dinner on a card table and folding chairs, etc. It was an adventure to say the least! Thus began a six month ordeal that was exhausting and weekend consuming…..sorry friends and family.

The next pieces of the puzzle was to get our Snoqualmie house listed and find a place to call a temporary home while the both of us still have to work. Now we have been up here on Snoqualmie Ridge in the same house for 13 years. We thought about where we wanted to hang for the next few years until we can go up to the house full-time, knew we had to rent, realized that the rents here are crazy high, but since we had everything we were familiar with right here, we decided to stay. The hunt was on for a rental and with amazing luck, we stumbled onto a condominium that was just around the corner, and was roomy and the perfect fit for us. More good fortune was added when we discovered Debbie knew the owners. She just so happens to work out with both of them at her Crossfit gym. The deal was done, leased signed, and they allowed us early access to the place and we began the weekly slog of slowly emptying the Crestview house. The hardest part was deciphering was to be done with the 13 year accumulation of material goods. Some would go to the condo, some would go to Sequim, some would be sold/given away, but in the mean time we still had to live in and keep the Crestview house staged for sale. It was an arduous task and seemed to last forever.

Bye Bye Crestview House

Bye Bye Crestview House

The house got listed, weekend showings were done, we continued dragging stuff to the condo every weekend. A couple of times we would load up the back of the truck and head to Sequim with a load for the house there and enjoy a weekend of continued “glamping”. Finally an offer was made and accepted, appraisals and inspections done, and the real gutting began. It started bringing a feeling of melancholy along with the excitement as our beautiful home of thirteen years began looking like a shell. I always loved this house. It was our home of many memories and surrounded by great neighbors and would soon be empty of us. Two separate moves in as many of days were done with a great local mover to handle the heavy stuff and it was well worth the money! They did an excellent job and we had no damage to anything whatsoever! The only hitch was when we unloaded in Sequim and it was discovered my beloved desk for my office would not fit through any of the doors to the rooms I wanted it in. It sits in the garage there for sale….another story! We would also say what a pleasure it was working with our realtor, Bob Mathias, who is a good friend and Crestview neighbor. He did an excellent job and if you are looking to buy or sell on the eastside, he’s your man!

So after six long hard months of planning, strategizing, packing and carrying, we are done. Our plan worked flawlessly. We are mortgage free, our retirement location secured, and we have a great place to call a temporary home just blocks from our old house. All that is left for the final phase is to put in a few more years working for the man and stay healthy. Although we will miss our former home, we have a great new house and new adventure and also a great view from our rental. I say we had a lot of good luck in this, but we also acknowledge that we are truly blessed. Maybe it’s time to go back to church!

Condo View

Retirement Location Solidifies………

…….and our heads are spinning! It all began with another exploratory vacation. Recent vacations have been either camping with our friends in cool National Parks or going to locations that are on our radar for retirement while also having fun. We have looked at Flagstaff(Deb didn’t like), Sedona(beautiful but pricey real estate), Prescott(stumbled upon and really liked), but in the end we decided that we didn’t want to be that far from the guys! We also liked Jackson, WY and the cheap living in the state for retirees, then we started looking at what was for sale and lost our minds with the high prices! Cody, WY was an interesting town but has some very harsh weather. Recently added to the radar was Sand Point, ID which we drove through and liked the area. Plans were to be made in the future to have a closer look around. We have always loved Leavenworth and even looked around at properties which we found reasonable, but what turned the tide was the yearly summer fire season that could or could not happen. Closer to home, we started looking at Cle Elum, Ronald, and Roslyn. The area was beautiful, just over the pass, and prices were just what we were looking for, a great place to continue to explore!

Then in October we hooked up the trailer and headed up to the Port Angeles and Sequim area on the Olympic Peninsula nestled between the Olympic Mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Port Angeles is an old working port/lumber town that is a bit gritty but with fantastic future potential. Sequim has become a magnet town for retirees with its more sunny disposition, being protected by the Olympic Mountain rain shadow. Something started clicking with the area the more we started looking around. We looked all over the area even taking a drive over to Port Townsend. We have always loved that place with its Victorian character, but as we started scoping homes, we were shocked at the prices. It seems the place has been “discovered” unfortunately!

As we continued to explore the surrounding area and looking at homes, we started narrowing the target to the hills between the two towns. Then we stumbled upon the house pictured below and a warm fuzzy feeling happened between the two of us. The first time we saw the place, we were driving around with a Zillow ap open on one phone and Trulia on the other. We like to explore on our own. We drove the cul-de-sac, took some photos, parked in the drive and since it was empty, looked around. One of the neighbors across the street noticed us perusing the property and came over cheerfully asking if we had any questions, she would help! Before long, another couple drove up and joined the conversation. Wow, we had just met two neighbors and liked them both!! Things were looking good. We contacted the listing agent and got an inside look and realized, THIS WAS IT!!!!!! After multiple offers and counters back and forth, the house was ours, well at least was in the works to be ours and now our search is over.

What happens next? Well……..lots! As of this writing, the loan is being closed and we are awaiting one final step, the appraisal. If all goes as planned, we should receive our keys to our retirement home just before Christmas! We will list our Snoqualmie home after the holidays in mid January. This will give us time to get the purchase closed, get ready for selling and also enjoy the holidays. Are we moving from Snoqualmie??? The answer is no! There still lies the ugly fact that both of us have to continue to work. Debbie is on a path to retire in just over two years. At that time we will just have to crunch numbers and see what happens with me, more in another upcoming post! It shall be an interesting time ahead!!!

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!!!

Out With The Old

The year of 2016 is a year of change at the Givens Estate! We have lived here in Snoqualmie and basically not much has changed since we got here! Same old, same old! We brought down a bunch of stuff from the San Juan cabin and furnished one of the bedrooms with some of that furniture. We also bought a new sectional for the family room and also incorporated some cabin tables into the final result! Boy did it change the look of the room, photos below:

The New

The New

We also finally got a nice patio furniture to make the backyard more enjoyable. Very nice to light up a fire without smoking out our upstairs or our neighbors homes.

And finally, after 14 years of very reliable service and just over 225,000 miles, it was time to let go of the old Mercedes ML320! While it was still in great shape, things were starting to go: ABS pump had just gone out, timing chain was rattling, the head was slightly warped, and it had developed a very slow rear engine seal leak. Just too many miles on it to start pumping money into it! We just happened to wander into our local Mercedes dealer and stumbled on this 2014 C300 with only 7,000 miles on it and was a screaming deal! We couldn’t resist and drove her home! Our old reliable found a new home via a donation to Habitat For Humanity Cars For Homes! It was sad to see her go, but it was time. Now we cross our fingers that the Toyota Avalon with 222K on it holds up for a while longer, because we just don’t want two car payments at this time!

oldmerc2

Bye Bye Old Friend

Touring Arizona

Well as I mentioned in my last post, we have sold our San Juan Island cabin in what will be our first small step on the road to retirement. Now we need to investigate where we want to end up when we do, and it won’t be remaining in the Seattle area! The region has grown too large and continues to do so as people are just flocking to the area left and right. Along with this rampant growth comes a higher cost of living with a lower quality of life, in my own humble opinion and it is time to get the hell out! Our first destination on the list is Arizona. As a heat hating person, I had my sights set on Flagstaff where it’s elevation provides all four seasons, not scorching hot in the summer, and Debbie gets her sunshine! We used our timeshare at the Wyndham Flagstaff Resort as our base of operations and we enjoyed the comfy accommodations! Along with looking around the area and checking out housing, we also had the opportunity to hook up with friends, and old friends at that! Our first hook up was with Jeff and Jamie Simon. I have known Jeff for many years as we used to work together at S.E. Rykoff in my old restaurant supply sales career life back in the early 80’s. We have been friends ever since. They joined us on a drive down to Sedona to have a look-see. We LOVE Sedona, however, the home prices seem a bit steep for us there and are not exactly looking to retire in a tourist town. It is a beautiful place and we looked at many homes and walked the shops and enjoyed the scenery. Before it got too late we decided to make a trip down to Jerome since we were close. Now that town is a trip! Once a thriving copper mining town, it is now a tourist town and claims to be the largest ghost town in America. It has a weird vibe to it, but very cool nonetheless. We stopped in an old hotel, The Connor, for a drink in its old bar. The place was hopping for a Sunday afternoon and a very good band was playing. It was a good time and we jetted back to Flagstaff for dinner and a light snow was falling……loved it! They had to head back to So Cal the next day to face reality and we had the rest of the week for vacation and it was good seeing them again!

Our next visit with friends was with our good friends Bob and Patti McEvoy. They are close by down in Surprise and drove up to spend a couple of days with us doing some sight-seeing. Our first stop was up to the Grand Canyon’s south rim. In all her years of life, Debbie had never been or seen the Grand Canyon and as you can imagine, she was awestruck. I hadn’t been in years and had forgotten the majesty of the place. Let us hope that any proposed development of the area is stopped in its tracks. Must money ruin everything? We spent most of the day there and drove the south rim road and stopped at a few of the vantage spots. Some of the pictures are shown below.

Mostly Grand Canyon Pictures

 


We had another day with the McEvoys sightseeing. Bob is a great tour guide and does his research on things to do and places to see. He will find places that we would have never thought of checking out. The first place on the day’s tour was Two Guns Ghost Town. It was an old abandoned town along old Route 66 that I am sure had stories to tell. It was a very weird place that you could see had numerous attempts of being a viable place but failed. We love old stuff like this! We then jaunted out to the Meteor Crater, which looked like…….well…….a big crater! Being in Arizona with little rainfall, it is the best preserved meteorite impact on Earth and believe it or not, is not a National Park or landmark, but is family owned for many generations! Heading back towards Flagstaff, we took a short detour down to the Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings. These are old relics of an ancient Indian village built into the underside of cliffs very similar to Mesa Verde. Brought back memories of my life in New Mexico. It was a nice hike down into the “island” where many of the dwellings are located. Fun times with friends!!!

Two Guns Ghost Town


 

Walnut Canyon Cliff Dwellings


Now the time spent on our own was looking around Flagstaff at neighborhoods, different areas of town, and homes. Most of what we found just didn’t hit a home run with us. While I loved the beauty and all of the trees, Debbie just didn’t click with the housing options we saw for sale. Prices seemed high for what you got and many homes were a bit older for our liking. I was a bit depressed at that point. Then we drove down to Prescott!!! The minute we pulled into town, we knew we loved it there. As a matter of fact, we drove down twice in the week we were in AZ and looked all over the place and saw many homes. The town square was quaint and vibrant and everyone seemed nice and friendly. We were a little aghast of so many gated communities that had houses for sale that we couldn’t see unless we had a realtor get us in. It is a bit too early in our search to engage in services from a realtor just yet as we are still a few years out from anything. Still, it doesn’t hurt to start scouting out areas ahead of time. Also on our list of possible destinations are Coeur d’Alene, Idaho and also maybe Sequim if we decide to stay in Washington. Wherever, whatever, can’t wait!!!!!!!

Big Changes At The Estate

Another View

The Entry View

 

Well after enjoying our little cabin aka “Givens Grove” for four years, it is time to move on! We have sold our little getaway in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had many great times there and created wonderful memories with our friends who live up there and for the ones that made a visit. Our retirement plans have morphed into something different and it just wasn’t going to happen there. One of the reasons is being reliant on a ferry schedule that in some times of the year, isn’t too forgiving. I am sure if we had planted ourselves there full time we would have made the adjustment. Another reason….Island politics and attitudes……..didn’t mesh with ours, simple as that! Fun times and no regrets and now our search for our retirement location begins! Stay tuned!

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