I was aiming to cross the border further East but hoping to not cross too many mountain ranges in doing so. So the first part of our route brought back memories of our RV trip in 2013, when we did the huge loop around British Columbia in a Canadream hire RV, as we were following the same route but in reverse. Up BC 1 to just above Hope and then BC 3 (known as the Crowsnest Highway) to Princeton.
We arrived in Princeton and stayed overnight at a small site called River’s Edge RV & Camping.
The next morning we were off again after dumping the tanks (getting rid of excess water etc. this site just had 30amp electricity and water connections), and on to BC 3 to the bottom of Christina Lake. Here we stayed in our last campsite in Canada called Cascade Cove RV Park. Purpose of the stop here was twofold. One to get ourselves ready to cross back into the USA by reading what we were allowed to take back in , and two to have a last look around Canada.
Our site was just above the border crossing at Laurier.
Just back along BC 3 from where we parked was the town of Grand Forks which had a fascinating little museum called the Boundary Museum. It contained a lot of very interesting exhibits from a whole room devoted to the Doukhobors, to a whole store and an exhibit of a copper mine that grew to be huge in 10 years and 10 years later nothing of it existed. Boom to bust in 20 years!!
The Doukhobors were a Russian religious sect that believed in hard work and rejected the use of any technology. A bit like the Amish they built a community in the area that farmed thousands of acres and built schools and towns devoted to their way of life. Unfortunately they were distrusted by the local population and by federal government, which gradually split the communities, firstly by making all schools abandon Russian as a language, and then by forcibly taking children and putting them in residential schools stopping them learning about their culture and breaking the link between generations. Because of this the community farms no longer exist and the Doukhobors were assimilated into the general population of Canada.
Grand Forks was an interesting little town but unfortunately a lot of it was closed up due to the Fraser river flooding it in the early spring.
We also had a look around Christina Lake which is a huge lake with homes right on the edge with boat docks, beaches (can never get used the idea of a beach on a lake) and lots of little inlets and parks all around it.
I also took a hike up to Cascade falls just up the Kettle river from Cascade Cove RV Park.
Having got rid of all the foodstuffs we thought would get confiscated at the US/Canada border on the Monday 23rd we crossed back into the USA at the Laurier border crossing.
And despite our best efforts our tomatoes and peppers were confiscated by the guard who searched the RV. Didn’t read they were banned anywhere until he showed us another list. But he let us back in and stamped our passports until January 2019.
So we set off to Spokane RV Resort in Deer Park just about 15 miles north of Spokane, Washington. This was a lovely site right next to a golf course.
To be honest we were treating this site as a rest stop as we thought there wasn’t much to see around the area and we needed a rest. The facilities were great, lovely sites, great swimming pool and we found that our next door neighbours were from Edmonton in Canada and we got on very well with them and enjoyed their company.
We were told we ought to go and see Coeur d’Alene which was a very pretty lake and there was quite a lot to see in the town. Well it turned out to be a nice lake but the town was one of those American tourist traps.
You can probably guess we were not too impressed, but I guess it must appeal to someone as it was doing a roaring trade.
Next stop was Spokane itself. There was supposed to be some impressive falls here. But two problems arose. Firstly the park (Riverfront Park) where the falls were, had been part of the 1974 World Fair and lots of the structures were being updated as they had obviously got a bit old and tatty. So about 60% of the park was closed and it made it a lot harder to walk around. I will give it its due when it is finished it will look quite spectacular if the plans are to be believed, but in 2018 it is a building site!!
And secondly the Falls we were told are spectacular when the river is in full flow. Only when we arrived there was not much water going over them.
On the Saturday we had to move sites right next to the golf course.
Then Deer Park held Settlers Day which apparently is the oldest continuous community celebration in the State of Washington, running over 100 years. And I have to say that Anne and I really enjoyed it. We walked around here for hours, meeting various people, and listening to the music that was being played by various groups.
And then we moved on into Montana after crossing a little bit of Idaho.
I have also updated the RV Map but as is usual it is ahead of where we really are.
But more of that in my next post as Montana is another story.
Caroline & Rashied and family returned late on the Monday from the USA as extensive shopping had to take place in various US outlet malls.
On the Tuesday they came out to us and we all visited the Fort that Fort Langley is named after. Another place with lots to do although initially a fine drizzle put a bit of a damper on it.
We ate in the RV and then they all returned to Tim’s.
Next up was the trolley bus tour of Vancouver. We decided that we would get off at two points, Prospect Point which has views over the harbour and the Lions Gate Bridge, and the Chinese garden.
Zara decided to entertain the people on the bus by giving them a royal wave much to everyone’s amusement.
Then we got off at Prospect Point where we had lunch and the terrible twosome were given sun glasses.
Then we got back on the bus and got off again at the Chinese garden.
Caroline and Rashied went off souvenier shopping again as they hadn’t bought all they wanted to.
On the Thursday we were invited to Brenda’s house (Emily’s mother) for a barbeque in the evening. So we decided to spend the day visiting Squamish and Shannon Falls as her as her house was at Horseshoe bay on the way back.
We went into Squamish to get something to eat and of course the obligatory shopping!!
Then we drove back to Brenda’s house for the barbeque. It overlooks Horseshoe Bay and the marina.
Brenda treated us to a great barbeque (with Tim on gas barbeque duty) and we thoroughly enjoyed the evening.
And then we reached the last full day before before Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara were due to go back to the UK.
They still had some shopping to do so after returning their hire car we took the train into central Vancouver to “The Bay” (the shop named after the Hudson Bay company).
Then we went to Granville Island on the Water Bus.
You guessed it, more shopping took place, and we also had lunch there, before walking to Kitsilano (Kits) Beach for Zaid and Zara to get their last swim in Canada.
Tim and Emily joined us after work and we all walked back to the Afghan Horsemen for the family’s last meal out in Vancouver.
And suddenly it was Saturday the 14th and we arrived at Tim’s early to find they still hadn’t completely packed. They finally managed to get their clothes and all that shopping in their cases, plus a few extra carry on items!! Their luggage was a little bit overweight, but Zara did a good job of charming the airline staff, so they managed to check in without an extra costs. And then we had to say goodbye. Speaking for Anne and I we had a great time in Vancouver with them, and I think they thought the same!!
Afterwards we returned the car seats and the cot to the hire firm and then returned to the RV to relax!!
On Sunday we met up with Anna, Ian (Anna’s Dad) and Jim, Anna’s new partner, for breakfast at the White Spot, where we caught up with what they had been up to since we last saw them.
Monday was a day of rest and Tuesday was time to get the RV ready to move on. We met up with Tim and Emily in the evening for our last meal out in Vancouver.
And then on Wednesday we set off across Canada to reach the point we had decided to cross the border back into the USA, which is the next post.
We arrived in Vancouver on the 25th July a few days ahead of Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara as we were charged with picking up the car seats and the travel cot they had hired for their holiday in Vancouver at Tim’s house. It was lovely to meet up Tim again and meet his new
It also gave us time to get ourselves sorted out before the rabble arrived!!
We had booked a site at Fort Camping, on Brae Island, near Fort Langley about 26 miles out of Vancouver from Tim’s house. About a week before we were due to arrive an email arrived saying this
We are currently experiencing a very high number of mosquitoes, not only here at the campground, but all along the Fraser River.
As you can gather we were not exactly looking forward to meeting them, but we had really no option as the booking was for 3½ weeks and no one else was going to fit us in for that period of time at such short notice!!
When we arrived we got even more worried as the booking office was covered in a huge mosquito net which did not bode well. Looked like we going to be wearing “L’Eau de Deet” for the entire stay. However, we pressed on and we had a nice site, but the mozzies descended and both of us got bitten setting ourselves up on the site, so we quickly retreated inside, although a few followed us in, where they met an untimely death!!
The next couple of days were spent sorting out various routes in and out of Vancouver and getting our supplies in from the local supermarkets and we also had a meal out locally with Tim and Emily.
Then Thursday 28th June arrived, the start date of the “Dirk Invasion” (the name of the Whatsapp Group we set up !!). Anne and I went and picked up the two car seats and the travel cot, taking them to Tim’s house, and from there Tim drove us to the Airport.
After about an hour wait, Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara came through the doors into International Arrivals.
Caroline, Rashied, Zaid and Zara got in a taxi plus luggage and we went back to Tim’s car to go to his house, where they had already arrived plus the mound of luggage. They were are determined to stay up as late as possible, so the toys Tim, Emiy and Anne had amassed were brought out.
I took Zaid for a walk down to the Fraser river, because as per usual he was still going strong, and then we went to a local White Spot to get something to eat. At this point they were all beginning to feel the effects of the travel, so they all went back to Tim’s house for their first night’s sleep in Canada, and we went back to the RV.
The following day had been designated a shopping day by Caroline, so we met them at the Real Canadian Superstore near Tim’s house. They had already been there an hour when we arrived but it took a further 2½ hours to complete the shopping, at which point we all went back to Tim’s where later that day he cooked us a salmon dinner which came on a cedar plank. It made a very tasty meal, but the time difference and all that shopping had caught up with someone!!
Emily joined us on the next day as it was Saturday and we went into central Vancouver on the bus and the train to Waterfront Station. Walked down to Gastown and saw the steam clock where Emily had booked a sushi meal in a restaurant there for lunch.
After lunch we took the SeaBus to the other side of Vancouver harbour to see the city across the water.
Grandad was volunteered to take Zaid on the tour of HMCS Calgary, a Canadian Navy frigate, that was docked here and they were doing guided tours of the ship. The rest of them walked around the market. Zaid and I had a great time looking over the ship.
We then returned to central Vancouver to see some of the cruise ships leave.
Sunday saw us all going out to Steveston where there was big Canada Day celebration with the entire main street pedestrianised and turned over to all sorts of pop up demonstrations, food stalls, local stalls, beer areas and many other interesting exhibits.
After a long day in the sun we returned to Tim’s house for barbequed hot dogs, potato salad and salad.
Monday was a public holiday in Canada as Canada Day was on a Sunday, so we all went to Lynn Canyon Park to see the falls and cross the suspension bridge.
After the canyon, Zaid had spotted another water park on the way, so we ended up there.
Had a nice meal in a Persian restaurant called the Casbah and then everyone went home after a long day.
Caroline and Rashied and family visited us in the RV the next day, after they had been down to the USA border to get their entry visas for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend. We spent quite a lot of time at the pool and then adjourned back to the RV for dinner.
They left so late that their car got locked in the visitors car park and we had to find the security guy to let them out!!
The next day was a swimming day as well, but this time at Stanley Park’s second Beach pool. It was a lovely day and almost everyone got in the pool at sometime during the day.
And the whirl continued the next day with a trip up Grouse Mountain on the Gondola.
Lots to do at the top, so here are a few(!!) highlights.
We had a long queue to get down the mountain to the car park and Rashied was supposed to be picking up their hire car by 6pm for their trip to see Julia and Michael in Port Townsend. Because we were late leaving we got stuck in the rush hour traffic and had to abandon that and find somewhere to eat instead. We ended up at Tony’s Fish and Oyster Café on Granville Island where we had a lovely meal.
We then went our separate ways, Caroline, Rashied and the kids back to Tim’s to get ready for their trip to Port Townsend, and us back to the RV.
The next few days we managed to get some well earned rest, as chasing around after grandkids is exhausting. Tim and Emily had a college project they had to finish. However, we did meet up with them on Sunday night for an Indian meal at Thali’s restaurant in Surrey, half way for both of us.
Part 2 covering the second week and more of our Vancouver stay to follow.
We drove along RT101 having already arranged with Julia (my sister Wendy’s daughter) that she would meet us on the edge of Port Townsend to guide us into our site at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park, as there was a lot of road works on the main route. She had investigated a couple of alternative routes, avoiding narrow roads (does such a thing exist in the USA?), and overhanging trees (remember we are 12ft 6in high just under truck height) and had chosen one that would work.
Julia was parked up on the edge of the road and we followed her in to our site. Wow not quite a front row waterfront site, but only one row back looking out over the Puget Sound which is around the Fort Worden Point from the Straits of Juan de Fuca and is the main shipping route into Seattle from the Pacific.
We went out for a meal at Doc’s marina Grill with Julia and Michael in the evening where we worked out what we would do over the weekend. It was lovely to see them at last and after a very nice meal we went to bed that night with sound of the channel bell tinkling away in the distance.
On the Saturday it had been decided we would drive to Julia’s and Michael’s early in order to drive to Hurricane Ridge, but on the way stop for breakfast in Port Angeles at a place that Julia knew called Chestnut Cottage. After a lovely breakfast we then carried on up to Hurricane Ridge, 5,242ft up in the Washington Olympic National Park. From here you get 360° views of the mountains inland to the south and Port Angeles, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Vancouver Island to the North. There is also quite a bit of wildlife around, the deer especially just grazing peacefully yards from the visitors centre.
From here we went to Dungeness Spit in the above photo, a spit of sand that sticks out into the Straits and has a lighthouse at the end. Waves crashing in on the beach and yet more driftwood. An artist who used driftwood as their medium would not lack a supply for their art in Washington state.
We then returned to Julia and Michael’s house where we had a steak barbeque. The views from the front of their house over Discovery Bay are absolutely stunning especially when the sun sets through the trees.
The next day (Sunday) we set off early again from J&M’s house to go and see Lake Cushman, a snow melt fed lake in the Olympic National Park. The weather was now getting hotter and we arrived at the lake in brilliant sunshine.
We then drove back to J&M’s for another barbeque and another look at Discovery Bay.
Monday was a work day for J&M so we just pottered around the RV Park and the Marina, but we returned the favour and cooked them a meal in the RV after they had finished work.
On the Tuesday both Julia and Michael had the afternoon off so we met them at the Spruce Goose at Port Townsend “International ” Airport. It is an International Airport as people fly into it from Canada in their private planes!! The Spruce Goose is renowned for its fruit pies and I can say with some certainty they lived up to their reputation. We then drove back to Port Townsend and we walked around looking at the sights. Pretty little town with some interesting shops.
We ate out in the evening at the Old Whiskey Mill.
On the Wednesday we decided to drive to Seattle to have a look round. Got caught up in a massive traffic jam where they were redeveloping the I5 at Tacoma, so it took us a bit longer than expected.
First we visited Pike Place Market, which sells almost anything you can think of but is also famous for a particular fishmonger that throws their fish around when creating a display.
From here we drove to see the Space Needle and the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The Space Needle was partially closed because they were refurbishing it, but there were still some magnificent views. The Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum was an absolute stunning exhibition of Dale Chihuly’s glass works.
Judy (Anne’s pen friend in Florida) had told us to visit this place and all I can say is if you get a chance to see it don’t miss it.
After eating our evening meal in Seattle we decided to go back to Port Townsend using the Bainbridge Island ferry.
On the Thursday we had a rest day after the long day in Seattle, although we did manage to fit in a trip to Poulsbo for the mandatory Quilt shop visit. In the evening we went out J&M’s for a barbeque and the group photo!!
And Friday 22nd dawned and it was Anne’s birthday. We first of all Skyped Alan and then Claire, although we missed Caroline’s call, so they could all wish her Happy Birthday. We had managed to find some clotted cream in Poulsbo the previous day so I made some scones from a packet mix in the convection oven, and we had a cream tea in the afternoon with Julia, after we had visited the Port Townsend Museum.
And then we went to a local restaurant called The Fountain for Anne’s Birthday dinner.
Saturday dawned and we had to get up early to pack everything up, hitch up the Spark and get ready for our Ferry crossing to Coupeville at 11.45am. We had to be there 45 minutes before the booking time, and Julia and Michael came to see us off. We really enjoyed our visit to them and all they had arranged for us to do. We really liked Port Townsend and there house on Discovery Bay.
So at 11.00 am we pulled up at the ferry gate and got measured (50ft 6in long and well within the height as the ferry takes trucks).
We then paid our fare and waited in Row 1 for the ferry to arrive.
We were first on as we were the biggest vehicle on this trip and they parked us right at the front in the middle of the car deck, so we got a really great view out of our front window for the whole trip.
Eventual destination is the KOA at Concrete / Grandy Creek which is only 50 miles from the US / Canada border but below the last Flying J / Pilot gas (petrol) station where we have to fill up as petrol is way more expensive in Canada than in the US.
Also gives us time to figure out what we can and cannot take across the border as everything we read gives a different story from “they will intensively search your vehicle” to “they will stamp your passports and wave you through”!!
We arrived at the campground at about 2.30pm and parked up. Nice site, but obviously a Canadian / USA camping holiday destination as there are hundreds of children running around!!
After we had sorted out our laundry and checked all that was in the fridge etc. on Monday 25th June we set off to the border.
After about half an hour we reached the border. The guy in the booth asked us if we had any Tobacco, Alcohol, Firearms and explosives, to which the answer was “No Tobacco, 2 bottles of wine, no firearms or explosives”, he stamped our Passports and said “Welcome to Canada, enjoy your stay” and waved us through. Next sign we saw was …….
And we then drove to our Canadian site for the next 3 weeks, Fort Camping, Brae Island, Fort Langley, British Columbia.
I had booked this site in complete ignorance that Forks was the setting for the Twilight books by Stephenie Meyer which were later turned into the Twilight films. Luckily we did not see any vampires!! Of course our children thought it was a huge joke that the “parentals” didn’t realise the significance of Forks!!
To be honest we booked this site to give ourselves a bit of a rest after the guided tours of Bend and Portland (thank you Judy and Susan!!), as we looked at the guide books and it appeared that they were not many touristy things to do. That shows that you should never trust guide books as they might be coming from a different perspective from you. They were right about Forks itself as apart from a good Fabric/Quilting shop and a rather run down timber museum there was very little to recommend it. The people were friendly and the supermarkets were fine so that was all we needed.
The site we stayed at Riverview RV Park was really excellent. Good sites, not too busy, and really friendly owners.
After a couple of days of doing nothing (bliss) we set off to take a look at a local seaport called La Plush. Amazingly pretty place, rather like a Cornish crabbing village but on a larger scale as you will see. Loads of wildlife including bald eagles and seals, plus a crab fishing fleet and numerous sport fishermen catching cod and halibut.
A beautiful place made even more beautiful by the discovery of Rialto beach which is reached by driving down the road on the other side of the Quillayute River that runs into the port.
This beach is one of those places that takes your breath away and makes you sit back and just enjoy your surroundings, and it wasn’t even mentioned in the guide book!!
The next place we found was the Makah Cultural and Research Center at Neah Bay, which is on the Makah Indian Reservation right at the top left hand corner of Washington State. To get there you drive along RT 112 which winds along the northern coast of Washington State. Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca is Vancouver Island, our first sighting of Canada.
The road itself was really interesting as it was right on the edge of the coast and in some cases they had carved the cliffs out to accommodate it.
The Makah Indian Museum was really interesting, with most of the artefacts in the museum excavated from an archaeological dig. The site of the dig was a Makah village further down the coast at Ozette that had been completely covered by a mud slide sometime in the last 300-500 years. A bit like Pompeii it was a sudden event, so complete Makah Indian longhouses had been engulfed and the people and cultural artefacts had been frozen in time. It is well worth a visit, but I can only show you external pictures as for some strange reason they wouldn’t allow photographs to be taken inside the museum.
Neah Bay itself was an interesting place, with a small port and some shops.
Next day we had a closer look around Forks, still didn’t discover anything of interest except this (this is going to bore most readers except if you are a train buff!).
There was an example of a very unusual train that was used in the logging industry around this area. It is called The Shay Locomotive and it featured a steam driven, all wheel drive engine that could pull huge loads up very steep inclines and didn’t need steel rails, it could work on wooden rails.
Instead of a normal steam cylinder driving the front wheels like a normal steam engine, the steam was used to drive vertical cylinders which in turn drove universal joints geared onto each axle including the tender, which meant although they ran very slowly the tractive power was immense. It’s a bit like putting a transverse engine into a train.
On our last day in Forks we went back to have another look at Rialto Beach on a beautifully sunny day (which boded well for our upcoming visit to Port Townsend). It was as wild as ever but it was lovely to just sit there and watch the Pacific waves crash onto the beach.
The next day we drove to Port Townsend. More of this in the next post.
The drive to Portland was quite short but quite complicated with all the bridges over the Willamette and Columbia rivers. Didn’t help that we met a bridge swing queue!! Also it was my last chance to put the RV through a truck wash, but it did look good afterwards!!
Here it is parked up at our site at Sandy Riverfront RV and the river was right behind us.
We had come to Portland not only to see the sights but also to meet up with Susan Dean, Anne’s cousin. She promised to show us the sights in and around Portland, and she lived up to her promise.
On the Saturday we visited the Chinese Garden in Portland. The garden was built in 1999-2000 and was a collaboration with the Chinese city of Suzhou which Portland is twinned with. It was built by 65 artisans from Suzhou to a design by Kuang Zhen, with over 500 tons of rock including special Tai Hu rocks from Lake Tai in China. All the wood used was also imported and are from native trees of China. A very interesting and tranquil place, although when we visited it a Taekwondo demonstration was taking place, which made it a bit noisier!!
From here we walked into downtown Portland where there was a Saturday Market and a Funfair.
We then took a trip on an aerial tramway to the hospital complex where Susan used to work (now retired), but it also gave you good views of Portland and its surroundings.
The next day Susan took us on a scenic drive to see Mt Hood, via the Multnomah Falls and Bonneville Dam that Judy Goff had recommended because of the salmon ladder.
Prior to this we also stopped at a viewpoint that let you see the Columbia River Gorge.
Then we got to Mt Hood, and the Timberline Lodge. Some ski runs were still open in June, and the mountain still had quite a lot of snow on it. It is used as an Olympic skiing training centre as it has ski runs open all year round.
Keeping up the pace, Susan took us to see Mt St Helens the following day. This is the volcano that erupted in a huge explosion in May 1980, resulting in the top of the mountain being blown off, and one entire side collapsing leaving a horseshoe shaped caldera. The eruption killed fifty-seven people, and destroyed 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway. The elevation of summit of St Helens was reduced from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m) and it’s mass was reduced by 0.7 cubic miles which was spread over the surrounding countryside as ash and a pyroclastic flow avalanche which flattened an area of 230 sq. miles. An entire lake and recreation area called Spirit Lake was also destroyed with the remains of the lake containing hundreds of logs blown over in the explosion. It continues to erupt to this day, but not as violently, and is still an active volcano.
As you drive up to Johnston Ridge Observatory you see the ash fields and the trees that were flattened by the explosion.
On the Tuesday the “Big Beast” had a first full service, which was required in the terms of our extended warranty, so we had to get up early, disconnect everything and hitch up the Spark. Susan was expecting us at her house later in the evening to meet more of Anne’s and Susan’s relations.
As is usual with the best laid plans of mice and men the service ran longer than was expected so we had to agree to leave “Big Beast” overnight, so we now had nowhere to sleep. Luckily Susan had a spare room and wouldn’t take “no” for an answer so we spent the evening meeting Anne’s relations and then stayed at her house. Susan’s son Orion (and his family) was one of those relations, plus some other very nice people we will someday figure out how we were related!! But it was a very good evening and we enjoyed meeting everyone, plus we also found out that Orion and his family would be at our next site, Fort Stevens, at the weekend and we promised to meet up with them.
So next day we went to pick up “Big Beast” after saying goodbye to Susan, we were due to move on the next day, only to find it still wasn’t ready and could we come back at midday. We returned as asked and all was well, so we drove back to our last night at the campsite.
The next day we moved on to Fort Stevens State Park, near Astoria in the top left hand corner of Oregon. We decided to camp there so we could see the rest of the Oregon coast down to the point of our trip North from Depoe Bay and the Washington coast north of the Columbia river which has a peninsular called Long Beach.
We had a very shaded but nice site in amongst the trees of the campground.
Fort Stevens has 3 or 4 artillery bunkers that were manned in World War II. It is the only place in the USA that was bombarded in that war. A Japanese submarine came in close and used its gun to fire on the Fort. The battery retaliated but the only damage caused on either side was a shell that exploded on the Fort’s baseball field!!
The southern arm of the Southern Jetty that together with the Northern Jetty protects the mouth of the Columbia river extends from the top of the state park out into the river.
The Columbia river entrance and sand bar is a very dangerous entrance to one of the main shipping rivers in the USA. Because of this the US Coastguard has their National Motor Lifeboat Training School based there as the sea conditions can be some of the worst on the Pacific Coast.
Nearby is the Astoria bridge that joins Oregon to Washington.
As promised Orion, Caitlin and Rose and friends turned up on the Saturday and we were introduced to the delights of s’mores toasted on their campfire (American campers love their campfires!!).
If you can imagine a sweet biscuit with chocolate on one side with a fire-roasted marshmallow on top and another biscuit making the sandwich. It was one of the sweetest things I have ever tasted and set my teeth on edge. The Americans feed these to their kids on camping trips, no wonder they are so hyper!! Rose (Orion’s daughter) and her friend decided to go off and draw with charcoal on the camp road and very good they were too. Here they are holding the hands of their charcoal friend!!
It was nice meeting them again, but I will give s’mores a miss next time.
On the Monday we explored the Oregon coast south of us. It was a mixture of a sort of US version of Blackpool called Seaside and more upmarket seaside towns with galleries and gift shops.
We turned round at Manzanita the farthest town we had reached north of Depoe Bay.
We got back to Astoria early in the evening on a lovely day and drove up to local landmark called The Column. It is a tower that you can climb up but it also has a beautiful painting all around it depicting the Lewis & Clark trail.
Next day we headed north into Washington to explore Long Beach. First stop was Ilwaco , a fishing port with a maritime museum with early lifeboats in it.
Just beyond here was the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse with the US Coastguard practising helicopter cliff rescues.
Long Beach as well as being a very long beach(!!) has a big oyster farming area and there were mounds of oyster shells all over the place.
On our last day we looked around Astoria. It has a very good maritime museum with an ex-Columbia lightship as an exhibit.
The next day we left for Riverview RV Park just outside of Forks Washington which will be my next post.
I should also point out that our RV Map has been updated all the way to Vancouver although the BLOG is not quite there yet!!
From Chiloquin we moved on to Bend to meet up with a ex-work colleague from M&D times, Robert Goff (RG) and his wife Judy.
I first met RG when he was part of the M&D development team that produced Millennium which we then converted to work on computers in the UK. He lived in Natick, Boston then, but he and Judy retired to Bend, Oregon on the other side of the USA and they have not regretted it.
We arrived at Scandia RV Park in plenty of time, so we agreed to go to RG and Judy’s house to meet up, and go out with RG for a Mexican meal as Judy had choir practice that evening. We had, after all, a lot to catch up on. Judy had also been busy and planned what we should see over the next four days.
So we relaxed over the Mexican meal and found out what we had all done in the intervening years.
The next day as promised Judy drove us around Mt Bachelor to Elk Lake and Hosmer Lake. A lot of the land around Bend is covered by old lava fields from volcanos that are now extinct.
We then returned to Bend where Judy and RG took us on an impromptu tour of downtown Bend, and we ended up in a shoe shop as Anne needed new trainers after all the walking!! RG and I took the opportunity to try out some beer samplers at Deschutes Brewery!!
After a meal Judy drove us up Pilot Butte which is a extinct cinder cone 480ft high right in the middle of Bend. We were lucky it was a sunny evening, so we got a 360° view of Bend and it’s surroundings.
The following day Judy had planned another journey via Sisters to Sahalie Falls and Clear Lake. The reason we went via Sisters, was it was on the way anyway, but it also contained Sister’s Quilt Shop, so you can probably guess who wanted to pay that a visit. RG and I walked around Sisters while the ladies were in the shop. Interesting place with some old buildings and a Clockmakers that actually still hand makes clocks, some of which he has actually exported to Switzerland!!
Next stop was Sahalie Falls. Not sure how much water was pouring over these falls but it was quite a sight.
Clear Lake lived up to its name, the water was crystal clear and you could see some of the petrified tree trunks in the water.
After a long day we had a very enjoyable meal at the Pine Tavern in Bend.
Saturday saw us getting up early to go and see a race called Pole, Pedal, Paddle. It also should include run but it doesn’t begin with P!! Competitors start at the top of Mt Bachelor with a 200yd sprint uphill in snow carrying either skis or a snowboard, then they ski/snowboard down Mt Bachelor’s Leeway trail (about 2 miles), then they cross country ski around a 5 mile course, then they swap to bikes for a 22 mile ride to Bend, then they run again for 5 miles, and then switch to a canoe/kayak for a paddle over a 1.5 mile course with upstream and downstream legs on the Deschutes River and finally ½ mile sprint (in my case it would be a crawl if I ever made it that far!!) to the finish. It was exhausting just watching them.
After this we adjourned for lunch and watched the rest of the field from a restaurant!! We then went back to RG and Judy’s as they had arranged an evening dinner to which they had invited RG’s brother Ed and his wife, plus some cousins that also lived nearby.
Anne and I went to the High Desert Museum, just outside of Bend on US97, on the Sunday morning. Very interesting place with lots of exhibits and some amazing birds.
We then went back to RG & Judy’s. Judy had some tickets for a concert in Bend in the afternoon which she and Anne were going to. RG and I decided to try the Cider sampler at Atlas ciders. Must admit I preferred the ciders to the beers and the less fruity ciders (raspberry and other red ciders not to my taste!!). Then had a pint of the real stuff, before we adjourned to a restaurant called Greggs Grill for a very nice evening meal. We then returned to their house where RG managed to phone John Landry (ex M&D head of development) and it was nice to catch up with him.
Regretfully after this we had to leave, as we had to get up early for a long drive to Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast the next day. We really enjoyed meeting up with RG and Judy after all these years, and if you are both reading this, thank you for your hospitality over our four days in Bend.
Then onto Depoe Bay on the Oregon coast, almost 200 miles to the West from Bend. The journey involved driving through some magnificent mountain passes.
And we arrived at the Sea and Sand RV Park to these amazing views and sunsets.
We had two days here before we moved onto Portland so we decided to go North on the first day and South on the second.
Well all I can say is Oregon has some huge beaches with hardly any people on them, and some marvellous scenery on a par with Grand Sur. Perhaps we were a bit early in the season as they were almost empty!!
The journey South didn’t disappoint either. We went down as far as Dunes City and stopped at various places on the way.
And we spotted whales!!
Amazing thing was they were only about 300yds offshore!!
So after two days of driving, luckily we then had a short drive to Portland, our next stop and my next post.
There are going to be quite a few updates over next few days as I am 3 stops behind so I hope I do not bore you all too much.
On the way up US-97 we passed Grass Lake. Rather aptly named as unless you look closely it looks like grass rather than a lake, but it is there!!
So we entered Oregon on US-97 on the way up to Bend but our first stop was just outside Chiloquin at Waterwheel RV Park and Camping. What a lovely site right next to the Williamson River, with views up and down the river and loads of local wildlife, from Canada geese (they get everywhere!) to freshwater Pelicans (didn’t even know they existed until we got here).
For the first day, as the weather forecast possible showers, we decided to wait until the following day, which promised better weather, to see Crater Lake . So we drove south past Lake Klamath to the town of Klamath Falls. Now when we mentioned this to Nancy the lady who runs Waterwheel RV Park (she is a mine of information and a lovely person), she said “Well I hope you are not expecting to see the falls!!”. Apparently it is a local joke that people come to Klamath Falls to see the “Falls” but there are none!!
We arrived and wondered where everyone was as the main street wasn’t very busy.
It was at this Fete as we were walking around we came upon a local beekeeper called Katharina Davitt. She is German, having met her husband who was in the US forces in Germany, married him and returned to US with him. Thanks to her we discovered what those little boxes in California were for, as they turned out to be used to turn virgin Queen bees into mated Queens so they can start a new bee colony. Apparently every hive has special queen cells where queen larvae are fed exclusively on royal jelly, which is what makes them Queens rather than ordinary worker bees. Now they tend to all hatch at once, and then fight to kill each other until there is only one left to be mated to become a Queen. So a lot of Queens are killed which is not good in an area that needs lots of bees like California. Now experienced beekeepers can spot the virgin queens hatching and they put each of the virgin Queens in a separate little box as in the picture so that drones can find them and mate with them to produce a mated Queen. Apparently the mated queens can be sold to other beekeepers to attract a swarm and start a new hive and they sell for up to $35 each!! The field we saw had 2 or 3 thousand boxes, so if you do it correctly there is quite a lot of money to be made!! By the way the boxes are all different colours so the Queen can recognise her own mini hive!! So what we had seen was a Queen bee mating area!!
Katharina Davitt is a fascinating lady who knew an awful lot about bees and has even written a book on bees and is a member of the Klamath Basin Beekeepers Association . If you visit the Public Outreach menu item in the left menu you can see what Katharina is doing to educate people on bees.
When we returned to the RV park two freshwater pelicans had taken up residence on the river.
Next day we were off to Crater Lake, but before we left we noticed only one of the pelicans had left and the other had stayed as it appeared to have a damaged wing.
On the drive up to the lake we passed an area that has a very steep canyon that contained fumaroles caused by the immense eruption of Mt Mazama (the volcano that blew its top to create Crater Lake). Super heated dust and pumice filled in the valley and the river was buried but turned to steam in the heat and created the fumaroles as the steam escaped. Over time the dust and pumice was washed away leaving the harder fumaroles.
As we drove on there was more and more snow on the side of the road.
And then at the lower visitor centre there was even more snow.
And then we reached the rim of the Crater and it was very deep. They get an AVERAGE of 44ft per year!!
And then we saw the lake. Wow, what a sight, almost indescribable, so I will just let you look at the pictures.
It was a beautiful day and with no wind on the lake, as you can see the rim was reflected in the lake all the way around.
An amazing place. If you ever get the chance to visit on a day like ours DO NOT MISS IT, your breath will be taken away the moment you see it!!
On our last day we took a journey right around Lake Klamath (about 65 miles) and it just so happened there was a quilt shop on the other side called Quilting Sisters in a place called Rocky Point. Haven’t got any pictures, Anne has, but it was an interesting place run by an 80+ year old lady, who told us “kids” to drive safely!!
And that was the end of our stay and we never did find out what happened to the pelican although he/she was looking better and flexing its wing when we left.
From Yosemite we moved into Northern California. California seems to have been going on forever, and this was going to be our last long stop in the state before we moved on to Oregon.
We had heard that this was a place to visit as it was renowned for its olive oil, almonds and most importantly wine!!
We booked into Parkway RV near Orland and again we managed to get into a very nice campground. lovely shady pitch, well off the Interstate, so nice and quiet at night. Needed the shade as the temperatures were rising again (92F/34C) and it turned out they had a nice swimming pool. It was while I was in the pool in the evening that I found out from some Canadians there was going to be a wine tasting run by the wife of the park owner.
It was an interesting experience and I returned to the RV having tasted a few local wines and without pictures as I had forgotten my camera!!
The next day we then set off to explore the area and found a massive dam called Black Butte Dam and behind it was an equally massive lake called, you guessed it, Black Butte Lake!!
The next day we decided to go East from Orland instead of West. We drove to a little town called Paradise and what should we find – it is built on a Butte called Butte Creek Canyon.
Now some of you may not know what a Butte is. Picture those western films with the hugely high rocks all alone in the desert. This one wasn’t quite as magnificent, but quite remarkable as it was long and thin and had a road going up it to Paradise.
In Paradise itself there was a local Park called Bille Park that had been built on the side of the Butte with lots of unusual trees and plants and an ornamental creek with cast iron bridges. It was very a tranquil place just to sit and relax.
On the way back we thought we would explore the valley floor and came across something we were not expecting. There always seems to be something around the corner in America, and this was the longest 3 span covered bridge in the USA, called Honey Run Bridge. It is no longer used as a bridge as in the late 1950’s someone crashed into one of the supports but it was repaired and preserved, and can be used for weddings!!
The temperatures even in the evening were quite high so we ate outside.
On the next day I did some RV maintenance and Anne decided the light was so good she would use some of the fabric she had been buying. We also went into Orland and bought some local almonds and olive oil.
And the day after that we left Orland and headed to our last stop in California next to Mt Shasta.
And the day after we left California and entered Oregon.
From San Francisco we travelled across country to visit Yosemite National Park. I had booked us in to Yosemite Pines RV Park which is close to the town of Groveland.
Looked lovely on the website (as indeed it was as you will see in a minute) but what I hadn’t realised was it was 3,000ft up in the mountains and to get to Groveland you had to use US120 which climbs up the side of a mountain along a twisty road with quite large drop offs on the side of the road. I wasn’t someone’s favourite person!!
As I said though the campsite was well worth it with a lovely position halfway up a hill in amongst the pine trees.
The next day we decided to explore and go up to the entrance of Yosemite National Park. Unfortunately the weather got gradually worse, with low cloud and fog and then it started to hail, so we decided to turn back and visit some of the towns in the valley.
But by the next morning it was all dry.
Next day we decided that we had left the laundry too long and the forecast didn’t look good. Although to be honest it was a nice day and it gave us a rest!!
So the day after we tried Yosemite again as the forecast looked good, and sure enough it turned out to be a lovely day and Yosemite didn’t disappoint. Now, I am at this point going to have to apologise as this post is going to get really picture heavy, as no amount of words are going to explain this magnificent place. Wherever you looked stunning views, vistas and ……… so here goes.
As I said when I started, words cannot really describe it but I hope my pictures have given you an idea of what it is like. And if you ever get the chance to visit it yourself you will NOT be disappointed.
Our last day was spent touring Columbia Old Town State park. This town has been preserved much as it was in the heyday of the Californian Gold Rush. Here though they used hydraulic mining, using high pressure hoses to wash all the mud and sediment into the gold sluices. Between 1850 to 1870 they reckon over a billion dollars of gold was found and at one time Columbia was the second largest town in California.
That was our last day at Yosemite, so we moved on (back down that incline!!) and further north into the northern valleys of California where almonds, olives and grapes are grown.
I have updated our RV Map but it is a bit ahead of the blog as it show our route to Bend, Oregon.