Church Mountain Trail

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Banana slug (maybe?) on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

By Regis. July 7

So we tried a third mountain hike today. On the drive to the trail head, Linda was thinking out loud “Why is it always cloudy and rainy when we go for hikes?”. Then without skipping a beat “oh yeah it’s Washington”. The weather had a better chance today than our Sauk Mountain hike . Today it was just highish clouds hung from the mountain tops, no rain and a bit warmer than 40.

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Columbine on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

Linda had heard about this hike, Church mountain trail, on her recent whale watch trip. There was snow in the meadow and we thought it would be great for Dart to have some fun. Seemed like a great plan until I located a trail description from The Washington Trail Association (www.wta.org).  I’ll let their description speak , emphasis mine;

“From the trailhead, the route up Church Mountain starts deceptively easy with a 0.5-mile stroll up an old forest road. Then it gets right down to business with lots of switchbacks winding up and around the west side of the mountain. The trees are fairly dense, which you’ll actually appreciate on warmer days, though they obstruct any big views until later—look for the occasional peek of Mount Baker above or the North Fork Nooksack River below as you continue to climb.

At 3 miles, the trail finally eases its grade and opens up into sprawling meadows. This is your first chance to glance back at the spectacular view of Mount Baker. As you meander through the meadow, you will not see any of those notable golden larch trees, but the vibrant fall colors brought out by the abundance of huckleberry bushes that blanket the meadow and the ridge above in hues of green, red, purple and gold.

From the meadow, the last 1.2 miles of the climb get steeper, but the trail takes you directly through a large huckleberry patch for some possible late-season treats. The last 200 feet are a scramble up loose rock. Take advantage of the cable to hold on to going up this last section. From the peak, you will get a fantastic 360-degree view of Mount Baker, Mount Shuksan, Damfino Lakes, Border Line Peaks, Goat Mountain, Excelsior Pass and Skyline Ridge in the background.”

If you were counting thats 4.2 miles UP. I knew we would not be doing a 8.4 mile round trip, but 3 miles up to the meadow seemed doable. Oh how could I have been so wrong! To be fair the description listed lots of switchbacks. OK we did lots on Sauk Mountain. What it didn’t say was how STEEP the west side of the mountain was! Once we started hiking we were going up and a very steep up it was!

We started the hike at 2300 ft. and got to the meadow just short of 5000 ft. For the mathematically challenged thats 2700 ft. This hike was steep! The switchbacks were much longer and steeper than Sauk Mountain. In fact, each switchback was probably higher than the total height of Florida! The trail NEVER gave us a break. It was a long steep slog up probably the steepest side of the mountain.

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A rare glimpse down the mountain on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. There were lots of clouds.

We paced ourselves and took many breathers at the switchbacks. We were dog tired and about to give up but we had glimpses of a meadow through the trees and and decided we would go 500 more feet and turn around.

We did get to the meadow and within the 500 ft. Dart had been off leash the whole trip and was great. We were a bit disappointed with the snow. It was just smaller patches much higher up in the meadow. If Dart was going to romp, he was going alone. I think we snapped a couple of pictures, snacked, watered, started getting eaten by bugs, and started back down. Going down was almost as hard as going up but without all the heavy breathing and sweating!

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Meadow at the 3 mile mark on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

On the way down, we met a couple going up.  She was carrying a baby in a sack on her chest.  He was carrying a young child on his back.  It definitely made us feel unfit.

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Fungus on the Church Mountain Trail in the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest.

We also determined that Dart has no age issues to prevent him from hiking.  He has temperature issues.  If it is warmer than 70 degrees, he’s a quitter.  Otherwise, he can outdo us any day.

 

Some of what we leave behind

BY Regis

We just spent a wonderful evening with four amazing people. With our impending departure, we have been making time to hook up with friends and say good byes.

Tonight, however, bolooned into an extravaganza of sorts. We had been chatting with Suzanne and Suze  about re-aranging some furniture in the house to make it more appealing  to buyers. As they were coming over for dinner and drinks we wanted their opinion on some ideas. Well that evolved into Kevin and Jerry coming over as well as the Suzanne’ s said they would have some great input to offer.

Linda and I had met Kevin and Jerry several times before and were glad to spend some time with them and get their input as well. I tell you what, not half a Margarita later and the ideas were flowing!

Not only ideas but furniture was moving here and there, carpets being pulled out of storage, sectionals being disassembled and reconfigured, knick knacks moved, tables put into storage. WOW!  In the end the house looks much better. The big loser in this is Dart. We have to find a new place for his day bed, but for just a couple more days till we’re in the RV.

The house looks MUCH better, much more open.

Which will bring me to the end. To really appreciate this story a little background is needed. Linda has been involved with Suze through environmental functions since we got to Florida. From that, I got to meet Suze and then Suzanne and then Kevin and Jerry. Now you can probably count the number of hours on two hands that we have interacted with Kevin and Jerry, but here they were, helping re-decorate our house three days before we leave on our summer trip.

Like I said, four amazing people.

 

Ready, Set, … Go?

By Regis.

Last post I told you I would post about the RV upgrade projects. Well I haven’t a clue how to present that in an interesting way. So what your’e going to get is a list and some pictures with a short description.

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But first, as the title teases, we are about to start this years trip! The continued cold weather does have us worried a bit. The plan is to head to the Pacific Northwest and spend a lot of time around in the state of Washington. Apparently, the shortest way is to head to South Dakota, then west. Fair enough, we like that part of the country. But if it doesn’t warm up we may be snow camping! Fortunately, we have a working heater. Unlike the first year in this RV, where we found out how much colder it can be at 7000 feet elevation (without a working heater) verses 5000 feet. Check this post  brrrr-and-wheres-dart-2
Our first several days will be at the local beach. We actually have a water front site! No, not the ocean water or even the ICW water but maybe a marsh of some type but we can walk to the ocean! Then we head to the gulf coast for a bit then bee line for South Dakota.

One more thing before I get to the upgrades and pictures. I wanted to let you know how you can follow our blog posts! I know some of you get our posts forwarded to you by a friend or notice the Facebook post. You can “sign up” on our blog site, then you can get notified when ever we post, you won’t miss any of the action and you can comment as well!

to sign up on our blog:

goto landrtravel.com or click here ====> Button

It should take you to our latest post. On the right side panel you should see a list of older archived posts. ( read through and catch up!) Below the archives will be a “button”  “follow us we’re lost.” Click it and enter your email.

Now you should get notified when we update our blog! FYI… The first time you comment on a post it will need to be approved by us, so be patient, we’ll get to it! (internet access out in the wild can be spotty!) Once you get approved your comments will post immediately.

On to the upgrades!

I’ll list what I’ve been doing then expand on a couple;

  • Air horn
  • espresso holder
  • basement organization
  • reroute some electrical
  • Flash light holders
  • Four wheel weight RV
  • Align headlights

Espresso holder?

In the RV space is at a premium, even in a big RV. One thing Linda and I will not do without is our espresso drinks. She, a cappuccino, me a latte. Our espresso machine, while not big, will not fit in any of our cabinets. It resides on one side of the stove in camp and on the other side when traveling. Problem is when traveling ANYTHING not tied down will bounce and shift around while going down the road. My solution is to brace the machine on the counter with a “stop” wedged into a gap between the stove and counter. This works great and version 2, made of IPE wood, even looks great!

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Pretend the basket is an espresso machine. It will not slide to the left!

Basement organization.

There are several compartments below the living space, the “basement”. This being the longest trip planned and other factors, we need to be more disciplined with the basement storage. I had seen a great Vlog from the RVGEEKS about how they organize their basement with plastic totes. I went with the concept about the totes. What it has done is to delineate space, which helps keep stuff in its place. One compartment was a big problem in that removing one thing causes two others to fall out! No more!

RV Weight.

For two years now I’ve been wanting to get the RV weighed. Ever since I found out that I under bought (not by much, but still over loaded) the truck to pull the 5th wheel, the RV weight has weighed on my mind. I even had a weigh in scheduled last year be had to cancel. The manufacturer does supply a sticker that lists the weight of the RV, full of fuel and propane, out of the factory, but is it accurate? Well it probably is. But how much STUFF have you added? Great news is that the manufacturers weight was darn close and even with most of our stuff we were well within weight limits on all four wheels! FYI we have been adding more stuff and will be getting a per axel weight soon but I don’t think it will change dramatically.

Headlights?

The only time slot I could get to weigh the RV was 9:30 a.m. and it meant I had to leave at 6:30 a.m. Since I had to fuel up before going I had to leave by 5 and that meant getting up by 4. At O’dark thirty you tend to rely on your head lights while driving. Besides not driving in the rain much (see is winter over yet) it was probably the first time driving the RV in the DARK. HA! Two summers on the road and just now driving in the dark for the first time and realizing the head lights are all akimbo! Well, I spent some time tweaking the lights and probably need some more.

Last but not least AIRHORN.

The RV is built on a medium duty truck frame, a Freightliner M2. Think of the largest UHAUL truck you can rent. Pretty big right? Now think about driving it and having to hit the horn and it sounding like a Toyota Corolla. Not impressive right. It might be a GUY thing but I had to install some air horns on the RV. Still not the sound I want but much better!

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Is Winter Over Yet?

By Regis,

Hello all!

In preparation for our 2018 adventure I was looking back and noticed we have not posted since January! Well, to be honest, we haven’t been doing much to share. Plus, It’s been COLD! Yes even here in Floridia it’s been way too cold to even wear shorts! Just last month we had frost!

In February, my mom came down to visit and we piled into the RV and headed to Clearwater on the gulf coast. My Aunt Toni and Uncle Mike were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. As I was in the wedding party, oh so long ago, I scored an invite! I felt very honored to be able to share the occasion. It was great to see everyone and to share some adventure stories with cousin Mike, including a story about Mt. Baker.

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While driving back from Clearwater, it rained a good part of the way. I think, in the three summers of camping, we have not had to drive in the rain more than 2 or 3 hours TOTAL. However, it rained fairly constant on the way back to St. Augustine. One thing constant rain and driving 60-65 MPH will do is highlight any weakness in your weather proofing.

About 2 hours into the trip home Mom hollers from the back ,” There’s water dripping from the roof!” Linda was driving so I jumped up to investigate. Sure enough water was dripping just between the cab and “living room”. I went back to the bedroom and grabbed some towels and sopped up the water.

Later investigation showed that the water was dripping directly under an external roof seam. Now the manufacturer does do a good job of minimizing roof seams. In fact there are only two – one where the front cap connects to the roof and one where the rear cap connects. There are also multiple holes for vents, sky lights and AC units and such. One of the pre season tasks I do is to inspect the sealant around the roof penetrations and apply more sealant as needed. After last years trip I made a mental note to remove and replace ALL the sealant in the next year or two. Well it should have have been done sooner I guess.

Word to the wise. If seam sealant has been painted over, remove sealant and replace as soon as possible! Part of this seam had been painted to match the color of the front cap. However, the paint may have hid the true condition of  the sealant. So what looked good was not.

In other news, Linda has been planning and revising and revising the next trip! I think there are alternate versions as well. We have also been doing some projects on the RV. Nothing major, just little things to make day to day RV life better. I think I’ll write a post on some of those later, with pictures!

We have been organizing our stuff to take on this years trip. Linda is finding this to be very hard. We are planning to leave near the end of April and be traveling into September. Our longest trip yet! One problem with that is how much and of what type of clothes to bring. Ten sweaters and one pair of shorts or ten shorts and one sweater? Me, I have it easy, I have only one sweater!

I had started writing this post three week ago and the title is still true! Today April 10 and it only got up to 63 degrees (17.2 C). When will it stay warm?!

 

Hike Up Broad Mountain

BY Regis

Our last day on Cape Breton Island was fairly lazy. Cleaned up the RV a little, drove up the coast to check out some scenic overlooks, and most important, stopped at a little bakery/cafe Linda found on the way back from whale watching.

I got one of “those” looks from Linda after I ordered a sausage roll thing and THREE pastries. While Linda ordered, I went out to the car to keep Dart company as he was not allowed in the cafe and no outdoor seating. Linda came out shortly, bags of lunch filling her arms, and we headed back to the RV. It was a nice day and we sat outside to eat. I was unpacking the bags and sorting out dishes for each of us. There’s my sausage and three pastries, there’s Linda’s soup and salad, of course, but what’s this… THREE more pastries! And she was giving ME the look?!

It was all good and I even saved the brownie for later. After letting the lunch goodness settle for a couple of hours I thought it would be a good idea to go on a hike.

Just across the road was a trail up to the top of Broad Mountain. I grabbed the pack, some water, the camera and got on the bike to peddle over to the trail. As I was warning up during the first 100 meters or so, I found myself thinking about the nice smooth carriage roads of Acadia. This trail was rough, probably the roughest one so far. Most of the geology “up here” is granite rock with a very thin layer of dirt, well just dust really. Anything that needs roots to grow will need to send them out along the ground not down. This causes many roots to be exposed when a path is repeatedly walked on, as well as various sized granite rocks. Not smooth walking at all! At about the half way point there was a bench with a view point. It seems no matter the trail, there are always benches placed along the way.

Time for a break and to snap a picture. As I was putting the camera back into the pack, I remembered how, on this trip alone, we have missed several photo opportunities because the cameras where not readily in reach or we just didn’t bring them. Hiking with a camera in hand is not comfortable but if I’m going to turn a corner and surprise a moose, I want to snap the photo of the goofy look on the moose’s face as he watches an exhausted hiker fall backwards, down the hill, while snapping pictures.

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Might be a Spruce Grouse

Well I didn’t see a moose but no more than 50 meters later I turned a corner and spied a bird in the trail. Camera at the ready I snapped away. The bird was wary but did not bolt. I got some shots but most were in shaded spots. Maybe Linda can work some Lightroom magic and make them usable. I continued to the top where I found some great views!

 

video from broad mountain

 

The views were great. I could stand in one spot and see Warren lake, which we hiked around with Dart. I could see the town of Ignoish, Broad Cove, the Keltic lodge, Middle head, our camp ground, and Smoky Cape. All of these places, we had spent time at and loved every minute. I wanted to stay longer but there was a brownie calling my name from the campground!

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Panoramic of Broad cove with Smokey Cape, Middle Head and Warren lake

On the way down, camera still at the ready in my hand, I ran into that same bird! The lighting was still bad, this time with the sun behind the bird. I slowly walked closer, snapping photos step by step. As I crept along the trail, the bird would keep a distance of about 1.5 meters. I crept closer, he would move away. This went on for about 5-6 meters, I would take a few steps, snapping photos and the bird would take a few steps until the trail widened a bit.

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Spruce Grouse? working it for the camera.

I think by this time the bird did not think of me as a threat and as the bird went wide right on the trail, I went wide left. The closest we got was just 1 meter between us and I was snapping photos all the way! Now with the light behind me and shining on the bird, I was hoping to get some very nice shots. Well they turned out ok, not NAT GEO stuff but we should be able to identify the bird.

The rest of the way down I started to worry. You see, Linda is the Photo editor and I was thinking I just ripped off 70-80 photos of ONE bird. Good thing I kept a brownie in reserve! As it turns out, a day later when she got a chance to download the pictures, I had taken over 200 shots of just that one bird!

As I write this, one of the things that occurs to me is that trips like this are make up of small, unforgettable moments. I will not remember all of this trip but I will remember this bird. I will remember carrying the kayaks across 50 meters of mud flats because of the tides. I will remember the crab we saw, on the same mud flat, making his way back to deeper water wearing a long piece of seaweed like a scarf. I can just hear him saying “don’t mind me, just a bit of seaweed floating on the tide”.

Another RV tank story Plus bugs!

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Looks like red oak to me!

We have written twice before about our “solution” to the bug problem, that was to purchase a screened tent room. By simply spending close to $200.00 (ca) and not even un-boxing it, it seems to have solved the problem. Until this morning. I was outside and in 15 minutes I was bitten 3 times and it is the first time I have even seen mosquitoes here. I have a theory.

Since we got to PEI, the wind has been blowing consistently from the same direction. It’s been blowing about 10-15 mph.  Yesterday was a calm day at only about 5 mph. Today, it’s blowing 15-20 mph and gusts to 25. My theory is that based on the direction of the wind, it has taken a couple of days to blow the mosquito population from New Brunswick to PEI.  Time to move?

Today was a RV cleanup day. Clean the floors, bathroom, dump the tanks, etc. My job is to empty the tanks, which is ok because I don’t clean very well anyway so it works out. The procedure is simple, ensure that one end of the drain hose is attached at the tank and the other end to the magical hole in the the ground where everything goes. Check! Pull open the main drain valve. Check. Open the black tank drain valve and let drain. Check! Close black tank valve… close black tank valve… CLOSE black tank valve! No check. The valve would not close!

Aside from cleanup day we were to create some video, you know fun stuff. I was to be getting some video of all the neat water life in the shallow waters, Crabs wearing seaweed scarfs, little shrimps, little crabs, you know cool stuff. But no, I’m going to be “plumber man”. Looks like it’s now an RV maintenance day. And the worst kind to boot.

I will spare you all the details, but considering what I was dealing with the potential for a very nasty job was very high indeed. Luck was on my side because of what the problem turned out to be.

A block of wood!  Yes, a block of wood, measuring 7 inches by 2 inches by 1.5 inches. (what are the odds that a block of wood, floating in the tank, would ever be oriented correctly to enter the drain?) Thankfully the drain pipe is 3 inches in diameter and the block was able to make it far enough to get most of the way past a 90 degree bend in the pipe and lodge part way in the valve.  Otherwise, it might have gotten stuck in an unreachable place.  Thankfully, the valve can be taken apart for maintenance/repair. However, I could only move the pipe pieces so far. I had to try multiple angles and positioning of the wood to find the correct way to “stretch” the opening enough to pry the block out.

I would like to think that it was an oversight, but having read many RV tales of things left in tanks during manufacture, I have to be believe it is just plain lack of pride, laziness, or lack of responsibility for a good job. If only these people would have to deal with the problems they create… Oh but I can only dream.

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All this red water was clear yesterday!

Oh yeah. The video we were going to get today. There is too much wind and wave action. The water is all murky – nothing to see there.  Maybe tomorrow.

OH CANADA!

Happy Canada day! 150 and doing well. If I had a good connection, I would include a musical interlude of “OH Canada”. (If anyone is so motivated please feel free to share a version in the comments below.)

Since we are in Canada for this great day we thought it appropriate to be like most other Canadians. We got the Maple Leaf and banners flying, Canadian beer chilling in the fridge, and fighting off the mosquitoes left and right!

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Dart not too happy about this!

I know, the mosquitoes are not unique to Canada but the farther north we go, the more there seems to be. We did see a porcupine fast asleep on the side of the boat rental shack next to the ICE machine. This guy was out cold and not about to move. Can you imagine him getting startled out of a deep sleep, quills “flying” everywhere!