Snakes

Garter snake

There are not many snakes in western Washington, but I managed to find two of them. Dart and I regularly walk in Illahee Preserve and I saw this garter snake sunning yesterday. Today, it was there again along with a buddy. I did not expect to see snakes here because I thought the few snakes around would remain elusive. I am happy to have seen some.

Two garter snakes.
Garter snake.

The Anna’s hummingbirds are drinking more from our feeder than any ruby-throated hummingbirds ever did while we were on the east coast. They keep me busy refilling the feeder. As I was going through Regis’ hummingbird pictures, I found this lovely rufous hummingbird. Now, I have to stake out the feeder until I see the rufous.

Rufous hummingbird.

I learned to take good hummingbird pictures last summer in Arizona and have the equipment to do so. I’m looking for some time to set up the gear but I have puppies coming on Saturday and do not think I will be able to work on hummingbirds any time soon.

Female Anna’s hummingbird. Notice the spiderweb on her head. She may have been making a nest. Hummingbirds use spiderwebs in their nest.
Male Anna’s hummingbird.
Male Anna’s hummingbird with my hanging pot of pansies in the background.

I have been enjoying the beautiful flora in the area. Every time Dart and I walk, something new is in bloom or growing in the woods. While Dart sniffs everything, I have time to look at all the mosses, fungi, flowers, etc. And, there are numerous new birds for me. I have to use Merlin to identify the sounds because the birds are extremely difficult to see. I am working on it and excited to see all these new species. I have been actively uploading pictures to iNaturalist to identify all the plants I am seeing.

We had to take down our feeders because the birds keep flying into the windows. One afternoon there were two casualties and I could not bear it. I have been throwing out remaining seed on the ground which is working well. The birds hang around in the trees and bushes, so I still get to see them. The squirrels get better access, so I was finally able to get a picture of the black squirrel. It is not a good picture, but this is not a cooperative squirrel. I am working on getting a picture of the Douglas squirrels if they would stay still long enough.

Black eastern gray squirrel.
Spotted towhee.

Chestnut-backed chickadee.

Red-breasted nuthatch.

Some Pics

Pine siskin.

We’ve been here for over a month and have grabbed the cameras now and then. This post is to show a few of the things we’ve been seeing in our yard or at the local preserve. Dart and I walk the preserve almost everyday. He enjoys the walks but sleeps the rest of the day, once we get home.

Anna’s hummingbird.

We have finished the most of the big projects. We have a mission of completing all painting projects before the puppies arrive on May 7.

We have a need to determine our property lines because we want to install a fence for the dogs and kill the ivy, but don’t want to do the neighbors ivy. We got a price to restake the 4 corners of the property and it was $1200. Regis purchased a metal detector and, after much work, was able to find one corner. That helps with the ivy eradication, but does not help with the fence. One neighbor had a survey of our property with the house, which helps us to understand where the property line is on that side (where Regis could not find the markers). If we do a fence, we will stay well within the line to avoid paying for a survey.

In Florida, we couldn’t transfer property without an updated survey. We had to pay $450 to get an updated survey for our house in Florida because we installed a patio. That is not the case in Washington. It appears that we are in the wild, wild west. Very interesting.

Stellar’s jay.
Wild bleeding heart.
Hairy woodpecker.
Junco with two white tailfeathers. It is missing most of its tailfeathers.
A junco with full tail feathers.
Red-breasted nuthatch.
Pine siskin.
Pine siskin cleaning its bill.

Skagit Valley Tulips

About a week ago, we took a break from house activities and headed to Skagit Valley to see the spring bulbs. They were mostly tulips. We drove around the sound on the way there and encountered a lot of traffic. We found the display in Skagit Valley somewhat disappointing. Perhaps it was not a good year or not the right time to see the peak bloom. We did not see many fields of flowers but we could have driven on the wrong roads and missed the best. We don’t know.

We tried to stop in LaConner to grab lunch, but it was too crowded. We gave up and I grabbed a bag of carmel popcorn when we got fuel and subsisted on that until we got home. SInce the drive there was terrible, we took the ferry back. We had to wait awhile but it was better than driving. We got a front row seat on the ferry, having arrived so early for the next ferry, and enjoyed the view although it was very windy.

It was good for us to get away for a day, but we were somewhat disappointed that it was not as good as we expected. Again, we may have missed the best routes or the best time. We noticed the rhodendrums were in bloom and they are not in bloom at our house.

We have had regular freezing temperatures and snow/sleet/graupel. We never heard of graupel. It is a snowflake that picks up additional precipitation on its way down as supercooled droplets. Having lived in Florida for the last six years, we can easily say we have seen more snow/sleet/graupel/etc. in the month of April here than our last six years combined, perhaps more.

I can’t say whether Regis is in good spirits about this. He complains of being cold a lot. I’m into the adventure, so I don’t care. I’m working on purchasing the appropriate clothing. As the Norweigan’s say, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothes.” Dart is thriving. He could barely walk when we were in Florida and stairs were out of the question. He now walks regularly with me for about a mile in the local preserve. It’s beautiful. He is slow and spends a lot of time smelling. Since it is his walk, I let him take his time. He is starting to go up and down the steps. I assume he likes the cooler weather

I was scheduled to get some hand surgery in May in Florida and was planning to return for the surgery. I changed my mind since there are excellent medical resources locally. I am still working on getting something scheduled locally, but cancelled my Florida appointments.

We have made great progress in the house. Most of the painting is done and Regis has installed the new floors in 2 of the three rooms. It is very likely it will all be finished before the new collie pups arrive in 3 weeks.

We are just beginning to tackle the outside. The weather has been abnormally bad, so spending our time inside for house improvement has not been a problem. Part of tackling the outside is dealing with a massive English Ivy problem on our slope. English Ivy is an invasive species and it is well established on our slope. That can cause slope erosoion issues. I contacted a local expert about removing it and we are moving forward to see how we can do that successfully and replace the ivy with native vegetation.

Trucks here!

After two weeks of “camping out” in the new house our wish came true. We got the call to inform us of when the truck, containing all our household goods, was going to arrive! Well, what’s that sayin, “careful what you wish for”.

They got here about mid-afternoon, backed down the driveway and slowly opened the door. Everyone was concerned because our driveway is steep and the back of the truck was facing downhill. While we wanted the truck unloaded, we did not want to see it all just roll out the back! The fear was unfounded as they had strapped the load in fairly good and nothing shifted out of place.

I stood in the garage and directed traffic as best I could. Linda had to sit in the office and hold Dart in her lap. He would not stop barking as the movers were going in and out. If she held him, he would quiet down. Eventually, the sofa got moved in and she was able to let Dart lay on it. He was more content and just let everyone go about their business.

After about 2 and a half hours the truck was empty, the house was full and we had just enough time to run out for some BBQ. With our bellies full we could not wait to start unpacking. First task was to put our bed together so we could sleep a little higher than the floor. That’s when we found that one side rail was missing from the bed. Although we could not put the entire bed together, the box spring and mattress together were higher than what we had been sleeping on. I think we also unpacked a few boxes before calling’s it a day.

After a good nights sleep, in our own bed, we spent the entire next day, a good 12 hours, unpacking boxes. For a while it seemed like the more we unpacked the piles of boxes never got smaller. By the end of the day we had gotten through all the boxes on the main floor and most of the them on the lower floor. What a day!

We spent a couple days re-arranging almost everything into a better and hopefully more permanent place. With the house now looking like a home, we had one problem to work on, the garage!

We have a two-car garage. One side is filled with unopened boxes, the other filled with broken down empty boxes and packing material. Nothing was getting done here till the junk was gone. One call to our friends at Kitsap Junk and poof we got half the garage back. After a day and a half, the garage is almost useable for a car.

As we completed the unpacking, we came to realize that not only was a portion of our bed missing, but we were missing our two bicycles and a ladder. Linda contacted the moving company and a week later has no response.

A week after the truck arrived the big project now is to put down flooring where we pulled out the carpets and getting the house and yard set up for two collie puppies arriving on April 9.

Moving in

Collie puppies. Nala is in Linda’s right hand and Raven is in her left hand. They are three weeks old.

We were in our new home 14 days before our goods arrived. Our initial concern when leaving Florida was that our stuff would get to Washington before us. As it turned out, the stuff did not leave Florida until after we arrived in Washington. Our initial plan was to take about 10 days or so to cross country, but we speeded up the trip because we were tired of driving, sleeping in motels and eating fast food.

We made good use of the time while the house was empty. We unloaded two cars full of things we brought with us because we knew we needed them on day one: PCs, network routers, dog food and the like. Next, we got paper plates, utensils, and some real food. Jason and Dan, who live about an hour and a half away in Seattle, came over for a visit and brought a care package: pots and pans, real utensils, and some basic tools we could use until our stuff got here.

With tools in hand, we started to tackle the house. We liked most of the room colors, however Linda wanted something a bit different. After 7 sample jars of paint, new colors were chosen. Linda started painting while I started fixing things.

During the first couple of days, we created a sizable list of things to fix. The house was built in 1983 and is mostly in great shape. In 2015, there was a major renovation including a total kitchen, new windows and doors, flooring, decking and all top shelf stuff. However, there are a lot of little things that are not right. My task was fixing those things. We spent our first couple weeks painting and fixing while staying out of each other’s way.

The house got mostly painted, at least one room twice. Things got checked off the “to do” list, however the “to do” list seems to be twice if not three times as long as when we started. We keep finding things to add to the list as we work our way through the house. We spent way too much money at Lowes and we are still spending. Most of the remaining projects are not too bad except for replacing the flooring in three rooms. When Linda started to paint the rooms with carpeting, she noticed how filthy the edge of the carpet was in one room. She, of course, decided that the carpets had to go now. After we ripped up the carpets, we found enough dirt at the edge of one wall to grow plants. The house is built on a slope and that wall backs up to the slope. I will have to check out why the dirt is seeping into the house before I install the new flooring. We are installing moisture proof vinyl flooring in those three rooms. It works better when you have pets.

Speaking of pets, Linda found some collie breeders in Washington. Apparently, she started looking with an eye to the future so she could have some company when hiking. Dart is too old to hike with her. One of the breeders about two hours away just had a litter of pups. Linda went to see them last Saturday and is bringing home not one, but two collies in May. One old dog that has to be carried up and down the steps and two puppies. Should be fun. Time to find my boat.

Olympic Mountains

Olympic Mountains viewed from Tracyton, Washington.

We now live in Bremerton, Washington and when the skies are clear enough, we get impressive views of the snow-covered Olympic Mountains. As we drive down the road, we will make a turn and get the most amazing view. We can see one of the peaks from the top of our driveway. We find ourselves driving a particular route for many of our errands and there is a stop sign about a half mile from the house. When you look left at the stop sign on a clear day, the view is stunning. I love when there is no one behind me so I can stay a few more seconds and enjoy it.

Last evening, Dart and I went to a nearby city park in Tracyton that is only a few miles away and has a concrete boat ramp. We sat at the top of the boat ramp and enjoyed the view. Dart enjoyed people and pet watching while I enjoyed watching the gulls eat clams. The gulls have found the concrete boat launch to be a perfect place to drop a clam and have it crack open so they can eat the insides. They do not have to fly up very high for the drop and they nail it almost every time. I look forward to getting my wet suit and life preserver when our goods arrive so I can go kayaking.

Immature glaucous-winged gull with a clam.
Immature glaucous-winged gull with a clam it just dropped onto the boat ramp and successfully broke it.
Glaucous-winged gull taking off with a clam it just picked up.
Glaucous-winged gull flying around to the boat ramp where it dropped the clam.
A glaucous-winged gull getting ready to release the clam onto the boat ramp.

Cross country summary

I have been on several long trips with the Tesla, but they have all been in populated areas and warm temps. This trip was different, cross multiple time zones, varying altitudes, varying population densities, varying weather with potentially freezing conditions.

For this trip we knew we would be encountering a variety of whether conditions. The Tesla has “summer” tires on it. It will not do well in any kind of winter slush. We took a longer but more southern route hoping to avoid snow/freezing weather. That didn’t happen. We encountered near freezing temps and even snow through some mountain passes. But given the edge of performance for the tires the Tesla it did well.

The Tesla battery did ok in temps down to about 45 degrees F, below that it consumed twice as much battery to go a mile.

I would surmise the battery usage to be:

1: Driving in cold temperatures will use more battery (Batteries don’t like cold).

2: Cold weather will mean you use more climate control to keep the inside warm. (More battery)

3. Whatever the Tesla range is indicating, reduce if by half. If it said I could go 200 miles, I could only count on 100. (When temps were 40-45 F).

Your mileage may vary but for us a max range of 100 miles, in 40F and below was the best we could count on.

And I don’t like the cold!

To put a period on this, I guess I was happy with long distance trips before, but the cold weather puts a different take on things.

The Jeep consumed $726.38 in gas. The Tesla consumed $327.19 in charges. We drove approximately 3,000 miles. That means the Jeep was about 24 cents a mile vs. the Tesla at 11 cents a mile. Plus, we have to get the oil changed on the Jeep. Tesla’s do not need oil changes.

We still do not have our furniture. It left Florida last Tuesday and we will not see it before the end of next week. We have decided to take advantage of the situation to paint and do other chores that area easier to accomplish when you do not have furniture.

The flowers are blooming and it is a joy to see. We have explored the area a little bit, but mostly we are just settling in. We have not pulled out the cameras. That time will come. There has been too much to do to spend much time recreating. We came at a good time because it is spring and beautiful things are happening. I hope in another couple weeks, we can stop doing things with the house and cars and start exploring.

The Jeep arrived in Washington with a potential problem, so we have to get it to a Jeep dealer soon. Our funds from the sale of our house cleared the account today and Regis lost a crown on his tooth. Just in time to pay for it!

Yesterday, I spent a lot of time painting and decided to give the Jacuzzi a try. We have never had one and did not know how to work the controls. As we were trying to figure it out, one of the jets shot water all over the bathroom. It was a wet mess.

We have wood floors throughout most of the house and it is a major problem for Dart. He cannot get traction. We ordered some plastic covers for his toenails, but his back toenails are too short for them to work. We got him some socks and they are working well for him. Once we get our furniture, we have area carpets that will make his life easier.

We locked ourselves out of our house a couple days ago. Regis set up the keypad for the garage door opener and it failed when we needed it. Fortunately, we had Dart with us and we were able to drive to Jason’s house in Seattle about an hour and a half away to get his key so we could get in our house. It was nice to visit Jason, Dan, and Coco but, really, under better circumstances.

While in Seattle, I was starving so we walked about a half mile to a nearby restaurant. Dart could barely make it. The little guy is struggling with arthritis, etc. It is hard to watch, especially since he was a pro at agility trials when he was younger.

Regis is now at the dentist and I am exhausted from painting. Hopefully, pictures next time.

Snow

The Jeep with Mount Hood in the distance.

We left Mountain Home, Idaho at 4:00 a.m. in the morning. It is about 40 miles southeast of Boise. We wanted to make as much progress as we could but were very concerned about some weather coming into the Pacific Northwest. We thought we would be okay at the lower elevations but we had some mountain passes to get through. Our shortest route put us through the Cascade Mountains at Snoqualmie Pass and that was not looking good. The sun came up as we were in Baker City, Oregon. We looked at the situation at Snoqualmie and realized that we could not get through that pass any time soon. The pass was open but the tesla does not have any kind of snow tire which made the pass dicey. The other option was to drive along the Columbia River which added 50 miles to the trip. It was the best option.

After we left Baker City, we headed up some low mountain passes and hit a bunch of snow. The Tesla does not have the tires for this but the snow was very light. It was bad for driving but beautiful to see. What’s not to like about fresh snow on conifer trees. Regis informed me that the Tesla cruise control and self-steering would no longer work. The sensors were covered with slush.

When we got to the Pendleton in the valley, we had clear skies. Regis cleaned the sensors and we got food and gas to keep going and all was well. A point to be taken is that Tesla’s are fair weather cars. They do not handle bad weather well.

We hung in there and drove all the way to our new home. It was 13 hours of driving but nice to be in our house and not a hotel. The prior owner left a bed and other good to have items, so it was no problem pulling up late in the day and crashing in the new house.

Regis is my hero because he visited the local Xfinity shop and got the gear to get us hooked up today. I could not have done this post otherwise.

We have no idea where our furniture is and when we will get it. We have a good attitude. We bought some essentials and our son will loan us some other critical items. We should be good for a week or more. It’s better than a hotel!

Now that we are here, we will be focused on getting everything set up including car tags, etc. so I do not expect to post for a bit until I am able to spend time exploring. We have the kayaks, but we do not have life preservers and wet suits, so we will explore in other ways when we can. We love the house and the location and look forward to exploring the beauty of the area.

Weather on our route through Oregon.
Pulling up to our new home in Bremerton, Washington. Yeah!

Trucks

Utah

We are in Mountain Home, Idaho. We covered a lot of miles the last two days. There was little traffic, the interstates were in good shape, and we did not have to go far off the interstate to charge. Our hotel window in Mountain Home looks out at a UPS staging area or parking lot. Trucks come in and drop off their trailers and trucks come in to pick up the trailers. Regis is trying to figure out what is going on and whether they are taking advantage of the disconnect to go to the Flying J next door to fill up. Regis is happy when we stay in locations where he can watch activity like the ship port in Savannah, the ship traffic in Puget Sound, the ferry loading in Victoria, and here in Idaho watching trucks. Regis is trying hard to figure out what is going on with the UPS trucks, but he says it’s like a shell game, they keep shuffling trailers around and he cannot keep track. It is interesting to me what entertains him. I could not give a hoot about the trucks but have an ungulate walk by and you have my attention. (Jeff, if you know call Regis.)

The other day, my first tumbleweed on this trip blew across the highway and scared me. I thought it was an animal. I told Regis on the walkie talkie and a couple minutes later Roy Rogers was singing “Tumbling Tumbleweed” on my walkie talkie. Never a dull moment with Regis.

We have been enjoying the scenery as we passed through Wyoming, Utah, and Idaho. There were snow covered hills. Since all of our camping was in the summer, we often only saw snow early in the summer season and only on the tops of the mountains. It was interesting to see the landscape in a non-summer season.

After we arrived in Utah, we descended for a long, long time. It was so long that I told Regis I thought we would soon be in hell. A few miles later, there was a sign for “Devils Slide”, and I felt vindicated.

Dart has not been eating so I bought him a burger patty at Wendy’s the other day. We also bought him cooked chicken at the grocery store to supplement his wet food when it is difficult to feed him during the day. I think he won’t eat his dog food now because he is holding out for better options. He has no problem eating burger patties and cooked chicken, but he does not want his dog food. This is going to be interesting to fix when we get settled in Washington. He is in good spirits and we do our best to let him get in sufficient sniff time. He has trouble walking, so we cannot walk him far.

Our original plan had us getting to our new home on Sunday. If things go well, we will either pull in very late tomorrow evening or, more likely, arrive on Thursday. There is snow coming into the mountains overnight and the Tesla does not have tires for the snow. We either need to go through a pass (shortest route) or drive along the Columbia River. We have about 300 miles tomorrow to see how things are going and decide whether to spend the night and which route to take.

One of my favorite charging stations was in Twin Falls, Idaho and it was located at the Visitor Center along the Snake River. At this point it was raining, but Dart and I checked out the view and got a couple pics.

Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho.
Snake River in Twin Falls, Idaho. We have been here before and watched people base jumping off the bridge.
Idaho

A Wild and Wicked Wind

Wyoming

It was crazy windy today. It impacted the gas consumption in the Jeep, which was probably worse because of the kayaks. The Tesla drained battery fast with the cold temperatures and wind. Regis continued to let me break the wind for him, like the goose in front of the V formation. It became necessary to charge in every substantial town with a charging station. The traffic was light and we were able to maintain our speed consistently, so we covered a lot of ground. We drove about 480 miles today. We have not covered that much ground in a day since our younger days when we were crazy enough to drive all night to get to our destination. We once drove from Maryland to Albuquerque, New Mexico non-stop. Never again. It was doable today because there was not much traffic. The wind was so fierce, I thought it was going to blow the kayaks off the car. When we stopped and let Dart out, he looked at us like “why can’t you do something about this?” He likes the cool weather but hates the wind.

We stayed in a Hilton Tru hotel last night that has an interesting concept. There are no carpets, which we like with the dog. They had a cool automatic pancake maker at the free breakfast. This appears to be a good option for families and people traveling with pets.

Tru Hilton room.
Tru Hilton lobby.

We got up this morning before sunrise and we were on the interstate while it was still dark. As the sun rose, we could see flocks of geese flying overhead. I grew up in Maryland and frequented the Eastern Shore where you could see flocks of geese during spring and fall. I often visited the Eastern Shore to see them. I loved seeing that kind of bird activity again.

Wyoming
Wyoming. Kayaks haven’t blown off the car yet.
Wind turbine blades being transported by rail.

We have traveled enough under varying circumstances for me to have a strong opinion about a couple things. I love our Tesla for local travels. We can charge it overnight in our garage and never worry about charging issues. On the road, it is a different situation. The current charging situation makes it less than ideal for going long distances. If you need to do it occasionally, it can be done. Regularly, I would not do it. It is too much trouble between finding charging stations and dealing with weather issues that impact battery usage. Most charging stations are not readily available to the interstate, which lengthens the trip more.

I love our Tesla and would not give it up. It works best for local stuff. We use the Tesla first for anything we need to do locally. We use the Jeep if the situation requires us to carry kayaks or drive in less-than-ideal conditions. We are fortunate to have two cars that meet different needs effectively.

Several years ago, I tried to determine whether it was best to travel in an RV or stay in hotels, etc. I was not sure, but we purchased an RV and proceeded to travel in one for several years. Now that we are dependent on hotels, I hate it. I do not want to be a whiner, but I hate it. I miss our motorhome. I prefer my own bed, cooking in my own kitchen, and having all my stuff tucked away in the appropriate places. We hate having to find food elsewhere. We hate having to bring our stuff into and out of the hotel every day. I do not want to keep whining, but think it is worth sharing our feelings now that we have had both experiences. Everyone is in a different place. For me, I much prefer camping.