August 10, 2018
We left the west side of the Cascades and headed across Washington state to Spokane. It was very smoky the whole way. When we watched the news, it said that the smoke from the California wildfires was entering Washington on both sides of the Cascades. Today, the Puget Sound area was going to get some fresh air coming off the Pacific through the Strait, so it was expected to be cooler and less smoky. Not so on the east side of the Cascades.
We saw an active wildfire on the way. There were lots of fire fighters and equipment, but it appeared to be a low intensity fire. It appeared mostly under control. It wasn’t like those videos we’ve been seeing about the fires in California – thank goodness.
It’s hot, hot, hot here. It’s probably the worst we have encountered so far. The campground has a little agility course in the dog park. In spite of the heat, Dart was very enthusiastic about running it. He did very well. I need to double down on my efforts to get him back into agility training when we get home. There aren’t many trials around us in Florida, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go to training regularly.
I wanted to mention how we do our trip planning. Four years ago, when we started this RVing stuff, Regis found a software package called RVtripwizard. We started using it for our first trip and the software has been continuously improved over the years. We love it. It shows all the campgrounds and links to their websites and reviews. I usually look for a campground 250 to 300 miles from our last stop and the software makes it easy to do that.
When I decided to go to Washington state again this summer, I let RVtripwizard tell me the shortest path from Florida to Washington and then selected my stops along that path. On the way home, our last “cool” stop will be in New Mexico. So, I let RVtripwizard tell me the fastest way home from there and I have made some preliminary plans for stops.
I think it is time for us to get home. I think that some couples can spend only some much time together in a confined space. Regis has been yelling at the GPS a lot lately and it’s getting worse. I have to calm him down. The GPS doesn’t seem to do well in the west, but it does eventually get you there. My Uncle Tom believes in maps and there are certainly days that he is correct. A combination of the two is probably best.
The other night we were headed back to our campground from Seattle and I couldn’t remember the campground address. I plugged in Main Street for the nearest town (which is a half mile from our campground). I set off in the dark and the GPS eventually told us we had arrived at our destination and, I’m not kidding, we were in the middle of a cornfield. There was tall corn on the left and tall corn on the right. With it being dark and no other lights but my headlights, I felt like I was in some kind of video game. I had to stop in the middle of this dark road and regroup with the GPS. I eventually found out where we needed to go and we were probably about 2 miles from our campground.
We have only turned on our TV about 5 times since we got the motor home 3 years ago (and we have 3 TV’s!). Most of that was to watch the local news. When we got to our campsite today, it was very hot outside. Not appealing. I took Dart to the dog park and when I got back Regis was watching a game show. The worst part, he was yelling at the contestant for being so stupid about the decisions. Regis was correct with the logic, but are you kidding me. If Regis is going to start watching game shows and yelling at the TV, we have got to do something with him. Maybe we need something to break to give him something to do.
If you are going to do some RV traveling, get good software like RVTripwizard for planning, get a good GPS, and get some maps for the areas you will travel.
August 9, 2018
Yesterday we took Coco back to Jason. She is a very sweet little dog. We had a nice dinner with Jason and Dan last evening and got to see their pictures from their recent trip to Iceland, Sweden, and Norway. Beautiful! These locations are now on my bucket list.
We are spending our last day west of the Cascades. Tomorrow we start heading east again. We have 3,690 miles to get back home in St. Augustine, Florida. We will take a month to do it.
Regis found some blackberry bushes near our current campground, so we have been well supplied with fresh blackberries the last few days. Yum!
I wanted to mention how we’ve been cooking while in the motor home. It can be hard to keep the motor home cooled down in hot weather, so we have adopted a cooking routine that helps ensure we don’t heat up the motor home and allows us to eat the most fabulous meals.
A little over a month ago, we started cooking exclusively with our Hestan Cue cookware. We even bought a second burner and pan so we can both cook if we want to cook multiple things (for example a protein and a side dish). Hestan Cue is smart cookware that includes an induction burner and pan or pot. By using Hestan’s video guided recipes, Hestan Cue automatically controls the temperature and time of the food. That means everything is always cooked to perfection. Since I tend to overcook, especially eggs and fish, I love this system. We have better tasting meals by preparing meals in the motor home than if we go out to eat.
Regis has cooked outside on the picnic table using the Cue when it is too hot to cook. We’ve also become more comfortable using the manual mode when we want to cook something on our own but the Hestan Cue still maintains the temperature of the pan.
We have not used our oven at all on this trip and we stopped using the stove over a month ago. We still use the microwave to heat up food or cook corn on the cob.
The other night I made Roasted Peach Salad w/Warm Hazlenut Vinaigrette. One of our favorite recipes is the Honey Chipotle Chicken Wings. Words cannot describe how delicious they are!
We need cell phone service to use the cookware which is usually not a problem. Regis has a cell phone booster he puts up if the service is weak. We primarily need that because we use the cell phones for internet service. We have only been without cell phone service a few times. If that happens, we can’t use the Hestan Cue recipes but we can still cook using manual mode. I am so committed to this cookware now, I donated all of our pots and pans a few days ago. It has freed up some space in the cabinets!
August 2, 2018
We found out that there were 3 fires in the area within the last two months that have burned an extensive part of this area. (Here is a link that shows pictures of one of the fires. Click here.) One fire started at the rest stop that is about 10 miles up the road. There is almost no vegetation at this time. It looks very desolate and it is hard to believe that any animals can survive in this environment. But, some do.
Yesterday, we found several Bighorn ship by the river at the north part of the State Park. There is some vegetation along the river, so it is not surprising the sheep would be there. There are a few babies. Once you get a few feet away from the river, there is no vegetation except for the grassy area around the State Park visitor center and parking lot. This area is regularly watered and the sheep hang out here because of it.
Regis went hiking for about six miles in this desolate landscape. He found a couple seeps/springs where there is a bit of greenery among the barren landscape. He found a few places where the plant life is beginning to come back.
He noticed several animal skeletons. At least some of them are charred, so the bones were there before the fire. With the vegetation gone, it is easy to see all the “hard” stuff left behind.
We learned that in 2016, only one person died in the U.S. from a rattlesnake bite and that person had an underlying health condition. Twelve thousand people died from stairs that same year. Even the vet told me that rattlesnakes are not that big of a concern here. He thinks there is more concern about alligators in Florida. The snakes aren’t interested in being around you. But, like anything, be aware of your surroundings. We also learned that a relocated rattlesnake is a dead rattlesnake. Rattlesnakes spend the winter communally in a specific place. They learn where that place is in their first year and if they are relocated will search endlessly for that place. As a result, they die of starvation and/or exposure because they will not eat while searching for that place.
It is about 10 degrees cooler today, so it is much more bearable.
August 1, 2018
Yesterday, we had to take Dart to the vet. The nearest vet is 34 miles away. Dart’s been having digestive issues and yesterday was going on day 3. We’ve been down this path many times, so I knew he needed some professional help. Dart was diagnosed with colitis and the vet prescribed Metronidazole which always helps. Dart has been having bouts of colitis for the last 2 1/2 years.
It went up to 104 degrees yesterday, so we didn’t spend much time outside. We decided in the early evening to set up the screened canopy which we purchased on last year’s trip to Canada. We purchased it for the Canadian trip to give us relief from the mosquitoes. By the time we bought it, we didn’t have to use it. We wanted to set it up here to give relief from the bees. While I was focused on helping Regis put up the canopy, a dag gone bee stung me. Ouch! It hurt, but at least not as bad as a yellow jacket sting.
The canopy was VERY HARD to set up. I had a canopy that I used for dog agility trials that I had no problem putting up and down by myself. This screened canopy was extremely difficult for two people to put up.
Once we sat inside, we realized that what little breeze was outside was blocked by the screen. As hot as it was outside, it was intolerable to sit under the canopy. We gave up and went inside the motor home and fed the dogs and ourselves. Around the time we finished dinner, the wind picked up so much we had to take down the canopy or it would have blown down the hill into the Columbia River. So, all that effort and it was only up for two hours and we couldn’t use it.
The wind picked up considerably as the evening wore on and by the time we went to bed, it was howling out there. That is the most wind we have experienced in the motor home. In fact, it is probably the windiest situation I have been in outside of Hurricane Irma and perhaps a few tropical storms. While I was laying there trying to get to sleep, the feeling I had was like when you are in an airplane taking off on the runway and the wheels haven’t lifted off the ground yet. The plane is shaking and rumbling until the plane gets into the air. The motor home was shaking and rumbling and I was hoping that it wasn’t going to take off. Without wings, it wouldn’t have worked well.
A significant portion of the land around us for many miles has been burned not long ago. I wonder if you tinted the land red, if this is what it would look like to be on Mars.
July 31, 2018
Recently, we went to Leavenworth, Washington. This town is draped in a German decor. There are lots and lots of flowers. On Sunday, it was packed. It was too hot to walk the dogs through town, so we drove up to Wenatchee Lake. It was a beautiful drive along the Wenatchee River. There were lots of people enjoying the Lake in this heat.
On the way back to our campground, we drove around Monitor taking pictures of orchards. While taking a picture of one orchard, the farm animals across the street had something to say about it.
We headed Southeast along the Columbia River yesterday. The temperature hit 103 degrees. Our campsite is very nice with a great view of the Columbia River. When the temperature dropped into the high nineties, we went outside in the shade to sit with the dogs. It didn’t take three minutes for them to start panting. The bees arrived and harassed us, so we were forced to come back inside. We managed to get a short walk in before the sunset. The weather is expected to remain hot, so we’ll be exploring by car over the next few days. With the dogs, we look for restaurants with outdoor seating that will allow us to bring them. But, it is even too hot for that.
July 29, 2018
Yesterday, I went to Ohme Gardens in Wenatchee, Washington. This area is very arid. The hills are dry and covered with scrub. In 1929, Herman Ohme purchased 40 acres of land for an orchard. It included a rocky bluff. He and his wife started planting gardens on the bluff which required getting water to the arid land. They used local rock to make paths and benches. As word got out, people started to come and see the gardens and they were eventually opened to the public. The gardens were expanded upon and they are now owned by Chelan County.
It was hot when I went and I was covered in sweat by the time I worked my way through most of the paths. I can’t imagine how much work went into creating the gardens. The early work done on the gardens was all manual labor requiring obtaining many of the rocks by the Columbia River and hauling them up the bluff. It’s definitely worth checking out if you are in the area. It is only $8 to get in.
There are many orchards around the area. The surrounding hillsides are very dry which makes the orchards particularly inviting with their lush greenery. Our thermometer registered 99 degrees yesterday. It must be very difficult to work in the orchards in this heat. The skies are still moderately smoky from local fires.
July 28, 2018
Yesterday, we went to Lake Chelan to explore which is about 30 miles from where we are staying. The sky was smoky the whole way and by the time we got back, it was also smoky back at the campground. A local told me there were 7 wildfires currently in the area.
We went to the Lake Chelan State Park and Coco found two mice soon after starting our short walk. Count on a Bedlington Terrier to find the rodents. Dart found a squirrel taunting him from a tree. Once Coco smelled the squirrel, she got excited and tried to climb the tree. It was amusing to watch. She was very determined.
The drive getting here was so miserable on the first day and it was very hot when we got here, so Regis and I went to a local Mexican restaurant the Agave Azul to get food and drink. We loved it. After our return from the smoky trip to Lake Chelan, Regis suggested going to the Agave Azul for happy hour. It didn’t take me a nanosecond to agree! We love their chips and dip. So, we got magaritas and enough bar food to serve as dinner.
After we got back and later that evening, I realized that I left my shirt at the bar. I just realized how strange that sounds. I was wearing a short sleeve shirt and took a long sleeve shirt to wear over it in case the air conditioning was too cold. It wasn’t, so I left my shirt on the chair and forgot about it. When I went back to retrieve it, it gave me an opportunity to purchase more chips and dip. The dip they serve with the chips is amazing.
We found a local bakery that makes the absolutely best baked goods. The Bavarian creme donuts have just enough donut covering the creme to allow you to pick it up and eat it. We also tried the glazed donuts. Both types of donuts are the best donuts we have ever had. They also make cookies and the shortbread cookies are the best. I will be buying a bag of them before we leave the area.
The bakery and Mexican restaurant are in the local town of Cashmere. It was named after the Kashmir area in India because apparently the landscape looks similar. It’s a nice little town. It has important stuff like good restaurants, grocery stores, old fashioned soda fountain, etc. without being too touristy and crowded.
July 26, 2018
On our final day on Bainbridge Island, I went to Seattle to have my stitches removed. The wound looks better than I expected, so I don’t look like Frankenstein. It will take six months to completely heal, but it’s off to a good start.
I went to the Seattle Aquarium before heading back on the ferry. It was very crowded, so it was sometimes hard to look in some of the tanks. Nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing the life that lives under the water hidden from sight. It is amazing how many different kinds of fish there are. My favorite animal was Agnus the Giant Pacific Octopus. She showed off how she could change colors and move all her lovely arms.
I ate dinner in a nearby restaurant on the water. Although it was good, it was way too expensive. This is the tourist area. At this point, I had already walked across town to the doctor’s appointment and back down to the waterfront and it was warm. I wasn’t interested in walking to restaurant outside the area because I would have to walk back up the hill. Some of the hills in Seattle are very steep. If you go to Seattle, don’t just hang out on the waterfront. Go see the other wonderful restaurants in town.
As we sat in the campsite on our final evening, a squirrel showed up to strip bark off the nearest tree. Perhaps he/she was building a nest. Dart was fascinated (so was Regis). Coco was more interested in the Robin that hung around.
We left Bainbridge Island yesterday to head out to a campground by the Wenatchee River. The drive was miserable. There was a lot of traffic and it was very bumpy for some reason. Many things in the RV got rearranged along the way. I kept doing cleanup and trying to make sure more things didn’t fall. I reset the cappuccino maker on the counter but it wound up crashing on the floor anyway. This is the first time this happened. When we heard the crash, I looked back and saw all these things on the floor that looked like kibble but I could see the dog food container was still on the counter, so that wasn’t it. Then, the smell of coffee beans filled the motor home and we knew. Fortunately, although a few pieces of plastic broke, the cappuccino maker still works. Thank goodness!
It was 104 degrees when we arrived. The camper next to us was assessing a problem they had. The jack apparently got wedged into the asphalt as it melted in the heat. The camper moved forward and the bottom of the jack was stuck in the asphalt and broke off. That will be expensive to fix. Having seen that, Regis was sure to put blocks under all of our jacks.
Regis and I went to a local Mexican restaurant for dinner and it was so good. I’m definitely going back again before we leave.
After dinner we took the dogs down to the river to take a look. Regis waded into the water and a snake swam by and hit him in the leg. Regis grabbed the snake when it got to the shore to show me. It was a little guy.
Regis picked up some tubes (for floating) while we were in Omak. I plan to take him up the river and drop him off with a tube and go sit at the campground with Dart and Coco and wait for him to float back. He’s not sure he wants to do it. If he doesn’t, I will. The water is very inviting in this heat. (Jason: I should have borrowed your paddle board). Someone on a paddle board floated by with a dog on the front.
July 23, 2018
Yesterday, I went to the Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island while Regis kept the dogs company. The reserve is a path through woodlands and gardens. It was a very sunny day, so it wasn’t a good day for pictures. The walk was beautiful and peaceful. There wasn’t much in bloom at this time of year, but it was still a lovely walk.
We met some folks yesterday staying at our campground that came together for a reunion and to have a memorial service. Many moons ago, six families came from Montana to Bainbridge Island to make their home. One lady used to haul water 5 miles when she lived in Montana and was ecstatic that her new home on the Island came with a hand pump in the yard.
The families lived on the Island and eventually separated and moved on. At least one family left around the time of the war out of concern that the Island was too close to Seattle and naval facilities and therefore, not safe. Now, the families get together every year on the Island for a reunion. There were at least 75 people gathered this year. This park is a great place for a reunion.
July 22, 2018
When we left Omak, Washington, the temperature was expected to exceed 100 degrees. While we were there, we got great views of Mars and the moon.
Because I was scheduled to have surgery in Seattle to remove some skin cancer, we headed back to camp on Bainbridge Island. When we got to our campsite, the temperature was in the 70’s. It has been lovely here. A few times, we have had to turn the heat on at night since it drops into the 50’s.
We’re going to be in Washington for another 3 weeks and I wish we could spend all that time near the Puget Sound because the weather is so nice. I have not been able to find a way to stay. All the campgrounds are booked. I spent hours trying to work something out and we can’t do it. After my follow-up doctor appointment on Tuesday, we will head back to the east side of the Cascades. Although lovely, it will likely be hot.
Coco will be staying with us over the next couple weeks. We went into Seattle yesterday to pick her up and spend time with Jason and Dan. Jason, Dan, and I went to Nordstrom for the half yearly sale. The Nordstrom in Seattle is incredible. I think there is a shoe department on every floor. While we were gone, Regis kept the dogs company and took pictures of flies. He was supposed to take pictures of birds, but I only found a couple bird pictures of a gull flying high up in the sky.
Jason made an incredible dinner for us. We had a lovely time and headed back to Bainbridge on the ferry late in the evening. The city view is beautiful at night from the ferry, but it is impossible to take a good picture at night on a moving ferry.