Drama and the return to our home State

The day began with a bang, quite literally. Mark and I were awoken before 5am by the sound of a crash on the Interstate. Did I mention that this is another campsite next to a major highway? Lisa mumbled something and returned to her usual deep coma. He and I rushed out to see what happened. The Interstate was now quiet so we expected the worst. Just opposite the site a car was facing the wrong way on the highway and another driver was already tending to the woman, who was obviously in shock but appeared to be relatively unhurt. We requisitioned a chair and blanket from another camper and waited for the emergency services to arrive. Another driver was flagging speeding trucks. The Police arrived first, as always and closed the highway. EMS next, followed by a large fire truck. The woman, still shocked, insisted that she did not need to be taken in the ambulance (obviously no insurance) so EMS left her on the side of the highway still wrapped in the blanket! Tow truck was called and within 1/2 an hour the highway was reopened. Mark spoke to one camper who said he had seen the accident while taking a piss facing the highway – my theory – woman saw man exposed and lost control of the car. Man seen hurriedly packing tent and leaving campsite, no wonder he didn’t say anything when the Police asked for witnesses.

We hung around for sun rise ++ before rousing Lisa with a freshly brewed coffee. Other campers were already leaving the site.

imageWe left CDA at about 9am, having not showered and feeling slightly rough from lack of sleep. Crossing into Washington state we left the Interstate and returned to Route 2, an arrow straight single lane road that took us to Chelan, our expensive stop for tonight. Soon after we hit the post fire haze so no sights were seen.

imageOur hotel for tonight is the over priced Lakeside Lodge, but it is on the lake with a choice of two pools for Lisa, the outside one being a strange green colour. From our balcony overlooking the pool there was more evidence of obesity at work so a dip is delayed.

Instead we went in search of lunch. I am officially on hunger strike as all my food has been cooked in the oven that they call a car, this forces them to buy me some salmon.

Talking of fish, Lisa at last went swimming and had to fight her way through flotillas of ducks on Lake Chelan. Although shallow the water was still apparently quite chilly.

imageimageWe ended the day with BBQ at one of the many wineries, luckily we sit outside and they welcome dogs. Due to the fires the night sky is extremely red, giving the full moon a very different look. I had a rare play with a one year old Plot hound, until we became entangled and I had to be consoled by him.

Tomorrow we will be travelling home through some of the areas worst affected by the fires.

Still in Washington!

The end of the second day and we are still in Washington state, albeit just a few miles from the Idaho border.

After an abortive walk for me this morning on the road we left our hosts from the BnB at 10am this morning and returned to Pybus market in search of a walk for me and a coffee for Mark. Saturday is farmers market so I am able to wend my way through the vendors. We eventually find some shaded seating next to the singer of the day, so I am left with him while she goes off in search of coffee and donuts for Mark – success of sorts.

A wheel chair bound lady tries unsuccessfully to traverse some stairs, ignoring the adjacent ramp, she falls, a crowd gathers round and 911 is called. She seems OK but an ambulance, the fire chief and the town’s largest fire truck are despatched just in case. As in wars and any emergencies here there is an over reaction.

Back on Route 2 we head north into the desert mountains and quickly climb to over 2,000 ft before heading due east on an almost arrow straight road. The ‘quaint’ towns of Coulee and Wilbur turn out to be fairly desolate so the planned lunch stop next to a very very large lake does not happen and we continue on to Spokane.

We hadn’t realized just how much wheat is grown in this state, on and on past golden fields being harvested and throwing up dust clouds to rival the haze of the fire storms of yesterday.

We arrive in Spokane and follow the signs for the River Park, apparently to provide me with some respite from my air conditioned rear compound in the car. Lisa calls it the moau (my own aircon unit). The first restaurant we approach – no dogs, so we head further into the urban park before we hit the fountain centre of Spokane. It’s so hot that most of those under 20 have gathered to immerse themselves in the falling water. We settle for an unhealthy lunch of burger but Lisa insists on a healthy salad while I wait for the flat breads but lost a piece to a small feathered sparrow who stole from her plate. Well, I have better manners than to climb up onto the table to steal food!

imageOur first campground of the trip is 15 miles to the east of the city, KOA or Campgrounds of America or the McDonalds of camping. We have a site on the perimeter away from the RV’s that litter the country – however if they have aircon then perhaps not such a bad idea. An added advantage of our particular spot is that it is right next to the rail line. I wonder if the trains run through the night? My ‘dog park’ area is a no more than 30 square feet but I dutifully comply.

There’s not much in terms of human food around here so they’re talking about having pizza delivered to the site. Perhaps I could benefit from the crust because the lettuce and carrot they brought for me have been semi cooked in the heat.

Tent up and then a 30 knot squall whips through the site, imagedevastating most of the tents. I retreat to the car while they hastily collapse our new home before stuffing it back in the car. Drama over, we start again.

One thing I don’t get about this camping lark is why would someone who has just shelled out $250k + on a super deluxe RV want to stay for a week on a site in the middle of nowhere next to a rail line. It’s an OK site if you are just passing through but not to sit in for any length of time. Us, we have a free tent, cheapy bags (I have the best memory form bed), a couple of self inflating air beds and a borrowed stove (thanks James and Becky).

Sorry guys for polluting the tent with continuous gaseous issues, must be something you fed me.

Our 10+ miler in the land of the Lost

We set off from Arroyo Park in the Chuckanuts and head up hill of course. He has an idea of following the ridge line to Lost Lake, 5 miles to the south. Once we gain the elevation the trail levels out and becomes a pleasant and eerily quiet single track with not a soul in sight. Although it’s Sunday not many venture this far into the woods and even fewer dogs. We get to the lake and I celebrate the turn around by going dog mental, running at full speed in a circle feigning to take him out – shouldn’t really be doing this at my age. On the level track back there is a sign for Raptor ridge heading for a higher elevation, too tempting so we return to the cloud base and head up.

On the way down we bump into some friends who are on the way up at a more leisurely hiking pace, we discuss perhaps joining them for a group walk next weekend.

For the remainder of the run I find myself lagging behind and am thankful when the car comes into sight.

Stats: time 2hrs 20 mins, dist 10.47 miles, elevation 1,600 ft

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The Lost Lake

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From snow capped mountains to vineyards

Panic stations as the packing begins, are they taking me? As usual my bed is the last thing to be loaded into the car and at last we start the journey south at 10.23am in brilliant sunny weather, in fact the weather at home is going to be brilliant for our entire trip – the road had better not disappoint.

After the mundane drive through the outskirts of Seattle we turn south east and across the stunning Cascade mountains, glimpsing the snow laden Mt Rainier through a mountain pass. We push the car up through 2,300 ft and descend from the lush mountain greenery to the desert that will become the norm for the next 2 weeks.

Our first ‘destination’ is wine country and they have thoughtfully researched Buckingham friendly locations for some tastings, apparently many wineries have dogs but I am not welcomed into the cool air conditioned sanctuary of the tasting rooms, instead do my own tasting in the shade, albeit of the water that the host winos provide.

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As often with wine areas the place to be is the winery and not the local town, Kennewick appears to be one such place. Is there a centre? Apparently not. We find a large riverside park but I am restrained on the leash, even a local bemoans the lack of run free places – she loves Bellingham though – why did we leave again?

Following the advice of a host wino they are off to Twigs, a restaurant and martini bar, apparently the best in town. It’s heaving, well it is Friday, so it can’t be too bad. No outside space available so I am consigned to the car to watch the setting sun, at last the cool of the shade, even the aircon doesn’t reach my cargo space. Why would you put speakers back here and not an aircon vent, come on BMW!

Sleeping in Seattle

Buckingham – we head to the famous Pike Place where the fish markets are this morning…in the rain again.   Mark and I wander around outside (still in the rain) while Lisa checks out the interior.    We later discover that dogs are allowed in some of the covered sections so we have gotten needlessly wet. Lunch means being acrobatically perched on bar stools on uneven ground at one of the fish stalls.   Lisa samples the ciopino which she says it’s as good as hers whilst Mark orders the typical fish and chips, the dish he always regrets afterwards because of the excessive amount of grease.  He often tells Lisa to stop him from ordering his national dish but Lisa gives up… what’s the point?!  As for me, I am happy because I get to taste battered fried fish for the first time in my 8 1/2 years despite Lisa’s abject objection.   Yummiest although it’s too small of a morsel.  Did I really taste it?

We head to the flagship REI store where Lisa searches for her Arc’teryx whilst   Mark and I happily snooze in the car : A, because I have no business needing a ski jacket and B, because Lisa doesn’t want Mark to ‘body- guard’ her nor follow her around like a shop security person.    No luck, the shop sold out of her favourite brand of her ski wear so we drive home.

The initial plan is to buy some seafood in Pike’s Market so they can have a home cooked meal since Los Altos but their host Bryan has a group of friends around so they decide to try out a local Greek restaurant and for the first time I am allowed to stay home and freely mingle with Bryan’s guests.   It’s a pleasant change from being left in the back of the car so I am content.

No interesting pics today … what’s the point of taking photos of grey rain?

Grey rainy day

Buckingham – I have a bad dream in the night and wake Mark up to comfort me.   We drive to, and park on, the beach this morning to go running.   Ocean shores beach is wide and long with blackish sand and there are quite a few cars on the beach, it’s a bit of a highway.    We run in the rain and the wind-driven sea spray for a while, this is probably going to be my last beach run of the trip as today we head inland for a 3 night city stay in Seattle.

We head off in the rain and arrive in Seattle in the rain, which is apparently here for the next week (somebody please remind me why we came north).    For the first time we start seeing road signs for Vancouver, 150 miles north, within  touching distance and the reality of the impending end of our trip starts to sink in.   Should we meander around the Washington countryside in the rain for a while or head for the finish line?

We get into town too early to check in so our host Bryan provides us with the name of a nice Italian deli, Picolino for lunch.   They have lunch and the best coffee in town (yes really – thank you Ali for making it).    We are met there by our host who drive leads us home.   Bryan is a well travelled person who has a spare ticket for a Chinese dance concert Shen Yun  this evening – Lisa accepts leaving Mark and I at home with a couple of glasses of wine, for Mark  but not me.   I don’t like it that she goes out at night because my pack of the 3 of us should be together by sun down so I wait for her to return so I can show my full set of teeth to smile and greet her.   Now I can go back to my new bed and put my head down.

Indecision desolation

Buckingham – great run on the beach before dawn this morning, we get wet running through the river and see an owl – the first of the trip.

It is hard but we feel that we must keep moving on, it would be nice to stay in Yachats but given the isolated location, as a potential place to live it just doesn’t work for us (for now).   We know that Lydia and Volker might love this place because of the rugged landscape and the roaring waves;  there is even a bay by the name of ‘Devil’s Churn’.   We leave the great view of the wild Pacific and head north on 101.  We stop to tank up before we set off on our 270 mile journey in Oregon State as their tax rate is lower.  Unfortunately our fuel gauge seems to be malfunctioning so it seems that we are still running on empty.  Something in the gauge must be clogged but the reading eventually adjusts after about 20 minutes.

Oregon appears to be a nanny state – not allowed to pump your own gas (one of only two states that don’t trust their people to pour liquid) and the speed limits are ridiculously low, some towns as slow as 20 miles  – haven’t they heard of bypasses?  And the thing is people always obey them!

Lunch stop is Tillamook, the home of the best cheddar cheese in the US and a museum for the airship U-boat hunters of WW2. A difficult choice so we choose cheese.

We cross the wide Columbia river and enter Washington state bypassing the historic town of Astoria, the oldest in the western US  – something to do with Lewis and Clark apparently.   As we move further north the skies become lower and greyer, Mark is getting unhappy as Washington is a potential place to live and he hates grey weather.

All in all a dreary boring driving day of nearly 7 hours – maybe we are all getting down because we realise that we are getting closer to the end of our odyssey.

We finally arrive at Ocean Shores, a town that was in its heyday during the 1960’s, we have chosen it because it is on the coast – not that we have seen enough of the coast recently.  We check into the condo and leave immediately for my beach run while there is still light.   We drive directly on to the sand and it is massive, shame about the cars driving up and down the beach.