Saturday, April 29, 2006

Quick Weekend Camping on the Cd'A River

At around five o’clock we left the house for the second time and headed out to go camping at the Coeur d’Alene River. It was our second departure because we got on the freeway and neither of us could remember it we closed the garage door. So I turned around at the Northwest Boulevard exit and we drove back and checked. We had closed it!

Now is the time to be camping up the river, we saw one group camped and our camp is above Yellowdog Creek. We chose a spot where there are few trees and we get the longest sun in the evening. Mornings are cold, about 36 degrees, but buy 10 o’clock we have full sun and it heats up nicely. Three day of beautiful weather, bright cloudless skies in the day, evenings spent by the campfire eating, drinking and reading. As soon as the sun settles over the mountain tops, the cold wraps around you and you need your coat.

On Friday we took two hikes, one up a logging road to over look the river and one around the camp area that is just across the river from us. Not much on the logging road except a little bear sign. Baka got a good workout sniffing around and running after smells. The campsite tour turned out to be a long one. That camp could hold at least 10 parties without being to close to each other. We walked all the roads and found that there were four very nice camps and the rest were good to very rustic. Looks like several areas have been used for extended living. One even has a home made pit toilet that looks real bad.

Our evening meal was Mac-N-Cheese and Linda did a great job again. She used our oven for the first time to bake corn bread, what a treat. I have to say that this is my favorite camping meal. The dutch oven makes everything taste so good. Clean up is a little of a hassle, but it is well worth the work to have such a great meal. After dinner we sat for a spell and then we watched the Chronicles of Narnia on the laptop. I guess we are a little spoiled but it was sure fun.

By the end of the movie our camper warned us that the battery was low. I just can’t figure that out! We started camping Thursday night and by Friday night our batteries were low. Most of our use was very conservative; we ran the water pump, lights, very little heater fan and the refrigerator fan. The only beyond normal use was the stereo for the movie sound. Two hours of sound shouldn’t kill the batteries that much, but it did.

So we turned off everything that used power and went to bed. We’ll recharge when we travel home. We are leaving Saturday because Linda is participating in the Nine Mile Falls Duathlon on Sunday. I’ll be doing the Bennett Lawn Triathlon while Linda does her thing. Mowing, raking and trimming takes very little training, but it has to be done.
I don’t know when we will be out in Canyonwren Too again, I think next weekend I might use it to stay overnight at the NIAdventure Race sight at Beauty Bay. The weekend after that I believe we head to Canada for the long holiday weekend. The weather is warming up and so we’ll be out camping more and more. I’ll keep the blog up to date!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Farragut State Park

The weather said that we might have some rain Friday night and then it called for wind but sun. We had a beautiful weekend with no rain and lots of sun. We left Cd'A about 4:00 PM and went directly to Farragut State Park. Snowberry camp site was the only site open at the park and when we arrived we were surprised how busy it was. We found a site for us and placed some chairs in a spot for Daren and Marcie, they arrived about twenty minutes after us. Setup went smooth; dinner consisted of our usual Fritos and Chili. We ate around the fire and visited until bed.

Saturday was beautiful! We went for a long hike after breakfast; Darren brought his GPS so we found three caches. We ate lunch at the boat launch in the sun watching a couple sailboats and a fisherman.

The evening dinner was created by Darren. He made a great Jambalaya in the dutch oven. I made a volcano cake and made a mess of the kitchen in their trailer. The meal was fantastic and we talked about our various trips over the past several months. Darren and Marcie traveled to Thailand so that trumped our trip to Mexico and the spring break trip to the Washington coast. We went to bed about 10:00 PM, Linda needed to get up early and drive into town to run in the Spring Dash.

Sunday I made coffee and started picking up the camp. Darren and I talked a bit and then Baka and I loaded up and drove into town. We arrived about 10:30 AM; Linda had just washed her car.
I finished the day waxing two sides of the camper. My arms are shot and I need to go to bed. Great Weekend!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Spring Break - Whidbey Island

March 25th, 2006

The new camper is loaded and the Jeep is hooked up. Our plan is to drive to Whidbey Island on Puget Sound. There are several state parks that we have looked at on the web. Linda chose Fort Ebey as our first stop on our first little adventure in the new home. We headed west and every thing was going well, we are getting the usual gas mileage of about 8.5 MPG from the Dodge and at Ellensburg we pulled in for gas. The truck ran like a charm and didn’t labor at all loaded with the camper and towing the Jeep. It does drink a lot, and that hurts the wallet.

On the way over I had noticed a little weird feel to the Jeep when we slowed and especially when we pulled into get gas. So I checked the tow bar set up and found some problems. The new hitch extension was not allowing the lock-in snaps to work. They are off by less then a 1/8” but that is just enough to cause problems. When I found this out I was in a bad spot and the position of the toe bar was offset and it put tension on the safety lines which in turn put stress on the new hitch set up. This ended up bending the turnbuckle on the hitch. It took a while but I got everything back to normal and changed the safety lines so they allowed everything on the toe bar to operate correctly. We ended up having to replace the turnbuckle so off we went to find a hardware store.

It was Chick Days at the local Ace Hardware store and the place was packed. I found the turnbuckle we needed and we did the install right there in the parking lot and off we went. Our next stop was basically Fort
, we found a great spot and set up everything we needed. Linda wanted to go for a little walk before we made dinner so off we hiked. They say the Park has 28 miles of hiking trails; we walked 24 of the 28 miles and when we made our way back to the truck I was beat. We fired up the stove and made hot chili, ate it all and then went to bed. Our first night in our camper, as we talked we decided to keep with our tradition and call it “Canyonwren Too!”

March 26th, 2006

Linda got up early to go for a run. She said it was an amazing morning and she ran for 40+ minutes. Running on the trails is way better then running on the treadmill at the Club. She ran on the grassy bluff that we saw on our hike the day before. She ran by the “battery”, part of the old gun placement, one of the sights of the Fort. We are warm and cozy in the camper. No rain yet and the sun has been out quite a bit.

We went for another little walk and to Linda a “little walk” means a hike no less then 5 miles. We walked to the gun battery and then continued on to a little lake named Pondilla. (Sounds like a Japanese made movie, “King Kong Vs. Pondilla”) We walked half way around the lake and then realized that our hike was getting long and so we turned back and made our way to the camper.

I took a nap and Linda read in the sun shine. Then we hiked again. This time we took the Kettles Trail that led into the woods toward Coupeville. We met a couple bike riders and they said the trail went all the way into the town. We didn’t want to hike that far so we hooked into a trail heading back in the direction of the beach. This trail was called the Hokey Ka Dodo Trail and it led to the bluff trail and then back to camp.

There was just enough wood around in other empty camps to give us a good fire for the evening. We ate dinner and Linda sat next to the fire, I spent an hour getting the journal up to date and then we went to bed.

March 29th, 2006

We are still a Fort Ebey for the day and my plans are to go into Oak Harbor and have the Jeep looked at by a service man. There are some strange noises when you drive the thing and it doesn’t sound good. We stopped at a Jeep dealer and the nicest guy helped us. He got it in right away and while they looked at it we walked around and found a place to have breakfast. We just finished the meal when the service man called and informed us that the noise was caused by cupped front tires. So we went back and paid him $45 and went over to Les Schwab and dropped $$$ on new front tires. The way I figured it is that the tires needed to be rotated, and then when I didn’t get the tow bar hooked up right I just made things worse, pushing everything over the edge. The tire guys checked the other tires and the shocks and guess what? We need shocks also, but they will have to wait.

Linda and I headed back to the Fort and I still heard a strange sound. So I dropped her off and returned to the Jeep dealer. They checked it over and found that it was worse than expected. We have a bent front drive shaft, excessive play in the front shaft transfer, and probably a bad bearing in the transfer case. All this is going to have to wait till we can get back to Post Falls and get the money together to do the job right. It’s noisy but drivable and we can toe it if everything goes to shit during the rest of the trip.

We drove up the road to Coupeville and found a spot where we could get the internet. We searched for the address to the Phantom Ranch in the Grand Canyon so that we could send cards to the guys who are traveling down the Colorado River this next month. It took a bit of searching but we were able to find where to send the cards, so we closed the computer and headed for home via an old frontage road. To get there we drove through the old part of town where all the little shops were located.

We meandered home and that night I made dutch oven Mac-n-cheese and a D. O. cake. I was grumpy but I beat Linda in crib for the first time this trip. We went to bed with the first rain hitting the roof of our home.

March 28th, 2006

Rain lasted all night but by the time we got up and got showered the rain stopped. Our goal for the day was to drive to Fort Casey and see what is down on that part of the Island. Ft. Casy is a real cool place! We started by checking out the light house located on the property. It is not as tall as you might think it would be, but I guess that is due to it’s location on the bluff overlooking Admiralty Inlet. We walked down to an overlook and got a great view of the big barracks that were used by the men stationed there. They use that area as a retreat center now and as we drove by we could see a bunch of people doing their retreat thing.

Fort Casey was built to protect the bay but the guns were never used for battle. They scrapped all the metal some time after the war ended, but years later they found two guns, like the original 10” guns, in the Philippine Islands and moved then back to this area. It is real interesting to look over the entire sight and think about how it was back in the 40’s. We walked all around the area and took pictures of everything we could.

After the visit to the Ft. we followed the road to the FS Campground. It was right next to the Ferry Terminal. In fact if you were to camp there, people on the ferry could look into your windows every time they landed. It would not be the quietest place in the world.

We followed the frontage road out past the Ft. Casy Retreat Center and drove through some real rich farm lands. The road wound around and soon we approached another little town. Coupeville, again we found ourselves in Coupeville. Very weird, I guess we took the wrong road and did a big circle. After we figured out our mistake we took the road south past the turn off to the Ft. and traveled down to South Widbey State Park and checked out the camping. It looks nice and we need to get moving so we probably will drive down here tomorrow and set up camp. We swung back the way we came and ended up in Freeland where we ate lunch at a little place called Gerry’s. After lunch we stopped at a store and did some shopping and then drove back to camp where we fixed a chicken dinner, ate and went to bed.

March 29th, 2006

It’s dusk here at South Whidbey State Park and Linda is sitting out by the fire reading her book Flush. I can hear the rain starting to patter on the roof of the camper; it shouldn’t be long before Linda retreats into our little home. Today was basically moving day, we picked up all the gear and stowed it in either the camper or the Jeep. We used the radios while we traveled our own undercover caravan. At Coupeville Linda turned left, down town, and searched out a Post Office to mail the post cards. I sat in a parking lot talking to her as she scoped everything out. She completed the task and we moved out to find our next campsite.

At the park I performed my first empting of the Gray and Black water tanks. Linda found the site she liked and radioed back that she found it and for me to drive on down to site # 21. We set up our camp and went for a walk down on the beach.

Back at the campsite Linda started her fire and we sat in the peacefulness of the evening. That didn’t last long; three big rigs pulled in and surrounded us. One was so long I don’t know how they managed to pull it around the camp ground. But a drizzle has started and Linda has made a hasty retreat into the warmth of the camper. The rain is no longer a drizzle, it’s pouring.

March 30th, 2006

The rain continued all night but stopped when we woke up the next morning. Today we are going to take the Port Townsend / Keystone Ferry over to Port Townsend and check out the shops. Baka has to stay home and keep the campsite safe. By leaving the park at a little after 9 am we were able to drive to the ferry terminal get our tickets and only have a wait of about a half hour. The sun was out and the wind was blowing so we sat in the waiting booth until the boat docked. The ferry costs $2.80 each for a one way ticket and the ride is a little over 25 minutes. We played crib as we rode, Linda beat me again, but I’m getting used to that happening.

Upon arrival we walked directly into the old town shopping area and then straight to a pizza shop for lunch. It was a very cool place with pie by the slice down one the street and then pies as you like them up stairs in a small dining area. The girl serving us was cute and very nice. She was pretty typical in her dress, low cut jeans, string bikini undies, and short top with a low cut neckline. Yes, how could you not notice the tattoo on her back just under the v of the string bikini underwear? We ordered pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and olives and when it came we gobbled it right down. Best pizza we have had in a long time, hands down.

We walked around the down town after lunch but didn’t see anything we had to have. It was a very nice place, just didn’t have anything we needed. So we went back to the ferry and went on back to our camp site.

Baka was very happy to see us and so we took him for a walk down the Hobbit trail (which was quite short) and then over to the ancient cedar tree located across the highway. We returned as the sun set and Linda started her final fire while I typed on the journal notes. We ate leftovers and read for a bit before going to bed.

March 31st, 2006

We got up at the usual time and took showers. A about 8 AM we started putting things away and hooking the jeep up to the truck. We left the camp and took the highway back up to Desolation Pass where we got out and looked at the views of the narrows. After that it was a beeline home to Post Falls. No problems and no delays, we where home in time to clean up, order pizza (again) and watch the Johnny Cash DVD, Walk the Line. Spring Break ends Sunday and we are not ready to go back to work.