Thursday, August 27, 2015

Part 2 - Denman Island, BC

The Beach House
Leaving Westport at 4:37 AM we scampered up highway 8 and hit I-5. Our hopes were to get through Tacoma and then Seattle without getting stuck in traffic. As it turned out we flew through all the sticking points, including the border. We hit the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen (the T is silent) about three hours before our reservation on the ship.  When we checked in we asked if we could catch an earlier sailing  and with no hesitation they told us we were all set to go on the next sailing.

It was a beautiful crossing and we immediately drove off the ship and into Nanaimo to get supplies. Chicken in Canada, and especially on Vancouver Island, is expensive. We took a loan out and bought the chicken, loaded up on other necessities and headed out to find Denman Island.

Looking at The Beach House From the beach.
Our route took us up the coast, on A-19 the coastal highway.  When we hit the ferry terminal to cross over to the island we got in line and a few minutes later our friends Dean and Raina arrived. It was fun seeing them and we were excited to get to The Beach House and see Bridget and Dennis.

We all gathered at The Beach House and started laughing.  Our evening was filled with exploring the new place, eating and laughing. Let the fun begin!

Morning came and went with everyone doing their own thing.  Island exploration took up the rest of the day; we filled two cars and drove to the ferry over to Hornby Island.

Interior of The Beach House.
Bridget and Dennis led us across the island stopping once at a bakery where we looked around and bought some goodies. I had a great cinnamon roll and Linda had her usual chocolate chip cookie. I think it is her goal in life to find the best chocolate chip cookie in the world.

Dennis the fruit fly exterminator.
We left the bakery behind and drove over to Helliwell Provincial Park where we hiked a loop that took us right along the coast.  When we started the hike we ran into a group of hikers who were so excited they had to stop us and show us their videos and photos. They had just witnessed a pod of orca feeding on seals just off the shoreline.  We looked at their captured images and were amazed. One of the videos was taken with a cell phone and it showed the orca feeding so close to shore that you would never have guessed it was a phone video.  We were so excited, but the hikers said that the pod had moved on and we were just a bit late.

All the way over to the point we joked about missing a National Geographic moment because I had to have a cinnamon roll! The hike was beautiful and even though we didn’t get to see orcas eating seals, we had a great time.

We retraced our tracks back to Denman Island and took a loop drive around the island. We stopped at Tom Dennis’s pottery studio and then drove out to Bridget’s cousin’s home where we explored her amazing property.

Coffee on the beach.
Back at The Beach House we ate dinner and continued laughing until we had to go to bed. Our journey would continue in the early morning and we needed to try to get some rest.

We left the island on the first ferry; Bridget sent us off with hugs and waves. Both vehicles had great ferry spots on the two crossings and that made getting off the island much more interesting. During the crossing from Duke Point back to Tsawwassen, we had a very expensive breakfast together while we gazed out the front of the vessel.

Dean and Raina disembarked the ferry first, so we followed them to the US border.  Each vehicle picked a lane and soon Linda and I were moving through the system quickly and efficiently. We left the Weyens behind driving south following I-5.

The trip to Hornsby Island.
On the return trip we took I-5 to 405 and then took a left onto I-90.  Dean and Raina took I-5 to Everett then hit Hwy 2 through Leavenworth and finally connecting with Hwy 97 down to I-90. Once they hit Vantage they cut southeast on Hwy 26 and followed that home.

We had a wonderful trip! It was fun connecting with Don and Caroline in Westport and then venturing on island to rediscover the beauty of the BC islands.  We can’t wait for another invitation to invade either of the two coastal retreats. 

Ferry fun with Bridget and Raina.
A little yard work.
"I think they have cell coverage al the way to here."
"They do!"
The sight of the Orca feeding frenzy we missed due to cinnamon roll.
Sailing the Streight of Georgia.

Watchful seals, orcas gone.
Island tour selfie.

View from Bridgets cousins home.

Statues at the entrance of the new cemetery.

The three evils.

Part 1 - Westport

Tired of the smoke and needing a jump-off point for our adventure to Denman Island, BC, we decided to take the camper off the truck and drive down to Westport for a quick visit with Don and Caroline.  We arrived in the late afternoon and were able to enjoy the sun and fresh air on their deck for a few hours before they fed us a great meal.

The next morning we lazed around the house and then took a walk on the beach with the dogs. Don and Caroline had a birthday party to attend so we dog sat the rest of the day.  During that time, we took a drive into town and look around. We headed south through Grayland and drove along the ocean. Lunch was eaten at the Mutineers cafe where we ran into Holy, Don's sons wife. It was a very nice surprise.

Returning home we played with the dogs and watched TV until Caroline and Don came home. Bed came early due to a 4:30 AM departure time.  We know we could have stayed up north and been way closer to the border and our final destination, but we enjoy Done and Caroline so much we gladly would get up that early to be able to spend some time with them.

Morning view from the deck.
No smoke, just ocean fog.
The exercise team.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Yaak Attack

It has been a while since we have been able to get out and go camping. The knees affair slowed our adventures way down and now that we are about 9 weeks from the surgery I feel more comfortable heading out.

Kootenai River Falls
We spent the weekend cleaning and loading the camper. It is amazing how dusty the interior of our home gets if it just stays in the driveway. Linda spent a morning doing a super clean of the entire interior and now the place looks as good as new. I did my usual duties of packing our necessities, filling the truck with fuel, and making sure all the air pressures were up to snuff.
Monday morning we stashed away the few items that we needed for morning and we were ready to roll.

Linda put the leash on Kobi and he immediately looked like a prisoner on death row. I hollered “Dead Dog Walking!” and we loaded him into the truck.  We cross-checked our list and once we were sure everything was ready we hit the road.

Pano of the falls araea.
Our destination this week was the Yaak River Campground just off Highway 2, northeast of Bonners Ferry. We drove the 106 miles and avoided all highway incidents arriving at about noon. Bill and Terry Burch joined us less than a half hour later each of us getting very good camping spots within walking distance of each other and the river.

The weather for this week was projected as very hot and the weathermen did not let us down one bit.  All days were well into the 90’s and it took to about 8:00 PM each evening to cool off.  We spent a lot of time in the shade and around the water when we were not out exploring.

Bill and Terri towed their car and this gave us an air-conditioned means to roam about the areas around the Yaak and Libby Montana.

On Tuesday, we took full advantage of this and drove up through Troy, MT to Libby, stopping for a hike that led us out to Kootenai Falls and a swinging bridge that led across the Kootenai River. The hike was very shady and relatively easy walking. It took us first to a rock overlook where we could see the falls in all its splendor.  From there we walked to the swinging bridge, crossed it, took pictures and returned. Once we had taken all the photos we needed, we walked back to the parking area and gathered at the concession stand. Everyone bought lemonade and we loaded back into the car and continued on into Libby.

Photo bomb!
It's been over 13 years since I have been to either of these two towns.  I stayed with a friend in Troy once and we had a couple adventures in the Libby area many years ago. One of the trips included 20 new students, four vans, eight flat tires, Les Schwab, a pizza shop, and transporting many drunk students late into the night.  It's a long story, ask me about it sometime.

On this visit, we noticed that the town of Libby has a unique feel to it.  They are really into placing life size items on poles and using them for advertising. Check out my photos that I placed on Facebook for a little view of this phenomena.

We looked around the town, Bill stopped and bought some river sandals, and then we drove back to the Yaak. We ended our day with a dutch oven dinner of crab stuffed chicken wrapped in bacon. I tell you there is not a bit of fat in that meal.

Wednesday we got up and went down the road to the Kootenai River where we spent the day in the water, sun and shade.  The water in this river is very cold. The water comes out of the bottom of the dam, which keeps it very cold.  The Colorado River in the Grand Canyon does exactly the same thing.
Swining bridge pano.

We played in the kayaks, sat on the beach and tossed endless sticks for Kobi.  When it got too hot we returned to camp and played games in the cool temps of  the Burces' air-conditioned RV. When dinner rolled around Bill made us hamburgers and we had a feast.

Thursday morning we packed everything up and drove home. Linda and I took Highway 2 east through Troy and turned south on the Bull River Road. This led us down to Highway 200 where we looped back through Clark Fork and Hope to Sandpoint and then home.  We had a great week, a bit hot, but a wonderful stay in a very nice campground.

At the boat put-in on the Kootenai River.

Monday, August 03, 2015

Coastal Visitors

We have met a great number of quality people while we stayed in Mexico over the years. Now that we are retired and able to travel we have started to connect with these friends beyond our stays south of the border.  This weekend Iris and Dennis traveled across Washington from Edison to visit with us a couple days, giving us a chance to reconnect.

Though they didn't have much time, we packed as much into their mini-vacation as we could.  On Sunday, we went into Coeur d'Alene to Art on the Green and the street fair, ate at Capone's, and gorged on crab fresh from the waters off Edison.  Monday we went down to NIC and did some SUP paddling, followed by a boat tour of the waterfront of Coeur d'Alene.

It was a very nice weekend and our only regret was that the smoke from forest fires in Washington clouded our skies dampening the beauty of our wonderful area.