Friday, July 28, 2017

Pre Trip Trip

Doughnuts, driving food!
Linda’s parents needed her to attend a doctor's appointment with them on Wednesday which went late so we left town at 7:00 AM on Thursday. 

We drove to Edison, WA via highway I-90 and 405 to  I-5. This was a very quick and uneventful drive, taking only 6 hours. Our plans today were to visit friends and attend a birthday party for Maggie Collinge who is turning 70. We stayed with John and Liz Degloria and were so grateful for their wonderful hospitality

We arrived in Edison and immediately started getting into the party spirit by helping Iris, the event host and one of our very favorite people, with the final food and party preparations. Iris's house is about three blocks from the Edison Granary where the party was set to take place. We prepped food, gathered ice and moved items over to the party site. It was good to catch up with the happenings in Edison and Iris's life.
We walked to John's business, Slough Foods, and picked up the house keys so we could drop our bags off. What a cool store/restaurant he owns! It's filled with wine, cheeses, and all kinds of delicious things. We picked up ice and some other little items while we were there and then went back to watch the party unfold.

Larry doing oysters with Maggie's brother Bob.
People started arriving shortly after all the food and decorations were in place. Most of the folks attending were people we have gotten to know from our travels to Mexico. It was great to see everyone and touch base with them. We laughed about how different they all looked. Everyone was dressed up which is not the everyday look of Melaque. It was a fun gathering with good friends, great food, and good music.

The party wound down by about 9:30 PM and we helped clean up before retiring to John and Liz's place. We both showered and went to bed as soon as we could. It was so nice to get to talk to John and Liz. We wish we could have more time together with all our wonderful Edison friends.

John and Iris, our hosts and wonderful friends.
The birthday girl Maggie and Linda.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On to the Next Bucket List Item

Linda and all the gear we collected for our trip.
We are really close to starting our next adventure. For the past year, we have been planning a sailing trip in the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington. We first started exploring this idea when we tried to put together a sailing trip with LTD Sailing out of St Vincent and the Grenadines. A friend, Jon Totten, is an instructor/guide for the tour/teaching company and we were eager to get a group together and explore that area. These plans had to change due to the distance and time needed for other friends to join us. Our group slowly got smaller, and finally the remaining couple, Ryan and Holly Edwards, suggested that we look closer to home for a sailing trip. That is how we locked into chartering a boat through San Juan Sailing out of Bellingham, Washington.

Linda and I committed right away; a sailing trip has always been a bucket list item for us. Together, our team of the Bennetts and the Edwards’, Holly, Ryan, Zane and Anika, started planning. We Googled “Sailing in the San Juans” and found two companies in western Washington that had good reputations and high marks for chartering sailboats. Further digging informed us that they both had good information concerning how to put this type of trip together. We contacted another friend, David Kilmer, who had worked for San Juan Sailing and also had their boat in the sailing charter fleet. He provided us a huge amount of information and advice and we finally chose to go with San Juan Sailing for this charter.

Jeanneau 409
At a pizza dinner in November, 2016 we looked over the San Juan fleet and chose a sailboat that we felt would fill our needs for a week-long adventure with six humans on board. The boat we chose was “Tivoli” a Jeanneau 409.  She is 40 feet in length and sleeps 6 comfortably. We contacted the folks at San Juan Sailing  and reserved the boat for the week of July 28 through August 4th. The deposit check was in the mail and we were committed.

In talking to the folks at San Juan Sailing we then found that they could give us recommendations for a sailing captain who would guide us on our exploration of the islands. This was a necessity because even though I have sailed quite a bit and Ryan was familiar with sailing, neither of us have the certificate that would allow us to charter a boat and sail it.  We could hire a captain/instructor from San Juan Sailing and they would guide us through this adventure and, if we paid them, they could instruct us and give us the certification needed to rent a vessel in the future. We gathered contact information on their captains and then sat back and waited until the winter faded away.

When we returned from our winter in Mexico we again called a pizza meeting and started the process of hiring our captain. Two captains were available at the time of our charter and we did phone interviews with both. Holly and Ryan were able to interview the female captain and the entire group was available to interview the male captain. Both were very interesting and we felt both could do the job for us, but when we interviewed Captain Bob, we were able to get a real good feel for his style. This was due to the fact that he was chatting with us while he was supervising/teaching a couple students out in a sailboat on the Sound. We could hear the calm teaching presence in his voice as he spoke to us and then called out suggestions to the students on board the boat he was sailing. This sold us on Captain Bob and it was a unanimous vote from our group.

We have the boat; we have chosen the Captain and paid everything we needed to pay to sail for a week in the San Juan Islands. By this time we were about three months out and we kept in contact with Bob while we waited.

At our final pizza meeting at the Edward’s house with less than two weeks and counting, we planned our meals while splitting up duties and assigning tasks.  We talked about fishing gear and all the items we felt we needed to bring. We left that evening with lists galore. From that point on we spent our time gathering and packing clothes, putting needed items on the spare bed in the little bedroom and buying food items for the trip.

The week prior to departure I took the camper out to Rayelle and Mike Anderson’s and unloaded it. Part of our post-sailing adventure plans includes a visit to friends on Vashon Island and it would cost a fortune to take the truck with camper onto the ferry. To save money, we dropped our little home off at the farm for the next few weeks.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Big Creek Gathering

The morning we left on this trip was the first morning that I didn’t ride my recumbent for almost a week. It started to be a habit to get up, walk outside and find Steve, our neighbor, futzing with his new tricycle. We have been riding together and Steve is a very early riser. If I am not up-and-about by 7:00 AM, he is beeping my phone to get me going, asking where we are riding and when. It has been fun and I have really enjoyed the exercise. Now that I am riding, I have noticed that 2:00 PM has become my mandatory nap time. A good thing about that is that it has been in the high 90’s so sleeping is a good way to avoid those hot hours.

Flathead Lake
Our trek this week took us into Montana and north to a campground just outside Glacier National Park. Big Creek Campground has a large group camping site and two friends, Julie and Pat, reserved it after they visited the area and came up with the group camping idea.  We were invited along with a large number of our friends:  John and Loretta Sutherland, Tom and Sarah Husby, Mike and Caroline Beckwith, Ben and Sherma Higgs and several others. It looked to be an interesting week of boating, fishing, hiking and exploring.

Our caravan at Flathead Lake. 
We left Post Falls at about 10:00 AM on Saturday the 8th and drove over Lookout Pass into Montana. There was a lot of highway work being done which extended our driving time a bit, but I was OK with going the 45 MPH most of the way. This trip we were towing the Jeep with its load of recreational toys. We were packed for adventure! Our expedition gear included two mountain bikes, my fishing cat, and of course, Stinky Jeep. We brought along all my fishing gear, camp games, lounge lizards (reclining chairs), our outhouse tent, and everything but the kitchen sink. Oh, we have that in the camper.

Resting at Big Creek.
At St. Regis MT., we turned northeast on Highway 135 and followed the Clark Fork River.  Our plan was to grab a campsite for the Husbys and ourselves at Peninsula Campground for the first night. This did not work out and we had to drive on to a Forest Service Campground called Cascade.

Once we were all set up, Linda and I walked down a trail and crossed the highway to the river. We both took a swim and cooled off. While Linda sat out on the beach, I went up to the truck and grabbed my fishing gear.  As I fished, Linda relaxed. I caught a couple nice fish.

Sarah and Tom arrived and got their trailer set up. Tom and I went down to the river again and fished. I caught a real nice cutthroat; it measured in the 17-inch range.  The sun was setting and we called it a day.

The next day we caravanned up through Kalispell, MT to the Big Creek Campground where everyone would gather. Big Creek is located on the North Fork of the Flathead River. It is not in Glacier National Park, but the park is very close. It is a very good location for everyone to float, ride bikes, hike and explore the beauty of the park.

We arrived! The last 15 miles or so of the trip was over a very dusty washboard road. We drove the entire way at 10 to 15 miles per hour. It shook the truck so hard we figured everything in the camper would be on the floor when we arrived.

Tom and Pat telling tall tails.
At Big Creek group site, we chose our spot in the shade. It was about 3 PM when we got settled and the spot we chose looked like it would be shady most of the day. We chose correctly and all week we had shade to keep our camper cooler.

As the afternoon progressed into evening, people started arriving. We all took our chairs to a spot overlooking the river and welcomed each camper as they wandered in. Eventually, everyone separated and cooked their dinners. By dark, the area had cooled off and folks went to bed.

Using the Geezer Pass for the first time.
The next day Tom and I took his drift boat and fished from the Polebridge put-in (48.782600, -114.282375) back to our camp. It was a great float and we caught some really nice fish. Linda spent her day running shuttles for other boaters from our group and reading her book.

The second day in camp, Tom, Sarah, Linda and I drove into the park and tried to take the road up to Kintla Lake. Tom used his Wisdom Pass (Geezer Pass) entry into the park. It was his first official use of the new pass and we celebrated with photos and cheers.

We were informed at the park entrance that we could not get into Kintla Lake because it was already full. Changing plans, we drove the Inside North Fork Creek Road up to the washout at Logging Creek. It was a beautiful drive and the wild flowers were in bloom everywhere. 

Wild flowers were everywhere!
A highlight for all of us was our stops at the Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery. We bought very expensive bakery items and on our third day of fun, we even splurged for some $10.00 drinks from the saloon. Hey, it’s the experience that counts, right?

The next day Tom and I fished from Big Creek down river to Glacier Rim. Once again we caught some great Cutthroat Trout and Rainbows. Tom even accidentally hooked a Bull Trout which was huge! We carefully released it, making sure we didn’t touch it or remove it from the water.

While we were fishing, Linda, Sarah and Sherma drove up to Kintla Lake and explored that area. They got there early enough to snag a place to park.  All three agreed that it was a beautiful adventure and they had a wonderful time.

On the morning of the fourth day in camp, we got up early and went on what we called an early morning critter sightseeing drive.  We headed into the park in search of game. We saw the usual deer, rabbits, and squirrels. No bears, no cougars, no elk, just a lot of rabbits.

Our drive took us to Lake McDonald and up the Going to the Sun Highway. The drive is spectacular and I think you could never get tired of the views. We found a parking spot at Logan Pass Visitor Center (48.696059, -113.717791) and took a short hike. Sitting on a rock in the upper meadow was a large mountain goat, totally unconcerned by the people stopping to stare and take its picture. By the time we were ready to leave, the crowds had gotten huge. We loaded up for the drive down and Linda suddenly realized she had left the binoculars in the restroom. Off she scampered to see if they were still there. We got into the circling pattern of the parking space searchers and drove around and around waiting for Linda.

Sarah & Tom @ the Saloon @ Polebridge Mercantile & Bakery.
She returned empty handed.  There was nothing we could do but exit the holding pattern and head back down the mountain. We ended our trip with a drive into Hungry Horse for supplies, ice and huckleberry ice cream.

Back at camp we unloaded the rig and started dinner. Tom came over to Linda and handed her the binoculars. Turns out she had set them down in the back of the truck when she was petting Sal, Sarah’s dog, and Tom found them when he straightened up the back.

$10 drinks at the Saloon.
That evening I was beat. We had been going every day since we arrived and had not gotten to bed before 11:30 PM any night. Getting up early had done me in so I had to forgo the evening fireside and get some rest.

The next morning we loaded up, said our good byes and departed. We back over Thompson Pass avoiding all the chip seal work on I-90. It was a great week up at the group camp. This might just become an annual event. 

Kintla Lake
Sherma, Sarah and Sal.
Fishing the North Fork Flathead River.
Sunrise over the North Fork Flathead River.

Long days caught up with this guy.
Going to the Sun Highway vistas.