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Third Goalpost – Blaine, Washington

Third Goalpost – Blaine, Washington

Blaine, WA
42° / 68° Always Rainy ☂
TODAY’S RV PARK: Birch Bay RV Campground
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – Decent campground, cell signal is ok on both Verizon and AT&T, nearby town are incredible with the bay only a couple of blocks away
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 23,249

Since leaving California, we’ve driven north through Oregon to Washington.  As soon as we crossed into Oregon, it started snowing and raining.  It hasn’t stopped raining in the past month, although there are moments of sunshine most days that we take full advantage of.

Multnomah Falls
While we passed through Oregon, we were delayed a week for RV repairs.  Having not been in any kind of wet weather, well, since Florida, any water leak soon reared it’s ugly head.  We were delayed in Portland, OR (of all places) while the repairs were completed.  We were very disappointed with the homeless situation in Portland.  Those poor folks are living on any stretch of highway they can find, including the grass in the highway exit cloverleafs, side of roads and entrances to shopping centers.  Homeless tent encampments everywhere.  Sad, that’s what remember most about Portland.

Fortunately, our campground was right on the Oregon Trail.  Which we followed on a day trip to visit Multnomah Falls – which was just a short 20 minute drive out of town.  There were a lot of waterfalls along the way, but this one certainly takes the cake!  The hiking paths leading up to the falls were super simple which made for a nice excursion.  We were not visiting in their primary season, so we missed out on any trolley adventures that run during that time.

We eventually made our way north to Washington, with a short weeklong stop just outside of Port Angeles.  We have never seen trees or forestry so tall before!  The campground at Dow Creek RV Resort was completely empty and we were one of only a few travelers staying that particular week.  Which meant we had no neighbors and nothing but forest to look at and the sound of a lovely creek nearby.  Dogs wandered off-leash (since there was nobody around to say otherwise) and enjoyed the private trails that climbed up the hills in the campground.  Puddin enjoyed running in and out of the stream every time the trails crossed over them.  Even Peanut delighted in the trail adventures.  Being that this camp was in the same forest as where “Twilight” was filmed, we were thankful not to run into any vampires.  Bats, however, are a different story.  We added this park to our Must Re-Visit list of campgrounds!

Blaine02

Peanut and Puddin watching Steve go “clamming”. Canada in the distance.

After our empty-handed vampire trip, we headed all the way north…. as far as possible that you can drive in America without crossing the Canadian border to Blaine, WA.  We stayed for three weeks and loved every minute of it, except the constant rain.  Our first free day in Blaine gave us time to enjoy the famous clamming sport that the area is known for.  One of the many things we loved about the area, is that Washington state is very very dog-friendly.  Most places encourage you to bring your dogs and really go above and beyond to give your dogs a great experience.  From terrific leash free areas to special dog parks, our puppies put this town on their Must Re-Visit list as well.

Steve got lost for hours in the bay shore, digging up clams for dinner.  Even came up with a handful of oysters for a raw-oyster bar appetizer later that night.

Peace ArchToward the end of our time, Tara flew out to join us as we make our way across the top of America toward the great lakes for our official summer vacation.  The first thing we did with Tara was take our Goal Post photo at the Peace Arch, which borders America and Canada.  This is a beautiful park that is maintained by both countries – apparently the only National Park in America that is maintained by two countries.  And the pride is obvious.  There are immaculate gardens all around to showcase the peace agreement.  Even border police were peaceful to us, as we took an innocent wrong turn out of a very busy traffic circle and accidentally ended up in the traffic line to cross the border.  They turned us around and let us back into America, after proving our citizenship of course.

Leaving Blaine and heading toward Glacier National Park led us down Highway 20 which snakes through the Cascade mountains.  Steve, of course, not happy with the mountain driving, I had to silently restrain my over-enjoyment of the beautiful cliffs and terrain that only mountains can provide.  We ran into a bit of winter at the top and enjoyed an impromptu snowball fight on the side of the road.  It was a gorgeous drive, and had we more time, we would’ve loved to have stayed at one of the many little rustic towns with adorable RV parks.  But… we are on a mission and have dates to meet on the calendar.  Tara has a flight to catch in a couple of weeks, and lots of ground to cover before then.

Cascades Dam - Laurean and Tara

Cascades Roadway

 

 

 

Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Weather Made Us Double Back Through California

Hollister, CA
40° / 69° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: San Benito RV Resort
OUR RATING: 3 Stars – a rustic campground tucked between hills of vineyards and farmlands, cell signal is poor but tolerable, nearby towns are fantastic and 1 hour drive from many awesome adventures
PRICE: (Free) Thousand Trails resort
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,895

We never made it to Lake Tahoe. The National Weather service had severe wind advisories in effect for the area we were to travel to. Beyond his fear of heights, Steve’s healthy fear of high winds had us re-thinking our ambitious plans to get to the Northwest.

As we explored our options, comparing driving and travel costs with park fees, it made the most sense to go back to a Thousand Trails park in California, and wait out the storm. Then head up north to Washington, Goal post #2.

That’s just what we did, but it wasn’t without a bit of driving peril. As we headed south down Nevada Hwy 95, hoping to have outrun the winds that were north of us, we ended up right back in the middle of the winds!

windy detourTroopers had just closed the highway and all “high profile” vehicles were diverted to a dirt lot, to sit and wait.

There’s a YouTube channel that we are addicted to, HappilyEverHanks , made by the most goofball couple ever about RV life.  In a episode this past winter, they got caught in a wind storm and shared an app called Windy which shows real time and forecasted wind speed and directions.  We’ve used this in the past and it seems pretty accurate.

We watched this app like a hawk while parked in this dirt lot on the side of the road with other RVs and lots of Semi Trucks.  The thought of hanging out in this lot for the next several hours seemed daunting, especially with the wind rocking the RV.

I ran into the RV and did a hurry clean up, keeping the driver’s side slides closed, opening up just the couch side.  Steve came in with the dogs and we all lunched and then napped the windy afternoon away.

At sunset, as the Windy app predicted, the winds died down and we were able to continue rounding the Sierra Nevadas.

We overnighted in Bakersfield, and woke up Easter morning to a beautiful 72° sunny morning.  We hooked up after a delightful morning brunch and made our way north, back to Hollister.

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Winded and Stranded Off-Course

Hawthorne NV
28° / 59° WINDY!!
TODAY’S RV PARK: Whiskey Flats RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars – a clean rv park along a busy highway, wifi is ok for email only
PRICE: $36/day FHU with Good Sam
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 21,231

Today, we made it an entire 104 miles from Tonopah. High winds and wind gusts have shut down the rest of the road to our next planned stop – Carson City.

As we drove into Hawthorne, we spent the last 29 miles in a sand storm.  We were trailing another RV and I noticed it was fish tailing a little.

Steve fired back “So are we, look in your mirror!”.

nevada sand storm rv life

Sand Storm in Minah, NV

Sure enough, Steve was working hard to keep us upright on the road and in the middle of the lane.  His hands were sweating so badly, that between sand gusts, we amped up the a/c so he could dry and cool his hands, and pause from the swearing.  Then the a/c went off again a lessons learned last year in a previous sand storm to save the air filters.  A very expensive lessons learned.  At least today, there was visitiblity and we could actually see the RV in front of us and beyond.

The part that upset Steve the most, was that we had just splurged for a professional RV wash in Las Vegas.  They scrubbed the RV and hand shined every window and crevice.  When we pulled out of Vegas we looked like a Million Bucks.  Rig still looks good.

Right before the detour, complete with flashing police lights, I had spotted a large RV park.  After being turned around, we went straight to said RV park and snagged the last available spot with hookups.

This is our first time being stranded due to weather.  In one way, it’s exciting.  In another, a total bummer, as it takes a day off our Lake Tahoe visit, which was already a short 4 days.

While setting up camp, the wind was so strong that Steve and I had a hard time hearing each other over the walkie-talkies.  I literally felt the wind try to pick me up off the ground.  That’s some serious wind!

While I did my part for setting up, I started freaking out over the sheer noise hitting the driver’s side of the trailer, especially with our slide covers whipping in the wind.  After a quick vacuum, I pulled both driver’s side slides back in.  I could still feel the wind pressing up against the sides and the trailer started rocking.

We all came inside and had our lunches in the enclosed trailer, with the wind all around us.

Oh! the joys of exploring someplace new and various climates.

hawthorne navseaOne interesting point of note, this town is home to a NAVSEA location.  As evidenced by the signs on all the roadway fences “Restricted Area – Warfare Zone”.  The signs themselves aren’t creepy.  Coupled with the thousands of bunkers peeking out of the ground from behind those signs is!  Miles and miles of those bunkers.  Apparently warehouses for missiles.  Not entirely sure if that’s supposed to make me feel safer or not.

 

 

 

Don’t Make Me Read That

Don’t Make Me Read That

Tonopah, NV
32° / 55° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Oasis RV Park
OUR RATING: 5 Stars – a well thought out RV resort complete with private golf course, large dog run and upgraded free WIFI. Bonus for being a 4 minute Uber from the Strip
PRICE: $36/day FHU
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 20,891

Just arrived in Tonopah this afternoon by way of a very long two lane highway with very little to distract the eye.  Highway 95 weaved in and out of various hills with small towns scattered about 100 miles apart.  “Small” and “towns” aren’t quite the right words.  A couple looked like a small outpost. Complete with wandering donkeys.  Tonopah itself could be considered a small town though.  It has a high school and a Rotary club sign as we came in.  Just down the road from our RV park is a cute distraction.  Some kind of famous “Clown Motel”.   Supposedly a clown museum passing itself off as an old western inn or motel.  Our treat for the day came from an unexpected A&W Rootbeer stand.  I’m a sucker for A&W Rootbeer, so we got a couple…. to go.

Steve really surprised me today.  Apparently, he, completely on his own, suggested we download a particular audiobook for the next leg of the journey.

Know this, I’m an avid reader.  In a typical year, I will read a book a week – more if I’m in a good series – like the recent Bridgerton books.  Parveen and I have fun one-upping each other on our reading lists and accomplishments.  We are both similar, in that we can only read 1 book at a time.  If the book is a dud, I will race through it, to get to the next one.  Parveen likes to race through all her books, just to get a gist of the story line, or maybe her brain just works 10x faster then mine.  I, on the other hand, enjoy reading slowly.   About an hour at a time, looking for interesting phrases.  Stopping constantly to build character maps on the inside book covers, or just to sit and reflect on a particular passage.

Steve is the complete opposite.  Unless the book ahs colorful pictures of food or recipes, he’s not likely to read it.

About 4 years ago, I discovered audiobooks and quickly fell in love with them.  I eagerly listened to them on long car rides to business appointments or meetings.  I binged them on longer road trips when I used to routinely drive from Tampa to Dallas, alone.  On several occasions, my kids (not together) would be on a road trip with me and we’d listen to books I thought they’d enjoy.

My son, Efren, used to be a science nerd.  So on our first road trip together, we listened to The Martian.  A highly scientific book, that later, the movie didn’t even scratch the surface of.  On our latest road trip together, we listened to Danielle Steele’s Friends Forever.  A story about life long friends.  Efren, having a life long childhood friend, was naturally hooked on the story.

Last year, when we started out, I took a risk and played an audiobook on our RV test trip.  It too was a Danielle Steele.  Steve OK’d the book, more just to satisfy my need to read, as it quickly became evident that its impossible to read a book while towing.  Way too much tugging, something we soon became accustomed to.

When that first book ran out, I was surprised when Steve asked “What’s next?”  While driving, we explored different genres and listened to trailers.  Knowing Steve wouldn’t want to listen to another girly romance novel, although after 13 years of being together, he knows  full well my attraction to Danielle Steele novels.  I’ve even read one aloud to him on a previous road trip (not towing).  He needed to find a genre all his own and one that I’d enjoy too.

As it turns out, Steve and I are both “West Wing” fans.  We often fall into binging season after season, year after year.  We’ve long ago lost count how many times we’ve watched all 7 seasons, as we can each recite all the episodes word for word and enjoy the political drama that seems so relevant today.  Even more so during the Obama years, when it seemed to be the playbook.  Not surprising, the Clinton Administration consulted on BOTH the Bartlet and Obama administrations.  One of the little games we enjoy playing is seeing who can spot the first West Wing alumn in a movie or show… there is always AT LEAST ONE!  And if there are two… that’s a West Wing Reunion!  Amy Adams has the most reunions so far by our count.

We tip-toed through the legal thrillers, and of late, have come to really enjoy John Grisham.  His most recent releases feature famous B actors doing the readings – probably to stay working during Covid.

Imagine our great surprise, when we downloaded the latest John Grisham, narrated by none other then Mary-Louise Parker.  A favorited West Wing alumn.

Oops!  I think I may have turned Steve into a “reader”!!!

 

 

Bathrooms on Drive Days

Bathrooms on Drive Days

Las Vegas, NV
52° / 84° Sunny ☀
TODAY’S RV PARK: Oasis RV Park
OUR RATING: 5 Stars – a well thought out RV resort complete with private golf course, large dog run and upgraded free WIFI. Bonus for being a 4 minute Uber from the Strip
PRICE: $65/day with Good Sam discount
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 20,774

Enjoying a long drive really does depend on which front seat you are sitting in. Especially while towing your home behind you.

The drive from L.A. to Vegas was quite non-descript.  Once you get out of the hilly L.A. area and through the mountain passes – all via a 10 lane interstate – its a basic flat desert road.  A road that winds you around small towns – past California’s largest gas station – which was nothing more than a building the size of a large grocery store with a few gas pumps.  Observed only at 70 mph, we were glad we didn’t exit, especially after enjoying a visit to Bucees, that would’ve been a huge disappointment.  Besides, we can wait 100 miles for gas fill-up.  The road took us through the Mojave desert, complete with an active Air Force base, and what one can only suspect, an airplane graveyard.  Hundreds of planes just congregated in a mess on the desert dirt.  Planes from lots of different airlines, all pointing their noses in different directions as if to say “I’m not looking at you”.

After 3 hours of driving and 1 hour remaining, it was time to stretch our legs and walk the dogs.  Timing on this is critical.  Once we get to the RV park, it could take 30 minutes to get checked in and another 30 minutes to get our rig set up before the dogs can be let out again.  What seems like a short time away, could end up being a long wait for the dogs.  As a result, we always stop about an hour out to walk them.  Most rest stops are the same.  These days, alot of them are getting fancy with their facilities – giving travelers a nice quiet retreat – a better substitute to gas stations.  Bucees excepted, of course.

This particular stop had all the modern amenities and even a nice business lounge for people to get some work done.  One thing I haven’t mentioned yet was the sheer number of homeless people and camps on most public lands.  Especially along the interstates in the towns.  It’s a sad sight – for both the homeless and the people who have to pass by everyday.  This rest stop seemed no different, as we were approached by a man begging for assistance.  Steve shared part of our packed lunch with him.

I was actually in the RV at the time with Puddin.  We were using the bathroom in the rig (a huge plus versus using public bathrooms on the road).  Every few hours, when we stop, I hop into the Rig and do a quick tidy up.  Even though we pack things up for travel, things always move, or a cabinet flies open.  I mean, the house is moving!  In most cases, it’s just the refrigerator that needs attention.  For some reason, the lock seems to jimmy loose every few hours.  We think it’s the vibration while driving.  We stopped taking chances, and the items in it are always secured for road days.  Except today, apparently.  No leftover pizza for dinner tonight.

Our next stop, just before town, was to fill up.  When on the road, we prefer trucker stops.  As a big rig, we have the choice and can use the semi-truck lands.  Which is a nice treat because the diesel nozzles are much larger.  It takes no time to fill up the tank.  It’s like putting a firehose into your gas tank versus a puny garden hose.   Since we’ve hit the road, regular gas stations are painful for Steve to use.  There’s so much waiting!

Today is our down day for the week.  I’m going to check in to work as soon as I leave you.  Then we are going to rest up.  We are on a spring with family and friends for the next couple days, and then two drive days to our next destination – Lake Tahoe.

4/19/22 update: We didn’t make it to Lake Tahoe due to road weather conditions.

 

Scary Confessions

Scary Confessions

Beaumont, CA
46° / 72° Sunny

TODAY’S RV PARK: Cherry Valley RV Park
OUR RATING: 4 Stars because it was convenient off the highway, super cell signals, full hookups, nice friendly staff, and great county park within a 5 minute drive
PRICE: $13/day with RPI membership
TRIP MILES DRIVEN: 19,621


It has been 102 days since we hit the open road.  And it has been over 15 years since I’ve kept any kind of journal.  Routine daily tasks haven’t been my biggest strength, but since we hit the road – the need for some kind of normal routine has been carrying me through.

My first confession about this new lifestyle is that it is SCARY AS SHIT!  It’s not the road life, or the downsizing, or even being so far from family and friends that has me up at nights practicing my old meditation and breathing exercises.  Nope, it’s something far more primitive.  Money.

Getting us started in this new lifestyle ate up all of our savings.  That and an old tax bill that came due at $2k/month.  We are out here on the open road with no savings at all to fall back on (for the moment).  No safety net – and no forseeable way to rebuild it – at least not this year anyway.  The best I can do is keep the purse strings tight.  Fortunately, I have the kind of job that I can do from anywhere and it does pay the bills and staff.  It also allows me the freedom to have a very flexible schedule – except for Mondays.  Life stops on Mondays.

There have been alot of Mondays where we had to get creative with my work situation.  On one cruise vacation, we experienced terrible internet.  We skipped an excursion day and found the first bar ashore.  We sat there for 4 hours – me pounding the keyboard and Steve making friends with the barkeep.  On my next cruise, I got smarter, and did my Monday work at 3am when the rest of the passengers were asleep.  That’s when the ship’s WIFI was blazing fast!

On another trip, we were training through Europe.  I had the foresight to upgrade our tickets to the first class coach, just for the better WIFI.  I took my time that day with my Monday work, distracted by the rolling French countryside in the large windows.

My Monday work last week may be the most unforgettable adventure yet – as for Steve it was an Adventure!

marin-headlandsSteve is terrified of heights.  Not just a small fear but a huge terrify.  The first time I experienced this, we were exploring San Francisco ahead of my 20th High School reunion  (Go Hornets!)  We happened to be exploring the old army forts in the Marin Headlands.  My #1 favorite place on EARTY!  We were climbing up a bombed out staircase in the old army bunkers when he suddenly stopped moving.  He was visibly shaking and starting to fall to the ground – apparently to hold on to something stable.

As I looked over his shoulder, it became apparent that the rest of the staircase too, had been bombed out and all that was left was the handrail going up and and empty craven going down in to a canyon.  Hundreds of feet straight down.

So, when our RV park was at the top of a mountain – Steve was predictably not a fan of driving those steep, winding roads.  It would have been a blast for me to drive them as I’m a thrill seeker, recovered adrenaline junkie.  Except Steve absolutely Refuses (capital R emphasized) to allow, err, permit me to drive the truck – much less tow our rig.  Not even to practice.

Driving this mountain became his chore and opportunity to expand his comfort zone.  Again, an area of life we disagree on.  He loves to live nice and cozy in his Comfort Zone, and I enjoy grasping opportunities to move the walls on mine out.  He got us up that mountain with a heavy dose of swearing and sweating.  Only to discover that once we got to our site at the top – there were no cell phone signals – at least not on AT&T.  Which under most circumstances, is a nice reprieve from modern  life, except for Mondays.

After much soul searching, Steve approached me early Monday morning, over coffee, and offered to drive me down the hill so I could work.  I was beaming with pride and excitement.  One, for whatever resolutions he had to come to on his own to face his own fear.  And the latter so I can keep my clients happy!

He packed us up and dropped me off at the closest library, where once again I sat quietly eagerly pounding at my keyboard.

Later that week, he practiced up and down that mountain a couple more times.  That by the time we came down with the rig, there was minimal swerving and far less sweating.  Dare I say, I think his Comfort Zone has been budged out just a little!?!