On the Road With Doris & Ez

We're going on a road trip!!!! Could be three weeks could be three years, we'll see. Read below to see where we are now.....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Whidbey Island, WA - August 10-16, 2006

We traveled to the Puget Sound area was over the North Cascades Highway, one of the most spectacular drives we’ve experienced so far on our trip. We ran into some heavy rain on the trip, which explains why this is such a lush, green part of the country. We stopped at a viewpoint where we learned that writer Jack Kerouac spent a summer as a fire spotter at the watch tower on a distant peak. Who knew??

We were headed for Whidbey Island, a laid back haven separated from the mainland by the bridge over treacherous Deception Pass. It seems a lifetime away from the congested urban corridor that stretches from Everett to Olympia. Our RV park was less than a mile from the Deception Pass Bridge, so we were close to its spectacular views as well as lots of other picturesque scenes. Whidbey is home to a naval air station, lots of small farms, and the shores are lined with vacation getaways as well as full time residences.

We spent lots of time exploring Whidbey Island from one end to the other. We wandered through the small towns, strolled the beaches and even took in the Highland Games one Saturday. If you’re not familiar, the Highland Games could be described as a Scottish cultural festival – Scottish dancers and music, bagpipe band competitions, and distinctly Scottish athletic games such as the caber toss (that’s the picture of the guy getting ready to toss what looks like a telephone pole!). We had a great afternoon watching all the happenings, eating scones, and discovering that Robinsons are part of Clan Gunn!

One day we caught a ferry across the sound to Port Townsend, a charming seaside town with lots of great Victorian homes. We did some sightseeing before grabbing dinner on a deck looking over the harbor and then sailed back to Whidbey at twilight. We did another day trip to nearby La Conner which also included lunch on a deck with another great view of boats sailing by against a backdrop of water and mountains. What a life! (That's a view of LaConner in the pic at the top of this blog entry.)

Whidbey also makes a great jumping-off point for a trip to the San Juan Islands, so one morning we drove to nearby Anacortes to catch the ferry to Orcas Island. We picked a ferry that stopped at a couple of other islands on the way so we could spend more time checking out the glorious scenery from the deck. Then we spent the day sightseeing across the island including (guess what?!) lunch on the deck with a view of the docks at Westsound harbor. At Deer Harbor we trained our binoculars on tiny Deer Island in the middle of the harbor where Gene Hackman is reputed to have a home. We saw a sailboat, but no Gene!

We were blessed with glorious weather while we were on Whidbey Island. Even if the day dawned cloudy and foggy, the sun was out by early afternoon. We decided this was another reason to sleep in, since we didn’t have to worry about missing any sun! What a pair of slugs! The last pic is the western shore of Whidbey at sunset - stunning. . .

We readied ourselves for the next stage of our trip, driving through the traffic on the dreaded I-5 corridor through Seattle. Our destination is Gig Harbor, just across the Narrows Bridge from Tacoma, my home town! Check back soon to see how it went. .

Northern Idaho/Winthrop, WA - July 28-August 9, 2006

We were excited to get to Idaho and see the beautiful lakes and scenery we’d heard so much about. Our first few days were spent in an RV park near Sandpoint which made a convenient jumping off place for exploring Lake Pend Oreille. Sandpoint is a great little town – good shopping, decent restaurants and lots of charm. We added it to the growing list of places where we could see ourselves spending more time. As we explored the small communities around the lake with their summer homes and marinas, Ez rekindled his interest in boats and soon he was cooking up plans that involved buying a boat to use in Phoenix and our fictional seasonal getaway in Idaho. (Actually, it sounded pretty good!)

Next we moved a few miles down the road to Coeur d’Alene – the city and the lake. Coeur d’Alene is like Sandpoint’s bigger, richer neighbor. The homes are larger and fancier and there’s more traffic on the roads and on the lake. We took a couple of long drives along the lake and had fun checking out the homes that ranged from modest cabins to palatial estates.

We had two memorable dinners in Coeur d’Alene. One night we ate on the floating dock of a lovely shoreline restaurant and watched the moon rise over the lake – very romantic! Another time we did a dinner cruise around the lake with a fun couple we met from Casa Grande. The scenery was great even if the entertainment consisted of a senior citizen in an Elvis costume playing the accordion!

Even though we were in one of the most scenic areas of the country, I didn’t take as many pictures as I might have because of the smoky haze in the air. We found out later it was caused by a huge forest fire in north central Washington that was sending smoke to the east. Then we found out that the fire was near our next destination, but wasn’t expected to give us any trouble. More about that later. .

Although we enjoyed exploring the lake, we logged the most miles traveling between our RV park and Spokane attempting to solve our DVD problems. We’d already purchased and returned several DVD players trying to find one that would replace the original one that came with the coach. Next we took the defective machine to an electronics repair store to have it fixed – but it was diagnosed beyond help. Then we spent a couple of afternoons consulting with the various techno-geeks at Circuit City and Best Buy. They proposed some pretty creative solutions, and we finally bought a new unit that had the necessary connections. Ez had to cut away the back of the electronics cabinetry however to make it fit, but now we can watch movies again! Woo Hoo!

Our drive to Winthrop, WA took us through some great new scenery – the rolling wheat fields and orchards of eastern Washington. We saw the Grand Coulee Dam and lots of country that reminded us of Arizona.

The town of Winthrop is on the eastern slopes of the Cascades though so we were soon back in the trees. This is another little town that ranks real high on the charm register, and it was just voted one of Sunset magazine’s top ten places to have a second home! Our RV park was right next to a little lake about a mile outside of town and one of the most picturesque places we’ve stayed. That forest fire was burning northeast of us, but the winds were blowing in the opposite direction so we had less smoke than when we were 180 miles away in Coeur d’Alene. One evening we took our lawn chairs down by the lake and watched the full moon rise over the lake. At the same time we could see flames from a back fire rising up over a distant ridge. Both beautiful sights, but in very different ways. . .

I’m thinking that it’s good to be back home in Washington and we’re looking forward to seeing the Puget Sound area. Next stop is Whidbey Island north of Seattle. . .

Friday, August 04, 2006

Missoula and Glacier National Park, MT - July 18-30, 2006

Missoula is the “big city” of western Montana, so we used this opportunity to make visits to all the big box stores. Our DVD player is acting up, so we’ve been on a mission to find another that has the appropriate connections and will actually fit in the available cabinet space. As we would soon learn, this is an effort that will consume lots of time and effort without success. .

We also used our brief stay in Missoula to make a nice day trip. I’ve been reading Stephen Ambrose’s history of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, so I was excited to visit Travelers’ Rest, one of the actual campsites on their journey. The location was confirmed from mercury deposits in the soil at the location of the old latrine. Apparently, Dr. Rush’s pills, made primarily of mercury and commonly known as “Thunderclappers”, were a favorite medication of the time used to treat just about everything. Pity the poor soldiers who had to endure the treatments that left behind those telltale signs. . .

At the same site we surprised a couple of fawns hiding in the underbrush. See if you can pick out the two pairs of ears sticking up. . .

And later that day we indulged one of our favorite pastimes – wandering through a fabulous house from days past, thinking about what it must have been like to live there. This house in Hamilton, MT is in a beautiful park-like setting and was owned by the widow of one of the Montana copper kings.

The trip to Columbia Falls north of Kalispell was short in miles but long on grief. There was road construction most of the way, so we bumped along on miles washboard road and threaded our way through hundreds of yellow traffic cones. No easy task in a 42 foot motorhome pulling an SUV. The rig arrived in good shape, our pleasant dispositions – not so much. Luckily, it didn’t take long to get over it. .

Glacier National Park is awe-inspiring – as beautiful as the Tetons, but instead of just looking at the mountains, you can also drive over them! We drove across the park on the Going to the Sun Highway, a twisty road with beautiful vistas and wildlife around every turn. We stopped at one point and saw four female mountain goats on the cliffs above, each accompanied by her kid. It’s amazing to watch the babies gingerly tip toe along the narrow ledges following Mom.
Another amazing sight – the folks in the SUV ahead of us who stuck their heads out the moon roof to watch the scenery and the biker gang going by in the other direction!

We got in a couple of rounds of golf during our stay – beautiful courses with lots of character and some challenging holes. But my favorite part was the doe with two fawns on the third hole. The fawns were gamboling and playing together like puppies while the doe quietly grazed on the nearby trees. Deer are a common sight here – it’s not unusual to see them standing or resting in the yards like animated lawn ornaments.

We spent a couple of days exploring Flathead Lake – once by car and then again when we rented a pontoon boat for half a day. The boat trip was one of our favorite days – we got to relax, swim, drink beer and check out all of the great lakefront homes. We decided it was unfair that our parents didn’t have money so we could inherit a little log cabin with a boat and dock on Flathead Lake – damn!!

Oh, well – we’re off to Coeur d’Alene where I’m sure we’ll see more objects of envy. Sigh. .