Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Entering Our 7th Year As Fulltimers

Posted from Casa Grande, AZ

Just a short post and some reflective thinking as we enter our 7th year as fulltimers on this exact date of October the 31st.

In addition to Halloween falling on the 31st day of October each year, that particular date has another meaning for us. After marrying we purchased our first new townhouse in Manassas, VA. We lived in the townhouse for 2 years before deciding to purchase our first single-family home a bit further south in Stafford, VA. Now here's where it starts to get a bit "weird". We closed on the sale of the townhouse and moved into the Stafford house on October 31, 1987. We didn't think anything of it at the time, other than having to rush out and get some candy to satisfy the needs of the neighborhood kids. Certainly we didn't want to be on the "bad" list as soon as we moved into the new place.

Many years passed (25 to be exact), and we decided to sell the Stafford house and begin our fulltiming RV lifestyle. We closed on the sale of the Stafford house on, yes you guessed it, October 31, 2012.

So on today's date we begin our 7th year as fulltime RVers. We have no plans to sell anything currently, so no "closing on Halloween" this year. It's hard to believe that 6 years have come and gone so quickly. We are still enjoying our latest lifestyle as much as ever and we feel that we've only begun to "scratch the surface" so to speak when it comes to exploring new areas and experiencing new things.

As always, thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Friday, October 5, 2018

Leaving the Seattle Area

Posted from near Coarsegold, CA

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To view additional pics not in today's blog click on a link below:
Mount Ranier National Park
Seattle Mariner's Baseball Game

I'm running way behind in making posts about our travels this summer, but I guess it will give me something to do when we're sitting in one place for the winter months.

This blog will conclude our visit with our good friends Bill and Debi and touch on a few more sites we visited before leaving Graham, WA.

On August 19th Bill and Debi came over to our campground at Ranier View RV Park and led us on an all day excursion into Ranier National Park and the surrounding areas. The smoke had been so bad for several days now that getting a good view of the peak was a rarity.

We were able to capture several views of the peak from a couple of pullouts along the road inside the park.

A bit further down Paradise Road and we hiked down a short trail to view the Narada Falls.

This is a view of Mt. Ranier from the Henry Jackson Memorial Visitor's Center. Several trailheads begin behind the visitor's center, even some treks up to the peak itself.

Today we limited our hiking to a few short walks because we wanted to get to see the entire park (via main roads). This was one such short walk around a small, but pretty lake.

The weather was great today, but by late afternoon the smoke was beginning to roll in again and limit the views.

On our last night in the Seattle area, the four of us grabbed the light rail and headed in to Seattle to watch the Seattle Mariners play the Houston Astros.

At this point in the season, the Mariners were still in contention. (Like my Washington Nationals, however, their hopes for a playoff spot wouldn't last too much longer.  This didn't deter us from having a good time at the ballpark, however.

Safeco Field has a roof which can be closed, but even with all of the smoke from fires, this night it remained open.

The "Fischer jinx" was not to be tonight as the home team won by a score of 7 to 4.

We left the next morning to head up to stay in an Escapees' Park near Chimacum, WA (on the Olympic Peninsula). We can't say enough about what great hosts Bill and Debi were while showing us around this part of their state and inviting us into their beautiful home. THANK YOU AGAIN BILL AND DEBI!

As always, thanks for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, September 21, 2018

Touring Seattle with the Pitzl Tour Company

Posted from Verdi, NV

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Pike Place Market
Seattle Space Needle
Chihuley Garden and Glass

After leaving Anacortes, WA we moved a bit south of Seattle to Graham, WA. The campgrounds in this area are a bit few and far between, but we selected Ranier View RV Park because we had plans to meet up with our good friends Bill and Debi. They live a short distance from the park and the campground would facilitate a somewhat central location for us to meet up.  Little did we know in advance just how busy the coming week was going to be. Bill and Debi were again GREAT hosts and "tour guides" to show us around their home state.

After a short day of rest, Bill was knocking on our door the next morning. It was time for pickleball. They are definitely dedicated players as the drive to the Lakewood Community Center is approximately 45 minutes each way. We played several mornings during our stay of a week in Graham. Thanks again Bill and Debi for picking us up each morning!

Let the sightseeing begin! On Saturday, August 18th we were picked up by Bill and Debi and decided to take the light rail into the center of Seattle. We had heard how bad the traffic in Seattle was, so public transportation worked out well. We headed to the Pike Place Market in the heart of the city. Think HUGE market place with a large amount of vendors (and crowds because it was a Saturday).

Here's a picture of our wonderful tour guides before we ventured inside.

One of the attractions at the market is the "throwing of the fish" by one of the fresh seafood vendors. Crowds gather waiting for someone to purchase a fresh catch, then the tossing begins. Here is a very short video of this event.

After being moved through the market by the ebbing and flowing of the crowds, we wandered down to the waterfront. The Seattle Aquarium is nearby and the Seattle Great Wheel is just south of that location.

We walked a few blocks north to the Westlake Center to ride the Seattle Monorail to the City Center. The monorail was built for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair.

The two attractions we were interested in visiting were the Seattle Space Needle and the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. The Space Needle is a Seattle icon and has recently undergone some renovations.

The Space Needle was also built for the 1962 World's Fair and the top floor is 518 feet above the ground. The 360 degree views were excellent, but the area was still somewhat hazy from all of the recent fires in the area.

Looking slightly northeast, there was a nice view of the port area. We were lucky, the cruise ships were few today.

Just north and east is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center. (The double V-shaped buildings to the left side).

Near the base of the Space Needle and terminal station for the Monorail is the Seattle Center Armory. A great place for a quick bite. From above, these two giant spiders were thought to be metal sculptures. I learned later that they are actually large murals painted on the surface of the roof by a talented artist named Marlin Peterson.

The final stop on our tour for the day was at the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. Rather than detail the work of Dale Chihuly here (mainly because I'm not familiar with him), just click on this link for more information. 

I will readily admit that I'm not an "artsy" kind of guy, and especially when it comes to wandering through galleries. In this instance, however, I was wrong. Mr. Chihuly's work is amazing. 

The color used in his creations are beautiful. The Persian Series lined an entire room and was displayed as a ceiling of color.

The entire gallery is dimly lit to enhance the beautiful colors and shapes of the glasswork.

This is from his Chandelier Series.

Because I honestly can't recall the names of these works, I'll just show a few pictures instead.

After visiting the displays inside, there was an outside garden area where his works are woven into the beautiful gardens surrounding the center.

I love the placement of his creations among the living plants.

There is a huge display of his work on the ceiling of the conservatory beside the garden. I understand that it is possible to rent the conservatory for events and weddings.

By this time, everyone is getting a bit tired and ready to head back to the light rail station for our ride home. Again, the public transportation is a great choice for anyone wishing to visit "downtown" Seattle.

The next blog will continue our exploration of the Seattle and Mt. Ranier areas of the state.

As always, thanks for dropping by to take a look!

Monday, September 10, 2018

First Time on the Washington State Coast

Posted from near Sunriver, OR

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Click on the clicks below for additional pics not included in today's blog:

Washington and Cap Sante Parks
Deception Pass State Park

After leaving the Grandy Creek TT near Concrete, WA we drove a whopping 45 minutes to Swinomish Casino RV Park, just east of Anacortes, WA. Maybe we've just been lucky, but we have stayed at some very nice casino RV parks the past few years. The park is located behind the casino and overlooks Padilla Bay. The sites were a bit tighter beside your neighbor than we like, but the roads were paved and the sites were nicely graveled.  All utilities worked fine and internet reception (through our Verizon phones) worked great. As an added bonus, diesel at the Chevron station (near the front of the casino) was one of the lowest priced in the entire area.

Okay, so much for the infrastructure. We were here to explore the area. We haven't stayed near the water in a bit and we wanted to get out and explore. One day we took a drive in to Anacortes and visited Cap Sante Park. The park is located on a hill which overlooks Fidalgo Bay.

From the high vantage point, you can sit and reflect and watch the boats heading into and out of Cap Sante Marina. Here's one of the whale sightseeing boats returning to port.

A short distance away is Washington Park. This was a beautiful park to drive, or hike through, or simply to sit under the huge old-growth trees and watch the water. Here's the Anacortes-Orcas Island Ferry heading away from Anacortes.

Many trails lead down to the waterline. That water is pretty darn cold, too.

He we are on the south side of the park looking out towards Burrows Pass.

On another day, we were invited by Debi and Bill to Debi's sister's house for some great seafood and a chance to view the area from the water. Cherie (Debi's sister) and her husband James live right on the water at Miller Bay, which is a short ride via water to the Deception Pass Bridge.

From left:Steve, Debi, Cherie, and Teresa
James and Cherie have a boat which allowed us to take a pre-dinner boat ride up through Deception Pass.

 The water current is very swift in this area.

Bill and Karen seemed to be enjoying the ride on a beautiful afternoon.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera with me to photograph the dungeness crabs which James (and Debi) pulled from crab pots just prior to dinner. WOW, it doesn't get any fresher than that! Along with the crabs, James cooked up some very fresh Sockeye salmon. It's definitely not a stretch to say that we enjoyed both the seafood and more importantly, the gracious company provided by Cherie and James.  THANK YOU AGAIN DEBI for the invitation to meet them!

Of course, no visit to this area would be complete without a trip to Deception Pass State Park. We picked up tips from Cherie on what to visit while here. In one part of the park is an interpretive center devoted to the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). The CCC, as most already know, were responsible for building much of the infrastructure in the parks we enjoy today, especially in this part of the country.

The building was originally a bath house for the beach nearby. They did a nice job inside of creating displays which depicted the life of the typical CCC worker.

Afterwards we hiked Lighthouse Point Trail which began near the interpretive center and followed the perimeter of Lighthouse Point.

The trail provided several opportunities to view the Deception Pass Bridge from various angles.

As the trail moves away from the rim, you are hiking thru large old-growth trees. Here's one that has survived a fire.

As I mentioned earlier, the currents are very strong in the area beneath the bridge. A huge volume of water is moved because of the tidal water flowing through a relatively narrow opening.

Here's a look at the underside of the bridge from the north shore.

We rate Deception Park Pass as a "must see" for anyone visiting the area. The entire Anacortes area was a wonderful change from some of the mountainous areas we've stayed in recently.

I've really moved thru our stay in this area quickly, because I'm so far behind in our blogging. Please click on the picture links near the beginning of this blog to view MANY pictures not included in today's blog.  In the next blog, we move a few hours south to Graham, WA and have some great visits with Bill and Debi.

Thanks again for stopping by to take a look!

Friday, August 31, 2018

Dams of the Skagit River Hydoelectric Project

Posted from near Chimacum, WA

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Dams Along the Skagit River

On the last day of our stay in Concrete, WA we decided to hike several of the trails to view the dams along the Skagit River which make up the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project. There are three major dams on the Skagit River which are controlled by Seattle City Light.

In 2012, hydro-electric dams provided 89.8% of the power for Seattle. The Skagit River Project makes up 20% of the entire electricity generated by Seattle City Light Company.

There are three major dams on the Skagit River. The first dam, the original Gorge Dam was only nine feet tall and was constructed of stone and rocks. This first dam was completed in 1921. It was located just north of the unincorporated town of Newhalem. There are no signs to mark the original dam today, but it was located below the Gorge Dam which was completed in 1961.

The existing Gorge Dam is 300 feet tall and 670 feet wide. A short hike along the Gorge Dam Trail allows folks to view the dam from above.

The next dam to be built was the Diablo Dam and was completed in 1930. At the time, it was the tallest dam in the world at 389 feet. With all of the strict security at most dams, we were surprised to find that anyone could walk or drive across the dam without any security checks.

Here's a view after driving across and looking at the outflow side of the dam.

Lake Diablo is formed by the dam. The left side of this picture shows a tourist boat landing where visitors can take tours of the lake.

The final dam on the Skagit River is today named Ross Dam after the longtime superintendant of Seattle City Light J.D. Ross. The project originally began in 1937 as Ruby Dam.

Ross Dam was to be constructed in 3 phases. The first was completed in 1940, while the two remaining phases and powerhouses were not finished until 1953.

The final height of the dam was built to 540 feet.

There is a short hiking trail which leads from the trailhead along Rt20 down to the dam. Again, you can walk across this dam, as well. Here's Karen standing on a bridge near a very nice waterfall as we hiked down to the dam.

Near the end of the hike, you can divert toward the ferry if you'd like to stay at the Ross Lake Resort. The only way to reach the resort is via water.

The last dam we visited was not on the Skagit River, but was located just about one mile north of Concrete, WA and forms Lake Shannon. There are actually two dams in this area, but we only had time to visit the Lower Baker Dam.

It was completed in 1925 and is operated by Puget Sound Energy. The purpose of the dam is both hydro-electric production and flood control.

The dam is 285 feet in height and 550 feet in width. Unlike some of the previous dams, no driving or walking across the dam is permitted.

Well, that's about all of the dams in this area. We enjoyed our stay in the Concrete area which allowed us to visit Mount Baker, Newhalem, and hike just a few of the trails in the North Cascades. There are certainly plenty of things to do on a return visit.

We'll be moving along to the Anacortes, WA area next.

As always, thanks for stopping by to take a look!