Luci’s 2017 Journey North and West: The Final Leg; Idaho, Washington and Oregon

With Montana in the rear view mirror, we zig and zag through pine forests and down into Couer d’ Alene, Idaho on the bank of Coeur d’ Alene Lake. We lucked into finding a great restaurant for lunch with parking on the street. After lunch we drove through the downtown (cute) with baskets of flowers on the lampposts for extra ambiance. On to the campground just a little way off Interstate 90. The RV park was on the lake with full hookups and gravel pads. A very busy campground, it had its own dock and beach, free showers and a laundry. The next day we went back downtown to a lovely park that borders the lake. It was a nice day, a bit on the cool side but that didn’t stop some young folks from paddle boarding in their bathing suits. I was just glad for my jacket as a stiff wind blew off the lake. Dave and I walked around the park where families were picnicking. A flowing waterfall lead down to a pier where cruise boats and two seaplanes were docked, both giving rides to see the lake.

We chose to take our first seaplane ride in a Beaver seaplane. There were four of us and it was interesting and not at all scary. We saw the length of the big lake with the pilot pointing out features and properties of the rich and famous before bringing us back to the dock. 
The next day we were again headed west and in a few miles were in Spokane, WA. The I 90 corridor between the two cities was built up with commercial properties so that it was difficult to tell where the division line was.  On the west side of Spokane we picked up Highway 2 which would take us to our destination in Wenatchee. Across rolling plains with agricultural fields growing right up to the highway, no ditches!  Through Coulee City and on west until we reached the Columbia River. 

We drove through some of  the channeled scablands which were scoured to bedrock by an ancient flood when a Glacial dam burst. Turning south at Orondo along the Columbia, we soon saw orchards of cherry trees all the way into Wenatchee. In the downtown along the rail line we found parking for our rig and a lunch place with outdoor seating. We visited the Prybus market, an indoor marketplace. The market had produce, food vendors, wine, olive oil, vinegars, cheeses and meats plus clothing and candy stalls. Confluence State Park in Wenatchee was our destination. It had expansive RV sites with full hookups near the confluence of the Columbia and Wenatchee Rivers. Chickadees greeted us from the pine tree in the lush grass of the park. A walking path around the park gave me an opportunity to do some birdwatching. I spotted a pair of catbirds and a Westerm wood pewee. Dave and I hiked another trail in a preserve on an island in the park. Tall grasses and shrubs around a pond and marsh was great habitat for a Canada geese family, mallard ducks and swallows.  A snake that I couldn’t identify crossed our path slowly. We waited politely and patiently. 

We also visited Ohme Gardens. Built on the side of a hill by hand by the Ohme family who brought in dirt, trees, shrubs and flowers. They installed irrigation and made ponds, paths and benches. They turned it over to the city when they became unable to take care of it. Because of the terrain, it would not be possible for the physically challenged but it was magical for Dave and me. 

The Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival was the reason we came to this part of Washington State. It is held at the Chelan County Fairgrounds in Cashmere, WA. Getting to the fairgrounds early in the week guaranteed us a spot with full hookups along a paved road with grass and a picnic table to share with neighbors. RV’s were parked pretty close together with just enough space to deploy awnings and slide-outs. In the non-electric area were lots of folks in tents. There were more younger folks at this festival than most we visit and that was good. It is odd for us to go to a festival not knowing anyone there but Dave soon found some pickers from British Columbia and some members of the Rusty Hinges band that performed at the Sunday gospel show. Chilly and windy finally gave way to partly sunny and tolerable by Saturday. Acquaintances Joe and Arlene (snowbirds in winter in Arizona) were at the festival as well as the Fadelys who we met at the Montana Fiddle Camp.  Dave was able to visit and play some tunes with both couples.  Before the festival started, we explored downtown Cashmere with its covered sidewalks on Main Street. There was a good bakery where we purchased sweet Crispies just like the hometown bakery of our childhood. I was able to drop off laundry and pick it up all fresh and folded after having a pedicure and foot massage. We also made a trip up the highway to visit the Bavarian inspired town of Leavenworth, WA. Schnitzel and Rouladen were our lunch choices at a German resturant not far from the town maypole. Flower baskets were everywhere in this town. The bluegrass festival was held in the afternoon and evening on Friday and Saturday with a gospel performance on Sunday morning. Featured bands were; North Country, Downtown Mountain Boys, Cedar Hill, Kenny and Amanda Smith and Balsam Range. We really enjoyed the sets by Balsam Range but all the bands were good. There was a two day instrument workshop for kids and a band scramble and workshops for adults. It was a good festival and we were glad to be able to be there. 

My friends, nursing school classmates and former roommates, Linda Taulbee and Cheryl Linder live on the coast of Washington in the city of Everett. I was delighted that they were going to be home as we were passing through and we made plans to meet for lunch.  Dave then made reservations at a county RV park near Snohomish, WA which was a short distance from Everett. After the Bluegrass Festival we headed west again on Highway 2 across the Cascade mountains. The road was winding and the scenery was beautiful with a light mist of rain. 

We climbed up and over Stevens Pass then down towards the coast. As we approached the Snohomish area, the trees got taller and the forest denser almost making a tunnel over the road. Thanking heavens for GPS, we found Flowing Lake County Park and our RV site for the next two nights. The park is situated on a lake and has dense, almost rainforest-like trees and huge ferns with many types of mosses. I could hear birds but saw few. Our RV site had water and electricity but the area was so damp we couldn’t help but get mud on everything. I was glad when it was time to relocate. 

The lunch with our friends and their husbands was at Anthony’s Homeport, a seafood restaurant on the Everett harbor. We had a great visit and all hope to be able to make it to Lincoln, Nebraska for our 50th year class reunion in 2019. 

Dave at the Everett, WA Marina. 

Cheryl Linder, Myself, Linda Taulbee. Classmates at Bryan Hospital School of Nursing and roomies after graduation. I wished our fourth roomie, Jan Butler, could have been there. 

The next adventure was getting to Whidbey Island where we had reservations at Fort Ebey State Park. North on Interstate 5 and west across a land bridge to the island. Sunny days were a welcome sight. Our camp site was in a less dense wooded area than the previous spot. We had full hookups and were a short walk to bluffs above the shore of the Straits of San Juan de Fuca. Whidbey Island is a beautiful rural island with small towns and farms and some beautiful homes plus two State Parks which are heavily used in the summer. Dave had made reservations for all our RV sites back in April. It was nice to be assured of a place to stay. Fort Ebey State Park has a WWII gun battery and machine gun emplacement. We explored the trails and smelled the ocean smell for the first time. I walked a birding trail seeing chickadees, nuthatches and swallows. We saw lots of birds on Whidbey; eagles, song sparrows, white crowned sparrows, robins, spotted towhees, flicker, double crested cormorants, gulls, blue heron, thrush, Canada geese, green wing teal and goldfinches. Whidbey has rose hedges and the preserved historic Ebey farm and preserved (from development) agricultural lands. Lunch one day in the town of Coupeville on Penn Cove was Penn Cove Mussels with linguine and in seafood stew. We had a pile of shells when we were done!

We drove down to the Ferry Landing to see how the ferry worked and stopped at Meerkert Gardens to look at the rhododendrons. 

The view from the bluffs on Whidbey was spectacular. Dave saw a deer one morning and we watched paragliders and huge ships out on the ocean. The Olympic Peninsula was visible across the Strait, our next stop. 

To cross from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend, we took the Ferry. It’s a good idea to have reservations if you are crossing with an RV as we did. The ferry people checked us in and assigned us to a loading lane and when the ferry was loading, a worker beckoned us forward and we drove aboard, parked where directed and went upstairs to watch the crossing from on deck. All amenities were available including a snack bar and enclosed seating in various areas. The crossing took only 45 minutes with smooth seas. The dock was located in downtown Port Townsend on Port Townsend Bay. Our RV site was just around the corner at Point Hudson Marina and RV Park.

Our RV park was right on the beach and part of the Port Townsend Marina. The sunshine was abundant. We got laundry done, explored the town and had time to sit in the sun. 

I saw my first black oystercatcher, lots of gulls and purple martins. We watched the ferry from Whidbey Island come and go, ocean going ships and fast ferries heading for Seattle, and many boats and sailing ships going in and out of the Marina. 

Next stop, the acerage of good friends Jake and Jeanne Jacobs! Jake and Jeanne live on Sequim Bay on six lush wooded acres. They cut acres of timber and used the logs to build their house. Tall firs, pines, cedars and madrona trees abounded as did rhododendron, honeysuckle, huckleberry and raspberry vines and salal shrubs. 

Jake used his 1969 Chevrolet K20 Truck to haul and transfer logs to the mill. It is parked up the hill next to a tool shed he built. 

Jeanne (and Jake) have a nice garden with vegetables and herbs and fruit trees. We had wonderful salad greens with herbs for dinner and in sandwiches. Our Luci enjoyed a sunny spot with water and electricity in a central location near the house. The weather was perfect for visiting outdoors in the sun around their Jake-made picnic table. I saw robins, song and white crowned sparrows, eagles, spotted towhee, goldfinch, yellow rumped warbler, wilsons warbler, rufous hummingbirds, wrens, violet green swallow, thrush, many butterflies, deer and one shy brown hare. Evidently the winter is long and unpleasant so they leave this paradise for Arizona.

One day we all went hiking to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park with snow capped peaks in a panorama around us. Dave commented that the Trail was uphill both ways. Our picnic lunch and beer was extra tasty after the hike. Jake regaled us with stories of them skiing down this mountain and camping overnight then hiking back up and skiing down again. Later, fiddle tunes were played at their house, including Dave’s new tune Here Comes Jake.  We slept well. 

The next day another picnic lunch was made and we again climbed into their venerable Volvo sedan for a short trip to the John Wayne Marina on Sequim Bay where we sat under the shade trees and played tunes. I was watching out for birds and along with the usual assortment of gulls and ravens, I saw a red breasted sapsucker. A first for me. The sapsucker had drilled hazelnut sized holes in a circular pattern around the circumference of the trees near us. At first I thought an acorn woodpecker had made the holes. Other folks were out on the tidal flats digging clams, some were swimming and others just walking about. 

After our picnic, we watched a S’Klallam tribal canoe enter and navigate around the bay. As it left, another unusual looking tribal vessel came into view and followed the canoe into the marina. Jeanne had read an announcement explaining that the tribe would be seeding certain areas with shellfish using what was called a “Flupsy”.  Jake wondered if the tribal vessel was carrying this device so he and Jeanne proceeded down into the Marina to find out. 

They talked to the native man in charge, had a good visit and came back carrying a one pound Geoduck , a fairly rare member of the clam family. The tribe was indeed harvesting these clams and gifted Jake with one. An uglier looking mollusk you will never see. Installed in the cooler, we proceeded back home to use The Google to find out the proper way to clean and prepare this delicacy. The fisherman had told Jake that he sold Geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) for $15 a pound. Google told us it retailed for around $30 a pound and could bring $300 a pound in China where it is a rare delicacy. So Jeanne rinsed it off, blanched it for thirty seconds or so and shocked it in ice water. Then Jake cut the shell off one side of the clam and peeled it off the other side. The next step was to skin the siphon tube. We laughed a lot but the mollusk was skinned, cleaned and cut into pieces as instructed. Jake put the skin outside on the trellis to dry, possibly to use for a hatband. Ha,ha. Cut on the bias in thin slices and sauteed  in browned butter and white wine, it was delicious. We also tried it raw cut thinly on the bias with a dipping sauce. Delicious. We will probably never experience this shellfish again but are so glad we did. 

Needing to use the internet, the next day we went to the Jamestown S’Klallam library in Blyn which was also on Sequim Bay. The tribe has several well appointed buildings including administration facilities and an art gallery as well as a casino and reference library dedicated to all things Native American. Many beautiful totem poles grace the grounds. Almost all were carved by an artist friend of Jake. Jake painted parts of the totem figures. The totems were truly impressive. That afternoon Eric Prust, a great picker and banjo maker came to pick some tunes with us. 

The following day, the Volvo (sporting American flags to designate our diplomatic mission into Canada) drove us to Port Angeles to the Black Ball Ferry terminal to catch the ferry to Victoria. We were just walking on but had gotten reservations anyway.  We had to show our passports and declare that we were going on a short trip for personal reasons. The trip was an uneventful ninety minutes into the sunny harbor of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. 

We walked along the beautiful waterfront which had hanging baskets of flowers, buskers of various types and tourists speaking in many languages. This year is Canada’s 150th anniversary on July first. Special music and events were scheduled this week before the first and we were able to take in a bit of a free concert on the wharf as we walked around in the evening. The harbor is packed with fancy hotels including the venerable Emperess Hotel, a stately structure on manicured grounds. It is supposedly the place to go for high tea in the afternoon. We visited the impressive capital building of the province of BC which was located just above the harbor. Legislature was in session so we listened from the visitors gallery for a few minutes. Canada takes security seriously in their capital building. We walked through a scanner as our bags were screened as we entered and our bags were checked and impounded while we watched the legislature. 

In the afternoon we took a bus out to Butchart Gardens, a 100 year old garden started by Jennie Butchart in an attempt to beautify a limestone quarry that had supplied her husband’s Portland cement plant. It grew as she added rare and exotic trees, shrubs and flowers that they collected on their world travels. The limestone quarry became a sunken garden that now sports a dancing fountain. Other features of this vast estate are Japanese, Rose, Italian and Mediterranean gardens. In 2004 the Gardens were designated a National Historic Site of Canada. Today the Gardens remain under the control of the Butchart family who are actively involved in the day to day business. They employ 50 gardeners in the high summer seaso and change displays according to the season of the year, adding a skating rink in winter. The Gardens are visited by over a million people annually.

We were amazed by the beauty and diversity of the flowers, trees and shrubs. The rose garden was spectacular with roses from every possible country in every possible color, size and type. 

The carousel was enclosed in a rotunda so it can be enjoyed year round. This is a menagerie carousel with 30 hand-carved wooden animals and two chariots. 

Various fountains were featured in the Gardens, some were presented to the Butchart family as gifts from other countries. The historic home of the Butchart family is now a fine dining restaurant, their conservatory is a cafeteria-style restaurant. A visitor center and gift shop is found there also and coffee, snacks and ice cream can be found on the garden grounds.  

After the bus ride back into Victoria, we checked into a boutique hotel the Magnolia. Located only a few blocks from the wharf, they had kept our bags while we toured. The king bed and huge soaking tub were a beautiful sight. Dinner was seafood (what else?) at the nearby 10 Acres Kitchen.  The next day, the Magnolia again kept our bags after we checked out so we could sightsee unencumbered. We were headed for the wharf and a three hour whale-watching excursion. The boat with maybe thirty watchers sailed out into the Straits into only slightly choppy seas with two crewmen and the skipper to guide us. There were several sightings of hump backed whales, nothing spectacular, and a swing by some islands gave us the opportunity to spot seals, sea otters, eagles and guillemots (another first sighting).

Back in the harbor we ate lunch and people-watched, retrieved our bags, briefly visited the Bay Center mall and waited for the ferry back to the USA. Our passports were looked at and we were asked if we bought anything in Canada as we passed through Customs. Jake and Jeanne met us and we went out for a fine meal at the local Kokapelli resturant in Port Angeles. 

The next day we said goodbye and “see you in Salome” to Jake and Jeanne and headed west for the Olympic rainforest on the Hoh river. 

The rainforest is truly unique with huge trees, upright and hundreds of feet tall, supine and decaying with new vegetation growing on top, a maple grove covered in moss and ferns of all kinds. The Hoh rainforest is several miles inland from the coast road. I was surprised at the numbers of people who were there hiking the trails. 

Our destination was the Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. Being right on the coast, it was full and we were glad for our reservation. Our site was just a widened edge of the pavement on the loop around the park. There was a fire ring and flush toilets nearby. We hiked down to the beach to watch the surf and the gulls and ravens. 

The wind and water erosion make for fantastic sights along the shoreline. 

There was a great hike along a trail away from the campground and into more rainforest. We could hear birds as we approached a creek near the trail. Kingfishers were sounding the alarm about something. Peering around, we saw the cause of the uproar. Sitting on branches in a large pine tree were three owls. I think they were screech owls. Here is a photo of the one that didn’t fly away. 

Farther along the trail, we could hear an unusual bird call and I finally got my binoculars on the bird, a varied thrush. That is another first bird for me. This was a magical trail for us, such a beautiful spot. 

On the road again going south along the Pacific coast and finally to the Columbia River and over the bridge into Oregon. 

The Oregon coast has wonderful sandy beaches and lots of commercial activity. Small towns built along route 101 slowed our progress but after a long day we made it to Waldport, Oregon and the KOA camp that is our stay for the next few days. We explored the nearby towns, beaches and nature areas. Rays grocery store in Waldport was a resupply stop and laundry was done and trailer cleaned a bit in preparation for the final push back to Arizona. 

These signs were prevalent all along the coast as well as signs designating the route to take to evacuate in the event of a tsunami. Being from the interior, these were interesting to us. 

We will have good memories of our 2017 western tour. We’re looking forward to being home as well. 


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