A Travellerspoint blog

Summer Travels 2014 continued

Coastal Washington, the Olympic Peninsula & Leavenworth

Ocean Shores

Our first Washington campground was just outside the coastal town of Ocean Shores where we checked out the Lytle Oyster farm, made friends with the locals at the Green Lantern and the Pirate's Cove, went to a bike rally and even rode our bikes on the beach!

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Olympic Peninsula

From there we had an overnighter on the Olympic Peninsula to Sol Duc Hot Springs resort where we hiked and soaked. We explored Rialto and Kallaloch beaches and met up with Brad's 2nd cousin Ashley as she was vacationing with her friend on the peninsula. We had lunch together at the beautiful and rustic Quinalt Lodge. We took in the ancient yellow cedar stand with the oldest being somewhere around 2000 years old. These groves have not burned for more than 1000 years and contain the oldest trees in Washington.

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The weather was fantastic and the oysters were delicious! We bought them by the quarts and had oyster casserole, fried oysters and bbq'd oysters baked in the oven in muffin tins!

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La Conner, Seattle & Birch Bay, Washington

We traveled to the picturesque town of La Conner on the Swinomish Channel where we explored the surrounds including Whidbey Island, Deception Pass, the Oyster Bar restaurant (best oysters I've ever had!) and Taylor Oyster farm. We made a trip into Seattle to visit Tom & Ally and stayed in a lovely B&B in the University District. Later, we had Tom & Ally out for a visit to La Conner and rented them a cabin for the weekend.

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Spot prawns were our favorite lunch, steamed daily at the local fish market!
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Blaine, WA and Vancouver, BC

Traveling north our next three weeks were in Blaine, Wa known as"The Gateway to the Pacific Northwest" on the border of Canada. We enjoyed the campground of Birch Bay filled as it was for Labor Day and we explored the area including a day trip into Vancouver to visit Chinatown for some wonderful food.

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Mt. Baker, northern Cascade mountain range. Elevation10,781 ft

As we drove around we could see Mt. Baker in the distance (approximately 100 miles east) and we decided to go up for a hike. We were rewarded with many beautiful vistas, a waterfall and a good hike in the Mt. Baker Wilderness as it's called.

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Shelton, Washington Oyster Fest!!!

Finally, the crescendo of our 'Summer of Oysters', the Shelton Oyster Festival home to the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship and the Washington State Seafood Festival! Held at the Shelton fairgrounds the camping area was more of a free for all with tents and big rigs sprawled in no particular order and parties (and partyers!) overlapping! The seafood (not just oysters) was so delicious we made a valiant effort to try it all along with downing pints of micro brews and taking in the crowds and the live music. We did our best to keep up with the other revelers but by Sunday afternoon we were spent and in need of a nap, boy those folks can party! After all, this was our first year at it but we'll be back next year to celebrate again!

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Leavenworth, Wa & Octoberfest

After limping away from the campgrounds in Shelton it was time to head up to the mountains and prepare for our 2nd weekend of festivities; Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, Wa. We had visited Leavenworth 4 years earlier on the maiden voyage of our 5th wheel but had missed the world renown festival in the alpine town by a week. We vowed to return and this was our year! The Bavarian village of Leavenworth is nestled in the Cascade mountain range and home to Oktoberfest the first three weekends in October, with Oom-Pah-Pah bands, lederhosen, dirndl girls, veal & sausages and of course the beer! We camped nearby but stayed for 2 nights in Icicle Village (the downtown area) of Leavenworth to avoid driving and therefore indulge ourselves entirely. The venues were large to accommodate the crowds and the music was lively with several bands playing all the time. The hearty joviality was infectious with everyone singing, swaying and toasting! The town was all dolled up and the quaint shops doors all open & welcoming (wellkommen!). We hope to attend many more Oktoberfests, maybe come early to explore the picturesque area more but after 2 weekends in a row of major fun we were ready to head south once again.

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Eugene, Oregon and back to California

As our 'Summer of Oysters' came to a close we beat feet back southward. We made a quick stop in Eugene to visit a dear friend that I had not seen since my days in Alaska, 20+ years ago! We had good (quiet) fun with Cher and again hit the road southbound to California.
In closing this post I'd like to add that I'm happy to have gotten it down (and uploaded) before the close of the year! I hope to be more diligent about posting regularly, maybe even get the man for whom it's named to post occasionally! Happy trails to all our friends in the New Year!

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Posted by curlysharon 11:11 Comments (1)

Spring and Summer Travels 2014

Summer of Oysters! Part1

Oregon House, Nicolaus & Coloma, California

We headed to Lake of the Springs campground to do some early fishing at Collin's Lake and enjoy the scenery. The drought had greatly reduced the lake level so that we fished shore areas that had been under water. The fishing was slow and disappointing but we stuck it out and were rewarded with some tasty trout.
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We moved to Nicolaus to visit our friends Tammey Joy and Richie Severson and made some new friends during our stay. We toured the Sutter Buttes and drove along the levees and met up with our friends (and the Steel Workers Bike Club) on their bike trip for lunch.

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San Francisco Sunset District

Our daughter Loretta and her beau Jeremy moved back from Chicago and moved into the Sunset District so we flew our son Tom down from Seattle for a quick family reunion in San Francisco. Always great to see the kids!

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Cloverdale, CA to Newport, Oregon

Heading north we traveled to Cloverdale to see our friends Jimmy & Glenn and enjoyed quick visit to Mendocino Brewing for a pint of Eye of the Hawk before hitting the road again. It had been awhile since we had traveled the wine country and then the redwoods, always breathtaking. Finallly to the coast of Oregon and a quick over nighter in Coos Bay and onto Newport, Oregon. It was great to leave the warm weather behind and embrace the coastal climate.

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Olalla Lake

Our friend Julie from Hoovers Bar in Newport suggested that we try out the local fishing hole at Olalla Lake and we enjoyed bringing home some tasty trout. One of our favorite towns, Newport was our home for 3 weeks and we were able to further explore the area. We checked out the state parks and light houses, enjoyed the historic Nye Beach neighborhood and further north Depot Bay and the Devil's Punchbowl. And of course we made several trips out to Yaquina Bay Oyster farms for our first taste of oysters not to mention all the spectacular seafood eats around Newport. We saw our friends Jimmy and Glen again and raised a few glasses at Rogue Brewing, and I celebrated my 49th birthday with Brad at Waves Restaurant.

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Nye Beach and Devil's Punchbowl, Depot Bay

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Yaquina Head Lighthouse

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Pacific City

Next we headed up to Pacific City, a lovely town that we had not been to before. We really liked the campground with it's towering pines and pristine beaches, great hiking trails and friendly critters. We found Netarts Bay oyster farm and sampled their oysters, not our favorite but good nonetheless. Brad and I celebrated our 25th year of marriage with a picnic at the beach. We look forward to coming back next year.

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Lincoln City

We spent the 4th of July weekend at Lincoln City (2nd year in a row) which was fun but boy was that little campground packed! Had some good times at Snug Harbor Bar with the locals.
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Seaside & Astoria

We were happy to head north again to the touristy town of Seaside where we had the pleasure of entertaining our son Tom and his girl Ally for a couple of days. We ate, drank and laughed and took in the sights, even climbing to the top of the Astoria Column to take in the views.
Brad and I also visited Ft. Stevens State Park to see the abandoned base that had been built during the Civil War at the mouth of the Colombia River to defend against the British. Later it was attacked by a Japanese submarine making Fort Stevens the only military installation in the continental United States to come under enemy fire in World War II.

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As always, it was time to travel on and we were headed to Washington and the Olympic Peninsula.....continnued

Posted by curlysharon 14:15 Comments (2)

Winter Among the Palm Trees

Palm Springs, San Diego and Quartzite, A Palm Springs, San Diego, Phoenix & Quartzsite, AZ

Palm Springs, Thousand Palms

We found ourselves once again among the palm trees and endless sand wintering in the desert ahead of the Canadian invasion of snowbirds. Being in southern California allowed us to visit family in Phoenix and Orange County and further explore the Palm Springs area. First I made a trip alone to visit my brother and his wife John & Lisa Cooper at their home in Phoenix, AZ. My sister Darla Robertson was also there and we had a little reunion which was short but fun filled. I then drove back to Palm Springs and together Brad and I drove to Irvine, CA to see our daughter Loretta (visiting from Chicago) at Brad's mother's house. We got to spend the afternoon together before it was back out to Palm Springs, whew!

Phoenix, dinner out with John & Lisa Cooper who treated Darla and I to an evening at Durants legendary restaurant!

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Irvine, CA, Brad's mother Marie Aspenwall & Loretta Robinson
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Thousand Palms resort

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Jamul & San Diego
We bounced back and forth between Palm Springs and Jamul, CA (in the hills 1/2 hour from San Diego) 3 weeks at a time (Thousand Trails rules). We made visits to Stone Brewing (both the San Diego & Escondido breweries!), the Gaslamp Quarter and the Pacific Beach area and got to catch up with friends that were controllers that Brad had worked with. Our son Tom made a brief visit before Thanksgiving and we showed him around San Diego a bit. We had fine weather for the most part and really enjoyed San Diego, can't wait to explore more next year!

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Stone Brewing Escondido

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Pacific Beach, Gaslamp Quarter with Tom Robinson

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Irvine, Ca Marie's 82nd Birthday at Sam Woo's Restaurant for DimSum with Lance & Tina Robinson (Brad's brother & his wife)

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Quartzsite, AZ

Some friends we had met in Jamul invited us to Quartzsite to check out the rock and gem show and campout for free in the desert. We had heard about Quartzsite last year but never made it out there. A new hobby we started together is jewelry making (wire wrapping) so this trip was also an opportunity to pick up some stones, etc. for projects. It was fun to meet some new friends Kathy & Jim Studer and to campout under the stars. The rock and gem show did not disappoint; we found some great stones and inspiration from the talented artists there.

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Morgan Hill, CA

As the snowbird invasion was upon us in southern Cal it was time to hit the road as all the campgrounds were at capacity. We decided to make for Morgan Hill (east of Monterey Bay near Gilroy). As we traveled I-5 we were astonished at the dust bowl that has become the central valley since this severe drought. Visibility was poor as the topsoil swirled in the wind and there was absolutely nothing green. Once we were in the Salinas valley things were green again, it's got to be one of the most fertile valleys in the country with its rich black soil .
We had never stayed at Morgan Hills RV Resort before and were pleased with the surroundings (although dry and brown) as we were located a short distance from Uvas Canyon County Park and great hiking trails. We made a few hikes around the canyon with its splendid redwoods and waterfalls and Brad did a brutal hike up to the top of the mountain by himself. We finally got a few solid days of much needed rain which greened everything up considerably and made our last hike gorgeous.
We got to know some of the locals at the MH (Morgan Hll) Tavern and visited the overpriced El Toro Brewery, ouch! We made up for it with a trip to Phil's Fish House, on the coast in Moss Landing just over the Santa Cruz mountains from us. If ever you are passing through and if you love fresh seafood, you must stop at Phil's and have an Anchorsteam on tap with oysters on the half shell & ciopino, superb! We will definitely be back in the fall to explore more of the Morgan Hill area.

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Phil's Fish Market, Moss Landing
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So it's off to the Sacramento area once again to see friends, get tattooed and do some fishing!

Posted by curlysharon 12:38 Comments (1)

Full Circle--again!

Seattle, Oregon coast and California

Seattle & Oregon
We traveled to the outskirts of Seattle and stayed a few days in the Black Diamond area to see our son Tom and wished him 'Happy Birthday'. We had a nice couple of days before heading to the Oregon coast and our first stop at Lincoln City, Oregon where we celebrated the 4th of July and did some lake fishing. Our next stop was to Newport, Oregon, a favorite town of ours where we stayed for 3 weeks and were able to really take in the area and get to know some folks.

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Lincoln City, Oregon

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Newport, Oregon
One of the friendliest towns and packed with things to do, Newport is a fun place to visit. From the beautiful views of the coast to the working harbor and the freshest seafood, we ate and drank our way around town and even visited the oyster beds and of course Rogue Brewery. We plan to return for Brad's 50th (Sept. 2014) we had such a good time and the weather was a perfect 65 and sunny!

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Sunny California

After such pleasant weather in coastal Oregon we were not prepared for the blast furnace heat of the central valley in Cali but we had doomed ourselves by making tattoo appointments for late July with our artists there. There was nothing to be done so we whined and sweat but were glad to see old friends and make some new ones,too.

Lake Minden

We stayed in Nicolaus, CA (30 miles north of Sacramento) on Lake Minden where the mosquitoes were fierce and numerous but the bird watching was great and the nearest bar was just a half mile away. We quickly became regulars at the 'Nicolaus Tavern' where we were welcomed into the fold and would've spent more time there except that the hours were Thurs - Sun, 3PM - close and believe me, we couldn't wait til Thursday. There wasn't much else happening in the small town but they did host an excellent Labor Day parade and we had a full day of festivities including picnics and live music ending at Nicolaus Tavern of course. Mike the owner was such a friend by this time he even gave us a ride to the rig (saved us from being eaten alive by the mosquitoes)!

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Coloma, CA

We moved up to 'Ponderosa Pines' in Coloma, CA in the Sierra Nevada foothills where gold was discovered in 1848 and camped on the American River. Another favorite campground as it is a beautiful setting and the river is perfect for tubing but not this trip as fresh tattoos and rivers don't mix. Still it was fun to watch the rafters and float tubes meander down the river. We did a day hike up to the John Marshall monument (where his likeness points to the spot where he first discovered gold) and around Sutter's Mill and the historic buildings that make up the John Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. And no stay would be complete without a few visits to the 'Coloma Club' saloon & dance hall, just a short walk from the campground.

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Emigrant Gap, CA

Finally we made our way up to Emigrant Gap, CA for a stay at 'Snowflower' in the Sierra Nevada mountains (approx. 5500'). It was so peaceful in the giant pines and due to the fact that summer season was over. We hiked and biked and really enjoyed the solitude and the scenery. We made several day trips into Nevada City, Grass Valley and Truckee all three fun towns to visit. The nights were clear and cold but excellent for star gazing and pipe smoking and before we knew it the time had come to start heading south for the winter before the snow began flying.

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On to So Cal for the winter!

Posted by curlysharon 15:20 Comments (0)

Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana & Idaho

Old Friends

Minneapolis / St. Paul
Our travels through Minnesota were brief with just a day trip to Minneapolis to take in the Minnesota River drive (a tributary of the Mississippi River). It was a rainy day but we were able to appreciate the scenery along the river which is popular with the locals. The final picture is us heading into St. Paul where we popped into a bar and were held hostage by a violent downpour that prevented us from leaving for a while...

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Perham, MN
As it turned out we were traveling within an easy distance of our home park of Perham so we decided to stay a few days. It was their off season and although the pics show many RVs we were all alone as regulars leave their rigs set up in their sites and only visit on weekends. The place had a weird feel like an RV ghost town, during the fishing season it comes alive and fills to capacity in this rural area.

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Grand Forks, North Dakota

We headed to North Dakota to visit our friends Don & Carla Gellerman and their family who we had not seen over 20 years. We found Grand Forks to be a quiet town situated on the banks of the Red River. It was quiet because classes were out for the University of North Dakota and the campus was empty leaving the town and devoid of much of it's population. Don had trained Brad at his first air traffic facility in Juneau, Alaska and after his retirement from the FAA had settled in Grand Forks and is now a professor in the Aerospace division.
It was wonderful to see the Gellerman family and we had plenty to talk about after such a long separation but we quickly caught up and felt like good freinds again. We were honored to be invited to dinner almost every night we were there and marveled at the harmony amongst their 6 children (their son Jeremy was not present); they were excellent hosts and we enjoyed the superb food in a jovial atmosphere.
Don & Carla took us on a tour of Grand Forks as it was Don's hometown as a young boy. We were astonished to learn the campground we stayed in on the other side of the river in Minnesota (East Grand Fork) was once part of the town but after flooding in 1997 was turned into a park, you could see the driveways and streets where once stood houses.

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The Flood Memorial Monument honors the rescue workers of the April 18, 1997 flood and shows the water levels from flooding throughout the decades.
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We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and hope to visit again.

Lake Sakakawea, ND

Don & Carla told us we must make a trip to Lake Sakawea on our way through North Dakota for some walleye fishing; we could'nt wait to do just that.
Lake Sakakawea is a reservoir in the Missouri River basin in central North Dakota named for the Shoshone-Hidatsa woman Sakakawea (Sakagawea of the Lewis and Clark expedition), it is the largest man-made lake in North Dakota and the third largest in the United States.
We stayed at the state campground which was beautifully kept and very quiet, not many other campers. We fished from the shore just about every day of our 10 day stay and had such a good time. Brad was the victor with a 5 1/2lb walleye (and a 2 1/2lber!) while I modestly caught 5 or 6 small mouth bass, no walleye for me. We also caught a slew of skipjack which we threw back as not so tasty! The walleye was delicious and is a favorite in that part of the country, we had it several times during our travels.

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On a mild spring day I per chance to see an American Robin spying on me
Busily he built a nest of twig and feather
And I contemplated my own home, road worn and weathered
Miles of travel, grime and dust
A badge of honor to wanderlust
He makes his home nestled safe in a tree
We go where the road takes us, happily free

Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota
Our friends had also told us to check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the badlands of North Dakota (western) and again we were not disappointed. The bison roam freely and the landscape was breathtaking, so different than the South Dakota badlands these were green and full of life. There were few people so exploration was easily done and we also visited the historic cowboy town of Medora situated right outside the park.
Teddy Roosevelt had a great fondness for the area since a bison hunting trip when he was a young man. He built ranches along the river where he raised cattle and his appreciation of the land led him to become a conservationist when he was president.
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Montana

We traveled to Billings, Montana to visit our friends Chris & Konnie Collinsin. Chris was a controller from Anchorage when we were there (20 years ago) and has since retired from the FAA and runs a Cross Fit gym in Billings. We made a day trip to Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument to visit the site of Custer's last stand. We were surprised at how small the area is, just a hill and the fact that the "battle" lasted less than an hour outnumbered as they were. It is also the site of a U.S. National Cemetary and many graves of known and unknown veterans.

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Moscow, Idaho

Next it was on to Idaho to see my friend Erin Colombo in Moscow (northern) Idaho situated on the border of Washington. It was a lovely town and we enjoyed catching up with Ken & Erin and seeing the sights. The first pictures reflect our travels through Missoula, MT and Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
Erin took us to the Arboretum & Botanical Gardens at the University of Idaho where we enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the gardens. The fields surrounding Moscow are full of lentils, a brilliant yellow on the landscape.
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We looked forward to seeing our son Tom as we traveled on into Washington and the coast, our trip almost to a close.

Posted by curlysharon 22:05 Comments (0)

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