Lake Mead N.R.A.

Lake Mead N.R.A.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Travel Day Salt Creek to Warrenton, Oregon Camp Rilea

Sept. 27, 2011. Port Angeles, Wa. to Warrenton, Or.

We woke to cloudy skies and threatening rain. We had extended one day (last night) here at Salt Creek Recreation Area in hopes of avoiding rain. It didn't look like avoiding the rain today was likely. In fact, after getting hitched up the rain started. We both moved over to the dump station to drain our tanks as the rain fell in earnest. I generally make it a rule to not to drive in the rain for a couple of reasons. A. It's more dangerous. B. It makes a mess of everything. However, we were already committed and the chances of avoiding rain west of the Cascades in the State of Washington for the next several days was almost non-existent.
Today we were pushing south on Hwy 101 for about 242 miles through Washington and into Oregon. We finished dumping and were on the road by 9:30. The hope was to move to an area with a better short term forecast. 
Highway 101 along the West coast of Washington is a very hilly winding two-lane highway heavily traveled by speeding monster log trucks. The highway travels through dense forests passing through just a few very small towns. It's rare to actually get a glimpse of the coast but, Paul leading the way, managed to find a turnout with a view for a quick break. 
Rough Surf.
Lighthouse on the island in the distance.
The off and on rain finally relented as we approached the Oregon state line. After several hours @3:30 we finally made it into the outskirts of Astoria, Oregon. Our destination was Camp Rilea in Warrenton, Oregon along the West Coast.
Entering Astoria, Oregon.
We quickly got checked in and set up in sites 1 and 2 at the end of the RV lot. There were only two other RVs at the far end.
Paul and Paula's rig in site 1, ours in site 2.
Camp Rilea is a beautifully maintained National Guard and Armed Forces Training Center. It's only available to active duty and retired military. However, we were allowed to use the facility as a guest of Paul who retired from the Coast Guard.
From atop the berm behind our rigs, we could see this small herd of elk. I couldn't get all of them into the frame of this picture. The elk wander around and have been seen in the fields in front of the rigs after dark.
The Camp Rilea RV facilities are basically a blacktop parking lot with full 50 amp hook-ups to include 50 plus channels of cable. There is no WiFi. A very nice bathroom and bath house facility is centered in the 10 site lot. 
We are schedule to stay till October 6th and paid $20 per night. The day after arriving we took it easy and washed the rig, truck and Jeep. Like I said, driving in the rain sure makes a mess of everything. We will use the location to explore portions of the coast and the surrounding areas.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Port Angeles, Wa. Salt Creek Rec. Area

September 19-26, 2011, Olympia Washington to Port Angeles.

I've fallen behind on the blog due to a lack of internet/ data service this past week, so in the interest of catching up, I'm combining several days into this one blog post:

We got up early at American Heritage Campground with the hope of getting an early start for Port Angeles. Paul and I got started with hosing off the top of our fifth wheels as the roof and slides were covered with wet pine needles. Of course that made a mess on the ground turning the already saturated ground to mud. 
I wanted to make note that while in Olympia, I had the truck serviced at almost 20K miles to include an oil change, fuel filter change and changing the fluid in the two differentials.

After our delayed start, we got rolling up Highway 101 past some beautiful scenery towards Port Angeles.
Paul and Paula pulling their rig along the east cost of the Olympic Pennisula
After a few hours of driving on highway 101 we made it to Salt Creek Recreation Area just west of Port Angeles. This county park is right on the coast offering 50 amp electric and water sites ans well as primitive sites. There is a dump station. During the season, reservations are recommended. Paul and Paula took site 34 and we took site 36, both pull throughs. The sites are a bit close but we weren't expecting anyone in site 35 till Friday so we had some "extra room". We soon discovered after setting up that our phones were roaming and we were getting a message warning of international data rates. Apparently we were picking up the tower on the Canadian coast across the Strait of Juan De Fuca. 
Site 36
We ended up shutting off our phones and MIFI to avoid international data charges at $2 a minute! We discovered later that local phone service for our Verizon phones was available at other spots within the park.
Coast line 30 yds from the front of our rig.

Steep cliffs on the shoreline
We each paid $25 a night for a site, but we also paid an additional $5 a night for our "extra vehicle" that fit in our site. The set-up is designed for self-pay with a print-out that indicates which sites are reserved or available. We picked our own sites. We stayed for 8 nights after extending a day because of rainy weather.
Speaking of rain, as you could guess, its a pretty common occurrence in this part of the country! It rained off and on for most of our stay but the temps were moderate with lows in the 50's and highs in the 60-70's.
The ever present fog.
The Strait of Juan De Fuca is part of the "Whale Trail" and whales and other marine life according to literature is often spotted in the marine sanctuary. We didn't see anything but ships, birds and kelp.
Tongue Point view of a small island.
Just a few miles from Salt Creek is the small town of Joyce. Well of course, Joyce had to pay a visit.
We did some sightseeing to include a trip with Paul and Paula to Port Townsend and this light house located within Fort Worden State Park.

Port Townsend downtown.

Paul, Paula and Joyce in Port Townsend
Of course, no trip to the Olympic Peninsula would be complete without a visit to Olympic National Park. We cruised by Crescent Lake inside the park, a beautiful long deep water lake.
On Saturday, we paid a trip to Hurricane Ridge inside Olympic Park to check out the visitor center. It was very windy on the ridge, thus the name...Hurricane.

Mt. Olympus just left of center.
We did a short 2 mile hike along the ridges near the visitor center. It was a beautiful but windy day for a short hike.

Puget Sound in the distance
Olympic National Park is very large with diverse ecosystems to include a rain forest. The forests in this area are so incredibly dense with foliage and trees that it's actually dark under the forest canopy. Trees literally have moss growing on their trunks and limbs. Beautifully damp and dark, perfect for Vampires and Werewolves.... Okay, we did take a day to go visit Forks, Washington, the fictional home for the characters in the Twilight books and movie series. You'll need to check out the Facebook link on the top of this page for the America By RV page to see some more pictures of Forks that Joyce posted.

And on another note: While staying at Salt Creek Recreation Area, we had the Jeep serviced in Port Angeles at just under 20K miles to include an oil change, PCM update, differential fluid changes and tire rotation.
Our next move should put us in Oregon!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

September 14, 2011, Wenatchee, Wa. to Olympia Wa.

We enjoyed our stay in Wenatchee, impressed by the fact that it was a much larger city than we expected. I guess they can thank the railroad for their growth. Remember, the railroad moved from Leavenworth to Wenatchee. Leavenworth almost died yet Wenatchee grew. We were able to find a Target and buy a replacement Emerson countertop ice maker.
We got an early start with calm warm weather. Paul and Paula took the lead. We had just under 200 miles to travel this day.

As we approached The Greater Seattle Area, we noticed the low clouds covering the Cascade Mountain tops. It looked ominous and dreary.
We arrived at American Heritage Campground by early afternoon and got checked in. The campground is set in a forest setting with paved roads but dirt sites.
Site 41
We each selected sites near each other but with plenty of foliage between the sites. The temps were in the low 60's as we set up. The owner of the campground said it had been in the low 90's just last week.
View down the road in front of our rig.
The sites have full hook-ups but only 30 amps and a weak 30 amps at that. There was no WiFi in the campground. Fortunately there was no need to run the air-conditioners as the temps were very moderate during our stay i.e. 60's for highs and 50's for lows. We paid for 5 days at about $34 a day with tax. The forest setting was absolutely beautiful with plenty of places to walk the dogs. However, the last 3 days we were there it misted and rained causing the falling pine needles to stick to everything they touched. The ground also became wet and muddy.
Paul and Paula's site 43
During our stay we made a short visit into downtown Seattle by the waterfront. I should mention that to get anywhere in the Greater Seattle Area you had to travel on I-5 and that was absolutely no fun as it always seemed to be congested. Driving around Greater Seattle made us long to get away from the big city.

The downtown waterfront was a beautiful but noisy as road traffic from the elevated roadways was often deafening. We found parking under the elevated highway @ $6 for 1.5 hrs.

The city skyline is beautiful in its own urban concrete way. We enjoyed some expensive fish'n'chips and then walked around a bit checking out the urban market downtown. 

After a few hours we were all ready to escape the city realizing that rush hour was soon approaching. 

Paula and Paul
We got to the Jeep and out of the parking lot by 3:00 but still got caught up in traffic. In fact it took almost 3 hrs. to get home as traffic on the interstate was frequently backing up.
We enjoyed our visit to Seattle, brief as it was. Nice place to visit but I'm glad I don't have to put up with the traffic.
Our next stop will be in the Olympic Peninsula.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Wenatchee River Co. Park and Leavenworth, Wa.

September, 12, 2011 Wallace Idaho to Wenatchee River Co. Park.

We got going by 9:00 having enjoyed our short stay in the historic town of Wallace Idaho. We had just over 250 miles to travel to Wenatchee River Co. Park (WRCP) in Monitor Washington. This would be another stop on our way to the Washington coast with Paul and Paula.
The drive through eastern Washington was less than scenic with miles and miles of rolling grass/ straw plains and very few services along I-90. The temps were expected to be in the mid 90's when we arrived.

We made it to our destination without incident after driving over 250 miles. WRCP is a county owned and operated park. It's actually a beautiful park with well maintained grassy grounds and huge shade trees. We were assigned two sites that back up to the Wenatchee River. We quickly got set up in loop A sites 8-9. We paid $30 per night but could only stay for two nights as the park is booked after that for a rally.
The park has about 4 circular loops surrounded by sites that radiate from the circles. All the sites a very roomy and paved. However, we had to pay $5 extra for our Jeep and park it in overflow parking. 
The amenities include 50 amps with full hook-ups and very good Wi-Fi. Directly behind our rigs is the Wenatchee River with a small path leading to the water's edge. 
The day after getting set up, we made a short trip of about 16 miles to the town of Leavenworth, Wa. Once a rail road town, that supported the small timber community, the town started to decline in the 1920's when the railroad moved their lines to Wenatchee.  The town struggled to survive until the 1960s when the town decided to transform itself into a Bavarian style community which became a tourist attraction. 
We explored the town on foot wandering into several of the small shops. The attention to detail in the buildings is spectacular. We stopped for lunch in one of the many german restaurants. Not particularly, my favorite fare.

Walking around and shopping in tourist shops is not really my thing. But, it killed the day and a hot day at that with temps in the low 90's. By early afternoon we were ready to head home but not before stopping at a fruit and vegetable stand on the way home. We picked up some fresh fruit and apples that are grown locally in the orchards throughout this area of Washington. 
The following day we are headed for the Greater Seattle area.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Route Of The Hiawatha, Bike Trail

September 10, 2011 Wallace RV Park, Wallace ID.

In our former working/ career lives, we considered ourselves avid cyclists. I was a "roadie" or road cyclists and participated in club rides and organized rides on a regular basis putting in over a hundred miles each week and sometime more just on a weekend. Joyce and I had also owned two tandem road bikes at different times again participating in rides with the club that I helped to found and organize, The Suncoast Cycling Club. Moreover, I trained and supervised a bicycle unit during my law enforcement career.
The point is that cycling has been a major part of my life since I was a kid. So, when another couple told me about the The Route of the Hiawatha, Bike Trail, I just knew we had to try and make arrangements to do it.  We had met Jeanie and Eldy, the RV couple that told us about the trail, while staying in Missoula. Jeanie also does a blog,Where's Eldo and did a wonderful entry on the trail. Located on the Montana Idaho border we actually passed it on the way to Wallace. Thankfully Paul and Paula were also enthusiastic about doing the trail.
Today we prepared the bicycles and attached lights for our bike ride on the The Route of the Hiawatha, Bike Trail. Bike lights and helmets are required to ride the trail. In addition you have to pay $9 each for the privilege of riding and an additional $9 each if you want a bus ride back to the top. You see it's a gradual descent for the entire 15-16 miles.
We loaded up the bikes on Paul's truck as he has a hitch receiver on the front and rear of his truck. We joked that his truck was about 30 ft. long with all the bikes attached making it even more challenging to park.
We got on to Interstate 90 and then off at exit 5 for Taft and then followed the brown signs for the Hiawatha Trail down a dirt road. We found the dirt parking lot which was filling rapidly (Saturday) and unloaded our bikes. At the trail head we paid the attendants who then gave us a safety briefing reminding us that the first tunnel is 1.7 miles long, dark and cold at about a constant 42 degrees.

Lights, Helmet, sunglasses off...check!

He made sure we had lights and reminded us to remove our sunglasses before entering the dark tunnels. We soon got underway and were shocked by the cold tunnel even though we were warned before hand!
The 10 tunnels and 7 high trestles were once used by the Milwaukee Railroad so this has become the ultimate Rails to Trails. However, the path is not paved it's all dirt and not smooth dirt except for inside the tunnels.

We soon discovered just how "not smooth" the trail really is as it was a long jarring 15-16 miles even on All Terrain Bikes. But the views and the cool often cold tunnels made it even more interesting. Throughout the route are signs and stanchions explaining bits of history of the rail and the 1910 forest fires that devastated the area.

Paula and Paul
By the time we arrived at the bottom of the ride we were done with the jarring ride and had to make sure we hadn't jarred any fillings loose!
We had once entertained the idea of riding back up the hill to the beginning but one-way over washboard roads is enough for most folks! We took the shuttle buses back. The buses were converted school buses with hooks in the back for 24 bikes and seats for 24 passengers. 
The buses climbed up narrow dirt roads before depositing us at the other end of the Taft Tunnel ensuring that we had to ride back through the 1.7 mile cold dark tunnel to the start. Actually the cold tunnel felt good on the way back for at least the first mile!
We had a great time and were glad that we had done it!

Our plans are to continue heading west towards the coast of Washington.