Category Archives: Washington State

9/23/2019 Deception Pass State Park to Ellensburg Wa, Day 13




Cranberry Lake Campground Wa

So often RV campgrounds look level, but are not.  Not only does an RV refrigerator require level within 3 degrees, but we humans do not sleep well in a slanted bed.  When we do we wake up all pressed up against one side or sliding off the bed.  We found a perfectly level site at Cranberry lake.  We slept very well and awoke well past our regular 7:10 am wake time.  It was almost 9:10 when we rolled out of bed.  Site #87 is highly recommended.  It’s close to the shower/toilet hut too.  There’s a single men’s shower and one for the women.

Jerry is travelling today, getting back this evening.  The weather is forcing us east.  It could be too late in the year to go north to Banff and Lake Louise.  It may even be too late to visit Glacier National Park.  We plan to stop at Coeur D’Alene for a few days before driving into Montana.  Today we’ll stop in Coupeville to visit the Cove Café and Michelle if she’s working today.

We should have left home a week or two earlier! I thought this same thing last year.  Ellen had scheduled a women’s get together in early September.  That kept us home until the 10th. “Next year will be different”.  I kiddingly suggested we go to Hilton Head and visit Jessie. If the weather goes cold, we could just to that.


It’s Autumn, Pumpkin Season


Military Jets often flew Over Cranberry Lake



Warm and Dry inside the Cove Café



Coupeville from the Pier

The Cove Café

The drive from Cranberry lake to Coupeville is on Rt 20, an occasionally winding road that’s in very good repair.  There was little traffic along the way.  The speed limit varies between 40 through twisties and 65 when the road straightens out.

Our usual parking lot has been paved and has marked parking places and restrooms.  Some change has come to Coupeville.  Perhaps it’s off season or maybe rain on a Monday kept people in, in any case the main street was practically empty.  I think we saw two people walking as we headed onto the pier.  The Cove Café sits at the end of the pier.  A town ordinance does not allow commercial signs on the wharf.  You wouldn’t know the Cove Café was there unless you stumbled upon it or knew ahead of time.

Michelle was not working today.  We had lunch: ellen chose the “not your usual BLT” and I chose fish and chips.  Both were very good. I was a bit surprised that the chips were a filet and not thick strips.  Two groups were eating as well.  Jerry or Michelle put lights in the windows.  The lights are visible from the road.  That’s a good start toward getting foot traffic to the café.

Ellen texted Michelle to say we were in town.  About 20 miles out of town Ellen noticed that the text had not sent.


Liquid Sunshine, Enough Already!

Spokane or Coeur D’Alene

Today’s goal was practically unreachable.  Sure I could drive into the night, but that’s not the way we like to travel.  Ellen found a KOA by a river not far off 90E that looked to have a few hundred sites.  We stopped at the Ellensburg KOA, found a site, and are settled now.  Where we stop tomorrow depends on the weather in part.  There are some great bicycle trails east of Spokane we could ride as well as some great cycling around Coeur D’Alene.

We have a comfortable flat site, #10, along the river.  We have water, electric, and local stations on cable/antenna.  Ellen cooked a chicken pot pie with some frozen peas and a kale salad.  The pot pie was ok.  Ellen remembered stopping at a place in West Yellowstone that specialized in chicken pot pies.  Now THAT pie was great.  This one was just ok, made better with peas. 

Evening Entertainment

Last night we had no sat-tv.  Our local HD antenna brought in 12 channels, one of which was an old movie channel.  We saw an interesting probably 50’s movie about a husband gas lighting his wife on a cruise ship before attempting to throw her overboard.  It was interesting.  Then on came “Tokyo Joe” a Bogart film.  I’d never seen it and it was good.  Google Bogart films and there’s a very long list.  We all know Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon, but Tokyo Joe or the others?  Not so much.

Entertainment tonight is pretty similar.  No directv, local on air hd channels.  Jeopardy, The Voice, now now a new attorney show.   I’ll return to reading “Moment of Truth” a bit later, but I think I know how the plot will go.  It’s never good to know the ending half way through the book.  With luck, I’ll be mistaken.

My itinerary has a number of days in Idaho, then a trip north to Lake Louise.  If the lake gets snow in this rain, we’ll reconsider.  I hope Glacier National Park stays open in the near term.

9/15/2019 Elwha River Port Angeles, Day 5

Fall in the Pacific North West

Why am I surprised that the sky is gray with clouds and intermittent often heavy rain.  The Olympic Peninsula is a rain forest after all. We may not be cycling today.  Not that we’ll melt, but there’s no reason to be uncomfortable, cold, or wet in the midst of beauty. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is gorgeous in good weather.  It can appear bleak and uninviting in cold wind driven rain.

With weather, anything is possible.  The sun could break through later today, though that is very unlikely.

Evenings, the temperature drops and the clouds open up.  We slept to the sound of heavy rain last night.  As the temperature warms in the morning, rain stops as the clouds store moisture and the promise of rain in the evening.  Plants benefit, we see vibrant green  everywhere. 

There is a burn ban in effect.  I expect it will lift soon.

Happy Wife, Happy…

It’s Football Sunday with NFL Sunday Ticket from DirecTV.  Cool. Search “Jets football” or “jets NFL’ on our guide and get no results!  WHAT?  Ok a Google search turns up Jets @ Browns Monday at 5:15, Monday Night Football.  Sunday Ticket only covers Sunday Football.  Why wouldn’t my search find Jets @ Bills in my lineup? Google search again for “Jets @ Bills” and up pops ESPN.  Tune into ESPN; I’m not subscribed to ESPN. 

DIRECTV offers three methods to solve this.  The first: Text upgrade to 223322.  Cool.  I do the text and get back a text stating, “DIRECTV MOBILE: go to or call 1-800.531.5000, the other two on-screen methods.  Why even provide text to 332233 if it does absolutely nothing?  Probably for the money ATT makes charging for texts.  That SUCKS.   Go to with tons of advertising for shows. Eventually I was routed to, a maze of a website.  Method #2 is untenable.

Method #3: call.  The first thing you hear when ATT picks up is a sales pitch for NFL Sunday Ticket with extended instructions about how to subscribe, what to do to activate your subscription and on and on.  Such BS.  Using the voice recognition system I asked “upgrade ESPN” and was told “that package is unavailable”.  Typical of ATT.  I think they would have done better not to centralize ATT, ATT mobile, and DirecTV.  “Operator” and I was transferred to a live person who made ESPN happen for a few dollars more.

I cringe each time I want to make changes to my DirecTV account.   In any case ESPN is now available to me and “JETS @ BROWNS” is set to record tomorrow.  Ellen should be happy and happier if the JETS happen to win (an unusual occurrence).

CNN, Phase 10, Lazy Day – not.

Coffee this morning with the heat on briefly and a rookie mistake.  The heater cycles on, off, then stays off with no heat if LP is switched off.  ooops.  We finished last night’s phase 10 game and started another.   It was 10:45 when Ellen said, “Since the weather is bad and we’ll not bike today, let’s go to home depot in Victoria.  We can fix the drawer today.”  The next ferry to Victoria loads at 12:15. Black Ball said their reservations were full, they leave 20 slots open for arrivals without reservations, and we could go on standby if all slots are filled. “We have five slots open.”

We’ve never “broken camp” as quickly as we did that morning.  We took one of the last three RV slots.  Li’l Beast is rated a 24’ motorhome.  It is actually 25’ 6” long, but with the bicycles on back we measured out at 30’!  “UGE.   Port Angeles at sunrise is beautiful.  At mid day its commercial nature belies the area’s natural beauty.  The sound was socked in with nothing to see.  Victoria’s inner harbor was partly sunny.  A new marina was completed with a super yacht parked fronting a new hotel complex.  Each year there’s more construction here.

We were fourth off the boat and breezed through customs.

“Where do you live, how long will  you stay in Canada? Do you have firearms? Do you have beer? Do you have wine or spirits? Are you carrying bear spray?  Do you have marijuana products,”  

“One Beer, but it won’t last long (I had maybe 12).  Is marijuana legal in Canada?” 

“Yes it is legal in Canada, but you cannot bring any in.”  “Oh, Ok”

We called Salish RV Haven; no space available for tonight.  They recommended Fort Victoria RV Park.  They had availability, no reservation necessary.

Home Depot carries a variety of draw slides from 16” to 22”.  I took one of the slides with me, and found a strong 20” slide; the perfect length but maybe 1/2” wider than the original.  “Some Assembly Required” I thought.  The new sliders went in relatively easily with a bit of measuring, drilling, and screwing.  The sliders need a bit of lubrication, but they work.  

Fort Victoria RV Park

At 5:30 PM we drove a few miles to Fort Victoria for the night.   Fort Victoria sits right on the intersection of two bike trails.  Both are converted Railroad right of ways: the Galloping Goose Trail and the E&N Rail Trail.  Both run down to Victoria Harbor.   Though we could have, we chose not to unload the bikes this evening. 

We cooked a chicken meal in the convection oven, watched “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” and played two games of phase 10. Ellen won the last game.

Fort Victoria RV Park packs ‘em in.  The sites are level with full hookups.  Many have good satellite visibility.  For a single night sitting window to window with neighbors we no problem.  I’d rather not stay here as “home base” even if I didn’t know about Salish.  Salish’s location has such a wonderful view and easy access via water taxi to Victoria.  Why stay anywhere else?

Checkout is at 11AM.  “I wonder how early we can arrive at Salish”, Ellen asked.  We’ll find out.

Port Angeles to Victoria Ferries

The ferry schedule varies by season.  In winter, the ferry runs once every day.  In high season it runs four times daily.   For us the ferry departs Port Angeles at 8:15, 12:45, and 5:20.  The 9:30 PM ferry stops on September 3.  I recommend making ferry reservations well ahead of time.  We arrived for the 12:45 ferry at 10:20 AM and barely made it on.  Had we missed the 12:45 we would have been first in line for non-reservations on the 5:20 PM sailing; inconvenient, but doable.  If you miss the last ferry, you’ll be spending a night at Fort Victoria RV Park.

The ferry takes an hour and a half to make the crossing.  People rush upstairs to grab booth seating.  There are rows of seats in the bow, where we sat.  Even though we were relatively early on the boat, most booth seats were taken.  You’ll find food and drink aboard ship.  Ellen brought a tray of fried potato slices that were yummy.

9/13/2019 Castle Rock, Day 3


Toutle River RV Resort

We’re camped along RR tracks. While watching Suits last night a huge train went by.  It started as a low clicking sound and grew to a crescendo.  Ellen jumped up, “that’s not a train”.  A heavy downpour had started.  We battened down The Beast and swabbed the decks.  In our RV travels over the past two years we very seldom had mist or rain.  This was a deluge!   Good stuff.

Overnight the rain abated and started afresh around 6 AM.  Visibility is poor.  it’s not the best day to be going up Mt St Helens.  Do we push on or stay?


Cog Moose, On The Road Again


Toutle River with 60’ of debris filling the valley floor!

We had a leisurely morning the drove SR 504 to the three Mt St Helens visitors centers.  Each center focuses on a different aspect of the eruption with different movies playing on a loop.  The extent of the mud and ash flow in the Toutle Valley is jaw dropping.  The sludge that ran down the Toutle River ran all the way to the Columbia.   The Columbia River’s shipping lane filled with mud, ash, and trees; closed; and had to be dredged.


Numerous Bridges cross Toutle River’s Tributaries

The sides of the Toutle Valley was replanted in the 80’s.  The Noble Fir on the south facing slopes and the Douglas Firs on the north facing slopes have grown tall.  They stand in startling uniformity of shape and size.


A Successful Male and some of his Harem.

At one scenic view appropriately named Elk Rock, a couple shared their binoculars to view some elk in the valley.  One, two, three, a baby nursing, a male with a huge rack, Elk kept appearing.  Clearly this was one harem.  Then atop the ridge another group strolled out of cover; another twenty or so.  Then a third harem.  There must have been close to 50 elk, two separate groups, in close proximity.  Even at this distance the male’s trumpet sounded crisp and clear; a warning to other males or a call to his girls to move?


I’ve Never Seen so many Elk Together (long distance shot, no tripod)


One Hungry Baby Elk

To the right of the Elk a lone blazing white mountain goat broke cover and ran across the ridge.


Mt St Helens Crater Obscured by Clouds

Clouds obscured Mt St Helen’s crater as shadows played across the valley.   What we could see of the mountain was desolate, barren, uninviting.   As with Mt Vesuvius, the sheer amount of material blown from the mountain top is staggering.  I’ve visited the Toutle River valley a few times and each time I feel renewed respect for the sheer power of nature and volcanoes in particular.  The extent of the devastation in the 1980’s explosion is hard to grasp without actually looking over the valley and realizing it is filled with between 30 and 60 feet of debris that extends all the way to the Columbia River and that the ash traveled hundreds of miles and blanketed regions in ash. 

The drive back to Castle Rock went quickly.  We skipped the gas/restaurant/gift shop area east of I-5 and drove into the old town to walk the streets and find a bite to eat.  Castle Rock is a small town.  I was told it was lively before the eruption and that it is slowly coming back.  We walked the eight blocks of “downtown”.  Failing to find a restaurant per se, we stopped in “The Vault” a coffee shop housed in what once was a bank.  I mentioned that we had not found a place to eat.  “I’m just here getting a coffee.  You should try Wine Dog Down across the street.  I’m headed back there.  We serve pizza on flatbread, salads, and wine.  It’s good.”


Great People & Great Food

Across the street group of loud revelers sat in the Crosscut Taproom’s window.  Just next door, Wine Dog Down was welcoming and quiet.   The restaurant was nearly empty; we took the table by the window.  James brought out a menu, then launched into a description of a new pizza he is trying:  naan flatbread with olive oil, some garlic, parmesan  and mozzarella cheese, and blueberries.  I had their take on a Margherita  pizza with balsamic reduction and a glass of chardonnay.  Ellen steers clear of garlic; I thought for sure she’d share the pizza.  Truly Surprising, Ellen opted for James’ new creation.


My Margherita Pizza Disappeared in a Flash

My pizza and wine was very good.  James gets his naan bread fresh daily from the bakery next door.  It sets the pizza off.  Ellen’s blueberry pizza was spectacular.  “How did you like the pizza?”  We talked for a while with James about pizza, ingredients, dough, Mt St Helens.  He said he was 8 years old when the mountain erupted.  He could see the cloud from his home between Tacoma and Seattle!  Everyone locally knows where they were the day it happened.  Castle Rock is not a culinary wasteland.  The owner of The Oasis, a bar, is planning to expand opening a restaurant next door and there are two bars and Crosscut that serve good food as well.


Blueberry Pizza, YUM!

Nice that there was less shouting on Bill Maher’s show tonight.  This month’s political trope is will the democrats go centrist or go “far left”.  There is no agreement between the two sides.  The possibility of a stalemate in the democratic convention and the selection of a “safe” candidate like Amy Klobuchar could be victorious.

We took a sauna this evening; sauna in a barrel, truly.  The dry heat is relaxing even refreshing up to a point.  A cold shower to finish off = perfect.

Off to Port Angeles and the Olympic Discovery Trail. ODT is a railroad right of way that’s been converted into a bicycle path.  It is 35 miles long and runs (mostly) along the north rim of the Olympic Peninsula.  We’ll be staying at an RV Park practically on the OTD.  Weather could be an issue.  Rain is in the forecast.


Best Photo of the Day


In retrospect today was all about Elk, Food, Good People, Barrel Sauna, and Nature’s Brute Power.  Off to the Olympic Peninsula for some cycling tomorrow.