Tag Archives: Washington State

9/25/2019 Blackwell Island Coeur D’Alene, Day 15

A quick note about photos.  I’m using Windows Live Writer to write offline then publish. Microsoft stopped supporting Live Writer years ago.  Their support for the photo album server was discontinued.  As much as I would like to gather photos into an album in my blog, I can not with the tools I’m currently using.  I may upgrade my tool set, though at present that’s not a priority for me.

Ellensburg KOA Revisited in Photos

Dave and Mary asked if we had visited the town of Ellensburg.  No, we sped on to CDA.  Mary said Ellensburg is an interesting all brick town with one eccentric house that stands out.  It’s worth visiting. Perhaps next time. Here are more photos taken at the Ellensburg KOA.











In The News

Big in the news today: Impeachment Inquiry into Trump started in the house, Thomas Cook goes bankrupt stranding 500,000 travelers, poll shows Elizabeth Warren leading the democratic primary contenders in California.


A low pressure code front is dropping in from Alaska.  Today is 10 degrees colder than yesterday, though it is sunny and warming in the sun.  Tomorrow’s weather in CDA will be rain and cold, followed by cold/rain Friday and Saturday.  Low temperatures will be below freezing Sunday and Monday.  Snow is forecast in Glacier National Park, Lake Louise, and Yellowstone NP.  By Wednesday next week temps will return to normal with lows of 44 degrees.  Low temperatures in Yellowstone remain below 30 degrees for the next ten days though high temps are above freezing each day.  The roads should be clear once the cold front moves through.  I expect we’ll stay in Coeur D’Alene while the rain & snow moves through.

Blackwell RV Resort Photos




Moose love Apples, but No Moose So Far


Atypical for us, we seldom connect to sewer


Our Preferred Site


It’s a cool 50 degrees at 9:30 this morning.  We’ll wait for the temp to rise a bit, then break camp (oxymoron when RV’ing).  To get to CDA and the bike trails, we have to go across a two lane bridge off the island.  We’ve walked this bridge once last year and won’t do that again!  No way we’d cycle over it.  So we’ll take the short drive to the north campus parking lot.  We’ll enjoy todays sunshine while we can.


Sherman Ave, the “main street” of Coeur D’Alene has tap rooms, lounges, restaurants, pubs, a bakery or two, tourist shops, and a few art shops.  We have not found a great restaurant in CDA largely because we’ve looked on Sherman Ave.

We enjoyed the Art Spirit Gallery of Fine Art last year.  I was most impressed by the hand made wooden kayaks.  Clearly these can be floated and equally clearly anyone would be insane to use the kayak and not simply mount it as art.  These were beautiful.  We’ll explore CDA’s art shops and look for a really good dining experience on a rainy day.

Blackwell Island

We walked to the Cedar Restaurant past boat storage, two marinas, and boat works. I stopped to admire a tall masted sloop.  It was a large sailboat without a single winch showing. It has a massive main boom that houses the mainsail.  The paint job is phenomenal. It looked to be a very fast boat.

The Cedar restaurant was open and had the menu posted outside.  It is expensive at $42 for a filet. Dinner could run well over $140.  Still, we’ll go back this evening.

Walking back to The Beast, I flagged down a tractor driver.  “Do you know anything about the boat at the end of the pier over there?”  “Which One?” “The tall masted blue hulled sailboat.”  “Oh you mean SIZZLER.  Sure it’s a carbon fiber hull.” “I don’t see a single winch on deck” “Oh all the lines run through the mast and below decks.”  “It looks like it could be single handed.”  “Yes, probably.”  “It looks custom built.”   “Yes, it is custom.  It’s carbon fiber over a wood frame.  We built it here at the boat works. We’re really good at what we do.”  Sizzler is an amazing vessel.  She’s light and carries a huge amount of canvass aloft. She must be very fast on the water.




Coyote Statues to Control Pests


I think the Pests are Wise to the Ploy


A Custom Starcraft, This Boat is All Motor

















We ate at the Bakery, Cedars will wait ‘till Tomorrow


Back “home” it’s leftover pizza for lunch followed by a bike ride.

The Centennial Trail CDA

We drove right to the north parking lot.  Even with taking off the rain covers, the bikes came down from the rack easily. Ellen’s cycle is relatively light and not a problem weight wise.   It took a bit longer sorting through our shoes and clothing and getting ready.  My newish water bottle cages hold our large water mugs just fine!   Off we went on the Centennial Trail that runs along the lake.  We stopped a few times to absorb the incredible views over the lake.  It was comfortably warm in the sun in spite of a brisk wind. We zipped through town thinking we’d stop at “our” bakery, but breezed right past.  The Centennial Trail transitions to back streets then turns onto E. Coeur D’Alene Lake Drive, a busy local highway.  Luckily the bike lane is very wide.  With a bit of uncertainty, Ellen took that in stride after a promise of “If it gets really bad, we can turn back.”   Rather than getting bad, the trail reverted to a paved bicycle route along the lake.  We covered 7 miles with an occasional stop to look and chat (like show and tell on cycles).  Around mile 6 we hit our first hill (not one of Ellen’s preferable flat hills).  With her electric boost, she soundly beat me up the hill.  Good for her and a boost to her confidence.  At one point I asked, “How fast do you think you can go on the flats if you try?”  Answer?  18 mph though I don’t know what boost level she was running.

A road sign warned of twisties ahead.  We opted to turn back.  It was getting late.  Coasting back down that hill I hit 28 mph which didn’t feel particularly fast.  Ellen understandably took that grade much more slowly.

We found our bakery on the near side of town.   Bakery By The Lake at Parkside is wonderful.  I very highly recommend their croissants.  They are flaky, crispy, and crunchy.  Even the almond ones filled with almond paste are too.  Their cappuccino was perfect.  I felt like a tap dancer walking on the cement floor.  Tap, tap, tap went my steel clip-in cleats.  Like my bike, they’re old school and stick out well past the shoe.  We ate in and brought croissants with us for breakfast tomorrow.

Funny how going to an unknown place always takes longer than returning (at least it feels that way).  Our return trip went by in a flash.  Cog patiently awaited our return in Li’l Beast’s cab.

Ellen’s been Tooling around the RV camp on her trike.  She’s having fun.  She’s grown more confident of late which is a huge change.  She’s never felt stable on a bicycle; her fear of falling or crashing got in the way of “cycling as fun”.  She’s having fun.











Kyte Boarding on a Hydrofoil, Extreme Speed













Going Uphill Ellen waited for Me!


And I didn’t Stop!



Stopped across from Lakeside Bakery


Moose atop the Bakery


Corrected Ellen’s Cappuccino Order



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.

9/14/2019 Elhwa River Port Angeles, Day 4



Mt Shasta, Day 1.



Mango Salad Lunch, Day 2.



Muted Sunset, Day 3.



Barrel Sauna, Toutle River RV Resort, Nice.



Very Hot and Relaxing Last Night, Day 3.


Some Early Morning Rambling, Day 4

“Alexa, play NPR”, is our morning mantra when we’re home.  On the road we’ve done without.  This morning I thought, “humm,  Siri?”  and said, “Hey Siri, Play NPR”.  Will this work?  Seconds later on came NPR.  GREAT, our morning ritual survives.

This morning and for the first time this trip, the temperature in Li’l Beast is a cool 64 F. The sky is overcast, the grass is vibrant green.  On longer trips we settle into a rhythm of activity in the morning and evening that makes life in a confined space easy.  We’ve not hit stride yet; we’re close.  We still fumble with what goes where and avoiding clutter.  The noisy ‘fridge fan has been quiet for days.  I’ve ordered a replacement thermistor that Amazon will ship to a rite-aid in Anacortes.  I’ll pick it up there.  Amazon has established “Amazon Lockers” worldwide that are places they will ship to for later pickup.  I love the way forward thinking companies anticipate and fill needs.  I’m freed from Camping World and Walmart for parts on the road.  This is ‘UGE.  I would have shipped to Anacortes, but Amazon’s delivery date was the day we will leave for Victoria.  With a quiet fan we can wait.

This year we’re skipping a Seattle/Whidbey Island visit.  To avoid weather in the Rockies, we cannot spend a few days or a week visiting friends.  Whidbey Island is quaint and well worth an extended visit.  Clamming or crabbing is fun; seafood right out of the ocean?  Scrumptious.  Perhaps we’ll have similar experiences in the San Juan Islands.

Some days we have a long drive, though I prefer to plan numerous short hops.  Today is an intermediate day with about 2:30 drive time.  I look forward to exploring Port Angeles and surrounding.  The last time we came through we awoke early to catch the ferry for Victoria and spent zero time on the Olympic Peninsula.  The allure of the Olympic Discovery Trail was enough for us to schedule a two day stop over before moving on to Victoria and Salish Seaside RV Haven. 

A quick note about Salish Seaside RV Haven and reservations in general.  We happened to find Salish the last time we visited Victoria.  The RV Haven has spectacular views of Victoria over the sea plane landing strip on the ocean there.  When we travel in September and October we seldom make reservations ahead of time.  Typically camping sites have availability in the fall.  Because Salish is so well situated, I made reservations well ahead of time.  As it turns out early September is still popular for RV’ers in Washington and the San Juans.  Mt St Helens KOA, one of our “go to” sites, was booked.  My first choice in Port Angeles had no availability for us; I booked the last site at my 2nd choice!  It is clear that there would be no availability at Salish had I waited. With availability so tight, we may be dry camping in the San Juans.  I may have call Lake Louise and Glacier National Park well ahead of our arrival or it could be a non-issue later in September.  We had not difficulty without reservations in  Yellowstone last year.  I’m not concerned, though it is more comfortable glamping than stopping at some random  roadside pullout (something that’s not possible  in national parks).  



We’re getting a late start today after lazing about with NPR and “wait wait”, Nespresso, and breakfast.  Clearly we’re not in a rush today.


Highway 101, Washington State


Overlooking the Hood Canal

Hood Canal, Washington

We left Toutle River RV Resort at 11:10 AM.  We said bye to the Sauna, the River, and CC (our friendly site manager) and headed north on I-5 toward Tacoma and Seattle.  A few miles south of Tacoma we veered north west on 101.   This brought us to the west side of the hood canal before skirting along the Straits of Juan de Fuca which divides the U.S. and Canada.

At noon we stopped at the Hood Canal Market, Hoodsport Washington to get groceries.  The last loaf of French bread and sliced cold cuts from the deli made a good sandwich: roast beef for me, turkey for Ellen.  We did get assorted peppers and some frozen veggies to use when we get lazy with dinner and some other staples.



Hama Hama Seafood, Established 1922

Maybe fifteen miles later we cruised by Hama Hama Seafood. “Do you want to stop?”, as we whizzed by.  “Oh, I don’t know” “Fresh steamed clams?”  I U-turned and we went right back.  The fridge was not happy running on propane.  I went into the restaurant as Ellen waited for the fridge to purge the propane line and operate normally.


Beer’s To Ya

I walked into the retail shop first “on” mistake (I hate the way that phrase changed in the past 20 years, but that’s a rant for another time).  They had a good selection of fresh oysters in a water bath and a few Manila clams.  In frustration I walked out and into the outdoor restaurant which was buzzing.  I ordered a pound of steamers and an IPA.  The IPA came immediately along with number 70 on a stick.  Number 70 and I found a seat and watched the race: Ellen vs clams.  Ellen won and a pot of steamed clams arrived shortly after.  They were good and the first steamed clams we’ve had in 2019.  Had we not eaten those sandwiches, we would have ordered oysters and more.  We left comfortably sated.


Hama Hama was Packed


Heat on Our Backs was Very Welcome

The drive along the hood canal is a two lane road, one lane in each direction with turnouts for slow traffic.  By law a slow driver must turnout when four or more people have been inconvenienced.  I turned out a few times for one or two cars, but never felt pushed and usually had nobody behind.  The drive is curvaceous, but not uncomfortably so at speeds between 40 and 55 mph.  Driving along the Hood Canal is picturesque.  I wonder what real estate prices are.  It’s not easily accessible from Seattle; the ferry runs to Port Townsend tens of miles to the north. 

As we passed the  turnoff to Port Townsend, traffic picked up for a while then settled down again.  Driving along the north side of the Olympic Peninsula on 101 is not nearly as beautiful as  the Hood Canal.  The road sits back from the water.  We had only seen Port Angeles from the ferry terminal at sunrise.  Port Angeles was a surprise. It is industrially commercial and not a wonderful place to visit IMO.  We drove through “to see” and were happy to come out the other end and off to Elhwa Dam RV Resort.


Elhwa Dam RV Resort’s Garden

Elhwa Dam RV Resort

The first impression driving into the resort was disappointing.  Spaces seem close together and the “resort” seems small, because it is small.  I had called ahead and could chose between a narrow full hookup and a water and electric only site.  We switched to the water and electric only site and I’m glad we did.  We had to use leveling blocks for side to side comfort. Front to back was perfect.  We have clear sat reception.  A bonus: Elhwa Dam RV Resort has an organic garden that we can pick from.  I ate a few strawberries.  Ellen found a raspberry.  We’ve picked zucchini blossoms, a tomato, and lettuce for dinner.


Too Bad They’re Not Ripe


A Gardening Marvel

The garden features a small solar array that power pumps.  Water is pumped from a large fish tank, through 3” PVC Pipes, through a large filter, and back to the fish tank.  The fish poo provides fertilizer for the plans.  The large 3” pipes are full of water flowing past the plant roots.  To fully close the loop the fish would have to live on some part of the plant life.  As it is they’re fed goldfish food.  It’s a very competently designed system that shows evolution over time.


Picked from Elhwa Dam’s Garden


What’s for Dinner Tonight?

Ellen just roasted a few zucchini blossoms to finish off our vegetarian meal.  Though they shriveled up (not being breaded), they were yummy.

With our late arrival, we’ll keep the bikes under wraps and see what tomorrow brings weather wise.  The forecast is for rain for the next few days. 

Siren Call

Interestingly, this is a trip to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone.  Yet, here we are headed to Victoria and the San Juan Islands.  We are very fortunate to have both the time and ability to meander as we are.  I love visiting Washington State and British Columbia.  I love the ocean.  The promise of the sea: oysters, clams, crab, and fresh fish.  It beckons to us.  We shall succumb.

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.