Sunday, September 30, 2018

Walla Walla to Issaquah

It’s all a freeway drive.  There’s a fair amount of agriculture; wheat, hops, grapes, fruit trees.  Where there is irrigation, things grow.  It’s very productive land.  Eventually it becomes rolling hills, with less cultivation.


Today’s key learning is don’t drive to Issaquah from the east on a Sunday.  There is a lot of traffic.  It would drop from a speed limit drive to a complete stop for no apparent reason.  There’s probably a corollary of don’t go east on Friday afternoons


There are two truck plazas in Ellensburg.  Neither one of them are a good bet on a Sunday.  The Love’s channels everyone (cars, big trucks, RVs) in to the same entrance.  It was poorly marked and very chaotic.  The Flying J has very narrow spaces between the diesel pumps, and after pumping, there is nowhere to pull forward.  If you pull forward, no one can leave the car pumps.  I think I’d rather go to North Bend and pay too much in order to avoid Ellensburg.

The Indian John Hill rest stop has a dump station.  The way the rest stop is set up, the vehicles queuing to dump, back up into where the 18 wheelers need to park.  There were several big trucks caught in the line, unable to advance or depart.  So, approach this rest stop with the idea that you might want to keep going.

We’re back, and here for three nights.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Blue Valley RV Park

While in Walla Walla we stayed at the Blue Valley RV Park.  It’s an ok park.  All sites are back ins, there are no pull throughs.

The park is in a light industrial part of town.  There is an annoying pulsing sound that goes for hours, day and night.  I think it might be a transformer but I could be wrong.  Down the street from the entrance is a homeless shelter.  They’re only allowed on premises at night, not during the day.  Some reviewers on rvparkreviews were upset about this, but we didn’t see any problems.

One of my biggest complaints about RV parks, is extraneous plantings.  See that green bush on the left?  It’s totally unnecessary.  It really complicated parking because we had to position the bus so the front edge of the slide didn’t hit the bush, and the back of it didn’t hit the power pedestal.


The sites are kind of strange.  They’re not side by sides, they’re back to backs.  If two 5th wheels are back to back, they’re looking into each other’s big back windows.  It was ok for us since we have no windows in the back.


Vehicle parking is to the side of the RV.


Interior roads are paved, the side of the park we’re in has paved sites.  I think the other side is gravel, but I’m not positive about that.  Power is good, water pressure is really good.  Park wifi is good (that never happens!), I’ve done all of today’s posts on their wifi.  Each site has some grass and a picnic table.  It’s a nice looking RV park.

We would come back.  It would be nice not to hear the sound of alien space craft hovering overhead, but it’s not a deal breaker.  There are no trains and at night there’s no traffic noise.

Update June 30, 2019:  It appears that the aliens have departed.  We no longer hear their space craft hovering.

Tero Vineyards

We came to Walla Walla to see our friends Kim and Jim.  It’s been at least a year since we did. Yesterday we got to see their beautiful new house. Today Jim, Jim and I went out to Tero vineyards for a food and wine tasting event.  The people who catered it made really good food.  It was very pleasant sitting in the sun and chatting.  Kim was hard at work in another tasting room in downtown Walla Walla.  We feel bad that she was working and we weren’t.

Tero has not yet picked their grapes.  They’ve had to net the plants to keep the birds from eating the crop.  One hungry flock can lay waste to a season’s work.


Kim was pouring in at the Tero tasting room at the Marcus Whitman Hotel.  It’s a gorgeous old building.  The ceilings are just magnificent.  I’m so happy that they have not remodeled it or updated it.


It was good to see our friends.  It’s unfortunate that I took so few pictures.

Driving from Spokane to Walla Walla

Yesterday we drove from Spokane to Walla Walla.  The route we chose was direct, but not necessarily efficient.  Spokane is up there in the top right hand corner of the map.  We took I90 to Ritzville and dropped south on WA-261.  The first section of WA-261 was fine.  It became much less fine after making the left just past Washtucna.

September 28 map

You see a lot of this on the first stretch of WA-261.  It’s fairly flat and you can see forever.



This is wheat country.  It stretches for miles.


After making the left to stay on WA-261, it narrows and gets very noisy.  The surface is chip and seal and it’s really unpleasant.  The road also begins to undulate, sort of nap of the earth. It’s a very curvy little road. Eventually it reaches the Snake River, plunging down to the water.


And here it is - The Bridge of Death.  It’s tall enough, but it’s not wide enough for two large vehicles to cross at the same time.  Worse, until you’re at the top of the bridge deck, you can’t see on coming traffic.  When we got to the top of the rise, we saw an 18 wheeler coming towards us.  Hyperventilating on my part ensued.  Fortunately, the truck driver stopped before getting on the bridge and let us drive off.  Even with that courtesy, Jim was really close to the guard rails on the passenger side, and our mirrors were very close to his side mirrors.  I can’t believe the DOT allows this situation to exist.  The could use lights and make it a one way bridge, but since the traffic volumes are so low, they probably have not yet had a spectacular accident.


Once over the Snake, the terrain becomes more rolling, but it’s still covered in wheat.



It’s a beautiful drive.  However, next time we travel between Spokane and Walla Walla, we’re going the long way around.  We spent so much time going 40 mph that I think the longer route would be a push in terms of elapsed time.  We lucked out on the bridge over the Snake this time, but I would really prefer to not do that again.  If you’re in a Class C or B, you’ll be fine – enjoy the scenery!

North Spokane RV Campground

While in Spokane, we stayed at the North Spokane RV CampgroundIt's a new RV park, they're still putting in sod on some of the sites.

It's an ok park.  I took zero pictures, so you'll have to trust me on this.  We had a pull through which was a little narrow.  Sites and streets are paved.  Some of the turns in the park are narrow, and some street parking is allowed which does not improve the situation.

Power is good, water pressure is good.  RV supplied internet is worthless.  I could not get it to load anything at all.  No data on restrooms and laundry.  Verizon varied between one bar of 4G and three. It was slow most of the time.  There are no pesky over hanging trees to interfere with the satellite antenna.

They do make you sign and initial three pages of legalese when you check in.  Apparently the owner is well represented by lawyers.  I think their main goal is to ensure that they are not subject to Washington state's landlord tenant laws.

It's much better than the place we stayed last time, so I think we would go back. 

First Departure from Issaquah

A new life lesson for me, is don’t defer dental maintenance until just before one plans to leave the area.  Monday (9/24) I went in for a cleaning.  While Paula, the hygienist, was poking my teeth with the sharp stick, she found a soft area.  Turns out that a crown was failing, things were dire.  Fortunately they were able to get me in the next day AND they have the CAD package that lets them scan the teeth, mill the replacement, bake it in the oven and then install it in the same visit.  It’s pretty cool technology.  That’s my tooth on the screen.


Wednesday, believing all was well in the dental department, we launched for Spokane.  This is Lake Kacheelus on I90 just out of Seattle.  It’s incredibly low.  We’re seeing way too many tree stumps that ought to be covered by water.


We arrived in Spokane without incident, and were once again astonished at how narrow the roads are in the southern part of the city.

Wednesday night I tried flossing the back of my new crown and discovered I could not.  It’s catching on something.  This is bad.  We’re going to have to go back.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Kubota Gardens and Aviation

Today was just spectacular – perfect fall weather.  We decided to go visit the Kubota Gardens.  From Wikipedia we learn this:

Fujitaro Kubota emigrated from Shikoku, Japan in 1907 and established the Kubota Gardening Company in 1923. Projects of his included the garden at Seattle University and the Japanese garden at Bloedel Reserve in Bainbridge Island. In 1927, he bought 5 acres (20,000 m2) of swampland in Rainier Beach to start the garden and in 1930 increased the size of the garden to 30 acres (120,000 m2). Kubota Garden served as cultural center for the Japanese community in Seattle, as well as a home, office and nursery for his business. During World War II, Kubota Garden was abandoned for four years as Kubota and his family were interned at Camp Minidoka in Idaho. During his internment, Kubota supervised the building of a community park, which included a Japanese rock garden. After the war, he and his sons Tak and Tom Kubota rebuilt the business.

It’s a beautiful area, we were a little too early for fall foliage, but it’s just a delightful stroll.  All of the carefully curated water in the gardens comes either from Mapes Creek or springs on site.  See the orange spot on the right side of the photo?


Those are giant honking koi.






The number of large trees and plantings is amazing.


Bridge closeup.


If you’re in the Seattle area, this is worth doing.  If you’re on Bainbridge Island, the Bloedel Reserve is also amazing.  They have the best moss gardens we’ve ever seen.

On the way out, we drove down the perimeter road of the Renton Airport.  This is the new 737 Max.  I’m not sure when it’s scheduled to enter service.  What’s interesting is the shape of the winglets.  They’re evolved.


There are green airplanes on both sides of the airport.  The Boeing plant is attached to the airport.  All 737s depart from this airport on their maiden voyages.


The other side.  The airplanes are green because they’re not painted.  They’re stacked up on the airport due to parts shortages.  We don’t like to see this.  When the supply chain is disrupted, it has a cascading effect all the way back to the beginning of the production line.  One of the current issues is availability of CFM engines.  It’s the only engine used on the 737, variability increases cost.  There is more written on the subject here.


This is a P8 Poseidon.  It’s the new submarine hunter, replacing the P3 Orion.


This is so weird.  It’s a Beaver amphibious plane.  He’s about to take off, rolling down the tarmac on those teeny tiny wheels.


Jim doesn’t know what this is.  We’re guessing it’s a replica something, or maybe it’s original, but what it is remains a mystery after a web search.


Here we have a Rockwell 690, also known as a Turbo Commander.  When Jim was flying, this was one of his favorite airplanes.  The engine note was just exquisite.  Today’s flight was flown by a woman.  The passenger couple got their Porsche 911 out of the hanger and departed, leaving her to get the tug out and park the plane inside.  Clearly the wrong set of parents picked me up at the hospital.  How cool would this be as a means of travel?


What’s missing from that pickup truck?  These are used to get float planes out of the water (ones with no wheels in the floats) and take them to where they are stored.


Being in Renton is so weird.  When we worked at Boeing, all of this was factory.  Now the developers are putting in mass retail and apartments.  Those glass structures farthest away are right next to the 737 final assembly building.  If the mechanics are riveting, people in the apartments will probably be able to hear it.  We never ever thought we’d see the foot print of the company contract to this degree.


So that was today.  Tomorrow is dental appointments and laundry.  Boo yah!

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Rain and Wind in the GPNW

It rained all last night and most of today.  Now the wind is howling, the weather heads say a cold front is pushing in.  Woe, woe is me.  I had to wear long pants today.  Yes, I am a weather baby.  We’re leaving Wednesday, it will be nice to be elsewhere.  It was good to have this summer of being still to reacquire our equanimity.  However, it’s time to go.

During a break in the weather, we went over to the fish hatchery to see what was coming up stream.  There are some really big salmon returning.


I couldn’t get a good photo of the fish on the weir, too much shade.  This fish is trying to get up the fish ladder, but the gates are closed.  Last September’s pictures were much better.


So, other than a couple of fish, I have nothing much to say.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Anacortes, Port Townsend and La Conner

Happily the weather made a miraculous turnaround after our wet departure.  Monday we took the ferry to Port Townsend from Coupeville.  We ended up walking on because there is only one ferry running.  Reservations were an absolute must if one were to take a vehicle.  In the summer they’re always required even with two boats running.


Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport.  Much of the town was built on spec anticipating that the Northern Pacific would bring a rail line in to town, since there was a deep water port. When the depression hit, the rail terminated on the east side of Puget Sound.  Many people left the area.  There used to be quite the timber and fishing industries.  Those days are gone due to resource depletion.  We saw a piece on PBS about how they are a center of excellence for the production of bows.  There is also the building of wooden boats, and an annual festival.   Like so many small towns, they’ve reinvented them selves as a tourist destination.


Jim used to ferry boats to Victoria for the Swiftsure sail boat race.  They would stop in Port Townsend.  His two favorite bars from that era have been turned into foo-foo home decorating stores.  It just doesn’t seem right.


Very cool house with a stupendous view.


Jefferson County court house.  The interiors are just amazing.


Yesterday we drove down to La Conner.  They continue to have a viable fishing and crabbing industry.  That’s a stack of crab pots.


There are many stores with stuff.


Attractive plant in someone’s yard.


Here is the Salish.  She ran aground in Coupeville.  The rudder was damaged.  It’s not known if the grounding caused the damage, or if that’s why she hit the beach.  After they sent divers down to look, several crab pots were found wrapped around the propeller shaft.  This is painful for people who have to commute on the ferries.  Currently she’s in drydock at Anacortes.


Isn’t that lovely?


This is a railroad swing bridge.  It pivots on a ring gear to let boats out.  The light was too bad to get a picture of the middle of the bridge.  It’s open here, you can see the gap between the end of the bridge and the rail line.  A lot of work is being done on both ends of the bridge.


Today we went for a walk on the beach.  It’s really nice looking at the water.


Tomorrow we’re heading back to Issaquah.  Friday’s weather is supposed to be terrible so we’re going back on the drier day so we don’t spend hours in a rain soaked traffic jam.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Timing is Everything

This morning it was raining.  Then it was a torrential downpour, the kind of rain you have to yell over.  Eventually it stopped and the sun came out, so we brought the RV up to ride height, and then lowered the nose so the rain would run off the slide toppers.  No sooner had we gotten half way through detaching the utilities it started raining again.  We decided to press on with departure.  By the time we were out on the street attaching the truck to the RV the torrential rain returned.  I have not been that wet wearing clothing ever.

On the trip up to Anacortes, some poor soul towing a travel trailer was in a terrible accident.  The trailer was demolished, the tow vehicle rolled as well.  On scene were giant wreckers, fire trucks, ambulances and police.  ALL lanes of I5 south were closed.  The stopped traffic went on for miles.  I feel so badly for all of them, the people in the accident and the people trying to get home on a Sunday.  It’s a terrible picture, sorry about that.


We’re staying at the Swinomish Casino RV park.  It’s not a terrible park except for the mud.  It has rained a lot here, the grass is overwhelmed.  When we arrived, it rained on us some more, but it wasn’t bad.  It’s cold!  OK, it’s in the upper 50’s but it’s so damp it feels cold.


There’s a rail road track right out in front of our site.  At first we were concerned about the noise, but now we’re not.  The tracks are not shiny, indicating that they have not been used recently frequently.  Plus there’s this taking place on the tracks just up the way.


Later the sun came out a little.  We look at the water out of the wind shield which is nice.


So, we’re here.  Hopefully there will be attractive photos of somewhere that is not Issaquah.