Day 10 -Stevie takes on the I-5…

The evening of Day 9 we walked the dogs from our campsite into the nearby seaside town of Westport WA and realized we wanted to come back during daylight hours to take a look at their Maritime Museum and have fish & chips for lunch.  So, after breakfast and coffee on Day 10, we packed up Stevie and drove into Westport.

The Westport Maritime Museum is housed in a former Coast Guard Station, which had Jeremy very excited and feeling nostalgic for his days volunteering as a rescue member and the Unit Leader with the Ladysmith Coast Guard Auxiliary Unit 29 (now called rcmsar 29).  The Westport site also houses a Fresnel Lens lighthouse beacon.  What an impressive sight!  The Fresnel Lens is credited to French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel and his design allowed the light to be seen for further distances than with the style of lights used prior to his invention.  They must be using a very low wattage lightbulb for their demonstration or else we’d have been blinded by the light within the walls of where the Fresnel Lens is contained.

 

After touring the museum, we made sure the pups were content and then walked along the waterfront to enjoy some halibut and chips at Bennett’s Fish Shack.  We each ordered our own, but the servings were large enough that we easily could have shared – and as a fisherman’s daughter, I’m not one to willingly suggest sharing orders of halibut!  In the end, I shared some of mine with Jer as neither of us could stand the thought of leaving any fish on the plate.  Fries, sure.  But fish?  No way!  After lunch, we wandered in and out of some of the tourist gift shops and we picked up a third sticker for Stevie’s bumper.

 

A couple of hours later, we wound up outside of Tacoma WA and this is where JB and OB took over….

JB: you guys just had to eat fish and chips for lunch, didn’t you?  Now we are hitting rush hour traffic.

OB: is Stevie OK?  She sounds like she’s dying.  Why is she making weird noises and motions? 

JB: (directed towards driver of the car three cars in front): STOP letting people merge from the exit lane, asshole!  They’re not lost, they’re cutting traffic.

OB: That driver is driving with his foot on the dash!  What the hell?

JB: Oh, look – that guy just cut across three lanes so he could be in the fast lane.

OB: (directed at several drivers) GET OFF YOUR PHONE!!!!

JB: hahahahahaha – we just passed the guy who was so eager to be in the fast lane. 

OBI think Saela has to pee!  I think she really has to pee!

 

And so it went for the next 3 hours that it took us to travel about 100km.  It was at this moment we fully understood why the 90s era Seattle area grunge bands sounded so angry – they were sick and tired of driving the I-5!  By the time we were through that craziness, we decided to just make a run for the border rather than stopping.  We made a quick stop to feed ourselves and the dogs and then hit the road.  Jeremy also spent his entire dinner break attempting to book us a campsite just inside the Canadian border.  Here’s how his call went:

Campground Lady: hello?

Jer: hi?  Is this the campground?

Lady: yup

Jer: Do you have any availability for this evening?

Lady: hahahahaha

JB: wtf?

Lady: I have to call you back.  Give me your number.

Ten minutes later, phone rings, Jer leaps up from supper table and runs out of restaurant to take call.  I pick up everything off the table and head outside to meet him.  His call continues:

Jer: hello?

Lady: hi.

Jer: yes?

Lady: so you wanna site?

JB: seriously?  WTF?

Jer: yes, please

Lady: OK fine.  What time will you be here?

Jer: around 9:30pm

Lady: OK.  See you then.

Jer: Do you want a credit card number?

Lady: nope. <click>

JB: that was seriously weird.  Do we actually have a site?

About an hour later, we drove by three grass fires in the short distance of about 100 meters.  We assume they were caused by assholes flicking their cigarette butts out of windows.  There were some people pulled over and running down the road with their 7-11 cups full of water, which was both endearing and funny at the same time (OB: 16 ounces of water isn’t going to help stop a grass fire).   We kept driving to avoid Stevie causing an accident and I placed a call to 911 to let them know of the fires.  The fires were so close to one another we almost wondered if someone was starting them purposefully as they drove along.  Intentionally or not, what stupidity.  (JB: People really are assholes.)

As we drove along, I was thinking about the fires and hoping all was OK.  All of a sudden, I realized that I had made the 911 call on Jeremy’s phone.

“OH NO!  Where’s my phone? I can’t find my phone!!” I hollered.

OB: you fucking idiot.  You left it on the table at the restaurant an hour ago, didn’t you?  Way to care more about making sure you both had your drinks than making sure you had your phone.

Jenn: shhhhh…… it’s gotta be in my pocket.

OB: you’re sitting on your pocket.  It’s not there.  I’m 100% sure it’s ON THE TABLE back there.  An hour’s drive from where you are.  Guess what you get to tell Jeremy right now?

Jenn: Pull over. Pull over!! I can’t find my phone.

JB: Oh for crying out loud.  Don’t stop.  DO NOT STOP.

Jer: I will when it’s safe.

OB: He COULD pull over now.  It’s safe enough.  He’s totally not going to stop.  Your phone is gone forever.  He’s probably wondering why he ever married you in the first place.

JB: just call the damn phone.

OB: it’s in “airplane mode” because Jenn is too cheap to add more USA data to her plan.  Y’know, because replacing a lost phone will cost less than adding more data.

Jeremy pulled over and I looked frantically everywhere for my phone while he calmly looked everywhere for my phone.  Neither of us could find my phone so I called the restaurant we’d stopped at.

OB: Apparently calling to ask if a phone has been turned in required a manager to respond to our inquiry about if a phone had or had not been turned in.  I’m sure we can trust them (insert eye roll).

JB: greeeeeat.  Now we get to turn around and drive back towards the crazy ass traffic.  How much is a new phone? 

Jenn:  but….. my pictures!!!!

OB: betcha you wish you used iCloud right about now.

Jenn: that’s not helping

JB (on behalf of Jeremy): we have a reservation at a campsite in Chilliwack. We will never make it at the time we told Campsite Lady we’d be there.  I’m sick of driving.  I don’t want to turn around.  Why the hell didn’t you carry your damn phone out of the restaurant?

OB (on behalf of Jenn):  we didn’t even give them a credit card number.  We can call them if needed and so what if they give away our spot, oh well.  There isn’t a law saying we have to cross the border just because we said we would.  We can camp wherever we stop.

So, Jeremy turned Stevie around and we headed back up the road, expecting to be driving at least an extra 45 minutes back to where we had eaten.  No sooner had we committed to the turn and wound up back on the I-5 heading South when I suddenly remembered exactly where I had put the damn phone.  There is a cover that lifts up to reveal Stevie’s ashtray and lighter jack.  We keep it lifted up so that we can use the jack for our phone charger.  I had slid my phone between the top of the lid and the gap it creates in the console.

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While I think everyone was happy we didn’t have to make the full trek back down the freeway, the tension as still a little high for a few minutes.

OB: oh my gawd, just use your purse already. 

Jenn: it’s too big.

OB: I told you to bring a small one.

Jenn: but the small ones aren’t summery enough.

OB: you never listen.

Jenn: hey, at least I remembered now and not as we pulled into the restaurant parking lot.

Meanwhile,

JB: what a complete waste of time.

Jer: if it was my phone, we would have turned around as well.

JB: you’ll probably lose your phone tomorrow, dumbass.

Jer: hey, at least she remembered now and not when we arrived at the restaurant in an hour.

Once the energy settled back down, we enjoyed the remainder of the drive towards the Sumas border crossing.  I’d been keeping my eyes open for a Joann Fabric and Craft store the entire time we were in the States because they carry different kinds of yarn than what we can find here in the Michaels craft stores.  As my luck would have it, the only Joann’s store we saw was spotted after the Great Phone Turn Around.

Jenn: Oh noooooooooo!

Jer: What?

JB: what the hell NOW?

Jenn: there’s a Joann’s!

OB: do NOT suggest stopping.

Jer: *in silence* [continues driving, pushes harder on the gas pedal]

JB: *evil laughter* PEDAL TO THE METAL, Jer!

Jer: the phone saved us from stopping!!

JB & Jer: *hysterical laughter*

OB: *whispers* guess we’re crossing the border on our way back to Calgary.

We finally made it across the border and pulled into our campsite in Chilliwack by about 10pm, all people, pets, and phones on board.

JB: Yah, right.  The night didn’t end so peacefully.  The first campsite they gave us had the wrong electrical plug.

Jer: it’s OK, we just went to the office and they gave us a different site.

JB: but first Camp Lady asked why we didn’t have 30 Amp.  Geez, does it matter at 10pm?  Did you not see the 1978 bucket o’bolts we pulled up in?  They probably didn’t have 30 amp in 1978 for all we know.  Does asking me this question help us resolve the issue in any way whatsoever?

Jer: calm down, it was fine.  The guy set us up with a campsite for the correct Stevie Amp.

JB: yah, but it didn’t have water.  Good thing we paid for a “full hook-up” site.

Jer: *cracks open a beer*

JB: *chugs the beer*

 

Days 8 & 9 – Beach Therapy

Jeremy booked us two nights at the LL Stub State Park near Buxton, OR.  Then he booked us one night at the Nehalem State Park campground near Manzanita, which is along the Oregon Coast.  Sounds like we had three nights of our trip taken care of, right?  (OB: for MOST people)  NOPE!  Not us – that’d be too easy.  Instead, we booked two campsites for the same night.  We wound up staying just one night at the LL Stub State Park before heading for the ocean.  Jer mentioned in his last blog entry that we inadvertently took Stevie off-roading on our way in to LL Stub.  This was because our GPS insisted that the most direct route to the campground was closed.  Once we’d maneuvered our way up and down the gravel back road and were settled in our spot, Jer googled the information and found out that the road is indeed closed, but not until after the entrance to the state park.  (JB: it’s too bad Google didn’t exist that morning.)  Needless to say our exit from the park was MUCH smoother than our entrance 😉 .

Ah well, nothing like a little off-roading to put you in the mood for a day at the beach, right?

JB: Nice try, Jenn, we STILL aren’t taking Stevie onto North Beach when we get to Haida Gwaii.

Jenn: we’ll see.

OB: Christ, now she’s the one trying to get us stranded.

By now, we have a fairly well-established routine when we arrive at a campground that involves getting the dogs piddled, watered, and fed as well as getting Stevie settled and hooked up.  But, the love of the ocean runs deep for both Jeremy and myself, so when we arrived at the Nehalem State Park campground, we barely managed to throw Stevie into park before climbing over the dunes to breathe in the beautiful ocean air.

JB: Hey, Dumbass, you might want to at least plug in and switch the fridge to electric to avoid a case of salmonella poisoning.

Jer: You’re sounding a bit like the dad on That 70s Show.

JB: That’s because you’re acting like a dumbass, Dumbass.

We hit the beach, and OH MY!!!  What a breath-taking place to experience.  The beach stretches for ages and feels a lot like the beaches on both Haida Gwaii and on the West Coast of Vancouver Island between Tofino and Ucluelet.  Except for the climbing up and down the dunes to get there – talk about a great leg workout.  (OB: you should really workout more.  And plan and prep every morsel of food you ever put in your mouth.  And workout more and differently and better than you already do…. Ooooh, look!  CHOCOLATE!)

 

There were a few people who had their dogs off-leash, but we weren’t willing to risk it in case Saela took off after a seagull.  She was pulling pretty hard on her leash, determined to keep us safe from any and all kinds of ocean birds.

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Whenever we visit beaches and oceans, our conversation goes something like this:

Jer: I miss this, Jenn.

Jenn: Me, too.  Can you get a job in (insert current beach location)?  Can I?

JB: Sure, Jer you can work at McDonalds… except they don’t have them in these small seaside towns ya dumbass

OB: you know The BIG ONE will hit as soon as you move back to any Coast, right?

I also used Stevie’s oven for the first time on this leg of our trip to make a blackberry-apple crisp out of the fresh blackberries I picked when we stopped to see the Bonneville Lock & Dam along the Columbia River.  Of course, I just *had* to spend half an hour perusing the antiques mall in Seaside, OR to find the perfect Stevie-sized and era baking dish for the job!  Her oven worked well and the crisp was enjoyed beside the campfire along with a glass of wine.

Side bar – one of the best camping hacks we gleamed from Auntie Pat and John was to bring along TV trays to set up between our zero gravity chairs (the chairs are another great hack, courtesy of our neighbours, Dave and Laura).  Aw, shucks…. that meant I had to wander around antique stores looking for TV trays before we left, too!

One of our favourite moments at the Nehelam State Park campground happened when we heard the chime of a bell as a little truck drove by.  The man driving was pulling a string to ring the bell announcing the firewood truck.  All you had to do was call out to them or meet them on the road and you could buy firewood.  It’s like camping’s version of an ice cream truck!

 

The next morning, we spent more time walking along the beach before packing up and heading out.  We even remembered to write the obligatory sand-writing keepsake and take photos.  Spoiler Alert: more beaches to come equals more sand-writing photo ops!  (OB: Because no one else has ever thought to do that before.  Aren’t you clever?)

 

The rest of Day 9 was spent driving to the American Sunset RV and Tent Resort near Westport, WA.  We followed the coastline.  Many of the views that took our breath away on the way in were shrouded in fog as we drove out, but even the fog banks provide their own beauty.  In Astoria, OR we crossed the “longest continuous truss bridge in North America” known as the Astoria-Megler Bridge ; it is about 4 miles/6.5km  long!  We officially entered back into Washington State as we exited the bridge and continued along the US 101.  We stopped for gas in Seaview, WA and while walking the dogs, I noticed a brewery across the street.  Seemed as good a time as any to sample some brewskies.  We parked Stevie and went in for a taste at North Jetty Brewing.  While they don’t serve food themselves, there is a food truck parked beside them and you’re welcome to bring in outside food to enjoy alongside the beer and peanuts.  Jeremy had a pint of their Semper Paratus Porter and I tried a sample flight that included: Another F’ing Raspberry Hefe, La Sirena Mexican Lager, Seaview Summer Ale, and the UnderCurrant Dark Saison.  We each enjoyed our choices and left the brewery with a hat for me, a shirt for Jer, and a free sticker to add to Stevie’s bumper! That makes a grand total of TWO stickers! (OB: record setting for least-worthy of mentioning)  Our first sticker is from one of the Calgary bands our friend Navarro is in, called Steel & Timber.

 

While Saela and Pepper are growing accustomed to receiving love from people we’re meeting along the way, we were super excited that Stevie received her first lovin’ at the American Sunset site!  We met a lovely couple named Bob & Nita as they rode their bicycles by us.  I complimented Nita on her bike and mentioned that we weren’t sure if we’d be able to mount a bicycle rack onto our bumper.  She immediately invited me down to their unit (also a Class C model, but a much newer and sleeker 2016 version). Whilst chatting about the bike rack, they invited us in to tour their unit and meet Timmy, their traveling kitty cat.  We had bed-and-bath-space envy as they showed us their unit.  We said, “if you’d like to check out what 1978 looked like, c’mon down!” and they enthusiastically accepted the offer.  They were so kind with their glowing reviews of Stevie’s space and Bob came back later with the perfect camping multi-unit tool for each of us.  It’s a pen, screwdriver, stylus, ruler, and a level all in one!  And they’ve even personalized it with their name and contact information.

JB: you guys wrote the blog site on a scrap piece of paper for them.  How lame is that?

OB: you totally should have had something personalized.  Or at least printed some cards off the computer or something.  Bob and Nita know what they’re doing.  You guys are such newbies.

Days 6 and 7 – Taking the H out of Wine

After days of stressful Stevie driving, sketchy neighbourhoods, and unscheduled mechanical adventures, we finally got to enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labours.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, we have landed in wine country (JBYay!  We love wine.)

As Jenn has noted previously, we considered briefly going to Tuscany for our celebration of my unemployment, but we ultimately wanted to be with our puppies so we chose the FreedomAdventure with Stevie instead.  A key factor in deciding our route was one particular winery.  We had the pleasure of tasting wines from Hedges Family Estates in our wine club in the middle of winter at home Calgary, (OB: that wine tasting event was probably in April, it’s Calgary after all, and the winters never seem to end) and knew we had to go visit their location on Red Mountain.  We were not disappointed, let me tell you!

The tasting room at Hedges is lovely, with the shaded garden patio and fountain overlooking the rolling hills of the vineyards providing a stunning backdrop.  I imagine they have replicated Tuscany in a small way.  They also keep chickens on site, as they use them to eat insects that are harmful to the grapes.  They practice biodynamic farming and wine-making on much of their property – very cool.  Their wines are an absolute treat, but we helped ourselves to only 2 bottles as Stevie just doesn’t have the capacity for much more ☹ .

 

The folks at Hedges recommended several other wineries to visit, and we hit up Tapteil Vinyards for our next stop.  They also had some excellent wines, and yes, we may have come away with a couple more bottles 😊 .  Even better, they recommended a place in Richland where we could eat on the patio with Saela and Pepper.  We were hot and hungry by this point, so we took their advice and drove over to Lu Lu Craft Bar and Kitchen.  What an outstanding pub!  The location was excellent, the food was superb, and best yet, they loved our dogs!  Heck they served Saela and Pepper water before Jenn or I could order anything 😉 . (OB: Side note – apparently there is a campground in Richland that offers limo wine tours…. But, WE stayed at a local RV site that was easily 70% permanent residential.  Great choice, J&J.)

 

After a late lunch and the heat of the day, it was nap time – because who doesn’t want to take a nap after food and wine, right?  We had a relaxing final evening in Washington, then packed up and started the next leg of our adventure into our 4th state of the trip.  We chose to take Highway 14 West (instead of the interstate) from Benton all the way to Portland.  Man, what an amazing road!  The change in landscape from farmland to mesas to forested mountains all along the Columbia river is simply breathtaking.

And best of all, there are wineries there too 😊  We stopped at Maryhill winery planning to have just a quick taste – it was super hot out and we didn’t want to leave the dogs in Stevie for more than a few minutes.  (We pull the blinds and crank the fan for them if we have to leave them in Stevie).  Turns out they don’t just encourage dogs, they demand you bring them inside 😊 .  So Saela and Pepper were once again the stars of the show.  The folks at Maryhill dressed them, fed them, and made them feel very welcome.  Great for us, as we were able to sample 13 different wines!  The selection is excellent, and they do great Mediterranean styles including Spanish, French and Italian grapes like tempranillo and sangiovese – 2 of my all time favs!  They also had a stunning patio so we decided to stay for pizza.  To our surprise and delight, one of our favourites wines here was a sangiovese rose – we had half a bottle with lunch and took 2 more for the road.

 

Finally, we continued our journey through Portland and on to the hills just before the coast.  It was a great couple of days, and we look forward to seeing the ocean tomorrow.

 

JBHang on, they story isn’t over yet.  Jer failed to mention that his intrepid exploration skills landed the crew on a remote gravel road in the middle of nowhere!  My god, he is trying to get us all killed!  There was dust and skidding and swearing like you wouldn’t believe!

Jer: Yah, but we made it.

JB: Barely.

 

Days 4 & 5 That sure looks like a funny dog…

We’ve had a couple lovely, relaxing days, and are now in Benton City WA – the heart of Washington wine country.  At least, that’s what the brochure says.  I’ve come to believe that the US has two types of small towns.  One is quaint and pretty and right at home on a show like “Leave it to Beaver.”  The other is gritty and rough around the edges, and feels like it would be a better fit for “Sons of Anarchy.”  Benton falls squarely in the latter category, and JB tells me this place is sketchy.  He doesn’t even want to come out and speak for himself because, well, you never know who is reading the blog (JBshhhhhhhh.)

Now to be fair, the sketchiest experiences we’ve actually had here are the noisy rooster that got us up at 6AM, and the “dog” that TWICE scared the crap out of Jenn…

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To be fair to JB and his nervousness, we went to the gas station last night and it was an eclectic mix of Harleys,  lowered mustangs, and trucks with light bars and gun racks.  Actually, it kind of feels like around our house in Delacour 🙂 .  Frankly the most difficult part of staying here is the lack of sidewalks combined with a very busy road.

We are settling into life in Stevie.  She has many modes that we go through each day.  There is sleeping mode, driving mode, supper mode, parking mode, and each of them requires us to navigate the dogs and each other to set up.  Pretty much any activity requires us to spend 20 – 40 minutes transforming.  Stevie is an 80’s cartoon character!

 

Overall it’s been a good two days from playing Crib by the fire to wandering a street market in Coeur d’Alene, and tomorrow we are off to sample wines 🙂 .

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