Colorado, Rocky Mountain High

10/23/15 Enjoyed a three-day visit with friends Paula and Marvin while we adjusted somewhat to the change in altitude. Enjoyed some tasty meals, good conversation and walks. Eating out with these two is always an adventure. There’s a history here but we’ll leave it at that. 

   
 As everyone knows, Colorado has legalized marijuana and we got a bit of an education during the visit. M and P showed us how to trim the plants after drying, saving the buds. 

   
 
There are many ways that marijuana is processed and used here – from smoking to baked goods, oils, and even candy and sodas, which seems a bit dangerous if there are kiddos around. 

  
The THC in marijuana isn’t activated until it is heated, so ingesting the raw buds wouldn’t get you much more than a tummy ache.  There are two kinds of stores here – medical and recreational. The medical requires getting a medical card. The medical marijuana does not contain THC and therefore does not produce a “high”. 

After a pleasant few days catching up with M and P, being treated to some good food, and enjoying some of Marvin’s poetry, we loaded up the bus and said our goodbyes.   

 
10/25 We drove on west, noting the snow on the Sangre de Cristos. We were alerted by friends that Wolf Creek Pass got 20+ inches of snow so we opted to take a more southern route. 

  
We stopped in Salida for coffee at Brown Dog Coffee Co. and a walk around the downtown.   

 

Headed south through the San Luis Valley to Alamosa where we had lunch and a short walk, then on to Chama. The yellow Aspens had grown impatient and departed, but for a few who stayed to greet us.  

 
We camped in Pagosa Springs at a motel campground with hot springs and took an evening soak in the mineral waters.  The next morning, our first-date anniversary, we walked across the street to the main hot springs spa overlooking the San Juan River. 

   
 After a soak and a late breakfast at Rose’s on Main Street, we headed out for Mesa Verde, stopping in Durango for coffee and a walk around town. 

We arrived at Mesa Verde just before closing and drove up to the campground. The store, gas station, and other services were already closed for winter and only one loop was open for camping. 

10/27/15 awakened to 29 degree temps and a white frost coating on the camp chairs. We were nice and toasty in the bus for coffee and pancakes.  

 
We had been warned that Cliff Palace was closed for restoration work and now learned that there had been a rockfall at Spruce Tree House, closing it to visitors as well, although both can be viewed from above. This left Balcony House as the only tour available. Larry took the tour and Maggie stayed up top in the bus after heeding the warnings about lung or heart problems or fear of heights. 

  
After the tour, we drove over to Spruce Tree House and toured the museum. Enjoyed a Navajo Taco and viewed Spruce Tree from above. 

  
We drove on to Cliff Palace, noting the huge burn areas from the fires of 2003 and 2004. Cliff Palace is stunning and never ceases to amaze. 

  
There is no cell service or wifi in the campground, giving us respite from our technology. The only sounds in the night were the haunting yips and howls of coyotes. 

10/28/15 We left Mesa Verde and opted to motel it in Cortez, giving us an opportunity to get haircuts, showers, and do laundry before having a nice dinner at Nero’s Italian Restaurant. 

Maggie lobbied for taking a drive to Ute Mountain Casino after dinner and Lar went along. Lucky jackpot of $3,000 + was the happy result. 

10/29/15 After a nice breakfast with Maggie’s friend Penny, a hospice nurse she had worked with in Cortez in the 90s, we drove up to Dolores to the Anasazi Heritage Center for a visit, then drove out to Sand Canyon Pueblo for a hike among the ruins. This village, in the mid 1200s, had 420 rooms and 100 kivas, with 14 towers. 

    

We said goodbye to Colorado and drove west toward Utah.

Not-So-Flat Kansas

We left Oklahoma on 10/20 and stopped over in Salina, KS, to see family. After a fun visit with kids, grandkids, and great-grandkid, we reluctantly said our farewells and headed west. We did get the little one’s stamp of approval on the bus.  

 
The drive across Kansas from east to west is deceptively flat. The horizon stretches on forever with almost no topographic relief. However, by the time you reach the Colorado border, you have climbed 3000 feet in elevation. 

Is Kansas flatter than a pancake?  Why yes, as has been confirmed in the Annals of Improbable Research, 2003. Really. But in Kansas’ defense, she is only 7th in flatness among U.S. states. 

We found solid evidence of this in far western Kansas in a hidden jewel of a state park, located near Scott City. Dropping down off the flatlands, we entered a beautiful little canyon which is home to Lake Scott State Park. 

     

 
  
The park boasts several campgrounds, lake activities, hiking, and some unexpected archaeology: it has the furthest NE pueblo ruins. 

   
 
We set up camp right before the all-night rains began and had the entire campground to ourselves. After morning coffee, snug and warm in our cocoon, we drove over to the visitor’s center. The rain let up long enough for us to take a walk to the ruins and drive around the lake.  

   
We drove in to Scott City planning to visit the El Cuartelejo museum only to discover that we had been misinformed by the museum website. Instead of opening at 1000, they would open at 1300. 

We opted to drive on west to Canon City, CO, arriving in time for a visit and delicious meal with friends Marvin and Paula. 

Wandering Washington

Wandering Washington

Back in the U.S. of A., we had places to go and people to see.  First, however, we needed a quiet camp spot and a peaceful night.  We drove to Kayak Point County Park and found a nice spot with sites that were spaced well apart.  We hiked down to the beach, which turned out to be a climb down a long series of stairs.  Later in the evening, as we were preparing to go to bed, Mag heard music and asked “What is that sound? – it sounds like an ice cream truck!”  Indeed, the unmarked van came slowly through the campground in the dark and attracted a few kids wanting goodies, including Lar. Strange, and maybe even a bit creepy.

Ice Cream Man

Ice Cream Man

The next morning we set off to visit our friend Rennie, wife of our recently departed friend, Daryl.  Daryl, of AA Transaxle, was a highly respected and beloved part of the VW community.  Roadhaus herself is currently sporting one of Daryl’s transmissions.  We had been fortunate enough to spend 10 days with Rennie and Daryl in Baja, Mexico, last year and thoroughly enjoyed our time with them.  Daryl fought the good fight but lost his battle with cancer earlier this year.  We always remember him with his trademark big grin.

Rennie & Daryl

Rennie & Daryl

We stopped in Marysville to mail some packages and have lunch.  We had pizza and a huge salad at Christiano’s – good food at a very reasonable price, and more than we could eat.  We made our way to Duvall and found Rennie’s place in the country.  We were greeted by Rennie and by the “pup” Kobe – although he has grown a lot from photos we saw of him with Daryl.  After a fine dinner of Rennie’s lasagna, we visited and then went off to bed.

Matt, Rennie & Kobe

Matt, Rennie & Kobe

The next morning, Rennie and Daryl’s son Matt came, soon followed by his wife Erica and daughter Emma.  Matt is continuing the work of AA Transaxle with Erica’s help, and from all accounts they are doing very well.  We know that Matt had a good teacher.  Rennie and Mag went into town to visit the somewhat eclectic used bookstore and have lunch.  Later, Rennie took us to dinner at Ixtaca, a Mexican place in town.

Duvall Bookstore

Duvall Bookstore

After coffee next morning, we packed up and were off to East Wenatchee to visit Liz and Steve, and of course, Arlo the spotted one.  It was a beautiful day as we drove over Steven’s Pass and transitioned from a green, wet climate, to a dry, brown one.  We stopped in the picturesque German town of Leavenworth and had lunch.

Drive to East Wenatchee

Drive to East Wenatchee

Leavenworth

Leavenworth

Leavenworth

Leavenworth

We got to East Wenatchee and bonded with Arlo thanks to large quantities of dog biscuits, then visited with Liz until Steve got home.  We got a tour of Liz’ quilting room (impressive) and got a sneak peek at the quilt she made for Loren which would be presented to him at a campout later on.  It was gorgeous – with Constellations, Marine Corps, Bus and Martini inclusions.  After snacking on guacamole and Hatch green chile chips, Steve came and we were treated to a delicious dinner of smoked brisket, veggies, and to top it off – peach cobbler!

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Where the quilt magic happens

Steve and Liz shared an interesting video with us about dryland wheat farming – which is predominant in this part of the state – and included a “combine demolition derby.”  We visited some more and then went off to bed.  It was 94 degrees out (102 in the bus), so we opted to sleep in the air-conditioned guest room.

Steve, Liz & Arlo

Steve, Liz & Arlo

We were up and packed the next morning to head to the campout at Dosewallips State Park – a bit of a drive back around Puget Sound.  Liz, being as serious about coffee as we are, has an espresso machine, a Keurig, and a machine that makes cold coffee concentrate.  We had coffee!  Lar had put a few dog biscuits in the pocket of his cargo pants, so Arlo followed him all over the house, occasionally wheedling a treat from him.

Is that a biscuit in your pocket or are you just glad to see me?

Following Liz’ suggestion, we took the scenic route, Highway 12, along the Columbia River and later past the south side of Mount Rainier.

Columbia River

Columbia River

We stopped in the small town of Packwood which was having its semi-annual giant flea market.  It took over the town from one end to the other.  It was supposed to start on Friday, but as we passed by on Thursday, it was already packed with people, vendor tents, and food carts.

Packwood

Packwood

As we traveled on, we got a preview of Mount Rainier, with plans to visit later.

Along the Columbia

Along the Columbia

Along the Columbia

Along the Columbia

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

We stopped just short of I-5 to camp at Lewis and Clark State Park before continuing on to the Hood Canal & eventually Dosewallips state Park.

Hood Canal

Hood Canal

Dosewallips

Dosewallips

There were already a handful of buses there camped in the group area.  We picked a quiet spot on the edge of the camp and set up.  Several others came in during the late afternoon and evening, and we walked with friends Trina, Neil, and Joan to dinner at a local restaurant that had 2 for 1 steaks.  We were camped with friends Hobie on one side and Joan on the other.  Andrew and Amy provided us with a most delicious blueberry pie for dessert!

The tribe begins to gather

The tribe begins to gather

Curt, Joan & us.

Curt, Joan & us.

Hobie

Hobie

Folks

Folks

Good pie & a good man  ... Tuba Neil

Good pie & a good man … Tuba Neil

Around 10 p.m., when we had retired for the night, we heard a loud diesel truck coming in and looked out to see a Westy on a flatbed.  They drove into camp and unloaded the Westy into a camp spot.  It turned out that our friend Curt had found these folks broken down on the side of the road and talked them into having the bus towed to the campout.  Curt will do just about anything to recruit members to WetWesties!

Yup it's broken

Yup it’s broken

Saturday morning several would-be mechanics weighed in on the new Westy’s problems and determined that it wasn’t easily fixable, but would require major repairs – if not engine replacement.  Liz and Steve showed up to surprise Hobie and we had a visit from a fellow named Mike who happened to be passing by in his Westy and stopped to see what was going on.  It seems Mike has used the shop review pages from Roadhaus.com and was happy to meet Larry and have a picture taken with him.

Group Think

Group Think

It rained lightly off and on all day as more buses arrived to camp.  We later determined there were 36 buses present by the end of the weekend.  We made the rounds to visit and see what ideas we could pick up from other people’s modifications.  This is a favorite activity at campouts and everyone “borrows” ideas from everyone else.  The potluck was at 6 p.m. during a light rain, so was held under the picnic shelter.

Potluck

Potluck

The group photo  was also taken in the rain, and most everyone was a good sport as Rob tried to herd the  WetWesties cats into a soggy formation.

Group Photo

Group Photo

We then sat around in camp chairs under our awning and visited.

Campfire

Campfire

Sunday morning the sun was shining and gave everyone an opportunity to dry out awnings and camping gear.  We visited with Andrew, Amy, and their friend Sean while blueberry french toast was baking in their camp oven – Yum!  There were a handful of leftover squash from the garden that Andrew and Amy wished to give away – but there were few takers.  Larry aided the giveaway by “planting” a few squash in unoccupied Westies.

Where the culinary magic happens

Where the culinary magic happens

After breakfast, we packed up and headed to Hobie’s house for showers and cocktail hour, followed by dinner.  The next day was occupied by writing and laundry – so nice to have clean linens!  Maggie had to write a synopsis of the last 50 years for her high school’s upcoming reunion.   It’s not easy to fit 50 years into a page of text.  We cooked a nice dinner of roasted veggies and toasted pita and were off to bed early.

We left early for Rainier, following Hobie with some light rain off and on.  Hobie is a volunteer at Rainier National Park, and often hikes the trails there, answering questions and being a “good shepherd”.  We found adjoining campsites at White River Campground and paused long enough for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before heading up to Sunrise where the lodge and store are located.  From there we hiked to Frozen Lake and back.  It wasn’t raining during the hike, but it was quite cold and windy.  The rain held off until we got back to the lodge.  The clouds kept us from a view of Rainier, but made for some dramatic scenery.

Mt Rainier - Frozen Lake Trail

Mt Rainier – Frozen Lake Trail

Mt Rainier - Frozen Lake Trail

Mt Rainier – Frozen Lake Trail

Mt Rainier

Mt Rainier

Back at the campground, in the rain, we cooked a pot of chicken satay with rice and had Hobie into the bus for dinner.  We had Rennie’s peanut butter cookies for dessert.  We had to turn the Propex on as the temperatures dropped.  We felt a little sorry for the 3 adults and 2 children camped next to us in a small tent, who were cooking outside in the rain.  Bless the bus!

Okey Dokey

Okey Dokey

It was cold in the morning, so we baked cinnamon rolls in the camp oven and made coffee.  It was nice and cozy as we enjoyed breakfast with Hobie before packing up to leave.  We were sad to part with Hobie again as we said our goodbyes.  We finally got a spectacular view of Rainier from the campground as the skies cleared.  We drove up 410 to Chinook Pass where clouds and fog once again closed us in.  We spent 1/2 hour stopped on the highway as a crew was working on a huge rockfall that had blocked part of the highway.

It was a beautiful drive on down along the American River, continuing past Yakima to the Big Pines Campground on the Yakima River where we camped for the night.  It was a lovely spot in a canyon with only a handful of other campers.  We had no immediate neighbors except for the trains that pass by across the river.  We fortunately only heard them twice through the night, although we could have sworn they were coming right through the campground.  The temps remained in the 50s which was great for sleeping.

Big Pines Recreation Campground

Big Pines Recreation Site Campground

The geology here is fascinating in that there is a layer of “Mazama Ash” here that was formed during the eruption that created Crater Lake more than 300 miles away!  There are also huge lava fields here that buried 200,000 square miles of Oregon, Washington, and Idaho some 17 million years ago.  The Mazama Ash layer is a mere 6,000 years old.  It’s a dizzying layer cake, from basalt columns to vesicular lava as the icing on top.  Leaving the next morning, we drove through the remainder of the Yakima River Canyon on 821, enjoying the views and the sunshine.  We eventually got onto I-90 and headed for Spokane, stopping for lunch in Ritzville.

Ritzville

Ritzville

Reaching Spokane, we found a campsite at Riverside State Park on the west side of town.  We showered and set up camp and built a fire.  Finally – no fire restrictions here.

Riverside State Park - Bowl and Picture Campground:

Riverside State Park – Bowl and Picture Campground

Next morning, after visiting with Westy owners Bill and Ann, who were traveling with family and tent-camping, we packed up and went into Spokane for some coffee and sight-seeing.  We parked in downtown Spokane and walked around Riverfront Park – a very nice area where the Spokane River and Falls are located.  It is beautifully landscaped and has a sky tram, clock tower, and some interesting sculpture.  We left Spokane around noon, heading east toward Glacier National Park.  We were looking forward to new adventures, but already missing the friends and places we had visited in the Pacific Northwest.  We’ll be back!

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

Riverfront Park

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

Vancouver to Chilliwack and wondrous worlds within

August 18 – After coffee, we packed up and drove to the ferry at Horseshoe Bay.  This was our sixth ferry of the trip and a big one, the Queen of Surrey.  It has two car decks and can hold up to 1500 passengers and 362 vehicles.  It took us about 45 minutes to get to Vancouver and we drove in traffic across the Lions Gate Bridge only to discover that the RV park we were spending the night in was back on the other side of the bridge.

Queen of Surrey / Photo courtesy of West Coast Ferries Forum

Queen of Surrey Photo by West Coast Ferries Forum

We eventually made our way to the Capilano River RV Park and found a camp site.  The sites are very small and crowded together, but not as bad as at the park in Victoria.  We discovered later that Andrew and Amy had camped there just the day before after her bicycle ride from Seattle to Vancouver.  We parked and walked to a nearby mall to find a pharmacy and post office, eat dinner, and head back across the Capilano River to the bus.

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Capilano River RV Park

A man emerged from the older white Chevy Astro parked next to us.  He introduced himself and told us that he writes articles for the German National Geographic and that he and his wife had just come back from Alaska where they were recording Alaskan brown bears, aka Kodiak bears.  He was telling us how large they are when Mag asked if they were as big as Grizzly bears.  “Much bigger” he reported and brought out his laptop to show photos he had taken during the trip.  The male Kodiak bear averages 1000 to 1200 lbs. but can reach 1500 lbs.  Adult male grizzlies average 400-800 lbs.  That’s the short version.  Here is a link to his website. Sprechen sie Deutsch?

www.schriddels.com

We showered in the nice clean RV Park facilities and then slept fairly well considering we were under the east end of the Lions Gate Bridge.  We had plans for the rest of the week to stay in a downtown hotel so that we could walk to most of the places we wanted to see.  The next morning we drove through Stanley Park, stopping to take walks and pictures.

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View from Stanley Park

Then we were on to the Museum of Anthropology at the University of BC.  We spent three hours at this fantastic museum.  It had large native peoples exhibits as well as well-organized displays from around the world.  We cannot say enough about the well thought out displays at this museum.  It’s a must if you visit Vancouver!  Prepare for an overdose of pictures:

MOA

MOA

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The international section of the museum, known as the Multiversity Galleries, was quite large and impressive.  The drawers you see under the displays are all full of artifacts under glass.

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

Multiversity Gallery

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Multiversity Gallery

We checked in at our downtown hotel and went to look for parking.  The Roadhaus + rocket box is 8’ 6” and wouldn’t fit in the hotel’s parking garage.  The nearby street lots were undesirable so we ended up parking more than a mile away in a well-lighted bus lot.  We walked back to the hotel, stopping for a delicious dinner at Cavo, a sidewalk cafe serving Mediterranean food, which Maggie had been craving.

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Cavo

We were up early the next morning as our friend Bernie was picking us up for coffee.  Bernie is one of our favorite people – always interesting, always entertaining and an icon in the VW Bus Community.

Here is a link to a recent BBC article that features Bernie:

Freedom rides on four wheels

A coffee aficionado like ourselves, he wanted us to try the “Best coffee in Vancouver” at a place called Revolver.  They use many different varieties and grind just enough for each cup.  They use a variation on our pour-over method.  Lar says it was the best cup of coffee ever.

Revolver Coffee

Revolver Coffee

After coffee, Bernie drove us through Chinatown and dropped us off in Gas Town where we could do the tourist thing.  We enjoyed traipsing through the shops and buying trinkets and t-shirts for family, but it was a bit tiring.  We lunched at an Indian Restaurant and engaged in people watching.

Gas Town

Gas Town

Steam Clock

Steam Clock

Gas Town

Gas Town

We then walked over to Chinatown where we visited a few of the shops, then took a break and of course had coffee.

China Town

China Town

China Town

China Town

China Town

China Town

Waves

Waves

At the coffee shop we asked around to see if anyone could tell us where to find the Jimi Hendrix shrine that Mag had read about.  No one had heard of it.  Mag did some web searching and found the address and we soon located it on a side street.  It was interestingly minimalistic (i.e., not much there) but we took photos and moved on.  It seems Jimi’s grandmother, Nora Hendrix, had worked as a cook there when it was  “Vie’s Chicken and Steakhouse” and Jimi had played there when he lived in Vancouver.  The story goes that he lived in the building for a short time.

Jimi Hendrix Shrine

Jimi Hendrix Shrine

It was going to be a bit of a walk back to the hotel and it appeared from the maps that there was a casino roughly half-way there.  We disagreed on which route to take, but Mag gave in and we went the way Lar suggested.  We eventually made it to the casino (enough said).  Although it was not a profitable venture, there were two good things about the casino:  It was ALL nonsmoking and it had a slot machine that looked suspiciously like a VW bus!  We made the long walk back to the hotel with cameras, backpack and purse, and bags of tourist junk – an exhausting day!

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Edgewater Casino

August 21 – Mag’s 68th birthday.  We walked down Hornby Street to the water taxis that would take us to Granville Island Public Market.  We spent roughly three hours walking around the market area.  Like the market in Seattle, there were all kinds of food, flowers, and other goods.  The bakery goods were irresistible so we had coffee and a pastry.  We did some more people watching and added boat watching as there was a show of wooden boats at the market’s marina.

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market

We took the water taxi back across the bay and walked to the hotel.  Later in the day, Bernie and Vivian picked us up to take us to dinner at Naam, a vegetarian restaurant.  The food was delicious and the company was great.  Vivian is one of the most traveled people we have ever met – and someone we can completely identify with!  They then drove us all around different areas of Vancouver before stopping for coffee and almond cookies.

The Naam ... Photo Art by Nick Kenrick

The Naam … Photo Art by Nick Kenrick

Vancouver

Vancouver

Up early the next morning, we packed up and Lar made the long trek to retrieve the bus.  We were heading out to Chilliwack to visit Maggie’s friend and former roommate, Sharon, and her husband Mike.  Mag and Sharon shared an apartment in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, some 26 years ago.  It was time for a reunion!

Arriving in Chilliwack in the afternoon, we enjoyed a visit sitting on Sharon and Mike’s patio in perfect BC weather.  It turns out that Mike is a fantastic cook and he made a delicious dinner of curried beef and rice.  He gave us a tour of the greenhouse and garden that supplies many of their vegetables.  We noted an entire bookcase full of cook books and decided we just might stay!  Now both retired, they each have their hobbies.  Sharon is an artist and now has an art studio in the backyard.  We enjoyed both of their masterpieces – both artistic and culinary.

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Sharon & Mike and the art studio

The next morning, after chowing down on Mike’s huevos rancheros and tortillas, we drove to the Heron Reserve, one of their volunteer projects.  We walked a couple of trails and took a few pictures, then drove to downtown Chilliwack for coffee and a walk around.  Dinner that night – a coffee slathered pork tenderloin with corn on the cob and salad – was fabulous.  We dined on the patio and then played a few games of Mexican Train.  It was going to be difficult to say goodbye!

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve

Great Blue Heron Nature Reserve

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

 Java Art

Java Art

Maggie and Sharon had a great reunion visit and called up another former roommate, Helen, who lives in Ontario.  Now if we can just figure out how to all get together!

The next morning we lounged around the patio with coffee, had a late breakfast, and headed off for the border crossing.  We needed to get rid of a few Canadian coins, so stopped at Tim Horton’s and picked up a box of donuts (!).  We were randomly stopped at the border but only got a cursory search.  They asked what was in the rocket box and Mag said “a didgeridoo”.  They opted not to open it.  Back in the U.S.A., land of cheap(er) gas and groceries.

For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry

Coffee Obsession Digression

We are going off topic here as a Public Service Announcement.

It’s time to talk coffee.

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For those of you who reside in the Pacific Northwest, you are excused – go have a carmel macchiato latte with low-fat milk and a double shot or something.  For those of you living in a relative java wasteland, listen up.  If you have a Starbucks, even one that is located in a grocery store, and you buy coffee there, give yourself a pat on the back.

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At least you’re not drinking stuff that comes in a red or blue plastic tub on the shelf at Walmart.

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Still, we are sorry to tell you that you are missing out.  Do you drive more than a half-mile without seeing a coffee drive-thru or espresso hut?  You obviously do not live in a serious zone of caffeination like the PNW.  We would like to bring you out of coffee purgatory and into java nirvana – out of the darkness and into the light as it were (except we prefer the dark roasts).

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We spent our summer in the Pacific Northwest – specifically Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia – where it is difficult to find a bad cup of coffee.  Every town, village, or spot in the road sports at least one espresso hut – but often, many.

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In one small town we passed through in Washington, there were four in a two-block area.

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Our current hometown in Oklahoma has only one grocery-store Starbucks and nothing else.  Nada.  Zip.  A big zero.  A few years ago there was a coffee hut on one of our busy streets, and there used to be a coffee house downtown – although their coffee wasn’t very good.  Restaurant coffee in the area is of the “made it this morning, been sitting on the burner all day” variety.

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We would like to make the case that more good coffee – and more coffee drive-thru huts – are needed in the middle of the country.  Please help elevate the coffee tastes in your area.

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Support your local coffee hut if you have one.  Consider a start-up if you don’t.  We’ll be there!

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And while you are at it, join our Panera for Ponca Facebook page – at least they know how to make coffee.

With coffee love,

Larry and Maggie

The Grand Circle – Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast

August 7 – We headed north out of Victoria on Highway 1 with Campbell River as our destination.  Driving north past Nanaimo, we turned on to 19A which went along the coast of the Strait of Georgia, which runs between Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia.  We got to Campbell River and were directed in by our good friend Phil Z.   Lar and Phil had traveled together through British Columbia, Yukon, and parts of Alaska several years ago and Lar was anxious to catch up.  We looked forward to traveling and camping with Phil on the Sunshine Coast.

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Straight of Georgia

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Phil & Larry

We visited and took a walk along the shore to a nearby pub for dinner.  There is a good bike/walking trail along the shore which passes the 50th parallel.  The weather was excellent, with comfortable days and cool nights, ranging 58-60 degrees.  We had been fortunate to experience these same nighttime temps for the last several weeks.

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The next morning, Phil drove us up to Mt. Washington.  It is a ski area in winter with tubing tunnels for the kids and a conveyor to bring them back up the hill.  During summer, they have other activities including chair lifts for hikers and bikers to get up the mountain.  We had lunch there in the bar and grill and walked around a bit.  Phil and Maggie seemed to be in sync.

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Tubing Tunnel

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Maggie & Phil

Seeing as how it was too cold and windy for a hike on the mountain, we opted instead to take another shore walk to get coffee and ice cream.  Here we plotted our trip across the Salish Sea to the “Sunshine Coast”, which required taking a ferry—one of several on this trip.  Our plan was to camp on the coast and eventually join up with other friends, Cheri and Trevor from Gibsons.

We were up early, packed and followed Phil to the ferry – a 40 minute drive.  Phil is currently driving a Honda Element as his Westy is undergoing a major renovation – both inside and out and including an engine transplant.  We got on the ferry – first in line – and went up to an upper deck for coffee and breakfast.  The ferries we’ve ridden so far have fairly decent coffee and food.  In fact, everywhere we’ve traveled in the PNW, we noted that it was difficult to find bad coffee.

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Ferry to Powell River

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Ferry Breakfast

We got into Powell River and stopped at a coffee shop to get a few minutes of wifi.  And then one of those Vanagon synchronicity events imposed itself into our morning.  A fellow came up to the table, pointed at the Roadhaus, and said “Are you the people with the VW?”  We nodded assent and he began talking about a bus he had previously owned, which had been wrecked.  He introduced himself as “Roger” and after a short conversation, Phil said “Oh, I know you”, and they talked a bit and Roger said to Phil “Oh yes, I know who you are.”  Phil then pointed at Larry and said “This is Larry Chase” and Roger said “Oh, I know you—Roadhaus”.  Maggie then asked Roger what his last name was.  “Whitaker” he replied, and she said “Oh, you’re the one who rolled his bus in Wyoming, lost your cat, and then recovered it a few days later!”  It turns out that the cat made the national news.  Roger entertained us with a few stories about the area and how he came for a vacation and never left.

Wavey the Cat

Wavey the Cat

Wavey the Cat Story Link: Click Here

We pushed on north to a free campground called Dinner Rock which is right on the coast.  We lucked out and got the primo campsite on the rocks above the shore with an unimpeded view of the sea and Savary Island.  We set up camp and noted two other Westys nearby.  We spent a leisurely afternoon watching boats, birds, and the occasional seal.  We cooked outside and had a spaghetti dinner, noting the presence of mosquitoes.  The sunset was gorgeous and lasting, but the mosquitoes increased in numbers and soon ran everyone inside.  When I looked out  at the screen, there were a couple dozen mosquitoes attached, trying to get in.  Our bug zapper, “The Executioner” came in handy once again.

Dinner Rock Campsite

Dinner Rock Campsite

Sunset at Dinner Rock

Sunset at Dinner Rock

Mag awoke at 5:30 and peeked out to see a full moon shining across the water from Savary Island and got up to take pictures.  After second coffee “on the rocks”, two women came by who turned out to be in the Westys parked near us.  They visited and told us they lived nearby and that they were glad we had gotten the favored camp site since we were from out of town.

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Moon over Savary Island

We took Phil’s car into Lund, the town north of the campground and the northern terminus of Highway 101 – the Coast Highway.  We had lunch at Nancy’s Bakery and walked around the village.  We drove over to Marine Park – a Provincial Park campground and marina.  Back in camp, it was dinner, sit by the water, and experience another peaceful evening.

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Nancy’s Bakery

The Historic Lund Hotel

Lund Marina

Lund Marina

The next day was relaxed with a short hike up to an overlook, lots of relaxing by the water, and cooking on the outside stove and the camp oven.  We made popcorn and Lar grilled chicken for dinner.  Mosquitoes again made the nighttime unpleasant, but we slathered ourselves in insect repellent and stayed out for one last sunset in this beautiful place.

On the rocks

On the rocks

Dinner Rock Sunset 2

Dinner Rock Sunset 2

The next morning we packed up and drove into Powell River where we scored coffee, showers, and laundry.  We headed off to Saltery Bay to a campground close to the ferry we would take the next morning.  We walked down to the water to Mermaid Cove where a mermaid statue is located 60 feet down offshore, seen only by divers and fish.  We were off to bed early and awakened to light rain.  We had to pack everything up wet.  We invited Phil into the “living room” for morning coffee while it rained.

River City Coffee

River City Coffee

Mermaid Campground

Mermaid Cove Campground

We lined up for the ferry next morning from Saltery Bay to Earl’s Cove – a 45 minute ride.  We drove into the small community of Egmont where we stocked up on last-minute supplies (and ice cream bars).  We drove on to Klein’s Lake where we would meet Cheri and Trevor and found a nice site on the south side of the lake with a dock.  We sat out on the deck in camp chairs and watched canoes and a turtle that seemed to be begging for treats.  We put the awning out as it began raining lightly.  It continued to mist and rain intermittently so the three of us sat and visited until almost dark.

Ferry to Gibsons

Saltery Bay to Earl’s Cove Ferry

Mag

Mag .. photo courtesy of Phil Zimmerman

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The next morning everything was wet and dripping but the rain had stopped.  We went for a walk around the lake and then Lar took a swim off the dock, while Mag declined.  We moved to the campsite next door when it became available as it had an unobstructed view of the lake.  Late in the afternoon, a woman showed up in a Westy with her dog and said that she was supposed to meet Trevor & Cheri there.  It turned out Trevor had replaced her skylight that morning and she was invited to camp with us.  She said her name was Krystel and she reported that she was 80 years old and was the original owner of her Westy.  We thought her quite adventurous to be out camping with strangers in her bus.  We helped set her up in the site next to us.  Trevor and Cheri rolled in later. as they had stopped to pick up a canoe that Trevor had built.  Trevor and Cheri are more “new old friends” that we have known for some time but never met.  It was time to remedy that situation.

Trevor's handmade Maine Guide Boat

Trevor’s Maine Guide Boat

The sun came out and dried a few things out.  We visited and went off to bed, glad that the rain had stopped.  We later saw some precursor lightning off in the distance.  Before long the rains came in force.  It thundered, lightninged and poured through the night.  Lar got up around 0500 and adjusted the awning which was sagging badly.  By morning, everything we had not put away was soaked – all the cooking supplies on the picnic table, lawn chairs, etc.  It continued to rain as we moved things under the awning and put a tarp over the picnic table.  The camp area was a mud bath and we pondered the name “Sunshine Coast”.  Phil allowed as how he had experienced enough of camping in the Honda and headed back home to Campbell River.  We were sorry to see him go.

Phil, Cheri, Trevor & Larry's hand.

Phil, Cheri, Trevor & Larry’s hand.

Phil Cheri, Trevor, Krystel & Larry

Phil, Trevor, Krystel, Cheri & Larry

We hiked a couple of miles up to the Sunshine Coaster Trail and back.  We saw the first of several black slugs that are common in the area.  Cheri and Trevor took the canoe out onto the lake and Lar and I sat out on the dock experimenting with the digeridoo.  Trevor and Cheri commented later that they thought there were elk bugling in the forest.  Other friends of theirs, Tammy and Chris, and Nathan and Kim, arrived and camped with us.  That evening we sat around under the awning while Chris played banjo and sang along with Tammy.  Cheri introduced us to her birthday present – a bottle of Sortilege Maple Syrup whiskey – which she graciously shared.  It was a very pleasant end to a soggy day.

Slug

Slug

Didgeridoo

Didgeridoo

Tammy, Chris & Cheri

Tammy, Chris & Cheri

 

Larry, Maggie, Cheri & Trevor

Larry, Maggie, Cheri & Trevor

Cheri's birthday treat

Cheri’s birthday treat

The next morning we packed up and got a late start to hike the Skookumchuck Narrows Trail.  You have to love some of the names, native inspired, that are found in the PNW:  Snoqualamie, Dosewallips, Kootenai, Coquitlam, – well you get the idea.  The spellcheck is going nuts.  We had lunch overlooking the marina in Egmont and then hit the trail.  Skookumchuck means “strong waters”.  The narrows are a spot in the long Sechelt channel that constrict the flow of water into and out of the Georgia Strait.  At high tide you get rapids and at low tide you get whirlpools.  The tide was going out and we watched someone’s dock float down the inlet and circle the whirlpools.

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Skookumchcuk Narrows Trail

Skookumchcuk Narrows Trail

Skookumchcuk Narrows Vegetation

Skookumchcuk Narrows Vegetation

Skookumchcuk Narrows

Skookumchcuk Narrows

On the way back to the buses, we stopped at a bakery/coffeehouse in the forest.  It is about 1/4 mile from the public parking area, so a walk for anyone wanting goodies – but well worth the walk!

The Green Rosette Bake Shop

The Green Rosette Bake Shop

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The Green Rosette Bake Shop

After the hike we headed out toward Gibsons, stopping at Sechelt for showers at the marina.  There happened to be a wedding in progress at the marina and, as we were heading for the showers, the bride was being escorted off her yacht and up the gangway.

Pender Harbour Marina

Pender Harbour Marina

When we arrived in Gibsons, we camped with Trevor and Cheri at Chris and Tammy’s place, although they had remained at Klein’s Lake.  They have fixed their sizeable yard up so friends can camp there – complete with covered table and chairs, fire pit, and the all-important pit toilet.  Let us digress for a moment here to note that Mag’s only real complaint about the Sunshine Coast was pit toilets.  She says she would be happy to never see one again.  She says the only thing they are good for is developing strong quadriceps.  Enough said.

Trevor built us a campfire, which was a real treat because we had been under a fire ban all the way down the coast.  Nothing warms you up like a roaring campfire.  Trevor and Cheri provided salmon and we roasted veggies in the oven – a nice hot meal to add to the warm fire.  The next morning we had scrambled eggs and fresh biscuits to get us going.  They took us for a tour of their office and work space – vanagonwestfaliaparts.com – and then we took the canoe to the beach and launched it so that Trevor could row it home.  This is the easiest way to get it home as the access to their coastal cabin has been described as a “goat trail”.

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That evening – after obligatory laundry duties – we went down to the marina and walked around.  Cheri previously lived on her boat and also once managed the marina – Smitty’s Marina – location of the old Beachcomber TV series. She gave us a tour and a bit of history of the places there.  One “boat” was of particular interest – owned by a woman who has covered the 4-part structure with flowers.  Each section has a motor attached since all structures there have to be “sea-worthy”.  Trevor showed us the wooden boat he had built and took us for a ride around the bay.  The weather was perfect.  We dined at a Mexican restaurant and then said our goodbyes.  They went home and we camped again at Chris and Tammy’s in preparation for heading out in the morning for the ferry to Vancouver.  We loved the Sunshine Coast, even when the sun wasn’t shining – and we particularly enjoyed friends old and new.

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Flower boat home

Flower boat home

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For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;

Photo Gallery Link: Click Here

Happy trails … Maggie & Larry