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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Following Liz’ suggestion, we took the scenic route, Highway 12, along the Columbia River and later past the south side of Mount Rainier.
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.
As we traveled on, we got a preview of Mount Rainier, with plans to visit later.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
We then sat around in camp chairs under our awning and visited.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
For more photos of this part of the trip, click the link below;
Happy trails … Maggie & Larry