July 2005

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Saturday, July 2

Yes, we're still in the Reno area.  Currently boondocked at the Boomtown Casino in Verdi, NV.  Weather is improving (getting cooler) and we hope to stay in the area until about the 6th or 7th.  Then head out for Redmond, OR and the "Great North American RV Rally".

 

Gambling Update:

If you don't gamble, you might want to skip the next few paragraphs.

 YAHOO!  Last night was a good one, and we are back to being ahead vs. being even.  Three very nice wins:

1.  Chris finally hit a Royal Flush for the first time in 2 years.  She was playing quarter 8/5 bonus poker progressive, but the RF had just been hit by someone else so it was $1000.75.  Coincidence that I called her while she was waiting at the machine to be paid.  Had a little celebration on the phone.

2.  I had called her with my own good news.  I finally placed in the money in a poker tournament here.  I've played 6 now in this area, and was at the final table 2 times before but finished just one or two out of the money.  This time it was a small $100 freezeout at the Peppermill with 3 tables and about 35 player including alternates.  They paid 5 places, and I was 4th for a little over $450.  I had a great run early in the tournament and built a very nice chip stack, leading at my table.  Mostly just great cards, but a little skill too as I made good plays busting out 2 people.  When we combined tables my stack about average.  Other than two guys who were a little drunk I think I was outclassed by most of the table.  After the drunks busted out I was all in with AJs and won about 3k almost doubling me up and making the table 6 handed.  I got a really bad run of cards (hey, if it wasn't for luck Phil Helmuth would win every time) and against some really good players I just ran out of chips trying a couple of unsuccessful bluffs, and folding 10-4, 7-2, 8-3, etc. etc. etc. But I managed to hang on long enough to place.

3.  After all this I joined Chris at Boomtown and I decided to play craps for fun.  I had a  very nice session on the craps table.  In the past I have studied precision shooting (aka dice control, dice setting etc.).  For info take a look at this site: www.dicesetter.com  I'm no good at it, so I don't play craps often.  But I can promise you that there ARE people out there who can do it, I've seen them, and I've made a bunch of money betting on them.  Anyway, I bought in for $100 on a $5 table and made about $50 when a guy started setting the dice and hitting numbers.  I started setting too (why not, can't hurt) and long story short I walked away with $375.

Quick gambling update; now we're really cooking!  Chris hit another progressive Royal Flush on quarters for over $1900 and I hit one the next night for $1700.  That makes this a winning trip overall, and takes us into the plus side for the last 2 years.  We had been down a little bit -- but not if you count value of our comps.  If you count comps we're WAY up! 

Sunday, July 10

I know, we promised you the "daily details"  and "all the mundane little things we do" and now we're skipping days.  OK, we'll get back on track -- someday soon!  :-)

For now, here's an update on our travels.  We finally did leave the Reno / Verdi area and traveled north to Redmond Oregon and the "Great North American RV Rally" (hereafter called the GNARV Rally for short).  We usually don't travel far in a day, only 50 to 200 miles on average ,but this time we wanted to get on up the road so we did about 400 miles on Saturday, July 9th.  Along the way we enjoyed the changes in landscape, from desert to forest and everything in between.  We also did some basic sight-seeing of natural beauty, like the following photos show:

Waiting on the clouds to move so we can get our first look at Mt. Shasta.  Will have to wait

until we're farther down the road.

 

Mt. Shasta, WOW what an impressive sight!

 

We spent Saturday night along with 20 other rigs in the parking lot of the Kla-Mo-Ya Casino in Chiloquin, Oregon just north of Klamath Falls.  If you ever pass that way, pass that way.  What I mean to say is, don't even THINK about gambling here.  You may as well just write out a check to them and drop it off.  The Video Poker pay tables were the worst I've ever seen.  Imagine 8/5 Double Bonus!  How about 6/5 JOB?  Then there's Bonus Poker, it looks like an 8/5 machine, but then you see that 2 pair only pays 1 (same as 1 pair) so it's a dog too.  No VP machine paying over 95% in the place, and many much worse.  So if the VP is that bad, how do you think the slots are?  My only recommendation would be to play at the Blackjack tables.

Two positive comments however.  1.  They have a snack bar that makes good hamburgers and fries at a reasonable price.  2. They did let us park in their parking lot.

So, here we are at the GNARV Rally.  We're moved in at one of the dry camping lots and ready for a few days of fun and RV product shopping.  Today was an "early arrival" day and they tell me this lot will have 2x as many RV's tomorrow.  It's one of about 9 large lots, so you know this is a huge event!

Photo of our camping lot from the roof of our RV

 

 

I havenít written much about what weíve been up to lately.  So Iím just going to start here and play catch up.

We got up this morning and continued to Redmond Oregon.  Weíre scheduled for early arrival which means we need to get there before noon.

We get there and get checked into our parking spot.  There are several locations for all the RVís that are expected to be here.  Our lot is in a farmerís field.  Right next to our field is another field with about 4 horses in it.  There is also a large pile of rocks that have several Rock Chucks in them.  Weíve never seen Rock Chucks before, theyíre kind of cute.  (looks like a Woodchuck to me --Mac)  After we get set up on our spot Mac takes one of the shuttle buses and goes over to get our badges and information packet about the rally.

For dinner tonight we grilled out and had hamburgers!  Itís nice to be able to grill out again.  When parking in a businessí parking lot proper etiquette dictates that you donít put out the awnings, lawn chairs, grill, etc.  So it was very nice to be able to put out the awning, get out the table and chairs, grill some burgers and sit outside enjoying the breeze.

We are supposed to be in a no generator parking area.  Several of the other RVís around donít seem to know that.  We also think itís funny that right near our bedroom window is a light with a generator that is cranked up before dark and runs all night long.  Oh what a delightful sound to go to sleep by!

 

Monday, July 11:

We got up and did some work this morning.  Then we drove to Bend to the Staples store to return an item.  We had lunch in Bend at a Chinese Restaurant.  We havenít had Chinese food in a long time but this was just mediocre food, oh, well.  We had seen 3 thrift stores so on the way back we stopped at each of them and went through them quickly.

After we got back we head over to the rally area.  It is huge!  There are a lot of RVís set up in the front to look at.  Then there are the buildings with all the vendors located inside of them.  There are golf carts around that have handicapped signs on them that are for the handicapped to catch a ride on to wherever they want to go at the rally.  We catch one and go over to one of the buildings where the vendors are located.

This is our first rally and itís not what we expected.  We expected there to be more of the stuff that we are interested in buying.  There are a lot of vendors but none had what we were looking for.  We did enjoy walking around and seeing some of the stuff.  But itís a lot of walking.  My knee did not like the walking at all.  So thankfully we caught a ride back to the shuttle bus stop with one of the security golf carts.  I donít think I could have made it back to the bus stop without their kind help.

Redmond Oregon is not usually as warm as it is expected to be today and tomorrow.  I think itís in the upper 80ís and tomorrow is supposed to be low 90ís.  Itís too warm to cook this evening and weíre tired from all the walking we did today so we went out to eat tonight.  We went to The Brand Restaurant for dinner.  It was good food and we enjoyed it very much.

Tuesday, July 12

I didnít enjoy walking around yesterday at the rally very much, so I decide Iím not going back today.  Mac went in the afternoon and looked around more and I stayed home and read a book.  After Mac got back we decided to go out to eat again.  We went to Shariís Restaurant.  This is a chain of restaurants in the west but weíve never been so we decided to try it out.  Tuesday they have a special of all you can eat fish and shrimp so we both ordered that.  The shrimp was good and we ate several.  Our waitress had a pin with 100 on it located on her nametag, so I asked her about it.  Shariís rewards them for every 100 customers that they get to know.  They have to take a test and answer questions about the 100 customers to prove they know the customers.  Then they get a nice bonus, their name on a plaque and the pin to wear.  She told us that one of the waitressí there was up to around 1,000.

After dinner we went to Safeway to get some groceries for our journey.  Then back to the RV and beddie bye to the sound of the generator.

We're heading out tomorrow.  We enjoyed the rally in some ways, and in other ways were disappointed. 

Positive:  Met some very nice people, saw some new rigs and got some good ideas for things.  Also bought a much needed water pressure regulator (large home style unit, not those wimpy little things in the camping store that look about the size of a spray nozzle.).  Enjoyed browsing lots of products.  Also, I was finally able to meet Bill Adams and his wife Janet, my Datastorm dealers, in person.  

Negative:  Didn't find the vendor displays to be what we expected.  Many were cool, but it was more like a trade show.  I expected more variety, and more vendors with large stocks of misc. items (kind of like you see at a swap meet or a flea market).  For example, one big thing I was looking for was 12 volt lighting.  I want to replace 5 reading lights, 2 in the bedroom and 3 in the living room.  Expected at least one or two lighting vendors would show up and that we'd be able to choose from several models.  None at all were here, zip, zero, none. 

Another negative was our camping lot.  We signed up for the "No Generators" lot.  (Other variations included Electric hookup, Generators with restrictions, and Generators 24/7).  Well, what do you suppose we found outside our bedroom window in the "NO Generator" lot?  An industrial generator, with big lights on top.  They had them all around the lot!  And they started them at dusk and ran them ALL NIGHT until daybreak. 

So tomorrow we're moving on and continuing our adventure, traveling north to the Columbia river, West to Portland, and then deciding whether to go North up the Washington coastline, or South down the Oregon coastline.  Either way we're going to get a good look at the Pacific ocean!

Wednesday, July 13

Today we left the rally and headed North and West towards Portland.  Traveling by US 97 to I-87.  Heading North on US 97 it was a clear day, blue skies, and we could see beautiful mountains in the distance.

But which mountain was which?  Was this Mt. Hood?  Or was it Mt. Jefferson.  It would be great, we thought, if we knew which was which.  Well, just South of the small town of Shaniko we came upon a "Mountain Identifier" site.  It was very cool.  Click on the photo below, or on this link to see more.

Later we came to the beautiful Columbia river.  What a sight!  We followed the river on I-87, stopping a couple of times to see the sights.  Lots of people windsurfing on the river, and all in wet suits.  I stuck a foot in and the water seems to be about 67 degrees to my uncalibrated skin!


We got up this morning and worked on the business side of life.  Then we cleaned up the RV interior really well.  There had been so much dust here at the lot we parked in for the rally.  We were parked right beside one of the roads around the lot and every time a car drove by the dust would come right through the windows of the RV; so it was really dusty inside.

After cleaning up the RV we hit the road about noon.  We had decided to leave the rally early.  I think the rally runs through Friday but we had seen all that we wanted to see so away we go.

We discussed where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see.  I miss seeing water as far as I can see so we are heading up to Portland Oregon and then Washington.  We plan to drive down the coast heading south; weíve heard that heading south is best because the pull offs are all located on the beach side of the road.  I can hardly wait to see the ocean!

We called our mail service and asked that our mail be sent to us in Portland OR and it should arrive on Friday.  We head north on Hwy 97.  I knew that the interior of Oregon didnít get as much rain as the coastal region but itís really arid here.  Itís pretty, but since it doesnít get much rain it isnít green.  It is different than what I expected Oregon to be.  There are views of snow capped mountains that are spectacular to see.  As Mac has mentioned we stopped at the mountain identifier stop and gazed in wonder at the mountains that we could see.

We drove on up Hwy 97 and the hit Interstate 84 along the Columbia River.  Wow! It is so beautiful!  Since we are driving here in the afternoon the winds have picked up.  There are wind surfers out on the water and they seem to be flying across the water.  There are small white caps on the water.  The water looks very clean too.  We stop at one of the first parks that we come to so that we can get close to the water.  We walked down to the river edge and watched the wind surfers on the river.  Along the edge of the river here I see no debris.  It is very clean.  We stick our feet in the water, brrgh it is cold!  The wind surfers all are wearing wet suits.  Gee, I wonder why!

Oregon is a very RV friendly state.  There are many free dump stations.  Mac had previously picked up a brochure with all the locations listed.  So we stopped at one of the ones listed here along Columbia River and dumped our tanks and filled up with fresh water.  There was a box for donations so we made a donation for this great service.

We head on west towards Portland.  It is so pretty driving beside the river.  We stop in the town of Hood River to spend the night.  We find the Wal-Mart there and set up for the evening.  By bed-time there are about 20 RVís and campers stopped here for the night.

Thursday, July 14:

We head out this morning after breakfast and working some.  We were one of the last to leave Wal-Mart.  We continue heading west along the river.  We had a little excitement this morning.  We took the exit for one of the many parks along the river.  It was around the Cascade Locks, but I donít remember the name of the park and there was also something about Bridge of the Gods mentioned for the exit.  Mac thought it would be a natural wonder but I thought it would be a bridge.  We were both right.  Hereís a link to a picture and legend of the bridge: http://www.brownlog.dreamhost.com/photooftheweek/2000/2000q4/20001203.html

The road goes under the railroad track through a narrow underpass, with an immediate left turn that proved to be too hard for the RV pulling the car.  We had to drive up on the grass to make the turn.  There were metal stakes in the grass along the edge of the road.  So Mac got out and pulled about 3 or 4 of them out so we could make the turn.  Of course, he put them back when we were done.  But this place didnít have any day parking big enough for us so we went through the camping area to get turned around and left.

We continued west and saw a sign for Multnomah Falls, so we took the exit.  Fortunately, there was parking available that we could fit into.  It was around lunchtime so we made this our lunch stop.  After eating we walked over to see the Falls.  Wow!  From the parking lot we could see the upper fall and it is beautiful.  We walked over using the pedestrian underpass.  Thereís a restaurant, gift shop, snack bar, etc. there for people stopping to see the falls.  We walked up the path and saw the upper and lower falls.  Thereís also a path that you can follow to get up higher and closer to the falls but we didnít go up it because of my knee.  There are also hiking trails that Iím sure are great to walk along. 

Photo of Multnomah Falls.  The sun wasn't at the best angle and lots of mist in the air from the falls, but it's still pretty!

The Multnomah Waterfalls fall about 620 feet, itís the 2nd highest waterfall in the US and itís totally free to see!  Mac says itís not free because we bought stuff in the gift shop.  The gift shop has pictures of the falls in the winter time when itís frozen, it looks very pretty but weíre not coming in the winter to see it, it looks too cold!  Hereís a link to a virtual tour of the Multnomah Falls: http://www.virtualguidebooks.com/Oregon/PortlandColumbiaGorge/Multnomah/Multnomah_TOC.html

After our lunch stop we got back on the road and headed for Portland.  We drove into Portland and headed north on Interstate 205 to Washington.  We stopped at the rest stop about exit 9.  Mac wanted to pick up some information about Washington.  The information centers have a lot of free information about the state.  This rest area was not an information center but there were several free brochures that we picked up.  Thereís also a free dump station here.  Thankfully, we didnít need to dump since we dumped yesterday because there was a line of about 6 RVís waiting to dump and fill with fresh water.

We drove back to Vancouver and found a Wal-Mart to spend the night at.  By bedtime there were about 10 of us parked here for the night.

We saw a really cool rig at the rest area.  It was a hotrod, pulling a low-rider, brushed aluminum Teardrop camper!  Check out this photo:

 


 


Weíve mentioned before that we have a cat that travels with us.  His name is K.C. short for Kitty Cat and heís about 17 years old.  He travels very well, but he doesnít enjoy looking out the window when weíre driving down the road.

He has allergies that cause him to itch so much that he pulls out his fur.  We used to take him to the vet and heíd get a shot that would help him not to itch so much.  But over time the shots effectiveness wore off.  It got to where the shot would only last a month or less before heíd start pulling out his fur again.  Then the vet prescribed Temaril for him and it works really good.  We give him one pill a day and his fur has grown back in and he looks so pretty again.

My girlfriend had a cat with diabetes and she had to give him a shot to daily.  So what she did was not feed the cat until right after the shot.  The cat associated the reward of food to getting his shot.

We decided to do the same thing with our cat K.C.  Every evening we give him his pill and then immediately put out food for him.  I also will pet him making a big fuss over what a good kitty he is.  I think he enjoys the petting and fussing more than the food.

He is conditioned now but Mac still has to open his mouth and put the pill back in his throat.  Sometimes K.C. can swallow the pill and sometimes he spits it out.  The other night, we thought the pill went down his throat.  K.C. jumped down but when I held out my hand to give him a good rubbing he didnít come over.  Then I saw the pill on the carpet.  Thatís why he didnít come over! He knew he shouldnít be rewarded for taking his pill.  We picked him up and finally got the pill down and then he jumped down and came over for his rubbing.  What a smart cat!

He sleeps heavily now too.  Sometimes heís sleeping so deeply that his ears donít even twitch at any noise.  We even check him to see if heís still breathing because heís sleeping so deeply.


Friday, July 15:

We got up and goofed off this morning, updating the blog, doing internet searches, etc.  After lunch we headed out to pick up our mail that we had sent to Portland for pick up today.  We had also decided to go to Camping World in Portland too.

Note to self: Self, never again have the mail sent to a major city!  The traffic was terrible in Portland.  Weíre werenít sure what was going on but it was stop and go on the interstate all the way up and down Interstate 5 through Portland.

We went to Camping World and picked up some parts that we were in need of.  They were having some promotion or something going on there too.  They asked if I wanted to play bingo and I said ok.  So while I was walking around the store looking at stuff for ideas.  Well, I won bingo and received a bag of stuff for the prize.  It had 2 drink cozies, a nice soap dispenser, misc. trial size items.  So that was fun.  I also filled out an entry form to win a RV makeover valued at $20,000. That would be nice to win.


I-5 Bridge over Columbia River - Mt. Hood in the distance


We then picked up our package of mail from UPS and hit the road again.  Weíre heading north towards Seattle.  After getting out of the metro area the traffic is not so bad, but itís still heavy because itís Friday afternoon and a lot of people are on their way to weekend fun.  We stayed on Interstate 5 and stopped at the Wal-Mart in Chehalis to spend the night.  Along the way we saw the exit for Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.  Did you know itís been 25 years since it erupted?  Doesnít seem like it has been that long ago but it has.  We decide to see that on our return trip.  We also can see the snow covered peaks of Mt. Rainier in the distance.  Weíre going to see that while here in the area.

Saturday, July16:

We hit the road this morning and headed for McChord AFB outside Tacoma WA.  We arrive in the morning and went to the camp and checked in.  Weíre staying in dry camping here.  There are many trees around, itís very pretty and cool.  Itís trying to rain today, itís cloudy and lots of sprinkles of rain.


Our site at McChord AFB Famcamp, open boondocking area where we can hit the satellite

We're on the far right end


After lunch Mac went to the commissary for groceries, he wants steak for dinner tonight.  We canít get online today.  Mac called in and itís not a DataStorm problem, several users canít get on today.  We all have to wait until the problem is fixed at the other end.

So we relaxed this afternoon in our reclining chairs.  It was very nice. The sun finally came out, the weather warmed up, birds are singing, oh, thatís not a bird, thatís an aircraft flying by.  We are close to the runway and this is an Air Force base so we get to hear a lot of planes taking off and landing.

Mac grilled steaks tonight and they were very good.  Heís such a good cook!  Heís a much better cook than me, so he cooks the majority of the meals and I do the clean up.

After the sun went down it really cooled off so we went inside and closed some of the windows and relaxed more in the RV.  Mac has been using our air card to get online so heís on the internet and Iím reading a book.

Sunday, July 17:

We finally got online this morning!  The problem has been fixed, so Iíve worked this morning.  This afternoon our neighbors Don and Lucretia, who are also DataStorm users, asked us if we wanted to ride up to Mt. Rainier with them.  So we joined them in there vehicle and saw some beautiful views of the mountain but we didnít make it to the actual park entrance.  I think we took a wrong turn somewhere and went down a road that led us to the backside of the park.  We crossed a one lane bridge, Cool!  We saw the mountain from several good viewing areas, it is really awesome to see.  We could see some pale blue in the snow and we debated that perhaps thereís a glacier there.  Found out later there is.

 

(Actually, it was Chris who said "hey, that looks blue, I bet it's a glacier".  I was skeptical, but she was correct! --Mac)

Along the roadside there were a lot of beautiful purple flowers that we saw.  Mac took pictures of the blooms.  We found out later that these flowers are Foxgloves.


Foxglove, a non-native plant, but still beautiful!


Afterwards, we stopped for dinner at Applebeeís.  Good food and fellowship was had by all.  After getting back home to the RV Mac and I got online and worked some.  Then it was time for bed.  Itís good sleeping weather here, nice and cool at night.


Monday, July 18:

Happy Birthday to me!  Today is my birthday, wonít tell you how old I am though.  Mac said we can do anything I want to do today. I pondered, do I want to go to Seattle and go up the needle? Do I want to go to Seattle and go to the Fish Market?  Do I want to go shopping?

I decided that I would like to go to Mt. Rainier National Park and see the mountain up closer and learn more about it.  Mac had some much needed business to attend to this morning so after lunch we headed out.  Today is a perfect day to go to the park, sunny, not a cloud in the sky to block the view.

One of the many websites for the park: http://www.nps.gov/mora/home.htm

ďMount Rainier National Park was established on March 2, 1899, and encompasses 235,625 acres, ranging in elevation from 1,610' to 14,410' above sea level. The "mountain" is an active volcano encased in over 35 square miles of snow and ice, surrounded by old growth forest and stunning wildflower meadows.Ē

From Tacoma there are 2 ways to get there, one is Sunrise and the other is Paradise.  We decided to drive up to Paradise.  We drove up and stopped at many pull-outs to view the mountain, a beautiful lake and a view of the dam before we even entered the park.  I stuck my foot in the water at the lake and itís cold to me; but there are people out there in the water.  I guess itís what you get used to.  True Floridians donít go in the water if itís less than 80 degrees.  Hard to get that warm up here I imagine. -- Of course, Chris is forgetting the 68 degree water we snorkeled in at Key West last February, but that was different ;-)   -Mac

Once we entered the park we drove up, and of course, stopped at the many viewing locations.  There are some rivers flowing through the park, the water comes from the melting snow.  The water is full of silt from the mountain.  One of the locations that we stopped to see the river there were rangers working to repair a footbridge across the river.  Mac talked to them about the footbridges and they said that about twice a year it had to be totally replaced because it would be washed away.

There are many places to stop and view the mountain, each view is beautiful.  We brought our binoculars with us so we could see it very well.  We could see giant icicles, the blue of the glacier snow, the ďsiltĒ from the glacier grinding the rocks to a fine powder, waterfalls and streams of water from the melting snow.  It was all spectacular.


Mt. Rainier, a classic photo on a beautiful clear day!  How fortunate we are to see it this way!

 

15 more photos available at this link: http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/672953

 

On the way up there are several waterfalls that we stopped and viewed.  One in particular was really interesting to see.  Christine Falls flows so heavily off the top and the water has cut into the rock that it hits. A road bridge is over the water from the falls. You can stop and walk down to get a better view or stay up on the road and see it.  The trail down was too steep for my knee, so I stayed up top and Mac went down to see it better.

We stopped at the Henry M. Jackson Memorial Visitor Center located in Paradise.  It contained a gift shop, book store, observation area, etc.  Of course we had to buy some postcards in the gift shop.  There was a lot of information available about the mountain and park.  After visiting the center I was getting really tired and my knee was hurting so much from getting in and out of the car so we decided to leave.  So we drove back down and out of the park.

We had seen Alexanderís Country Inn & Restaurant on our way to the park and it looked so nice that we decided we would stop there for dinner.  They have their own pond and raise their own trout for the restaurant.  Mac had the trout and I ordered pork medallions with mango and other fruit.  The dinner was very good and the restaurant is very attractive with several antiques located throughout the dining room.  After dinner we headed home and relaxed the rest of the evening before going to bed.
 

7-19-05  UPDATE:  Photos are now loaded.  A few above in the text, and 15 more at this link:  http://our-adventure.smugmug.com/gallery/672953

 

Saturday, July 23:

 

Long time, no update.  We've been at Evergreen Coho SKP Park in Chimacum, WA since Wednesday.  Dry camping here in this very nice park.  We've just been working and goofing off -- that sounds odd doesn't it?!.  What I mean is, we've been working a lot on our day job, but not doing much of anything exciting with our time.  So there's nothing big to tell.  Lots of reading and relaxing, this is a very nice place, weather has been OK, with a little rain but also some beautiful days and very cool (highs in the 70's to around 80).  The web site for this park (click link above) has some excellent information about the local area, and travel in the Northwest in general.  I recommend checking it out if you're visiting this area.

 

We visited Port Townsend and shopped a little, also sightseeing.  Beautiful scenery with the blue water and mountains in the background.  We could have gone over to Canada on a ferry, but don't have our passports yet (too much procrastination).  Went to a potluck dinner here at the park -- bring a dish to share and meat for the grill.  That was fun, and we met another couple who were AF retired. 

 

Gambling update:  I've started playing a lot of online poker now that we're not near a live casino.  From now until mid September I'm working on wining us a trip to Aruba.  There's a big WPT (World Poker Tour) event down there, and you can win an entry to the main event (about $5000 entry fee) and an 8 day all expense paid trip for two, (worth another $4000).  Last year I missed it.  My best finish in a tournament was 2 places away from the trip, wining about $600.  So, this year I'd really like to win one! 

 

My strategy is to play in smaller satellite tournaments for $20 or $30 to win entry to the larger Super Satellite, and that one wins you the trip and entry into the WPT event.  If you win a fair share of the satellites, you can save a lot of money on entry fees to the Supers, because the supers cost $215 and $320 each (two a week).  So this week I won my way into the super, and played it tonight.  I lasted about 3 hours or so and was short stacked a lot of the time.  Couldn't catch many good hands, and had some of the best players in the tournament at my table.  Needless to say I didn't place in the money.  About 180 started, top 4 went to Aruba, I think 5th was about $2500, and they paid through 9th. I placed 42nd.

 

Moving out tomorrow and traveling to Pacific Beach, WA and a Navy park.  It's hookup, and about $17/nite, but we've heard the area is gorgeous so we're going to see.  It will be our first time on the Pacific ocean!  We'll be sure to post a report along with plenty of photos.

 

Sunday, July 24

 

Interim Update.  I'm sure Chris will write a more thorough entry in the next few days, but right now she's doing some internet research and we'll probably hit the sack early tonight.  So, I wanted to do a quick post and link to some photos from the day.

 

Today we caught 101 near Chimacum and drove West, then South.  About 20 miles past Forks, WA Hwy 101 reaches the coast and got our first look at the Pacific Ocean.  WOW  We pulled over at the first turnout and took some photos.  We were greeted by a Bald Eagle who flew not more than 20 feet over our heads as he soared down the shoreline. 

 

Our RV at the Pacific Ocean!

 

A couple of hours later we arrived in the town of Pacific Beach and the US Navy RV park.  As you can see on the sign below it's a little chilly here! 

 

It's quite chilly here!

 

We ate dinner at the Windjammer Restaurant on site.  Chris had chicken fettuccini which she said was "OK".  I had the Razor Clams, battered and pan fried.  A local delicacy, which I had to try, but I'll stick to the little Northeastern clams.  Razor Clams are huge, about 1.5 inches across and 3 inches long when fried.  Although they were tasty, they were also quite tough.  I was cutting them with a butter knife and thought I wish I had a steak knife!  

 

After dinner we went to the beach.  We had to see it and touch the water.  The beach is very wide, as you can see the the photos, and you can drive your car several miles along it.  Of course we stuck our feet into the water, and it was very cold.

 

We saw thousands of sand dollars dug into the sand.  I've never seen a live one before, and didn't realize they did this.  The sand many inches above them takes on the shape of the sand dollar beneath!  I don't know how far down the dig, but I dug about 4 inches down myself and didn't reach one, so decided to leave them alone. 

 

Chris thinks the water is a little too cold!

 

After the beach we came back to the RV.  I goofed off with the photos of the day, and Chris logged on to the Internet to do some searches for the business.  We stopped for a few minutes at sunset to watch our first Pacific Ocean sunset.  A pretty end to a very nice day.  Click here for all the rest of the photos!

 

So, now with the more detailed version of our travels is my lovely wife Chris: :-)

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, July 19:

Today we didnít do anything interesting to write about; just more of the boring mundane stuff. My knee was hurting a lot from yesterdayís adventure so I babied it today and just lied around reading a book. Mac worked quite a bit on the business side of life. We are really enjoying this beautiful weather here in WA. We donít have to run the air conditioner, or even a fan, it is just wonderful. We are loving it here in Washington.

Wednesday, July 20:

We left McChord AFB today and headed to Chimacum WA and the Evergreen Coho SKP Park. (Mac has provided a link to their site).  We have to drive around various bodies of water on our way.  We even got to drive over the Hood Canal Floating Bridge.  This bridge is the third longest floating bridge in the world or the longest saltwater floating bridge.  The bridge is being widened to four lanes and will be closing in August for a few days.

We passed the exit for the Naval Undersea Museum. Hereís a link to their website: http://www.keyportmuseum.cnrnw.navy.mil/ . Next time we come we will know to visit it.  At the time we didnít know what was there and I thought that it would have a decommissioned submarine that you could visit.  Now we know from the website that it is a very interesting place that we would like to visit.

We arrive at the SKP Park and get registered and set up on our dry camping site.  Itís a very pretty park.  They have plenty of flowers around and nicely landscaped with trees and bushes.

The clubhouse is large, there is a nice laundry room and there is also a library for checking out books while there and there is also a book exchange in the library.

Thursday, July 21:

We drove over to Port Townsend today.  We need to go to the grocery store because on Friday the park has a cookout. You bring your own meat to cook on the grill and then a dish to share.  Weíve decided that weíll bring a broccoli salad so we need to buy the ingredients.

While at Port Townsend we drove around sightseeing.  Itís a very pretty town.  Port Townsend is one of only two nationally registered Victorian seaports.  Hereís a link to more interesting info about the area: http://www.porttownsendvacations.com/area.html


We drove down to the beach and got out and looked around there.  Itís a very nice beach area.  There were only a few children splashing around at the edge of the water and maybe in the water knee deep.  They act like the waterís cold and I bet it is too.  We went to 2 different areas to see the water and itís really pretty to see.  We could also see the ferry boats out in the water ferrying cars to Keystone WA on Whidbey Island.  From Port Townsend you can also go on a whale watch but weíre going to wait till our next visit to the area.

We happened to see a couple of thrift stores so I checked them out.  Iím getting very low on unread books and need to get a new supply.  Unfortunately, I didnít find any books that I wanted today.  We went to Safeway and bought our needed supplies and headed home.

Friday, July 22:

We worked today and then I made the broccoli salad and Mac marinated some beef for us to take.  We skewered it with peppers and onions.  We went to the cookout this evening and met one couple that have worked as volunteers in a California State Park.  They had some good stories about their experience.  We also met another couple that had volunteered at the Palo Duro Canyon State Park where we had been back in early May.  They also had good stories to share about their experiences.  Everyone was very friendly and a good time was had.

After dinner and visiting with people we went back home and goofed off on the computer.  We could have gone to hear music later on at the clubhouse but we decided to continue goofing off.  I think Mac played poker.  Heís trying hard to win that trip to Aruba for us.

Saturday, July 23:

We drove over to Port Townsend again today.  We drove around admiring the town.  There are a couple of bookstores there so we checked them out.  We also stopped at the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store and I found several books there. We bought the books and also made a small donation. Itís a very worthy cause.  The staff there is so nice and friendly.

Mac needed to go to the hardware store and to Radio Shack so we did that too.  And then before we left Port Townsend we went to Safeway again and bought just a few more groceries. Last time we were at this Safeway on Thursday we had bought a sugar free peach pie.  It was so good! So today we picked up another one so thereíd be plenty on hand.

After getting back to the RV I finally did the laundry.  I had put it off as long as possible but now I had to just get it done.  I took a book with me and Mac stayed back at the RV and played in an online poker tournament.  Heís working hard to win us that trip!  -- LOL, got her fooled, yeah, I'm "working" hard :-) -Mac

Sunday, July 24:

Today weíre leaving and heading to Pacific Beach WA to the Navy RV Park there.  Iíve procrastinated this morning about getting the RV ready to travel.  I really like it here, the weather has been beautiful!  The people are nice and Iíve enjoyed it very much.  But we have reservations for tonight so we must get moving.

Weíre looking forward to seeing the Pacific Ocean for our first time.  We will be back here again. So we hit the road.  We headed out and hit 101.  Weíre going to take the scenic route along the shore and around Olympic National Forest.  We stopped and had lunch in Port Angeles after I saw a Goodwill Store and just had to visit it.  So now we are really behind schedule if we want to see the ocean while itís still daylight.  We had planned on stopping at Olympic National Forest to see the Marymere Falls and perhaps even the Hoh Rain Forest but that will now have to wait to our next visit to the area.

In Port Angeles Highway 101 takes a turn inland.  It goes around the south side of Crescent Lake.  This is such a beautiful lake!  The water is so clear and the color is gorgeous!  We will want to visit this area again when we return!

We stopped in Forks at a rest area combined with a Ranger Station.  There was a gift shop there and also a lot of information about the forest.  Iím glad now that we didnít go to the forest today.  I want to visit it when I can walk more.  There are many beautiful places to see there and some require more walking and hiking than I can do at this time.  Just from the road driving around the edge of the forest we see much beauty.  I look forward to seeing it in the future.

Finally, we see the Pacific Ocean! We stop at the very first pullout that we come to.  We are up high on the cliff and canít walk down to it, but it is still wonderful to see.  We had the binoculars and the camera and were enjoying looking at the ocean.  We could see some birds (ducks?) on the ocean.  We saw some dolphins (porpoise?) too.  It was so cool standing there and looking at the ocean.  Mac had the binoculars and the camera in his hand and couldnít get the camera ready fast enough to take a picture of a bald eagle that flew right over us! It was so amazing to see one that close in the wild!  It was as exciting as seeing the ocean for the first time.

Now weíre in a hurry.  We want to get to the camp so that we can go walk on the beach today!  We finally arrive at the RV Park around 5:30 or so.  The weather is a little chilly so I change into long pants and bring a jacket with me to go eat.  Weíre both very hungry so we eat in the restaurant at the resort so that we donít have to waste time cooking!  The RV Park and the Resort are up on the cliffs and not on the beach.  Thereís a high fence along the edge with bushes on the other side so you canít see the beach except where there are gaps in the bushes.  Phooey!  I want to see the ocean!

After dinner we drive down onto the beach.  Thereís a beach access right down the road from the resort.  I finally got to put my feet in the water and it is really cold! It felt like ice water to me!  We walked around on the beach looking at the sand dollar impressions all along the beach.  These are large sand dollars too.  I had picked up some sand dollars at the beach in Massachusetts that were about the size of a fifty cent coin.  These here are as wide as the bottom of a can of vegetables and some were larger.  We found several broken ones, and also some live ones.  It was fun watching them slowly bury themselves into the sand.

After finally getting cold enough we headed back to the RV.  We got to see the sunset through the bedroom window.  It was so cool to see the sun set and it looks like itís setting right into the ocean.  Itís really chilly here tonight to us so weíve shut all the windows before going to bed.  Iím too excited to go to sleep so I read in bed till very late.

Monday, July 25:

We got up this morning before 7:00.  Our neighbor was calling his dog and woke us up.  I guess he wasnít using a leash like he was supposed to.  He was also making a lot of noise getting his rig ready to go.  So we finally gave up and got out of bed.  Some people are very considerate of their neighbors and others just donít seem to care at all.

There was so much fog out this morning!  It was light out but we couldnít see the sun.  We could actually see the fog rolling in from the ocean.  It looks like a mist or clouds rolling by.  Weíve never seen anything like it before.  Of course weíve seen fog but never like this fog.  The fog didnít burn off or move out until after 3 this afternoon.

 

After the sun finally came out it was so beautiful out!  The ocean looked so pretty, the weather was great for being outdoors.  So we decided to wash the RV.  It hasnít been washed since back in April when we were in Mississippi.  After washing the RV it looked so good without the dust, dirt, bugs, etc. all over it.
 

Our RV is happy to be clean again -- really nice RV sites here at Pacific Beach

 


After we were done it was still a beautiful day so we went down to the beach again.  We took off our shoes and walked in the water.  It was freezing cold but it was so much fun!  The tide was coming in so a few times a wave would roll in a little higher than I expected and I got wetter than I wanted to but it was still great fun.  Mac finally got too cold so we drove down the beach, admiring the houses on the cliffs and the ocean itself.  Then we went back to the RV.

 


On the beach looking up the coast

 

On the beach looking down the coast


The fog started rolling in again and it was really cool to watch.  Looking towards the ocean we could see the sky then a big band of fog and then the water right underneath.  It was so interesting to see.  Then as the day got later again we could see the fog blowing in and looking like mist of clouds blowing by us; really cool to see.  By the time of sunset we could not see the sun for all the fog.  Good thing we got to see the sun set last night.
 

Fog bank rolling in at sundown

Tuesday, July 26:

This morning we are packing everything in to move out today.  We met a man, Dave, who had also been in Key West at Sigsbee the same time we were.  We recognized his car when he pointed out his rig to us.  I used to walk right by it every day while on my way down to the beach to look for shells.  He and his wife have been to several of the same locations that we have been at this summer too!  It sure is a small world.

After getting the RV ready to go, we drove over to the dump station.  There was a line ahead of us so while we were waiting I walked along the fence looking for blackberries.  We have seen so many blackberry vines here in Washington along the roads.  Some of the berries are ripe, some are still green and there are still blooms on several of them.  Iíve never seen so many blackberry vines as there are here in this state along the roads.  They are tasty too!  Plump, tart and they donít have hardly any seeds at all.  Iíd love to be able to pick enough to make a blackberry cobbler.

That reminds me that while we were here the first night, after eating dinner, we went to the gift shop, which is located in the same building.  Mac saw some jars of Marionberry Preserves and asked the cashier what a Marionberry was.  The only Marion Berry heíd ever heard of used to be the mayor of Washington D.C. (Yes, I have to put up with a lot, donít I?) Later I looked up Marionberry on the internet and found out that the berry is a cross between the Chehalem and Olallieberry blackberries, developed at Oregon State University.  Hereís a link to more information about the berries. http://www.marionberries.com/

After checking out we hit the road heading to Centralia WA.  We have an appointment tomorrow morning to get some much needed work done.  While driving down the highway we were passed by another RV and we got another rock chip to the windshield!  Itís on our new driver side windshield too.  Thankfully itís not in the driverís vision area, it is low on the windshield.  Weíll get that repaired while in Centralia.

We were driving down Highway 12 and are less than 20 miles from our destination when we saw the sign for the Lucky Eagle Casino.  So, needless to say, we pulled in.  The RV ďParkĒ is around the edge of one of the parking lots.  It has been laid out for RVís to park on concrete pads and have electric and water hook-ups.  These are brand new.  They still havenít finished all of them yet.  They are nice and only cost $8.00 a night.


New RV parking at Lucky Eagle Casino, Rochester, WA.  Kind of narrow, but only $8/night even if not gambling


We went in and check out the casino.  As I expected there wasnít good pay tables on the video poker.  They do have a poker room with Texas Hold ĎEm so Mac planned on going and playing this evening.  But later he decided to play on-line and continue to try and win that trip to Aruba.  Go Mac!

I forgot to mention previously in the blog how attractive and litter free the streets and roads are in Oregon and Washington.  When we were driving through Portland on the interstate I could see down streets and there was little, if any, litter.  Along the interstate it was clean too.  Both stateís roadsides are very clean.  They do a great job of keeping it attractive and clean.

Wednesday, July 27:

This morning we headed out from the casino and drove over to Brazelís RV for our appointment. Hereís a link to their website: http://www.brazelsrv.com


While the RV was being worked on I drove into Centralia and went shopping.  I found 2 thrift stores and a bookstore.  There are also several outlet stores here, but I didnít go shopping at them.  Later on Mac and I went to Safeway and bought some groceries.  The store had sugar free Marionberry pie so we bought one.  Marionberries are tasty too!  The pie was good.

The RV was finished the same day!  We had a lot of work done and they finished it quickly.  We thought weíd be here longer with all the work we had done and had made an appointment to have the windshield repaired tomorrow morning.  So we spent the night in Brazelís parking lot with several other campers waiting to have work done.

 

Here's a link to the Technical article about what we had done to the coach at Brazel's

 

 

 


Thursday, July 28:

The windshield was repaired this morning and we paid for it out of pocket instead of turning it into the insurance company.  We donít want too many claims on the insurance; they might raise our rates or drop us.  It wasnít that much, less than $55.

After that was done we headed out.  We headed to the Castle Rock exit on Interstate 5.  Weíre going to see Mount St. Helens.  Don and Lucretia, who we met at McChord A.F.B., had emailed Mac with the recommendation that we stay at Mt. St. Helens RV Park.  So thatís where weíre going to stay for 2 nights.  It doesnít have a lot of trees blocking the view of our DataStorm.

The rest of the day was spent working.  In the evening while we relaxed outside the RV one of our fellow campers came by and talked with us.  He and his wife had gone to Mount. St. Helens today.  So he had some good tips on what not to miss when we go tomorrow.

This is the official website of Mount St. Helens: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/mshnvm/


This is a website for the volcano webcam: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/volcanocams/msh/


Iíve been checking out the volcano webcam for several days and can hardly wait to go see it in person.  There has been a lot of activity this year at the volcano.  We might get to see something exciting when we go see it in person.

Friday, July 29:

Today we drove up to Mount St. Helens.  We stopped at the first visitor center but didnít see the film, we didnít want to wait.  We wanted to get up there and see the volcano.  So we drove on up to Johnson Observatory.  Wow!  It was very cool to use our binoculars and see the steam rising from it.  Also while I was looking at it a big plume of smoke arose from it and then I saw rocks rolling down the hill!  There is definitely some activity going on there.

 

Mt. St. Helens.  Click on picture above to see all the photos.

The film was very informative about the eruption back in 1980.  It showed a lot about what happened and what has been learned from it.  We enjoyed it a lot.

We saw a few elk down in the valley while we were at Johnson Observatory and then later when we drove down to the Forest Learning Center we saw a whole herd of elk.

We had a late lunch on our way back down at Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center.  You can take a helicopter tour of Mount St. Helens from this location and it cost $100 per person so we decided not to do that.  We ate lunch out on the deck and watched a helicopter come back from a tour and land.  The weather was so great sitting out on the deck, a clear day with plenty of sunshine and not hot.

We did get to watch glass blowing while here and that was really interesting to watch.  Itís very hot work; we could feel the heat from the ovens while we were watching.

Of course all the locations have a gift shop so we visited them too.  I found a T-shirt that I really liked and Mac bought it for me.  You can buy a variety of items that contain Mount St. Helens ash at any of the gift shops.

After we got back to the RV my knee was very sore so I went to bed and read a book and rested my knee.  Mac cooked us beef fajitas for dinner tonight. Umm, umm good!
 

Saturday, July 30:

 

I'll have photos from Mt. St. Helens online tonight or first thing tomorrow.  Have to go do some work now. and make up for taking most of yesterday off.
 

OK, sorry for the long wait, here are the photos from Mt. St. Helens

 


Last night Mac and I debated where to go to next.  We were leaving this morning and heading for the Oregon coast. But I woke up today in one of those weird cleaning moods; so we are staying here at the RV Park one more night.  If anything needed cleaning today was the day it got cleaned.  We washed clothes, vacuumed, cleaned the carpet, etc.

Sunday, July 31:

So this morning we actually leave and head for the Oregon coast.  It was a very scenic route on Highway 4 then Highway 101 in Washington that we drove; it was full of curves that needed to be taken at the suggested speed of 45, 40 and below.  We drove over a long bridge and then into Oregon at Astoria.  Our plan is to go down the coast on highway 101.

During the drive on the twisty, curvy route Mac has heard and felt something odd in the steering on the curves.  Heís concerned about our steering arm (or some other piece of equipment in there).  We had shocks and a new sway bar installed at Brazelís and heís concerned that itís changed the way it drives enough that now something may be hitting or wearing when it turns a certain way.

We drove to the Armed Forces Training Center, Camp Rilea, which is near Sunset Beach.  They have a small RV Park there.  Mac had called and made reservations for us for the night.

I forgot to mention previously when we were at Pacific Beach that along the Pacific Ocean there are Tsunami warning signs and evacuation routes.  In Florida there are hurricane evacuation routes and here there are Tsunami evacuation routes.  Boy, what we people put up with to be near the ocean!

After we get parked and set up, we jack up the RV, put jack stands under it for safety and Mac gets under the RV; then I turn the wheel as he directs me to.  He canít see anything wrong with anything under there.  He plans on calling Brazelís tomorrow.

We canít see the water from here at the park, thereís a high hill behind us.  Also you canít go down to the beach area without permission because they may be training back there.

Itís getting chilly and windy and the fog is rolling in so heavy that itís more like a light rain.  When Iím standing outside I can feel the water droplets in the air.  We watched the weather on TV and saw that the next few days along the coast are going to be cloudy and rainy.  Later tonight it rains off and on all night.
 

It's the end of the month, and time for our summary of Fulltiming Expenses.  Our costs for camp sites, and of fuel can be found below:

 

Cost to camp since 1/1/05

Avg $ per Nite # Dry # Elect # FHU # Free %Dry % Free
$9.08 127 17 69 57 60% 27%

 

We've decreased our average per night from $9.57 at the end of June to 9.09.  It was as low as $8.82, but we've paid to park at several locations in just the last 2 weeks.

 

Cost of fuel since 4/1/05

Average Gas Price Total Miles Total Galons Avg Daily Miles Avg MPG Avg Fuel Cost/Day
2.23 6493 914 56 7.10 17.58

 

As you can see, our average price per gallon has increased, but we're traveling slower so our cost per day is down.  Avg MPG is down to 7.10.  That's pretty low, and I'm thinking about doing a tune-up (plugs, rotor, cap, and wires).  No telling how long it's been.  We've had the RV now over 10k miles and a tune-up wouldn't be a bad idea.

 

Continue to August Blog
 

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