Friday, October 29, 2010

The End of the Road

How grateful we are to have experienced this trip. Money's one thing, time quite another. Knocking around parts of North America for six weeks is our idea of filthy rich.

Art put the rig mostly to bed for winter in Portland, with enormous help from longtime pal Andy and family. They visited several places that store RVs, and when they saw this one they knew it was right.

At left on the green pick-up is another (not-that-common)1960s-era Avion camper and in between a VW Westfalia, which Andy and Jolene explored Europe in for a year in the 70s when their children were toddlers. Art tells me they're looking to purchase another one, so he and Jolene can re-experience the fun closer to home.

Thanks so much, Andy, for all the assist.

And if you've been following our path, be assured we'll pick it up again one of these days. We loved having you along for the ride. In the interim, stop in at Green Roof Growers.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sleeping in Seattle: Oct 20

We're seeing more dear ones today, but first...Adrift the restaurant looks even better in the clear morning light. Yes, we shamelessly return for petit dejeuner, which sadly I consumed before photographing. Art looks eager for his coffee.

Our terrific server from the night before, Hope, was back (or perhaps she never left). Stop in when you visit Chicago, Hope.

Heading south to Seattle on I5, we make a stop at the Skagit Valley Food Co-op. Hope's directions were perfect. We need to restore our provisions and it's a fine place to do so.

We arrive in Seattle easily, but Kathy's out shopping for food. So we look around outside the lovely house she shares with Nancy in Richmond Beach, just north of the city.

Here's an excellent food and yard debris composting bin, provided by the city. One of these days maybe all of Chicago will have paper and glass recycling pick-up and then we can move in this direction.

I stretch it out on a walk through a gorgeous park with big views just a block from their house. It has a nice vertical challenge to it, and I didn't even walk all the way down.

When I return, Kathy's telling Art about the raccoons who ate all the Riesling grapes at their vineyard in eastern Washington. This tiny bunch was all they left, though it was slim pickin's to begin with given last year's freeze and cool spring.

Here's a beautiful bunch of Pinot Gris grown at the vineyard, one of the only white varieties with purple skins.

Kathy pulls out a lovely Cabernet Franc, made by her wine instructor. This one we'll open. And open we did, with a lazy afternoon of conversation and catching up. Thanks, Kathy and Nancy for welcoming us overnight!

And to accompany...

A bit later, we all convene at Hill's, just a short walk from their house, for an exceptional dinner. Let's see if I can remember: Nancy had pasta and so did Art. Kathy had a mixed grill and I had a salad with Dungeness crab. mmm. Hurry to Chicago, you two...

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

So Ferry, Cross the San Juan Channel: Oct 19

I use our last avocado and some tomato and cream cheese to make us a sandwich for the ferry. You never know when the border types will confiscate your vegetables.

This morning's last job is to empty the travel SIPs. They're looking a little haggard since the sun dropped low in the sky and we had cloudier days. Still it was a fun experiment and we ate from them regularly. We'll bring home the empties to re-use this spring.

It's a beautiful morning, and we have time for a walk along the water, where the road is apparently being widened.

We arrive at the dock at 10:30 for a noon launch--and that's with a reservation. This nice Canadian looked at our passports and told us it was his birthday--happy 68!

Life at the ferry is hurry up and wait, after positioning the rig where they tell us. Looks like we'll be first on due to our height.

Taking a turn around the pen (once you're inside you can't leave while waiting), we find some blackberries and Art retrieves a tool only he would have for reaching through a chain link fence to get to the goods.

It's a long olive-grabber type tool, with a snaky stem.

Here I am using it to good advantage.

Our route today on the Washington State Ferry takes us from Sidney, on the south shore of Vancouver Island, through the US San Juan Islands and over to Anacortes, WA.

Time to drive on.

Good thing there's that little net or we'd be in the drink.

This would make a curious Halloween costume. It's a thermal protection suit for survivors of, what, a capsizing? APparently you put it on to retain heat. Not sure what the standing-up guy would be standing up on. Maybe it's for man overboard-type situations. It looks like a Snuggie (do people really wear these?).

The view from the ferry is endlessly engaging.

Islands in the sea, with boats lazily sailing.

This is Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island.

Soon we spy a craft keeping pace with us. Art thinks it's Coast Guard. And then we hear an announcement telling us not to worry--that being accompanied by the Coast Guard is a regular occurrence.

I cross to the other side of the ferry to use the loo and discover we have not one but two escorts. Double click and you'll see they're armed, with a guy on the back and his big old firearm on a pivot. Gosh I feel so much safer than when I was looking out the window at the dreamy islands. What is this--Columbia?

Heading into Anacortes. Double click to see the magnificent view of what I believe is Mount Baker.

Anacortes has some nice old structures... 

...but the one we're most interested in is a restaurant called Adrift, where we ate a couple years ago. Its sign says "Swell food for salty dogs."

Trash can out front.

Adrift uses locally sourced foods and beverages. Art's having a hard cider, and I an Asian pear wine from Windfall Winery in Washington State.

 The proprietor is a book lover and it's a cozy spot.

Permission to drool: a hot bubbly cheese starter with Dungeness crab.

Art chooses the shellfish linguine.

And I like the looks of the tacos, made with fresh halibut.

This hot sauce was made on Lopez Island in the San Juans. It was exceptional. 
Night night...

Monday, October 25, 2010

South on TransCanada Highway 1 to the Ferry: Oct 18

I make a morning portrait of Art before we load up and leave Rathtrevor.

Today we're driving to Sydney, where we'll pick up the ferry tomorrow to Anacortes, Washington. As Art pulls onto the freeway and merges, we realize it's the Monday morning rush and I can actually feel my super-low blood pressure rise slightly.

We're entering a different world, populated not by the hawklike bird who sat in a tree this morning above the camper and make ka-chuck noises, but by giant malls with Home Depots and Walmarts and higher speed limits than on secondary roads. Not to mention grotesque billboards.

The visual shock of seeing structures everywhere is surprisingly jolting. In nature, the eye mostly rests.

Once when we were positioning to meet a morning ferry time we stayed farther away and had to hoist ourselves to make the deadline. Now we park where we did last time--at Cedarwood, right on the water and just several blocks from the ferry loading dock.

Water view from the balcony isn't bad, plus they have full laundry facilities and good internet connection.

Also, a kitchen with the room. Eggs and pastured beef breakfast sausages for dinner--meh. Wouldn't buy them again.

I repair to my Scrabble jammies to do the laundry and write to you...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Grab Your Mittens, Campers, it's 33 Degrees This Morning: Oct 17

If ever there were a morning for oatmeal, this is it. Art returns from the loo to tell me the air temperature is close to freezing.

Clear and utterly cold, but Kitty is just as lovely in the morning sun as she was in last night's fading light. No way can we warm up without a morning fire or a hard hike in the sun, but it's not strong enough yet to feel.

So bye bye Kitty Coleman and on to Englishman Falls Provincial Park, recommended by our visitors to Schoen lake.

Along the way, a sign reads CHANTERELLES AND SALMON. Sounds like dinner to me. Such nice folks selling, too--we'll also take a dozen eggs from their roaming chickens.

We're in the Comox Valley, where farms and pasture abound, and soon we see a sign for grass-fed beef. With the chill comes thoughts of the grill. A porterhouse and some maple breakfast sausages later, we're back on the road. Oh, and some green curry sauce made right here in Courtney with lots of fresh green chiles.

We have to abort our stay at Englishman River Provincial Park (too bad--it looks stunning) because it closed yesterday for camping. Wanting to see the falls (was it Cole Porter who wrote "next time we'll look at the falls"?), but clearly recalling yesterday's lengthy search for Kitty Coleman, we take a quick glance at the map and re-direct to Rathtrevor Provincial Park, back on the water of the eastern shore.

Time for a hot late breakfast: the giant-yolked eggs from our stop this morning + green olives and cream cheese omelet.

And on to a vigorous hike. Along the way, we meet Dodge, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever puppy. Read more about this one of four native Canadian dogs here (others are the Lab, the Newfoundland, and the Husky).

His owner is in love with him, and little Dodge is surely headed for a successful career as a birder, I found out when I played with him. His teeth are like needles, but what a sweetheart.

Now to the hike along the water to catch some sun.

Lovely picnic areas too. Lots of people just out for the beautiful day. Camille, one family was playing bocce ball on this splendid lawn. We remembered the fun we had with you.

We walk along the beach...

...and back to our site for wood collection, chopping session, a fire, and cocktails, visions of salmon over an open fire coming on strong.

We know Art is burning some calories anyway.

Mmm. Back in the camper I survey the booty. Sautee the chanterelles and finish with dry sherry. Get the salmon on Art's oiled grill for him, and steam the last of the green beans and spinach to mix with the green curry we got this morning (Dorothy, I thought of you and our Thai curries).

It's a feast.