Monday, August 05, 2013

Washington & Oregon Adventures

8/4/13 Hello Blog Readers. My apologies for not posting for such a long time. We have been busy having adventures, rather than writing about them. Prior to leaving Chimicum, we had a lovely Happy Hour on Billy & Marianne Ecker-Liard's lot with Chris Christensen. The 5 of us camped together quite often in Newfoundland, several summers ago.
After we left Chimicum, we spent about 3 weeks in Gig Harbor, WA staying on Chris's lot. She was a fulltime RVer for 14 years, and has now purchased a manufactured home which she has moved to a lot in Gig Harbor and is getting set up to be her retirement home. Luckily for us, she has 2 RV hookups, so we were able to stay there with lots of luxury.
This is a picture of Chris with her 2 dogs:
Gig Harbor is a small, picturesque town with a small, well-enclosed harbor, right across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from Tacoma.
There are lots of summer events going on there, such as a concert every Tuesday in a downtown park, and one every Thursday in the uptown mall. We attended a concert in each venue. Everyday the 3 of us went for a lengthy walk, sometimes around the harbor, sometimes on the forest trails (when we needed a shady walk), and several times we walked across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge:
The first time we walked across the bridge, it was a clear and sunny day and we could see Mt. Rainier in the distance very easily:
Actually, the story of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge is very interesting. It was finished in June, 1940 but they hadn't done very extensive testing on what the effects of the wind might be which periodically roar through that narrow area. In Nov. 1940, those winds arose and started twisting the bridge and making it buck like a horse. The news people started calling it "Galloping Gertie", and there is videotape of it which you can see on the internet. Finally, a short time after they started watching it, it twisted and turned and fell into the water. Luckily, no one was killed or hurt. Eventually it was rebuilt, and a few years ago a second span was added because more lanes were needed. Shortly after seeing Mt. Rainier so clearly on that walk, we decided to drive up there to see it. When Chris was a college student, she worked up there at the lodge. On the drive up, we stopped at an extensive sculpture exhibit by Dan Klennert, just outside of Elbe, WA. He has an extensive lawn area with many metal and wood sculptures made out of machine parts, tools, driftwood, etc. which are huge and very good:
It was a lovely, sunny and clear day and we could easily see the mountain: One of our stops on the way up was at Narada Falls:
When we got to the top, we went to the visitor's center, which was new and well done, with a good movie about Mt. Rainier. Couldn't miss seeing the lodge where Chris worked all those years ago and it was still quite nice. It is a rustic plan, which really reminded us of the Ahwahnee Lodge at Yosemite. Then we went for 2 hikes, one to another waterfall, and one through an area which still had some snow on the ground:
This really showed us why Mt. Rainier has so many glaciers that it has the largest one (almost 4 miles across), and also the most glaciers of any mountain in the continental USA. Other fun and interesting things we did with Chris while we were staying in Gig Harbor: Went twice to the Saturday Farmer's Market in Tacoma. There were lots of great products there, such as dried salmon, produce and many wonderful berries, including marionberries:
Marianne and Billy came down from Chimacum and brought lots of crab that Billy had caught so we had a big crab feed:
There was a large art festival with wonderful arts and crafts on display and up for sale. We went with Chris' friend, Joan:
Besides the stalls and booths, there was also a contest called "Chalk the Harbor", where people could sign up for a section of sidewalk to make chalk creations on. This was one of them:
Just up from Tacoma Weyerhauser has a rhododendron garden and a bonsai display. We saw all the bonsai trees and there were about 50, which had been beautifully displayed and described. This one was made to look like a miniature forest:
And this one even has small fruits on it:
There is a wonderful park in Tacoma called Point Defiance Park, where there are lots of gardens, several beaches, a zoo, and many hiking trails, most of them through forest, so the trails were cool on a hot day. We went hiking there several times and saw many beautiful flowers in the developed garden before we hiked:
On the hike, we got to a clearing and saw several deer, such as this one:
One of the last days we were with Chris, my granddaughter, Paige, and her girlfriend, Allison, came over to visit us. Allison had never seen our RV, and we showed them all around Gig Harbor. Then we barbequed some salmon and had a nice dinner together.
Finally we just had to leave Gig Harbor, and Chris' great hospitality, so we could head south and have other adventures. First we stopped to see some former Park Sierra friends, Gary & Cecile Thompson, who are working for the summer at a day-use park in Estacada, OR. They graciously had us over for Happy Hour and dinner. It was delightful to see them and catch up on all the news since we were last together.
Moving on, we relocated to the River Center Mall in Eugene, OR. This is a wonderful place to stay because RV's are allowed to park for 2 days and nights in the back parking lot which is right along the Willamette River and an extensive bike and hiking trail, which runs on both sides of the river. Here I am at the river:
Along the trail were some areas adjacent to the river called the Delta Ponds, which have been set aside as wetland area for the birds and turtles. We saw lots of turtles and many kind of birds there, including some magnificent great blue herons:
Mary & Dave Fountain, friends who have a lot at Park Sierra, are spending 6 months in Eugene in an apartment, so we went over to visit them. They took us out Saturday morning for a tour of the downtown, where they live:
The downtown has a very nice ambiance, and is full of old buildings, restaurants, a huge and wonderful performing arts center, and many old houses. This one was on a hill overlooking the train station:
There was a Saturday Farmer's Market which was much larger than the Tacoma one. They had the usual offerings, as well as these very unusual varieties of mushrooms:
The downtown was also frequently beautified by plantings of colorful and unusual flowers:
The first night we were in Eugene, Diana and George Ruelens called us and said they were nearby so they came over for a quick visit. They are also staying in the Eugene area for about 6 months, but they are in their RV. Saturday they joined us at Mary & Dave's apartment for Happy Hour on the deck. Mary's sister, Ginger, who lives nearby, also joined us.
After Happy Hour we all walked over to a nearby Malaysian restaurant for dinner.
Mary & Dave went back to their apartment after dinner, but Diana, George, Elaine and I decided to attend one of the big events of the year, the Whit Block Party. It involved about 8 stages for musical groups scattered all over one of the old neighborhoods, and there were beer and wine gardens, people selling goods from stalls, and just a lot of partying. It was quite entertaining just to walk around and look at all the people performing, and attending. We four RVers had someone take this picture of us in front of one of the more outrageously painted vehicles:
And this was one of the best performing groups, and they weren't even on the stage - they just set up on the street and started playing:
Sunday we left Eugene and drove over to Winchester Bay, where we have had fantastic crabbing in past years. The weather forecast was for sunny and warm weather but when we arrived here, there was fog, wind and it was cold. Unfortunately, the same weather pattern occurred today. There were 3 big boats in port selling tuna yesterday, and the price had just dropped to $2/pound. Of course, that is for the whole fish, and about 50% of it is waste. We ordered some for today and after we picked it up, the work started. We have been soaking it in brine, cleaning jars, and preparing it for canning. Tonight we started canning the first batch and will finish up tomorrow. The bad news is that the crabbing here has been terrible, people say. Usually we are here in September/October, so perhaps things will pick up as time goes on. At any rate, we have the tuna carcasses for crab bait, so we will be setting up our traps and giving it a try starting tomorrow.

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