Visitors Come to Timothy Lake

We survived Labor Day weekend at Timothy Lake and thankfully it was a bit anticlimactic.  We were all just fine with that, because we have certainly had our share of tough weekends and were all a little relieved when the cool temperatures and fire bans contributed to keep things relatively quiet.  Right after the weekend my girls got together (for the first time since my youngest graduated from high school in 2014) with my Mom in Myrtle Beach.  Originally when I found out they were gathering I looked into flights to meet them all out there, but with the holiday weekend and everything else that has been going on I decided to give it a pass.  Mom took a picture for me in the airport and I thought I would share it here.  My girls all have really different personalities, but also a sameness that defines them as “Perkins Girls”.

From left: Kay (K3), Kat (K2), and Kyrston (K1).  My babies!

The nicest thing about that get together was when my Mom sent me a text and said they were all perfect houseguests and I did a good job with them.  Nothing is much better than your Mom telling you that you raised your kids right, and that text had me smiling for hours!

We didn’t have too much time to be sad though, because we had a couple of visitors.  Rick, who writes the blog On The Road with Maxine and Me, came from his volunteer job at Heceta Head Lighthouse to spend the night with us.  He, like our friend Brian, brought a tent, and we had a lovely time getting caught up and eating a big steak dinner.

Rick didn’t need any help with his tent

 

And he brought us a present of one of his favorite regional specialties. We all travel with something from home and he wanted Lee to try his favorite mustard.

 

Jim and Diana Belisle had turned him onto cherry salsa so he wanted to share some of that with us as well.

 

ummmm ribeye

 

And he made this beautiful pecan cheesecake. Rick is an amazing cook

 

As fun as it was when he was here unfortunately the visit was frequently interrupted by a power issue at the park. When you live and work in a place it’s hard to be completely “unplugged”, especially when someone cuts a power line close by and you lose power.  We’ve known from the beginning of the season that we were going to be losing power in early September due to the dam project that is going on close by, but there were some unexpected issues on Weds and Thursday which resulting in losing our power a day early (and with two hours notice) and we were scrambling to figure some things out.  Rick left pretty early to go see his daughter in Olympia on Thursday morning and I spent the rest of the day making sure everyone had what they needed and dealing with the items in the freezer that we suddenly had to find room for.

The big problem was we were supposed to have a large generator to run the office compound during the outage, but a delay in permitting made that a no-go and we worked with the head of maintenance to throw together a schedule.  Ultimately of course we worked everything out, but I was exhausted by the end of the day and my week was just starting and I was just praying that it was a slow weekend.

Turns out the cooler temps really kept people away, although Saturday was nice and sunny.  Which was a good thing because our friends Georgia and Jim made the drive up from Eugene, Oregon and had dinner with us.  Three and a half hours is a long way to drive to have dinner with friends, but when you’ve known people for almost 15 years it’s worth it.  Once again we had some steaks (had to get that freezer meat eaten) and Georgia told us in all the time she had known us she had never had one of our famous ribeye dinners.  That surprised the heck out of us, and we were happy to show them what all the fuss is about.

Georgia and Jim with Lee using a gator as a fourth chair

 

This cracked me up

 

Georgia was VERY happy with the meal

It was lovely seeing them, and equally great that for the first Saturday in forever the lake-wide radio was quiet.  We had a relaxing meal, and a wonderful chat until 9pm when they needed to head back.  Things are finally winding down here, and I couldn’t be happier.  We are all pretty tired and need a bit of a break before we gear up for the final closing push.  There is a fall chill in the air, which we are both enjoying, and we actually saw a little bit of rain this morning for the first time since the end of April.

Foggy morning at Timothy Lake

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

August 2018 Budget

Before I get started, I finally got our taxes done and we actually got a small state refund back.  We made a little less than I estimated for the affordable healthcare, and we got a $450 credit (I was super nervous about this one) and although we had a pretty large 1099 for gate guarding I had some costs to offset the revenue and overall it worked out OK.  Ultimately we got refunds from two states which more than covered the $252 we owed on federal.  I was pretty happy overall, and seriously relieved.  We still have $1500 in a taxes account we started on the road with so for now at least we are in good shape.  OK, on with August.

First off thank heavens this was a three paycheck month.  When you are salary you really don’t appreciate such things, but us hourly folks get a little bonus a few times a year and this was a great month to get it.  We spent a whopping $3,989 this month, but since we made $6278 we actually were $2289 to the good.  A few major events contributed to the spend.  I had my birthday mid-month and we went to Mt. Rainier, which hit our fuel and eating out budget, and then at the end of the month we went to Seattle and got a hotel room so we could see our daughter.  Lots of meals out on that trip as well.  We also had to pay for part of the tow and our deductible when the wheel bearing went bad on our truck and that ran around $335.  With all of that I am just happy we broke even.  For more details you can look below.

Groceries – We made a Costco run this month and the meat and paper products from that will definitely get us through September and a good chunk of October. We spent $806 …yikes.

Dining Out – We ate out a bunch this month and went over by $244.  We paid for a couple of meals for our daughter, ate an over priced meal at the Mt. Rainier lodge, and had lots of fast food when we were traveling.

Entertainment – We went over by $77 in this category.  It was a variety of things, nothing very major and since we hadn’t spent hardly anything at all this summer on this good for us 🙂

Truck Fuel – We spent $315 in this category which is under budget but much more than we have been spending.  Trips to Washington were the biggest contributor.

Truck Maintenance –  The $335 was for the deductible and part of the tow and wow did we get off easy.  Tows from this area are generally $750 and the repair was easily over $1K but our warranty covered it.

Cigarettes – For those paying attention you know we buy loose tobacco and tubes in bulk and roll our own cigarettes so $225 lasts us 3-4 months.  We are spending about $9 a carton for those who are interested which is obviously an amazing price considering that cartons are $50 plus.

Miscellaneous – The bulk of this was $351 for two nights in a hotel and parking when we went to Seattle.

Overall not bad considering how much we did and Lee was able to put another $2K in our savings because of the extra paycheck.  We don’t have much planned in the month of September, which is good because we are getting together with family in October and that is going to be an expensive month!


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time in Seattle

When our youngest daughter told us that her return flight from her deployment to Korea back to DC had a layover in Seattle we knew we had to go.  The fact that it was in Seattle encouraged us to extend the trip an extra day because this is one of the few major US cities that I have never been to.  Lee went a couple of times when he was a kid, but I had never been and going to Pike Place was a long-time bucket list item of mine.  Originally we thought we would just have a few hours at the airport with her, but when she made arrangements to extend her layover overnight, we immediately added a third day.

Part of our stress over the issue we had with the truck was how we would make the trip, but that actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Seattle is not really big truck friendly and the Pike Place area is really not so.  But we had a small rental car and were able to find parking right near the marketplace, which was pricey ($30), but worth it. Turns out the market is really numerous converted buildings and we both found it really confusing.  I had images in my head of guys throwing fish and shops along a wharf area, but the market place we went to was more of an old warehouse district and it took us a long time before we found what I would consider the heart of the marketplace.

No way would we get the F350 in here.  The black Ford was our rental.

 

This sign made it look easy, but it wasn’t 🙂

 

The shops were all along the road and inside numerous buildings

 

I recognized the ferris wheel from Grey’s Anatomy but it was across the freeway and in a different area

 

The terraced apartments were pretty neat.

 

We finally made it into one building which reminded me of the Colony Mill back in Keene. It was a repurposed old building with lots of stairs, weird partial floors, and narrow hallways.

 

I did get excited when we saw our first fish stands and the selection was pretty amazing

 

Turns out they have halibut in Oregon. I didn’t know that until recently

 

The flower stands were really beautiful and what I pictured

 

And through sheer dumb luck we stumbled upon the iconic golden pig

 

Finally we saw this sign and I knew we were getting close

 

And we saw this old fish market. The line was long and we were both starving so we decided to give it a try

 

We both got the halibut which was ok, but nothing nearly as good as what we had in Alaska

 

Plus by this time the place was packed

 

 

I know people love this, my mother-in-law DeDe went everyday when she was in Seattle, but personally I felt a little assaulted.  Part of that is we have been living in a really isolated place all summer, but it is loud, expensive, and for me at least, claustrophobic.  I am glad I got to experience it once in my life, but I wouldn’t be in a big rush to go again and since this was a Weds in the afternoon I shudder to think what the weekend would be like.

We did find some cool stores though. This chinese grocery store had trainer chopsticks

 

And Lee who struggles using them bought himself a starter pair

 

We saw a gorgeous fish are with beautiful crab legs

 

A neat used book store

 

A magic shop Lee spent some time in

 

And even a collectible coin shop. You rarely see these anymore

 

 

After a couple of hours though I just felt like I needed to leave and we headed back towards the airport and our hotel.  We took a wrong turn which turned out to be pretty awesome because I got a closeup view of the Seattle Seahawks football stadium.

Really though we were both excited about seeing our kid.  We looked everywhere for a hotel room near the airport that had two bedrooms and a separate sitting area in our price range and finally found one near an Amazon distribution center that we could afford.  At $350 for two days it still wasn’t cheap but it had what we needed and more importantly would give our daughter a room all to herself.  We knew she would be seriously jet lagged coming in and since she had changed her travel plans for us it was the least we could do.

It has a small kitchen, bedroom and bath upstairs

 

And a small living room, bed and bath downstairs

 

Oh and a bathtub which I used to take what I think was my first bath in over a year.

 

The next morning we waited anxiously to get the text she had landed and then headed to the cell phone lot.  She had to go through customs (which went really fast) and then we had to find her but there she was!

We whisked her right back to the hotel, where we learned she hadn’t slept in 24 hours, but she was determined to power through and ultimately made it 36 hours so she could spend time with us.

Kay and her Dad

 

He gave her a big hug and then pulled out her hair tie which made her laugh because he used to do it to all of our daughters when they were little.

 

She even let us take a few pictures of her 🙂

It was a wonderful night with our kid and made the trip so worth it and I even learned how to use Pokemon GO and Snap Chat.  I’m always behind in the latest apps and they catch me up when they see me, so now as we travel I can catch the Pokemon, which is a little like geocaching for the younger crowd.  Love my girl and loved my time with her, so happy that it all worked out so well.

My snapchat icon which is actually a pretty cool app

 

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

Be Your Own Health Care Advocate

One of the main struggles for us with living full-time on the road has been losing our primary care physicians.  Since we are lucky enough to be more or less healthy, this loss has been somewhat manageable, but over the last couple of years as we have both turned 50 it is getting more challenging.  It’s important to note that if you come from a place that you are willing to return to every year or so, you can keep your doctors, and we know many people who have done this.  In our case though, we wanted to explore new areas of the country and getting back to New Hampshire every year just isn’t a viable option for us. For the first couple of years on the road, we used Urgent Care a couple of times for minor issues, and blew off preventative care.  After I turned 50 I knew things would have to change.  I needed to schedule a colonoscopy, was behind on my annual mammogram, and the only way I knew to get those tests scheduled was through a PCP or Primary Care Physician.

Last year I took a deep breath and set about finding us a new one.  Other than knowing I wanted a woman, the choice was completely random, and I picked a hospital group that was somewhat local to where I was working at the time and called and asked for the first available appointment.  Originally I started looking in Texas, thinking I would would use the San Antonio area as my home base in the winter, but when I tried to schedule physicals I ran into all kinds of problems.  Several medical groups that I called were not accepting new patients and even the ones that were didn’t have any openings for months.  I didn’t necessarily know where I would be 2-3 months from when I called, and more importantly I just didn’t get a good feeling from any of the several places I called.  I don’t know if it was because I was an out of state resident, or because I was on an ACA healthcare plan, or maybe I just caught the receptionists on a bad day, but I didn’t get any warm fuzzies.  So I kicked the can down the road and decided to try again in the summer.

Thankfully, it was much easier to schedule appointments in Oregon, and since my only criteria was that the PCP was a woman, I was able to get in to see her within 30 days of requesting the appointment.  It was weird starting all over again with someone new, and to be honest I didn’t know how much energy I wanted to invest in the relationship because I had no idea if we would be coming back thew following year.  I shared the bare minimum, skipped over any part of my medical history that wasn’t relevant, and scheduled the mammogram and the colonoscopy.  And to be clear it wasn’t the PCP’s fault.  I just found myself missing my doctor of 15 years very much, who knew my kids and my life history, and at that point I just wanted to get through it and get the tests run so I could be on my way.

The colonoscopy went amazingly well, but on the mammogram they found a spot they didn’t really like.  In a completely impressive move though, the Breast Care center sent away for my medical records and within 2 days had a baseline mammogram from New Hampshire and had compared the results and felt everything was fine with no followup needed.  That truly  impressed me.  I carry my medical records in the RV, but not my mammogram results, and they compared images and cleared the spot in record time.  And those experiences in no small part influenced us to return to Oregon this year.  It was Lee’s turn for a colonoscopy and I knew we could see the same PCP for a second year. I once again had no issue getting an appointment for a physical and this year I opened up a little more about my health history.  I don’t think she remembered me at first, but Lee she definitely remembered.  Not surprising really, as he tends to be pretty funny with healthcare people that he likes, and since he had such a good experience I really felt like we were on the right track.

I went for another mammogram, and once again they found a spot that they didn’t like.  This time though they had their own records to compare it with and it was not the same as last year.  For those of you who don’t know, year over year results are a big deal with mammograms.  Many women have cysts of some kind, too much caffeine can cause them for example, and although most of them are benign and go away on their own, sometimes they don’t.  When new ones show up, which happens to me almost every year, the technicians look at the shape of them and your medical history and make a determination as to what comes next.  And this is where things get a little tricky. As my brother the doctor says, looking at these test results is more art than science since you can look at two nearly identical scans and one could be cancerous and one could be benign.  Deciding whether to do further tests is heavily based on your statistical risk factors, which is fine unless you are the one that is the statistic.

I should probably take a step back here and mention that almost everyone in my family is in the medical field.  My father and brother are doctors, and my mother and sister are nurses.  As the “black sheep” of the family I took another route and went into business, but since I have been surrounded by medical talk my entire life I have picked up a few things.  Now you might be thinking how big a deal can medical care be for her since she can just pick up the phone and call someone in her family, and certainly there have been times in my life where all that medical knowledge put me at a distinct advantage, but since we all live in different states, I had my own doctors my entire life, although I certainly have not been above “phoning a friend” when I felt I needed some advice.

I never needed that more than when 10 years ago I had a spot on a mammogram that led to an ultrasound, an MRI, a biopsy, and ultimately a small piece of my breast being removed.  That entire situation had me so freaked out that I called my baby brother and asked him for his advice.  He wasn’t that long from medical school and up to date on the latest and greatest in medicine, and he had a friend from school who was a specialist.  I sent them all of my test results and Eddie gave me someone to talk to that I absolutely trusted, and all of this was with my primary care physician that I absolutely adored.  If you are not a woman it is hard to explain why having a spot on your breast is so terrifying, but almost any woman who has been through the experience will tell you that it is very difficult.  It doesn’t help that each step of the process takes so long.  All in the entire process took over two months and the entire time you are carrying around a sense of foreboding and “What if”.

As hard as that situation was, I did walk away from the experience with some important information.  First, I had unusual breast tissue.  The tissue is dense for one thing which made clear pictures on a mammogram harder, but more importantly despite a complete lack of family breast cancer history I was at higher risk for it once I hit menopause.  Because of this risk, I should never be on hormone therapy for menopause symptoms and it was really important that I get my annual mammograms.  The other thing that I will always remember was that ultimately the decision to remove the small piece was made by my PCP.  Despite numerous tests and the biopsy, she made the decision to have it removed stating, “I don’t like having it in there and let’s just get it out.”  OK, that worked for me.  I had great insurance at the time and I completely trusted her judgement so we had it removed. Once it was out, I breathed a sigh of relief and went on with my life, rarely thinking about it.

Except it didn’t quite go away.  Right before we went on the road, they ordered another MRI for me and for a brief time I was 100% convinced that it would come back with bad results and that would be the thing that kept us off the road.  A couple of years later, I went to a doctor for something relatively minor and after describing my symptoms of pre-menopause he cavalierly recommend hormone replacement therapy.  That was a bit of a shocker and I had to tell him that it wasn’t an option for me.   The look on his face as he realized he had almost screwed up almost made it worth it, but I was left with a deeply uneasy feeling that if I hadn’t known my own medical history or felt educated enough to challenge him, I could have easily just taken his advice.  That is one place where having medical people in my family really helps me.  I know first hand that although they are educated and committed people, they are people and as such make mistakes.  We tend to think of medical professionals as these omnipotent beings, but like anyone else doing a job they are only as good as the information they have.  My Dad often says, being a doctor is often like being a detective.  There are clues that can lead to the correct diagnosis, but sometimes the tests don’t provide the information they need.  That’s where the relationship with the patient becomes so important.

Sorry, I know I am going the long way around here, but it is important that I put the story in the context.   10 years ago I had a full time job, great insurance, lots of paid sick time, a wonderful PCP who I had a long term relationship with and a family full of medical people I could call on.  Despite all of that, it truly was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. So a month ago, when I got the call that they wanted me to come in for a follow-up ultrasound because of a spot they found on my mammogram, my stomach tightened.  Yes, I was much better educated this time around, but I also knew what my risk factors were and my overriding feeling was it was inevitable and my time was up.  That may sound a bit melodramatic, but it is also true especially because around Christmas time I had asked my brother to re-look at those records from 10 years ago.  I was really struggling with hot flashes and other menopause symptoms and wanted to know if things had changed in medicine (or maybe we had made too big of a deal out of the test results) and there were any hormone therapy options out there for me.  My brother, who is a really good guy, did a bunch of research and came back and said, no things unfortunately hadn’t changed and the risk factors were the same.

The day of the ultrasound, I was randomly given one of the radiologists from the pool of doctors and for whatever reason I did not like the guy.  He was older and somewhat abrupt, and when he was called in to consult he obviously wasn’t aware of my risk factors.  He looked at the results, stated they were inconclusive, but because of my age and lack of family history I should just wait 6 months and get retested.  Well that was a problem for me, because I had no idea where I would be in 6 months and even if I did I would be starting all over again with a new set of doctors.  Plus his attitude really rubbed me the wrong way, so I started educating him on my actual history.  At this point he left the room (to review my chart I am thinking) and when he came back in his entire attitude was different.  Now he thought I should have a biopsy scheduled, just to “be on the safe side.”  After he left I was pretty agitated, because he never should have walked into that room without knowing my history.  Plus the fact that they scheduled the followup procedure the following week didn’t give me the warm and fuzzy.

Generally you can tell how concerned physicians are by how quickly they schedule the follow-up appointment.  It doesn’t completely track, but generally the quicker the test the more concerned they are.  Since I could only go on my days off, I needed to wait a full week, but they slotted me in as soon as they could.  The nurses all looked concerned as well.  When you are healthy everyone is generally smiling, but in this case several people actually said good luck with the test results.  Once I came home and looked at my schedule, I realized that I had actually scheduled the appointment the exact same time as my tax appointment,  The odds of that are pretty high, and since I had pushed my tax appointment twice already I had to call and reschedule.  That turned out to be a good thing though, because since I rescheduled I ended up with a totally different doctor. His name was Dr. Chan and he was everything the first guy was not.  He was extremely serious and calm, and completely up to date on my history.

When I went in I told the nurse I was dreading the procedure because of the pain I experienced the last time it was done, but they both assured me they would make sure they used plenty of local anesthesia and if I experienced any discomfort to let them know immediately and they would stop.  For those of you who have never experienced a breast biopsy, think staple gun with a needle in it.  They only use locals to numb the area and both times I had it done they had to “punch in” three times.  Twice to take samples and once to place a small marker, which lives in your breast going forward so doctors know where the problem areas were.  The first time I had it done, the area wasn’t numbed sufficiently and it really hurt when they were taking the sample.  This time I didn’t feel anything immediately, which was nice, but I have experienced soreness for several days now.  And because this was scheduled on a work day, I had to drive myself 2 hours to get there and then 2 hours to get home.  I couldn’t lift anything heavy for over 24 hours, which turned out to be a bit of a problem at my job the next day, and the soreness didn’t help my mood any.

Basically I was a mess, and since the results wouldn’t come in for 2-5 business days I was carrying around a strong sense of foreboding.  It didn’t help that simultaneously I was dealing with some major work issues, our truck broke down, and we were planning to meet our daughter in Seattle.  My emotional cup was way overfull and the only thing getting me through was the few women that I worked with who I told.  Most women have a story in their past where they have had some sort of similar scare and every one of them who had, was completely supportive.  That was a good thing, because I was really downplaying my anxiety to Lee because I didn’t want him to worry.  And if you are reading this and are my friend or family and are wondering why I didn’t say anything, I’m sorry.  I really was trying to hold it together in case it turned out to be nothing and except for the people I had to tell at work for logistic reasons and my brother who I asked to look at the test results, I kept it to myself.

And ultimately the results came back as benign, which was of course great, but  I didn’t realize how much I was carrying around until that moment, when I found myself needing to sit down and take a few deep breaths.  Lee was generally surprised by the strength of my reaction, so I suppose I did a good job of hiding my feelings there, but again anyone who had been through this won’t be.  And it was also a huge wake-up call. This incident reinforced how important it is that we are our own healthcare advocates.  I am lucky because I have some insurance and more importantly an HSA account with the funds to cover the bills.  I have to ask myself would I have made different choices if I would have needed to pay out of pocket or would the doctors have run the tests at all? Even without cost being a major factor in this case, it was still a struggle to get the right tests run, because yes, despite the fact that the test was benign, it was very important that they were done.

And to be clear none of this is going to change my mind about living the full-time lifestyle.  I knew coming in that we were rolling the dice when it came to our healthcare and don’t regret accepting that risk.  But it is an increased risk, and it’s important that we are honest with ourselves about that as we travel.  What I mean by that is obviously I could get sick anywhere, but my chances of early detection are less with the way we live.  The best way to combat that risk is through regular wellness care and educating myself.  When we become full time RVers we learn how to take care of our RV’s and for those of us who pull with trucks are generally obsessive about preventative maintenance.  Our bodies should be treated the same, in my opinion.  We don’t absolutely trust RV techs we don’t know, so why should we put our full faith in a doctor we have no relationship with? And luckily, in both cases, with the internet, we have the means of educating ourselves.  Certainly we will never know as much as trained professionals, but we can know enough to keep them honest.  If you are a person who puts doctors in the omnipotent category, remind yourself that they are also mechanics.  They can’t always diagnose the problem, they do make mistakes, and they never ever know as much about your body as you do.

Oh, and if you haven’t had a mammogram in over a year, please get one.  Yes it can be scary, but you can’t fix what you don’t know.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

 

 

 

Have I Mentioned it’s Never Boring Here

The only constant about Timothy Lake this year has been that there is always something going on.  It’s been hard for me to write this blog, because anything that has to do with employees or customers I haven’t been writing about, and those issues are what the majority of my time is being spent on.  But throughout my days other things do occur, and I have been snapping pictures as a way of trying to capture those things in the hopes I will find a few minutes to sit down and write about them to give you an idea of exactly how busy it is.  What follows is the account of one week (Sunday through Sunday), and as much as I would love to say this week was anomalous, it really wasn’t.  Even though I am a person who enjoys constant variety and challenges, at this point in the season I am yearning for a nice quiet week. The veterans tell me that once Labor Day passes, things really settle down and I am really hoping that is true.  There is a cumulative affect that is wearing everyone down, which is pretty normal in all busy campgrounds, but is magnified this year here because it has been “such an unusual year.”

Sunday is the day I go around and see all the camp hosts and get their paperwork for the week, and for four weeks in a row something unusual has happened when I am off property at other sites.  This week the something was an incident with a camper in a campground, but I wasn’t available to help because on the way back to Timothy from Harriet, this is what I ran into.


The Forest Road 57 between Harriet and Timothy is a singular road so any obstruction means you either wait for it to be cleared or turn around and drive over an hour the other way. As I was driving back this tree had randomly fallen across the road.  No one hit it with their car, it wasn’t down when I drove the road less than an hour earlier.  It just fell, and since the forest service had gone on Level IV no one could cut the tree except for forest service personnel.  Through sheer dumb luck that truck in front of me was a Forest service truck who just happened to be traveling along the road.  We do have several forest trucks in our area, but we also have lots of forest, so the odds of this were pretty slim,  Not to mention this entire section of road has no cell coverage, and it would have taken a while for someone to get there.

The ranger attached a chain to the tree and pulled it over. It was way bigger than it looks in the pics.

 

Four guys helped push it to the side.

 

And then the ranger cut it up.

The whole thing took roughly 20 minutes, and I helped stop traffic while it was happening.  The incident reinforced to me that we are living in a wilderness out here and if I had been alone there would have been no way for me to handle it myself.  Remember this particular stretch of road, because it comes into play at the end of the week as well. When I got back to the campground Lee had dealt with the customer incident, thankfully, but it will give you an idea of how busy it’s been that 8 days later neither he nor I can remember exactly what the incident was.  We aren’t forgetting because it wasn’t a big deal, I specifically remember apologizing to the camp host because I wasn’t on property to help take care of it, but I cannot remember the specifics.

Probably because on Monday, I had my hands full making Thanksgiving dinner.  We have had one big get together each month up here, and my plan all along was to make a huge turkey dinner for everyone because I have access to a regular size stove, and I’ve been wanting to make a turkey since we hit the road in November of 2014.  Monday the lodge guests left and no one was coming in until Tuesday, so I had a rare narrow window to make and serve the dinner.  Since Monday is usually a slow day I felt pretty confident about how it would go, but I didn’t take into account I would need to clean the lodge that day as well, because the lodge hosts were off.  Thankfully one of the camp hosts came up and helped with both the cleaning and the prep, but it was still a pretty long day, in particular because I was obsessing about the turkey.  It was a 23 pounder that Lee found at WinCo Foods, and I was obsessing about how long to cook it.  The last thing I needed was for the staff to get salmonella, plus if you are going to go to all that work you want it to be right.  I spent a ton of time that day checking on the turkey and even called my mom three separate times to get her advice.  Thankfully it turned out really well, and almost all of the camp hosts were able to come.  It was a really nice dinner and hopefully a break for everyone from the demands of the job but the prep and cleanup afterwards made for a super long day for me.

 

Tuesday Lee took off because his friend Brian was coming into town.  Lee and Brian (we never call him that, he’s always been “Noodle”) have known each other for 22 years, and Noodle actually flew from Columbus to us just so the could spend a day and a half together.  I covered for Lee on Tuesday and then ended up working part of Wednesday and Thursday that week, which actually was fine because it gave them lots of time together.  The two of them can just sit and talk for hours on end and as much as possible I gave them their space and let them catch up.  I did hang out a bit one day and we played this virtual reality game called Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes. It’s a bit like being in an escape room, but in your own house, because one person wears the VR goggles and tries to disarm a bomb while the other people decipher the clues and tell them what wires to cut, etc.  I thought it was really fun and since it was my first experience with virtual reality, made me wonder what else was out there.

Noodle with the VR goggles on. The goggles hold a smart phone which provides the brain.

 

Noodle stayed in our tent right on our site. He’s a super low maintenance guy which made it easy on us.

 

The bromance continues!!

We all had a really nice time and I am still amazed that he flew all the way out here for just a couple of days.  But that is the level of their friendship, and as Lee’s wife I am really glad he has someone like Noodle in his life.  It was also very cool of Susan (Noodle’s wife) to loan him to us.  While Noodle was here, I also had the opportunity to catch up on my TV shows.  They sat outside talking for hours upon hours and I got to watch Bachelor in Paradise 🙂  Lee despises that show so I never watch it when he’s in the RV, so I binge watched 4 episodes to get caught up.  Yes, I know, garbage television, but hey, everyone has their secret TV pleasures, plus there is something about watching all those beautiful 20 somethings have no idea what they are doing that makes my less attractive 50 year old self feel better!

One interesting thing that happened while we were “off” was we got a new propane tank for the compound.  Power will be out here for the month of September due to a new power turbine being put in the dam, so they are putting in a propane generator.  Our existing tank was pretty small, and when I told the maintenance folks that we have a propane generator and it really sucks propane they rethought the size of the tank.  It was pretty neat watching them bring a truck with a mini crane to remove the old one and set the new one. Since this happened right across from our site, we had a great view of the happenings.

Old tank on flatbed

 

Big fat new tank !

Friday when we came back we were faced with resolving another unusual problem.  I had been working some on my days off and I knew that because we had gone to Fire Restriction Level IV in the forest we needed a solution for Meditation Point.  Meditation point is a small 4 site campground that has it’s own little bathroom.  There is a 30 gallon tank in it that once a week someone has to go up and manually remove and drive (in a gator) back to our pit toilets where it is picked up and dumped into the sewer.  If the job sounds nasty, it is.  I’ve done it three times this summer myself and since it is a two person job we try and take turns doing it.  With Fire Level IV though the gator is not allowed on forest trails and since wheel barreling a full waste tank out isn’t really practical we were all trying to think of another solution.  Finally the head of maintenance had an interesting idea.  We would take our maintenance boat to Meditation point and bring the waste tank down that way. Four of us ended up going to try this idea out and just being on the boat was lots of fun.  Only a couple of staff have the license to drive the boat so it has sat here all season unused.  For me it was cool getting to be on the lake (first time all summer) and see the scope of it.  I see it from the perspectives of the different campgrounds, but it was nice seeing things from the lake itself.  Gave me a different perspective.

All suited up for the lake and yes I wore a life jacket…we all did

 

Lots of beautiful dispersed campsites along the lake

 

This was the shore near med point where we ultimately put in

 

I stayed with the boat while the guys did the cleaning and moving to make sure no one tampered with it

 

the wheelbarrow they used to ferry the poop tank down to the dock

 

This was the trail they ultimately brought the tank through

 

The whole enterprise went surprisingly well and this little adventure was the absolute best part of my week which should tell you something 🙂  I got a phone call from the host at North Arm while we were there and he said he needed help moving a very heavy picnic table and since I had some muscle with me we took a little side trip and the guys moved the table.

After we worked the rest of the day, Lee and I decided to head down to Estacada to have dinner and pick up some things at the hardware store, and instead of taking the company truck we decided to go in our personal vehicle.  Usually we take one of the work trucks and get it gassed up, but today on a whim we decided to take ours.  That was both good and bad because on the way back, not far down the road from where the tree fell earlier in the week, all of a sudden our traction control light and ABS light came on.  We smelled a burning smell, and Lee pulled over as soon as he could find a spot and we saw that the front left tire was barely hanging on the axle, and was totally tilted in at the top.

Unbelievable the whole tire didn’t fall off

 

Hard to see here but it was barely hanging on and you can see the pile of shavings in the bottom right corner.

The good news was the next time that truck would have been driven I would have been alone going down the mountain for a doctors appointment.  The bad news was we had no cell coverage, weren’t 100% sure where we were as far as distance up the mountain, and weren’t crazy about leaving the vehicle alone.  We frequently see disabled cars out here in the wilderness that have been stripped, windows broken, and sometimes burned. We knew Harriet Lake campground had a landline and was somewhere close by, but I wanted to stay with the truck just in case someone tampered with it.  This was not an unreasonable concern since we see trashed and stripped cars along forest roads all the time, but Lee was adamant I couldn’t stay alone, saying finally that the truck and it’s contents could be replaced, but I couldn’t. That was incredibly sweet and hard to argue with so we both started walking. It’s worth noting by the way that four different vehicles passed us by and not one slowed down and asked if we needed help.  One was even pulling a camper and probably heading towards Timothy Lake and they could have let our camp host know where we were.  Thankfully someone was watching out for us though because we were only 2 1/2 miles away from Harriet and it was mostly downhill. We made good time, which was a good thing, because it was almost dark by the time we arrived.

I was very happy to see the bathroom

 

Dusk was upon us as we hit the campground

 

The camp host at Harriet called our head of security and it was pretty dark by the time he got to us.  We went to the truck and grabbed a few things, but most of it (including Lee’s tools) we had to leave.  We got back to the RV by 9:30 and at that point I called Ford roadside assistance.  I have to say I was incredibly impressed by the service we received.  Not only did they get a tow truck driver to come out with a flatbed, but they also paid the first $200 and negotiated the total amount down to $535.  That may sound like a lot for a tow but people have routinely been paying $750 – $1K for tows up here and I could totally live with paying $335 to get it off the road on a Friday night.  Lee ended up going out and being with the truck until 1:30am because it barely fit on the flatbed, but the driver also took it right to the closest Ford dealer and roadside assistance left them a message that the truck was there and why.

The next morning we called and things again went VERY smoothly.  It was taken to the Surburban Auto Group in Sandy and since we had an oil change there last year we were already in the system.  They confirmed that the truck was covered under warranty (we are at 94,000 miles and are good until 125,000 whew) and also told us the bearing had gone bad (defective part) and it was all covered except for our $100 deductible.  Wow…this has to be the best repair experience since we have been on the road and as a cute side note you may have heard of Suburban Auto Group, because 10 years ago they had some viral commercials featuring their trunk monkeys. If you haven’t seen the commercials here’s one to get you started..and it’s pretty amazing Lee saw this back in New Hampshire before we ever hit the road and then ended up here.   They were great, the tow driver was great, the camp hosts who helped us were great and seriously this whole thing could have been so much worse in many many different ways.  I even have a rental car that is totally covered for some of the days and the Gresham Enterprise dealership was awesome also. One of our camp hosts was kind enough to drive me down on Saturday to get the rental car and to say thanks I bought us lunch.  She turned me on to a restaurant in Boring called the Red Apple which is a combination diner and Chinese restaurant (not making that up) and I had one of the best club sandwiches I have ever had.

 

When these sorts of things happen it’s never pleasant, but since it is inevitable that they will when you are traveling full time on the road, you REALLY appreciate the people and businesses that help you through it.  I could have been alone, we could have had to have walked many more miles, insurance might not have covered it, there could have been no rental cars…seriously things could have definitely been a ton worse.  God was looking out for us, and I am grateful that things went how they did.


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time in Yakima, Washington

It was chilly when we woke up the next morning and unfortunately our air mattress had a slow leak so we were sleeping on the ground, but the sounds of the river were awesome and we turned on our Bond Mfg 66603 Aurora Portable Gas Steel Fire Bowl, 18.5″, Black fire pit to take the chill off.  I woke up with some heavy thoughts the morning of my birthday and mostly they were about the job we have been working.  We have “had a rough go” this season as we like to say.  Partially because I’m new and partially because of all the unusual things that have happened.  Seriously there have been at minimum 10 times (probably way more) where pretty major occurrences have taken place and I have heard “that has never happened before”.  When you are in a near constant state of crisis management, it’s easy to lose perspective.  Being in the Mountains (and without a cell signal) had allowed me the emotional and mental space to see things a little more clearly.

It was a pretty heavy conversation for a birthday morning, but ultimately a good one.  And while we had it we tried another one of our instant meals.  Of all the things I had purchased I was the most excited about the scrambled eggs and bacon.  I thought these might taste the closest to the “real food” and since I eat breakfast for dinner all the time thought this might be my favorite solution.  Unfortunately unlike the meals from the night before the flavors were chalky and bland.  Also the instruction tell you to “drain the excess water” and without a colander of any kind, quite a bit of the egg mixture fell on the ground.  I only took a few bites and even Lee (who will eat almost anything) threw most of his away.

Ultimately that was OK though because by this time we saw that the smoke wasn’t going to clear today either, and decided to head to Yakima Valley on our way back to Timothy Lake.  I love getting fresh produce from the different places we travel to and one of the first things I research about an area is where to find local fruits and vegetables.  In my research Yakima Valley kept coming up as the best place to get fruits and vegetables.  Since it wasn’t that far out of our way, we headed north to the 410 scenic highway, and then drove that down to Yakima.  This road took us through the Wenatchee National Forest, and although it was super smoky once again we could tell on a clear day it would have stunning views.  And the road itself was in very good condition, so in relatively no time we made it to Yakima.

 

One of the interesting things about leaving the Cascade Range is how dramatically the landscape changes.  You go from dense, old growth forest to sagebrush and juniper in what seems like the blink of an eye.  Yakima Valley lies near the edge of the Cascade range and apparently has an incredibly fertile valley.  They also have access to water and the combination has made this a very fertile valley.  The first thing we did was stop at McDonald’s and I got myself a breakfast sandwich.  I needed fortification for all the farmers stands we were going to, because there were around 15 in a relatively small area.  Generally this is not something that Lee really loves to do, but since it was my birthday he was game.  He did want a map and for me to GPS us from one place to another, but he was a pretty good sport about the whole thing and we ended up stopping at 8 different places.

I love wild huckleberries and know they are extremely time consuming to pick, but these prices were too steep for me

 

This sign was in one of the farmer’s markets and at first I thought it was funny, until I met the guy who ran the place and saw this was his overall attitude on everything.

Actually the Yakima Valley is divided into two areas.  One is outside the reservation and the other is within.  I actually preferred the stands that were on the reservation because the prices were better and the vegetables were (to my eye at least) much better quality.  I bought some absolutely fantastic green beans and tomatoes at one stand and some really great peppers at another place.  The peppers I was particularly interested in because I am not really a big fan and I had a great conversation about the mildest peppers they had.

Pimento Sweet peppers

 

This pepper is called a Christie sweet and unique to this farm. The woman told me her grandfather traded with a Bulgarian and cross bred some seeds to create this pepper. She gave me one to try.

 

We also were able to buy gas really cheap on the reservation. only $3.09 a gallon, and we enjoyed the drive down to the Dalles and towards Timothy.  I was getting hungry again then so started to look at restaurants on Yelp and ran across a Vietnamese restaurant called Pho Sai Gan.  In the last two years we have been super disappointed in almost every meal we have had up here, but not this time.  First off Vietnamese is my absolute favorite ethnic food, because it’s plentiful, relatively inexpensive, and delicately spiced.  Lee has come around to my way of thinking too and after eating this meal he is definitely a convert.  The restaurant had a cool ambiance, the service was great, and the food was really good.  It was the perfect way to cap off my birthday and we are definitely coming back here the next time we want a good meal!

Back to work we went, but my birthday wasn’t over yet because a couple nights later a few of the camp hosts threw me a surprise birthday dinner.  I was so surprised, I didn’t even notice the decorations at first, but was super grateful when I did.  It was very sweet of them and much appreciated and we all had a wonderful time eating and drinking and of course having cake!

I was so tunnel vision I didn’t even notice this at first

 

One of the hosts bought me these cool lights and a new water bottle since she see I am always carrying one

 

they were kind enough to go easy on the candles 🙂

 


Camper Chronicles is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, a program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. We very much appreciate any purchase you make via our website links.  There is no additional cost to you and helps support our blog.  Search Amazon.com here

Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.

First Time at Mt. Ranier

Don’t get me wrong, I love the road less traveled as much as the next full timer, but sometimes when you take that road you get lost!  But let me back up a bit.  When I was searching  for something to do on my birthday, I knew two things:  I wanted to go someplace I had never been before and despite living in an absolutely beautiful setting, I needed a change of scenery.  Mt.  Rainier seemed perfect because it was a national park, and only 5 hours away by car.  There were two routes we could take.  One was all major highways and through Portland, or the “back way” which was on all new roads for us.  Of course I chose the back way, and since we weren’t pulling the trailer, Lee agreed.

The beginning of the drive started out pretty great.  We enjoyed the scenery and felt like we were getting back to a part of the lifestyle we really loved.  Then we came upon one orange sign that said “Forest Service Road 24 was closed in 23 miles”.  After a brief consultation we decided to keep going, because we had our paper atlas and Lee had the GPS in his phone.   The farther north we went the less maintained the road was, and the deeper into the forest we were.  We both lost cell service, but felt OK because our phone GPS was still working and then we came to an intersection.  To the right was highway 24, which our phone wanted us to take, but now it said the road was absolutely closed in 12 miles.  According to the GPS we needed to go farther than that, so not knowing what else to do we made a left on FS 90.

Now this is where it got dicey.  90 ran east/west and although my map had some thin road lines on it, none of them told us the name of the road.  So I truly had no idea where this road would eventually end up, and more importantly didn’t know what road to take to go north again. 90 was in even worst shape than 24 was, and Lee started to dodge some serious potholes.  More important than that, entire sections of the highway had “sunk” and despite his best efforts it was impossible to miss them all.

This was actually worse than it looks, and there were MANY of these. The area to the left of the fissure is a good 9 inches lower than the right.

 

Now I was starting to worry.  We had plenty of gas, but a flat tire in the middle of nowhere is an entirely different thing. Eventually I asked Lee to pull over so we could talk about it (not something I would have done in our early years as full timers), and he plugged in our Rand McNally RV GPS.  We’ve had this GPS since the very beginning, and I’ll be honest we don’t use it much now, but when we need it we REALLY need it.  The GPS loaded right up and started routing us, which is ultimately how we figured out which road to make a right on to go north.  We also stumbled across the small town of Eagle Cliff  in the middle of nowhere (closest utility power was 30 miles away) and there was a small campground and camp store.  The guy running the place was super nice and verified that yes, 24 was actually closed, and we were roughly on the right track.  Since it was well past lunch at this point we grabbed a couple of snacks and both wished the little pizza place was open.

Sadly, only open Thursday through Sunday

Once we turned onto 25 we both started to feel better, but then we started to see the smoke.  We’ve been really lucky at Timothy Lake this year with not many really bad smoky days, but the valley  leading into Ranier was was full of it.  There were lots of pull-offs and what we assume were spectacular views but we couldn’t see any of it. At this point I started to get really bummed out, because the weather report for Ranier had shown clear skies and there was no mention of smoke at all.  Eventually we made it to our campground. Ohanapecosh, and went into the Visitors center.  We met a very nice ranger who told us that unfortunately there was a fire ban (again not on the website anywhere before we took off and I read their twitter feed!), but I wasn’t too terribly disappointed because just in case we brought our new Bond Mfg 66603 Aurora Portable Gas Steel Fire Bowl, 18.5″, BlackThe smoke was a larger concern, and at that point I was tired and just wanted to get into the campsite and eat some lunch. 

The views on the way in

 

Entrance to Ranier

 

Ohanacopesh Visitors Center

 

This topical map showed that the entire park really centered around Ranier, which bummed me out more, because I thought we wouldn’t be able to see it

Despite my darkening mood, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the campsite.  #16 is on Ohanapecosh river and we even had a dirt path we could use to walk down to the river bed.  It was a huge site, very deep, with a place close to the water we could pitch our tent.  Really great site and the fact that it was only available for that one night made a ton of sense to me.  It was in Loop A which was a generator free loop, and they had bear boxes for food at every site, which was a great feature.  My only complaint was the restrooms, which were very dirty and didn’t include any paper towels for drying your hands, or soap in the dispensers.

Campsite, from where we parked the truck

 

View of the river from the edge of our site

 

Here we are all setup

 

Highly functional bear box

 

The river was beautiful and the cool water felt great

 

I sat down here on the rocks for awhile and just enjoyed the noise

After setting the tent up we were both starving and decided to try out a couple of our ready to eat meals we had brought with us.  After our last camping experience and having raccoons get into our food, we both thought we wanted to try some dehydrated, “just add hot water” meals.  Using Amex points we purchased about twenty bags of different meals and we both wanted to give them some of them a try.  I should mention that these meals are NOT cheap, but they are super convenient and you don’t have to worry about bringing ice, coolers etc. There’s also zero cleanup, since all you use is a pot to boil water, and you pour the water into the bag to “cook” the food. You can eat right out of the bag, but we brought paper bowls. We had ordered multiple varieties and manufacturers to see what we liked, and Lee tried Mountain House Beef Stroganoff with Noodles and I tried Wise Foods Entree Dish Chili Mac with Beef (2 Servings)

 

Lee really enjoyed his, and the flavor of mine was surprisingly good, BUT we didn’t stir mine enough so there were chunks of powder in the bottom of mine which was not so good.  It was definitely operator error, but a bit disappointing, because there was no good way to tell it wasn’t fully cooked until it was too late.  Still, it got the job done, but despite being better flavored than I would like I was stuck on the price.  They cost over $8 each, and I kept thinking about what other kinds of meals I could get for the same price, which isn’t really a fair comparison, because the whole idea is that you eat these when there are not other places around.

I was also struggling with the fact of how disappointed I was by the smoke.  As full timers we tend to take a pretty philosophical view when weather isn’t cooperating, but mentally I was acting like I was on vacation and it was an all or nothing experience.  That concerned me because theoretically we could jump int he truck and come back anytime we wanted to this summer, but the reality was we both knew we wouldn’t.  This job has been seriously kicking our butts and it was tough enough to carve out these two days to get here.  I really didn’t like the fact that I was feeling this way at all, but Lee said let’s just go into the park and see what we see.

Turns out that was an absolutely wonderful idea, and I am so glad I agreed.  For one thing at 4pm crowds were minimal and as it got darker, more animals came out.  From this point I am going to show you what we saw with the pictures, but I think you will agree that staying inside the park and exploring after 4pm is a great way to go!!   That choice not only salvaged the day, but taught us something as well, and helped reconnect us once again to the true purpose of this lifestyle for us.  By the way, we drove into the Stevens canyon Entrance (no one was manning the gate so entrance was free) and worked our way “backwards towards the Nisqually entrance.

The first place we stopped was at Box Canyon and saw a place where a fire had cleared a section of land

 

Where the fire cleared.  Ranier is in the background, and could barely be seen, but that was OK because there was neat stuff to look at anyway.

 

Beautiful stone bridge looking down into a DEEP gorge

 

Super Cool gorge

 

Loved the stone bridges

 

On the other side of the road there was a viewing platform, and once Lee reached it he emphatically waved me over

 

Across the gorge, ambling along the trail we saw a huge black bear

 

These sightings aren’t really that common, and we knew the moment was definitely special. The later time period made it possible and the lack of people on the trails. I just felt like the universe was giving me a birthday present, and once again saying, you are on the right path, keep doing what you are doing. Yes, it was just a bear, but it was more than that to me, and I believe in those sorts of moments.

 

My mood noticeably brightened after the bear and depite the fact that the Mt. Rainier views were hazy I was glad we could at least get a feel for it’s size

 

Plus there were more super cool rivers, creeks, and small waterfalls along the route

 

Really amazing glacier streams were kind of everywhere

 

And since the ice was still melting even in August they had great force in them

 

 

I was momentarily bummed out a little when we got to Reflection Lakes because what could have looked like this

 

But instead we saw this. But I was heartened by the fact that we knew what we were missing and we both vowed to come back on a clear day

 

And the higher elevation we went the better the views became

 

We got a pretty decent view of the many glaciers

 

And the top.

 

This would have been an awesome pic on a clear day

 

Plus I saw on the map that there were two waterfalls near our route and I knew that the haze shouldn’t affect them much.  Turns out the waterfalls were absolutely amazing and the Christine Falls were one of the most romantic waterfalls I have ever seen.  There may have been waterfall kisses 🙂

We walked down a path to Narada Falls

 

And saw this beautiful black tailed deer along the way

 

This was at least three stories tall

 

You get a feel of the size from the stone bridge at the top which could easily fit a regular sized automobile

 

Christine Falls were even cooler though because you could see where it started

 

See a side spring that fed into the falls

 

Giving a second stream under the bridge

 

And walk across down to a viewing point to see this

 

Just wow.  This is not clever photo framing, it really looked like this.

 

After the wonderful waterfalls, we decided to go up to Paradise Inn and eat some dinner.  We knew it would be pricey, historic lodges generally are, but splurging for a birthday dinner seemed like an OK thing.   And I am so glad we did, because there was construction going on and we missed our turn into the parking lot which took us on a one way loop away from the lodge, and back down the hill to where we started when we headed up to the lodge. Lee stopped the car rather suddenly and asked for the camera, and started taking pictures of a hoary marmot.  These guys are about as big as a ground hog and the only other place we had seen them was Alaska.  The first little guy posed for me for a really long time to my delight and then a second one was on Lee’s side and stood up for him and he got some really great shots.

My little guy was right by a hole, and although he started to go in he changed his mind and decided to pose for me instead

 

He gave me the side pose

 

Then had a nice scratch

 

And looked right out me for a long time

 

Lee’s little guy was eating when we came upon him

 

But then decided to stand up

 

As cute as they are take a look at those teeth and claws. Personally I wouldn’t want to be near one who was unhappy

 

That encounter was amazing and pretty much dumb luck since we took the wrong turn and once again the lack of traffic on the roads made it possible.  The lodge itself was OK, and dinner was pretty good, although the service wasn’t awesome.  Lee had and Elk chili noodle dish and I had prime rib, which I actually really liked.  It was a nice way to top off the day though, and the gift shop up there was pretty terrific.

The lodge

 

Dining room

 

Lee’s dinner

 

After we were done we headed back and made it to the campsite in the dark, and fell asleep to the wonderful sounds of the river.  It was a really good day and I was very grateful for it and especially grateful that my husband had hung in there with me and made it a special day.  We had a plan B  if it was still smoky the next day, but more about that in my next post.


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Or you can check out our recipe book filled with 80 real recipes we have cooked in our RV and taste tested by Lee himself. The cookbook specializes in recipes that have a limited number of ingredients, without sacrificing flavor and is organized into categories that matter to full time RVers such as Happy Hours, Travel Days, and Pot Lucks   You can preview the kindle version on  Amazon or the Apple version on Itunes.    It is available in paperback on Amazon if you prefer.