Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Whidbey Island as seen from Fidalgo Island

Our 'Sunday outing of the week' brought us to neighbouring Whidbey Island.
It was a beautiful, warm, clear day, something we definitely have learned to appreciate as rare as it has been in the coastal regions of Oregon and Washington this year. 
After a short drive we first took a coffee break in the quaint little town of La Conner at the Calico Cupboard.
Unfortunately we'd had a big breakfast, our usual 'grand slam' for the Sunday, so we couldn't eat much of their delicious variety of bakery items! Or maybe for the better since I'm still battling about 8 pounds!

The town has a small boardwalk and a lot of cute little art shops.

La Conner

We entered the Island from the North over the Deception Pass Bridge which connects the north end of Whidbey to the mainland via Fidalgo Island.
Prior to the completion of the bridge in 1935, Whidbey Island was linked to Fidalgo Island by the Deception Pass ferry, which ran from 1924 to 1935.

Our next stop was the town of Coupeville, the second oldest town in Washington State.
The historic Coupeville Wharf is the icon that symbolizes the town's history as a once major seaport. It now houses shops, a little cafe and skeletons of Rosie the gray whale and Rudy the Dall's Porpoise.     

Looking down from the wharf you have an entertaining view of gulls fighting each other over starfish. There certainly seem to be enough for all of them but they all want the small ones. Maybe they're more tender than the big old (tough) ones?

This town had some great seafood cafes/restaurants and we should have gotten lunch here but unfortunately we decided to drive on to where the ferry leaves for Port Townsend, vaguely remembering someone recommending the boardwalk there to have the best little crab and mussel shacks.
On arrival though we found out there wasn't even a town, just a ferry landing and a small little roadside cafe that had little ambiance.
Oh well, the fish and chips was piping hot and very good so all's well that ends well.....I guess.

Onward we went! We were now entering the southern parts of the Island, a much less busy and therefor more 'authentic' and quaint area with rolling farm land and tall pine forests.
Driving by the Greenbank Farm we decided on a short visit and walked in a few of the little art and produce shop on the property.
Greenbank Farm, once home to the biggest loganberry farm in the world, is a community-founded nonprofit organization which manages 151 acres of publicly owned space and an historic farm.

A couple of years ago five cultivated acres of farmland where students learn large-scale organic gardening were developed. Forty families help support the training by paying a fee to have fresh produce delivered every week as part of the farm's Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project. Students also sell what they grow to local grocery stores and the hospital, as well as at the Coupeville farmers market.

We reached the 'end' of the Island, Clinton,  just in time for the 3.30 pm ferry that would bring us to Mukilteo on the mainland.


This beautiful and fun little trip came on the heels of a very busy and productive week.
It was nice to relax our sore muscles after days of many a weeding, pruning, organizing and building project.


That's Esther on the mower! I hope I'll have her stamina when I'm her age!

By the way, have you noticed? I tripled my 'follower' count this week! Yep! Went from 1 to 3! Yahoo!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A cloudy sunrise over the cascade mountain range as seen from our RV

What a beautiful couple of days this have been and what a welcome relief from the gloom and rain from Dayton!
The sun was out most of the time and the temperature warm enough to sit outside for coffee and lunch.
We're all set up. Water and electricity needed a little tweaking and we had to get one more length of sewer hose but we're all connected now. Esther even allowed us to tie into her direct TV  by means of some extra cable through one of the windows of the house so we can watch whatever we like!
All the comforts of home!

Every morning at 7.30 Ester and I have been joining a small group of people and dogs that gather in front of the house to go for a walk together. Known in the neighbourhood as 'The Walkers' they walk for about 2 to 3 miles, rain or shine, and visit along the way with some neighbours and their dogs, or sometimes only the dogs, during which stops all the dogs get cookies (and even cheese) from just about everybody!
Sadie must think she has died and gone to heaven! All these treats! It took her only one walk to learn that stops mean cookies and also figured out fast who has the best ones!
It's a great group of the nicest people, and dogs, and we have a lot of fun and interesting conversations each time.

But this week has not all been just fun and play!
We had promised Esther we'd help her with some bigger and smaller projects she had on her 'honey-do list' and as our first project we 'attacked' the kitchen.
Esther wanted a new fridge and cook top so I set out to research models, prices and stores while James started re-sanding, -staining and -finishing the cabinet doors that had gone dull and/or lost their finish over the years.  

Since the cabinets never had knobs we added those which I think will help greatly to keep them clean and the finish from wearing off.
While James went on to add baseboards to the kitchen and bathroom which for some odd reason  have never been installed, Ester and I cleaned all those high to reach places that are getting a little too difficult for her to get to.

The fridge arrived and was installed and the new stove top is ordered and to arrive on Saturday.
It already looks like a new kitchen! Very pretty!

On Sunday we took the day off and set off to tour the Island. We drove all around it in about 2 1/2 hours.
It was a beautiful day although a little windy and chilly but perfect for a nice drive.
Camano Island takes its name from an early Spanish explorer, and in the 1700s Europeans mapped and named many places in the area.

Two prominent Norwegian settlers arrived around 1850, Oliver B. Iverson (1845-1940) and Rev. Christian Joergenson (1847-1929) who in turn encouraged relatives and friends from Norway to immigrate and to farm or work in the logging camps which explains the many Scandinavian names of landmarks and even of families that still live on this island.

In Stanwood, just before the bridge that takes you to the island you have 'Viking Village' that boasts a restaurant and several little shops.


One of which is Uff da, established in 1981.

Uff Da" is a fun expression used by Norwegians and other nationalities. It's a polite expression generally referring to a mistake or an "oh darn" experience, or even a "whoops!" 
My fellow blogger Judy who is from Swedish descent once wrote about it in her blog.
If you have never read her blog you should certainly do so! It's very well written, has gorgeous pictures, is often very educational and very funny as well.
She recently went through quite some 'Uff Da'-days, so I was immediately thinking about her when I saw this shop!
This one's for you, Judy! Hang in there!

There is something for everyone at the Uff Da Shoppe, ranging from Scandinavian cookware to German Christmas ornaments, Uff Da University t-shirts and diplomas, Swedish electric candle trees...and much more.

We didn't go for a viking meal though, we had lunch at the local 'saloon' were a sumptuous, huge plate of nachos was accompanied by a few draft beers served in, as far as I could determine, were canning jars?
I guess it's adding to the 'rustic atmosphere'?

Monday, April 16, 2012

On the day we finally left Dayton, won't you have it, the sun was out and the flowering trees along the RVs pathways put on quite a show!
Not that I was complaining because it's always so much nicer to travel in good weather don't you think? Everything looks much nicer and it's a lot safer on the roads too.
It took us a while to get everything ready but we didn't have very far to go so we took it easy and also took the time for a relaxed farewell coffee with our neighbours David and Allison.
They're such great people, we really enjoyed talking to them and we've picked their brains all winter about Alaska since they both lived there for some time.
Their little dog Gus, a 'skipperke', kept us entertained with his youthful antics. Boy, did he have some energy!

At 12 pm we were finally on the road again and I had the opportunity to take a picture of our 'combination' which shows off te decals we put on the truck matching the RV. Doesn't it look great?

Traffic was light towards and around Portland and it wasn't long before we crossed the state border into Washington.
Our first, and only, stop of today was the visitor center at Mt. St. Helen's, about 5 miles east off the I-5 at Castle rock.

The 110,000 acre area around Mount St. Helen's is a U.S. National Monument called Mount St. Helen's National Volcanic Monument that was established on August 27, 1982 by U.S. President Ronald Reagan following the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helen's.
Exhibits at the visitor center include the area's culture and history, and the natural history and geology of the volcano and the eruption, including the recovery of the area's vegetation and animal life. The Center includes a theater, a gift shop and outdoor trails.

After watching the very impressive video about the blast we walked the beautiful trail through the wet lands that surround the Center. A series of wooden bridges guide you over the water and provide you with a beautiful view of the mountain.

It was a little too early for the waterlilies to bloom but if you look carefully at te middle of the right picture this little frog made use of the leaves to soak up some sun and a little farther the 'skunk cabbage' was in full bloom.

Traveling farther North we abandoned the I-5 and followed the 12 and 7 that wind their way through the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie Natl. Forest.
This Forest contains many scenic and historical points of interest. Mountain tops gradually rise from 5,000 to 6,000 feet (1,800 m) on the south end of the forest to 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,400 m) in the north. Two tall volcanoes, Mount Baker and Glacier Peak, tower thousands of feet above the adjacent ridges and are visible most of the time (if the weather allows for it).
The Forest is home to more glaciers and snow fields than any other National Forest outside Alaska.

The road, although windy and one lane only, is in very good condition and the truck had no problems pulling us up and down.

Around 5 pm we arrived at the Alder Lake campground where we set up camp for the night.
It's a nicely wooded place with big sites, spaced well away from each other.
Since it's still 'off season' the sites with a lake view were closed but we didn't mind too much, our space was nice and quiet and we enjoyed a beautiful evening 'in the woods'.
A perfect time to bring out the creamy goat cheese brie Allison gave us as a goodbye present and some delicious humus with pine nuts. No need to cook and very yummy!

The next morning brought another beautiful day and we continued our way north through the beautiful forests and lush pasture land until we arrived at Seattle where we caught up with the I-5 again.
Although traffic was a little more busy it was an easy drive and after we passed the city we had some lunch and gave Esther, James' aunt, a call that we were almost there!

Camano Island, where she lives, is a large island in the Possession Sound portion of Puget Sound, located in Island County, Washington, between Whidbey Island and the mainland, about 50 miles north of Seattle.
Esther has a beautiful 5 acre property on the East side of the Island, big enough to accommodate our RV and truck and than some!

This is our new 'set-up' and will be our home base for about a month or so before we leave for Alaska.

My camera doesn't do it justice but the view of the Cascade mountain range and Mt. Baker (10,778')  is spectacular!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

OK, what's wrong with this picture? Well, not really this picture because it's actually quite a good one, but figuratively speaking....?

Right. It's April and we're still here!

Because all the rain we had,.. really...rain, ....what rain....?..... James couldn't finish Dougs yard yet so we decided to stay another week although the forecast, and the sky, still don't look very promising.

Since we now had some extra time on our hands we took one last road trip on Sunday.
We went to Silverton, about 20 miles south-east of Salem, and visited the Silver Falls State Park. It's the largest state park in Oregon and amongst a gazillion walking, biking and horse trails it has an 8.7 mile trail called the Canyon Trail that runs along the banks of Silver Creek and by ten waterfalls from which the park received it's name.

Four of the falls allow the trail to pass behind them as is the case with the park's most visited one, the South falls, a 177-foot (54 m) cascade that you seen in the pictures.

We braved the rain for about an hour to walk part of the trail and look at 2 of the falls. Because of the wet winter there was a lot of water coming down these beauties.
The walk along the river was beautiful. I'm always amazed by all the moss growing on the trees in this state.

In my continuing hopeful search for spring I found this little patch right outside the RV in the neighbours site. Instant moodlifters!

But the ultimate spring feeling this week was brought on by visiting the local feed store. Looking for flea 'stuff ' for Sadie and Merlin, yep, the first ones are showing up allready, I walked the isles towards the back when hearing the faintest peeps coming from some big feed bins with warmth lamps hanging above them.

Aaaawww!!! Soooo cute!!!

Saturday was crunch day for James at Doug's yard. The weather was somewhat cooperating while they planted most of the front yard and finished up the back yard.
Doug even managed to get some hours, and plants, in!