WA: Wandering – 07/12/2017 – 07/18/2017

Parking: Quality Inn in Mt. Vernon
Rating: 9

Parking: Curley’s Resort in Sekiu
Rating: 6

Parking: Ramada Inn in Olympia
Rating: 10+

Parking: Comfort Inn in Bellingham
Rating: 10

Parking: Oxford Suites in Bellingham
Rating: 10++

Being ridiculously hot in NE WA, we decided to go back west, pick up the sailboat from its parking spot overlooking Sequim Bay, and do a little sailing.

We went across Hwy 20 since Hwy 2 was being repaved and we’ve never been on Hwy 20 between Republic and Winthrop, but it turned out that part of it had been washed out, so we ended up making a detour that was longer than if we had just taken Hwy 2 from the start. After over-nighting in Mt. Vernon, we headed to Sequim to pick up the boat. We had been worried about leaving her since she was parked in the trailer section of John Wayne Resort next to the tent campers, but she was fine other than having one partially deflated tire. We hooked her and started a driving tour of the Oly Pen. The clear-cutting of the forest that goes on there makes me appreciate the selective culling that the loggers do in NE WA.

We drove all the way out to Neah Bay, but we did not know we had to pick up a parking pass in town, so we ended up not going out to the point. It seems we often do the type of sight-seeing my family did as a child (i.e., drive up to somewhere but not actually go in) that I swore I would not do as an adult.

The northern coast of the Oly Pen along the Strait of Juan de Fuca is sparsely populated and not really good for tourist sailing, so the poor boat ended up getting dragged past more bodies of water without getting wet.

After rounding Olympia and heading back north, I was reminded of why I don’t much like the Seattle/Tacoma/Everett area of the state when we were stuck in some ridiculous traffic, but at least Bellingham was a nice place to prepare for our sail.

Mazama, WA
Hwy 20
Mazama, WA
Hwy 20
Mazama, WA
Hwy 20
Sekiu, WA
Sekiu
Sekiu, WA
Sekiu
Sekiu, WA
Sekiu
Olympic Pen, WA
Hwy 101 – Pacific Coast

WA: Homebase – 04/26/2017 – 07/12/2017

Homebase, WA
Depodded

Having the excavator made short work of the driveway, so we were able to get to our “permanent” site and depod again. Eventually, we’ll either gravel or concrete the site, so it’s easier to depod and repod, but for now, we’re just making due with a dirt base.

Since we don’t have a well, we have to haul water in. Keeping the water tanks covered is best so that things don’t grow in the tanks, so we needed a shed. As usual, we build rather than buy because we want something seriously sturdy. Unfortunately, we are also slow and lazy, and as Eastern Washington got hotter, we got slower and lazier, but we did eventually get it chipmunk-proof (it still needs trim, but that’s purely decorative).

We are totally off-grid here. During the day, we have enough solar to run the air conditioning, but in the evening we have to crank the generator for a couple of hours since it has been getting over 100 degrees, and neither of us can stand the heat anymore. We’ll be getting some extra batteries and another solar panel, so hopefully we can reduce the generator time to near zero although the plan in the future is to not be here in the summer.

As mentioned, we haul water in (the large tank stays in the shed, and we use the small tank to fetch water from town in the pick-up. Town also has a wastewater dump station and a garbage transfer station.

Homebase, WA
Building trusses
Homebase, WA
Framing
Homebase, WA
Depodded
Homebase, WA
Depodded
Homebase, WA
Shed
Homebase, WA
Water tanks

WA: Round trip to Everett – 04/25/2017 – 04/26/2017

Parking: Best Western – Cascadia Inn
Rating: 10

Sultan, WA
Bringing Baby home

As is our usual luck, the best price we found (by a significant amount) for our new toy was all the way back west – just a few miles from where we used to live on the opposite end of Hwy 2 from where we were. So, it was road trip time. The trip over to Everett was uneventful, but the return trip was not much fun. Since this was the first time we had ever had heavy equipment on the truck, we kept it slow. The deer were doing their migration thing, so we literally saw over 500 of them (about 10% of them actually on the road in front of us). I was certain we were going to end up hitting one especially since we didn’t get back to base until it was well after dark.

Not many people are able to take their truck camper off their truck and then haul a 8000 lb excavator on it! Though I don’t know that we’ll be hauling her around much – loading and unloading it without a ramp is a nail-biting experience, but at least she is home safe and sound, and she will make the rest of our driveway clearing a breeze (not to mention awesome fun).

WA: Homebase – 04/22/2017

Parking: Temporary spot

Homebase, WA
Clearing the road by hand

The previous owner was going to put a house on the property, so he cleared some building sites and made an excellent road. He was unable to complete the project due to health reasons, so the property has just been sitting idle. The driveway has had seven years to grow young trees and was unnavigable. We cleared by hand (the above picture does not do justice to the work we had to do – some of the trees were already 8′ tall) the first part of the driveway until one of the cleared building sites was accessible, and we were able to depod. We needed the truck free to go get our new toy.

Homebase, WA
Turkeys

WA: Colville – 03/23/2017 – 04/22/2017

Parking: Northeast Washington Fairgrounds
Rating: 9

Although NE Washington had an insane amount of rain this past winter, generally it’s not too wet, so we resumed the property search. It seemed a good time to look for property because anything that was flooded probably wouldn’t be something that we would want to handle. We’ve done the living-in-a-flood-plain thing, and we’re done with that.

There is not much open in the way of RV parks in the winter/early spring, but the very nice folk at the Fairgrounds let us stay there despite not being officially open. Since the water wasn’t turned on at the sites, they even gave us a nice discount (take note Evergreen Fairgrounds). It was a great location to use as a base of operations to search for property in the Tri-County area.

We were not too keen on driving the rig all over the place to look at property – especially since some of the places would probably not have RV friendly access yet, and it was too wet to ride motorcycles. We decided that we were committed to get a piece of property somewhere, so we’d get a pick-up truck. Yes, we just sold two pick-up trucks last year, but we wanted one that could be flat-towed behind the RV, that was four wheel drive, and that was relatively light – that meant a Ford F-150 (the 2017s are aluminum). My partner spent a lot of time on the phone looking for the best price – which ended up being a fleet-style truck in Snohomish (a couple miles from Monroe). Seriously? I did not want to go back over the Cascades with the RV while it was still snowy. Fortunately, he did some more calling around, and found a truck in Pasco that was a good price and not a fleet vehicle (i.e., actually comfortable). Still Pasco is a long way from Colville, and it ended up being the longest one-day drive. We have our amateur radio licenses, so on the way back, we were able to communicate despite being in separate vehicles.

We had a truck, so the property search began in earnest. There is nothing better than driving around the mountains of NE Washington – it’s beautiful and quiet with lots of wildlife. We picked out a couple of places, but with it being spring break and with Gonzaga in the Final Four (thus a good chunk of NE Washington went to Phoenix), it was hard to get folk to return calls, so we just kept looking. We eventually found a perfect location – remote but on a paved county road, close enough to town for errands but not too close, good driveway with good building sites, lots of trees, no standing water, etc. The real estate agent was at Disneyland with her grandkids, and the seller lived out of state, but this agent worked in between outings with the kids and got everything handled for us remotely.

Now we have a piece of property in NE Washington where we can build a couple of garages to store some of the toys when we’re off on a trip. But first, there’s one more big toy to buy.

WA: Sprague – 03/20/2017 – 03/23/2017

Parking: Fishtrap BLM land
Rating: 10

Sprague, WA
Fishtrap – solid parking

Fishtrap was the first place we boondocked when we started full-timing, and it’s still one of my favorite places. The last time we were here was over Memorial Day weekend. We had been planning on going to Moses Lake at the time, but it was an absolute zoo there. Fishtrap, however, was nearly empty and peaceful.

Since our last visit, the BLM folk put in a bunch of gravel at the campsite where we stayed (and added a nice, new pit toilet). We drove the exact same path as we had before, and that turned out to be a very good plan, because the guy that put the gravel down did not know anything about drainage and just dumped the gravel down. Part of the camping area was a bit swampy last time we were there, and since then, NE Washington has had a crazy amount of rain. When the BLM guy drove through the site on his rounds, he got stuck in the gravel – majorly stuck. I know he was very embarrassed to have it happen in front of an audience (we got our rig stuck in Florida, so I know the feeling), and he rejected our attempts to help him – we still had the boards we used to get ourselves unstuck. He called in a coworker, and they tried several ways of trying to drag his truck out, but none of that worked. Eventually, the BLM guy found a private backhoe, and, after much maneuvering, the operator was able to pull the truck out. At one point, the operator hollered, “I sure hope no one gets any pictures of this,” but I gleefully hollered out from the loft of the RV, “TOO LATE!”

Sprague, WA
First attempt – drag with pick-up
Sprague, WA
Second attempt – drag with backhoe
Sprague, WA
Third attempt – lift with backhoe
Sprague, WA
No wonder the truck sunk – no drainage

WA: Monroe – 03/17/2017 – 03/20/2017

Parking: Evergreen State Fairgrounds
Rating: 5

Before heading out to Eastern Washington, we had a few more errands to do, so once again, we stayed in Monroe.

It is very bizarre being so close to our former home. One of our tasks took up about a block from the house. I wanted to stop by and have one last look at it, but I also didn’t want to be weird and creepy. Maybe if we had been in a less conspicuous vehicle, we would have done a drive-by, but since the whole neighborhood knows the rig and it’s impossible to be subtle, we ended up not going by.

The other sad part of our stay was the our favorite waiter (Billy at the Wallace Falls Cafe) had moved on to Seattle. I guess you can’t go Home again.

WA: Sequim – 02/17/2017 – 03/17/2017

Parking: John Wayne Waterfront Resort
Rating: 10

Sequim, WA
Sequim Bay

When we were living in Washington, I knew of Sequim, but I didn’t really know about Sequim. If I had, I would have bought property years ago. It’s in the rain shadow, and when the rest of Western Washington is cloudy and rainy, Sequim is bright and sunny. It’s interesting because only a few miles away, the rainfall doubles. Another few miles away, and the rainfall doubles again. A few more miles away and the rainfall is over 180 inches per year.

Sequim is mostly made up of older, retired folk, so it’s a slower-paced town. The views are spectacular, and there is a Rails-to-trails bike path that goes from Port Townsend, across the northern part of the peninsula, and will eventually go all the way to the coast.

John Wayne used to visit Sequim, and his heirs run the resort. They have set up a mini-museum in the RV park office with all kinds of memorabilia from his life and films. Though I am not generally a fan of private RV parks because of the sardine nature of the sites, the guests (at least the winter-time guests) were quiet and respectful, so it wasn’t too bad.

One of the questions that we are asked as we tour the country is “what has been your favorite state?” We keep answering “Washington” because of its beauty and variety. Although we have enjoyed travelling, we have been missing being able to spread out to build something. Both of those reasons combined with the desire to be able to sometimes leave the boat behind and to have a better zip code for health insurance made us realize that we want to have a Homebase. We want it to be somewhere in Washington where it’s not too wet, so the Sequim area seemed pretty ideal. We spent a lot of time walking, biking, and motorcycling to all kinds of lots in the area – raw land, houses that needed work, sites on the water, sites in the woods, ex-meth-lab lots, etc., but we could not find the right property. Sequim is a fairly hot market, and with the numbers of folk retiring to it from all over the country, it has just gotten a little ridiculous. Plus they have some serious nut-jobs working at the city. There was one lovely lot – 100 year old farmhouse, 3 acres, right on the bike trail – that we would have taken, but the city had zoned it High Tech Commercial though it is in a residential area. We talked to the city about the zoning, and they think they are going to get a software company to build there. They are smoking crack. No software company is going to be successful recruiting young talent into a town that is essentially a retirement community.

The rest of the Olympic Peninsula is too wet for us, so it’s off to Eastern Washington to try our luck there.

Sequim, WA
Sequim Bay
Sequim, WA
John Wayne Resort
Sequim, WA
Eidolon gets left behind