Thursday, October 29, 2009

Three Days and Counting to our Launch

Today I am off to an "Until We Meet Again" lunch with some good friends in West Seattle.  Kim is building me a desk that will fit perfectly in the slide.  Tomorrow we hope to clear out one of the storage lockers, and finish up stowing the odds and ends.  Saturday will be family day and the last loads of laundry.  And then...

We leave Snohomish for Phoenix on Sunday.  Plans will take us down I-5 to Salem, OR the first night.  Then on through Canyonville, OR (Seven Feathers Casino - yay!), Red Bluff, CA, Bakersfield, CA, and then to Laughlin for a 2 day stay (Ask us if we like to gamble? LOL).  Then we have a short trip to Ehrenberg, AZ for an overnight there, and on to Laveen, AZ where Kim's family lives.  We will overnight there, and hopefully by the time we arrive, I will have figured out where to stay in the Phoenix area until Thanksgiving.

If you have any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Beachwood Resort - Birch Bay, Washington - Test Trip #2

(Wow, where does time go.  I meant to post this update the day we left home.)

Kim and I left our home base (the driveway of our daughter's home in Snohomish, WA) on Wednesday, and headed for the Beachwood Resort (a KM Resort) in Birch Bay, Washington.  It only took Kim 3 tries to back out of the driveway.  Each time, it is getting better and better.  The use of our walk-talkies helped, and the fact that all the cars in the neighbor's driveway across the street were gone.  It gave us more room to manuever.  The driveway is curved a bit, and there are big bolders differentiating the garden area from the driveway.  Anyway, Kim backed the rig out quicker than our prior tries, which is good because it was raining and I could not for the life of me find an umbrella.

And, stopping to pat ourselves on the back, we drove 'all' the way from Snohomish to Birch Bay (about 80 miles) without having to stop and make adjustments along the way!  Things were anchored well in the bed of the truck.  Steps and hand rail locked in their travelling position.  Yay for us!

Birch Bay, Washington is a coastal town just 7 miles south of the US/Canadian Border.  Lovely area, which is hopping busy in the summer, and pleasantly quiet during this time of year. It’s home to about 4,500 year-round residents, and in the summer population swells to over 12,000 people, with Birch Bay State Park recording over a million individual visits each year. It's a great place for a weekend getaway, or longer visit, with lots to do in the area.  According to, "Birch Bay’s claim to fame is a large tide flat of sand several square miles in size that bares itself at low tide, and as the water creeps back in over the hot sand it warms to bath water temperatures in the summer."  The town is quaint and a little funky.  There are a combination of regular homes, beach cabins, RV resorts and new condominiums all mingled together.  During the warmer times of the year, there is so much to do up here.  As a family, we've vacationed up here many times, enjoying the clamming, the crabbing, the water slidees, the miniture golf, sand castle building, kite flying, and so on.  The Semiahmoo Resort is host to a championship golf course, designed by golf legend Arnold Palmer.  We don't golf, but people we know sing the praises of this course.

We took some time over the last few days to drive around a bit.  Although, we had visited the area many times, there are always roads to find that you haven't explored, or to go over roads you have driven before but this time without the kids asking the famous question - "Are we there yet?".  We drove the road along the water from Birch Bay up to Blaine.  Some very lovely houses and estates along this drive.  We drove over to Lynden, where the Dutch Heritage is very evident.  What impressed me about Lynden was how clean it was.  It didn't matter whether you were cruising the main drag or driving in the residential areas, community pride was very evident.

I'm always curious about what makes businesses help to support these smaller communities.  What surprised me about Lynden was the number of vineyards!  Apparently, this is becoming quite the popular growing area for wine connoisseurs.  However, the major industries in the area seem to involve community support, such as schools and services.

The primary reason we chose to visit Birch Bay for our second test trip was because I was taking a Medical Intuitive course in Bellingham, Washington over the weekend.  Bellingham is another fun place to visit.  Home to Western Washington University, the city shows evidence of a younger population.  Lots of great stores, restaurants, art galleries, shops, etc, along with all the major services one could need.  We had some time between class events one afternoon, and drove out the Mount Baker Highway to the Nooksack Reservation and Casino.  It was a lovely drive with all the fall colors.  We didn't go into the casino, however.  Both Kim and I love to gamble.  We know better than to just go in for a look - we'd be there for hours, and I had a class to attend.  Maybe another trip.

I did want to give my praises to the Beachwood Resort. The hosts were very friendly and helpful.  There are over 250 spots to choose from.  We parked in a pull-through at C11.  The spot is good sized with full hook up and cable if you choose.  We used our regular antenna for the first two nights because it was quite windy, but then put up our Direct TV satelitte dish and have had wonderful reception.  We picked up only a few Canadian channels with the antenna, so I was happy to have the satellite working.  (I'm a gambling loving TV junkie who is into spirituality, psychic work, healing and metaphysics - deal with it **wink**).  Next time, I think we would try for a back in spot (now that Kim's skills are improving) in the G section.  The spaces are bigger and better defined.  The rest rooms,showers (free with good water pressure)  laundry and tent camping areas were clear and well kept.  They have a nice big store (propane available).  Three pools (a children's pool, an adult pool and a family pool) plus a hot tub/jazucci.  There is an adult clubhouse with pool table (unfortunately it had a big tear in cloth) and ping pong table in a separate room, a little too close together if you are an exuberant ping pong player.  There are horse shoe pits, volleyball, basketball and tennis courts, as well as a soccer/baseball field, and play area for kids.  Apparently there is a gold driving range as well, but I haven't seen it yet.

There are some permanent residents here, as well as what appears to be long term campers.  Everyone is very friendly, and very quiet.  We are definitely giving this stay a 4 thumbs up!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Gremlins Came A Calling

Woke up the other morning noticing that it was rather warm and the furnace was still running. Got up to look at the digital thermostat and saw that it was set for 98 degrees!! It was up to about 74 degrees inside so I reset it to 68 degrees and made myself a cup of coffee and set about the business of waking up, which means I'm sitting in my recliner with my eyes closed, rousing from time to time to have a sip of coffee, hopefully before it gets too cold. As I'm sitting there, contemplating life, I notice the electric tea kettle sits on the counter right next to the thermostat. I'm thinking the steam it gives off must have gotten into the thermostat and the moisture must have shorted out the electronics. I also noticed that the furnace had been running for a while again so I got up to have a look and see that the set temperature has crept up to 76 degrees. I reset the temperature to 68 and watched it creep up to 76 again. Definately something going on. A close eyeball inspection doesn't reveal anything obviously wrong and an email to the manufacturer echoes my thoughts of 'try resetting it and if that doesn't work it must be defective". Off I go to the big box hardware store and pick out a new thermostat. Our trailer has a gas furnace and a roof-top A/C with an optional "heat pump" feature which is a heat strip so I need a thermostat that can handle the extra functions plus, as long as I'm getting a new one, one that is programable. My only choice was one made by Honeywell, an RTH 7500. Following the instructions I begin the simple task of replacing the thermostat. Wait. Did I say simple? The instructions have you mark the old wires so you can match them to the new thermostat. Ok, got that, but wait, the colors and markings don't coincide with the new thermostat's. For example, the new thermostat has a connection for a blue or orange wire (don't have an orange one) that controls the change-over valve for either heat or cool. My blue wire is the common or -12 vdc and I don't have a change over valve either. To make this long story shorter, after several hours on the internet I gleaned enough information to make the connections needed to get the furnace running again. I think I have the wires connected to the right terminals now but because we are currently camped in our daughter's driveway and I can't run the A/C on the 15amp circuit we are on I haven't been able to try out the other functions. That will have to wait until we are camped somewhere with at least a 30 amp hook-up. I'm just glad we have heat for now since the temperature at night is in the low 50's to high 40's.

Friday, October 2, 2009

The Trip Home

We left Cheney on Wednesday.  Packed up fairly quickly. Got on I-90 headed west without problem.  A few miles down the road, we noticed the ice chest and the outdoor carpet in the bed of the truck were bouncing around.  We pulled off so Kim could tie them down with the extra bungee cords we had packed.  He went into the 5th wheel to get a few bottles of water for the cab of the truck.  Back on the freeway.  Oops, left the handrail folded open.  Pulled off at the next exit to fix that.  Back on the road.  Going all, listening to a book on cd.  Kim looked back and even though it was tied down, the ice chest was flopping around again.  Pulled over again, unhook the ice chest, stow it in the basement.  Re-secure the carpet.  Back on the road.

We decided to stop and pull into the scenic outlook to the Gingko Petrified Forest just before the bridge at Vantage.  Took a stroll down to read the information plaques (affirming that we would meet no rattlesnakes on the trail) and enjoy the lovely view.  Back on the road.  I suggested stopping at the rest area at Vantage for lunch, but apparently the rest area was moved.  As a kid, I had made many trips to Moses Lake and Spokane, and I could have sworn the rest area was right there in Vantage.  Whether they moved the rest area, or my memory is faulty (God forbid), it was up at the top of the hill.  BTW, this is a very long hill.  We had to slow down to about 40-45 mph.  Made it to the rest stop.  Way too windy to eat outside, so we quickly made some sandwiches and ate in the truck. 

Just outside of CleElum, we look back, and the box with the TV satellite is bouncing around in the bed of the truck.  Pull over again, at the next exit, get box, put inside of RV.  Get back on freeway.  Oh oh - looked in the mirror - Handrail is out again.  Pull over, again, at the next exit, secure handrail.  Vow to make checkoff list for future trips.

We managed to make the rest of the drive without stopping.  We are home for 2 weeks, and then head to Blaine/Birch Bay, for our second practice trip.