North Cascades VAC Rally

About a week after returning from Camano Island, I had fixed up the problems I found with my remodel (all minor), and we headed back up North to Rockport, WA for a Vintage Airstream Club rally. It was at Howard Miller Steelhead Park, a beautiful county park right on the Skagit River. We had two loops mostly full of Airstreams, with a big field and picnic shelter in the middle.

I was hoping to get some fishing in, I brought my fly rod and gear, but the water was so high from the spring rains, there were no banks to fish from!

The hills around the campground were beautiful, with their heads in the clouds.

This is at a nearby campground we explored while wandering. Beautiful moss covered trees!

We stopped at the Oso Landslide Memorial. I remember watching this on the news. It’s so sad. Such a beautiful area, my heart goes out to those people killed, and the survivors, of the sudden, enexpected landslide that wiped away their neighborhood. That hill in the distance is where the land slid off the face of the hill, and came all the way out to the highway behind us, wiping out everything in its path.

I don’t know what this mountain was called, I was thinking it was White Horse or something. There are amazing mountains everywhere around here. We headed South and did a loop drive around through Granite Falls to Arlington on Hwy 530. At one point we stopped for a quick nap and I took Navi for a quick walk, and there was a deer right by the road watching us! We stopped for lunch at a little thai place in some town and Navi was able to join us on the patio.

Her first time eating out!

I think this was Dave after we got back from an afternoon of wandering, doing tech support for his Dad.

The next morning Dave woke me up at 5:30am to tell me there was a siren going off! Indeed, it sounded like an air raid siren, Id never heard anything quite like it!

It went off for a couple minutes then stopped, and silence! What does that mean? Was the river next to the park about to wipe us out? Did we need to evacuate? I looked outside and expected to see people standing around discussing it, but nobody was up.

So I dressed and took Navi out, and saw lights on in a neighbor’s trailer and knocked, and asked if she knew what it was, and she said she didn’t, but figured we would hear more if it was important. I tend to think a siren is always important!

So Navi and I wandered down to the next loop where my friend/coworker Janet was camped, and knocked to see if she was up, and she was, but she didn’t know anything either. Meanwhile Dave was looking online for emergency alerts and couldn’t find any. I ended up chatting with Janet about work and stuff for a bit.

Later that day my neighbor had gone into town and bought something at the hardware store, and the clerk told her a log truck had crashed, and the siren was how they call the volunteer fire dept out! Mystery solved!

We decided to head East on Hwy 20 and explore more of the North Cascades National Park. Last time we were here we went as far as Diablo Lake, and turned back. Well, it turns out the best roadside views are juuuuust past it: Like, literally around the next bend.

Oh my goodness, so pretty! The turquoise water is caused by glacial runoff. The mountains are so high and craggy! And this is only half the view!

Stunning!

Looking at the tourist brochure, I saw something called the Liberty Bell, and I wanted to see that too, so we kept driving. The good stuff is always just a little bit farther! And when would we ever be out here again? We kept driving until we were on the dry side of the state.

Totally worth it!

We stopped at a roadside viewpoint, and Navi did great walking around all the people, even with the narrow pathways at the stop.

We went all the way to Winthrop for lunch. It’s a little old-timey looking tourist trap. Old buildings and wooden sidewalks. It was packed even though it was a Friday. We got a lunch and went and sat in a shady public area with picnic tables to eat. We could watch people playing mini-golf down below the deck. And of course, on the East side, it was HOT, so I tried to keep Navi comfortable.

On the way back we stopped to play in the snow. I couldn’t believe there was still snow!

Dave being a goofball

We got back too late to join our fellow campers for potluck, but boy did we have a full day!

Navi did super on this trip, but by the end she was getting pretty tired of the whole thing. Tired of strangers coming into HER trailer to check out the remodel, tired of people trying to pet her, and tired of going for rides in the car! She really did good though. It is asking a lot of her.

Concrete is just down the road from Rockport, and they are, obviously, very proud of their concrete.

On the way home we stopped at a McMennamins and thought we would just grab lunch to eat in the trailer, but then saw they had a patio, and dogs were welcome! So Navi got to eat out for a second time, and she had a nice safe little corner next to our table. the hostess brought her a little cup of water, and even came back with a piece of bacon for her later!

So other than getting through all the usual Seattle traffic (which runs roughly from Everett to Centralia it seems) we had a nice safe drive home, and another adventure was in the books!

Camano Island

Our first planned trip with the newly remodeled trailer had to be scrapped because the Flex broke down and was in the shop having it’s rear end worked over. But finally we were able to make it out and try somewhere new – Camano Island, WA.

Because it was close to July 4th, Scott & Sherry were out camping, so Navi got to go camping with us. She doesn’t get car sick anymore, but she really doesn’t enjoy it, so we try to leave her home as much as possible, but this time she was trapped with us.

We got an amazing spot at Camano Island State Park. No hookup, and it could only fit a smallish trailer, but it was perfect for us, and look at that view! The park was pretty full, and this mid-week opening was the only one I could find all summer.

This spot was tight! I would not have wanted to try and squeeze a big trailer in there, the spot was curved and uphill. It was tricky even with the tiny trailer. The tow vehicle ended up side by side with the neighbor’s picnic table, but our spot, being behind the trailer, actually felt very private. The only thing we would have enjoyed more was if there weren’t so many mosquitos!

The new layout was a hit. It was really nice to have a bed always available for lounging, and the table for meals.

What a view from the door!

It’s hard to see but if you look out on the horizon you can see Mt Ranier.

We really enjoyed watching the boats go by on the straight. We spent a day cruising around the island from end to end, found a nice park to picnic in with a view one day. Another day we picked up lunch at a nice resteraunt at the golf course and took it to a nearby beach to sit on the logs and eat, but it was a bit awkward. I guess we are grown-ups now, we’d prefer a picnic table, at least! Still, we had fun exploring.

Seattle, on the way home. I always get a kick out of seeing the Space Needle!

Crater Lake National Park

One last trip before winter hits! We decided to knock off another National Park by heading to Southern Oregon and see Crater Lake.

We should have seen Crater Lake a long time ago. Both of us saw it on family trips when we were kids. We went to college in Klamath Falls, OR, and considered going to Crater Lake because it was really close, but we always ended up spending our free weekends at Tule Lake and the Lava Beds Caves. Crater Lake was always just something I had a vague idea of where it was, and we figured we’d get there sometime. We literally drove right by it everytime we drove to school and back home. But who knew after college we’d move to another state and not get around to it for <cough> 30 years?!

On the way down we stopped for lunch and Dave showed off our ability to fit into any parking lot where he can find two parking spots end to end. This is the real reason we will probably never move up to a bigger trailer. It is so convenient when travelling to know we should always be able to find a spot to park it.

On the way down the road climbed over a mountain and as it got higher, things got colder, and by the top it was sprinking snow on us, and Dave was getting skeptical about my trip planning. The weather said it was supposed to be nice all week, so I tried to keep the faith. The trip took a little longer than expected so by the time we got to Diamond Lake, it was dark. It was also only a week out from it closing for the season, and it looked buttoned up, and completely empty as we drove past the closed ranger station and wound through the empty park. We found a spot not far from the only other trailer there, right on the lake, and didn’t even bother to unhook for the night. We checked our phones and found we had no service. I made a quick dinner and Dave went out to get something from the cooler in the car, and walked back in and announced it was snowing! We went to bed and it was the darkest and questest place I think I’ve ever been, as the snow drifted down around us, nervous to see what it would look like by morning.

To our relief, the snow didn’t stick, and the roads were clear. If we had woke up to a foot of snow, with no cell phone coverage and no ranger on duty, I’m not sure what we would have done next. We decided to pull out and head up the road to my backup campground, Lemolo Lake KOA, which was even farther off the main roads, but for some reason had cell coverage and was staffed.

On the way we realized we were low on gas, and it was getting a little sketchy for driving even farther off the beaten path and then all the way back to the main highway. Luckily there was a gas station between the two campgrounds, so we stopped there first. When we got there there were two cars waiting at the pumps, and one person was walking back to their car from the building, so we figured it was open. One car left and we pulled up and waited. In Oregon you have to wait for the attendant to pump your gas. And we waited, and waited, and waited. Finally Dave went to the building and the person in the other car said she had used the phone to call the attendant, and he was on his way (from wherever he lived, apparently somewhere nearby). A couple minutes later a pickup truck pulled up and the gentleman got out and got us all gassed up! They probably don’t get a lot of customers this time of year!

We headed up to the KOA, and got all settled in. It cost a bit more, but now we had full hookups, electricity, cell service, and a little store on site. Everything we needed. I felt a lot better about leaving the trailer unattended there. There was even another Airstream.

We were finally ready to head off to see Crater Lake.

Crater Lake is inside of a mountain that has blown it’s top, leaving a crater in the middle, which filled with water. So at the slightly higher elevation of the mountain, the snow from the previous night stuck around a bit longer.

What a treat to see the rim covered in snow! I would not have planned a trip if I had known there would be snow, because we have had some bad experiences with snow driving, and the snow piles on up here in a hurry. In fact the East Rim drive was closed by snow just a few days after our visit!

For this beautiful, sunny morning, it was a winter wonderland!

The blue-green water around Wizard Island was stunning! Even more so than the photograph could capture. And..are those fish down there in the shallows?

We worked our way around the rim, stopping at all the overlooks and chatting with folks from all around the country who had come to see this natural wonder. Everyone was just so happy to be there, and amazed by the beauty of it all!

Sunglasses selfie!

We hiked up to the Phantom Ship overlook. This rock formation is apparently bigger than it looks – 16 stories tall! It is the oldest part of the original volcano – 400,000 years old!

Crater Lake is all about shades of blue.

As we went further East, we got a glimpse of cool rock formations and colorful bands showing different layers in the rock. I wish I knew enough geology to read what it is telling us!

On the east side of the lake we were eye-to-eye with Mt Scott. Looking at a map, and then looking at it later from Highway 97…(with help from Google Earth)

You could be driving down Hiway 97, see this little mountain, and not have any inkling that Crater Lake is right there on the other side of it! You are looking right at Crater Lake!

All you have to do is change your perspective a little. Imagine the view if Mt Mazama was still there!

From up there by Mt Scott we could see across the valley to the North, where we had come from. That lake in between the two mountains (Mt Bailey on the left, Mt Thielsen on the right), in the center of the picture, that’s Diamond Lake, where we stayed the first night. The KOA is a bit further North.

Between Crater Lake and the campground there was a lot of burned forest. Mt Bailey is barely visible between the charred trunks.

That night in the trailer I could just not get comfortable. The heater was squeeking, the foam matress was too thin, the leg kept falling off the gaucho (I’ve been putting up with that since we bought it), and I just wasn’t having it. I tossed and turned and in the morning we thought about what else we wanted to do down here, and decided…nothing. We came for Crater Lake, and we saw Crater Lake. We had it pretty well covered. So we packed up, and headed home.

So the next project on my list will be a remodel to fix several things about the camper which will make it much more comfortable to use next season. I’ll be sure and post to the blog as I do them.

Rasar State Park and the North Cascades

Third trip out in a year, pretty good for us. The Airstream had it’s new front window cover and we were ready to go!

We might not have gotten this trip in, as campgrounds were booked full early on, and I am a last minute planner. But I saw someone on the WA Airstreamers group on FB had reserved a spot at Rasar State Park they couldn’t use, and I jumped up and said I’d take it, not even knowing really where this park was, so it was my lucky find. It turns out this is a really popular park all summer, so this was a particularly lucky chance for us to try out a place during peak season when we would normally be home hiding from the crowds.

Mid-trip stop for lunch. It’s always nice to have the trailer to eat in while on the road, especially during these crazy covid times when many places still didn’t have indoor dining.

Nice, heavily wooded state park with big spots. Our favorite kind!

This was our first time up in the North end of WA, and it checked off one of our boxes for National Parks, because this is North Cascades country.

This was going to be a road trip within a road trip, because the North Cascades are different from your usual park. Many of the best spots are only accessable after long hikes. The views from the road are just peek-a-boo peeps at the beautiful rugged mountains in the distance. Much of the park is wilderness area, and has to be hiked into, and unfortunately neither of us felt we were up to hikes that long.

The first town we stopped in was Concrete, and the only activity going on in town so early in the day was folks lining up to pick up food at the food bank. A reminder that not everyone was doing so well in this post-covid world. We walked up and down it’s single main-street, and went to check out the historic bridge over the Baker River before heading on our way.

We stopped to check out some old-growth forests

It was really hot, like in the 90s, which was more than expected even for hiking in shady forests. We had a nice little hike around a park with old growth trees, and got a bit turned around, though we could hear the highway not far away so we finally found our way back to the car. I was starting to wish I’d brought water though.

We continued exploring along Highway 20, just stopping wherever it looked interesting along the way.

Had a pretty view for the eating the lunch I had packed.
Peek-a-boo views.
On the way back to the campground we stopped at a wildlife overlook and were rewarded with spotting a faraway elk!

Heading the other direction – towards Mt Baker, via Baker Lake.

They grow the trees tall out here!
Amazing views around every corner
Should have brought our kayak.
Hmm, maybe we’ll just stay close to the car!
Panorama from above the Mt Baker Ski Lodge – breathtaking!
Picture Lake

Super beautiful views up there, and I think that was all just the rugged mountains around Mt Baker, we didn’t quite get to where we could see Mt Baker!

We only had a couple days to explore, three nights at the park, then headed home. Definitly a fun place to visit, we could do it even longer next time. Maybe start at one end of Highway 20 and take the trailer to a campground further down as we go, just check out the entire N end of the state. This was a great little get-away though. I never get tired of looking at majestic mountains off in the distance.

Barclay

I’ve put off writing this for a few weeks, because I’d like it not to be true. As mentioned in the last post, we cut our vacation short to rush home because Barclay was ill. He had pancreatitis. He spent three days in the hospital, and then got to come home with lots of medicine to take, and we were able to care and love on him for a couple days, but it got worse, and we had to rush him back to the emergency vet in the middle of the night. The next day they gave us bad news, it had gotten much worse, and we had to let him go.

Barclay was such a good boy. He was mellow and easy going, so clever, and sweet, and loving. He was also a real pest, a prankster, and had a sense of humor. He loved to do bad stuff to get attention, but it was never too bad, and he got lots of attention either way. He just loved to interact. He was confident, and carefree, and loved everybody he met. He gave big slurpy kisses. He slept in the tub, but he liked to sneak up on the bed before I came to bed and lay on my pillow, where he would get cuddles before retiring to the tub.

Barclay was our ‘back up eskimo’ to help soften the blow of losing our sweet Alki. They overlapped a couple years, and he did indeed soften the blow. He was really a special boy. We loved him lots. We met Sherry at a training class where I was so surprised to find someone else who had two eskimos! We became a big happy pack, doggie sitting for each other and going to the dog park, or just hanging out. I know Scott and Sherry loved him lots too. He was a lucky dog to have so many friends.

Our ‘backup eskimo’
With his buddy Chester
Sheepherding lessons!
Keeping me company at the toy store.
At the indoor puppy park
Growing up fast next to Alki
With his buddy, Jack
Hiking!
With Sherry, and Sake and Sitka
At a friend’s birthday party!
Roughhousing with his new sister, Navi
Airstream Camping
Helping work the wrinkles out of my first backdrop
Playing with baby Kiwi
Acrobatic Stickball!
Not usually a lap dog
Just chillin’ on my desk
The Pack
That time he ate my new Fluxx Deck
Snuggly on my pillow
Hiking
Stickball!
Mr Smudgy Face
Stepped away for a second, came back to find him taking over the sewing machine
In Stevenson, on the river
Slurpy kisses
Walked in to find him sitting on the kitchen table, like that’s just a normal thing you do
Having a man to man talk
Recovering from his ‘summer of seizures’
Snow day!
Standing on the end table, totally not up to something…
Busted stealing a napkin
My sweet, happy boy

Barclay was super smart, and while I was training him, he was often training me! Usually he would have us well trained before I even realized it. He had stretched out his bedtime cookie (originally a reward for coming inside) into 3-4 cookies at bedtime!

For almost 13 years he was my Best Boy. The house seems so empty without him causing trouble and stealing things out of the recycling bin, or getting up in places he’s not supposed to be up on. Life with him was a constant surprise. He made us laugh all the time. Sweet Navi now has to get used to going for walks without him to give her confidence and take all the petting from the neighborhood kids.

They say every owner gets the dog they deserve. I’m sure I didn’t do anything to deserve such a wonderful boy. Rest in peace, sweet Mr Barclay.

Deception Pass Camping

In October we decided we needed a vacation from this miserable year of lockdowns and Covid, and scheduled a spot that was recommended to us at Deception Pass. It is an area we haven’t explored, and thought it would make a nice getaway. We arranged for Scott and Sherry to watch the dogs, and made our escape.

After all the wildfires, the trailer needed a good scrub.

We had reserved a spot that was supposed to have a great view, but t the last minute I realized that we might be hard pressed to last a whole week on one battery, even with LED lights! So I asked the ranger when we checked in if we could upgrade to a spot with electricity, and she found us one. It turned out to be a super tight back-in, on a corner and downhill, but Dave managed it perfectly as always.

Cell Service required some contortions…

Although you can’t tell through the trees, there was a bit of a view of the lake, though it was so foggy it didn’t really matter.

It was too foggy to even see the bridge everyone is always on about

It was a very ‘boaty’ place, which I was quite enjoying, because I have a thing for boats right now. It’s a phase I’m going through.

Saw this neat toy on the street in LaConner I think
Cleared up a bit by afternoon
Making faces 🙂

We were having a pretty good trip. I had actually packed well and we had food for breakfasts and dinners without having to go hunting around, so we could enjoy lunches out and about.

The next day we went to Port Townsend, which involved a Ferry ride.

Port Townsend was also Boaty
We had a nice lunch with a view of the water

We were waiting in line at the Ferry dock to go home, when we got a call from Sherry that Barclay was not feeling well. He had been throwing up, and looked shaky. We discussed it and decided to wait and see. But by the time we got back to the trailer we decided he should go to the emergency vet. So they tried to do that, while we packed up the trailer, thank goodness for having a simple setup, cut our vacay short, and headed home.

Barclay has some ups and downs

One night after an uneventful day in July, Barclay was restless and whiny and couldn’t lay down and go to sleep like he normally would have after dinner. He would come bark at me like he wanted something. We even took him for an extra walk, but he still couldn’t settle down.

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I was really worried since it was out of character, so we took him to the vet around 10pm, and the vet decided he might have hurt his back, gave us some pain meds and sent him home. We got home and I took him outside for a potty break, and he flopped over on his side and had a seizure! We called the vet and they said we could bring him back in, or observe him and see if the pain med helped, so we decided to do that since it would be less stressful. But he continued to be whiny and restless, and just couldn’t go to sleep. By then it was 2am, and we were all very tired, and he just couldn’t stop, then he had another seizure and threw up, so we raced him back to the emergency vet.

This time the vet said she thought the whole thing was seizure related. The vet decided to keep him, and we were waiting in the exam room while they got a spot ready for him in the back, and I put him in my lap and he finally fell asleep for a couple minutes, he was so tired!

They gave him medicine to stop the seizures and kept him until the next day, but we were there until after 4am by that point. So i called in sick to work the next day and worried about him all day. Wednesday afternoon he came home, and they gave him an anti-seizure medicine, which sedated him a bit. The vet said it would get better in 2-3 weeks as he got used to the medicine. Navi was happy to have him back, and hung out right with him.

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But it’s was hard to get him to eat. We were fussing over him, trying to get him to eat anything, because he was never fat, and I’m worried about him not eating enough. I bought him different dog foods, people food, baby food, but nothing much interested him. Dave and I were handfeeding him all kinds of good food just to get something in him. He seemed like he would take a few bites to be polite, then turn his head away to say he was done.

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Also, he was waking us up multiple times a night barking for what seemed like no particular reason. Everyone was getting really tired. It was like having an infant in the house. He didn’t mean it though, he was tired too!

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After three weeks of this, he wet the bed overnight a couple times, so I talked to the vet and she decided the side effects were too much, and had me wean him off of the medicine. We quickly saw improvement, with him getting his appetite back, sleeping better, and not being so groggy.

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So far so good. He is 11, and has been very healthy, though he did have two or three seizure incidents over the past few years, which the vets could find no reason for. He hasn’t had a seizure since that night. Hopefully he will not have any more issues for a while.

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England – London – Part 3

After lunch we used the local wifi to call a taxi, to take us up to the British Museum. The Museum was very busy, though the line to get in wasn’t too bad. Being short, I find crowds tiresome.

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Dave could see everything.

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But to me it all looks like this.

At this point we had been walking so much for the past week and a half that I was just beat. I just wanted to find a bench to sit down and gaze at something interesting for a bit.

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Done! The Eqyptian displays at the museum were really amazing. There was just so many things to look at. And then there was the Assyrian section, and the greek section, and watches and clocks, and it just went on and on and on. So much to see. We sort of raced through it glancing at stuff, but not with enough time to really absorb much, which would have taken a lifetime.

After the museum we bought a ticket for a hop-on bus, and enjoyed the view from the top deck heading back to our part of town, but the bus driver said it was the last stop, and shooed us off in Picadilly to catch a connecting bus back to Victoria Station.

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Oh my god, SO MANY PEOPLE!

We waited at the bus stop so long for the next hop-on bus to go to Victoria Station, we were about to give up and go see about taking the underground, but finally one showed up, and we got a bit of a tour around the area until we finally were back home again.

Back at home, I was surfing through the local restaurants looking for something within walking distance, with good Indian food, because everyone said you have to go have Indian when in London. We finally settled on a bistro attached to a hotel not far from us, which seemed to have a good variety on the menu. We walked down there and went in and the lady asked if we had a reservation, and we did not, but she got us seated, and we found ourselves in a weird table with our backs against the wall, side by side, facing other tables, which is an awkward seating arrangement for a night out.

The waiter came over and showily shook out the napkins and laid them across each of our laps, and asked what we wanted to drink. I said water, and he rattled off choices, and I picked one, but I should have said ‘tap water’ I guess, because later we found that carafe of water was extra. They asked if we wanted the tasting menu at £80 a piece, or a la carte. A la carte, please. We were still a bit confused about how this had sounded very different online. The menu wasn’t as we saw online, but I found something to try, and Dave found a lamb shank that sounded good, though both dishes were fairly expensive. They brought appetizers and asked if we wanted rice. Sure. That rice was another $4. And bread was more $$ as well. Then later they brought out some sort of tomato cocktail aperitif, and they didn’t ask if we wanted it, they just gave it to us. Dave’s lamb shank turned out to be quite large, we could have just split that.

We didn’t realize it, but this was all adding up. In the US, things like rice and bread are usually included, and they don’t just bring you things that they charge extra for without asking if you want it, and letting you know it costs extra. At home I don’t expect water to cost extra! By the time we were done, the whole little meal had added up to $120! Probably the most expensive meal we’ve ever had, and there wasn’t even any alcohol involved! And it certainly wasn’t the best meal we’ve ever had, the whole thing felt awkward and weird. We had an annoyed laugh at getting snookered like a couple tourists, and headed home to our hotel for the night. We may have hit Shake Shack for a treat on the way.

Last day in London! Breakfast at Starbucks, then hop on a bus and go to Westminster.

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Beautiful Westminster Abbey. We hopped on another water bus and headed back to:

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The Tower of London. This time we decided to go check it out. We had already done everything else on our list, and Dave wanted to see the Crown Jewels. We got the tour from a Beefeater, to get a bit of history and context, then went and looked at the line for the Crown Jewels, which went around the block and through the courtyard. Now it was Dave’s turn to get frustrated and lose his cool a bit. It was a VERY long line.

We looked at getting lunch before getting in line, but the food there looked like basic cafeteria fare. We instead went to the ice cream cart in the courtyard. While standing in line, a VERY stiff breeze blew through and launched a stack of ice cream cups into the patron’s faces!

After we had ice cream in hand, the line didn’t seem so bad. It took a while, but there were ravens to entertain us.

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The raven was free to go where he pleased, but he mostly hung around this post, cawing and fussing at everyone. The ravens are part of Tower legend, that if the ravens leave, the kingdom will fall. So just to be safe they have a Ravenmaster and keep a small flock on hand.

No pics, but we did finally get to the Crown Jewels, and they were indeed very impressive. Afterwards we went looking for lunch, and walked over to a waterfront area nearby, again with no phone research to lead us, and tried a restraint that sounded good. The French host asked us if we had reservations, and we said no, and he seated us, and we took one look at the fancy cloth napkins, and remembering the previous night, got up and left. Too fancy for us, we’re not falling for that again!

I think we finally just grabbed a sandwich from a coffeeshop, and it was good.

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On the way back to our hotel we stopped by for a photo with ‘Little Ben’, since Big Ben was enshrouded in scaffolding.

For dinner we took the easy route and hit a little hamburger joint down the block and took it back to our room, and ate while watching our new favorite British show – Bullseye. Because competitive darts/trivia is just so British.

The next morning we got up before dawn and headed down to catch the tube to Heathrow.

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We had no problems in customs, and grabbed some breakfast in the concourse, bought a few souvenirs, and turned in our British money for US dollars. It was baarely light when we got a glimpse of our plane.

We had a really nice stewardess who was from Louisiana, but now lives in Scotland, giving her a Southern/Scottish accent.  We had the seats at the front of our section, so we had tons of legroom, and the stewardess’s seat was there for takeoffs and landings, so we got to chat with her quite a bit. It was nice having the room to stretch out or stand up a bit. We watched a couple more episodes of The Crown and relaxed.

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I got a peek at Iceland before the sun came up and the windows darkened. It was all just clouds after that anyway, all the way to Seattle. We had a layover in Seattle that was long enough we could have just driven home, but at least we had wifi for entertainment. Eventually it was time to fly home, and we had great views of Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens, and Mt Adams, Lake Merwin, and finally Vancouver Lake. It’s so cool to see all the local landmarks from the air! And then we were home. Sherry gave us a ride form the airport, and the pups were waiting for us at the house. Our first overseas trip was completed.

The whole trip:

England – Getting There

England – Bath

England – Stratford on Avon and Warwick Castle

England – York

England – York Part 2

England – London

England – London Part 2

England – London Part 3

 

 

 

 

England – London – Part 2

After our dinner we went to hop back on the water bus. This morning the bus we had taken took us from Westminster to the tower of London, where it turned around and headed back to Westminster. So I got the bright idea that we could hop on at the Globe, and ride it to the Tower, and then back to Westminster, initially going in the opposite direction. But this boat kept going East. So I figured, that’s cool, we get to see more of the Thames than before, and kick back and enjoy the ride. But it kept going, and soon it was dark, and we were surrounded by people who were clearly commuters, popping open beers and settling in for a long ride. We were getting a bit nervous about how long this ride was, when Dave went and asked one of the stewards how far the boat went, and he said Woolwich, which it turns out is quite a long ways!

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So we got off at the next stop, which was Greenwich. By then it was raining, and dark, but we had a quick walk around town.

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Of course everything was closed as far as visiting the observatory or anything, but we did get a peek at the Cutty Sark from the outside, which was pretty cool.

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We had a front row seat on the boat coming back because there were no commuters heading INTO town. Great view! We also quite enjoyed watching the men rope the boat to each dock it stopped at, tossing the docklines skillfully over the mooring posts, quickly and smoothly each stop, then giving it a quick toss to unmoor and the boat would be off for the next stop in seconds.

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We got back to Westminster, and had a good look at Big Ben. It is not all I hoped it would be. It is under restoration for the next three years.

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We headed for the underground and stopped to listen to this guy playing beautiful violin music in the tunnel. When I posted it to FB a friend said he had seen the SAME GUY playing in a tunnel in London years before!

The next day, we decided to head out to see Winston Churchill’s War Rooms, and drop by the Queen’s Gallery and Royal Mews along the way. When we got to Buckingham Palace we heard a band playing, and noticed mounted police gathering, so we stopped to watch.

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Then we heard the band playing ‘September’, which was a surprising choice for a marching band, and when they finished they marched on out, and continued on towards the palace. There were a LOT of people gathering there, so we headed over to the Gallery and the Mews.

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The Gallery had a collection of items from India, which was all very interesting. The Mews is where the Royal horse and carriages are kept.

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We saw a groom walking this horse around the parking area, and he was getting a bit feisty about all the leaves blowing around.

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It was cool to come to one of the biggest cities we’ve ever visited, and see horses!

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Inside the museum, along with other carriages and cars the Queen uses, was this display of a carriage used in coronations – The Gold State Coach, built in 1760. It was neat they had it set up with horse mannequins to display the ornate tack the horses wear while pulling it.

By the time we got done with the Mews the crowds outside had thinned out a bit, and we headed down to the War Rooms. Unfortunately the crowd had apparently gone there, because the line was VERY long. We re-evaluated how badly we wanted some WWII history, and decided to pass for now.

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We continued walking, and eventually came to Trafalger Square. Neat architecture here as well. Everywhere in London is a mix of old and new.

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Dave was excited to see this pub since he’d just finished playing Sherlock! We passed on it, as it was just another chain pub.

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When we couldn’t walk any further we stopped for lunch at a little cafe across from this theater where Iam Mckellen was doing a show. Pretty cool. The little cafe was nice, with an open window looking out on the street, and we were sitting at the window, enjoying watching the people go by. When I ordered Fish & Chips, the guy wrote it on his order pad and said ‘fish & chips & beer’ and we were like ‘wait, what’, and he says ‘it comes with beer’, and we said ‘we don’t want beer’, which puzzled him ‘no beer?’ ‘No, no beer’ and ordered a Sprite, which is when I think we found out that in the UK Sprite = Diet Sprite. If you order ‘lemonade’ you get something like 7Up. Cultural differences, I guess!

Next up: The British Museum, and surprisingly expensive Indian food.

 

The whole trip:

England – Getting There

England – Bath

England – Stratford on Avon and Warwick Castle

England – York

England – York Part 2

England – London

England – London Part 2

England – London Part 3