Airstreaming at the beach

For my next trip of the season, I headed out all by myself for the first time ever! Dave was doing a play, and I already had this club rally scheduled, and I wanted to go. I feel like it’s not fair to make Dave feel bad because I have to just sit home when he’s in a play, and it’s not fair for me to have to skip doing things I want to do while he does his stuff. So he gave me some lessons on backing up the little beast, and I packed up and headed out on my own.

First stop was in Newport, Oregon for lunch where it was so foggy I couldn’t even see the sea!

I had planned my trip to take this little break, stretch my legs and have lunch at our favorite spot at Nye Beach. I was a little nervous leaving the trailer parked over by the performing arts center, but it looked like the easiest place to park a trailer. Luckily it was still there when I got back.

I got to the park in Florence, OR, and the hosts had warned us all the night before that a scheduling mix up had changed us from each having our own spot, to sharing a big parking lot. This actually worked really well. All the tow vehicles were parked over in a corner, and we got to camp in a semi-wagon-wheel formation. It was great! The host helped me back into my spot, and we were all set!

I was the oldest trailer there by far that weekend. The whole point was to be a boondocking rally, which was more nerve wracking for some of the campers with new trailers who were used to having hookups. I was used to boondocking anyway, and have very simple needs, so it was no biggie for me. It got a little warm one day, but I popped open the windows and put on the awnings, and it was cool and comfy inside.

I went South on the first day and explored the dunes a little bit. I huffed and puffed my way to the top of a dune for a view up and down the coast, and even saw whales spouting not too far out to sea!

Then I headed down to the marina for lunch at a chowder shack on the marina, which was delicious, and walked around on the docks looking at the cool boats.

Also watched this bird successfully catching it’s lunch.

I have this plan in the back of my head that someday I am going to do a photography project where I go photograph all the arch bridges in Oregon, particularly up and down the coast.

I finished up my day at an overlook near my campground, and you can just see the dunes stretching off into the distance. What a unique part of the beach! This is very different from the Northern Oregon beaches that I am used to!

The next morning I headed out early to visit Heceta Head Lighthouse. I wanted to beat the weekend crowds, and it worked, there were very few people at the beach. I wasn’t expecting this, but there were tidepools to visit, and a couple volunteer rangers hanging out to answer questions.

A few years ago we heard a lot about the starfish suffering from a wasting disease that was destroying the populations off the Oregon coast, so it was nice to see these big healthy specimens. These were quite large, bigger than my hand! The rangers said they are recovering nicely.

I think they are really cool looking!

I hiked up the short path to the lighthouse. First you come to the old keepers house, which is run as a B & B now. It was a really cute house.

And then finally to the lighthouse, which wasn’t open yet because I was too early! I saw the ranger going up the hill as I was going back down!

I headed up to Yachats to visit a popular bakery (the line was out to the street!), had lunch in a historic pub, and then drove back towards camp, stopping at every wayside along the way. The clouds parted and it was beautiful! Also, the crowds weren’t nearly as bad here as they are on the Northern beaches. I think it’s worth the extra drive to have a little more solitude! This was on a beautiful summer Saturday!

Almost back to camp, I parked on this overlook and just relaxed in the car watching for whales. It was really peaceful.

That was the whole adventure. Every evening we had Happy Hour back at camp, played some cornhole, and sat around the fire after dinner chatting. The next morning folks started heading out and I headed out fairly early too, just so I wouldn’t feel like I had to rush. I stopped at a rest stop along the way, and another random Airstreamer pulled in after me and just waved to check and make sure I was ok with my little vintage trailer! Very kind! Later I stopped at another rest stop to cook some lunch in the trailer, and one of my fellow campers stopped right after me and said hello.

Finally I made it home and backed the trailer into the driveway all by myself, and it only took 3 tries! My first solo trip was over. It’s always more fun if Dave comes along, but it’s nice to know I can go out on my own if I have to also!

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.

Whidbey Island in May

With our newly replaced windows, we headed up to our reserved campsite at Fort Casey on Whidbey Island. We were a bit worried we would loose it, as the campground was fully booked, and we were arriving a day late, but the nice lady at WA State Parks assured us it should remain ours as long as we arrived by 2pm, so we made an effort to scoot up there with a bit of expediency.

Typical grey Seattle day. You can just see the Space Needle peeking over the stadium.

We got there and got our spot in the back row, furthest from the water, and it was..unimpressive. We didn’t have hookups, and we didn’t have a view, in fact our door faced a row of bushes away from the water. And there were three rows of RVs to look past to see the water. So, not as exciting as I had hoped. I had gotten the impression online that the rows were tiered, but the park was quite flat. So it was ok when we first parked, and we had a nice view across the Sound, but it quickly filled in.

Once we arrived we went and explored Fort Casey a bit. We had seen the Fort itself last time we were there, with it’s massive WWII gun turrets pointed out over the Sound. This time we went by the Admiralty Head Lighthouse, which is a pretty old Lighthouse, no longer in use.

Once we were settled we had a pretty nice trip, exploring around the island. We went to a beach and watched eagles fishing.

That dot halfway down the beach is a blad eagle. I wish I’d had a longer lens.
Dave stayed in the warm car and snapped a picture of me freezing trying to capture the eagle passing overhead.

We also saw this:

We had a chance to chat with some fellow Airstreamers back at the park, since there were 5 Airstrems there! A Basecamp, two newer trailers, and a couple Class Bs down at the end! That’s a lot of Airstreams! Chilling out reading a book one afternoon I heard people walking by saying ‘look at the old one, it’s so little!’ That’s us alright!

Fort Casey is right next to the Coupeville/Port Townsend Ferry, which was pretty exciting.

We did take the Ferry over to Port Townsend for a day, which was fun. Drove all around, looked at the cool vintage buildings and neat little houses. We also drove out to Point Wilson LIghthouse. I wish we could have stayed for a perfect shot, since we had such dreary skies. It looks like you could get a really neat photo with the right skies and Mt Baker in the background.

My photographic goal for the trip was to get at least one really good photo with a lot of negative space. I kind of lean towards that style anyway, and then this old house caught my eye, out by itself on the end of a row, right up against the ocean, with this beautiful big field in front of it, and not a cloud in the sky.

Perfect.

So ends another fun little trip in our trailer. Sometimes I feel like folks want to know more about camping in a vintage Airstream, but it was nothing to talk about, since everything worked, it was just a cozy place to read and take naps, and cook dinners between explorations, and it kept us warm at night.

On the way home we stopped for doughnuts, and easily fit trailer and truck into two parking spots end to end, which is the greatest arguement for keeping this trailer anyone could make. Easy peasy, and we were off on our way in no time. Whidbey Island was a real treat, very beautiful, lots to see and do, and I’m sure we will be back.

Camping at Silver Lake, WA

First trip of the year, just a short run from home to see if everything was working. It was! Trailer kept us warm and cozy even though we had constant downpours. There was a tiny little drip at one of the windows, but no big deal. It was raining like a car wash outside, so not too surprising.

I had intended to do some fishing, because in the winter the perch and crappie all come hang out in the canals like the one behind the campground. I came here for a WDFW fishing clinic a couple years ago and caught a bunch of fish! But the constant rain made fishing sound like less fun than what we decided to do, which is go explore the nearby towns of Castle Rock and Longview.

Longview has a neat museum that covers the history of the area, and quite a bit about the Mt St Helens eruption in 1980. The fellow at the museum was happy to answer questions and come by to add his knowledge to the exhibits when he wasn’t busy.

It felt really weird to finally be out camping and chatting with neighbors, and checking out each other’s trailers after all the time spent avoiding people during covid, but hey, we’re all vaccinated now, right? Well, so far, so good! The folks next to us had one of those faux ‘Vintage’ trailers, which looked really comfy inside. Looked vintage, but with all the modern goodies. I was a little jealous!

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.

An early start to fishing season

Last year I really stunk up the place fishing. I got skunked almost every trip out. I fished a LOT, and I think I only caught five fish the whole summer. It was really getting embarrassing.

I decided to start out the season by going to a Washington Dept of fish & Wildlife Crappie 101 class last weekend. They were holding it up at Silver Lake, near Mt St Helens, and that was on my list of places to go explore anyway. The lake is HUGE – well, a lot bigger than my home lake – but our fishing was confined to a little canal inside an RV park on the lake.

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They told us that in the winter crappie and perch all gather in this canal. In the summer they will head back out to the lake, but right now it was easy pickin’s here, and good practice for the kiddos who came to the clinic. Pretty much everyone was going to be catching fish if they threw a line in there.

I spent about 10 minutes tying on a couple crappie jigs I bought at the RV Park office, setting up a double jig rig as the instructor suggested, then headed out to the canal. My first cast was ok but didn’t quite go where I wanted it. My second cast went in a tree behind me, and broke off – so both jigs were gone. I went ahead and just tied on another jig I had in my box and tried that, and boom – first fish of the day!

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A nice little crappie. Then another, then a perch, then another perch, and another. I switched to a different color jig, they were hitting that too. Finally I went too deep and caught the jig on the bottom and lost it, so I tied on a Trout Magnet, and it was just as effective. What a joy to finally be catching fish and get to practice landing them for a change!

I was chatting with the nice family next to me, and they had driven up from my area too. One of their kids wasn’t having any luck though, so I let him have my spot and I wandered down the canal to try a spot down past the crowd.

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It was pretty, but there were no bites and if there was one thing I learned that day, it was to ‘fish where the fish are’ – and the fish were back where I had been fishing!

So I headed back down to the other end of the canal and found a new spot and started reeling in perch again.

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Most were little guys like this, but I caught one that was eating-size! Couldn’t get his picture because my hands were full! I did catch & release though, it was a long trip back home to be transporting fish. If I’d been camping there though, I’d have been cooking up some fish for lunch!

So that was a really fun day out, and I discovered Silver Lake is beautiful, and I definitely need to head back there! And it was was a great start to my fishing season, since all told I caught over a dozen fish – more than I’ve caught the last two seasons! And I met some nice folks from my area and got to talk fishing with them a bit and get some tips for the next time I hit the lake. All in all, an awesome day!

 

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