Travel cheat: We flew from TX to WA — but then promptly borrowed an RV

It’s true. And there’s probably a good joke here that starts, “You can take a couple of full-timers out of their RV…”

But didn't we look cute on our airplane?

But didn’t we look cute on our airplane? Sorry it’s fuzzy. I was probably giggling with glee!

With only 7 days to visit two different parts of the family — our son and his girlfriend on the Olympic Peninsula, and Tim’s parents, sisters and their families a couple hours north of Seattle — it made perfect sense for us to have our own mobile guest suite. Thankfully, Tim’s folks own just the thing, and were willing to hand over the keys!

Tim's folks made the bed, gassed/watered/propaned it up, and even stocked the pantry and fridge for us -- including homemade chocolate chip cookies. My in-laws are the bomb!

They patched a few leaks, made the bed, gassed/watered/propaned it up, and even stocked the pantry and fridge for us — including a bottle of wine and homemade chocolate chip cookies.
My in-laws are the bomb!

Tim's dad checked us out on all the systems before letting us leave the driveway. This thing is way easier to set up and take down than our fifth wheel, but...

Tim’s dad checked us out on all the systems before letting us leave the driveway.
This thing is way easier to set up, take down, and drive around than our fifth wheel, but…

... wow, is it petite. Excellent choice for short trips, but I don't think I could handle living in one full time. The bathroom is about half the size of ours, and includes sink, potty and shower. I did not think that was possible.

… wow, is it compact.
It suited our needs more than adequately for this short trip, but I don’t think I could handle living in a truck camper full time.
The bathroom is about half the size of ours, and includes sink, potty, storage cabinet and shower. I… I did not think that was possible. And I am not willing to downsize that much.

Boiling water for coffee in this old percolator made us feel like pioneers!

Boiling water for coffee in this old percolator made us feel like pioneers! (Yeah, we know. Pioneers had campfires, not auto-ignite gas stoves.)

And although this is truly a 1-butt kitchen, we bumped it a 2-butt to clean up after a big breakfast. Tim washed, our son's girl dried.

And although this is truly a 1-butt kitchen, we promoted it to a 2-butt to clean up after a big breakfast.
Tim washed, our son’s girl dried.

Our site at the Point Hudson Marina & RV Park came with a view of Admiralty Inlet.

Our site at the Point Hudson Marina & RV Park in Port Townsend came with a beautiful view of Admiralty Inlet and the mountains beyond.

Moonrise over the inlet

Moonrise over the inlet

And here’s why we went: our older son graduated from the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding with an associate of occupational studies degree, and an impressive list of craftsmanship and engineering skills, such as planking, structures, fiberglass work, and handcrafted cabinetry. We are so stinkin’ proud!

That's him, sitting up there on the Chamberlain, a craft he's done a lot of work on during his time at the boat school.

That’s him, sitting up there on the Chamberlain, a craft he’s done a lot of work on during his time at the boat school.

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Not many school-sponsored graduation receptions include a keg. Was this place a good choice or what? And although this is not our boy's first beer, it's the first one his mama's poured for him, so like so many other milestones, we captured it with a photo. I'm sure there's a spot in the baby book for this somewhere...

Not many school-sponsored graduation receptions include a keg. This school was a good. choice.
And although this is not our boy’s first beer, it’s the first one his mama’s poured for him, and like so many other child rearing milestones, we captured it with photos. I’m sure there’s a spot in the baby book for this somewhere…

Later on, our son showed us around the boat yard in Port Townsend. This one bears a price tag of $5000 OBO. My best offer is oh hell no.

Later on, our son showed us around the boat yard in Port Townsend.
This fixer-upper bears a price tag of $5000 OBO.
My best offer is oh hell no.

I’ll leave you with three images of what the Puget Sound area is famous for: her picturesque waterways. No matter where you go, your journey will include bridges, tunnels, or ferries to get you from Point A to Point B, and the views are always worth the wait.

Deception Pass, looking west from the bridge...

Deception Pass, looking west from the bridge…

... and east

… and east

Port Townsend Bay

Port Townsend Bay

As for what’s coming up next for us, it looks like we’ll be sitting here in San Antonio through the fall, and perhaps into winter. Some medical issues have come up, and they need to be taken care of. I won’t share the details here, mostly because we don’t have enough information yet to know what lies ahead for Tim, but once we’ve got a better grip on what needs to be done, I’ll spill the proverbial beans. For now, in my husband’s own words:

I admit this is not how I wanted to spend my fall months, but such is life. I welcome prayers, well-wishes, and good thoughts. 

Hell, some of you might even feel compelled to send large sums of money, which would also be just fine.

Now if you do choose to pray, please don’t get too serious. I think something like this would be appropriate: “Dear God, please help that sap get physically well soon. We all understand he is a lost cause mentally.”

Nobody puts us in a corner. We’ll walk there our own damn selves.

Today’s adventure: the very outermost tip of the Olympic Peninsula, accessed by the Cape Flattery trail. It’s only 1.5 miles, round trip — easy for us. But we made the long drive because that little trail leads to a unique, wild, and beautiful spot: the northwesternmost point of the continental U.S.

Cape Flattery: the northwesternmost point in the continental United States

That’s it. That’s where we went.

From the Washington Trails Association, “Here, where the Strait of Juan de Fuca meets the Pacific, Cape Flattery protrudes into a sea of tumultuous waters. A land of dramatic headlands, sea stacks, and deep narrow coves, Cape Flattery exhibits sheer rugged beauty. Scores of seabirds ride the surf and scavenge the sea stacks. Watch for whales and sea lions too… [from] the final viewing platform, teetering on the edge of terra firma.”

Other than a few of those seabirds, and 7 (seven!) bald eagles, the closest thing to wild animals we encountered on the trail was a pack of White North American Unwashed Hippies with one of their young. Wow. Reeking of weed would have been an improvement. All part of the adventure…

The forecast was not completely true. We got sunshine! Lots of it! But, that wind chill part was for real. Brrrrrr.

The forecast was not completely true. We got sunshine! Lots of it! But, that wind chill part was for real. Brrrrrr.

On the way to Neah Bay, we saw a bald eagle fly under this rainbow. It was indeed a harbinger of breathtaking scenes to come.

On the way to Neah Bay, we saw a bald eagle fly under this rainbow. It was indeed a harbinger of breathtaking scenery to come.

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Oh. Canada! (Those mountains across the water are on Vancouver Island.)

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Welcome figures at the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. We spent over an hour there, learning about the Makah tribal history. For nearly 4,000 years their people have occupied the Olympic Peninsula.

These figures welcomed us at our starting point, the Makah Museum in Neah Bay. We spent over an hour there, learning about Makah tribal history. For nearly 4,000 years their people have occupied the Olympic Peninsula.

$10 permit required to explore tribal lands, including the trails we hiked today. Seems a pittance, considering...

This $10 permit is required for exploring tribal lands, including the trails we hiked today.
Seems a pittance, considering…

At the Cape Flattery Trail Head, walking sticks provided by the Makah. Free for use-and-return, $5 to take-and-keep.

At the Cape Flattery Trailhead, we found a pleasant surprise: walking sticks provided by the Makah. Free for use-and-return, $5 to take-and-keep.

I chose one!

I chose one!

Next several shots: scenes from our hike along the Cape Flattery Trail. It's only 3/4 mile, but oh, where it took us!

Next several shots: scenes from our hike along the Cape Flattery Trail. It’s only 3/4 mile, but oh, where it took us!

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No tufted puffins today. Sorry, Maria. Wrong season.

No tufted puffins today. Sorry, Maria. Wrong season.

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At the end of the trail, which feels like it's at the end of the earth, we had a crystal clear view of the Cape Flattery Light, on Tatoosh Island, about half a mile from the coast.

At the end of the trail, which feels like it’s at the end of the earth, we had a crystal clear view of the Cape Flattery Light, on Tatoosh Island, about half a mile from the coast.

Here we are. Top left corner of CONUS. Check!

Top left corner of CONUS: check!

With Tatoosh Island behind us

With Tatoosh Island behind us

Since we finished at Cape Flattery by 1:30, we decided to make the most of the sunny skies (and our 3-hour drive to get there) by driving down to the Shi-Shi Beach Trail, which took us on a ridge above the Pacific Ocean.

Since we finished at Cape Flattery by 1:30, we decided to make the most of the sunny skies (and our 3-hour drive to get there) by driving down to the Shi Shi Beach Trail, which took us on a messy but really rather glorious walk along a ridge above the Pacific Ocean.

"Beach access in Olympic National Park is by steep trail." By which they mean there are actual ropes tied to trees to help you descend. At that point, we were short on both daylight and patience, so we skipped the potential cliff tumble and turned back.

“Beach access in Olympic National Park is by steep trail.” By which they mean there are actual ropes tied to trees to help you descend.
At that point, we were short on both daylight and patience, so we skipped the potential cliff tumble and turned back.

Two miles out, one mile of which was mud. Two miles back, same mud.

Two miles out, one mile of which was mud.
Two miles back, same mud, but tired feet.

I tried really, really hard to avoid it...

I tried really, really hard to avoid it…

But lost the battle on the way back to the trailhead.

It didn’t go well.

Yeah. That was a deep one.

Yeah. That was a deep one.

But definitely...

But definitely…

worth...

worth…

the reward.

the reward.

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We even saw a little frosty snowy stuff on the walkway.

Thank you, Makah tribe.
Your land is a treasure.
We showed it utmost respect by leaving only bootprints, and taking only memories.

I saw one ship go rowing out, on New Year’s Day in the morning

Tim, Alden and Karynna (Alden’s girlfriend) went rowing ’round the bay with the Sea Scouts this afternoon, while I took a walk along a teensy-weensy part of the 1200-mile Pacific Northwest Trail, which is one of our nation’s newest national trails (and not to be confused with the Pacific Crest Trail, which Tim hiked over the summer of 2013, to mark his transition from active duty to retired Navy life).

Because when your nearly 21-year-old son, who’s been living on his own in WA for 2+ years, asks if you want to go boating with his Sea Scout troop, on New Year’s Day, as per their annual tradition, in Port Townsend Bay, where the average water temp is 53 degrees in July, you pull out your long johns, grab gloves, a wool cap, and the warmest coat you own, and you go. There'll be coffee and a hot shower when it's over.

When your nearly 21-year-old son,
who’s been living on his own in WA for 2+ years,
asks if you want to go boating with his Sea Scout troop,
on New Year’s Day,
as per their annual tradition,
in Port Townsend Bay,
where the average water temp is 53 degrees in July,
you pull on your long johns,
grab gloves, a wool cap, and the warmest coat you own,
and you go.
There’ll be coffee and a hot shower when it’s over.

The excursion began at the Wooden Boat Foundation, where the sea scouts hold their meetings and store their gear.

The excursion began at the Wooden Boat Foundation, where the sea scouts hold their meetings and store their gear.

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Our boy and his girl (photo by Karynna)

Our boy and his girl
(photo by Karynna)

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Ready to row and sail onboard Bear

Watch them row, with cheers from the crowd on the pier:

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If you peer closely at the right hand side, you can see the gray-blue shadow of Mount Rainier behind our intrepid oarsmen.

Sea Scouts on the left, appearing to take on a Washington State Ferry.

Sea Scouts in the little boat on the left, appearing to take on a Washington State Ferry.

Not.

Not.

I saw three ships come sailing in...

I saw three ships come sailing in…

Mountain views from the bay were spectacular today. Mount Baker and the Cascades were to our left, the Olympics to our right, and shadowy Mount Rainier in the middle. Look.

Olympics

Olympics

Cascades

Cascades

Mt. Baker

Mt. Baker

Olympics

Olympics

Mt. Rainier centered beneath the sign

Mt. Rainier centered beneath the sign

Mt. Baker at sunset

Mt. Baker at sunset

Mt. Rainier at sunset

Mt. Rainier at sunset

The views from my walk weren’t too shabby either.

Looking south along the Larry Scott portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail. That's a paper factory in the distance.

Looking southwest along the Larry Scott portion of the Pacific Northwest Trail. That’s a paper factory in the distance.

The northward view, with chicken hat selfie. It seemed an appropriate way to greet the new year, and I got a kick out watching passing motorists say "Look at her chicken hat!"

The northeasterly view, with chicken hat selfie.
It seemed an appropriate way to greet the new year, and I got a kick out of watching passing motorists say “Look at her chicken hat!”

The West Marine mascot appeared to be just as bewildered by my hat as I was by him.

The West Marine mascot appeared to be just as bewildered by my hat as I was by him.

I warmed up afterwards with a perfect cuppa joe at Velocity, while I waited for the scouts to return.

I warmed up afterward with a perfect cuppa joe at Velocity, while I waited for the scouts to return.

2016, Day 1: hard to beat

Yesterday: eagles. Today: mountains and orcas. Remember that, because you’ll need it at the end.

We’ve shifted our home base from the Mount Vernon area to Port Townsend, to spend more time with our older son and his girlfriend.

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I managed to avoid a total freak-out over maneuvering our BFT/RV combo onto the ferry, but then all kinds of lost my shit when I heard the captain say, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve spotted a pod of killer whales ahead. You should be able to see them from the bow in just a couple of minutes.”

And we did!

In the boarding queue, feeling confident that if that guy can roll his big self onboard, so can we.

In the boarding queue, feeling confident that if that guy can roll his big self onboard, so can we. He makes us look petite!

Just gotta fit through that thing when the boat pulls up...

Just gotta fit through that thing when the boat pulls up.

All aboard! It wasn't nearly as scary after watching the truly big rigs drive onboard before we did. If they fit, we fit!

All aboard! It wasn’t nearly as scary after watching the truly big rigs drive onboard before we did. If they fit, we fit!

Packed in tight, with 18-wheelers in front, behind, and on our left side. They make us look petite.

Packed in tight, with 18-wheelers in front, behind, and on our left.

Yesterday: bald eagles Today: Holy shit, there's a pot of orcas off the bow of the ferry! 2015 has been very, very good to us.

Thar she blows!
2015 has been very, very good to us.

Off we go, into Port Townsend.

Off we go, into Port Townsend.

And look who was waiting for us at the campground when we pulled in: our big boy!

And look who was waiting for us at the campground when we pulled in: our big boy!

After so many dismal days of soggy grayness, we reveled in the sunshine and clear skies, even though it was cold enough to… well… freeze the door mats. But other than that? Hey, look! The mountains are out!

These are our door mats. Knowing we were in for a stretch of rain-free days, I draped the sodden bastards over a picnic bench to dry out. Failed to take into account the overnight freeze warning. Oops.

These are our door mats. Knowing we were in for a stretch of rain-free days, I draped the sodden bastards over a picnic bench to dry out.
Failed to take into account the overnight freeze warning.
Oops.

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Deception Pass, between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island

Deception Pass, between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island

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That faded blue hump in the center may or may not be Mount Rainier. I'm not sure which direction I was facing -- which is pretty much a constant state of existence for me.

That faded blue hump in the center may or may not be Mount Rainier.
I’m not sure which direction I was facing — which is pretty much my constant state of existence.

Olympic Mountains, from the Coupevdlle - Port Townsend Ferry

Olympic Mountains, from the Coupeville – Port Townsend Ferry

Mount Rainier, from the Coupeville - Port Townsend Ferry

Mount Rainier (for sure this time), from the ferry

Deer on the parade grounds at Fort Worden. Cascade Mountains across the water.

Deer on the parade grounds at Fort Worden. Cascade Mountains across the water.

And speaking of Fort Worden, I leave you with this bit of movie nostalgia:

Name that movie. It was filmed at Fort Worden, where we spent 45 minutes not getting a camping space. Don't ask.

An Officer and A Gentleman” was filmed at Fort Worden, where we spent 45 minutes not getting a camp site. Don’t ask. Just keep humming love lift us up where we belong. Because that’ll take you up where the eagles fly, on the mountains high, and then we’ve come full circle.

Happy 2016, y’all!

As the Buddha would say, “Jesus, Emily. Look *up*.”

We’ve been here nearly two weeks, spending tons of time making memories with family, and taking advantage of rare non-rainy days to walk along the bay.

On this morning’s sojourn, I chanced to look up.

It’s a rule of Western Washington that I often forget: Every now and then, pull your eyes from the placid waters, the intense greenery, the snow-capped Olympics and Cascades, and the hipsters with their coffees, and gaze skyward, to the very tops of the cedars.
Because that’s where the bald eagles are, dummy.
Today, I saw four. Actually, I think Eagle 1 and Eagle 4 were a case of same-bird-different-tree, so maybe I saw only three.

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See them? Center tree, up top.

See them?
Center tree, up top.

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Still there. Same tree. But better shot of the truck, yes?

My apologies for poor photo quality. This was one of the rare occasions on which I wished I still had a real camera, as the iPhone just doesn’t do very well at capturing things that are way the hell up there.