QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Books are the plane, and the train, and the road. They are the destination, and the journey. They are home.” ~Anna Quindlen
On Monday, August 21, we were on the road about 7:45 AM heading mostly south on the Yellowhead Highway. It was a bit hazy/smoky in Valemount and became steadily worse the further we went. We didn’t actually smell smoke until we stepped out of the truck in Little Fort, but it wasn’t terrible. We ate at the High Five Diner there and were blown away…totally amazing burgers! After lunch, we continued south on BC-5 down to Kamloops. That half of the drive got progressively more smoky as we approached town with the wind bringing in smoke from several large, active fires. It was so bad on this date that Kamloops, BC air quality was determined to be the worst in the WORLD!
NEWS SIDE NOTE: Recently on my news feed there was this snippet: “Drug dealer who sold actor Michael K. Williams fentanyl-laced heroin that led to his accidental drug overdose death is sentenced to 10 years in prison.” As I delved into the article, I could see that the man was actually convicted of selling drugs, including those laced with fentanyl. The liberal use of the actor’s name throughout the article, though, came across as if selling to him was the reason the guy was prosecuted. Why would they make it appear to be more important to prosecute a drug dealer if he sells to a famous person who dies as a result? Why is the entire thing written as if the drug dealer is mostly to blame for Williams’ death? I understand, better than most of you realize, about addiction, but most of the time it starts with a choice. If I choose to take drugs, either illicit or improperly used prescriptions, then I must hold the lion’s share of responsibility, famous or not. That doesn’t mean there are not other factors mixed in. Alcohol and drug addicts who have kicked it are amazing people who, by and large, have one thing in common…they accepted responsibility. I hope society circles back to holding individuals accountable soon. This “blame everyone and everything else but ourselves” is ridiculous.
Tuesday I was a bit tired. We had a group of tent campers who sat around talking loudly until late. Then, just as I was finally dozing off, an RV rolled in and, while they set up, their large dog barked for 15 minutes solid after 11:30 PM. It’s times like that when I ask God for patience, because I really just want to go out and smack someone. Mid-day we ran a few errands, then stopped downtown at Noble Pig Brewhouse for lunch. The smoke was much better, and we could actually see the mountains that we didn’t know were there when we came in the day before, too.
Wednesday through Saturday we didn’t do a whole lot. Well, I did a pretty good bit of catchup writing, spending a couple of long stretches parked at Tim Hortons. The smoke was pretty bad again on Thursday, but was much better over the weekend. We enjoyed some restaurants…On the Rocks (sports bar with good food) and Joey’s Seafood (okay)… and ran some errands for restocking, including a Costco run. We also dealt with a couple of RV issues that I’ll talk about below. Friday was the regular laundry day, which I did at the campground, and we spent the afternoon at the movies seeing Oppenheimer. It was really excellent, and I learned quite a bit about the man.
Something terrific did happen on Thursday…my beautiful BFF Tina Parker became a Gigi for the first time! Her daughter Bri gave birth to precious little Scarlett Anne Marie McInerney at 5:26 AM Eastern time. She was a petite little thing at 6 pounds and 19.5″ long and oh so adorable. Tina is over the moon, and I sure don’t blame her. Grandchildren are the BEST!!
SQUIRREL: A little news snippet on my 1440 Daily Digest on Friday was perplexing: “After crash-landing in the Pacific Ocean, the Apollo 11 crew had to go through customs in Hawaii.” We locked those guys into a capsule at NASA, then picked them up where it crashed down after their successful moon mission. Did they think one of them might have been replaced while out on a stroll? Or did they think they might have purchased something to declare? Hmmmm
Sunday morning we headed over to Cora for breakfast (excellent) before taking in the service at Southwest Community Church. Due to some issues with air conditioning in the sanctuary, the service was held in a side atrium. Rather than a typical sermon, Pastor Andrea Fisher had a Q&A session answering biblical questions that had been previously submitted by congregants. It was very informative, and everyone was so welcoming. We visited for a bit afterwards, and this is the third Sunday in a row that we’ve been invited to lunch. How nice! On this day, though, we were headed into Kamloops on a mission to find a statue and take a look at the riverfront. We changed clothes and headed out. The statue of Augustus & Catherine Schubert and one of their children is located downtown near Riverside Park. You may remember her history from the previous post.
After checking it out, we walked along the waterfront at Riverside Park. This is where the North and South Thompson Rivers come together, becoming just the plain old Thompson River. The park is huge and has tennis courts, lots of picnic areas and benches, a nice water play area for the kids, a beach and terrific views. Later on the way back to camp we stopped for ice cream at a little Mom and Pop called The Ice Cream Social. The Real Canadian Moose and Banana Fudge flavors were most excellent!
So let’s talk about water issues…specifically in RVs. As I’ve mentioned before, we had a small leak around the toilet when the foot flush pedal was depressed. It may have been doing it sporadically for a while, but we noticed a good bit of water a couple of weeks ago. MW (Mr. Wonderful) researched and found the solution to be a repair kit. You may recall that we stopped at Fraserway RV in Prince George to purchase it, but the only one they had was already promised to someone else. Bummer. So we contacted the Fraserway RV in Kamloops and ordered it. Friday morning it was time to install, which required removing the toilet…yuck! It isn’t hard, though… just turn off the water, unscrew the water lines, unscrew the nuts at the bottom, and lift off. I suggest having towels laid right there so any yuckiness doesn’t end up on the floor to clean up. We brought it out on towels into the living area, where the repair was pretty straight-forward; pop off the foot pedal, remove the old o-ring and another spring/seal (who knows what they call it), clean it all up, install the new pieces, then snap the foot pedal back into place. Total time was about 15 minutes, and that is in Jones luck time, not the superhero times typically posted for completion. The bonus for this job is actually getting the entire bathroom floor good and clean while the toilet is out! It is REALLY hard to get back into that corner when it is installed! Since it is a drop toilet, there are no messy seals like the one in your house, so to reinstall, you just thread the bolts up through the holes on each side and sit it in place, screw down the nuts, re-attach the water line, and turn the water back on to test it all out. Easy peasy. MW did all of this except clean the stuff up, but this is honestly something I could do alone.
Now for issue number two. At this park we are on city water, and when we arrived on Monday, we set up as usual…faucet, pressure regulator, hose, RV water intake. All was well the rest of Monday and Tuesday. However, on Wednesday morning MW flushed the toilet and no water came out. Curious. He checked the bathroom faucet…very low flow. Curiouser. He ran the kitchen faucet…next to nothing. What the heck? Outside he checked the flow at the faucet…fine. It was also good through the regulator and the hose. That took him to our Nautilus P1 panel, a one stop shop for directing water flow throughout the RV. (If you’re not familiar, it has a diagram and a few valves that you set in particular ways for city water, tank water, winterizing, etc.) From that panel, water lines split off to go to the hot water heater, kitchen faucet, and bathroom stuff. The back flow valve entering the panel seemed to be fine, and the valves associated with city water appeared to be properly changing when reset. Now, I’ll just tell you, MW is a solo problem solver. He is a pretty brilliant man, and can almost always figure out the solution. So, if he comes and asks me to run through something, he is stumped. (It has happened less than a handful of times in 30 years.) He has an engineer/pilot brain, and I have a controller brain, though, so we see things differently. He explained how the system works, and I walked through with my process. Baffling! But, since it is affecting both the kitchen and the bathroom, we agreed it had to be in that mid-section. He decided to remove the little cluster of pipes/valves behind the panel, but that would be another day. Thankfully, there was at least some flow to the fresh water tank, so that would get us by. DAY TWO: While I was doing the laundry on Friday, he took the entire system apart, blew out the pipes and valves, and checked to see if anything appeared to be amiss. It all seemed okay, so he put it back together. Yahoo!!! It worked!!!! Although he did not see anything specific come out, we figured that there must have been a piece of something blocking the flow that was dislodged. To celebrate, we went to the movies. Everything worked fine all evening, then on Saturday morning…no water. WTF*#@%??!! New theory…to be honest, we didn’t really have one. We headed over to Fraserway RV to try a new back flow valve. They didn’t have one, but talked it through with us and gave some thoughts. Back at Petunia, the water was, once again, fine. MW began to wonder if there might be a back flow valve on the water heater that was not functioning properly and built up pressure in the lines when the water got really hot. (It was hot when both issues were happening and cold when it got better.) Now he was totally out of my wheelhouse, so I had nothing to contribute. That would be the next area of exploration, so he turned off the water heater overnight. On Sunday morning, the water was running well when we got up, and continued after the water was hot. Well dang. When we came back from church, there was no water again, but this time it was because the park system was having issues. It ended up being off for several hours. Seriously, it was crazy. Since we would be on the road on Monday, we just booted the ball down the road.
Knutsford/Kamloops RV Campground is located just a few miles south of Kamloops on Highway 5A South and within driving distance to everything that the area has to offer. Amenities include an office/store, firewood sales onsite, laundry, playground, wifi, and heated washrooms with coin showers. The campground includes full and partial RV hookups with 30/15 amp electric and tent sites with picnic tables and fire pits. (Due to the wildfire situation, fires were not allowed during our visit.) Wifi was not good in the section we were in, and cell service was also terrible as the campground is situated in a gulley. The sites were spaced nicely for a private park, though, and the bathrooms were spotless. For that reason we would stay again if in the area. For this stay in August 2023 we paid $259.84 for 7 nights.
SIGN OF THE TIMES: When I was young, I LOVED Michael Jackson. I mean, want to marry him and have his babies LOVED Michael Jackson!! I felt the same way about Donny Osmond, Shaun Cassidy, and Peter Frampton, too, so I either had some issues or was just keeping my husband options open. My favorite album was Off the Wall, but I was pretty excited when Thriller came out. I bought it right away and believe it was around $12. A few months back I was walking through a store and saw the album. First thought…cool, vinyl! Second…Wow! More than twice the cost to go old school. Then I saw a writeup about vintage vinyl that said a near mint condition Thriller album from 1982 is worth $300 to $1,000. That makes me second guess giving away our nice album collection.
Monday we didn’t hit the road until about 10 AM. It was a little smoky as we headed out, and started getting worse almost immediately. There were two wildfires burning near our route, one at Stump Lake and the other at Kelowna. Thankfully, neither affected our roads. We headed south on 5A to Merritt, where we stopped for lunch at the Game On Sports Bar (good sandwich fare). Back on the road, we took BC-97C over to to Peachland, where we turned south on BC-97. There we started to see a lot of fruit stands as we passed through Summerland and Penticton. Despite the smoke, this entire drive was amazingly beautiful. From Peachland south things cleared up nicely. We were riding through the Okanagan valley along Okanagan Lake with huge, very steep mountains on either side. Landslides are a regular issue, and we would find out a couple of days after this drive that a landslide of over 105,000 cubic feet came down and closed this road in both directions for quite a while. As we approached Penticton, we were surprised to see thousands of acres of cultivated land across the lake and a couple of buildings about 10 stories high in town. The lake flows back into the Okanagan River there, which is a 4.2-mile man-made channel through town, then empties into Skaha Lake. Our campground, the Camp-Along Tent & RV Resort was a few miles south of Penticton in the Kaleden community. The sites were tightly spaced and perpendicular, and we were a little concerned about getting Petunia into one of them, but ours ended up being a pull-through by the pool. It was high up above Skaha Lake with a terrific view of the water and mountains on the other side. Upon arrival, we found that our fridge had apparently been open for most of the drive and was cool, at best, inside. After getting set up, we decided to keep it shut until morning to get everything back to temp as quickly as possible. For supper we drove back into Penticton to the Pasta Factory downtown, which was excellent.
We were thankful to find the fridge back up to temp when we woke up on Tuesday morning. Everything seemed to have fared okay, so that was a relief. After getting our acts together, we headed into Penticton to take a look around. It was still a little hazy from smoke, but not too bad. Our first stop was the Visitor Center, then we headed over to the Hooded Merganser, a restaurant out on a pier overlooking Lake Okanagan. While we waited for them to open, we enjoyed a walk around the pier and beach area. The food was terrific, with the prize going to the calamari and the really fresh salad, although the prawn tacos and chicken sandwich were also pretty darned good. We enjoyed the gorgeous views, even though the weather was cloudy and bit drizzly (good for taking smoke out of the air, though). As we were finishing up, an osprey flew to a platform next door with a large fish. Another showed up soon, and we watched the interaction. The second appeared to be waiting patiently for the first to finish his/her meal. It was pretty interesting.
Next we headed over to the number two attraction in Penticton, according to TripAdvisor…The Book Shop. One of the reviews said it was the “most incredible used bookstore ever!”, and we can’t argue with that. I love books and always enjoy browsing, but MW elevates book shopping to an art and can immerse himself into the right store forever. We both walked away with several finds, though, so I guess I can’t say much. Finally, after a quick grocery store run, it was time to head back to Petunia.
Wednesday we planned something we hadn’t done in a long time…winery tours. So after getting some writing done in the morning, we headed into town. Our first stop was Loki’s Garage for sandwiches (very good). Penticton has a beautiful downtown area and the lake and mountain views are terrific. To get to our tastings, we climbed up onto the Naramata Bench, where from town you can see the large Penticton sign on the hillside. We stopped and hiked up to the sign to take in the view…spectacular! Thankfully much of the smoke had cleared out.
Along this area of Okanagan Lake, there is a small strip of beachy terrain down at the water, then the cliffs rise steeply up, flatten out for a bit, then climb further up the mountains behind, looking kind of like a bench. It creates the perfect terrain and climate for growing, and the area is a little hot spot for fruits, including pears, apples, peaches, cherries, and of course, grapes. That really surprised us after coming through such rugged, mountainous areas to get to Penticton. Along Naramata Road, there are many roadside stands selling fruits and some vegetables, all grown right there. The Okanagan Valley is a world-class wine region and home to over 180 wineries, 90 of which are within 20 minutes of Penticton. I’m not sure how many are along Naramata Road, but they are stacked in there with grapes and tasting rooms everywhere. You can drive if you like, but there are also winery tours on busses, walking trails, and e-bikes available in town. (I’m pretty certain the latter is a bad idea if you go to more than one or two.) We were early for our 1 PM appointment, so our first stop was at Poplar Grove Cheese, where MW found a couple of things to try. Then it was on to Township 7 Vineyards. There we were walked through the particulars of wines in general and their wines in particular by Connor Knapp (@CabsWithConnor). While appearing barely old enough to drink, that young man knew his stuff and was very good at explaining the process and how it all comes together in the glass. Interesting note: The 2007 Chardonnay from Township 7 was served to Queen Elizabeth II at the Government of Canada’s state dinner in 2010.
Next we popped in at Bench 1775 Winery where Luke, another very young wine expert, walked us through their grapes and process. We also talked about Tennessee, the nearby wildfires, road closures, etc. He is heading back over towards Vancouver soon to Trinity Western University to continue his studies, so the road closures were concerning. I asked if Trinity is a bible college, and when he said it is, I said, “Fist bump, Dude.” He was a little taken aback and said “That’s the most unique reaction I’ve ever had to letting someone know I’m a Christian!” Cracked me up.
SIDE NOTE: Sampling wines is a little bit like the cattle judging at the state fair for me. Have you ever watched when all the FFA kids bring out their cows? The judge starts talking about the cows being “bigger pinned”, “longer pasterned”, “soggy”, “crestier”, “longer and leveler out of dock”, “off in hip”, “practical in body”, “broody”, “expressive from behind”, etc., etc. While this man/woman is coming up with all of these things, I’m simply thinking “ohh look at the pretty cows!” that all look EXACTLY alike except for color. (Then I think that some of those comments are just RUDE! Not even a cow wants to be called “soggy” or “practical in body”, and “crestier” just sounds gross. “Expressive from behind” MIGHT be a compliment, I guess.) Similarly, the total extent of my wine knowledge is “yum, this is good” or “yuck”. You can talk all you want about the complexities of the flavor with the “notes” of this, or the “nose” of that, and the “legs”, but in the end, it is just “yuck” or “yum”. I will confess to occasionally tasting the “butter notes” they always mention, but that might just be that I’m from the South where we put butter on and in everything. Both Connor and Luke worked hard to teach me stuff, and I did walk away with one new piece of info…”legs” (the wine kind…I already knew what the cow kind were) are the little droplets that roll down the inside of the glass after you swirl the wine and the alcohol begins to evaporate. “Longer legs” means the wine either has a higher alcohol content or is sweeter.
The Camp-Along Tent & RV Resort was small and packed in. No kidding…they use every bit of available space on their portion of the bluff. The road up the steep hill was narrow and definitely would not accommodate some of today’s giant rigs. That said, if you can get up there and score one of the pull-through sites that back up to the river, you will not find a better view anywhere. The ownership is very serious about keeping a peaceful, family environment, but you do get some road noise from the highway. The grounds are covered with fruit trees, and you can harvest small amounts in season. Amenities include an office/store, heated pool, laundromat, small playground, bathhouse (tokens from office), small playground, and wifi. The campground has a total of 99 sites, most of which are tents with no service or electric and water. RV sites are full-hookup and almost all are perpendicular back-in that are stacked in really close. Most are filled with long-term folks, too. A handful of the lake view sites are pull-through where you circle the office building on grass to park behind your rig. They appear to hold those for the short-term traffic. None of the sites are very long, and there is zero extra parking. (Our 31′ fifth wheel and 22′ truck just barely fit.) Cell signals were strong, but I’m not sure we even checked for over-the-air tv stations. There are quite a few RV parks along the river, so we will probably try a different one when we come back. We would not rule this one out, though, simply for the view. For this stay in August 2023 we paid $134.61 for 3 nights.
On Thursday we headed south on BC-3A and turned west on BC-3 at Keremeos. British Columbia is a lot like Alaska in that there just isn’t anything ugly. The drives have all been spectacular. In Princeton, BC, we stopped downtown at Billy’s Family Restaurant for lunch, then finished the drive to the Emory Bar RV Park a few miles north of Hope, British Columbia. After getting settled in, we headed back to town to check out the Washtub Launderette, where I met owner Carla and was given a lot of Hope lowdown. Then after a grocery run, we picked up some groceries and pizza at the Spice and Grill per Carla’s recommendation. (The second time we’ve ordered pizza at an Indian restaurant, and both were surprisingly good.) Back at Petunia, we sat outside and enjoyed the evening. This was the first time in ages we’ve been able to do that, and it was delightful!
Friday started with laundry, of course. It wasn’t crowded, so I was able to get in and out fairly fast. MW found a bakery in town, The Rolling Pin, and was jonesing for an apple fritter, so I stopped there on the way back. (Wow…a MUST if you are in the area!) Later in the afternoon we returned to town to play tourist, and our first stop was Christ Church. Built in 1861, it is the longest continually-operated church on the British Columbia mainland. That is 162 years of services in the same building on the same spot. Amazing. It is very well-kept and the grounds are beautiful with these giant trees lining the street. They also had a sweet idea that I had never seen before…a Scattering Garden. It was a nice little area with a sign that says it was built to allow the scattering of ashes on the church grounds. There is also a nice, tiled labyrinth out front.
Hope is known for chainsaw carvings. In fact there are over 80 sporadically placed around town, some from the bi-annual Hope World Class Chainsaw Carving Event, a 3-day flurry of flying wood chips and fun. Folks come from all over the world to compete, and some leave their entries in town. Sadly, we missed the event by a week or so, but if you plan a trip in 2025, look for the dates. The other big thing in Hope is Rambo. The movie was filmed in town and the surrounding area. Although many of the sites in the film are no longer there, Rambo fans will see some familiar stuff. Plus, looking around at the mountains you can definitely understand why Sheriff Teasle’s men couldn’t track John down in the woods. We walked around town a bit, stopping in at the Artisans’ Attic for postcards and Baker’s Books. The latter is pretty good with a terrific inventory of used books for $2! Supper was back at the Spice and Grill, this time for their Indian food (delicious!), then we headed back to Petunia to enjoy another evening outside.
Saturday our first stop in town was at The Rolling Pin…again. After my description from Friday, MW felt it was a necessary visit. He wasn’t wrong. Next we headed over to the Hope Lookout Trail for a little hike. The information at the bottom says it is a moderate trail, but I beg to differ. In my humble opinion, if a chain must be attached to a rock wall so that you can lug your butt up the rocks, it is beyond moderate. We went up to the first overlook, which is only around 3/4 mile…steeply UP! Since it is the first time I’ve hiked in a while, that was definitely enough for one day. The weather was perfect for it, though, and the view, quite nice.
We cooled off on a drive out to take a look at the Hope Slide. In the early morning hours of January 9, 1965, a HUGE portion of Johnson Peak in the Nicole Valley of the Cascade Mountains came down. It is believed that two minor earthquakes in the general area earlier that morning started a chain reaction. The first issue was an avalanche. Second, the snow on Highway 3 forced a car, an oil tanker, and a hay truck to stop below the peak. Then all hell broke loose. Calls came into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police switchboard reporting a couple of small rock slides. What they found was something else entirely. More than 61 MILLION cubic yards, the entire southwestern slope, had come down. When that much rock, dirt, and debris comes down fast, it is a little bit like rolling marbles down the side of a bowl. Outram Lake in the valley at the base of the mountain was buried, and the water and soft bottom dirt, along with the rest of the landslide debris, was shoved up the opposite mountainside before sliding back to rest in the valley. The roadway and valley floor was covered by a layer of debris 35 to 70 YARDS deep. The three vehicles that were stopped for the avalanche disappeared into the muck, and all four of the occupants were killed, with two of the bodies never found. Today the rebuilt road is about 60 yards above the original, and there is an overlook to see the slide results.
The rest of the day was spent with some writing and a grocery store run. Did you know that it is next to impossible to find okra at the grocery store in British Columbia? They didn’t have lima beans, either! I’ve been wanting some of Grandma Sara’s vegetable soup, but it definitely can’t happen without those two.
Emory Bar RV Park is a bit atypical for a private place. Located about 10 miles outside of Hope, British Columbia, it is convenient to town, plenty of hiking, the Othello Tunnels, and a whole lot of other attractions. Amenities include a gas station, convenience and gift store, cafe, deli, bakery, BC liquor store, firewood sales, laundromat, gazebo, dog walking area, and bathhouse. It looked like they were building a large, club house, but it was not finished. There is also a cool little caboose out front with information on why the area is important to the history of the Canadian Pacific Railway. A little more than half of the campground is long-term sites that are full hookup. Of the transient sites, there are 6 pull-throughs with water and electric, 10 back-ins with water and electric, and 17 tent sites with water nearby. Most of the spaces are still fairly close, but it is spread out through a forest of giant evergreens. The shade and breezes were awesome. There were privacy fences between the pull-through sites, too. Ours was particularly long and wide…honestly, we could have parked at least two more cars…and was like a little oasis. Sites have fire pits and picnic tables, and there is wifi available. Cell signals were moderate for both Verizon and AT&T. The negative is that the bathhouse and bathrooms were not very well kept at all. You know it is an issue when MW comes back after his preflight upon arrival and says “I’ll be showering in here!” We could definitely live with that and come back again, particularly to site 1. The final bonus, it was cheap! For this stay in September 2023, we paid $77.72 for 3 nights with water and electric.
Labor Day, Sunday, September 3, was a big day for us…we were re-entering the lower 48 after 4 months. Oh, and it was our 30th Wedding Anniversary!! Crazy to think it has been that long. In some ways the time seems to have flown by, but thinking back to LBMJ…Life Before Mrs. Jones…it seems like forever. We met on the first day of 11th grade in Driver’s Ed class and became best friends pretty fast. It stayed that way, except for a brief written flirtation during college, until our late 20s. I should probably tell you that my Mom picked him for my husband when I was 18. I told her I wasn’t going to marry that nerdy boy, and she reminds me about that regularly. Our 10-Year class reunion was our first official date, and they took formal portraits that night. Amazingly, we look EXACTLY the same! ROTFL. So, what have I learned to pass on? JUST DON’T!! Okay, I’m kidding. Seriously, though, I have learned that, if the person at the end of the aisle isn’t your best friend, STOP! If he/she is a nerd, all the better.
It was a travel day, so we headed out about 7 AM to give us plenty of time to cross the border. We headed southwest on CN-1, then turned south on BC-9 to the Sumas crossing, arriving about 7:45 AM. Only one gate was open, and there were two lanes on the non-commercial side. The one on the right said busses/trailers, but ridiculously, it just merged into the left one a little ways down. You know none of the cars would let us larger guys in! It must have taken the bus in front of us 10 minutes to get an opening. We were trying most of that time, too, and just about the time I threatened to get out and stand in front of the next car, someone let us in. Ahead they pulled the RV in front of us aside to search. Uh-oh! This might take a lot longer. Right at 8 AM, though, they opened up three or four more gates, and things started moving fast. The agent at the gate was quick and efficient, asking us five or six questions and voila…back in the USA after a total of about 30 minutes. I’ll take that over the 1-1/2 hours I spent at the Vancouver crossing a few weeks ago for sure, but the lesson here is come at 8 AM, not at 7 AM when they open. We continued south on WA-9, stopping in Everton, Washington, for lunch at The Smokestack Diner, where MW was pretty impressed with the Hash Brown Sandwich (basically two thin layers of hash browns with a bunch of stuff in between). Back on the road, we continued south on WA-9, enjoying a return to farm country. At Sedro-Woolley, we turned east onto WA-20. Along that stretch of road we saw several minions made out of pressure tanks waving by mailboxes. Too cute! Just before 11 AM, we pulled in at Hamilton First Baptist Church, which thankfully, had a huge parking lot. That is the first time we’ve popped in for services on a travel day, but we were both missing it. I felt a little awkward in jeans and sneakers, but the folks there didn’t seem to notice and were very welcoming. Back on the road, we continued east to just short of Rockport, where we landed at Glacier Peak Resort and Winery.
The point of our easterly loop to this area was to get a gander at North Cascades National Park, so on Monday when it was very cloudy and misty, we were a bit bummed. It didn’t stop us from heading out to see what we could see, though, and by the time we turned around, the clouds had broken up enough to catch some beautiful views. Our original plan would have taken us to the east side of the park and then through the middle to our next stop, but wildfires had WA-20 closed for quite a while. We didn’t want to chance having to go all the way round, so a few weeks prior we rerouted to this side. The road was re-opened now, although it was still an active fire area and many of the side roads and overlooks remained closed. We stopped in at the Visitor Center, where we learned that Alaska is the only state in the U.S. with more glaciers than you can find in the North Cascades. There are more than 300 in the park alone! The west side of the range gets about 110 inches of precipitation a year. There western red cedars abound with shallow roots in the soggy soil. On the east side, however, plants must survive on as little as 12 inches per year. There the ponderosa pines sink deep taproots to survive, growing only about a foot above ground, but 5′ below ground in 4 years. There is also an interesting plant in these mountains called a glacier lily that melts away snow to get a head start on the short growing season. Too cool! Would like to see one of those. We continued east to the Gorge Dam Overlook and took in Gorge Creek Falls. Then a short walk took us out to view Gorge Lake and the dam from above. This is the westernmost of three dams on the Skagit river in the park. Upstream are the Diablo Dam and the Ross Dam, which regulate the flow down river.
We continued east on WA-20 to the Diablo Lake Overlook and took in the views. Clouds or no, it is a beautiful drive.
By the time we made it back to Marblemount, it was past time for lunch. We popped in at the Upriver Grill & Taproom, which had pretty darned good wings. Back at the campground, we took a walk along the river and around the park later in the afternoon.
Glacier Peak Resort and Winery is just a couple of miles down from the tiny community of Marblemount, Washington, on WA-20 with access to plenty of hiking and fishing opportunities in addition to North Cascades National Park. The property includes a drive-in burger place, bar, and winery with a tasting room open on weekends. Other amenities include a lodge, office/store, laundry, game room, bathhouse, and 60 acres of private river access with a beach, boat launch, huge blackberry patch, and almost 2 miles of paths. Lodging options include several cabin options and the campground, which has a row of pull-through sites for larger rigs with full-hookup and 50-amp, plus plenty of back-ins nestled in the wooded area. They also have tent camping sites along the river. Cell signals were moderate for both Verizon and AT&T. The bathhouse was well-maintained, and the park, very peaceful. We enjoyed our stay and would definitely return. For this visit in September 2023, we paid $115 for two nights.
REVISITING WATER: Remember above when we were having the issue with water just not flowing into the RV. I said we were kicking it down the road, and that was definitely the right move. Haven’t had any issues since, and we’ve stayed at several campgrounds since. Our assumption is that it was related to the problems the park was having with their water system. Maybe some type of vapor lock was being created. Who knows, but I’m always thankful when a problem disappears!
That’s it for now. Next up…Family, Salmon, and Another National Park! See you on the path!!
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