Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...

Westward, HO! Family, Whales, and Art

On Monday, June 13, we didn’t have too far to go, so we took our time getting out. We had traveled on most of the main roads northwest of us over the years while visiting with family in Edmonds, Washington. The route on this day was mostly stale, although we did manage a couple of deviations from the last time. We headed north on US-97 up to Toppenish, where we stopped for some lunch at Dad’s Family Restaurant, a local favorite. I had a BLT, and Mr. Wonderful (MW) had the tuna sandwich. They put a lot of bacon on mine, and everything was pretty good. The menu had an item called a butterhorn that we had never heard of. MW asked what it was and was told it was a pastry, but they didn’t have any. Bummer! It was a beautiful, but windy, day. I needed to ship out a Father’s Day gift, so we walked about 1/2 mile over to the post office. Toppenish is the “City of MURALS”, and there were several beautiful ones along the way.

Back on the road, we hit I-82 north to Ellensburg, where we continued on I-90 all the way to Easton and our new spot, Lake Easton State Park. Getting situated was a little bit of a bear. Our site was a left, 70-degree, back-in on a curve with a large tree right by the pavement on one side, a large shrub on the other, and trees across the road. Just after we arrived and were assessing the situation, the park host pulled up in a golf cart. I told him this just wasn’t happening staying on the road, and his response was “are you the expert, or is he”. WTF??!! How the heck is that helpful?! I said we do this twice a week for months on end, so we were both pretty good. He harrumphed. About that time MW walked up and asked if he could drive on the dirt. By pulling through the site across the street up between two trees, he was able to get it angled enough to get in. Had the site been occupied, and the park was booked almost solid that night, there would have been no way to do it. Finally in our site, the helpful site host walked over and asked me if we wanted to straighten it out a little. (It was in at an angle, which we decided would be helpful in missing the tree when we left, especially if we had a neighbor across the street.) I told him “no”. Then MW walked up, and he asked him the same questions. Again…WTF??!! I sure hope some woman isn’t married to that jackass! I spent the afternoon getting my blood pressure back to normal. People like that make me so mad that sometimes my head spins around and the devil comes out of my mouth. I did manage not to do that, or smack him, so that is good.

Tuesday started with a lot of blog work. Honest to goodness, I’m going to get caught up! Later we headed into Cle Elum, Washington, and had lunch at the Cottage Cafe. It’s a basic diner that also does some pretty tasty-looking pastries. They actually had the butterhorn that was missing from Dad’s on Monday, so we took a sample home. It is a danish, but the size of a dinner plate. Our had a cream cheese topping, but they come with other stuff, too. Yum! After lunch we took a run through The Telephone Museum. Cle Elum is the home of the last manual switchboard in Pacific Northwest Bell territory. There, until September 18, 1966, you just picked up your phone and heard a nice voice say “number please”. The operators were replaced with an automatic dial system used with rotary phones. (For you young folks, those have numbered dials, not push buttons. They were also connected to the wall or phone base WITH A CORD!) They had a sample of the system there, and it is fascinating to watch. That has all been replaced in our digital age.

Before heading back, we checked out the town laundromat for the upcoming chores, then made a grocery run to Safeway. Later, we took a nice, long walk in the woods. I LOVE hiking in the northwest. The woods smell like Christmas! The afternoon was spent on bookkeeping and writing.

Wednesday I headed back into Cle Elum to take care of the laundry at the Valley Laundromat. Only the manager was there when I arrived, and we talked a bit. (If you’re the praying type, say one or two for a couple of unnamed girls from our conversation. God knows who they are.) After the chores, I headed over to McDonalds to use their wifi and ended up working there for several hours. About 2:00 PM, the afternoon lunch theater began. A crowd of young people came into the already full dining room, and where there were lots of folks waiting for orders. I overheard one of the employees saying that someone, maybe more than one person, didn’t show up for their shift. The employees were running their legs off, but mistakes were being made, and the natives were getting restless. There was one woman in particular who had a loud hissy fit because the person taking her order did not hear her say she wanted an apple pie. When she finally got her food a while later, she had another one because, by the time she ate her sandwich and fries, her pie was cold. “Who wants to eat a COLD pie.” Mind you, all of this was loud enough for EVERYONE in the place to hear. Her husband was mortified and told her to sit down. She was definitely not helping the situation. Finally, the manager/supervisor came to the front counter, her voice sounding a little bit like the beginnings of a nervous breakdown, and announced very loudly that the dining room was closed due to a staff shortage and all orders would be “to go”. I had been waiting on my food for about 30 minutes at that point, ordered on the app to be delivered to the table. When things settled down to a dull roar, I asked about it. The young lady grabbed a bag that had been sitting on the counter for at least 20 minutes and said “here it is”. Hmmmm. Guess that’s what $16 an hour buys in this economy. (No I didn’t accept that particular bag of food, but I was polite about it.)

When I returned to Petunia, MW and I took a nice, long walk around the park for exercise and to get pics for you guys. We didn’t see any animals except birds on either of our park hikes. It is bordered by the I-90 on one side and the railroad tracks on the other, so that may be partly why. The park is heavily forested, though, and the wildflowers are amazing this time of year.

Lake Easton State Park is a really nice place with a lot to do. The 697 acres offers access to Lake Easton for kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and swimming. There are also 6 miles of trails to hike/bike, including access to the Palouse to Cascades State Park Trail in the foothills. Other amenities include a dock, boat ramp (only 10 hp allowed) swimming beach, basketball court, horseshoe pits, playground, amphitheater, and picnic tables in the day-use area, which have grills and fire pits. Although the campgrounds are closed in winter, the park is open for cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing. The campgrounds offer 90 standard tent sites, 45 full-hookups, and two hiker/biker sites. They say that RVs up to 60′ can fit, but I’d check carefully in light of our situation described above. Many of the pull-through sites seemed too tight to accommodate the larger rigs, too. The bathhouse was very clean and well kept. Wifi (AT&T and Verizon) and over-the-air tv were abundant. THE BIG NEGATIVE: On their website they tell you to bring earplugs for the traffic noise. They aren’t kidding. The campground is right against I-90, and it is unrelenting. It tops the list for the most traffic noise of any place we’ve stayed. For that reason, we would not come again. It is very busy, though, so quiet relaxation must not be as important to others, or they are all from Seattle and are used to the constant din. For this visit in June 2022, we paid $148.00 for 3 nights.

Thursday was going to be another short driving day, and neither of us were really looking forward to the city traffic. We headed northwest on I-90 about 10:30 AM over Snoqualmie Pass. This section of interstate is always very beautiful. This time of year the mountains still have some snow, although it is often cloudy. At North Bend, we tried to stop for lunch at the Hot Iron Mongolian Grill, but it is apparently out of business. We circled through town, but couldn’t find anywhere else with parking for the rig near enough to walk, so we continued west. Back on I-90, we continued west into the outskirts of the Seattle fray. There are many cool things to see and do in the Seattle metropolitan area. Thankfully, we did them when Buddy was still alive and playing chauffeur. Neither of us can tolerate the traffic now, so we skirt around the outside as much as possible. At the Carnation exit, we turned north, still looking for a lunch spot through Carnation and Duvall. The last place we tried had a large, shopping plaza parking lot, but they had put so many dividers in that we couldn’t fit there either. Finally we just gave up and continued the zigzag over to Bothell and the Lake Pleasant RV Park. After setting up, we had a late lunch, then headed over to Safeway across the street for a few things.

Buddy Gilbert was my father-in-law. I was lucky enough to have two…Art Jones was the other. (Technically, I had a third many years ago when I married my first husband. His father, Web Bailey, Sr., was a pretty cool guy, too. We lost him just a couple of weeks after my son, Ryan, was born. Everyone thought that he was holding on just to meet his new grandson. We snuck Ryan into the hospital to see Web, and he died right after the visit.) MW’s Mom, Betsy, and Buddy found each other in the early 70s after she and Art divorced. That was lucky for all of us, because Buddy was a treasure! Sadly, Betsy died at 50 of melanoma. A few years later Buddy moved to Seattle to be the Chief Pilot at Alaska Airlines. There he ran into a cute little blonde named Sandy, and that was that. They married 2 months before MW and I did in 1993 (although we had been friends since 1979). That is the short version of how I got my bonus mother-in-law. We lost Buddy in 2019, and this is our first trip to the Pacific Northwest since his memorial service in January of 2020. In the afternoon, we headed over to Sandy’s place in Edmonds for dinner with her, and friends Rich and Kim. (Rich is another amazing story. Super short version: He was given 2 months to live in 2020 and the battle began, with all of the Covid crap adding layers of complexity. Now, thanks to what can only be termed a miracle, he is almost his old self.) It was so nice catching up. (Forgot to get a pic of Sandy during our visit, so I’m adding one I love that Buddy took on our European trip a few years ago.)

Saturday we skipped the morning walk and headed out early. Sandy had a big day planned. We met at her house and headed over to the dock in Edmonds for a WHALE WATCHING TRIP! Can you tell I was pretty excited? Sandy had been on one years ago in Mexico, but MW and I had never done it. It was a cold, grey day, but that didn’t dampen the spirits. We went on the Saratoga, a large catamaran vessel in the Puget Sound Express fleet with a warm seating area indoors and plenty of deck space outside. Before leaving the dock, we caught sight of a harbor seal. We sailed north through the Saratoga Passage into Skagit Bay and through Deception Pass. Along the way we saw the beautiful shorelines of Camano, Whidbey, and Fidalgo Islands. (MW was stationed at NAS Whidbey Island in the late 80s where he learned to fly the mighty EA-6B Prowler.)

When we made it out to Smith Island, there they were…ORCAS! The weather brightened up a bit, and we even caught glimpses of sunshine as we watched the two pods. On at least two and maybe three occasions, they hunted and caught prey, most likely harbor seals. You could tell when they began the hunt, because they circled instead of traveling in a fairly straight line. When they caught something, there was a bit of a frenzy. There were also lots of sea birds, including another bald eagle. We stayed out watching for about an hour, then returned to port via Admiralty Inlet. After debarking, we walked over to Anthony’s Beach Cafe, which is always delicious, for a late lunch. Then we went back to Sandy’s for a bit before returning to Petunia.

Saturday started with a walk of about 1.6 miles to Wood’s Coffee Shop. Then we cleaned up and headed over to Sandy’s. There were several chores to be done around the house, and a few other things she wanted us to help with. After that, we walked downtown to check out an art festival. Edmonds is really a beautiful town, especially if you live close enough to walk. You probably already know that this part of Washington receives a LOT of rainfall every year. While that can make it depressingly grey, the result of all that water is gorgeous landscaping. The walk from Sandy’s to town takes you through lovely neighborhood streets that are filled with flowers. The Edmonds Arts Festival is an annual event with lots of artists and vendors. I love all of the artsy fartsy stuff, and MW was thrilled to find a little fair food! Even Sandy was happy with the kettle corn. After checking it all out, we walked around downtown. She has lived there for most of her life and knows all of the new stuff coming in and the businesses that are gone. Near the ferry dock, we popped in to Demetris Woodstone Taverna for a delicious late lunch. (Awesome flatbreads, salads, and Ruebens.) On the way back, we walked along the waterfront, then climbed up the long hill to the house. By the time we made it back, MW and I were exhausted. We had walked a total of 6 miles for the day, and my legs were FEELING IT! It was time to get back to Petunia and put my feet up!!

Sunday there was no morning walk. In fact, I was darned lucky when my feet hit the floor that I could stand and manage forward movement at all. It has been years since I walked that much in one day, and my dogs, calves, and butt were sore. I woke up with a migraine to boot! We met Sandy at her house, then headed down to University Presbyterian Church for the early service, after which she had small group. By that time my legs and head were doing a little better, so we took a walk around town. No joke! When she was done, we headed out to see Petunia. She is contemplating a move to a smaller place, and we know a little something about living that way. Plus, it’s hard to picture what I’m talking about if you’ve never seen the rig. After a short look around, we headed back to Edmonds for a spot of lunch at the Pancake Haus (good food, fast service). Then it was back to Sandy’s abode to take care of a few more chores. Well, she and MW did, anyway. Earlier I delayed taking the migraine medicine in order to stay awake during church. By the time we got back to her house, I was wiped out. While they did some tree trimming, I fell asleep on the couch. It had been a good visit. Late in the afternoon we said our goodbyes and headed back to the park. We hope to get back through next year on the way back from Alaska.

Back at Petunia we had a quiet evening and hit the bed. At about 11:20 PM, the neighbors came home, along with another couple. Quiet hours start at 10 PM. After they all slammed the car doors, there was a long, loud goodbye conversation followed by the neighbor woman insisting that someone go to the bathroom before they hit the road. That went back and forth until the person relented. Then the visitors got in their truck, slamming those doors, too, and started it up. Did they leave? Nope. They rolled down the windows and continued the goodbye conversations. Finally they drove off about 11:40 PM, and we thought we’d be able to get back to sleep. Not yet. The neighbors went into the RV, whose door apparently cannot be closed without slamming, and started yelling back and forth from one end to the other about packing up boxes, what needs to be stowed where, etc. People, in general, are very rude and totally oblivious. I’ll admit to having fantasies about punching them both.

Lake Pleasant RV Park is your typical, private park…stacked in tight. They have been in business for 30 years, and their check-in process is more informative than most; in addition to the park stuff, you get a sheet of things to do, Seattle and Washington state visitor’s guides, and a list of local restaurants with contact information and addresses. A wildlife sanctuary, the park is filled with ducks, geese, and other feathery locals, and the landscaping does an excellent job of blocking traffic noise. Amenities include an onsite area visitor’s center, laundry, walking trails, rental yurt, wifi, cable tv, a playground, and propane sales. They also offer plug in, temporary storage so you can take a cruise, which is great for us full-timers. Great idea! There are 184 paved RV sites, all with picnic tables and full hook-up. They put greenery between the sites, too. The bathhouses were very nice, divided into 5 private units. Cell signals for AT&T and Verizon were both strong, and there were a ridiculous number of over-the-air tv stations. Despite our aversion to private parks, we would definitely stay again when visiting family or checking out the Seattle area. Although more expensive than a state park, it was very reasonable for a populated area. For this visit in June 2022 we paid $229.84 for 4 nights.

That’s it for now. Next up…western Washington and Idaho. See you on the path!

Talisa

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4 Comments

  1. Cathy Shelton

    Loved reading about your visit with Sandy and glad to hear she is doing well.

    Also loved your flower pics. The whole blog made me a bit homesick.

    FYI-the bridge that looks like a tunnel entrance is a wildlife crossing and is very successful.

    Hope to see you one of these days!!!!

    • Talisa

      Thanks, Cathy! We had a great visit. I’m a sucker for flowers and animals, as you can tell. Thanks for the bridge info. It is definitely unique looking. I hope we can catch up soon, too.

  2. Su Gange

    Looks like you had a great time in your travels. Dale and I were in the NW but not in the same area as you were. I wish I knew how to use Facebook the same way you do. Maybe some day. I’ll ask my grandsons to teach me!!

    • Talisa

      Hi Su. We have had a great time so far. Now we are headed south through Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Will turn east after that. I write the blog using a site called WordPress, then share it to my Facebook account. Getting the kids to teach you is the best route. My grands all know more than I do about tech. LOL

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