2014 Adventure Wrap-Up

It was with some sadness that we turned east and headed for Arizona because that meant we were now winding down our big Adventure.  Still, we’re talking about Arizona here; long one of our favorite states.  We spent a month there, working our way from the northwest corner of the state to ultimately exit at the southeast corner.

Before long we were back in Texas – enjoying the splendor of the state’s southwest.  We’ve always liked the Texas State Parks and it was a pleasure to visit three of them, especially Davis Mountains State Park, as we worked our way east.

After almost seven months we’ve now arrived back where the Adventure began: Lake Conroe Thousand Trails. We towed the 5th wheel about 6300 miles and then drove about the same distance sightseeing and “just living.”  We stayed in about 40 different campgrounds, generally for a week and a half at a time with several shorter stays when we were in “repositioning mode.”  In January I’ll release our budget figures but we pretty much stayed on target through the year.

It was a great trip and I’m already looking forward to return visits to and through these areas.

Campground review: Long Beach, WA Thousand Trails

The real draw here is the great Pacific beach which is just a five minute walk down a trail. We enjoyed the beach and the view of nearby Cape Disappointment very much, taking many walks along the beach. There’s also the paved Discovery Trail that runs near the water and provides great walking/biking opportunities.

The pool is quite small and we never tried it out but it got lots of use. We enjoyed good Verizon 4G and had no problem getting our satellite TV signal. I don’t know how often it is a problem, but mosquitoes were really bad from early evening till after dark.

We had one bad experience. As we returned to the park we found the gate, which normally has to be opened by punching in a code, standing open. I hesitated because I was concerned that it might close on me as I entered the park but then decided to drive on in. Because of that, I came into the park just a bit faster than I normally would drive, I’d estimate I was going eight mph rather than the speed limit of five. Before I could even get through the gate I heard someone yelling and looked to see a fellow waving at me. I waved back and then realized he was yelling in an angry way. I confess that it startled me and I speeded up to get away from him. It was then that I realized he was yelling “slow down, slow down.” I was away from him by then, so I looked at my speed and it was down to seven mph. I proceeded to my campsite and was surprised to see he was now chasing me with his golf cart. He then bawled me out for driving too fast. So far as I know this fellow has no credentials, at least he never identified himself as an employee, and has appointed himself to be keeper of the gate. Knowing I was somewhat guilty of driving faster than the five mph I decided to let it go. However, I’m sharing it here because I do think people who consider visiting this campground might want to warned about this apparently semi-permanent unofficial and rather belligerent traffic cop. Hopefully, he isn’t dangerous.

All in all, in spite of the above incident and the crowded camping situation I think we’d return to this campground. My advise is to avoid arriving on traditionally busy summer weekends and, if coming for a holiday arrive early and be prepared for close quarters.

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Long Beach, WA and surrounding area

We also enjoyed the Kite Museum in Long Beach, OR. The collection includes kites used in WW II and kites from around the world. We saw kites used to train anti-aircraft gunners, a kite to use with emergency rescue equipment and a mail kite used in Alaska so airplanes could get mail without landing. The beauty and variety of kites from around the world was amazing. Some of the fighting kites are huge! There are several videos available to watch about the various kites.

Being here on July 4th was an experience. We knew the city of Long Beach provided a fireworks display that could be seen from the beach by our campground. We began hearing lots of fireworks being shot off by early afternoon and by the time we went to the beach the crack of fireworks was non-stop. There were thousands of people shooting off fireworks – many were big ones, loud, high, and colorful. For about 2 hours we sat and watched fireworks up the beach as far as the eye could see. The city fireworks were impressive but people kept on shooting off their own all through the show. It was an amazing event.

There’s a lot to see and do here in the southwestern tip of Washington and the northeastern tip of Oregon. I guess you could say we weren’t disappointed at all in Cape Disappointment!

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Campground review: Chehalis, WA Thousand Trails

There’s a laundry, game room, and store. We enjoyed some good ice cream – and at no charge, a special beginning of summer treat courtesy of the campground. We also walked a very short trail to visit the little chapel, nestled in the forest.

Chehalis is the very first Thousand Trails and one can’t help but wish all the Thousand Trails offered the camping experience it does. While we saw things that need attention (for instance, one section is closed to all but small campers and tents due to electric problems) we would rate Chehalis as one of the better Thousand Trails we’ve visited thus far and look forward to returning in the future.

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Mt Rainier – Mt St Helens and area

This is such a lovely area in the state of Washington. Our campground is near Chehalis, a friendly town with all the amenities needed for a pleasant stay. The town is well marked so it is easy to find the Post Office and other major buildings. Walmart and other shopping can be found along the freeway but we found a couple of other shops we enjoyed. One of the unique places called Yardbirds is an indoor flea market. Walking around we saw antiques, used books, old stuff, old electronic gear like reel to reel tape recorders, and craft booths. There are several vegetable and fruit stands open for those who want to shop there. I purchased some cherries that were very good.

In the National Monument we visited the Johnson Visitors Center. There are displays, movies to watch about the eruption/blast, and Ranger talks. The view is spectacular from the Center and the trails nearby. After we watched the movie we walked from the visitors center up a paved trail to several overlooks of the volcano as well as views of the devastation that is just now, after 34 years starting to recover. At one point a volunteer had set up his telescope and showed a small herd of elk in the valley far below. There were a variety of wildflowers growing which give color and contrast to the overall grey left by the blast. It was and educational and fun day although I admit it left me a little leg weary at the end of it all. These are places I would come to again if we come back to this area.

We’ve enjoyed our “mountain themed” stay here near Chelalis, WA.

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2014 La Conner and surrounding area

Another day we drove to Whitbey Island. We stopped to look at the bridge and water at Deception Pass which is the most famous spot on the island. We we also spent some time at the overlook of Ebey’s Landing, an original homestead that is now a National Historic Preserve. We could see the open prairie land where they farmed for many years with a glimpse of the Olympic Peninsula across the water in the distance. Nearby Coupeville is a lovely little town with buildings built by the early settlers. We found many places of interest. I especially liked the Dutch shop offering lace, glass, chocolate and other items of interest as well as the Lavender shop with lavender-based health and beauty products and also a small bakery. On the pier is a cafe and a coffee shop with indoor and outdoor seating.

We’ve enjoyed this area and we know we’ve barely scratched the surface of things to see and do. We’re looking forward to returning on future trips to the northwest coast of Washington.

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Campground Review: La Conner, WA Thousand Trails

My Verizon phone was iffy at best with 1 or 2 bars of signal strength. Using a signal booster I could get a reliable cell signal and even manage a slow, but usable, data connect at least part of the time. Another reason to hang out at the Activity Center is that it has WiFi. It’s not great WiFi but with a little patience a person can get their internet fix there.

The sunsets here are breathtaking, but cold as the air starts moving up off of the water. I can see why so many people love La Conner Thousand Trails – I really like it here myself.

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Peace Arch and Vicinity: Blaine, WA – Vancouver, BC

On the USA side
After riding the bus back to our stop we went to a large downtown Dollar Store. I liked looking at the variety of things on sale there. It was time for a break so we decided to find a place to get some coffee. We’d heard a lot about Tim Horton’s and we were pleased to see one nearby. Tim Horton’s lived up to it’s billing and we enjoyed some excellent coffee. While drinking our coffee, we enjoyed watching all the hustle and bustle of the city as rush hour was winding down. We then caught the train back to our stop and headed back toward the USA. Since we had some Canadian money left we decided to stop in one of the towns along the freeway to eat dinner. To our surprise we realized there was no way back onto the highway! We got an extra tour of the town of White Rock, BC as we searched for a highway entrance. We now know, for instance, where the local Walmart is! Before long, though, we were waiting in line to cross the border back into the USA. We sat in a long line of traffic for about 20 minutes right beside the Peace Arch waiting our turn to show our passports and answer a few questions. By the time we made it back to our campground it was about 9:30pm (not quite dark here in the northwestern United States).

We had a lot of fun visiting Vancouver and I recommend it to you.

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In and around Washington’s coastal North Cascades

From there we walked on to the train station and figured out how to buy tickets from the machine. Riding the Sounder commuter train was great! We went to the upper deck and enjoyed the ride right along the coast back to Everett. The view of the Bay and beaches along the way is a real treat. I recommend the trip to Seattle by public transportation and hope to do it again.

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