Tuesday, September 24, 2013

We Have Gone to the Beach

           Wednesday, September 18th was a special day. We took an early morning drive into Sammamish, Washington which is an eastern suburb of Seattle. Sammamish is the home of our  friends George and Sandra. George was the branch manager of the Shearson-Hammill office in Seattle when I was transferred from southern California to his office in 1973. Working for George during my formative years was a major stepping stone in what transpired later in my career. George and I golfed at Sahalee, Janet and Sandra shopped, and we closed the day with dinner at Sahalee. 

Friday, September 20th, was the 94th day of our excursion. I awoke at 3 A.M. and finally got out of bed at 4:45 A.M. as I was wide awake as I can get. Janet was lying in bed awake - but asleep, if you know what I mean. It seems that on the days we move to a new site neither of us sleeps very well. It may be the excitement of moving to a new neighborhood, or in today’s case, the anxiousness of driving the coach through the heart of Seattle in heavy traffic. Anyway, I made just my second pot of coffee since we have been on the road, Janet doesn’t drink it, and I decided to write a few words before she gets up and we go into the preparations for our engine start at 8 A.M. 

We had been at the North Whidbey Island RV Park in Whidbey Island, Washington for the last 8 nights since September 12th. Whidbey is one of those places you need to experience to get the full flavor. I guess I’ll just describe it as like being lost in the 17-Mile Drive at Pebble Beach, California on a summer day. We hadn’t seen much of the sun. The area was covered with a marine layer of low wet clouds with visibility about a half mile for our first seven days, and it actually dripped rain off and on a couple of days. Anyway, Whidbey is about 80 miles north of downtown Seattle and we hoped our travels would allow us to sneak through the metro-Seattle area around 9:30 A.M. After everyone has gotten to work. Wishful thinking sometimes works! Traffic coming through Seattle a week ago was hair-raising and we really were not assuming anything less. Having lived here for a couple years back in the mid 1970’s I can tell you August and September are two of the dryer months in the northwest, and based on the sunshine we experienced yesterday it appears we will egress under dry conditions. 

The Narrow Bridge at Deception Pass
It's a couple hundred feet down off the bridge!
RV Park at North Whidbey Island
Our destination was Copalis Beach, Washington which is about 180 miles from Whidbey on the Pacific Ocean’s shore in southwest Washington. We will be spending the next five weeks through October on the beaches of Washington and mostly Oregon. No, not living on the beaches, but staying in RV Parks that will be just off the beaches, or very close to them. 

The drive from Whidbey took us south through Seattle on Interstate-5 and down to the Washington State Capitol of Olympia where we turned west for the approximately 60 mile drive to the beach area. 

Seattle Skyline
Our stay on Whidbey Island was relaxing. Whidbey is an Island that is about 45 miles long. The island is connected to the mainland on its south side by the Clinton – Mukilteo Ferry.  The ferry takes you into the Seattle suburb of Everett. It is about a 30 minute drive to downtown Seattle from Everett. You can also do what we did which was drive onto the island from the north side via the Deception Pass Bridge. There are six separate towns on the island that all have a seaside motif. Again, think of the Monterey, California area. There is a lot of history on this island. The north end of the island and the town of Oak Harbor supports Naval Air Station - Whidbey Island. So yes, it does get a little noisy here on the north end, but not as bad as I was thinking when that first group of F-18s and A-6s landed back on our first day here. 

Janet’s brother, Steve and wife Linda, built a beautiful home in the last couple years in the town of Greenbank here on Whidbey. They retired and moved from Seattle’s eastern suburb of Bellevue in the last few months. The house is a dream house overlooking the water passage from the Seattle ports to the Pacific Ocean. We spent one night with them and another of Janet’s brothers from L.A., Tom and wife Sue, were also visiting. Good time! 

It turned out that the drive to Copalis Beach was not effortless. Driving the 14 ton palace will never be effortless. You just end up paying attention to everything going on around the coach and every noise that goes on within the coach. The drive through the Seattle metropolitan area was easier than I had considered. By departing North Whidbey Island at 8:15 A.M. we arrived in Seattle a little over an hour later. Traffic was still thick but for only about seven miles in the metro area. It was moving about 30 MPH and we never really stopped. We got off Interstate-5 in the Washington State Capitol of Olympia and headed west to Copalis Beach. We were approaching the Pacific Ocean and what we thought was a cloudy marine layer turned out to be serious storm front. It started to rain, and then rain very hard for the last 20 miles to our destination. 

We got checked into the Dunes Resort as the rain subsided. We hooked the coach up to the electric and water outlets and got the slides out as the rain picked up. Considering our 110 degree heated start from Las Vegas nearing three months ago this rain was really a pleasant moment. It subsided into a light wind about two hours later and we took this time to take our first stroll on the beach. It had been a long time since I had seen action in the waves like these at Copalis Beach. These were the rough and stormy type. We spent about an hour on the beach before we got back to the coach. The rain picked up and it continued five or six hours and I noted weather.com said it was supposed to rain for the next four days. This will be different! 

Our second day in Copalis Beach surprised us with bright and sunny moments mixed between fast moving fog-like clouds. We got in an early walk on the beach and eventually took advantage of the dry condition to explore south of our home base with a mini road trip. Ocean City, Ocean Shores, Hoquiam, and eventually 20 miles south to Aberdeen where we visited Subway for lunch, and Wal-Mart for some supplies. The drive back was through forest like conditions with occasional views of Grays Harbor and the Pacific Ocean. Fantastic! More beautiful scenic views of Washington.  

Waves Breaking 500 From Shore
50 Feet From Our Coach
It is now Sunday, September 22nd and it started to rain again about 4 A.M. First with tiny drips of sleep disturbing, annoying drops on the top of the coach. Then with a light rocking breeze that sent me back to sleep.  Just after daybreak the area was hit with a violent blow that woke us for the morning. The coach was getting a good shake. Almost as hard as the shake we took at the Clark County Gun Range in North Las Vegas back in February. Wind here was 40+ and the rain came shortly thereafter. When weather.com says 100% do they mean 100% chance of rain, or do they mean it is going to rain 100% of the time? I’m thinking the latter! 

We advised the manager of The Dunes Resort of our intention to stay an extra couple of days with her until the rain is supposed to subside Wednesday. I’m sure she loves her guests that pay in advance and then stay wrapped up in their coaches and don’t come out and bug her about the usual issues. Her thankless job takes a special person. 

FYI, communications out here at the beach is nil. We are getting zero bars on our T-Mobile phones or Hot-Spot. Without the Hot Spot I don’t have secure entry to the internet. I will post this entry over the RV Parks public network later. That network is very fast! Surprisingly our onboard satellite has provided perfect Dish Network signals through this entire storm. So the wives-tale of it not working in storms is not true. The satellite reception was blocked by a tree in Cortez, Colorado a couple months ago. So that is true! 

We took the 25 miles drive into Aberdeen yesterday to visit our Chase bank account for some cash. We went through Ocean Shores on the way back and ended up having lunch at Bennett’s. Fish and chips for Janet and a crab sandwich for me. What else would we have at a restaurant on the Pacific Ocean?! We stopped at the casino on the Quinault Indian Reservation on the way back to Copalis Beach just to see what it was like on the inside. All of the games were there along with a nice restaurant that has a big view of the crashing waves hitting the beach.  

Two more rainy nights here in Copalis Beach and we will move on south to the northern coastal area of Oregon. We are thinking of making our home base for the next week in the Seaside-Cannon Beach area. That is about 120 miles south of Copalis Beach, and, yes, it is supposed to rain on us there a couple days next week. What the heck. At least it isn’t snow! 

Everyday life aboard the Fleetwood remains good except for the phone signals. If you should happen to try and contact us via phone or text all I can say is be patient. In Copalis our phone gets zero bars. Five miles down the beach in Ocean Shores we get full bars on 2G service. Who knows what the beach cities of Oregon will bring!


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