Seattle-Tacoma and the Olympic

Saturday October 22nd we left Wenatchee and moved on to the Seattle area. The act of leaving, though, was not without issues, today. As we were leaving the park, the signage directed us to go to the right of a small traffic circle, but the turn was kind of tight. I knew we could make it, but forgot about how our rear end can often swing wider than the wheels track and I clipped a metal post with the left rear of the camper. As soon as I heard/felt the impact, I knew what I'd done and was instantly mad at myself for forgetting. I got out to inspect the damage and we were lucky. The damage are mostly superficial, a shallow gouge, a smashed light, some bent trim and one bruised ego.

I'm an idiot

In all honesty, I’d also been dreading this move for a while, so this start to the day was not making me feel good.. I knew there was no way to get to our park without driving briefly on I-5 south of Seattle and I’ve heard the traffic there is legendary. The idea of driving our nearly 60 foot long 22,000 pound beast in city traffic gave me the cold sweats. Our destination was two weeks at the Gig Harbor RV Resort in Gig Harbor, just across the Tacoma Narrows from Tacoma, WA. The drive wasn’t nearly as nerve wracking as I thought it would be. While there was a fair amount of traffic, it seemed I was always in the lane I needed to be in and the stop-and-go wasn’t for too long. In no time, we were parked and set. It was quite a nice place. A bit lacking in things for Crayton (no playground, etc), but the sites were nice, the location lovely, propane refills on site and updated laundry facilities. The staff were all super nice, to boot Gig Harbor was a quaint little town, too, reminding me of a larger version of Bayfield, WI.

It’s at this point that the rain started in earnest. We expected this, but nothing really prepares you for the amount and duration of rain the Pacific Northwest is capable of this time of year. In our two weeks here we’d get three days you might call ‘nice’.

Sunday we rested, did some chores, and then went to find Pam’s best friend Wendy who lives in Tacoma with her boyfriend Allen. We hadn’t seen Wendy since Crayton was about 18 months old and hadn’t been here to see her in probably 6 or 7 years. We spent a nice evening getting caught up and went out for dinner at a local brewpub (see a pattern in our choice of dining establishments, yet?). Back at their place, we had a fire and enjoyed a pleasant night.

Monday we took the ferry from Bremerton, about a 20 minute drive from the RV park, into downtown Seattle. The ferry ride was awesome and a heck of a lot easier than driving into the city, although finding parking for the truck in Bremerton was tough, too. Crayton really enjoyed the ferry ride. We took a late morning ferry to miss the commuter crowds and the boat was pretty empty. Once in town, we walked the waterfront, rode the big ferris wheel, checked out the Pike Place Market, rode the monorail to the space needle, played in a neat park, ate great Mexican food and then just as we were all getting pooped took the ferry back to the truck and went home. I’m not the biggest fan of large cities, but Seattle is one of the nicer ones. Quirky neighborhoods, good food and shopping, great sites and lots to do. Their good public transit system makes it nicer, too.

On the ferry!

A little nervous about the ferris wheel!

The view from the top of the Paw Patrol Lookout

Tuesday night our friends Kelly and Chris came by for a quick visit. By chance they had been vacationing in the area and were on their way back to the airport and were coming right by so they stopped by the camper and we had a quick visit. It’s always nice to see familiar faces and they seemed intrigued by our mobile life. One of the reasons for their visit was to scout the area out as a potential place to move. They were put off by the cost of real estate and the cost of our lifestyle had an appeal to them. I hope they take the plunge!

This work week was not typical. Wed morning, I took the ferry back to Seattle on my own to attend the Professional Association for SQL Server’s (PASS) annual Summit. It’s a great opportunity to get my learning on and see what all is new with the Microsoft Data Platform, which is what I do for my day job. The networking is great, the conference sessions informative and diverse and the days long. Two co-workers from Wisconsin flew out for the conference as well so it was nice to see some other familiar faces, too. Three days of this and I was exhausted. In prior years, I’d spread myself even thinner, doing pre-conference events, taking certification exams and attending lots of evening events and parties. This year I took it ‘easy’ and tried to stay focused on absorbing as much as I could from each session.

Great advice!

It was a clearer day on the ride back this time, so picture time!

Friday afternoon I took the ferry back and slept the sleep of the dead. On Saturday morning, Wendy and Alan returned and we started off on our weekend adventure on the Olympic Peninsula. Before we left, they also toured our camper. It was weird having so many old friends tour our home in one week while halfway across the country.

We drove off to Port Angeles and had a nice dinner at the Next Door Gastropub. Great food! With light to spare, we drove to our cabin at Crescent Lake in Olympic National Park. What a beautiful place! The cabins were sparsely furnished, but clean and ‘cabiny’. The lodge had a huge great room with a big stone fireplace, bar and restaurant. The lake itself was picture-postcard-perfect. We took it easy the rest of the evening, enjoying each others company and the location.

Hmmmm. what should I throw in first....

Sunday we went for a drive. we were going to check out the beach but it seemed every road we tried to take was closed for repairs. Finally we found access to the ocean at La Push. It was a windy drizzly day, but it was nice to finally get our first real look at the Pacific Ocean. Next we dove through the town of Forks, made famous by the Twilight series of books and movies. Apparently La Push features in the movies as well as werewolf territory. The area has clearly tried to capitalize on this fame and there were Twilight-themed things everywhere. We then tried to go to the Hoh Rain Forest. The drive up the valley was beautiful, but just past the entrance gate, the road was blocked off. The torrential rains of a few weeks prior had washed out the road and we had to turn back. Struck out again. Still a nice drive and Crayton and I took a quick hike to the river while taking a break on the way back. We had fun drawing in the sand and following animal tracks. It was fun to be just the two of us for a while

A boy and his tongs

Pacific Ocean selfie!

Dad and son time

We got back to the cabin and went for a hike around the area with Wendy and Alan before they had to head back home to get ready for the work week on Monday. We stayed one more night as my work week starts on Tuesday. Monday morning we checked out of the cabin and headed to Cape Flattery, the north-westernmost point in the continental US. We stopped in Neah Bay to see the Native American Museum there that chronicled the excavation of a pre-contact village that was buried in a mudslide. Truly fascinating, but annoying that they wouldn’t let us take pictures. If they had a reason for it, they didn’t say what it was. The Cape itself was breathtaking. The hike out was a bit tough for Crayton, but he loved it and walked the whole way out and back. The surf, the sea caves, the trees, the sun and rocks, it was all stunning. Definitely worth the trek. Honestly, though, we were surprised to find the road there was open, given our luck with that lately.

Wild surf at the Cafe Flattery

Sea Caves at Cape Flattery

Selfie (with tongs) at the end of the world

After a long drive back, we got to the camper right around dusk. Just in time for Crayton to don his Halloween costume and head off to Tacoma to go trick-or-treating with Wendy in her neighborhood. It was a loooong day, but a great way it cap it off. Crayton, though, got terrified by a motion sensitive display at a house and cut the evening short for us. He still got a pretty impressive haul of candy.

The rest of the work week was uneventful. We had planned to leave on Sunday for Portland, OR, but decided to leave a day early so we could spend full day on Sunday exploring Portland. So on Saturday November 5th we were off to Portland.

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We went from 3700 square feet in the suburbs to 370 on wheels. We work and travel fulltime with our son and kitty.


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