Monday, August 23, 2010

A Day to Play

For the past two days we've been playing catch up with friends Rene and Barb, sharing evening meals and playing card games and causing multiple full bottles of wine to mysteriously empty themselves. Rene decided that we needed to see at least one of the area attractions before Denny and I headed off to Alaska, so today he and his lovely wife drove us to the wildlife park known as Northwest Trek. Northwest Trek was created after the Hellyer family graciously donated several hundred acres of land near Eatonville, Washington. The Tacoma Metro Parks area acquired more land and now Northwest Trek has 725 acres, 435 of which is home to the herd animals of bison, deer, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose and caribou that roam free. There are smaller fenced exhibits of grizzly and black bear, lynx, wolves, coyotes, fisher, wolverines, otters, beavers and also displays of reptiles and insects. The park operates a tram that meanders through the herd animal area so you can get up close and personal and the rest of the animal displays are approached on foot by the looping walking trails throughout the exhibit area. There are picnic areas if you wish to bring your own lunch or you can purchase some excellent sandwiches at the cafe near the park entrance.
This is the type of park where you can spend as much or as little time as you like. The tram ride takes about an hour and if you catch one of the park employees giving a talk on one of the critters you may find yourself standing there asking question after question as I did about the tiny Western Screech owl on display as we were wandering the paths. Which is how I discovered that they obtained the little guy when he was discovered starving in a yard. Medical tests showed no physical problems but he wouldn't hunt long enough to get enough food to keep himself alive or to have the strength to fly. So he became, after a long and intensive training session, a teaching exhibit. Weighing 5 ounces, or the equivalent of 150 paperclips, his eyes are 80 percent of his head, which doesn't leave a lot of room for his brain. The young lady holding the owl had a wealth of information about this adorable little creature and I walked away amazed and intrigued. I can deal with rescue animals but I wasn't thrilled with the enclosures for the cougars, bears, lynx, wolves, etc as I considered them way too small and the cougars' behavior only reinforced my belief. But much of the park was interesting, the employees were very knowledgeable and gave the impression they enjoyed their jobs, the park is beautiful and the opportunity to see baby bison, deer and bighorn sheep was really fun. All of us walked out admitting that we learned quite a bit and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon.
The evening was complete after Barb's wonderful meal of homemade split pea soup, with crusty multi-grain bread and Caesar Salad and another card game before we begged off to finish packing for our trip.

The RV Vagabonds are going to be off-line for the two weeks we're going to be in Alaska since I'm not taking the laptop with me. I'm hoping the grandeur of our largest state will keep me from suffering Internet withdrawal symptoms. In the meantime, I'll take lots of pictures which you'll see once we get back in the states and back on the road again.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mystery Solved

Every morning at 7 AM I hear a very loud echoing "eee-YOW. eee-YOW. eee-YOW!" I'm thinking to myself, hurt cat? hawk in hunt mode? what?

This morning looking out my back window I discovered the source of the caterwauling.
Those peacocks go right along with the pony that herds a cow around in the field next to the campground. That pony dogs that poor cow like a border collie dogs a lamb. It's too funny.

Okay, for the next picture we'll play guess where we are? Texas? New Mexico? Arizona?
No indeed! We're in central Washington south of Ellensburg on Interstate 82. Not how you envision the state of Washington, is it?

Okay, how about this?

Yep, that's more like it. Rimrock Lake along WA-12.

Of course, there's always the iconic Mt. Rainier, also seen from WA-12 east of the National Park.

The temperature outside was 84 degrees when I took this from the truck as we were en route to our destination in Randle. It always amazes me to see snow on mountains when it's so hot outside.

Scenically, it was a great drive getting from Quincy to Randle. The roads varied in elevation from 700 feet to 4500 feet along the way with a few areas of high crosswinds along the way. Of course Black Beauty and the Beast take all of that in stride.

Here instead of columnar basalt there are striations in the rock. I believe this was in the Naches area along WA-12. I love all the variations in the lava flows and rock formations all over the country. I should have paid more attention in geology. Sigh.

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Out and A Round

Don't we have some amazing views out of our windows?

However, I digress. This post is about the tiny 9 hole executive course at the Maple Grove RV and Golf Resort--the only game in town. Literally. For miles.

Denny and I stayed here five years ago and we played the course at that time and I have to admit it was in much better shape then. The course is a par 31 course for 9 holes, par 62 for 18 holes with a slope/rating of 53.0/70 for the men at 3268 yards. For women, the slope rating is 56.8/80 over 3169 yards. This year, playing later in the year, the rough and fairways are in bad shape but the greens are surprisingly pristine. While playing short the greens are a tad evil with enough slope and curves to make putting interesting and a little challenging. You must walk this course as the pro shop has only a few battered pull carts to rent. Most of the campers/RVers who are members of the park (the golf course is open to the public) have their own power carts or pull carts.

In very little time we played nine holes (and yay! I beat Denny thanks to his not-so-good putting today) and were back at the rig with plenty of time to run some errands. While not an exciting course, it was a chance to hit some short irons and get a little exercise. And I beat Denny. Heh.

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Good Timing

Sometimes life is all about timing.

This morning Denny decided to check and fill the air in the truck and trailer tires since we'll be moving on to newer pastures on Monday. This meant he had to remove several items from our large basement storage bin to get out the pancake air compressor and it was at that time that he saw the puddle. Which was on its way to becoming a lake. In the bottom of the storage bin. Not good.

So it was "fetch this, get that" to me while he took out more "stuff" to access the water lines behind the screwed down access panel. A couple more "I need thises" and he had the panel off and we found the source of two leaks; the water pump and the water line to the outdoor faucets/shower head. The valves were tightened, the storage bin was totally emptied out, the laminated pressed wood panels that we lined the bin floor with were removed to air dry and the bin area was swabbed dry with a fistful of towels. There was a time limit to all of this because the campground turns on the watering system at 3:30PM and we never know which day they are going to do it despite the typed out schedule that they don't follow. The last thing we needed was to have all the items that were stored in the bin to be drenched because we had the stuff sitting out all around our campsite. The heat and intense sunshine took care of the drying out process in fairly short order and Denny soon had everything back in its place. Whew.

In the meantime, I've been creating a list of items we'll need for our two week vacation to Alaska. What I've decided is that traveling by RV is much less hassle than having to pack up the toiletries, vitamins, hats, coats, umbrellas, binoculars, clothes, blah, blah, blah, as when you travel by plane and boat. When you travel by RV you already have all those things at your fingertips without having to worry if you forgot something. Because it's right there. Always. How easy is that? Don't get me wrong--I am SO excited about this cruise. I just know I'm going to forget something major simply because I'm out of the habit of packing for a trip. But YAY! We're going on a vacation! Which to me simply means no cooking, cleaning or planning anything once we're on that plane. Just enjoy the moment every day for 14 days. I'm ready.

Friday, August 13, 2010

For Cat Lovers

Amazing Artistry

A friend sent us an e-mail this morning with pictures of the incredible paper sculptures of Allen and Patty Eckman. Take a moment to be awed.

Whereas I Was Given An Award

Linda has been so kind to honor me with the "Blog of Substance" award. Lately, that might not be true as I've been MIA due to the heat, but I appreciate the fact that she feels I deserve to be named along with some other fine and fun writers.

So, to play along I must:
1. Thank the one who sent it your way.
2. Sum up your blogging motivation, philosophy, and experience using 5 words.
3. Pass it on to 5 others who blog who you feel have real substance.

1. Thanking Linda of Olde Baggs and also Ye Old Crone's Gazette of course.

2. I write for my mother. Still.

3. Simply Coll. Colleen makes me smile, she makes me cry.

A Mark on My Wall. Vicki is not only an artist in felting and wools, she crafts with words and pictures and emotions.

Living in My Car. Jennifer is honest about her history, her emotional distance from people and her journey to find herself.

From The Front Porch. Ann tells stories with her pictures and lives in God's country.

Living in Muddy Waters. Muddy shares (anonymously) her life as a pastor's wife, her struggles with her personal demons and her very astute observations on life.

I don't expect these ladies to take part in passing along this award, but I thought you might enjoy their "journeys" too. There are many blogs of substance out there, but these are writers worth following. Enjoy.

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Sunday, August 08, 2010

Basalt, Water and Wildfires

East of the Cascades it can get pretty hot in the middle of summer. We've had temperatures in the mid to high 90s and what I thought was heat haze this past week turned out to be wildfires in the area of Wenatchee some thirty miles away. Last night we had a breeze kick in and about thirty spits of rain, but it was enough to clear the air a bit last night and this morning for the first time we could see the other side of the river clearly.

I took this picture as we were heading into the town of Wenatchee to do some shopping. Since the smoke from the fires softened everything into a soft haze, I thought this unusual formation on the side of the mountain resembled an intaglio of an impala. What do you think?

The Columbia river basin is a basalt lined gorge created by volcanoes called basalt floods. Basically they were cracks in the land's surface which spewed lava which then spread for thousands of miles creating layer upon layer of the basalt. Further to the east of us in the area called "the Potholes" the basalt formed into six-sided columns.Some 16,000 years ago huge glaciers dammed up the Columbia River and when the water eventually worked its way below the ice huge floods rushed across the area in waves estimated to be at least 650 feet tall. The waters washed away layers of the basalt and on the banks across the river from us created giant ripples in the land. Estimated to be about 24 feet high and about 360 feet apart, you can see the edges from our campsite but to get the full effect you need to be much higher in elevation. Here, Denny and I are trying to get a better view of the ripples on the other side of the river.

It seems like everyone here has a boat or a Sea doo and yet the river is so long and wide it is never crowded with water craft even on weekends.

Our campground is tucked just around the corner on the lower left hand side of this picture. In the cool of the evening we sit at the rear of our site overlooking the river and marvel at the forces of nature that created the cliffs that surround us and the river basin that lies below us. Here, glaciers created gorges and canyons while in Ohio where we grew up they created flatlands with rich soil for farming. The wonders of nature indeed.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Quincy Golf Course Aka Colockum Ridge

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Denny and I played the Quincy Golf Course five years ago when we were here in the area last. It was basically a cow pasture, a little rough, with young trees and an unusual watering system.

Today, the course is named Colockum Ridge Golf course, it's still a cow pasture, the trees have matured a bit and they still have an unusual watering system. However, they also have a coupon on the Internet for $10 green fees on Wednesday so with the $10 per person golf cart fee, means the two of us played for $40 today. That's a deal. Colockum Ridge Golf Course is an 18 hole course with a few water hazards, some sand traps and quite a few small trees. The slope/rating from the blue tees is 110/67 and the course is 6102 yards from the blues. There is no listed rating/slope for the women's red tees, but the yardage is 5208 yards.

20100803pivotirrigationcolockumridgegcquincyWA [1600x1200]

See that big metal thingamabob in the background? That's the pivot irrigation system that waters the course. It's quite unusual for a golf course-you'll see them in corn fields and other crop fields as watering systems. There's a water channel behind the irrigation system that acts as the water source.

20100803pivottrackcolockumridgegcquincyWA [1600x1200]

What appear to be golf cart ruts in the fairway are actually the tracks that the irrigation system follows as it pivots across the fairway automatically to water the entire area.

20100802tiltedtreescolockumridgegcquincyWA [1600x1200] Notice the tilted trees in the fairways. Our playing partner who is a native to the area told us that the trees are tilted due to the high and gusting winds that are a normal part of life here in the Columbia River Basin. 60 mph winds are normal, gusts to 100 mph occur. I appreciated the nice breezes we had that kept the high temperatures bearable. The course is in very good shape for the temperatures and lack of water in the area and the local players are courteous. Since we can play on the Internet coupon next week, we'll go back there, rather than go across the street from our campground and pay $80 for the two of us to play 18 holes on the nine-hole golf course at the resort. Where they allow this:20100803barechestedgolferscrescentbargcquincyWA [1600x1200]

I don't care if you have 6 pack or 12 pack abs--this is not appropriate on the golf course. No way, no how. Ever. Put a shirt on it, guys.

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Monday, August 02, 2010

It’s Gonna Be a Hot Time

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It’s time to move on and we’re headed towards the “desert” part of the state of Washington.  Like so much of the country right now, the temperatures are forecast to be in the mid to high 90s for the two weeks of our stay.  I predict that Denny and I won’t be going out and about much in that heat since I have a tendency to suffer from heat exhaustion and Denny gets grumpy when he’s hot.  What a pair.  We did spend time in this area five years ago so we’ve already hit the highlights in case it does get just too darn miserable to go out.

But that also means we’re getting closer to Seattle and our upcoming cruise to Alaska! Yay!

See ya down the road!


Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Good Visit


Without a doubt, Denny and I have enjoyed our time here in Cheney, Washington.  We’ve played golf, done some sightseeing, hit the casino, checked out the local small towns and driven some of the back roads. We drove back to Coeur D’Alene and decided we could live there, at least in the summer. We’ve managed to fix and/or modify a couple of things that needed to be fixed on the Beast, making our life a little better.  Patches took a lot of walks, some brief, some long and as always I heard “I’ve never seen a cat on a leash before!”  Patches and I are working hard to change that for people! 

I’ve enjoyed being outside where the fragrance of pine trees is strong in the air.  It’s wonderful how clean and clear the air and local waters can be with a little effort (and perhaps a lot fewer people around.)  There’s only one negative to the idea of eventually settling down somewhere up here and that is COLD/SNOW.  Yeah, not fond of that idea.   Surprisingly as we left Coeur D’Alene after our dinner cruise Denny said “I guess we wouldn’t have to go out when it snows…”   Hmmmm. 

But we still have six more states to explore and check off our list so it’s too soon to think of settling down.  But we may just have to put this area on a new list…”places we where we might like to live—someday.”



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