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Drove to Ventura to see the Winnebago Travado on the Dodge Promaster; first visit my brother met me at Barber RV. I was glad for the company wanting to revisit the Travado after seeing the Aktiv. I’d seen the Travado several years ago and had not been impressed but changes have been made to the rig and my thinking now is different. I’m better able to understand the crowded interior as providing Class C like options in a smaller motorhome. Class B’s advantage is in the tight maneuvering, ability to park in a regular parking space and to go most anywhere a car can go. This makes the Class B motorhome a great rig for travelers who do not look to settle into a location but rather tend to keep moving. The B is perfect in areas as diverse as boondocking at wilderness camps next to a lake or high in the mountains without need for external hookups to exploring major cities being able to merge with city traffic and utilize available street parking.  Those traveling in a larger motorhome, a trailer or a 5th wheel (etc) need to have a tow vehicle or a rental to use for exploration.

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The Class B motorhome is fully self-contained and is built on a van body. The type of van varies, older B’s have been built on the Dodge Ram 3500 Van which is what I have, the Ford and the Chevy Van, to the more modern Mercedes Sprinter, the Dodge Promaster and the Ford Transit.  This is not a complete list, other vehicles have been used. Manufacture of the motorhome is crafted onto the van with different layouts, quality and styles. Here’s a very quick video that explains it a bit.   Or for a little longer explanation check this.

In searching for my next motorhome I need to make concessions esp. in price and cabin spaciousness and unless I import from Europe or am able to find time and resources to design my own am faced with limited options.  Class B’s tend to be the most expensive of the types (except for the top end Class A luxury) and not many are made. Mark asked good questions, Chuck, the salesman was friendly and easygoing. He turned the generator and air conditioner on so I could hear them and allowed me all the time I wanted.  He showed Mark and I the Winnebago Trend, a nice class C and a small Class A both on the Promaster at 25 feet.  Sitting in the cab of the small Class A was the most exciting, there is so much room, I felt insulated and spoiled, if I had the space to park a 25 foot rig I might be tempted.

I returned about a week later with my friend Sue to do a test drive of the Travado. I have dreams of taking her along on a trip, I find her company soothes me and she, like I, is not attached and so can travel with me and the dogs.  The table in the front (this is the G model there is also a K model with no table but has twin beds and the bathroom in the back)) converts into a second bed. This is a perfect area for my dogs to ride right behind the driver’s seat. The bed in back is like the Aktiv, a Murphy style allowing a partial walk through with storage underneath the bed; the mattress is thinner and easier to fold up but very comfortable as it employs a cleaver spring like device. On the other side is the rear side bathroom. Sue was amazing; curious and inquisitive trying everything, the fit of the bathroom which was very tight, prodding into the cabinets, the large refrigerator, the decent closet, we hopped on both beds and spun the drivers chair around in the table configuration for a hand at an imaginary game of cards over our imaginary drinks. She is fun to have along. It was Sue that said, yes please get the mechanic as we were checking the Promaster engine. The mechanic happily explained all and was the one who came along on our test drive. We both took a turn at the wheel; this is when I discovered that I truly liked driving and sitting in the Promaster.  It was comfortable and responsive. I would be very happy covering long distances like this. We were given as much time as we wanted and I came close to thinking this could be the rig for me.

Here is the K version.    And the one I’m looking at the G version.  (Guaranty RV)

My complaints however started to grow on me. The front table could not be removed, it could be lowered to make the bed but would not detach and it blocked ease of access from the drivers / passengers seats into the cab. Removing it would allow easy placement of the dog’s crates but the table was necessary to make the area into a bed. The door screens were flimsy, if one of my dogs looked at them too hard there would be damage, they seemed made out paper and were unstable in their tracks. The bathroom curved sliding door likewise was asking for trouble. The interior laminate veneer walls were thin with an air space behind them, some of the veneer was already chipping. My dogs are not little gentle fluff balls, nor am I, it worried me that I’d be replacing damaged interiors. Even a Command Stick On could tear those things. The rig needs cubbies and shelves yet will pose a challenge to attach such without damage or falling off, the salesman said I wouldn’t want to put screws in that thin stuff and suction mounts will likely not stay except for very light items.  Similarly the one piece modular bathroom enclosure would be challenging to install additional shelving, like for the dogs grooming equipment . . . then I stared dreaming . . . would be so cool if the back of the shower/bath opened in the back with a door, a recessed door to hold some storage items. The toilet could be moved far forward to allow room for getting in and the entire bathroom stall/enclosure moved up or shortened an inch or so from the back and rounded a little on the bed facing corner to allow a bit of a side view and air flow…..  I could pop the dog’s right in from the rear door for a cleaning which would be fantastic; hang an air dryer and I could avoid mounds of sand and dirt tracking in.  The bathroom door should slide open or push back all the way towards the bed so one could just slide off the bed into the bath… would be so much easier. Then there’s the TV.  It’s useless in its current location unless you have the neck of a giraffe so would need to be moved.  Maybe it could be attached to the bathroom wall, except that wall is too thin and weak or fitted behind the fold up area of the bed. Well, seems I’d just want to redesign a bit, sigh.

 

 

Travado enthusiasts have posted a plethora of modifications and projects, yet to buy it as is seems to be a work in progress. I would need some ingenuity, time and money to reconfigure and modify.  Would be fun but given the 6 to 8 weeks to get the rig and then time for a shake out and repairs I’d likely not have the time and maybe not the money. Taking all into consideration along with how tight it is for my friend, my dislike of the thin interior walls and other issues doesn’t give me the wow factor that would make it easy to spend so much.

I did not dislike the Travado, I liked it better than the Aktiv, but I did not have the chance to get to know the Aktiv as well as the Travado.  The Travado met my 2 biggest wishes, a second adult bed and an enclosed bath/shower in a rig less than 22 feet. It’s fun to drive and they are are improving with every model.

Sue and I had a great lunch, a real treat for me as I am so often along with my dogs.

After eating we headed to Thousand Oaks to see some other rigs continuing my search! I’ll cover that in the next post.

I love to follow the Fit RV; they currently have a Travado and have done such great modifications that their ideas have been incorporated into the updated models. Here’s a link to their list of updates.

 

I was reminded to post as wordpress sent me a notice that my stats were booming. I don’t think they were but nice to know I have some readers!  I will backtrack a little and post some photos and stories from a trip I took a few months ago to Santa Fe, New Mexico meanwhile here are my personal thoughts on the Hymer Aktiv (and up soon some other Promaster type class B motorhomes.)

Aktiv

I had an opportunity to see the Hymer Aktiv, a clean looking 19 .7 foot Class B on the short Dodge Promaster Body up close, actually it was kindly brought to my door for my inspection. I’d been in love with this little Class B from the first I learned of it. Hymer has been making motorhomes for around 50 years and has recently taken over Road Trek which they will continue to produce while introducing their own Hymer brand. (Hymer has an interesting history paying the way for the modern camper van for those curious.)  

The Aktiv 1.0 is their first U.S. offering. Several features like, the horizontal sleeping in the rear with panoramic views from the rear doors and side windows which I currently have has been one of my favorite pleasures when camping. . . tucked safe and comfy with blackout curtains that can be shut or opened to the whispering outdoors in sweet memorable sleeps with the LT’s rear parked up towards a river or a forest stealth watching wildlife, the shadows of evening and brightening of the dawn without needing to stir or announce my presence. . . I liked too the skylight in the front of the Aktiv, the seeming simplicity of the cassette sliding toilet, the table in front, the walk-though option with the bed folded up and out of the way, the ease of heating water and all those other modern technologies ….  if you haven’t seen it click on one of the Hymer links or this one.   I was surprised that this offering was on the shorter Promaster but eager to start my new van life!

With a few weeks delay due to sickness, storms and holidays the Hymer Aktiv rolled up and parked in front of my house. The rig attracted the neighbors who got real excited, a giant present everyone wanted to see.  The dealer rep popped out and opened up the van, first thing, well maybe second thing he did was to comment how he remembered me from years ago at the big  Pomona SoCal RV show. Having facial and conversational recall is undoubtedly an asset but his a posteriori knowledge of me made me feel pressured, after all I did not buy any of the Road Treks’s he showed me esp. the 19 foot Sprinter Agile he’d declared would be just what I needed and he’d had the perfect deal. Was he going to write me off as not a serious customer? A salesman wouldn’t do that, right?

I was so in love with the Aktiv I’d been digging in my finances, getting creative and prepped yet fully aware that drooling over videos was not enough, one has to see the object in the flesh. I’d invited Tom to help with the inspection. With the Road Trek rep, Tom and neighbors it was exciting more social interaction than I’d had in awhile; was a good feeling. In spite of all this attention and praise the Aktiv is not roomy. In particular, the area from kitchen to bedroom is an awkward squeeze making it difficult to access the storage and refrigerator, one has open drawers from the side after crumpling down low, the bathroom wall sticks out, too far. I could not resist the urge to want to push it in but it does not retract. There is somewhat of a Murphy style bed providing a nice pass-through when it’s lifted. The foam pads seemed very comfortable but rather thick and required some stacking and ‘unstacking’. Could one leave the bed made and still fold it up? I wasn’t sure. The bed size was perfect for me at 5’5″ but could be a challenge for a couple or a tall person. I didn’t see it closely but it appeared to have decent storage under the bed, but there was (as you will see) no time to check it thoroughly as I wanted. I opened the overhead cabinets surprised to find them shallow and non-connecting although they looked nice. In my ’96 LTV, the cabinets are big and not only connect allowing storage of long objects but I can stuff winter clothes or things I don’t use often all the way to the back of the rig (yes I’ve lost a few things back there!)

I was just getting going in my analysis of where I’d put stuff, things I needed like the dog crates and exercise pens, food, grooming equipment, camping and emergency gear, clothes for me and bedding; how would it work with the narrow midsection given my scrambling rambunctious dogs? I’d only spotted one rather diminutive closet / pantry? Needed to check that out, look for hidden space and try the bathroom for fit but rather suddenly the salesman announced that it was time for a test drive.  Did I want to?  Duh, yeah of course.

The driver’s seat was set too high, the rep being a rather tall fellow and confusing to lower, the sales rep struggled with it after I gave up and it dropped a bit but it was not optimal.  It’s done manually, and does easily swing around to face the interior in case one has company for dinner; now much later that another shop has shown me, it’s not hard to adjust at all. The rep and Tom were hitting it off and chatting so I set off a bit unconnected. Inherently I’m shy and I don’t like to bother people. I can act bold at times but I am what I am. At first I keep missing the brake pedal with my foot, the Promaster is more like a delivery van and I wasn’t used to it.  I was feeling hurry up, get things going vibes. The rep had been over an hour and half late in arriving due to gridlocked traffic on the 405, that’s kinda of normal these days, L.A. traffic is generally around 17 mph on average (fwy speed) even with careful timing it takes me at least an hour longer to get to my Mom’s house and an hour longer returning. BTW, the theory of building more freeway lanes cannot possibly work. It’s very basic and does not take a degree in engineering to understand why but I won’t go into it here… just keep in mind that cars (traffic) behave much like water in expanding to fill the space.

Remembering what mom said about driving the Aktiv long enough to determine if it was comfortable (which is important as I have a joint dysfunction along with hypermobility) and how it would do with a hill climb I headed to the freeway and took the turn up the mountain. The Promaster was super peppy. Yeah! I could happily image unfettered wanderlust with a few adjustments. The steering wheel does not tilt but it does telescope which again, I found out later. Also later I discovered that if one moves the captain’s seat to fit the steering wheel the Promaster is actually comfy and easy to drive and it is easy on speed bumps. At the moment however I was wishing the steering wheel would drop and for an arm rest on the door side but I wasn’t aligned right, not my fault. Never got to hear the radio, or see the backup camera nor the GPS, did it have one? U-turns were a breeze and the suspension a pleasure although the Aktiv rattled as if nothing had yet been adjusted or settled.  Tom didn’t want a turn to drive, I’d wanted him to so I could be the passenger and fiddle with stuff but it was fine. I returned and had to park on the opposite side of the street due to the senseless parking restrictions in my neighborhood; it was time to see the outside, check those things I’d not had a feeling for yet, like the build quality, I hadn’t seen the hookups and cassette toilet nor poked into the engine or the underhood alternator (which actually was not installed but I didn’t know that)  Those details I wanted to know to see if I could make the Aktiv work for me. Did the front table area make into a bed? This was on my wish list, I’d seen conflicting comments about it but the table does detach completely (I think) which I liked.

By this time there was more than just a little disillusionment but I was still in love with it so was utterly shocked, well, dumbfounded by the rep announcing that he had to leave! Had to get home to his wife!  This kind of sales tactic fails badly as I watched the motorhome depart. I was not happy. I’ve not heard great things about Mike Thomson’s and my few dealings with them had not been unlike this experience, they seem to provide a tantalizing taste, low on details (yet they were super kind to bring the unit out to me!) and then pressure with offers of special deals; we didn’t get that far but I require a relaxed approach where all my questions are answered, where the salesmen is informed about the product or can find someone who is. I don’t gamble with my money, I’m cautious and these Class B’s are very expensive. Time to go though the pre-buying steps are important to me.

A comment sticks in my mind, the rep told me lots of folks were buying the Aktiv for their dogs as they stay at a hotel and don’t camp in the rig. The dogs benefit from Road Trek’s new non-generator setup with alternator / inverter / solar / battery quick start, eco system… sorry I can’t remember what they call it, which allows the user to set a temperature that will automatically kick on the air-conditioner and if needed, will turn on the engine to re boost the battery. He said they listened to their customers and most of them travel with their pets! This scored a big hooray, all motorhomes should provide for the dogs and cats on board! The system will run everything, so no generator needed or plug in to AC .  HOW COOL but I’ve read that the system needs perfecting and it should be possible to do something similar on other rigs. And I did not get to hear the generator (this Aktiv did not have the eco boost system) or the air-conditioner.  I asked!  I’m being a bit nasty but the rep seemed lazy, I mean what’s the problem with turning on the generator and the air-conditioner for a prospective client? How long would that take?

fan-dog

Tom and I walked over to my LTV and stepped inside. All that space was a relief. My LT appears  larger but it’s actually a tad smaller. There is room to breathe, it’s comfortable and it does not beep or rattle; there is a place for everything.  Alas it’s not peppy or smooth, the engine roars and strains when in motion uphill, the bathroom while functional, sucks and there is no alternative to the underpowered generator although perhaps some adaptation could be added.  If only my LTV could smoothly jaunt along like the Promaster! Sigh.  My brain, was dong the, ha-ha, told ya so, nada is as good in person as what you think you see in pretty pictures … well, maybe that’s right. I don’t dislike the Aktiv, I still want to love it but I can’t see my load of dogs in there and maybe a passenger as well. Perhaps the Hymer Aktiv 2.0 will be better.

Next Up:  Mark and then Sue accompany me to Barber RV. The Winnebago Travado.

Every day on this trip was enjoyable, wish I was still staring at wild sea, hidden lakes, trails of flowers; the startling friendliness of being somewhere else. For the women who dream about traveling alone with or without pets, drop me a line.  I’ll write more about this in coming posts.

Meanwhile here’s some photos of my drive home from the Washington Peninsula back to Central Coast California. There are more and lots of adventures but for now just photos.  I’ll try to do a park / camp spot review in the coming days.

When I crossed into California, it was HOT!!!! Hot and expensive. I immediately longed for the Pacific Northwest in spite of the all too evident troubles, for example Capital Lake in Olympia is so polluted you’re best not even to go near the water. It is a reservoir, it is beautiful something I don’t often say about reservoirs. The lake suffers high levels of phosphorus, toxic algae blooms, fecal coliform bacteria and the nasty New Zealand Mudsnail. Once this area was estuary. My opinion, yes it should be restored. No swimming for my dogs. How can one explain that you just can’t go in the water? I liked Olympia as I always have, spent a few days there. Beautiful parks in the area, fun restaurants, lots of activity, art, music, people having fun, harbors, traffic not so bad, so much to like except the terrible pollution.

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Washington …   when it’s season to capture these little guys and the other shellfish must be a mob scene. 

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My my Olympia! Yes, my girl Olympia has been to Olympia. I camped at the same campground behind the Texaco station near the State Park as I’ve stayed before. The State Park was unbelievably jammed, had to believe everyone was actually in their own space and not doubled or tripled up. When the crowds come out they do so like shellfish. Tons of kids and groups of family campers.

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Capital Lake … took a nice hike around the lake to Capital Park.

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In downtown Olympia they were having a Pride Day. Stopped and watched the parade and was about to leave when a youth came running over asking if my dogs were Lagotti. Behind him was mom and day with this little young one! 🙂

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I told my dogs to stay like this, which they did. I took a handful of pictures and came back to relax. A woman in the park walked across the field to tell me she’s never seen anything like it, how I talked to my dogs with regular conversation and they understood and happily complied.

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Bullseye Portland. so sorry everyone I might have connected with in Portland. I can only plead traffic and fear, fear of not being able to park so my dogs would be comfortable and safe, cars everywhere, gridlock, fast drivers, my pathetic Garmin with bad directions, I wanted to stay but not in this RV, not this trip. Apologies.

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On the Rogue River. the fellows all came by and checked me out. Lots of single men camped out for the summer.

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My view. watching the river.

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Was quite hot.  Good to have power for the air conditioner. Not a lot of area for walking. I didn’t feel like driving so took the dogs down that grassy area which leads to a rocky beach. No swimming here though, the river is moving fast and deep.

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Somewhere near Salem. don’t recommend this place, on top of the fwy and backed by mega shopping centers. Looks are deceiving here.

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Double woof! WOOF!

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This was a pretty lake near Salem, but there was way too much trash.

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Salem, Oregon

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Beautiful architecture. No one seems to smile. I was either ignored or greeted by a half snarl, nothing personal I’m sure but the citizens seemed preoccupied and stressed.

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This wasn’t open, it’s an art dealer.

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I love you sooooo much my little Mason.

 

 

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So hot here in Red Bluff. 108 or so. I have a friend in Redding but at this point I wanted to get out of the heat. The lid opener for the overhead fan had broken. being without that cooling air was significant and borderline dangerous.

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I paid extra for this end spot on the river. There were mosquitoes so I didn’t walk as far as I’d planned. As soon as the Park ends, the trash starts. Piles and piles of it. It seemed to me the area residents no longer see it as anything unusual . Lots of evidence of smoking. 

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A small reminder of Washington

 

Mason In Olympia, washington

Mason In Olympia, Washington

I really enjoy having an RV that is under 20′. It enables me to go almost anywhere and stay anywhere. Some roads and campgrounds have a 21′ max length, that’s never an issue for the LT.  The only limitation is in handling and roughness of the ride. The handling did seem to improve over time, towards the end of my trip the LT was powering ahead without much trouble in strong gusty winds. I was actually surprised just how strong the winds were when I parked and opened the door to discover walking was a challenge and took extra muscle power; we didn’t go far. I’d say there seems to some truth in what I was told that the new steering gearbox, tires, shocks, steering gearbox stabilizer and steering damper needed time to break in. When 3,000 miles have accrued, then I will know for sure.

The LT is capable of fairly robust speeds but I generally see little merit in traveling much faster than 55 or 60 mpg unless the roadway is particularly boring. I use the cruise control a lot. I know my mother hates cruise control, but I love it.  It keeps a nice steady speed and enables me to focus on being peaceful, relaxed and aware as I drive. Particularly when having handling troubles it’s something I will always use. My feeling is that those motorist speeding along can easily see another vehicle moving at a steady clip and plan their pass without pushing from behind.

My 1996 Class B Freedom Wide Leisure Travel can go anywhere.

My 1996 Class B Freedom Wide Leisure Travel can go anywhere.

The solarize curtain linings were great! A bit messy due to my lack of sewing skill but they not only kept the interior of my RV cooler they were a simple solution to creating darkness when parked under bright lights. My old system of mounting reflectix was awkward, the curtains with their linings were super easy. On the rear windows I could close just the linings or both the lining and the shade or just the shade.  Using the lining and the shade kept my dogs comfortable which was my goal.

Another perfect addition was the little auxiliary double fan which I mounted in the cubicle which used to hold the old TV in the upper front center of the rig. I really loved it as it meant I did not to run the generator while driving to keep the house air conditioner running. The fan pushed the cold air from the regular air conditioner back to the rear. It stayed nice and cool inside. I was really happy. When I stopped I’d open the wing windows and also turn on and open the upper Fantastic vent. I wish the old-fashioned wing windows were still utilized. You can’t put your hand in there and unlock the door and if you should need to turn off the air conditioner while driving such as climbing a steep hill in 100 deg heat you can open those windows and get a good blast of air, of course it’s hot air but still a lot better than opening the regular window.

AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan

12V AboveTEK® Dual Head Car Auto Cooling Air Fan, $35.00 from Amazon. These look big in the picture but they are actually small, I recommend them! The two fans swivel and turn.

Not so great was the latex bed topper. When my GERD was especially bad I found I could prop  my bed/couch part way up and sleep halfway sitting, actually kinda curled on my side with my torso lifted up.  It’s a bit hard to describe . . .  was comfortable and it worked. I still had room to lay flat if I wanted and the dogs had room to curl up on the bed in the morning . . they like to do that when they get the signal I’m awake. Dogs are amazing at knowing that instant when a person wakes, even if don’t move or make a sound, they know. The latex proved to be too bulky and too hot and just not comfortable. My wool bedtopper was all I needed. I wound up cutting the latex pad into pieces to use for dog beds.

Sand in the bed. This was an issue since we frequently went to the beach.  Mason hair does not hold sand, or dirt; Lagotti hair on the other hand marries dirt and sand and keeps it wrapped tight letting little bits fall out over a very long time (it does not come out with rinsing or light washing but eventually it all falls out in places you don’t want it.)  The best but most time-consuming solution was to shake everything out before I went to sleep each night and I finally resorted to this solution. I tried sealing off the bed with covers, blankets, towels, dog beds; sand still got through somehow making me like the Princess and the Pea, thrashing around sand irritated. Nothing like sand rubbing on your skin. I move around a lot when I sleep by learned habit. This helps me not wake with dead spots, painful cramping, headaches, or limbs completely asleep . . . most of you likely don’t have this trouble; it’s part of whatever’s amiss with my body. Moving from side to side during the night generally takes care of it.

Sand on the floor. This was the same solution. I have the rugs overlapping in short segments so it was super easy to lift them out and shake, shake, shake, did this every morning before leaving camp.  To remove dog hair I use a plastic hair removal brush or if nothing else one of the dog’s brushes works.

This trip I never used the exercise pens or crates for the dogs. Mason never goes anywhere, so I attach a light thin leash to his collar and that’s it. I know it’s cheating as the leash is not attached to anything.  He likes to be outside if it’s sunny, otherwise his favorite place is on the rear bed or one of the captains chairs. I tethered Jackson with a long line clipped to the side door. At first I was tethering Jeana as well, but she was like Mason, she didn’t go anywhere so I used the same system as Mason. If there were distractions I’d clip all the leashes to the RV or occasionally to the picnic table. My dogs don’t like to roam. They love to be with me. If I’m leaving them for some reason at the campground, like taking a shower or something, I’ll put them inside the RV.

Camped at the Rogue River: Leashes on but not attached to anything!

Camped at the Rogue River: Leashes on but not attached to anything!

If you travel with dogs the number one thing you should teach your pets is RECALL. A perfect recall is so important. Your dogs should be so happy to come when you call, whistle, raise your arm in the air (my silent recall signal)  that they just don’t think about it. 100% recall is not difficult. That means a recall when they see a deer, a squirrel, another dog, whatever it is they should be more interested in returning to you. I know it sounds impossible but it’s not. I make allowances for squirrels but only in how long it takes for the recall, the recall still happens. If you want to know how it’s done message me.

There are tons of things for second place, here are some of them. No bark, stay here, wait, let’s go potty, don’t do that, stay on the trail, ignore those other dogs, do you really have to go out now? Not your ordinary commands like sit and heel, but things that are useful for traveling. I talk to my dogs the same as I’d talk to a person that needed my care. I read a lot of studies about what scientist believe about the intelligence and communication skills of canines. I take all that with a grain of salt, no, something bigger than a grain of salt. Dogs are not as intelligent as a 3-year-old or only capable of understanding 100 to 300 words or any of that. They are not human, An adult dog is extremely capable and intelligent. Some dogs are certainly smarter and more aware than others. It’s people who make dogs dumb and sometimes helpless. A dog cannot be compared to a human. How many dogs would compare their human to another dog? Wow, is my human dumb, I’ve been telling her for 10 years that I need …  fill in the blank here….  and she still doesn’t get it. A dog is another species. They are 100% (wow I get to use 100% again) intelligent. In my opinion dogs are brilliant.  Not many other species can understand humans let alone work successfully with us in hundreds of skills and tasks. That said, try respecting your dog. No kidding, they know what they’re doing, their motivations and purposes are not the same as ours. Every dog is a bit different from any other dog. There are genetic breed characteristic and drives, inherited, learned and environmental variances and disturbances. Dogs are emotional creatures, they dream, they play, they thrive on approval and happiness. they base their actions on being dogs and doing what is normal to them. Most dogs are responsive to rewards and excellent communicators. Why else would people love dogs so much? They even emulate us. And don’t think for a moment that they don’t train us, for some people more than they train the dog.

All 3 Lagotti. Waiting until I'm ready to go. This is what they usually do when off leash and I'm not moving.

All 3 Lagotti. Waiting until I’m ready to go. This is what they usually do when off leash and I’m not moving.

Teenage dogs are a challenge but that’s normal for many creatures. It’s a time of self-discovery and development of adult personality and skills.  As dog trainers say, it may seem your adolescent dog has forgotten everything you ever taught it and will not learn; it is not true, so preserver and maintain your lesson plan. I don’t tolerate nonsense from my dogs but I allow them to be fully dogs. They bark, they run, they jump, they get dirty, they get excited. I only ask them to adopt a skill set so that we can be together and become a team. They don’t have to do it (it being what I want them to do) all the time or in all situations (except a recall.)  Mostly their job is to be a dog and mine to be a human. We get along much better that way and when I need them to do something they do it. I make it a priority to understand their language. Dogs will tell you everything. They love to communicate, they do it with each other all the time and they do it with us all the time too.

We ask a lot of them, to go against their nature to do what we want. Please don’t yell at your dog unless it’s an emergency and be patient with them. If you live with a dog teach your dog how to get along with others and what behaviors are needed in what situations. Don’t teach your dog to be a troublemaker and then throw up your hands as if You had nothing to do with it.

Leash is on.

Leash is on.

 

 

The Art of Blown Glass

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Leaving the Park at Gig Harbor Washington

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Yep, you gotta like looking at boats!

The reason I wanted to go to Tacoma was to visit the Museum of Glass at 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma.  There are photos on the website, but I will post some here. I went on a Sunday so parking turned out to be simple at a nearby park. Took the dogs for a walk then closed all the curtains feeling safe leaving the dogs while I went to explore. Drove through town a little.

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The Museum of Glass, the entrance is in the rear on the boardwalk not in front on the street. Walked to dogs a long way along the scenic strip… restaurants, shops, businesses, cafes.

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Glass

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Judith Schaechter. You can vote for your favorite piece in part of the gallery, I voted for this one.

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Joe Feddersen

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These pieces were in the gift shop.

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Also in the girt shop, some smaller editions of what was in the gallery.

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Yep, gift shop.

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Made in the hot shop. You can watch glass blowing step by step in the hot shop and book time to try it yourself.

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Walls of Dale Chihuly’s glass on the Bridge

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It’s staggering to see so many of his pieces outdoors with the muted sun lighting the art. Was almost raining at the time.

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So fun, almost makes me want to try blowing glass!

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Crystal Tower, Dale Chihuly

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As you walk over the bridge the area architecture is beautiful. bridge leads to the Art museum and natural history museum and more.

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Not too much traffic on an early Sunday morning.

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Chihuly: this is overhead and was a big surprize.

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The painted sky of blown glass.

 

 

What Happened to Gig Harbor?

Here’s another look at Port Ludlow: Boaters Guide – Port Ludlow Marina A little bigger RV and would settle here longer; visit lakes and beaches, eat in the restaurant, take a cruise, just a little more room I think but not too much. Do they have boat tours / rentals that allow dogs on board? 

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Western Hemlock:  sorry photos aren’t better, wonderful trees in WA.

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Big Leaf Maple

101 to Gig Harbor is about 2 1/5 hrs from Port Ludlow if you drive without stopping which I rarely do. I have to stop at little marinas and grassy parks just to see what’s there. Found a cutoff, Olympic National Park leading to Seal Rock Campground; a few spots were edged on the interior road so you’d be overlooking Dabob Bay, picnic bench and campfire tucked behind in the trees. These sites were for small RVs, under 21 feet. I saw larger rigs crammed in these spaces, couldn’t blame them it was so pretty!

Note…. Need to get Mason waterproof boots so he can do these rocky beaches with me and the Lagotti.
One can harvest oysters in season. The closest town  is Quilcene.

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Roadside stop

Am so happy to find the Pacific Northwest is stunning, you can’t go wrong esp when away from the crowds. 20 of the 40 largest continental rivers are here spread out from Northern California to Southern Alaska.  There are volcanoes:  Mount Shasta, Mount Hood, Mount Saint Helens, Rainier and Mount Garibaldi. Untold numbers of lakes, forests, rainforests, wildlife and did I mention the fruit and produce as well as the fish and seafood? It was cherry season along with fresh corn, apples, early peaches. The cherries were so good I found myself staring hard at them as if they were out of Snow White and were really poison apples, irresistible, red, red and white. Wow, this was how fruit tasted in my memories, rich, sweet, flavorful! The corn was amazing, really I had to keep looking at the food as I enjoyed it, I’ll never be used to tasteless (and expensive) produce where I live, pretty on the outside, empty inside; it’s been so long since I’d had these flavors I’d almost forgotten.

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The nearest RV campground to town center Gig Harbor was not particularly scenic but it was time for laundry and grocery shopping. I was again fortunate landing 1 of the 2 or 3 empty spots, it was the closest spot to the laundry which was good since I had a ton of it, with a large grassy area and away from any noise. You’d think laundry would not be confusing however it was very confusing. The machine kept indicating to add more quarters but if you do so, as I did, your clothes stay soaking wet at the end of the cycle and you have to start over. Something about an extra-large load staying wet unless it was actually extra-large, my load was extra-large with all the bedding and rugs. The time was whacked too, these machines had secrets, the regulars had to save me. Many of the campers were long-term, I heard the tales and woes of their lifestyles, how they arrived and how they’d be staying unless some future brought them a different fortune. One woman in particular said the only way she could leave was if she met a nice man with a truck; she’d divorced and her share was a beautiful 5th wheel and enough money to pay rent but no truck.He husband had been abusive, the kind that hit women. The laundry was expensive and took forever, it was done late and I wanted to get groceries before the natural food store closed. It was an odd store amazing produce and tons of unknown and decadent chocolate desserts, a small meat/fish counter and lots of beer, later I went to Safeway.  Late parking at the Downtown Harbor area was a breeze, everyone was leaving for the day,  so the dogs and I went for a long walk in the soft drizzle enjoying the scenic views.

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Gig Harbor Washington

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Gig Harbor. Clams and Oysters?

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Gig Harbor

I stayed in town a few days exploring the dog park and the beaches; traffic was intense. Read an article stating the numbers of vehicles had more than tripled the last decade. More residential areas, more shopping developments and a variant of roundabouts that were too small caused congestion everywhere.  I secretly ached to get in there and straighten out the transportation for this city. However I know how it goes, innovation in city planning is rarely appreciated in favor of the traditional. As an old boss of mine used to say when I suggested that if we had to put in parking meters (that really were not necessary) we at least put in a modern system allowing  payment by cell phone with a system that charged for time used with a variable fee depending on congestion and length of stay  (this not to punish parking but to increase turnover/availability as needed.) His response was a traditional plunk the quarter in the slot meter (and a quarter would buy 10 min or so) was the correct solution because that’s what had always been done, never mind that it wouldn’t work; those meters suffer constant tampering, breakdowns, collection problems, animosity and tend to waste valuable parking real estate…and so on… and who carries around rolls of quarters other than campers needing showers or laundry!

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Went for a nice walk across the street from the off leash dog park, very scenic, lots of dogs. Finding the off leash dog park was a nightmare even though it was nearby…  really really bad signage which I found to be the norm in pacific coastal Washington. Often streets which one is led to by direction or GPS are marked dead end, do not enter, turn into rough dirt and gravel and one has to guess, is that it??? Lots of times I gave up since it was not possible to safely park and check it out, didn’t want to risk needing a tow . 

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Things seen while walking the dogs.

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So many flowers, only captured a few.

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Sunrise Beach Park near Gig Harbor

Sunrise Beach Park on the Colvos Passage was a place I have to tell you about but not for the reason you might think. A bit of a rough road but no problem for my little LT.  My dogs had a blast, the pups running in the water and Mason sniffing trees. On the path up from the beach I let them run in the grassy field. That was the mistake!  How was I to know that hidden in the soft spongy green stuff was a light green, very sticky stinky poop and that their happy rolling around was not simple joy but a smashing of gunk into nice curly absorbent Lagotto hair!

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Having fun at the beach.

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My Good Boy Mason, running in the grass, he did not get full of icky poop.

There I was with my two forlorn Lagotti tied to a picnic bench with my bucket, water, wads of  paper towels and my Dawn Dish soap taking up a large amount of the parking area traipsing back and forth with supplies and dumping filthy wipes. All of us with a sour face. Mason was hiding under the RV watching, he was clean! It was super Yucky! No way would I allow Jeana and Jackson, esp Jeana in my rig like that. Eventually they were tolerable, that’s when I got stuck in the worst of the traffic as my GPS sent me searching for a pet store that was not there, then all the way to the other end of town for another store I could not find!!! Was about to give up when suddenly there was a big old PetCo not listed on Garmin or Cellphone. The clerk never heard of a product to spray on a dog to disinfect it, Nature’s Miracle makes it. Good grief, was Washington a separate island unto itself! When we returned to our campsite I sprayed them thoroughly with camp water, it was cold, to remove the Dawn dish soap and bam, Jeana’s tail went limp. I was real nice to her after that trying to cheer her up, her tail was very sore. Walked and walked to get them dry, then I left them to use the restroom; they spilled all their water on the carpets and went on a barking spree…. no, no no. I came out to yell at them and normally I don’t yell at them, I could hear them from afar. Jeana was on the dashboard having clawed away the front curtain, part of the dash cover and disconnected the electronics, she fit there easier than Jackson. Yep cleaned that up and installed the sunshield, then the curtains.

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Jeana after several washings with her tail all worn out downtown Gig Harbor. She looks clean doesn’t she!

I was not unhappy to leave Gig Harbor, heading out extra early on Sunday morning to Tacoma and the Museum of Glass.

 

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Leaving Gig Harbor very early morning. Lovely.

Leaving the kids flocking the cabins on bicycles, the bunkers, big trucks and RV hosts at the retreat side of Fort Flagler was easy, but I will remember the beatific solitude at the campground and on the trails. I will be back at another time of year . . .

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I headed across Marrowstone Island on Hwy 116, to Port Hadlock, this time turning south on WA 19. It would be a short simple turn north to Port Townsend but as I knew would happen, as soon as school is out people fill in the space like a candy crush game, filling it up with fun popping summer memories. For this solo 60’s woman and her dogs, it was time to move ahead. I studied the water as I drove over the Hood Canal Bridge, once across the Squamish, it was the landscape that changed, traffic deepened. The 104 turned more businesslike, hurtling vehicles back and forth, there were shopping malls and motorists honking their horns, racing away to get home or off to a date. Jackson was having his fit over the bumpy rumbling things, he infected Jeana who tried to scramble out the side door squeezing herself on the drop step.  The door was locked.  I did not want her crammed in there but in her seat. The dogs do not ride in crates, there wouldn’t be room and I would not be able to reach them quickly if I should need to; they have their ”safe places” where they cannot be thrown around by sudden stops, surprised by opening doors or falling objects but with Jackson’s hysterics I had to park and strap them into their halters and restraints. We were not happy with each other, sure I too, I told them, would like to romp and play at every little nice spot in the road and swim  in every bit of water, sniff every sniff, eat grungy bits off the trails and out of the bushes, and then throw it up; oh, and never have to walk on rocks or super soft beach sand (this for Mason,) and hey why not, let’s all ride in Mommy’s seat! Arrgghh… Puppies! I’d read the literature on what to do if your vehicle is flooded;  tsunamis and sudden downpours are a big thing up here, so I’d practiced in my head how to save all my dogs, if we’d need to vacate fast, listening to Mommy and not having hysterics, that was important.

My plan: check out the ferry, did I need a reservation? Then find one last beautiful camp spot before the big city, get up leisurely and after morning traffic arrive in Edmonds.  The Kingston traffic was heavier than I expected. Once I found the Port I discovered there was nowhere to park. It seemed kinda stupid to get in line for the Ferry when I all wanted was a schedule and a reservation yet I could not find how to obtain info. The town was bustling, could be fun to walk around. Finally found a spot and tried to take it but heard yelling, No’s! Apparently I could not park there. Great, so I drove to the tune of honking and snarling directed towards me. My GPS was absolutely no help, more likely that little voice in there that always sounds so polite was laughing at me in secret! On a wild guess I turned down a road near the Port and to my amazement there was free parking around a few corners. Really? Couldn’t they have put up a sign…  you know one that says…  PARKING, no, this is Washington. I was very suspicious as the parking lot across from this one insisted you had to pay, why was this one free? I left the dogs and hoofed over to the ferry to find there was no one to talk to, no postings and no info. In desperation I asked the woman fixing coffees where to find a schedule. She was cool, explaining how this was not Port Townsend and one did not need a reservation, just get in line and off you go. Well, I wasn’t ready so I thanked her, she told me where I might find available camping, the directions were confusing, she did warn me that most camping would be filled.  I wound up driving all over, with rather insane directions from my GPS.  The lack of sleep was getting to me and my dogs wanted to play. I found 3 or maybe 4 camp spots and rejected them; as either they were filled or I just couldn’t endure the lack of ambience. I came close to staying at a State Park, picked a spot, backed in, had the little registration card on my dash pencil in hand . . .  I looked at the others parked there. No one looked happy, screaming kids, sour faces, tons of road noise, no hiking trail; I was still happy, in spite of being tired and grumpy I was happy.

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About to enter the waterfall trail.

I drove in circles through Bainbridge Island, peeved at my GPS leading me around like a drunk along with the bizarre signage of dead ends. Happiness was fragile.  Happiness meant I was not waking up with depression, I did not have anxiety, I was standing taller, eating great, had lost a good bit of weight, was exercising. I felt I could handle myself and the world, I could make decisions (well, except for right at that moment,) and I liked being alive so I called my Mom. I can’t remember what she said, probably something along the line of how I needed to find a safe place for the night and stop driving. Whoever decided, her or me I turned around and headed north. When I crossed the Hood Canal Bridge again I felt a light joy, the heavy rain stopped, the sun came out, no kidding, birds were singing! Another day and time I’d be ready for the Seattle side, not this time that’s all.

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Landed a last spot at the RV campground at Port Ludlow, it was lovely.  My space was only $20 cash since the office had already closed. I was happy. Dogs were happy. they forgive so easily.  In the morning we found a trail into a garden, then across an open field into a nature trail with a waterfall and beach. It was an enchanting touch of paradise.

Bitter Cherry

Bitter Cherry

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Cool, sweet water.

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Western Red Cedar

Western Red Cedar

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Home for the night at Port Ludlow

 

Loved the Port and Marina….  make a note to stay there someday at the Lodge. Gift shop invited all 3 of my dogs to come in and they made the rounds including into the back office. Pet, pet, pet.  I need to teach them to say Lagotto Romagnolo and Terrier-Corgi-Chi.

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At Port Ludlow Washington, walking the dogs. there’s a beach right around the corner and lots of dogs come to romp. 

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Port Ludlow Marina

Port Ludlow Marina

Hey Puppies let’s go PLAY now!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Port Townsend Continued

Dogs say Thanks!

Dogs say Thanks…  come on human ….  this way!

Port Townsend is as much a mecca for artist as for boaters. I’ve thought of it as compliment to Santa Barbara with its high housing prices, progressive environmental atmosphere and bent for tourist; maybe more for tourists than for residents. I didn’t go back to Sequim in the rainshadow, due to the graduation traffic but next time will check out that area further, I think it would be calmer but with the growth, don’t know, I’ve considered living there at times.  I had a friend in printmaking class, she was actually a quilter, who owned and ran a B&B in the very tourist center of Port Townsend. She told she was happy to sell and get out after 10 years as the guests drawn to the area became trashy and she tired of their attitudes. Why would this be I don’t know. Perhaps the intensity of the fairs, and festivals, the partying, the crowds, probably drinking and not thinking about how precious it all is.  I try to avoid that type of scene when I travel seeking the beauty and uniqueness but not getting too deep. I tend not to stay long. I wander. I want to see. I explore, I thrive on that. Crowds are not my thing unless it’s it’s to move through them like a a wind blowing tall grass.

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I took a look at the other marinas in Port Townsend and surrounding areas such a s the Port of Port Townsend and Port Townsend Boat Haven; without a map in front of me I’m sure I’m missing the names and exact places. Once away from the tourist center there are a range of commercial working marinas to small almost hidden public and private marinas, campgrounds, homes, shopping areas. See the same stores everywhere which is boring, makes it easy not to go in them.

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The boat, the Western Flyer I think is in Port Townsend; was used by John Steinbeck in the 1940’s and is now being restored having sunk in Anacortes.  Now it will be a floating classroom for marine biology. It’s an interesting area, Port Townsend, and I still like it, but I heard some women complaining that rent on a small apartment with a water view was $4,000.  Definitely Santa Barbara prices and probably too many people all wanting to cram in here.

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You can get an idea of this boat by looking at the trucks. It was BIG!

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Nordland, Washington. Lots of nice homes on Marrowstone Island, wonder what it’d be like to live in this area as an artist. Would be driving into Port Townsend for the co-op and Tacoma for other goods. probably would want to get a boat!

Something odd happened to me at Fort Warden during my morning walk. I actually felt like I might be happy. Happy, that was something I hadn’t remembered for a long time. It seemed such a fragile feeling that I did not want to talk to my new friends, I only wanted to look at everything around me and walk, feel how cool and clear the air felt, how calm everything was before the gates opened.  After my walk and a hot shower I discovered the campground was full for the coming night so nothing to do but treat myself to a brie sandwich and carrot soup to go, from the gourmet cafe and head off to Marrowstone Island.

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Another shot of the lighthouse at Fort Warden, coming up from the beach.

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There seem to be birds everywhere in the Peninsula,; not just seabirds but all kinds of birds.

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And tons of baby deer. My dogs would stare at the deer and the deer would stare at the dogs; we’d all be very quiet.

With my good camping luck I landed a beach space at Fort Flagler at the edge of the campground. If it’s not apparent to you, it became apparent to me that given opportunity I choose waterfront over forest 10 times out of 10. Being early in the day I drove back to the dot sized town of Norland to check it out.  There was a store, I went in and bought paper towels and some smoked salmon. Clams and oysters were available across the street.

Here’s some information from Marrowstone.com: “Fort Flagler, on Marrowstone’s north end, was completed in 1907 and in operation until 1953. It became a state park in 1955 and is a popular destination for campers and kite fliers. Mystery Bay State Park is another state park on Marrowstone Island, located about a half-mile north of the Nordland General Store. The Nordland Township was plotted in 1889, and soon after the area was settled by families newly immigrated from Norway. The attraction to the area was the similarity of the land to the Norwegian fjords, the abundance of fish, and the cannery which once existed two miles north of Nordland. Most of the descendants of the families still live on the island.”

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Mystery Bay on a quiet day.

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Walked around Mystery Bay with the dogs; saw one truck and one fisherman happily occupied at the edge of the pier. We didn’t approach but walked out on the beach. When it’s the right season for clams and oysters it must be crowded.

 

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Mason looking for the gunnery.

I wasn’t sure I’d like Fort Flagler, my first impression being that it would be windy and sort of vacant, but it didn’t take long for me to fall in love.

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Boat launch at Fort Flagler.

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The dock . . . see that little boat down there, that’s the guy from Seattle. Took this picture on my hike up to the upper campground.

Perched on the edge of the world, I hiked round and about on the beach and into the forested area in the soft rain with my Lagotti while Mason took a nap. Went into the store and looked at the kites. I wanted to buy one and fly it, but they weren’t appealing enough, I wanted to buy a sandwich but I had food, so I didn’t buy anything; instead, I walked down the boat ramp. There was one cabin cruiser and just as I’d almost reached the end of the dock a crusty kind of handsome fellow stepped out, climbs up the dock and says,” What a nice pair of Lagotto Romagnolo you have,” and walks off! WHAT! No one knows this breed unless they have one and that’s not very common and I don’t see a dog of any kind with him.  I devilishly enjoy saying, Lagotto Romagnolo, to unbelieving ears and counting up how many humans can repeat those words or the funny way they try and almost all of them do, as if it’s somehow very important that they can say those words which I’m sure most of them will quickly forget.  Yet here, out at the edge of terra firma where I’ve seen no one but the camp host, a few campers wandering around and the 2 folks at the store, says this to me! I chased him just a tiny bit as he was briskly walking away and he humored me a bit, muttering that his neighbor in Seattle had one or two of this breed and no more could I get out of him. He was heading for the store to get  food before they closed.  Closing time 4:30 p.m. When I came down from the hills after my walk he was out of sight.

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Up in the forest area. You can camp up here too if you wanted. 

 

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Spot number 97 all mine for the night.

The night was rainy on and off and absolutely gorgeous. Watching the sun set into the water I felt so content, I could have stayed there and counted birds or grains of sand or clouds in the sky. Hearing the rain made me happy, tried to take a picture though the window, some birds were still out. There was power so I turned on my little electric heater so my dogs and I could dry but I kept the lights off as I often do to watch the long dusk turn into night. So peaceful.

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I went to seep expecting a sound night but instead I was in pain with TO (thoracic outlet) and Gerd. They both are on the left side so affect my heart and breathing. Feels like being choked, strangled and repeatedly stabbed in the back, ribs and chest. Breathing at all hurts, left arm, esp left hand becomes paralyzed and painful. Trying to find a way to sleep is difficult, any pressure on my left side is no good, on my back my throat constricts and no air, on the other side the entire arm goes into spasms. It’s just not fun. Drove the dogs a bit nuts thrashing about trying to find just the right alignment. Thing is I didn’t really care. I still felt happy and when I awoke added how I could handle and take care of myself to my list of things I could do.

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In the morning I let my dogs run in the puddles, I carried Mason over them then put him down so he could sniff. The campsites were all gone. I watched the park host place the reserved sign on my site post.  I’d dreamt of staying, but it was not to be. I’d talked to the park host several times the day before, he wasn’t overwhelmingly friendly, but he did share that he’d taken this job two years after his wife died leaving him and her dog, a little soft brown poodle at a loss. He was now on year 6.

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Not quite ready to leave the park, still exploring.

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As I was getting ready to leave the park suddenly got really crowded,  50 kids or more unloaded from a bus and started marching with more coming behind them!  Drove down to the fort and no one is here, dogs are running happy, it’s raining and close to noon. Am reluctant to go but am thinking of crossing over to the mainland, to Edmonds where there are some Lagotti and their people to meet and some friends, relatives, people to visit, so will head down to Kingston and check out the ferry. One more night on this side, that’s what I was thinking. There was a bit more to see, the remains of the gun batteries, the old hospital, a big conference area, retreat center and vacation rentals. Tons more people and kids too.

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Hoping Port Townsend won’t get too big for itself but that’s what happens.

 

Port Townsend, Washington

Here's another shot of Sekiu

Here’s another shot of Sekiu

And Another, looking out form Seiku

And Another, looking out from Seiku

Love it here. Yep, a harbor/marina at Point Hudson (Port Townsend.) It’s changed since my last visit, larger now. Stayed a few nights, one, dry camped by the restaurants close to the marina, then I moved over to the second row on the grassy waterfront … could have moved to the front row if I’d wanted to stay. The weekends get crowded, Port Townsend has special events all summer. I arrived Fri and Sat was sold out but there was an early morning cancellation.

Somewhere I stopped on the road for a walk.

I took the long way from Sekiu to Port Angeles, at first I didn’t think it was as scenic as touted but then suddenly wow was it! Jumped on 101 and drove to Sol Duc Hot Springs, that road was especially curvy and poor Jackson was having a fit. Occasionally he would get Jeana all upset as well; Mason remained unflappable….  he’s experienced, funny road noises, bumps and tight curves don’t bother him, my little 15 pound fearless one! I swaddled Jackson, cramming him between the 2 captain chairs. He was close to me that way and could not move. I rammed him in with pillows and the swaddling. He was like a locomotion with his heavy panting. It made me feel bad except as soon as we stopped he was all wild, bouncy happy so I figured his stress while we were moving was harder on me than it was on him. I was driving like the eggshell between my foot and the pedal and very slowly, trying with all my might to get my 7,800 pound LT not to sway, shake or rumble. Not easy as the steering was still weird and the road pitted and rough. I walked all 3 of the dogs on whatever paved area I could find at Sol Duc; it was very un-dog friendly. You couldn’t walk a dog on the big grassy play area that was a bit littered with human borne trash or on the paved trail. I stowed them back in the RV and walked around the resort, looked at the pools imaging how it’d feel to soak in hot water and finally decided I didn’t need a $14 bath. Took the road out, it was a free road with my Senior Federal Park Pass, that’s when the real magic happened. As 101 turned the bend beauty popped up in another of her stunning displays of water and rainforest.

Dig these trees!

Dig these trees!

The dogs and I explored Lake Sunderland …  sockeye salmon and trout. Olympic National Park Fairholme Campground is on the lake for tents and RVs 21 feet or less. Rainforest, old growth forest and the lake. Lots of families in tents. The plant growth was amazing. I snapped a ton of photos with my phone to use for colored pencil drawing ideas and for fused glass. Clear water for the dogs to play in.

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Rainforest trees

Rainforest trees

I considered staying except for two problems,  it appeared to be full and I knew I’d have soaking wet dogs. I packed a hair dryer but had already discovered the power inverter a friend lent me was not working. No power out there in the forest and it was cold already. For those of you that don’t have water dogs but non-water types like my Mason who happily stays dry, water dogs watch for the shortest distance between where they are and water before you can blink they are wet!

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A little bit of Lake Sunderland.

Decided to spend the night in Port Angeles however when I arrived I discovered it was graduation weekend and the town was packed! Lots of traffic but a fun little town. I was warned due to graduation that if I wanted to take a ferry I should do so immediately or be prepared to wait until Tue. The graduation thing had me worried about finding a spot in Port Townsend as it was I was lucky getting the very last space. On the way to Port Townsend I checked out a few county parks and campgrounds, when I got back on the freeway as it was getting into early evening  there was a sudden red light swerving and screeching including me, my LT almost didn’t stop in time!  I swerved into the next lane since it was empty avoiding any secondary accident. Traffic jammed as we waited, ambulance, fire truck, police went by, then we were rerouted.  All this did not make my dogs happy nor me. All the money spent on fixing the brakes, I was trembling and the dogs were very quiet, that was too close a call. When I was able I stopped and picked up the items that had slid and fallen, re-closed the frig door.

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I had a blast in Port Townsend. Walked downtown with all the wooden boats, Victorian architecture, some actors doing a show all had to pet and coo over the dogs, lots of street art and happy milieu.

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Early morning in Port Townsend.

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I’m camped way off in the back, on the right side behind this marina.

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Yep, this was mine, and then they moved me to the other side.

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Folks waiting for the Port Townsend ferry.

Heck if you don't like boats you won't like Port townsend. LOL

Heck if you don’t like boats you won’t like Port townsend. LOL

Around the corner from my camping harbor.

Around the corner from my camping harbor.

 

Walked down to the wetlands lagoon, then explored further of the area than I had in the past with stops at the co-op and driving tour of parks, beaches, historical visits and local neighborhoods.

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But MOM!!!! Those guys are swimming!

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Mason the gunner!

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The lighthouse at Fort Worden. You have to walk to get close. We did so by climbing up from the rocky beach.

After several days I moved over to Fort Worden.  The ocean campground was posted as full but I’d seen empty spaces so waited in line at registration and was given a great curved pull through spot,sheltered from the wind. Folks were in line to register for next year! The couple in front of me said they did this every year, staying as long as they could then heading to the Oregon coast, esp this year with nearly 120 deg weather in Arizona where they lived. It was easy to forget the record-breaking heat in the Southwest, early arctic melting, Death Valley hitting 129 degs in June; India has been sweltering, Tunisia, Argentina, Russia…  what will July and August bring?  The Pacific Northwest is not drought free and where I live in Southern California the drought continues to worsen.

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BEACH…. this way…. Campground right on the other side.

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Fort Warden encompasses 434 acres with 100 historic structures and 2 miles of saltwater shoreline with views of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, and the San Juan Islands. It took awhile including asking 3 times for directions with several loops of  the park to find registration, as with much of Washington wayfinding is presented as more of a labyrinth puzzle than simple path. The time after the park closes to visitors for the night was the time I cherished the most, walking with vigour from one end to the other, on and on to the lighthouse over the rocky shoreline and up into the forested area with a second campground, classrooms and schools, conference center, ball fields, tennis courts, kayaking, boat ramps, marine center, visitor accommodations, and at least one museum. Again, I was lucky finding a space, the next night the park was filled. My camping neighbors in an 1988 Southwind invited me over, seemed we had a lot in common. As soon as I walked into their rig I was awed by how big, roomy and comfy it was!  Had a great time chatting about everything from the climate, politics, healthy stuff to eat, bookstores and co-ops, cool places to take your RV, getting the right size RV  (not too big, not too little) and more! My dogs were good, they stayed in my van. I was to see them again in Olympia where they live.

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Evening time and the pier is quiet.

 

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There are six Forts which guarded Puget Sound; Fort Worden, Fort Flagler and Fort Casey (on Whidbey Island) made up the “Triangle of Fire,” at Admiralty Inlet. I learned this from my new friends. The Forts were built in the late 1890s to modernize seacoast fortifications and upgraded in the 1940s. We had a sudden view of Mt Rainier with it’s snowy peak, it stayed with us for awhile and then disappeared.

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This post is getting longer than I thought it would so I’ll finish it next time…  (More Port Townsend to come)  missing a few photos as well, maybe they will show up?  Sorry for typos, I will fix them as I notice them, but no time to edit right now.

I was mellowing on the coast of Washington, the anxiety and depression that plagued me with the near decade of losses and trials were being eviscerated by wind, rain, sun, the sea from bluffs, sand dunes and lively beaches; the antics of birds, rabbits, deer, elk, squirrels, muskrats, otters, dense rainforest, wildflowers all over with butterflies and dragonflies, grassy lakes; encounters with folks loving the dogs.  It felt good to be active the entire day, fixing things, mending a paw, taking out stickers, going shopping for food…  and yes, I do think the dogs wonder about these solo hunting excursions and what will I bring back, going places, driving, hiking, untangling leashes, sweeping away the sand and filling the water bowl. There was a cougar around, kept seeing the posting, but we never saw him. The wild berries were not ready but the trees looked vibrant: spruce, hemlock, firs, cedar, alder, yew and pines. The summer rainforest rain is a soft plink. You can walk in it and not get very wet. Ferns and grasses mix with lichens and mushrooms, herbs and mosses and other berries and plants I don’t know the names of.  There are big birds like  eagles, osprey, hawks, herons and ravens, geese and swans,  and of course little things like banana slugs, I was always taking those off the dogs and spiders, and frogs we could hear but not see.

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Taken at Beach 4, just after the road construction. Slightly drizzly no one there but me and the dogs 🙂 Just perfect. tidepools at the beach.

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Red Berries, like a Toyon, does that grow here?

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I came upon a group of young eagles perched at water’s edge, I could not understand what they were. I wasn’t thinking about eagles in June, the birds were so large I was shocked, they took off rather placatingly, making no effort; it was only later hearing others talking about the all the eagles hanging around that I got it, and there was a posting about them too. I had a few moments wishing they would ignore me and the dogs but of course being birds they like to go up into the air. It was later in the trip that I saw them. Drove around Kalaloch Lodge and Beaches by number, adored Beach 4, just after the road construction. Was slighly drizzly in the rainforest and no one there, just me and the dogs, perfect, tidepools at the beach.  Finally reached the little town of Forks which wasn’t how I pictured it’d be, from there I took the road west to La Push at the mouth of the Quileute River.  I stopped at a little coop, West Co Op on the way, wanted to buy something, but they didn’t even have bananas or apples, no carob malt balls, nothing I could use.

There’s some hotels/ resorts in La Push, a marina that did not draw me in. There was trash left on the ground at the beach stops and lots of sharp gravel which Mason hates. We walked a bit, I carried him a bit.  Jackson was super happy to be out of the RV again but I wouldn’t let him swim, I didn’t see any other dogs. Three Rivers Resort did not impress me, perhaps if I’d come to fish. It was a bit stark. I went so far as to drive around and choose a space before I left. Second Beach I thought more inviting by far than First Beach  with its lovely and scruffy folks that might or might not have been more friendly or more interested in seeing what was inside my RV.  The parking area at Second Beach was jammed packed and to me, seemed also not on the safe side, at least on that day plus it takes a good hike to the water.  I wasn’t sure if it was a dog okay beach or not, I passed it by wanting another gorgeous and less used spot that the dogs could run on; I was already spoiled.

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I backtracked and headed to other side to Rialto Beach, lovely and scenic, but still I wasn’t so sure about the dogs. we walked around on leash and then I took off.  There were a lot of tourist. Mora campground near Rialto Beach seemed really nice but for me too dark; beautiful forest but no open vistas.   I want to see a landscape or better, water, a harbor, a lake, a river; sure I love trees but it’s dark under there. I want to stretch my eyes and look faraway, I want a view, and light, the natural kind from stars and sunsets, from tress swaying and making shadows.  I thought about staying there and then imaged the night, walking around and then returning to my very dark spot in the woods and I went on. It was no problem since I was getting up so early and with the sun in the sky so long the days were endless. I figured I’d find a place in Forks, ah, well no, well ok then I pushed on and took the road to Cape Flattery. You see I had this idea that I’d camp by early afternoon and play with my dogs, maybe read a book…ha, not me. I would have made an excellent explorer but not so good at staying put. Teaching ‘stay’ is very difficult for the dogs, me too apparently.

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This the parking lot for the cars. Lots of people there, I’m parked further away in the RV lot which was nearly empty. I had to carry Mason as the RV parking is in a sharp gravely and uneven spot.

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Rialto Beach, Washington

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Neah Bay made me want to stop and plant myself right there, could take in this view for the rest of my days but of course there were no turnouts or anything like that where I could take a picture and worse I went over one of the bumpy / vibrating things in the road, I hate those things!  Both pups took to terrified shaking and panting, but you have to cross over those stupid things. All I could do was stall my RV taking up a big space in the road until a car showed up and at the same time I was trying to calm down and comfort the dogs.  Wish I could show you how beautiful it was, you’ll have to use your imagination.

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On the Cape Flattery Trail. It was raining in one spot and dry in another.

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I don’t know why these photos don’t stay full size. I’m posting them that way but they shrink??? Lagotti on a bench.

Mason was worn out by the time we arrived at the Cape Flattery trail so the pups and I did the hike while he took a nap. It was already a long day. The trail was so cool. A bunch of walking sticks crafted by a Malkah Indian artist were placed by the trailhead, you could take one and return it on your way back or if you wanted to keep it then you could donate $5. I grabbed a short one having some experience with walking canes, too long is not good. Dogs welcome on the trail … yeah! It was one of those places where you see almost no one on the road but once you arrive all kinds of people are there. All ages of people including an elderly petite lady having a bit of trouble but determined. I walked past her responding of course to her nice comments about my dogs, later I passed the rest of her family, passed them twice actually, it was on the way back they asked me to tell her to sit down and wait for them as they thought the trail would be too much for her, when I ran into her I told her what they said, but I added that I thought she should go on, it wasn’t much further and the view, OMG, the view!  She could make it, she agreed and off she went. Heck I was having pain in my both my feet, on the bottoms, my TO (Thoracic Outlet Syndrome) was acting up and my GERD which was giving stomach and shoulder and chest pain and I made it.  My dogs were not understanding the leash thing, they often don’t get that. They did tug me uphill however; others were huffing and puffing I had my 8-legged engine. I don’t worry too much about things except for my dogs. I’ve done enough worry already in this lifetime to last for several lifetimes so I can take a break from that. I needed to get back without too much delay since Mason was in the RV on his own, that and the fact that I knew there was no place nearly to camp that I liked and pulling over on the road was not a possibility.

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Cape Flattery… it was raining but absolutely radiant.

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Cape Flattery, Washington

Cape Flattery is the northernmost point in the US. Forrest would absolutely have wanted to be in this place. The views are stunning, it’s wet and cool and sunshiny and sparkling, much of the trail is on cedar boardwalk, you’ll see the  Pacific Ocean and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Not knowing where the trail led added to the excitement. I didn’t see any whales, but that was fine.

 

I’d checked out Hobuck Beach Resort and several others before taking the road to Flattery and rejected them. I wanted to be on the water. So I headed back the road I’d come up wondering where I would go?  Maybe Port Angeles?  Turns out instead I opted for the small town of Sekiu on Clallam Bay, a saltwater river, I’d passed the area earlier in the day and had wondered what was down the road. Yeah, a harbor!  I decided after first picking the lower RV park to take the one up on the hill…  Mason’s Resort! Mason Olson’s Resort.  It overlooked the harbor, the docks, the seawall, a little beach, it was cool. The office when I found it, took me like 20 min to figure out where it was, was closed. They’d been watching me tool around, funny people, when I called the number on the office door that I finally found they came right out and collected my money. Lots of daylight left for walking in the rain….  walked and walked and walked as if I hadn’t been walking all day.  I love the rain, this kind of summer rain, feels so good. Took the pups all over while Mason waited all warm and comfy in the van, then we had a late dinner. Darn blasted lights were so intensely bright at the harbor I had to put up the black out curtains, was bummed not to be able to peek out through the night and fall asleep to the moon poking from the clouds. Isn’t sleep supposed to be important?  Some places, like this place seem to insist that night is another form of daylight where shops and services are closed but there must be so much light that don’t know it’s night time. Maybe the ghosts come out if it gets dark?  You have to wait until morning before it darkens down. I was  miffed about it as when I talked to the owners I mentioned that I rejected the lower RV Park as it was directly under bright night lights and I had trouble with that; they insisted that they only had a few decorative lights in their harbor buildings to make it look sparkly and fun.  I paid for a full site, that meant, water, power and sewage; my site had no water and no sewage and no wi-fi that they said was free and available. I don’t like it when people lie while being all friendly and looking you right in the eye. They were quick to take my money and it wasn’t’ cheap. I paid in cash so they wouldn’t have to open their shop which they opened anyway to get me the wi-fi passcode (that’s right, the one that didn’t work.) The shower in the bath house the next morning was so cold I left shivering.

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Sekiu, Washington. Halibut, rockfish, blackmouth salmon, coho salmon and Chinook.

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Can you see my little one there. Most of these folks are here to fish. Next time would be better to get a spot further up on the hill, that would be nice.

I didn’t sleep much that night, falling asleep late struggling with the overly bright lights, then Jackson woke me up 3 times being sick. I gave him a stomach pill and hoped he’d be feeling better in the morning. Come morning all 4 of us walked all around again. I dug the view and the fishing boating ambience but the town was small and nothing to keep me there and nothing to eat, nothing open when I woke around 5:30 am, not being into fishing or boating, it was time to move on.