Saturday, August 29, 2015

2015-24 Port Townsend to La Conner Washington


Port Townsend Washington (Continued)
Whidbey Island
La Conner

road entrance to ferry to Whidbey Island
It’s interesting spending time at a seaside village on the Olympia Peninsula.  I’ve gone for walks along the beach with it’s driftwood piled up here and there.  Folks making shelters from the large logs and forming Zen type sculptures by piling smooth rounded stone one on top of the other.  Unlike my years in Florida, everyone here including me are fully clothed with extra layers of long sleeved shirts or light jackets for comfort against the cool breezes coming off the ocean.  Pleasant for a walk along the coarse sandy beach.

Many of the older homes are built in the Victorian vernacular along with smaller salt box style cottages.  Deer live right in town.  I often see three deer along the road leading to the Fairgrounds.  Today as I went into town on an early mission, I saw five deer crossing the main street.  It looked like they’d just come off the ferry for a bit of romping through the downtown area.  A local worker told me they come by every morning for a walk along the water front, through town and then back up the hill where all the houses are.  Quite a site to see all traffic stop as they meander across the road, stopping occasionally to look at the cars.

bluff over Port Townsend

Port Townsend's waterfront 

what fashionable birds wear this season

Port Townsend, Uptown area

Port Townsend's downtown waterfront

Port Townsend

I took another ferry ride, this time taking my truck over to Whidbey Island and then across Deception Pass and on over to the waterfront village of La Conner.  If you remember my mentioning the author Tom Robbins a few blog stories ago, this is the town he has lived in for many years.  Kind of nice to have the time once retired to do a little excursion like this just to see a place one has read about or that is associated with someone like the author, Tom Robbins.  Now I didn’t see him, though he does go into town quite often, only living a few block above town on the higher bluff overlooking this pretty little village.  Not sure which house is his as I drove around the neighborhood, but could image a few of the homes he could live in.

Just one of those day trips with only a basic destination in mind.....

Bridge over Deception Pass, a very treacherous pass for boats 
back on the mainland, past farms before arriving in La Conner

La Conner, waterfront, nice boardwalk along water

La Conner Washington

Tom Robbins lives in one of the homes above the town

great paint job

boat docks available for stopping into town for a bit

can they grow flowers up here?

nice boardwalk

sea side rentals

La Conner

La Conner

Whidbey Island

Truck tire issues.  My truck tires which are less than two years old are beginning to wear more than normal and at least one is out of being true.  Meaning there are dips and rises in the tire where it has not worn evenly.  Because I have a 50,000 mile warranty and they are less than 50% through that mileage, I will be heading to a town down the road in the next couple of days to see about getting them replaced.  At least they are under warranty and I should be able to get compensation on set of replacement tires.

Tire follow-up.  Found a Big O tire company about an hour away so I drove over there to find out about the tires.  They confirmed the wear on the tires was down to almost time to change the tires and had never seen such wear on this brand of tires.  Hmmmm.  They gave me credit for over 50% of the tires and I ended up paying $320 for a set of new tires.  Asked if keeping them inflated to 80 lbs had any effect on the tires wearing out more quickly and was told, no it should not have any effect.

Bottom line I have new tires at least for another two years of wear.

I had a most awesome visit with Christine’s parents the other day.  They are in their mid 80’s and are having a number of issues with health.  Christine’s mom, Bell is a real charmer and her Dad is a force unto himself.  What a team.  Through it all they have been able to sign over their home for a lump sum with the ability to live in the house as long as they want too.  Having extra money in their elder years will make some decisions easier to make and hopefully less stress.  What a charming couple.  So glad I had a chance to meet them again.

Well I’m getting a chance to experience the rainy side of Washington State as it’s become overcast and is expected to rain here for the next week or more.  Have already experienced a few days of it before I continue my trek on down the road and hopefully back into the sunshine.  Maybe it will help all the forest fires out this way.

That’s about it for this weeks mini-adventures.

More photos on PICASA

Saturday, August 22, 2015

2015-23 Port Townsend Washington and Victoria British Columbia Canada

Black Ball COHO Ferry

Port Townsend Washington
Port Angeles Washington
Victoria British Columbia Canada

Whidbey Island Washington (next week)
La Conner Washington (next week)

Campground:  Jefferson County Fair Campground, Port Townsend:  $20.00 Elect (110 amp only) and Water, full hookups are $25.  Note water pressure is very high.  Not on the water, but obviously cheaper and within a mile of downtown.  Big open grassy sites.  They tell me they are working on getting 30/50 amp but have no money to do it at present…. 3 sites have it already, but of course are currently filled.

Distance Traveled:  79 miles

Ok, so it looks mileage wise that the trip would take a bit over one hour to drive…. Not so.  The road is a two lane country road, well paved but it has many turns and twists, much of it following Hood Bay with sections hanging precariously on the edge of the heavily wooded hill sides.  One section was being repaired from having fallen down the embankment.  A few very narrow bridges as well made for slow going.  A beautiful ride but needing to take ones time.  I especially slowed down when the road signed indicated speeds of only 35 mph.  Traffic was light as well making the two hour journey pleasant.

My friends Sandy and Erik met me at the campground where I discovered the electric sites have only 110 outlets (20 amp) service not the normal 30 and 50 amp I’m used to seeing at Rv parks.  All the big rigs including my 5th wheel are connected using our smallest plugs.  Needless to say I’ll be very conservative as to what appliances I use in the camper.  Then it was into town for lunch and a bit of walking around the downtown area.

wonderful old buildings, Port Townsend

side streets to explore

even a street underground

hills overlooking main street

Yelp.  Not help but Yelp.  One of the apps on my smart phone that I use is Yelp the restaurant app that tells one what is in the area and has reviews by real customers.  Today I found The Blue Moose down by the docks.  A truly local place.  Being that I was hungry and it was still morning, I ordered Green eggs and Ham.  Now at first glance you might say “a child’s dish” but I can tell you, the omelet made with fresh spinach, mushrooms, ham, two eggs and two difference cheeses was perfection.   The waitresses have blue hair and not of the older generation blue of blue haired ladies, tattoos covering most visible parts of their plump bodies and great personalities to go along with it all.  They serve you your first cup of coffee but you may go to the coffee counter and pour your own after that.  Cash only.

Blue Moose Cafe, blue hair and green eggs and ham
(the guy should have a smile :/ )

Victoria British Columbia by ferry.

I remembered to call my credit union to let them know I would be using my credit card and debit card in Canada.  Necessary if you intend to use it for purchases.  They reminded me that there is now a 2% charge for foreign exchange transactions.  Reasonable considering that the dollar is currently worth more than the Canadian dollar.

I’m meeting up with Sandy and Erik for the day trip.  Up bright and early for the drive over to Port Angeles and our Ferry ride over to Vancouver Island and the city of Victoria.  It’s about an hour and a half ride over so we had plenty of time for a morning bite to eat and coffee.

We purchased our bus tour tickets as well as ones for the Craig Darroch Castle thinking we that would save time.  Don’t kid yourself.  Once at the bus location as well as the castle we still had to wait in line behind all the folks purchasing tickets before we could receive the boarding pass to enter the bus and get into the castle.  What a waste of time.  Not much of a tip but I can tell you it pretty much doesn’t matter where you site on the bus, up on top or down below.  On top the railings are perfectly positioned to hinder all picture taking.  Below is probably best if you get a clean window through which to get photos… better be quick as the bus does not slow down for you to take that perfect shot.  Also, though the canned tour presentation was clear if you weren’t sitting too closely to the engine, it was so generically presented it wasn’t much fun or all that interesting.

first views of the city

The Craig Darroch Castle was large, beautifully paneled with a grand 4 story staircase with stained glass alcoves on each floor.  Rooms were well appointed in period furniture.  Because we had gotten our tickets onboard the ferry, when we entered the castle we were shuffled through and not even given a chance to purchase the audio presentation headphones.  Needless to say, we did not get the “full picture” as we walked from room to room.

our double decker bus
and the views are less than spectacular from on top the bus

Back on the bus, we did get “the rest of the story”.  Seems The owner of the house died suddenly just before it was completed.  His wife received the business’s and house in the will leaving out the two grown sons who had worked for their father helping to build the business’s.  Needless to say, they sued the mother who reluctantly gave them a portion of the money in the end.  Mrs Darroch lived in the house with her two daughters for about 18 years.  The house and surrounding land divided and was eventually sold.  No one wanting the house, it was given to the lucky winner of one of the purchasers of the land like a big lottery.

condos with walls of glass

stunning private homes

The Castle tour

 Craig Darroch Castle 

a four story central staircase
and tons of wood paneling

the formal dining room

one of the grand staircase alcoves

the informal breakfast/lunch dining room

More riding on the bus, a stop for a great lunch albeit very poor service, we hopped off the bus and did a bit of walking around through the fisherman’s wharf and house boat row.  Love those house boats.  Had a bit of a wait before heading back to Port Angeles so Sandy and Erik suggested a tour of the Empress hotel.  They brought me to the first entrance to the hotel… opps not the entrance they remembered.  Went to a second lobby entrance.  Gee sure doesn’t look like the one we remembered.  Finally and practically surrounding the building like a band of Indians, we arrived at the far end of the building and low and behold, there was the somewhat remembered grand entrance with all the shops and a side entrance into the grand tea room where you can have high tea daily for about $62 per person.  Oh the stories Sandy and Erik told of how the entrance had been moved and shifted from it’s original place…. I of course believed every word they said… (not)

the Penny Farthing, great food terrible service
probably because it was so busy

do love those sea planes
water taxis, what fun

a houseboat for every style

Getting back to the wharf and the house boats, I have to tell you Victoria has one of the prettiest harbors of any sea side town.  And being British Columbia’s capital as well, the city is stunning with all of it’s high rise many layered apartments and condo’s lined with walls of glass to take in as much sun and light as possible on the edge of an often chilly and breezy Pacific coastline.  The colorful houseboats, seaplanes and water taxis bobbing across the bay add a happy countenance to the area.

and this one is for sale

Speaking of the water taxis, we decided to take one back to our starting point, thinking it would just be a quick way back.  Surprisingly, we were entertained by the boat captain with all the behind the scenes stories about Victoria.  Stories of the haunted peninsula where native Indians were buried and eventually dug up and burned in a pile as a developer built his business and house on the land.  The business burned down exactly one year later and his wife went mad and was sent to an insane asylum.  About the statue on top of the capital building covered in gold.  It was lowered a number of years back for repairs.  One leg of Capt George Vancouver was found missing the next day.  Instead of sculpting a new one, they made a mold of his remaining left leg and attached it.  Making the statue of Capt Vancouver the only statue with two left feet.  So many more stories were told on that relatively short trip across the bay.  What a fun and unexpected experience.

with two left legs.....

A fun day with much more to see than can be explored in just a day trip to this popular Canadian island off the United States coast.  Riding back on the ferry as the sun set behind a distant bank of dark clouds on the horizon.  The water becoming choppy and waves began to grow larger, splashing against the hull of the ship as it rocked side to side.  A sudden loud crashing sound, later believed to be the ship taking a sudden plunge as it slapped against the bottom trough of a wave, but sounding more like we had hit a large floating tree trunk.  Eventually the waves became less of a nuisance as we reached the calmer waters on the American side of the Straits of Juan De Fuca.  Landing around 10 pm.

wonderful street performers

wow, a palm tree in Victoria BC
Vancouver Island is considered a Sub Mediterranean Climate 

a live street statue

The Empress Hotel, but which one is the real entrance????
this shot only shows about 1/3 of the hotel

really, really good sax players

Well I’m back in Port Townsend and had planned on going into town just to wander around on the weekend but after having lunch and seeing the droves of vehicles streaming in and out of the downtown area, I’ve headed back to the fairgrounds to finish up this story.

I haven’t covered half of what has gone on this week, but this will have to do for now.  Next week I’ll take my second ferry ride to Whidbey Island and hopefully many more stories to share.

Another day on the road, traveling the back roads and waters….

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