In our journey around the country we get to see some amazing areas, meet new people, experience local cultures and get to see friends and family! And, when we want, we can change our route and go a completely different direction than planned. To us, this is completely normal and taking advantage of this nomadic lifestyle.
Our update begins with the news that Laura got a new job with a software company called Tipalti. In her new role she is working in San Francisco until the middle of October. We had planned to leave Idaho, then go to Montana to see our dear friends Pat and Colin and Tonya’s childhood friend Tracy and then head east to see Laura and Chad in Cleveland. Well, with Laura’s change, she won’t be in Cleveland! So, we did what full-timers do and changed our plans to go to California. Yep, still went east from Idaho to see our Montana friends and then back west to spend time in the San Francisco area.
In Montana we were very fortunate to see Glacier National Park just days before a large fire broke out. It was hazy from fires already burning in the area, but we were still able to tour the entire park. Our visit with Pat and Colin was amazing and we can’t wait to see them again in Lake Havasu City, AZ. Tonya was able to connect with Tracy and it was awesome to pick up where they left off with laughing and reminiscing!
We did have a low point in Montana. Our 13-year-old dog Ringo began to lose the use of his hind legs and deteriorated significantly within 48 hours. Thankfully, Pat and Colin referred us to a vet and we were able to get in quickly. The vet said it appeared to be something neurological so we made the decision to euthanize him. Those of you that knew Ringo know that he has always been anxious and nervous, we are therefore hoping he finally has some peace.
Losing Ringo now means Maverick is our “only pup” and just like Laura being our “only child” I know he feels the love and sometimes just wants to have some alone time! He now goes everywhere with us and is enjoying being out and about going shopping, dinners, lunches, field trips, sightseeing and being the source of our entertainment!
Our trip back west started with a stopover in Seattle and we had a blast! We were only there 2 days, but we were still able to visit the downtown market area and go on a whale watching excursion. The market was just as we had imagined and the smells, people, food, culture and views were amazing! The whale watching was once in a lifetime experience. We booked with a company that leaves the dock without a specific plan. They have spotters around the area and use these resources to chart the course for the day. In our case, we were able to see Orcas on a hunt and kill! It was such an educational experience to learn about resident and transient Orcas and see them living in the wild. The boat was amazing, the on-board naturalist was so informative and the Orcas were so close we could see activity that we had only dreamt of seeing!
After Seattle we worked our way to Long Beach, Washington. This sleepy little town is the “longest beach in the world” and our campground was on the ocean. We had a dune separating us from the water which allowed us to still hear and smell the ocean and not have to deal with sand constantly . The location was at the furthest tip of Washington which meant we could enjoy both Washington and Oregon. We were complete tourist in Long Beach! To our surprise, it was the Kite Festival in Washington and the festival was at Long Beach! We saw kites and tricks that we never even knew existed. And no, we didn’t buy a kite and start yet another hobby!
We used Long Beach as our home base and traveled to the local sites. One trip was a trip 30 minutes south to Astoria Oregon to the Columbia Maritime Museum. The museum is one of the best we’ve seen and the town of Astoria was amazing. It’s where the Goonies and Free Willy were filmed. It’s also where the Columbia River meets the Pacific. The meeting of these two huge bodies of water brings tales of shipwrecks, battles, discoveries of new worlds and amazing food from both fresh water and saltwater. The area is so rich in history and the scenery is some of the most beautiful we’ve seen.
We did a lot of sightseeing in this area! Just south of Astoria we enjoyed Hug Point (our favorite beach area), Seaside, Ecola State Park, and all of the points in between. The Peter Iredale shipwreck and the tidal pools were great to see and we’ve learned to plan around tide charts when visiting the coast! We are still in awe of the trees and greenery so close to the ocean! The trees are massive and the rock formations on the beach and the cliffside are truly breathtaking. Maverick loved the beach areas where he could play and run but not have to get wet in the surf. And, we loved the calmness and serenity of walking on the beaches. The weather for both Seattle and Oregon was decent. It didn’t rain, the temperature was pleasant but we did have to deal with some of the haze from the wildfires in the northwest. BUT, we are not complaining! Our inconvenience of dealing with a bit of haze is nothing compared to what people were experiencing personally with the loss and devastation from the fires.
A cultural experience occurred in Long Beach when Tonya stopped at a seafood market. In conversation, she asked why no restaurant serves hush puppies with the meals. The lady behind the counter said, “I’ve never heard of those”. WHAT?! Tonya proceeded to explain they are a staple on the east coast with any seafood dish. The analogy she used is they are a side to seafood just like chips and salsa are to mexican food! The lady had no idea, but proceeded to show Tonya a packet of seasoning that a lot of “east coast people” purchase and asked is this is? Nope, not even close! So, being a good southern ambassador, Tonya went to the grocery store, bought the ingredients for hush puppies and made a batch. Took them to the seafood market and shared with everyone. They were very impressed and we’ve decided our next job could be a hush puppy food truck in the Northwest! Tonya didn’t mention this was the first time she’d made them! She always had Trixie and Aunt Shelby to make them (and Flip of course). Then, Roger and Tonya begin discussing hush puppies and are they are southeast thing or an east thing. A quick call to Robin (Tonya’s friend in Boston) revealed they are clearly a southeast thing! Robin has had them ONCE and said they were terrible! What?! Needless to say, this was a memorable experience that we’ll talk about for a while. How could something that Tonya grew up thinking was a staple be something so foreign at an ocean location?!
After our time in southern Washington and Northern Oregon we ventured slightly south to Tillamook, Oregon. We were only there a short time, but did go tour the Tillamook factory where they make cheese, yogurt and other dairy products. It was a great tour and we learned more about cows than we ever could have imagined! Next off to Windy Cove in Reedsport, OR for a quick stopover. We want to go back to this area when we can spend more time and see the sand dunes. We were not able to see them, but heard the many off-road vehicles coming and going and there were many people in our campground enjoying the off-road adventures! After our quick stop in Reedsport we headed to Northern California to Crescent City to stay in the redwoods! We found a campground that was quite unique for us in that we could park in the trees and really feel like we were “camping” . The size of our rig doesn’t normally allow us to stay in heavily wooded parks, but this one was perfect! The trees around us were 1000’s of years old and the smell of cedar and pine with the quiet of the forest was amazing.
Next up, we worked our way south to the San Francisco area. Given the distance, we made a quick stop in Redding, CA for one night. The trip into Redding was filled with emotions of sadness and shock. Our route took us through the area of the Carr Fire. It’s one thing to see the news reports, but it’s entirely different to see the devastation first hand. The Carr Fire burned 229,651 acres and was so close to the town of Redding that at one point part of the town was evacuated. We all know that the fire occurs, but what we didn’t know is that the clean-up and aftermath is very challenging. We traveled through an area that had major delays and one-lane traffic to allow the crews to clean up the burned wood and brush and spray with hydroseed to try and avoid landslides later. The number of people and trucks working to clean up was in the 100’s. Heavy equipment gathering wood and loading it onto trucks, while others were raking, moving burned debris and spraying the hydroseed. Because the traffic was one lane and slow it was almost like a funeral of sorts. The somberness and feeling of loss was a bit overwhelming.
Then, entering the town of Redding and seeing the signs of support for first responders was equally as emotional. We were so glad to see the outpouring of support for ALL first responders including EMT’s, doctors and nurses who treated the injured. By the time we arrived at our campground in Redding we were quite somber. Our campground was untouched by the fires and was beautiful, but it was hard to “celebrate” given what we’d seen on our drive.
Remember, this detour to head west was for us to visit Laura! So, next up….. We traveled through the San Francisco bay area to just south of San Jose to stay in Morgan Hill. This was the closest we could get to Laura working in San Mateo and it was still a 1 hour drive (without bad traffic)! We arrived safely and settled in and then had the next 10 days to visit with Laura. She of course had to work during the day, but we made sure to see her every night (she mostly drove to us) and then we spent the Labor Day Weekend with her. We enjoyed wedding planning (in person for a change), shopping for the wedding, some sightseeing and many laughs. One of the best laughs and memories we’ll have is Laura retrieving the ball from the surf when Maverick would not go in again to get it! In her jeans and t-shirt… soaked from head to toe… she says, “Ok, I’m wet and now getting sunburned, so I’m ready to leave whenever you all are”…. After we were done laughing and enjoying the moment we packed up! The time spent with her in California was amazing and we’ll be talking about it for a long time!
After our visit, we began the trip south and east. We are ultimately going to Eureka Springs, AR, Nashville, Birmingham and then Gulf Shores Alabama for the month of November. To get there though we are stopping along the way in various locations in Arizona (had to get our annual motorhome maintenance completed), New Mexico, OK and TX.
We continue to enjoy the lifestyle, each other, and the seeing the country making memories. We’ll let you know when we are in your area and hopefully we can connect for a hug!