Sunday May 8th through Saturday May 14th 2022
It’s Sunday morning in Zillah Washington and we are parked miles from the Interstate highway, and yet at five o’clock this morning and I’m awoken by what sounds like a fleet of helicopters, if you remember last week I talked about trying to avoid noisy trucks and boondocker’s that are constantly running generators. Well the temperature this morning is 36°F (2°C) and we are at a Winery in farm land surrounded by tender fruit crops, so many of the local farmers run huge fans, they look like small wind turbines, but are designed to move the air around the crops to prevent frost, and the blades are shaped to move a lot of air, hence they mimic the helicopter sound, only the sound is from dozens of these fans running all at once.
Sunday May 8th, and the trek north continues, oh most of the heavy work is done, now it is just a case of enjoying the beauty of Washington State as we wait for our ferry crossing. So as you have already gathered it was cold overnight, and it is 48°F (9°C) in the coach this morning, but a beautiful sunrise this morning from our perch on the hill. And the sun should warm the coach quickly, our batteries are at 80% this morning and we could use the electric space heater, but the sun is rising and it will warm the coach faster than any heater. So what is todays plan? Well simply we are going to move from this Winery in Zillah Washington around ninety miles up the road to a brewery at Cle Elum Washington, now I know that may sound like a tough job, but we are up to the task.
7:36 and I have just enjoyed a Cinnabon and a fresh perked cup of coffee, with a little Irish blessing, while looking through the windshield of our coach, over miles of vineyards and tender fruit orchards and although we have enough internet to watch our Sunday morning shows I find myself staring out the window as the sun climbs and brings to life the raw beauty of the farm life and let’s it show through.
The fans have now been shut down, and Mister Sam is moving from his napping spot in the windshield area to a more comfortable spot in the coach, he has a dozen different spots that all are worthy of a little nap time, but because of all the birds in the cedar hedge in front of our coach they are eating up a lot of his regular nap time. Now I have mentioned how that Mister Sam does not really like travel days, but we are a week in to this trek and he has become to accept the inevitable and is now trying to work the system for some treats after each leg of the journey, oh how fast they learn to work the system.
8:32 and our Sunday morning shows are over and I’m heading out to do the regular checks as we prepare to roll down the road again. Added a quart of oil to the coach motor, then I dumped a 5 gallon jerrycan of diesel that I had carried with us from Arizona, as I’m not planning on stopping for fuel again today, I have a TA fuel stop picked out for tomorrow with our fuel discount card. I also switched out the drawbar for the toad, as I have battled to get one that is the correct height, so I want to try this other one that I had with me, then I moved the toad into position in preparation for the hookup process.
9:35 I fired Thunder, to build air pressure, then pull into the middle of the parking lot to attach the toad, we are expecting the host of the Winery to open the gate near ten o’clock, and while we just have a short day planned for today, we would like to arrive shortly after they open.
9:55 we are in motion, weaving our way back the six miles to I-82 to head further in the north west direction in search of I-90 for the final push west toward the coast. Traffic was light as we passed through the Yakima valley and climbed the ridges to make our way to tonight’s stop in Cle Elum at the Dru Bru Brewery, another Harvest Host stop.
11:22 and I see smoke in the rear view mirror, and I’m talking a lot of smoke, we are on I-90 west bound just five miles from todays final destination, but with the luck of the Irish there is a rest stop less that two miles up the road, so I limped Thunder into one of the truck parking spaces. But by this time I have no power steering so I’m pretty sure I have blown a hydraulic hose, so with a coach like this there are numerous hydraulic hoses, so now to determine which one, and it is a Sunday, so finding someone to make a new hose could be a challenge.
11:35 we have determined which hydraulic hose has failed, it is the big hose that operates the cooling fan, and I can actually see the fitting for the hose, mind you I can barely reach the fitting, and I’m sure I don’t have the correct size scanner to remove it, so a pair of water pump pliers and a pipe wrench are the weapons of choice. Miss Laurie is wanting to call roadside assistance, and I’m like no just hold my beer. All roadside assistance will do is find a repair shop that will make the repair and have us towed there, all I can hear is a couple of thousand dollar bill and at least a couple of days of down time.
11:52 and the old hose is off, and we are now trying to find an open shop that can make up a hydraulic hose, our first attempt was a failure but they directed us to the right people to get a hose made up, the NAPA store just five miles up the road, but they are only there till three o’clock.
12:41 I have taken the oil covered toad in to town, picked up five gallons of hydraulic fluid, a bag of oil dri, and a brand new custom built hydraulic hose, and I have just paid the $378.09 bill and I’m now heading back to the coach.
13:06 I have driven the extra ten miles east on I-90 to the closest interchange to turn around, and have just pulled back in behind thunder. I’m unloading jugs of fluid, the bag of oil dri, and my shinny new hose. With the new hose installed, hydraulic oil tank is filled, it is time to restart Thunder and confirm my repair.
13:36 Thunder comes to life, and all the connections look good, time to throw some oil dri on the spill, reattach the toad, and let some of the spilt oil burn off of the exhaust. And now change my clothes and clean up enough to get to the next stop, and have a warm shower.
13:58 and we are merging back onto the interstate just three miles from our exit, there is a little smoke as the oil residual burns off, so probably there will be some more smoke again tomorrow as we warm up again.
14:10 and we are settled into our spot at the brewery, and I have fired up the boiler because I need a shower big time now, this is not a spot clean up kind of a job.
14:45 and now I’m all cleaned up, after a nice warm shower, clean clothes, a bowl of soup and the whole world is starting to make sense again, I’m a wee bit lighter financially but realistically we only lost two and a half hours, and are now right back on schedule. But this is why I scheduled extra time and days for our treks, it also helps that I’m quiet handy with tools and repairs, but that really helps when you operate a twenty four year old coach.
15:25 and now I’m catching up on some of the finer points for the blog and preparing to enjoy a couple of cold beers at our Host brewery at around five o’clock.
17:08 we are walking to the Dru Bru Brewery tasting room for a well deserved beer, well maybe a flight of beers, just for tasting purposes, well maybe six, five ounce samples to be exact, there were a couple that I didn’t really enjoy but I did pick up a six pack of the hazy IPA for further testing.
18:48 and we have made it back to the coach, and Miss Laurie is making us dinner tonight, pork chops, baked potato, and corn, I’m feeling the 30 oz. of beer, but we are settling into watch some American Idol, we actually have a signal from T-Mobile tonight, the bad news is that we are expecting snow overnight here in Cle Elum Washington. Welcome to Washington in “May-vember“, as the locals are calling it. There apparently was a large backup today on I-90 through the last pass that we need to transcend tomorrow. We are only 200 miles to the ferry dock, we are at 1800 feet tonight and have to climb to 2900 feet before our decent to almost sea level, we will see what tomorrow brings.
Day 8 summary: Well what can I say about today, we only travelled 87 miles today, but it was a fun filled day. With the failure of the hydraulic hose, and dumping oil all over the toad, and also coating the back of the coach, me destroying a set of clothes making the repair, it has been a day! The solar panels grabbed 271 amp/hours of power, I tried to run the generator but because our fuel tank is down to the 1/2 tank level, the generator stalled out, however the boiler did fire up and warmed water for my clean-up shower, and after our tasting we decided that Miss Laurie would make dinner. Some streaming television American Idol, and a couple of YouTube videos before heading to bed with the matrass warmer on.
Monday May 9th, and we woke to a cold coach this morning, the weather here even has the locals whining, with abnormally cold winds and lots of snow at this elevation in May. As usual I have been checking todays route and was reviewing tonight Harvest Host location, and I think we are going to skip this one, and move directly to the casino in Sequim Washington, which will leave us just 20 miles from the ferry dock in Port Angeles. I will get fuel about fifty miles further up I-90, and the total drive today should only be a little more than three hours. The weather through the pass looks fine, there is a stretch of construction work just before the pass but everything else look good. There could be some rain in todays drive but by the look of the weather forecast we need to become one with the rain.
9:12 and we are ready to get back on the interstate, there is a weather front that we are going to run into as we head for the last stretch of out trek north. Traffic was light but as we climbed the to the pass we hit some rain that turned to snow flakes at the elevation, but turned to rain as we started our decent. There was a little light smoke from the coach as expected, but only lasted for a few miles.
10:14 all of a sudden I have a check engine lamp on the dash, I had been so busy with operating the wipers, Jacque brake, and trying to find a smooth piece of road I had not noticed the temperature sneak up, but the engine control system caught it and shut itself down. So we pull onto the shoulder and took look for a leak, I didn’t find any thing, possible we lost some antifreeze when we lost the cooling fan yesterday, I just don’t know for sure. We topped up the reservoir and restarted the diesel and proceeded down the road to the truck stop where I had already planned to refuel.
11:46 and we have pulled up to the fuel pump, the operating temperature seem fine right now, so we will fuel up and continue down the road. Well as the price of fuel continues to rise todays cost was over $400 dollars to fill the coach, I also picked up some antifreeze for the coach, before jumping back on I-90 and heading west. Now it was in the next hour that I realized a major error on my behalf, I had made the last minute change to todays route this morning, and when I removed the last Harvest Host from my planed route I did not pull out my iPad and recheck the route. My bad! I do remember thinking the new route shaved a number of miles off of the route but never did the work needed to see why.
12:55 and now I find us at a ferry port in Edmonds, the GPS had routed us to ferry crossing that would take us to Kingston Washington, not what I had expected, so here is a 40′ diesel coach towing a truck trying to find a route back out of this predicament, now all that mileage I thought I was saving just got added back onto our route, no one to blame but myself, I had checked and double checked every other part of this trek but I messed up today.
15:12 and we have finally made it to our revised destination for tonight, this is a casino only twenty some miles from the ferry dock in Port Angeles. The reviews of this location were almost too good to be true, but they were. we have booked into this casino for three night, at no charge, it comes with water and electrical hook-ups also at no charge. The parking lot is designed with double wide spots, each about 40 feet long, while not the most level spot, with the coach jacks we have gotten close to level. We are getting a reasonable T-Mobile signal so maybe some good internet for three days.
The rest of the day was spent just kicked back as at this point we kind of feel we that we are nearing the end of an amazing winter journey. The snow through the Snoqualmie pass was an un-needed touch but maybe a reminder that even more than a week into May, the weather patterns are changing from our history of time. We caught up on on the news last night, I finally got the streaming TV program to allow local stations, and then we caught up on most of the YouTube videos, before turning in for a warm evening
Day 9 Summary: 236 miles today, I can’t imagine what it would have been without my little excursion through Seattle, and again no one to blame but myself. The solar panels dragged in 298 amp/hours and we are now less than 100 feet above seal level, but we experienced some of the toughest grades we have faced all the trip here in the last twenty miles of todays trek. But a free 50 amp power supply is like a big bonus.
Tuesday May 10th, I’m up early but we have got no place to go today, well at least not in the coach, after the last couple of days I’m ready for a day or two with no mechanical excitement, we may go shopping today to prepare for our border crossing on Thursday. We have to complete our “Arriv-Can” so we can re-enter Canada, I just received a reminder from the Ferry company about our reservation, and to make sure we fill out all the necessary documentation to cross the border.
So I like to think that I have a reasonably good understanding of how most things work. Now I also understand that there are some things that I may never understand, remember I grew up in an era before the invention of computers, let alone smartphones. So because I had my Microsoft workbook out working on the blog and after yesterdays screw up I thought I will open “Google Maps” and review Thursdays trek from Seven Cedars Casino in Blyn to the ferry dock in Port Angeles WA and from the dock in Victoria to our summer home at Country Maples RV Resort in Chemainus B.C.. So it just happened that I also had Microsoft Edge open so I opened Google Maps and it opened the map to Stoney Creek Ontario, I have not used Stoney Creek for any searches or destinations for years, so I decided to use search to find out “where am I” and it brought up that I was at Boyce Thompson Arboretum in Superior Arizona. Next I opened Chrome and opened google maps, it opened to my location here at Seven Cedars Casino at Blyn Washington, so I have to wonder why? The same computer, two different programs Microsoft Edge & Chrome and of course Microsoft Edge uses Bing as a search engine and Chrome uses Google, and right now I’m also using a VPN in Seattle.
So now I have switched to my iPad, so using apples Safari using Google search engine I typed in “where am I” and it brought up Seven Cedars Casino in Blyn, so I switched to Bing as the search engine and typed in “where am I” and it brought up Seattle, my present VPN. So I tried opening Chrome and with Google it came up Seven Cedars in Blyn and using the search engine Bing it brought up Eugene Oregon, so I tried the search engine Yahoo and I still don’t know where I am, then I found a search engine called Duckduckgo and after I opened a suggested site I found myself complete with GPS coordinates. So my question to all of you that are so much more knowledgeable of these thing than myself WHY?
So after confirming that I’m exactly where I thought I was, I decided to take the toad to into Sequim to wash some of the hydraulic fluid off of it, there were two car washes in town and a few dollars later it looked a little better, not good yet but at least better. After my return from town I also resealed the new refrigerator vent cover, we seem to be getting some rain in at the back of the fridge. That was the extent of my activities today, Miss Laurie went for a walk and assisted the grounds crew with a little weeding.
I did get out for a walk this afternoon, the property around the Casino is quite well manicured (other than the occasional weed), and it has a loop road to relieve the heavy truck traffic from the main entrance of the casino. It is the actual exit from the RV parking area, so I decided to walk the loop road, there was a wide paved walkway with some benches to sit and listen to the birds, it walks you to the gas bar, the fire hall, the marijuana dispensary, and to the US-101. I snapped a few photos as i wandered around, and added a few new birds to my list, and had a great walk, some of today pictures are below.
We went to the Casino for dinner tonight, nothing fancy, I had fish and chips, and Laurie had loaded fries, there hasn’t been a lot of fried food on our menu, as we actually don’t eat out a lot, and normally not a lot of fried items. Miss Laurie also made a small donation in the casino itself, the least we could do for free 50 amp power connection, as we walked back to the coach there was a faint rainbow, over the forested hills surrounding our temporary home for a few days.
Day 10 summary: obviously not a lot to put in today’s summary, 0 miles covered, 55 amp/hours of solar capture, even while plugged in.
Wednesday May 11th, and it will be another down day for the Buchanan’s today, Miss Laurie has a Walmart trip planned, but other than that we are about ready to cross back into Canada tomorrow.
So after breakfast we made a trip to the Walmart, to pick up a number of items that we know will be more expensive back in Canada, and we also don’t know when our first shopping day will be, as we don’t have our work schedule yet. After our return I wanted to take another walk across the highway and I found a walking/biking trail that runs from Blyn to Port Angeles along the water front, a wide paved trail that the little piece that I walked was beautiful, here are a few of the photos
After my walk we settled in to watch some television, as we enjoyed another quiet day before all the big happening of tomorrow.
Day 11 Summary: another day with 0 miles, these two days are what I had allowed for life to happen, a breakdown, or a day of illness, these thing can happen, and I can’t always fix everything in a just couple of hours. Again we harvested 54 amp/hours of solar, and before I’m asked, yes we still bring in solar, even when we are plugged in, a lot of things in the coach run directly from our 12 volt battery bank, like most of the lighting, most of our recharging of phones and tablets are done directly from our batteries, and if the solar can carry that load it saves the inverter from having to recharge the battery bank.
Thursday May 12th, well today is a big day, back on the road, a ferry ride, return to Canada, Immigration and Customs, a whole new province, a lot of exciting things happening today. A cheese omelet with a couple cups of coffee and we are ready for a big day.
10:30 we have just fired up Thunder, as it warms up we attach the toad to the coach and prepare for the 21 mile (30 kilometer) journey to the ferry dock at Port Angeles on the north shore of Washington State.
10:45 and we are making our way around the loop toward US-101, a left turn and we are on our way, there are a few small villages along the way, but traffic is light and a lot of the highway is four lanes.
11.15 we pull into the ferry dock, where we are measured and instructed on where to park, this is a small ferry and we are their biggest vehicle on this crossing, so the loading will be planned around our coach. We pay for our passage and sit back and wait till we load.
13:30 and the crew starts to load the first vehicles, and after a couple of dozen cars we were loaded onto the left and right side of the ferry. We are loading through the back of the ferry but will disembark from the front right side of the ship, so they have to allow enough turning radius to allow us to exit in one turn. We are not allowed to stay in the coach so head to an upper deck for the passage to Victoria.
14:00 and we have set sail from Port Angeles, on route to Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this ferry crossing let us keep our toad attached, which is nice when going through Customs & Immigration. The crossing takes around 90 minuets, and we found seats in the front lounge, there is also a snack area, along with a duty free, and a couple of other lounge areas.
15:25 we are back in the coach, as the ferry is on its final approach to the dock, again there around a couple of dozen vehicles unloaded before we are directed off of the ferry, just to line up at the Customs & Immigration, there were only three lanes open so it was not fast. Our paper work was all intact so a painless process, we were allowed $1600 dollars of purchases, and we were well under the limit, our alcohol volume is always a problem, because we always have a number of open bottles and usually a few beers. Just like most people if you have any kind of a bar, you have a number of different liquor bottles open at once.
16:05 and we are on the road in downtown Victoria, Victoria is the capital of the province and is a busy area and we are here right in the middle of rush hour. We are on the TransCanada highway, but that doesn’t mean much as large sections are still just two lane highway, so the trek north onto the island was a slow one, but that just allowed more time to take in the beauty.
17:44 and we have made our final destination “Country Maples RV Resort” at Chemainus on the Island, we will be spending our summer here as “Work Camper” we will get more into this in future blogs. Today is about the end of the trek north, and getting settled in for the evening, we are now connected to power, water, and sewer. Our lot is huge in length, and I will get the site set up tomorrow, I have blocked the left side of the coach, and think we are level and stable as we settle in for tonight.
Dinner tonight was some warmed up burgers, we will get the barbeque set up tomorrow, and I’m sure will be put to use, we have the television connected to the parks internet but will have to work further through our access tomorrow, as we are working on of our cell data right now. Some television before turning in for the night, after a hectic, busy day,
Day 12 Summary: 74 road miles (119 kilometers) today, and around 25 nautical miles (40 kilometers), with 72 amp/hours of solar capture, a US$352 ferry trip, clearing Canadian Immigration & Customs with no issues, settling into a new site, in a new park, on an island in a new Province. That pretty much wraps up today in a few words.
Summary of the trek north: 12 days, 2068 kilometer (1285 miles) on the road, 40 kilometers (25 miles) aboard a ferry, 814 liters (215 gallons) of diesel fuel, $1460 Canadian in fuel costs, $567 Canadian in tolls/ferry, $587 Canadian in repairs, and 7.6 MPG or 30.9 liters/100km or 9.1 MPG Imperial, according to the onboard computer. We passed through 3 new previously untraveled states Idaho, Oregon, & Washington, as well as adding one province British Columbia. It may not be cheap rolling down the road but it can be an amazing journey if you take the time to enjoy it!
Friday May 13th, well our summer life starts today, and at five o’clock this morning it was a chilly 3C (37F), the whole west side of the continent is in a cool spell, while the east side is having a heatwave, in between storms and tornados. So I spent most of the morning before breakfast catching up on the blog, as we settle into the location, learning the location of the park amenities, as we see some sunshine peaking through, between rain showers, Miss Laurie made toasted westerns for breakfast along with the traditional blessed cup of coffee.
After breakfast I headed out to work on getting the site put together, the rugs are down, chairs out, the barbeque is out, sunshade on the front windows for privacy, tire covers on, bicycles unloaded, bike rack mounted on back of coach, kayaks unloaded, birdfeeder up, humming bird feeder hung, I even pulled out the solar case to see if I can grab a little extra sunshine, when it happens.
We try to live with all the benefits of 50 amp coach but working on a 30 amp plug, so we support our power demands with out battery bank, making use of solar during the day and a little recharge from the inverter over night. Remember a 50 amp coach actually is designed for 100 amps, 50 amps on each leg so with a 30 amp connection we only have 15 amps on each leg. So in simple terms we are operating at 70 amps less than designed, not just 20 amps like it looks at first glance.
We walked up to the office to pick up our uniforms for our first shifts tomorrow, this campground really has to be experienced to understand the elevation changes in the park itself, all you LHR people may understand, the main camp ground is more than the hill from the office. When I started down the hill with Thunder on Thursday afternoon, It was way more hill than I was expecting, and we are located on a river which is that much elevation down the hill again to the water. You just can’t see it when looking at a satellite view, then add the huge red cedar trees, all I know is it will be difficult to show this park with photos.
After lunch I had a well deserved nap, as many of my work days are late afternoon into the evening, so naps may become an important part of my day to day life. The camp store opened this afternoon, which included the opening of the mini-golf which is right outside our coach windows, so as the golf started the nap ended. And it was just an evening of television with home made pizza. We seem to be connected with reasonably good internet, through the park on the Tellus network, and our phones are on Rogers 5G so it should be an inexpensive summer internet wise.
Saturday May 14th, and I’m awake early again, it is quiet and dark here at the park, so the only reason for the early rise is habit. Here at Country Maple RV Resort, this is a transient park, it is also a membership park, but with the continuous rain that the west coast has been experiencing, I would say it is only at a 50% occupied right now.
We will get more of an idea of the operations today as Miss Laurie’s first shift starts at 10:30 in the campground store, and my first shift starts this afternoon. Breakfast was cereal this morning, under steady rain, it is to stop raining and some sunshine hopefully later. I still have to finish the site set up, and most likely a nap this afternoon for my night on security, we just need a couple of days without rain to explore more of the park.
So it is now Saturday afternoon, and I’m going to close out this blog before my shift, I had a chance to meet a few of the staff members today as I wandered around the park, man it is wet here, everything is soaked and when I look at the forecast and there are six days with rain out of the next nine. There are a lot of tent camping sites here but this not tent camping weather.
I haven’t ventured down to the the river yet, but I have been told that the trek is not for the faint of heart, I can hear the river and have seen glimpses from the back of some of the tent sites.
My first shift is this afternoon and I’m being instructed by the most senior and head of the maintenance department. Apparently he had his schedule altered to work with me on my first night, I bet he was pretty thrilled with that, oh well it sucks to be him tonight.
We received uniforms yesterday, a couple golf shirts, a sweatshirt, a hat and a two-way radio, as you can see there are a couple of different logo, so there must be a story there … so stay tuned as I head out for my afternoon shift.
For the love of everything good STOP RAINING!