Thursday, February 5, 2015

Washington State

Those of you who follow us in real life and/or on Facebook know that we are currently in New Mexico.  We are a few months behind in writing the blog but hope you are still enjoying our adventure as much as we are.

Here's our post regarding our visit to Ruth and Jim in September.  Enjoy!

Arriving back to the lower 48 was an emotional edifice - we were glad to be heading to see friends and family but the bustle of real life seemed to encroach on whom we'd become in Alaska.  Ferndale, a quaint town just a few miles from the border, is where our friends Ruth and Jim live.  They've been on virtually our entire journey as our consultants in our RV acquisition, mechanical advisers in our Jeep and tow kit purchase, and our "at the ready" technical help via telephone wherever we've been. Ruth and Kathy had gone through most of high school together and are best friends, soul mates and partners in crime.  

Although we came for the company, the Jeep was in need of a new front axle seal and the RV was in need of some maintenance and TLC.  Highly qualified to help, Jim and Ruth had owned a RV business for over twenty years in California before moving to the Austin area a few years ago.  Eventually they moved north of Austin to establish a farm and we moved east to Houston.  With the extensive Texas drought affecting their farm, Ruth conducted extensive research on the best locations for organic farming, water futures and political compatibility.  They moved to their current location near Bellingham, Washington.   

We parked in their driveway and got chauffeured around town by Ruth as Jim provided oversight of the RV and Jeep parts and service.  The list, compliments of our 4,000+ mile trip through the rugged Yukon and Alaska, included:

- two chips in the Jeep windshield
- broken day/night window shade string
- pin hole in the sewer hose
- Jeep rear window zipper separated
- front axle seal on Jeep leaking
- Jeep radiator leaking

We also need routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotations.

Our first day there, we enjoyed driving a few miles to the coast and then visiting the aromatic gardens in Ferndale. The next day, we were joined by Evelyn, Kathy's mom and her best friend Sandy.  Both had flown in from Texas to see us and enjoy a Washington vacation.

While Jim worked, we five women drove around the Ferndale/Bellingham area.  We visited Mount Baker and hiked to a glacier view.  We enjoyed coffee downtown and drove south to Oak Harbor via the Anacortes Bridge.  We had a few great days laughing in the car, seeing sights along the coast and the coastal farmlands, eating seafood and being together.

Evelyn and Sandy are in the over sixty crowd that thrive on trying new things and traveling.  It was great spending time with them.  We teased about going to one of the legal marijuana stores but never had a chance before it was time for us to leave.  We announced we were going to be married in California and had an appointment to get our marriage license and needed to be in Placerville, CA by Friday.  

Leaving friends and family is difficult on a lazy Sunday morning but we had so much to see and an appointment on Friday miles away.  We drove straight through the rest of Washington.  We actually saw a little of Seattle when we decided to exit and find some gas - on a Sunday - during a home football game.  We ended up driving through a mixed business and residential neighborhood and getting back on the freeway without finding a gas station.  Then we saw the Space Needle and the arenas as cars were jammed trying to exit northbound lanes heading to the game.  We were glad were traveling southbound.

Further south we saw Mt. St. Helens in the distance.  Unlike Mount Rainier, it was very apparent through the wildfire smoke and smog that the top of the mountain is missing due to the massive eruption in 1980.  Smoke from the California wildfires clouded the sky toward the mountains and made the cities and ship channels appear smoggy. Ship channel after ship channel, port after port - the Washington coastline is a lively place with bustling businesses.

We followed the coastline into Oregon, where we planned to stop for our next adventure experiencing the Columbia River Gorge.

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