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Stick a Fork in it - we're done (for this year) - August, 2016

Today is September 11th and our time in Forks has come to an end for this year.  We've had a great summer here but there is October baseball in this girl's future so it's time to head back to Chicago. 

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Even though we are here to volunteer at the Forks Timber Museum, Marty has found a few ways to make a little money.  The Visitor's Center next door to us has asked him if he'd be willing to shuttle hikers from their cars to whichever trail they want to hike.  He contacts the hikers and tells them how much it will cost and they make their arrangements.  One of the hikers was hiking the Shi-Shi Trail back to Rialto Beach (all along the coast), a distance of about 50 miles.  He anticipated taking 6-7 days doing it.  We picked him up at Rialto (1/2 hour from where we are) and drove him to the trailhead at Shi-Shi which took about an hour.  The shuttle service is a win-win, we make a little money and the hikers get to hike some amazing country.

We tried to hike Shi-Shi earlier in the summer but when we got there we couldn't find parking so we just explored a different area that day.  We did hike some of the trail when we dropped off our hiker, but at the end of the trail it's a very steep hike down to the beach so guess who decided to stay on top? 

On the trail at Shi-Shi - this bridge I can handle.
We spent another day hiking out to Cape Alava which is the westernmost point of the United States.  It's a 3.4 mile hike one way so we got a lot of steps in that day! As we got closer to the beach we heard quite a few seals barking, they sounded like they must be right on the beach but when we got there we discovered they were way out in the ocean on a little island. They were quite noisy!
The seals are on that outcropping over my shoulder
This "bridge" was a shortcut to the beach

We were lucky enough to see the Perseid Meteor Shower on August 12th. We woke up at 2:30 A.M. and drove the 1/2 hour to Rialto Beach.  I just sat on my lawn chair looking up at the Milky Way and watching meteors shoot across the sky - it was so worth getting up early for; the skies were clear and it was truly amazing!!
Sitkum Road
One Sunday evening we decided to take a drive on forest service road 29 ("A" Road) thru the Sitkum Solduc Forest.  We had no idea where we were going, just decided to do a little exploring.  We drove about 18 miles with the road narrowing (and climbing) and the pavement turning to gravel before deciding to turn around.  We weren't sure where we were going to come out and weren't brave enough to continue (it was getting dark out). We did stop a few times for photo ops.  The below photos were shot in infrared.  We found out later that the road did get worse but eventually would have taken us back out to 101. 

Sitkum Solduc River
On Monday, August 22nd we had an adventure of another sort.  We were lucky enough to join the Forks Chamber of Commerce on a tour of the Olympic Correctional Center, a Level 2 Facility.  It was very interesting. Level 2 is basically minimum security and all of the inmates have jobs either inside the prison or on the outside doing community service work.  The grounds at the Museum and Visitor's Center are taken care of by one of the crews.  There are 374 prisoners currently housed there with a capacity of 400.

Our first stop was checking in and turning in cell phones, wallets, keys (nothing was allowed in).  We also had to sign in and be signed out when we left.  That was the only time we felt like we were in "prison".  Our next stop was to a meeting room where we met Superindent Aldana (the big boss).  He presented a video, answered questions and then introduced one of the prisoners, Benjamin.  Benjamin is on one of the work crews that works outside the prison, he was very well spoken and seemed grateful to have the opportunity to be working outside the prison and learning skills that will, hopefully, be useful on the outside.  The motto of the prison is have a "Full Productive Day"

Our next step was getting split into groups of about 10 people and touring the facilities. Some of the areas we visited were the maintenance shop, the sew shop, the greenhouse, the dog house (where inmates work with rescue dogs), and the wood shop.  I thought the most interesting was the wood shop - they make beautiful items which are then donated to non-profit organizations to be raffled or auctioned off.  One inmate was working on a dollhouse which was absolutely beautiful.  He did it without plans and was planning to add a spiral staircase.  All that work and he just finishes it and then starts another project.

The greenhouse was pretty cool too.  We were encouraged to ask questions and they were very happy to share their knowledge of gardening with us.  We later had lunch inside and all the ingredients from the salad came from the gardens.  We had birthday cake for dessert but no files were hidden in the cake.

Locked Up!!

Luckily, we had our "Get Out of Jail" Card
Fun, Interesting, and "Productive" Day!

I could watch them all day

The Roosevelt Elk herd finally came back to visit us.  Aren't they amazing?  The herd this year seems larger than last year, there are probably 40-50 elk out there.  They hang out in the grassy area on the west side of the airport.

Hey, whatcha looking at?

The second weekend in September is a big deal in Forks - it's Bella's birthday!  Who is Bella?  Obviously you haven't read the Twilight series of books written by Stephenie Meyers.  People come from all over the country (and world) for this celebration.  There are activities planned from Thursday through Sunday all over town and there is not a hotel room to be had.  Marty was asked to play at one of the events and he even revised the lyrics to "Werewolves of London" to "Werewolves of Twilight".  Pretty clever and very popular with "Twilighters". 

Hanging out with the Olympic Coven and the Volterra Coven
We were very happy to have Joe and Linda back after their month-long adventure in Alaska.  They had an awesome trip and we loved seeing their adventures on Facebook.

Linda surprised me when she got back by telling me she was promoting me to Assistant Manager and my pay has been doubled!  Of course, since we're volunteering, that's 2 x 0.  That's ok, the honor alone made my day (and the nifty new badge).  My summer has been spent entering more data into the museum database, doing a little research for some of the displays and a whole lot of front desk greeting and answering questions.

Here are some of the projects that Marty worked on this summer

A little insulating foam, a little stain and voila - pancakes!

He painted the 2nd of Bella's trucks and the railings of the fire lookout tower and replaced the door

He sawed some rounds and made our trail a little less muddy

Cut a stump on an angle, draw out a design and rout it out - simple, right?
The Visitor's Center even had Marty driving their tour bus for the logging tours, he took pictures of a logging site and put them on display in the Museum, that's multi-tasking!
We had a final get together with our fellow workcampers (Jerry and Lynne) and Joe and Linda on Saturday, September 3rd.  It was the last chance for all three couples to be together. This summer went by so quickly!  We will be back working at the museum next summer for three months, May, June and July.  After that who knows where we'll be - any suggestions?

Marty found this "fungi" on our trail today
We head out of Forks on Monday, 9/12 with an anticipated arrival in Chicago of 9/22 (just in time for the Cardinals-Cubs Series at Wrigley). We're looking forward to the trip back and have a few stops planned along the way - stay tuned!


June and July in Forks, Washington

So far, our summer in Forks has been busy with lots of visitors in June and lots of projects in July.  It's hard to believe that in just six weeks we'll be leaving here and heading back to Chicago (GO CUBS!!). I can't wait to see some OCTOBER baseball!!

Our first set of visitors were the Freeman Family - my sister Donna, her husband Rick and two of their four children, Sarah and Mark.  They are a very active group so we were kept busy showing them our favorite local sites.  We hiked in the Hoh Rain Forest, hiked along Rialto Beach to "Hole-in-the-Wall" and drove to Cape Flattery, the Northwest point of the United States.
Hiking on the Spruce Trail in the Hoh Rain Forest
Mark has no fear of heights

Mary, Donna, and Sarah at the "Hoh"

Hmmmm, a new home?
Donna scrambling over rocks to get to Hole-in-the Wall

Sea Anemones

Rialto Beach

Mary, Donna, and Sarah at Cape Flattery

Marty at Cape Flattery

If you'd like to see more of the Freeman's on the Olympic Peninsula, here's a link to a YouTube video that Marty made:
They left on Wednesday morning, June 8th and a few hours later we were in on our truck headed south to Olympia (about 3 hours away) to pick up Marty's sister, Jan. She took the train up along the Pacific Coast from Oceanside, CA to Olympia, WA - what an adventure that was!  36 hours on a train with crying babies and partying passengers and even a 6 foot tall male passenger wearing heels!

The weather for Jan wasn't quite as nice as it had been for the Freeman's but we still got in a lot of sight-seeing.  We drove up to Hurricane Ridge to see mountains (and even snow), drove to Rialto Beach to see the ocean and, of course, drove thru some of the rain forest.

Hanging out at the Big Red Cedar

Marty and Jan at Rialto Beach

Jan and Mary on "our" rain forest trail

We were lucky enough to see this eagle at LaPush
I'm pretty sure that Jan's very favorite day was when we took her to meet Mick Dodge (from the National Geographic reality show, "The Legend of Mick Dodge").  He lives in a yurt about 1 1/2 miles north of us and he was happy to meet one of his biggest fans. 

Mick and Jan
Our last June visitors were our friends Mary and Leo from the Chicago area.  Mary was the principal (and my boss) at St. William School and we've been friends for almost 20 years.  They only stayed two nights so we crammed in as much as we could.  By chance, they stayed at Huckleberry Lodge which is where Mick Dodge lives in his yurt. They stayed in a cabin (not a yurt or tent) and enjoyed their daily breakfast of pancakes and eggs cooked outside (along with cowboy coffee?). 

Marty, Mary, Leo and Mary at Rialto Beach

High up in the Big Red Cedar
Hi Marty!!
We loved having so many visitors! It's pretty amazing how far people travel to visit us and we are very grateful to them for including us in their travel plans.  We LOVE showing off this beautiful part of the country!  By the way, we are coming back next summer (only for three months) so if you plan to travel to the Pacific Northwest let us know and we'll be happy to play tour guide.

The Museum had a booth at "Moonlight Madness" on July 2nd

Joe and Linda showed us a different (easier) way to hike the "big" trail

Loggers Memorial is finished!
We've spent most of July working at the museum and on various projects. Marty worked very hard stripping, sanding and staining the 12' Logger Memorial.  This statue was carved out of a single log about 20 years ago.

We've also kept busy in the museum; Marty has added a few photos to the walls and we've also done some research and added a few descriptions for various items.  I'm still working on entering items in the database, we are up to about 2300 objects!  I've just started entering information from the 6300 +/- photo cards (only 6000 more until I'm finished).  My favorite job is interacting with our visitors; we had a visitor from Myanmar (formerly Burma) who explained that her country was about 90% forest (Teak) and she recognized many of our older tools because they still use them in her country.  We've also had people from almost every state in the union; I think we're up to about 35 states since May.  We've also met quite a few full time rv'r's, it's always fun to compare notes with them.

Logging Truck on HWY 101 after a rainstorm

Road Trip:  Forks to Umatilla to Walla Walla to Pateros - to Forks
We have one week off every month so we recently decided to take a road trip - yes, I know, our life is a road trip but this one was without our rig.  We left Forks on Monday (7/25) and took a drive southeast and headed to Walla Walla, Washington. I grew up hearing this song before every Cubs game and have become a little (ok, a lot) obsessed about going there.

"It's a beautiful day for a ball game, a ball game today
The fans are out to get a ticket or two
from Walla Walla, Washington to Kalamazoo"

Multnomah Falls - 620' (in Oregon)
We drove south along 101 and then headed east along the Columbia River (a beautiful drive).  We stopped at Multnomah Falls and took a short hike along a narrow cliff to get to the falls and visitor center.  This place was crowded!  We don't usually travel during July and coming here just confirmed our reasons why.

After leaving the falls, we continued our drive along I-84 along the river and ended up in the town of Umatilla, OR for the night.  In the morning we continued east about an hour until we made it to our destination.
Columbia River

from Walla-Walla Washington 
As close as we could find in Washington, too bad they didn't have a ZOO!  
After all the excitement of being in Walla-Walla it was time to head back to Forks.  We wanted to continue our exploration of the eastern side of Washington so we headed north to connect with Highway 20 over the North Cascades.  The eastern side of the state is pretty barren and brown, nothing like the western side.  It was also much hotter with temperatures in the mid-90's.  We drove north to the town of Pateros, Washington where we found the last motel room in town! 

On Wednesday morning we grabbed a quick coffee and bakery treat and headed thru the mountains back to Forks.  It was a beautiful drive along Hwy 20 which we took to Coupeville, WA where we ended up on the ferry to Port Townsend.  Port Townsend is only about two hours from Forks so after a couple of quick stops in Sequim and Port Angeles we were home by 9:00. 

It was nice to go away for a few days but it's even nicer to be back in Forks where the temperatures are in the 60's and 70's and the skies are sunny! 
Ferry Ride from Coupeville to Pt. Townsend
We won't be doing too much traveling in August because Joe and Linda are going to Alaska for the whole month and leaving us in charge!!  We promised we wouldn't make too many changes although I do think the office would look nice painted purple.

4/23 through 5/23 - Travels through Oregon

Cape Blanco Lighthouse
We drove highway 101 north through Oregon and Washington to get back to our Summer destination of Forks.  Ten days were spent touring the Oregon Coast which wasn't nearly enough - it is an amazingly beautiful area.

These guys visited us behind our rig
4/20 - 4/23, Brookings Elk Lodge
Our first stop, just north of the California border was Brookings, Oregon.  We stayed at an Elks Lodge, it was a spot in a parking lot but for $20.00 a night you just can't beat the price.  It rained a lot while we were there but we did get some nice weather and had time for some exploring.  One of the RV blogs I follow had talked a lot about Cape Blanco State Park and the lighthouse there.  This couple had worked as lighthouse hosts there for a month and we wanted to check it out.  We got there too late to get into the lighthouse but we did meet one of the current lighthouse hosts and talked to her about the job.  We also took a drive around the campground and have decided to stop here for a few nights on our way north.

On our way back to Brooking we stopped at the Crazy Norwegian in Gold Coast for dinner.  The food was good and the desserts were awesome!  We both ate too much,  really need to stop doing that.

Lemon Cream for Marty and Carrot Cake for me - Yum!
We also drove back south into California thru Crescent City to see their lighthouse and more redwood forests.  The drive on 101 in Northern California and Southern Oregon is one of the prettiest drives we've been on.

4/24 - 4/25, Cape Blanco State Park
The view out our back window
We usually drive at least 200 miles between stops but Cape Blanco was so beautiful that we only drove 60 miles and camped there for two nights.  Our site overlooked the ocean (through some Sitka Spruce trees) and there was a trail right behind our rig that went up to the lighthouse.  If you walked in the other direction it took you to an ocean overlook with a bench and picnic table to relax at.  We hadn't camped in "nature" for a while and this was the perfect spot to get back into it.

The lighthouse is up a hill, you can drive there until 3:00 when they lock the gate at the bottom of the hill.  With the gate closed you have to walk up the hill, Marty wanted sunset lighthouse photos so up we walked.  This lighthouse is on a point, you are surrounded by water on three sides.  Beautiful!  We even saw some deer while we were up there.

Beach overlook

Walking to the lighthouse

Just don't make me look down!
We got to tour the inside of the lighthouse the next morning.  We drove up the hill and stopped in the visitor center and found out we didn't have to pay because they take the Federal Park Pass - YAY!  That pass sure is nice to have.  We walked over the lighthouse and met the downstairs volunteer who told us some of the history of the lighthouse.  Then he sent us up the spiral staircase to the top where we met the second lighthouse volunteer, Bob.  Bob was wearing a replication of what the original lighthouse keepers wore back in the early days.  We were the only visitors to the lighthouse so we had a "personal" tour.

Mary and Bob

What a view!

Doesn't it look like a dollhouse?
This is about 10x the size of ours
After leaving the lighthouse we drove down the hill and visited the Hughes House (still in the state park).  Patrick and Jane Hughes were pioneer dairy farmers with seven children. They built an eleven room, 3,000 square foot Victorian home which has been restored and is open to the public.  The house was built in 1898 and is on the National Register of Historic Place.  Being a good Irish Catholic family one of their 5 sons became a priest and they even had a chapel upstairs.  There were six bedrooms, a huge kitchen and pantry but only one bathroom (what were they thinking - one bathroom for 8 people - who does that? - Oh yeah, my family - never mind).  One of their other sons was a lighthouse keeper up the hill at Cape Blanco.  We were able to wander through every room, a volunteer walked with us through the first floor telling us the history of the house and the family.  They sent us upstairs on our own to see most of the bedrooms and the chapel.

As beautiful as Cape Blanco was and as much as we would have liked to stay a few more days it was time to continue north.  We may be back at Cape Blanco to volunteer in the lighthouse for a month (or two).  

4/26 - 4/29, Tillamook Elks Lodge
The drive along the coast to Tillamook was only 225 miles.  We stayed at another Elks Lodge but this was not their usual parking lot.  It was right off 101 in a grassy field with well laid out gravel RV spots.  They even had an enclosed gazebo with a wood burning stove and a small kitchen for group gatherings.

There was quite a bit to do in this area.  We stopped in town to pick up some tourist information and set out to do some exploring. Across the street from the tourist information was the Tillamook Pioneer History Museum.  This museum is housed in an old courthouse and they had so much stuff!  We talked to the registrar and told her how we volunteer at the Forks Museum.  She seemed interested in the idea of RV volunteers; maybe some day we'll see a listing for work there.

"Octopus" Tree
We also drove part of a scenic loop along the ocean to visit Meares Lighthouse.  It was closed but the drive was pretty and we got to see the "octopus" tree.  We stopped at a beach with houses overlooking it - I can't imagine living in one, I'd be afraid it would slip off the hill. They sure were pretty though.  I saw a lady walking the beach with a bag picking up stuff and asked her what she was looking for.  She collects agates and gave me a couple to start me off on my own collection.
Agate Hunters
Even the viewing telescopes are happy in Oregon!
After our drive we went into Tillamook to visit the Tillamook Cheese Factory and take a self-guided tour.  The tour was interesting and the free samples of cheese and fudge were awesome.  They also had a store and gift shop. EVERY flavor of Tillamook ice cream is sold there including my new favorite - Malted Moo Shake.  Fudge and ice cream -what's not to like? 

One more place we visited was the Tillamook Air Museum which is housed in a former blimp hangar, called "Hangar B".  This is the largest clear-span wooden structure in the world.  It was a very interesting museum with lots of information about the use of blimps during the war.  Sometimes when we visit museums it makes me realize how much we don't know about American history.

After leaving the Tillamook Air Museum we headed back to the Cheese Factory for a few more items, you can never have enough fudge or ice cream.

While in Oregon we had a light come on in the truck, looked it up in our manual and discovered that it was some kind of problem with the Def Fluid tank.  (In case you don't know what Def fluid is, it's used with diesel engines).  The closest Chevy dealer we could find was 60 miles away in Hillsboro, Oregon (right outside of Portland).  We drove over and they gave us good news and bad news.  The good news was it was an easy fix and would be covered under our warranty.  The bad news was there is a national back order on the item they needed and they couldn't get it for 3 weeks!  We needed to be in Forks in a few days so we decided to take our chances and take it to a dealer in Washington. The Oregon dealer thought we should be able to make it to Forks.  We did find out that we'd be able to drive for a while with no restrictions and then we'd be able to drive 99 miles at mph, then 99 miles at 55 mph and then it would drop down to mph.  YIKES!

4/30 through ........., Forks, Washington
We're Back!!
We made it back to Forks on Saturday, 4/30 - YAY!  Joe and Linda were there to greet us and we all went out to dinner at Forks newest restaurant - Puffin on 101.  Once again we ate too much, it's the desserts that hurt - maybe skip dinner and go right to the dessert?  It's so nice to be back for the summer, there is so much to do here and we are going to have three sets of visitors (2 sets from Chicago and 1 from California).

Once we were settled Marty called a dealer in Port Angeles to make an appointment for the truck.  We took it in on Wednesday and while driving the 60 miles there the light came on telling us we were 99 miles from our first restriction down to 65 mph.  When we got to the dealer they were able to order the part but it would take a few days to come in so we drove the 60 miles back to Forks.  Our first 10 days in Forks were spent close by, no sightseeing for us - had to conserve those miles!  The part came in and Marty successfully made it back to Port Angeles where the truck was fixed and life is good.

Logger Memorial Project

Armed and Dangerous
Our days at the Museum this year are Wednesday thru Saturday and one week off every month.  We have another work camper couple this year - Lynne and Jerry; they work Saturday thru Tuesday.  Saturday is usually the busiest day so it's good to have more than one person in the Museum.  I work in the museum and Marty works on projects and boy are there a lot of projects! Last year he refinished the axe that the logger is holding at the Logger Memorial.  He did such a good job that he was asked to do the large logger statue (stripping, sanding and staining).  He will also be painting the other "Twilight" truck.  Those aren't even museum projects - there are plenty of those too.  It will be a busy summer. 

The Museum got a new (old) tractor - built from a kit in the 1920's

Updated farm area

Salt Creek Recreation Area

Since our truck is fixed we did get in a little bit of exploring on our days of.  We took a drive to Salt Creek Recreation Area which is a beautiful park on the Straits of Juan de Fuca.  Some of the campsites there look right out on the water.  We did a little bit of hiking and I even found some pretty seashells to add to my collection. 

"Rocky Raccoon

On another day we drove with Linda (our boss) up to Clallam Bay to look for sea glass and agates.  I was very happy to find some small pieces of sea glass - they're hard to spot and Linda has way more patience than I do for looking for them. 
My treasures

Another excursion was yesterday (5/23) when we took a ride on a Forest Service Road that is not recommended unless you have 4-wheel drive.  It was 8 miles on a very bumpy one lane road along a steep drop-off.  It ended at what used to be the Kloshe Nanitch fire lookout tower but is now a platform looking out over Lake Crescent to the west, the Olympic mountains to the east and, if you're really lucky and it's a clear day, you can see the Pacific Ocean to the south.  We didn't see the ocean (too hazy) but we did see an eagle soaring overhead which was pretty awesome! 

At the very top of the picture is Lake Crescent.  The road below is Hwy 101.

That's it for this post - all our visitors are coming in June so it should be a busy month with lots of sightseeing and photos.