Thursday, October 31, 2013


Winchester Lake

On leaving Eastern Washington we headed east  on highway 12 into Idaho, stopping in Lewiston for a couple hours to hang out in their library and give Madeline a chance to stretch her legs.  Our idea for travel was to drive during nap time, with Madeline still on a two nap a day schedule we figured we could go for a couple hours each nap and average about four hours of travel per day.  The afternoon hours could be spent at libraries or parks so we all have a chance to get out of the van.  So far the concept has worked out, although many days we don't quite get four hours of driving.  I really don't mind the short travel times but with ten thousand miles to go this is turning into a very long trip.
City of Rocks
From Lewiston we turned south on highway 95 and made a short hop down to Winchester Lake State Park for the night.  This turned out to be a very nice stop, but the overnight temps. dropped into the twenties so we are being reminded that winter is slowly sneaking up on us, especially in the mountains.  The next day we continued on highway 95 following the rivers south.  We stopped at a rest area for the night, then drove highway 95 again until we reached the interstate.
Kid Carrier Hiking
As long as we were not in a hurry, we continued to avoid the interstate and took highway 30 east, referred to in one of our travel books as the thousand springs scenic byway.  It was a good choice, the springs were interesting and there was a nice rest area for some exercise and bird watching.  We stopped at a local park in Twin Falls for lunch, then took off again in the afternoon, ending our day in Oakley, Idaho.  We thought we could get showers at the campground in town, but all the water had already been shut off for the winter so we just spent the night and left early the next day.
Mini Hippy Chick
From there we went up into City of Rocks, one of our favorite rock climbing areas, and camped there.  The little town of Almo on the other side of the park did have showers available, so we got that chore out of the way as well.  We didn't bring climbing gear with us on this trip, but we did have climbing shoes so we spent some time bouldering in the area, as well as trying out our new kid carrier with a bit of hiking in the beautiful surroundings.  We decided if we were going to initiate Madeline into the world of rock climbing we needed to have her look the part, so out came the bandanas for an authentic outfit.  From City of Rocks we took back roads out of the park but finally broke down and hit the interstate to get us into Utah and on to the next state in out list.

Monday, October 21, 2013


Karen, Lowell, and Margaret

Our road trip is finally underway, and our first stop was Eastern Washington to visit family.  My dad's family is spread out across the country, so visiting them will be an on-going thing throughout our trip, but there are quite a few folks in Washington so we tried to see a decent percentage of them on our first pass through.  Hopefully we will have a chance to visit more as we come back this way.
Madeline and Charlie
Cousin Karen is located in Walla Walla (near the prison, but not in it, yet) which seemed pretty central to others in the area so we planned to camp there and make short hops to visit others.  Turns out when you have an adorable baby people come to you, so we didn't have to do as much driving as we thought and still got to visit a lot of folks while there.  Karen has a great black lab named Charlie, and Madeline loves dogs so she got to spend a bunch of time hanging out with her new doggie friend.  She hasn't quite got the word doggie down but saying "diddle-diddle" and pointing to the dog every time she saw Charlie was easy enough for even us to figure out.
Kurt and Deb with Madeline
Karen's dad, my uncle Lowell supposedly lives nearby in Dayton, but travels so much he is rarely home and we got lucky and had a chance to visit him our first night in Walla Walla before he was off to Seattle.  Who would have guessed it would be so hard to track down an 87 year old, but it seems we are not the only wanderers in the family.  Cousin Margaret also lives in Walla Walla and she joined us for dinner as well.
Aunt Mary Ann with Madeline
Karen's brother Kurt and his wife Deb live in Walla Walla as well, but Kurt drives truck so we thought we would miss seeing him, even though Deb did get a chance to come over for a visit one morning.  Turned out we got lucky and Kurt made it back in time for a quick visit on Saturday before we headed out.
Pat and Madeline at lunch
Next we headed over to Pomeroy for lunch with Aunt Mary Ann (confusingly also called Aunt Molly by about half the family).  Joining us for lunch was cousin Pat who also lives in Pomeroy and has taken over the family wheat farm nearby.  After a very enjoyable afternoon visiting, we raced back to Walla Walla for dinner with Karen, cousin Teresa and her daughter Molly, and Margaret.
Teresa, Madeline, and Molly
(with Douglas the sheep)
If you are confused at this point about our family tree, you are not alone.  Karen's mom Aggie and Mary Ann are sisters, my dad was their brother.  So the aunt/uncle thing is pretty clear, although there are more siblings that we will hopefully see later in this trip.  Karen, Margaret, Kurt, Pat, and Teresa, among many others, are my cousins.  Teresa's daughter Molly, or Karen's daughter Courtney make it a bit more confusing involving second cousins or cousins once removed, depending on if it is in relation to myself or my daughter Madeline.
I decided to give up and consider anyone below aunt/uncle to be a cousin.  Probably a good thing since Karen's daughter Courtney also has a daughter named Madeleine.

Friday, October 18, 2013


Our nomadic lifestyle continues, but we have made the transition from aquatic to terrestrial.  Evolving to land-based gypsies turned out to be a lot more work than we planned.  When we got back to Seattle, we parked the boat at Elliot Bay Marina, mostly because they had really cheap rates compared to the other marinas in the area.  We were staying with our friends Dave and Judith, and they live in Maple Valley which is east and a bit south of Seattle and therefore not really convenient to any of the marinas. Not only did they allow us to stay with them for what turned out to be an extended stay, but they also said we could store some of our things in their shed for the winter until we returned.
Our plan was to take everything off the boat, clean the inside of the boat thoroughly, sort through our belongings and pare down, store what we didn't need, and transfer food and clothing to the camper van for our road trip.  Truckload after truckload of crap came off the boat, the basement in Maple Valley filled to overflowing, and it seemed there was no end to the amount of "necessities" we had accumulated after this many years of living on the boat.  We don't really have any deadlines for our trip but our projected leave-by date came and went and we were getting nowhere.  Somehow we had forgotten to factor in the care of a one-year-old, and it turned out to be one person working while the other watched Madeline.  Once the boat was pretty much empty, cleaning became a bit of a half-assed affair, but eventually we called it done, winterized the systems, tarped the boat and walked away.  Friends of ours who had stored their boat in Alaska over the previous winter complained of tasting the water tank antifreeze well after they had flushed and refilled their tanks in the spring, so Dave and Judith came to the rescue again and donated a Costco sized bottle of vodka that was left at their house after a dinner party and we winterized the tanks with it.  Sorting our worldly belongings became overly tedious after while and we resorted to throwing the last armloads in boxes to deal with when we return.

Meanwhile we were spending evenings and the occasional rest day in Maple Valley, and Madeline was really enjoying herself.  Dave and Judith have several cats, one of which took a liking to Madeline and they spent a bunch of time playing and interacting.
Dave introduced Madeline to the bongos, and after several days of practicing she got to graduate to a full drum set.  Turns out she not only enjoys making lots of noise (no surprise there) but she has a good sense of rhythm and again enjoyed herself quite a bit.
While Madeline expanded her horizons the adults enjoyed some good social interaction as well.  We shared many dinners, watched movies in the evening after Madeline was asleep, and generally just caught up after our several years in Alaska.  I fear I may be to blame for introducing Dave and Judith to a "good" gin and tonic long ago, so I thought it only fitting to end our stay with them enjoying an evening of gin tasting including several choices from local Washington distilleries.