Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tri-Cities in June - Are You Crazy??

If you've paid any attention, it's pretty clear we didn't lay out the most efficient route for our Northwest swing this year. After leaving family in Western Washington, we headed back to the east side.

At least this time, Mt. Rainier was out in all it's glory. It was even visible when we got to Yakima, once again crossing over White Pass. I wasn't about to tackle Ft. Lewis traffic from Olympia to be able to drive Chinook Pass!

We settled in to a site at Hood Park in Burbank, Washington. Hood Park is a Corp of Engineers campground located at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia rivers. The sites at this park are electric only, but the availability of electric was an important consideration!

The campground is quite beautiful and the price was exceptionally good. I would have snagged one of the riverfront sites, but they were already booked up when I made reservations four months ago. The campground was full every day we were there.

The Tri-Cities are located along the Columbia and Snake Rivers with a handful of bridges connecting them. Over the years, Richland, Kennewick, and Pasco have grown together so that their borders are essentially indistinguishable. These cities are closely associated with the Hanford Project and home to the first production plutonium reactor in the world.

Our reason for visiting Eastern Washington in late June was to attend the 8th Annual Tri-Cities Geocoin Challenge. I thought about it two years ago but the temps were 115 degrees or so. I chickened out last year because I come to Washington to avoid the heat, but we took the gamble this year and hit the jackpot with temps mostly in the 80's.

The event runs for four days, with the Saturday challenge by far the best attended day. This year they had over 700 people attend the event.

Turk wasn't too sure of the crowds but appreciated the attention he got. I think he was a bit jealous when BJ and I got a picture with Signal, geocaching's mascot.

The theme for this year's event was Fire and Ice with a nod to the lava and glaciers that shaped the area. The listing of the caches to be found was frozen into individual bags for ice for each team.

Caches were scattered equally across the municipalities which made for a lot of driving, but we knew that in advance. We were glad that we took the time to load the caches into our Garmin Nuvi for driving instructions as well as into my handheld GPS.

The event was based out of Sacajawea State Park which had temporary tent camping available. The tents came in all sizes!  I was glad we'd booked a spot with electric service across the river where our air conditioner got used the most it's been used in at least a year.

They had some great food trucks at most of the events, and huge boxes of donuts at the final park clean-up event.

If you found at least seven of the eight special caches in each municipality, you received a set of trackable geocoins. Yes, four coins for the four municipalities in the Tri-Cities. West Richland apparently doesn't count or didn't exist when the Tri-Cities moniker was bestowed on the area.

Temps did hit 101 Sunday afternoon but that was still way better than what the Phoenix area was experiencing.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Family Time

Both BJ and I were born and raised near the Puget Sound and we never pass on an excuse for a ferry ride - especially when it means avoiding a drive through downtown Seattle. We left Port Townsend headed to Edmonds in the most direct manner.

Last August, I spent a couple weeks volunteering at my sister's office. Less than a month later, she was diagnosed with brain cancer. It's been a challenging year for her and her family, and one of our key stops was to spend some time with them.

Both of my brothers showed up as well and we had a wonderful time telling stories about one another and visiting some of our favorite Seattle haunts. I didn't recall the statue of Ivar,

but a visit to Ivar's is just about mandatory any time we visit Seattle.

We also convinced my brother-in-law to face the traffic so we could visit the Pike Street market - even more crowded than I remember,

but the resulting purchase turned out excellent.

After a few days with my family, it was time to visit BJ's family.

On the way south we spotted this truckload of hand crafted kayaks and canoes - if you have an imagination. Seriously, it was a load of beautiful 5/4 western red cedar just begging to be put to good use.

Any time we return to Tumwater, a visit to Eagan's is required. In this case, we went there before visiting any family. BJ's cousin recently posted a foodie review of Eagan's so that saves me the effort. This is the Smitty's burger which isn't on their published menu...

This year we went back to the American Heritage Campground. We'd stayed here two years ago and then stayed at the Airstream Club park last year. This year we hit the jackpot with a super deep, very private W/E site that actually got some sunshine in the afternoons. I'm pretty sure it was site 57 but I forgot to write it down.

We managed to time the visit just right and got to help my brother-in-law with a decking project. He had the frame all done and a portion of the deck laid. I enjoy these one day projects - enough to feel like I helped without it becoming work.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Port Townsend

It seems like every time we come to Port Townsend we have to spend some time at Fort Worden. This time, the excuse was that I needed to buy a Washington State Discover Pass before we get to the Tri-Cities in a couple weeks. Since we were at the Fort, we 'had' to visit the lighthouse,

and get pictures of her more photogenic side. (Which was closer to the cache...)

Meanwhile, BJ was doing her "I'm a desert gal" impression, trying to forget that she was born and raised a Washingtonian. I must admit, if I were smarter, I would have had a jacket on as well.

In spite of growing up about 35 miles from here (as the sea gull flies) and visiting the Fort numerous times, I'd never visited the gun emplacements at Fort Worden. They looked a lot like the emplacements at Fort Casey, but the view of the parade grounds was better.

We wandered downtown one morning before many of the shops were open, just admiring the architecture.

I suspect if you go back to last year's visit you might see a similar picture. I love faded old advertising. (I just checked. It didn't make the cut last year.)

More architectural details.

It almost seemed fitting that they were hosting a Steampunk convention in town with a lot of Victorian meets Sci-Fi clothing choices. You never know what you'll see in this town.